Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

While Black Mesa may be rebuilding Half-Life‘s world on a slightly more modern foundation, modder James “MrGnang” Cockburn reckons there’s some life in Valve’s old GoldSrc engine yet. Half-Life: Echoes is an impressive mod released last Friday, putting the player in the shoes of a scientist elsewhere in the Black Mesa facility when everything goes to hell. Cue the usual running, gunning, fighting soldiers and weird aliens, all while marvelling at some genuinely impressive architecture that I just hadn’t thought possible. Just be warned – this one pulls no punches.

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Half-Life

One of my favourite parts of PC gaming is seeing modders push old game engines to their limits, by creating maps and levels that likely wouldn’t have been possible back when the game in question originally released. A quick glance at Half Life: Echoes immediately shows it is one such mod.

Created by first-time modder James Cockburn, Half Life: Echoes retells the story of Black Mesa’s alien outbreak from what the developer cryptically refers to as a “new perspective”. Elsewhere, on the mod's ModDB page, this new perspective is identified “Candidate 12”, another drone in Black Mesa's gigantic hive, at least until the Resonance Cascade.

It’s a fitting theme for the mod, which basically aims to exaggerate all of the strongest elements of the original Half Life. Echoes comprises over thirty new maps, all designed solely by Cockburn. And they’re not small either. Take a look at the images below.

Even considering how long in the tooth GoldSrc is looking today, that’s some mighty impressive map design. They’re so big that Cockburn recommends playing it on a fairly up-to-date PC, because the detail is such that it’ll cause slowdown on older machines.

The mod has been in development for over four years, having been originally announced back in 2014. The response by users has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Echoes currently has a rating of 9.4 on ModDB, with one reviewer calling it a “modern-day masterpiece”.

Below is a launch trailer which shows off some of the mod’s scripted events, including an impressive flyover of the Black Mesa area by a host of military aircraft, and an admittedly less impressive scene of a zombie throwing a barrel at the player. That said, I do now want to see a Half Life mod that retells the Black Mesa disaster from the perspective of Donkey Kong.

Half Life: Echoes can be downloaded here, although be warned it’s designed specifically for the Steam version of the Half-Life, and isn’t compatible with either Half Life: Source or Half Life for Windows (if you somehow have the CD case from 1998 still hanging around).  

If you want to see more mods that do madly ambitious things with old game engines, you should check out the Forgotten Sepulcher, a ridiculously huge fan-made Quake level.

Half-Life

Year of the Dragon is a mod for the original Half-Life currently being created by modder Magic Nipples. When complete, it will let you play Valve's classic shooter not as a nerdy physicist who is somehow able to demolish SWAT teams, but as lovable purple dragon Spyro.

Year of the Dragon has been in the works since November of last year and has made plenty of progress. In the video below you can see how a third-person camera works with Half-Life, as well as check out the gliding mechanics in action. The gib test for Spyro's death animation is a bit off-putting, to be honest.

Thanks, Kotaku.

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

Xen

Sometimes, things just take time. When an amateur team remake an FPS classic up to AAA standards in a modern engine in their spare time? Yeah, that’ll take a while, but the patience seems to be paying off for fans of Black Mesa. While so so far the ambitious (and Valve-endorsed) Half-Life remake has mostly adhered to the structure of the original, developers Crowbar Collective reckon that they can do better with Xen. While the core concepts and story beats are still present, everything else is being re-designed from the ground up. It’s looking lovely, and nearing completion.

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Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

The best shooters endure. While the state of the art moves on in other genres and leaves old designs in the dust, it’s as fun to fire a well-made shotgun from an early 90s FPS as from one released today. For that reason, this list runs the gamut from genre classics to those released in the last year. There’s bound to be something for you inside.

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Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brock Wilbur)

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 6.10.17 PM

One of my favorite parts of getting a press release is getting a press release that doesn’t reveal any information about the game itself. You get a vague promise about a game that might happen someday if some people get together. Normally, I don’t give that much of my time. This announcement is different. There’s a new MMO and the folks behind it represent some of my favorite games in recent memory. I think you’ll be stoked on this too.

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Half-Life

Occult Scrim looks like a fun twist on Half Life: it's not quite a fully top-down shooter, but it's nearly there, with the camera floating way overhead. Your job is to blast through enemies to rack up points, which you'll spend on new weapons and items when you return to your base, an armoury.

It's still very early days for the mod, and it doesn't yet have a release date, but it looks remarkably polished. The perspective works well, and your character—a black ops assassin—automatically adjusts their aim up and down depending on where your enemies are. It looks like it plays far quicker than the base game, with lots of enemies on screen at one time. 

The camera has two positions: you can bring it slightly closer to the action if you want to get extra precise. Even when it's zoomed out, the guns feel meaty and solid. I'm not sure how many of the weapons are new and how many come from the base game, but I'm impressed nonetheless.

Enemy behaviour has been tweaked from the original to make them more challenging to fight, and they'll do things like roll and strafe out of the line of fire. You'll face bosses, too, like the one below. 

Click here for its ModDB page. It's one I'll be keeping an eye on as it comes together.

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

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Folks, I think we’re going to have to let Half-Life go. It’s been over a decade since Valve did anything with the license (beyond cross-promotion deals), and the seemingly posthumous leak of the sequel’s planned story beats cemented the sense that the series wouldn’t be returning any time soon.

Seemingly disinterested in using it themselves, Valve have been approving the use of the Half-Life setting and assets (if not the name) for use in commercial fan-works, Hunt Down The Freeman feels like it might just be the last nail in the coffin for the series, if public response thusfar has been any indication.

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Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

A proper playable demo of Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition is coming next week, containing the RPG’s first chapter, following the recent benchmark tool. A demo! In this day and age! Bless their hearts. Square Enix have talked a lot about wanting to do the PC version right, mods and all, and they do seem to be going for it. They’re even teaming up with iconic PC chap Gordon Freeman, adding the Half-Life hero’s HEV suit, glasses, and crowbar to FFXV’s Steam version. Well, he’s not using them, is he? (more…)

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Warrior princess.

If your Christmas plans include gathering the family around the meat tree and singing songs celebrating the return of our saviour, Gordon Freeman, I have bad news: Black Mesa is delaying the launch of its final chapters. The sanctioned fan-made Half-Life remake had previously planned to launch the remade Xen levels in mid-Deceber but yeah, that’s not happening any more. Why? Because they’re still not ready, obvs. But heck, it’s been two years since Black Mesa hit early access with most of Half-Life remade (and developers Crowbar Collective have added a bit more since) so another delay doesn’t make much of a difference. (more…)

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