Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
is a kind of show-case made by Valve to introduce their new High Dynamic Range method of applying light into the Source Engine. Actually, although this is a very technical subject, the developer's commentary that comes with it, is more than worthwhile listening to. It gives some insight into how this mini-level was constructed, and even into how HDR lighing actually works. Fascinating stuff, and you even get Gabe Newell's words at the beginning of the commentary ;-).
After playing it through for a second time after having left it aside for some years, I wondered how amazing some of the graphics and - of course - especially the lighting still look today - a full nine (!!!) years after this level was published. Especially the little Byzantine church, part of the monastery on top of the cliffs, still feels amazing and oozes atmosphere. Valve did a wonderful job with the lighting inside the church, even letting dimmed light through the stained-glass windows. At the same time, it also made me a bit sad, because, well, how long has it been since we got the latest Half-Life content? Oh well, who knows....
Since this one comes for free in the Orange Box
and the Half Life 2-complete package, I guess most of you who played Half-Life 2
at some point, have this in your game collection. If you haven't tried it yet, by all means do so, but be advised: it's very good, but also very short ;-).
Overall rating: 8/10