Unified lighting is the future, I agree with you there. But to say that anything without it looks dated smacks of hyperbole. Like anything other piece of eye candy, it's a tool for creating atmosphere - and if your game's atmosphere wouldn't benefit from accurate, real-time shadows, then you avoid a sizeable performance hit.
Those screenshots looked dated. Badly
Looks better than Far Cry, IMO. Better design, more interesting/"realistic" scenery, and those NPC's faces blow everything else out of the water. IMO, Half-Life 2's strength is going to be in the details - how the NPC's faces actually make expressions, how their eyes move correctly and look right, how the sunset glints off a trickle of water in a ditch, how the skybox is animated and the use of well-thought out atmospheric perspective.
Unified lighting is nice, but it (or the lack thereof) shouldn't "date" the look of the game.