5 Half-Life Mods To Ring In The 15th Anniversary
Today, Half-Life turns 15.
Yes, it has already been 15 years since the Nov. 19 1998 release of a game that would revolutionize the FPS landscape. Half-Life has won over 50 Game of the Year awards, the franchise it spawned has sold over 20 million units, and approximately eleventy billion fans are dying to hear word of Half-Life 3. We all have a great tale to tell of our first experience with the game so many years ago – or today – but we at Game Front wanted to specifically highlight the cultural impact it has had on the modding scene.
Since its release, the Half-Life series has been a focal point in modding circles, and Valve has always supported the efforts of modders and their craft. As of this writing, our Half-Life series modding portal has seen over 15 million file downloads, and many Half-Life mods have gone on to become household names among gamers. You guys love it, in other words, and because you do, and hell, because we live in hope Valve will eventually stop trolling and just announce Half-Life 3 already, here are five of the most successful and influential Half-Life mods.
Who would have thought that one of the most popular and influential FPS games of all time would arise from a mod?
If you’re new to this whole internet thing, Counter-Strike pits a team of terrorists against a team of counter-terrorists in a series of rounds that can be won by either completing an objective or eliminating all players from the enemy team. Oh, and you run faster with a knife, of course.
Counter-Strike’s initial release on June 19, 1999 made such waves in the Half-Life community that Valve began helping developers Minh “Gooseman” Le and Jess “Cliffe” Cliffe by the fourth beta. Eventually, the company hired the two and bought the rights to Counter-Strike, releasing a standalone version of the mod on Nov. 8, 2000.
Since then, the game has been expanded into a series that includes Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Counter-Strike: Source, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. As of August 2011, the franchise has sold over 25 million units.
Team Fortress Classic
Before there was Team Fortress 2 — aka the most popular hat-based game in the universe — there was Team Fortress Classic. And before there was Team Fortress Classic, there was Team Fortress, a 1996 Quake mod. Valve enjoyed that mod so much that the company decided to release an official Half-Life version of the class-based FPS on April 7, 1999.
The original Team Fortress modders were working on a standalone release for their Quake mod when Valve approached them with an offer they couldn’t refuse — a job opportunity to write a Half-Life port instead. Since then, the game has undergone significant updates, and in 2003, Team Fortress Classic was released as a standalone game on Steam.
TFC sees the red team face off against the blue team in a variety of scenarios, including capture the flag, protect the VIP, or territory control. Players have access to nine different classes, but as any TF2 player will attest to, there’s no need to play anything other than Pyro and hold down W+M1.
Day of Defeat
Another modding success story, Day of Defeat began life as a Half-Life mod upon its Aug. 4 2000 release. Its popularity got Valve’s attention, and the mod team was hired by the software giant to produce a standalone version, which was released in May 2003.
The team-based WW2 FPS has small squads of Axis and Allies forces go at it in mid-20th century Europe. Like Counter-Strike, there are various objectives depending on the game mode, but unlike CS, players don’t wait until the end of a round to respawn. Instead, they spawn back in in “reinforcement waves” that come every 10-20 seconds, depending on the server.
The granddaddy of Half-Life mods, Sven Co-op is one of the oldest mods still in development.
Originally created by Daniel ‘Sven Viking’ Fearon and released on Jan. 19 1999, it predates Valve’s Team Fortress Classic. In July 2013, the mod team announced that Valve gave the greenlight to work directly with the original Half-Life engine code to create a standalone version of the mod to be offered on Steam for free.
Based heavily on the original Half-Life, Sven Co-op is, surprise surprise, a cooperative game mode that pits players against AI-controlled opponents, puzzles, and various challenges.
Perhaps one of the first games to blend FPS with RTS elements, Natural Selection was originally released as a Half-Life mod on Halloween 2002.
Created by Charlie “Flayra” Cleveland, the mod pits a team of aliens against a team of space marines — not exactly breaking new ground, there. But the ingenuity comes in the form of a “Commander,” a marine player who is able to observe the battlefield from a tactical overhead view and purchase upgrades, issue movement orders and drop supplies.
Cleveland and his team, Unknown Worlds Entertainment, began work on a standalone sequel in 2006. On Oct. 31 2012, Natural Selection 2 released and was nominated for Game Front’s Indie Game of the Year — among other accolades.
Darwin would be proud.
What was the first Half-Life mod you played? What are some of your favorites? Let us known in the comments!