Ok, I'd like to analyse this 'review' because it contains a few 'myths' that are constantly debunked again and again, but never seem to permanently ridden of. And I'd like to debunk them... again
"(a) considers me a criminal - although has pocketed my £25"
Where is the grounding in this statement? Unless you mean by using Steam to protect against copying? In which case pretty much every single game on the planet made since ~2001 will do the exact same thing. Welcome to the world of piracy.
"(b) wants me to ask for permission EVERY BLOODY time I want to play even a single player game"
If you read the actual manual provided with the game, you'll find that you can enable "Play off-line". It's a feature that has worked since the original HL2, and continues to do so.
"(c) installs an auto-updating, commercial-reporting and in-constant-contact-with-the-mothership utility that retains backdoor access to my computer, and "
Ok, let's break this down:
- Auto updating. Well so does Windows. Where's the problem with it updating? I'm certain you'd be more angry if it crashed your computer mid-game due to a bug, than you would be if an update had fixed such a bug
- Commercial reporting. The most that Steam does is report data about your hardware. And it asks _permission_ - and the data is used to help developers make sure that their software works on your machine (hardware demographics). Most importantly though, no matter what data it is supposedly 'reporting back', you _agreed_ to it by installing the application.
- Backdoor. That's just plain stupid. Oh no an open port. What about port 80, are you going to shut that 'backdoor' as well? :/
"(d) does not concede to the fact every "security system" eventually gets cracked and every "OnLine activation requirement" eventually gets bypassed."
The auto updating thing you mentioned - that's the whole point of it. If Steam is constantly live, and updated, it is exceedingly difficult to evade. There are few, if any, functioning hacks/cracks around Steam's protection, and holes are being closed up constantly.
"What makes you think this cannot happen to VALVE?"
Gabe Newell has already been over this a million times; if Steam goes down, they'll deactivate the authentication servers, so they will no longer need to authenticate to install/play.