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.

PC Gamer
PC Gamer

Aperture Science isn't the only one with a secret underground base. Deep in the Antarctic lies a hidden subterranean facility, filled with puzzles, lined with traps, and shrouded in mystery. Why is it there? What is its purpose?  Below the Ice, a mod for Half-Life 2, invites you to find out. Just watch your step.

Looks simple, but this place is not your friend.

The mod begins with you arriving in the Antarctic, where you quickly stumble upon the entrance to a facility buried in a glacier. There's a sign warning against trespassers, which feels a bit pointless. You've either traveled all the way to the north south pole and aren't going to turn around and go home because of a sign, or you're a polar bear penguin and you can't read anyway.

Entering this facility requires passing a bit of an intelligence test in a number of grid-like puzzle chambers. Many involve the simple pushing of buttons, though figuring out how to reach those buttons, and what those buttons actually do, can take a while. The chambers aren't particularly forgiving if you make a mistake, either. Prepare to be crushed, fried, or fall to your death if you slip up.

This is how I solve puzzles. With a crowbar.

Once you've convinced the puzzle chambers you've got a brain in your head, you're granted access to the rest of the facility, which appears to have been abandoned. While exploring, you'll discover living quarters, science labs, and a series of offices. There, you'll begin to piece together the story behind the facility, which ties in to both the fiction of Half-Life 2 and Portal. It's not just a matter of walking around and reading notes: even though you've escaped the test chambers, there are still plenty of puzzles to solve to gain access to the facility's control rooms, observation chambers, and science labs.

I suspect they're not planning you give you a haircut.

The more you progress, the more the facility begins to reveal its secrets, and its true size. While you're navigating the place, unlocking doors, turning on lights, locating missing pieces of technology, dabbling in teleportation, and piecing together its history, also keep an eye out for a series of memory sticks. Find enough of them hidden throughout the mod and it will give you an alternate ending.

Companion cubes aren't quite as heartwarming here.

There's probably a few hours of play here, depending on your smarts. Some of the puzzles aren't particularly sophisticated: to progress, it's generally more important to carefully examine your surroundings for clues than to be some sort of 10th Level Puzzle Wizard. There's some decent music throughout, and while the map's set dressing is a bit plain, and a few custom textures are a little underwhelming, it's a nice mod if you're in the mood for some gently-paced puzzle solving.

Dude, I can't solve this with you watching me.

You can grab the mod here and untangle the mystery for yourself. To install, extract the folder into your sourcemods directory (\Steam\steamapps\sourcemods), and restart Steam. Below the Ice will appear in your library. You'll also require Half-Life 2 and Source SDK Base 2013 single-player. You can find the latter by viewing your Games Library in your Steam client, selecting "Tools," and double-clicking it from the list.

PC Gamer

Something is happening over at BMRF.US, a website associated with the Source-based Half-Life remake Black Mesa: Source. The site is repeating an emergency broadcast warning of "a disaster of unknown type" that has occurred at the Black Mesa Research Facility, and ordering the immediate evacuation of everyone within 75 miles. Half-Life 3 confirmed?

Well, no, I think we can safely say that's not it. But the warning may have something to do with a coming launch of Black Mesa: Source as a stand-alone game on Steam. It was originally released as a free mod in 2012, and in late 2013 was among the first games to get the Greenlight on Steam—a somewhat surprising development, given that it's based entirely on Valve's intellectual property.

It's generally assumed that when the commercial launch rolls around, it will include the Xen levels, which weren't included with the original mod. According to a post on the Black Mesa: Source forums, however, one of the developers said the alert "has nothing to do with the imminent release of Xen," but added that more hints may be in the offing.

It's worth remembering that the BMRF site was actually part of the Black Mesa: Source ARG that launched shortly after the mod was released, and as noted by Reddit, the site is owned by the Black Mesa web developer. It's legit, in other words, but legit what, exactly, remains a mystery.

PC Gamer

Something is happening over at BMRF.US, a website associated with the Source-based Half-Life remake Black Mesa: Source. The site is repeating an emergency broadcast warning of "a disaster of unknown type" that has occurred at the Black Mesa Research Facility, and ordering the immediate evacuation of everyone within 75 miles. Half-Life 3 confirmed?

Well, no, I think we can safely say that's not it. But the warning may have something to do with a coming launch of Black Mesa: Source as a stand-alone game on Steam. It was originally released as a free mod in 2012, and in late 2013 was among the first games to get the Greenlight on Steam—a somewhat surprising development, given that it's based entirely on Valve's intellectual property.

It's generally assumed that when the commercial launch rolls around, it will include the Xen levels, which weren't included with the original mod. According to a post on the Black Mesa: Source forums, however, one of the developers said the alert "has nothing to do with the imminent release of Xen," but added that more hints may be in the offing.

It's worth remembering that the BMRF site was actually part of the Black Mesa: Source ARG that launched shortly after the mod was released, and as noted by Reddit, the site is owned by the Black Mesa web developer. It's legit, in other words, but legit what, exactly, remains a mystery.

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

What a cute little Citadel!

Way back when RPS was a wee bairn, Alec gurgled and waved his flabby babyfists at Half-Life 2: Wars, a mod turning Valve’s FPS into a Company of Heroes-ish RTS. Pistol squads facing off against headcrab zombies, breaking out RPGs to take down Combine gunships, and all that. Well, RPS has grown a lot since then, as has Alec, and so has HL2: Wars too. Having renamed itself Lambda Wars (it tried Spike but the other mods at school were merciless>), it’s matured over the years and is now available on Steam as a standalone game free for all. You don’t even need to own Half-Life.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Half-Life 3 it ain't, but if it's a new Half-Life game you crave then maybe Lambda Wars will do the trick. An RTS spin on the Half-Life universe, Lambda Wars has been kicking around the modding community for a while as HL2: Wars, but now it's absolutely standalone and most winningly, free. The beta has been available since the weekend. 

The game uses the Alien Swarm engine, but as a newly standalone offering you won't need a copy of that nor any Source Engine game to run this. As either the Combine or Resistance you can play online with up to eight human or AI players.

Check out the trailer below:

...

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