Now the title of this post may seem strange. After all, isn’t Gordon Freeman already in Half Life 2 by definition?
When HL2 first came out, that version of the Source engine didn’t have quite as many bells and whistles as it does now. For example, water only reflected the world-geometry and not other objects. (For example: that gate would reflect, but not the floating crates.) Graphical shortcuts have always been a necessary evil from the beginning of videogames, particularly in the case of first person shooter games.
It doesn’t make sense to load graphics that won’t be seen, so since Half Life 2 is plaeyed from Gordon Freeman’s perspective, there is no actual official in-game graphics for Gordon Freeman in the original Half Life or any of the Source-based games to date. (Though he does appear on several game boxes and as a computer controlled character in Half Life Opposing Force and Blue Shift.)
Knowing this ahead of time, the level designers cleverly avoided things like mirrors, video recordings, or other opportunities for Gordon to see himself clearly. In Portal, it’s a different story, because you expect to be able to see Chell through a portal opening. However:
Oops. It may not be a flat mirror per se, but this is clearly a reflective surface (in Route Kanal) that is reflecting everything except for Gordon Freeman. With further graphical special effects in the Source engine becoming available to those with the capacity to view them on their machines, it’s inevitable that more and more situations like this will occur.
Valve should just give us an in-game Gordon Freeman model and an opportunity to use a mirror in Episode 3. We already know that we “are” Gordon Freeman. Giving players a visual reference for Gordon Freeman is not going to kill the feeling of immersion. Having a visual reference for Chell didn’t kill Portal, right?
Anyway, that’s my position on it.