Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Zapping Combine soldiers with the supercharged gravity gun was a right lark, a fine moment in Half-Life 2. Today I’ve been larking around with a different type of turbo gravity gun in a new mod, and I think I prefer it. See, it lets me ‘rocketjump.’

HL2 mod Transmissions: Element 120 [official site] is a short singleplayer mod introducing a new zapgun. It blasts balls of concussive force that send enemies and physics objects flying (and its levels are heavy on blastable props) and, of course, you. Look down, jump then blast a ball, and go sailing through the air like a beautiful murderous butterfly.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

I always felt a little sorry for Fortress Forever [official site]. The folks behind the Source engine mod started in the long period when Valve had seemingly abandoned Team Fortress 2, with the goal of recreating Team Fortress Classic-y style class-based shooty shenanigans on a newer engine. Then Valve unexpectedly re-announced TF2, and Fortress Forever only beat it to release by one month before attention flocked to Valve’s shiny new thing.

Fortress Forever is a pretty dang different game, though, especially after years of Valve bolting new things onto TF2. If you fancy some good old-fashioned 2forting, it’s easier than ever, as the latest FF update brought it to Steam as a free standalone.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

A while back, I took a look at some Half-Life 2 improvement mods, and ultimately determined that the best way to play Valve's 2004 masterpiece was, well, without any mods whatsoever.

At the time, one of the mods I tried to look at for the piece was called Half-Life 2 Update, created by modder Filip Victor. It had been in the works for a while, but the move to SteamPipe broke it, and there had been little news about it since. Well, it's finally arrived as a free download on Steam.

The Update mod promises a host of visual upgrades to HL2, including detailed shadows, better interior lighting, environmental fog, particle effects, better water reflections, and more world detail. It also fixes bugs and improves scripted sequences and the collision system. The ultimate goal was to improve the look of the game without making any drastic changes along the lines of the FakeFactory's Cinematic Mod.

I downloaded it and gave it a try. It's all a bit subtle—it's not at all like playing a brand new game or anything like that—but definitely noticeable. The game does look better, and crisper. There's more detail, the shadows are definitely nicer, the water looks great, and it brings Half-Life 2 closer to the visual improvements we saw in Episodes 1 and 2.

 It's not something you'll call people excitedly into the room to see, but that was never really the point, and there's only so much you can do with a decade-old game unless you want to completely overhaul it from top to bottom. I'd say, if you've been looking for an excuse to play Half-Life 2 again... well, first, who needs an excuse? It's still fun. Except for the Hoppers. The Hoppers are dumb. 

Also, who wants to tiptoe over the sandy beaches again, really? And Ravenholm has kind of lost it's scariness by now. And the boss fight at the end, where the boss is basically a box you have to knock the sides off... eh, skip that bit.

But otherwise, it's a fine reason to play your favorite parts of the game again.

While Filip Victor is the developer of Update, he wasn't alone in his work. He had help from the Half-Life community, who helped him compile lists of bugs and issues. The mod also includes community commentary: select it from the main menu and you'll find nodes scattered throughout the game allowing you to listen to the musings of several YouTubers and Ross Scott, creator of the video series Freeman's Mind.

You can view a PDF of the changes and the ideas behind the mod right here. And, here's a nice comparison video that probably does a much better job of showing off the changes than my screenshots do.

Or, just download it from Steam and the next time you get a hankering for some Half-Life 2, try the Update version.

PC Gamer

False alarm! Everybody continue about your normal business. This is not some official Half-Life 2 update; this is Half-Life 2: Update. The mod is a community-made attempt to give Half-Life 2 a graphical rub-down—enhancing its ageing visuals with some fancy technical trickery.

A comparison video gives you a look at what's been changed. Er, hopefully your eyesight is better than mine:

What, specifically, does the mod do? Here's the feature list:

  • Complete lighting overhaul including enhanced lighting, more detailed world shadows, and full High Dynamic Range Lighting (HDR).
  • New particle effects and improved fog.
  • Countless bug fixes, correcting both visual and game-based issues.
  • An extensive Community Commentary Mode featuring the voices of well-known Youtubers, including Caddicarus, Brutalmoose, Ricepirate, Balrog the Master, ProJared, and Ross Scott from Freeman's Mind .
  • Retains the iconic Half-Life 2 visual style and gameplay.

Half-Life 2: Update is due out tomorrow. It's free, but downloaders will obviously need to own a copy of Half-Life 2.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

a 620 wide image probably not the best way to demonstrate this stuff, eh?

Oho, ‘Half-Life 2: Update‘ is an extremely cheeky name for a mod. Write it on the internet and a few thousand ears will immediately prick up. “Is more Half-Life? Means Half-Life 3? Check file structure! One file will have a 3 in its name! Is Half-Life 3! Rabble rabble rabble!” So no, this is not an official Half-Life 2 update, but it has got the nod for a free standalone Steam release tomorrow.

Designed to take fuller advantage of what more recent updates to the Source engine can do, this apparently final version of the community-made mod includes graphical updates and ‘countless’ bug fixes, plus a new fan commentary mode. You’re probably going to want it. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Doom isn't the only aging shooter than's getting bloodier through modding. Now Half-Life has received a generous dose of gore and gibs with the Brutal Half-Life mod. Inspired by Brutal Doom, the adventures of Gordon Freeman have taken a turn for the gross with dismemberment, decapitations, gallons of blood, and some new moves.

