4 Half-Life Mods That Should Become Full Games
At PAX East, I saw two excellent games that had their beginnings as Half-Life mods. Natural Selection 2 and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare both impressed with their inventive gameplay and DIY ethos, and I got to thinking: given their obvious success and the huge variety of Half-Life mods out there, couldn’t there be other mods out there worth charging money for? Half-Life 3 isn’t coming out anytime soon, after all.
[Editor's Note: I tried to provide the most recent information and links for these mods I could find, but the imprecise nature of the modding world can cause confusion. If I missed anything important, please drop it in the comments.]
4. WWI Source
What can I say? I love World War I, and I can’t figure out why someone hasn’t made big-time game about it yet. WWI Source attempts to fill that void, offering a Source-powered, Battlefield-style take on Great War combat. Gameplay is pretty standard multiplayer shooter stuff, though there are some awesome, authentic additions. Check out the artillery barrage that begins around 3:20 in the video above!
3. Hidden: Source
In Hidden: Source, nine players take control of familiar, heavily-armed commandos. The tenth plays as Subject 617, a genetically-modified psychopath who is nearly invisible! The commandos (known as the Infinitum Research Intercept Squad) must work together to take down Subject 617, who can stick to walls, see enemies coming through solid surfaces, cannibalize fallen opponents to gain health, and terrorize adversaries with pre-recorded taunts. Oh, and did I mention he’s invisible?
Asymmetrical multiplayer games are cool, and Hidden, with its creepy vibe and unique mechanics, could really benefit from the legitimacy and resources conferred by a full release.
2. Eternal Silence
Star Wars: Battlefront II did its best to give players access to large-scale space battles, but I have to say I prefer the homebrewed efforts of Eternal Silence. The combat depicted in the video above captures the exactly the kind of explosive, laser-blasting violence I demand.
Eternal Silence takes place in a series of phases: “Strike” emphasizes on ship-to-ship combat, as AI-controlled capital ships trade salvos and players work to destroy the opposing faction’s support fleet. Once one team’s corvettes have been destroyed, an “Attack/Defend” phase begins, and the team that prevailed during “Strike” has a chance to board the enemy ship and capture its subsystems. If they can do so before a timer runs out, the game is over. If they can’t, things revert back to the “Strike” phase and the successful defenders spawn new corvettes.
Multiple character classes and ship types add variety, and the phase-based competition keeps things from getting stale. The gaming world needs more space combat — someone give these guys some money!
Minerva is an episodic series of Half-Life 2 mods that emphasizes quality level design. Designer Adam Foster was disappointed by the unrealistic layouts in Half-Life 2, and filled Minerva with artful, architecturally believable structures and areas. Over the course of five episodes, players explore a mysterious island to discover the Combine’s purpose there, directed by “Minerva,” a sarcastic female presence who will remind people of GLaDOS.
Foster’s emphasis on realism extends to encounter design, and players have praised the careful placement of enemies and the way the wide-open level design offers multiple paths to success. The mod’s inventive mechanics, intense atmosphere, and compelling plot all cry out for a more official release. According to a post on his blog, however, Foster was hired by Valve in 2008, which makes such a prospect unlikely, though not impossible. Hopefully they put him to work on Half-Life 3!