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The Half-Life 2 Cinematic Mod has been around forever, and in that time has proven fairly divisive. Sure, it adds some lovely effects to the game, but it also makes so many changes that some feel it loses a little of Valve's original vision for City 17 and its surrounding countryside. The "improved" character models are a particular bone of contention.
I could never get past the latter, with almost everyone in the mod looking like a Baywatch reject, but if all you care about are environmental effects and the crusade to make a game that's nearly ten years old look brand new, you might want to watch the new video below and see how far the mod has progressed since its inception back in 2005.
If you can meet its surprisingly hefty specs (at least for the full range of effects, considering the game's age), you can download the mod below.
"Return to Ravenholm," aka "Half-Life 2: Episode 4," was a Half-Life 2 episode set in the spooky abandoned town. It's been canceled for a few years now, but we've gotten a better look at the game that could have been thanks to some new concept art and animation tests. It was in development at Dishonored developer Arkane Studios around 2006, but was ultimately scrapped.
Valvetime revealed the new shots, with Rock Paper Shotgun's Craig Pearson confirming their authenticity. According to Valve's Marc Laidlaw, the project had been canceled because the defining qualities of Ravenholm (headcrabs and zombies) were feeling "played out," and the game's placement in the timeline of the other episodes was a "creative constraint." But if you're curious to see the small bits remaining of the project, check out the video below.
For years now, there have been rumors and reports of a now-cancelled Half-Life 2 episode called Half-Life 2: Return to Ravenholm. The project, an overview of which can be found at the Combine Overwiki, was to be a collaboration between Valve and Dishonored-makers Arkane, and would, presumably, take players back to the creepy, zombie-infested village of Ravenholm. The existence and cancellation of Return to Ravenholm was confirmed by Valve's Marc Laidlaw in January of last year.
The folks at ValveTime have posted what they claim to be some new unearthed prototype screenshots from the long-cancelled project. They've compiled them into the video above, as well. For clarity's sake: These screens are old, and no one has any reason to think the project has been un-cancelled or anything like that.
Seeing as how the images come from an unconfirmed (by us) source and the game apparently never got very far into development, I'd suggest taking them with a grain of salt. I've reached out to both Arkane and Valve to ask about their authenticity, and will update if I hear back. Still... absorption? Interesting.
It wouldn't be an article about Half-Life unless I closed with some sort of Half-Life 3 joke, so… no, you know what? This one time I'm not gonna do it.
New Images of Half-life 2: Episode 4 / Return to Ravenholm [ValveTime, thanks Glenn]