Oh boy. I done made a mess of Barney.

Instead of just shooting monsters and soldiers, now you can chew off their individual limbs with bullets or pop their heads off with a shotgun blast. In fact, if you shoot off all their arms and legs, they'll flop to the ground and writhe around, still alive. You can smash their bodies into splattery glop, too. Those Barneys sure have a lot of blood in them. At least they used to.

Sorry, Vort, but the easiest way to get your collar off is by removing your head.

Not only do your opponents get covered in blood, you do too. After wading through the gooey spray that results from hyper-violent close-up combat, your weapons will become caked in gore. Speaking of weapons, there are a couple new ones. The M249 from Opposing Force has been added so you can really let some lead fly. And, Doom's own BFG can be collected, letting you put the green-glowing smackdown on crowds of enemies.

Not surprising that your own weapons get covered in blood.

There are some new animations, because as you'd expect, when you shoot someone's leg, arm, or head off they tend to move a bit differently. There are also added effects, like different types of explosions and smoke. The mod also comes with its own map, a sort of arena-style monster zoo for you to run around and fight whatever sort of enemies you like, accessible from the main menu.

And, the mod allows you to kick a dude, just like real scientists do. I always felt like Freeman should have been able to kick. He's gotta have strong legs after all the walking, sprinting, and standing in Limbo he's been doing.

Just open the door, Brainiac.

Brutal Half-Life can be found here, and it comes with its own installer which adds it to your Steam games list after a restart. It's only in beta, so I did get a couple crashes and once or twice maps didn't load properly. Otherwise, it's a bloody good time.

PC Gamer

This, via Kotaku, is a good video.

It's by Nathan Hibberd and it's thirty entertaining seconds long. Maybe watch it?

PC Gamer

While it's not a remake of Silent Hill, the Alchemilla mod drags tons of the game's atmosphere, dread, and overall creepiness into Half-Life 2. There's an abandoned hospital full of locked doors, darkened hallways, foreboding sounds, and hellish imagery to explore, if you've got the nerve.

I can guess which one I need to open... but that doesn't make me want to.

This mod is an adventure game: there's no guns, melee combat, or monsters to fight. Explore, glean information from notes and messages, find missing keys and tools, and solve puzzles as you make your way through a multilevel hospital that becomes progressively more creepy and disturbing as you go.

The mod looks great: yet another fine use of the Source Engine that makes you forget you're using the Source Engine. The environments are wonderfully detailed, spooky, and dripping with dread (and sometimes blood). Occasionally a bit of Half-Life 2 shows up, but for the most part it's an complete transformation.

Ohhhh kayyyyy I don't think I need to know what that is.

The puzzles are of the sort we're familiar with. A flooded basement needs draining before the power can be turned on, but there's a valve missing. There's a keypad on a door: scour the building for a code written in a note, or solve a number puzzle to learn the answer. Locked doors are common and keys can be gathered by careful searching or solving more puzzles. Despite their familiarity, the puzzles are still mostly fun and challenging, and they all involve creeping through the rooms and corridors looking for clues and bracing yourself for scares.

I love games where you can see yourself in the mirror. Except when I'm not expecting it.

There's plenty of tension and dread. Some of it is subtle: a sound from behind a door or around a corner, a spooky operating room, the creak of a restroom stall door as you open it. Sometimes the horror is a bit more obvious, in the form of corpses or gore splattered on the walls. Knowing there's no monsters to fight seems like it should defuse some of the spookiness, but it really doesn't. I spent most of my time convinced there'd be something horrible waiting for me behind the next door. There are a couple instances where you can die, so make sure to save your game every now and then.

Public restrooms, am I right?

This mod is obviously aimed at Silent Hill fans, but I never played much Silent Hill and I still enjoyed it. I think if you're a fan of horror in general there's plenty to enjoy in the few hours it takes to play.

You can download Alchemilla at moddb.com. It comes with it's own installer, and after restarting Steam you'll see it in your game library.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Better than kings - gods!

The leaked Half-Life 2 beta is an old, old story – and how it happened, and what happened next was documented masterfully by RPS chum Simon Parking a few years back – but a recent fan compilation of all the characters in it who never turned up in the finished article is fascinating. This is the Half-Life 2 that never was, and yet, to some extent, it does exist after all. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

If you're reading PC Gamer, there's a good chance you're at least acquainted with Half-Life 2. For many, it's the unforgettable tale of that bit with the helicopter, or that bit with the zombies, or even that bit where that damn NPC wouldn't get out of your way.

Once, though, that story was very different. Okay, well slightly different. Different enough to feel weird and alien to our Half-Life 2 knowing future selves. Valve News Network combed through 2003's leaked Half-Life 2 beta in search of clues as to what might have been—pairing it up with information from Valve's own Raising The Bar.

It's not new info—people have been digging through the leak for some time. But as a Half-Life 2 fan, it's nonetheless a fascinating round-up of what could have been. It's not a huge difference, and in many cases the changes seem born out of certain levels being cut. Still, it's weird to peer into the alternate universe where Eli isn't Alyx's dad.

Much of the leaked content can now be used inside of Garry's Mod. Here's the Steam Workshop link, should you want to do that.

Thanks, Kotaku.

...

Search news
Archive
2015
Apr   Mar   Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2015   2014   2013   2012   2011  
2010   2009   2008   2007   2006  
2005   2004   2003   2002