PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Surface Tension Uncut mod restores missing Black Mesa level content">Black Mesa Surface Tension mod







Black Mesa's overhaul of Gordon Freeman's educational field trip is a lovingly crafted tribute to the FPS classic, but it's still not entirely done. Although the team is working on the concluding Xen areas, certain earlier parts took cuts to stay on schedule. A notable example is the Surface Tension chapter which abruptly cuts off after a one-man assault on the dam section. Luckily, one gamer took it upon himself to design and restore missing levels with the Surface Tension Uncut mod.



Modder TextFAMGUY1's three levels cover Surface Tension's second half, including a tangle with a tank, flying alien manta ray things, and a lot more zappy noises. Like the majority of Black Mesa, the mod's level design incorporates new buildings and altered layouts while keeping the core pacing right on track with the 1998 original.



It's unknown if the Black Mesa team will go back at some point and release official updates to the shortened levels, but TextFAMGUY1's effort is here now, so head to Mod DB to download it, and keep an eye out for more of TextFAMGUY1's work—he's planning a retouch of the On a Rail chapter next.



Thanks, RPS.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Half-Life 2 Estranged mod is like an interactive Twilight Zone episode">Half-Life 2 Estranged mod







The only thing missing from Alan Edwardes' Half-Life 2 mod Estranged is a cryptic introduction narrated by Rod Serling, possibly with a door flying into your face from a starry sky. But Estranged's "key of imagination" still unlocks plenty of mystery involving a wrecked ship, a puzzling island, its eccentric inhabitants, and a moonlit beach.



Estranged falls under the mod motif of eschewing explanation for exploration. The hows and whys of your predicament aren't immediately apparent—like any good story, Estranged unravels the truth slowly and subtly until the final twist. You'll solve puzzles and bump into the occasional zombie, but the focus clearly revolves around unfogging what's really going on. Story-driven, atmospheric content is a great way to showcase hard, thoughtful work, and Estranged's tiny touches—the flotsam lining the shore or an island inhabitant's scrounged baubles displayed on a shelf—reflect Edwardes' superb attention to detail.



Edwardes recently released the latest alpha version of Estranged, which you can download on its official website.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

If The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists.

With Black Mesa Source somehow now actually released, maybe we need a new impossible mod dream to dream. How about this Jurassic Park-themed mod for Half-Life 2, now six years in the making without any danger of issuing a release date? That’s how PC gaming rolls.

It does have some great footage to show off, though. Clever girl. (more…)

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Half-Life 2 Empires mod adds new maps, models, interface improvements">Half-Life 2 Empires







You can always count on modders to use Half-Life 2 as a canvas for interesting genre combos. Empires exemplifies this as one of the oldest total conversions, bringing Battlefield-style warfare onto the Source engine with three-faction multiplayer mayhem and a commander mechanic akin to Natural Selection 2's system. The first update to the mod in two years, 2.4 adds five new maps, new models, and a small army of fixes.



The new maps—Bush, Arid, Eastborough, Palmbay, and Midbridge—cover typical warzones such as urban, forest, island, and unsecured-bridge-of-certain-death. The heavy tank for the Brenodi Empire as well as the APC for the Northern Faction both received reskins, and the Brenodi's Heavy Pistol model got a bump in quality. Lastly, issuing orders from the commander's interface should be easier through improved menus.



Check out the rest of the extensive patch notes over on Mod DB, where you can also grab 2.4 as a free download.

























PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Jurassic Life mod trailer battles with clever girls">Jurassic Life







Dinosaurs were essentially nature's mechs: big stompy giants with shoulder-mounted missile... wait, no. Just big and stompy. But still cool, making it surprising that we don't see more of them in games and that, the few times they do show up, they've a tendency to be rubbish. So fingers crossed for Jurassic Life, a Half-Life 2 mod that's currently in development and has just released this splendid trailer.







Obviously the big draw is the dinosaurs, although here they may as well be wearing a big "work in progress" sign around their necks. But also of note is the beautiful scenery that's being coaxed out of the engine. Given its age, it's easy to forget how good Source can look.



Jurassic Life's ModDB page has the details: "In this adventure, you are Robert Muldoon, the person in charge of the safety of the park. The game will proceed in a relatively linear but intense way with Resident Evil inspired management of the stress."



Obviously it's still a ways off release, with the team looking for additional hands to push them towards completion. It's showing a lot of promise though, and at the very least it should answer the burning question of "what happens when you shoot a T-Rex in the face with a shotgun?" For that reason alone it's worth keeping an eye on.



Thanks, Gaming Blend
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Face Off: What was the best decade for PC gaming?">face-off







Face Off pits two gladiators against each other as they tackle gaming's most perplexing conundrums. This New Year's Eve edition is a chronological throw-down: which decade gave PC gaming the most? Podcast Producer Erik Belsaas says it was the '90s—the origin of modern PC gaming. Executive Editor Evan Lahti insists it was the '00s, with its speedy internet, better PCs, and shinier graphics engines.



Evan: The 1990s had the CD-ROM and the McRib sandwich. The ‘00s had Windows XP and two terrible Star Wars movies. I think the latter birthed better games: the Battlefield series, Crysis, Company of Heroes, BioShock, Dragon Age: Origins, Guild Wars, The Sims, Rome: Total War, Star Wars: KOTOR, and the best Civilization games happened then. What've you got, Erik?



Erik: Lucasarts, id, Ion Storm, Interplay, Blizzard: the iconic names that created franchises that we still discuss today. “RTS,” “FPS,” and “MMO” had no meaning before the pioneers of the '90s came along with some-thing other than sequels and rehashes: Baldur's Gate, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem 3D, MechWarrior, Unreal Tournament and every LucasArts adventure game from Sam & Max to Grim Fandango.



