Vivendi Universal Games announced this morning that the highly anticipated Half-Life 2, the sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed PC titles in gaming history, has officially gone gold and will be hitting store shelves worldwide on 16th November.

The game has been in development for almost six years, and the announcement brings to a close a long running saga of delays since Half-Life 2 was first announced for a September release last year. After the game's source code was leaked onto the Internet shortly before that date, developer Valve delayed the title indefinitely, choosing to spend additional time refining the game and building in Counter-Strike: Source, its multiplayer component.

Valve began selling Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source via the company's Steam download platform last week, although purchasers must wait for the game's retail release in November before they can play Half-Life 2.

The game has already been sent to several gaming magazines for review, and the high scores have begun to flow through. It was hailed as "...the best game ever made" by PC Gamer, earning a review score of 98%, the highest score bestowed by the magazine in more than six years. It also received numerous accolades and awards at the E3 2004 show earlier this year.

"Half-Life 2 has surpassed our expectations in every sense – its high-quality graphics, ground-breaking physics and immersive first-person shooter gameplay set a new standard for PC action games," said Bruce Hack, CEO of VU Games. "Half-Life 2 will go down as one of the best-selling PC titles, and we are thrilled to deliver this ground-breaking title to the worldwide gaming community."

The game has been consistently among Gameplanet Store's weekly top ten seller lists since its announcement last year and is expected to rocket to the top now its release is confirmed and pre-order volumes increase.