Evan: This is going to devolve into who can name-drop more game titles, isn't it?



Erik: Pretty much.



Evan: Cool. In that case, let’s put the best we've got on the page. What are the top three games from your decade? Mine: WoW, Counter-Strike, and Half-Life 2.



Erik: Just three? How about X-COM, Fallout, and The Secret of Monkey Island. Timeless classics that we still play today.



Evan: Is that the best that the decade that gave us the Spice Girls has got, grandpa? The innovations of the '00s will last far longer. Half-Life 2 wasn't just the basis for the way modern action games tell stories, it’s the technological foundation for the most ambitious mods we have today and the preferred canvas for machinima creators. World of Warcraft’s meteoric rise brought PC gaming into popular culture, ruined innumerable marriages, and earned its own South Park episode. Top that.



Erik:Your great games are all parts of established franchises that began in the '90s. For that matter, the original Counter-Strike mod came out in 1999, before Valve turned it into a retail product! Take away the names that began in the '90s, the '00s would've created very little of their own.



Evan: Megabyte for megabyte, I’d rather replay Half-Life 2 than its predecessor. Likewise for Diablo II, Warcraft III, Fallout 3 and other major franchises that began in the '90s but matured in the '00s. I really think that the tech of the '00s (better operating systems, fast internet, faster PCs) produced better gaming experiences. EVE Online couldn't exist in the '90s. Team Fortress 2's dozens of free content updates couldn't have streamed down our wimpy modems—the same goes for 25-man WoW raids or a heavily modded playthrough of Oblivion or Morrowind.



Erik: You've got a short memory. EverQuest allowed 72-man raids. And before Oblivion and Morrowind came Daggerfall, which was amazing and heavily modded. Doom, the father of modding, came out in '93.



Evan: I’ll play your game, Belsaas. Here's my ace: Deus Ex, our most favorite game ever, happened in 2000.



Erik: Deus Ex is a good game...but how about StarCraft? Has any other game absolutely defined its genre or rallied an entire nation behind it like a sport?







Evan: I was worried you’d play the Korea card. What can I counter that with? The 100-million-selling main-stream success of The Sims? The booming popularity of independent gaming? ...Peggle?



Erik: Peggle? Well I’ve got...you know...uh...Carmen Sandiego. Fine. Peggle wins.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Half-Life 2 Gravity Gun replica selling in 2013, sadly obeys gravity">Half-Life 2 Gravity Gun replica







"You can call it the Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator if you really want to," Half-Life 2's Alyx Vance said as we were introduced to the Gravity Gun, one of the most memorable physics-twisting tools of PC gaming. Soon you'll be able to lug around your very own triumph of science: collectible manufacturing company NECA announced a 1:1 Gravity Gun replica available for purchase in spring 2013.



Though it misses this holiday shopping season by a few gluons, the model—still in an early prototype stage—looks like it'll tout just as much fine detail as NECA's Portal Gun. A pre-order form should be available soon, NECA said. We presume it won't take headcrab legs as currency.



Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The Black Mesa mod is a remarkable accomplishment, remaking Half-Life in the Source engine, and now a mapper building upon their work has remade another slice of Valve history. Black Mesa: Uplink remakes HL's classic Uplink demo, which curiously for a demo was a new slice based upon levels cut from the game during development. And now that's available in shiny Source-o-vision.

Black Mesa: Uplink is out now on its ModDB page and here on Shacknews. To play, you'll need to own a modern Source game on Steam and have the Black Mesa mod installed. Mapper Michael 'Hezus' Jansen made Uplink over three months, building upon the assets and eight years of work from Black Mesa.

Set roughly around Half-Life's Lambda Core chapter, Uplink sees Gordon Freeman on a mission to activate a radio antenna so people can escape, only an awful lot of soldiers, mutants, aliens, radiation leaks and jumping puzzles are in his way.

"I've recreated something people played 13 years ago, that means it's intertwined with nostalgic feelings," Jansen said in the release announcement. "Have I recreated it according to their past experience? Have I changed too much? Have I changed too little? All I know is that I threw away all illusions that I could please everyone with this remake, right when I started the project. I made it as I saw fit and I hope the commentary tracks will shed some light on my choices."

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Black Mesa: Uplink mod recreates Half-Life demo with Source graphics">uplink_compare3







Remember Uplink? (No, not that Uplink.) Valve called its original demo for Half-Life "Uplink" in 1999. It took place during Gordon Freeman's journey through the spooky Lambda Core, but Valve eventually cut the content, later repackaging it as a separate demo. Black Mesa: Uplink reproduces Uplink's levels through Black Mesa's art assets and textures.



Tasked with reactivating an antenna to send a distress signal, players must guide Gordon and his magical, mighty crowbar (minds out of the gutter, kids) through the Lambda complex's radioactive bowels. You'll meet Black Mesa denizens we all know and love: scientists, Barney, Vortigaunts, dead scientists, and headcrabs. Because it was a demo, however, Uplink doesn't last long, but it presents a new branch in Black Mesa's storied saga.



Grab Uplink from Mod DB. Note: You'll need the also-free Black Mesa for it to work.
Kotaku

Next Year, You'll Be Able To Buy Your Own Half-Life 2 Gravity GunSadly, it won't make the holiday shopping season, but toy company NECA's replica Half-Life 2 gravity gun will be available for purchase next Spring.



It's 1:1 scale, and as you can see from the prototype below, lights up as well. Since this is the same company behind the replica Portal guns, you could probably expect some sound effects as well.



1:1 Half-Life Gravity Gun Coming From NECA In 2013 [TNI]



Next Year, You'll Be Able To Buy Your Own Half-Life 2 Gravity Gun


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