One of the best things about gaming on the PC is that you can often extend a game’s life, courtesy of a thriving and active modding community. Perhaps, ID Software can be credited with instigating this unique relationship between the developers and the audience, starting with the release of mod-friendly Doom. This was all the way back in the early 90’s and surprisingly the modding community continues to create mods for Doom. Subsequently, other developers got on the bandwagon and studios like Valve, Bioware and Bethesda regularly release game modification toolset along with their game. Today we are going to start looking at some of the best mods available for Half-Life 2 that are created using the Source SDK. Over the course of this series, we will attempt to bring to your notice the most noteworthy mods for Half-Life 2, that cater to a variety of tastes.
Minerva: Metastasis [Download]
Action, Puzzle, Platforming
[Note: You need Steam client and Half-Life 2: Episode One installed (and playable) to play Minerva: Metastasis]
Cargo Cult (Adam Foster) started working on this mod in 2007 and now it has grown into a full-fledged single player campaign comprised of four chapters. Minerva: Metastasis is based in the Half-Life universe and it starts-off with the player getting dropped on an island that houses a Combine research facility. After a brief yet frantic encounter with Combine’s security forces, the player enters the facility that runs deep underground. Guiding you on this mission is a mysterious benefactor who keeps sending you ominous messages about your mission and your nature.
Just like the original game, Minerva’s game-play keeps it fresh by switching between sequences of gunfights, platforming and puzzle-solving. Playing thorough this game, you feel like an unwilling tool to satisfy someone’s morbid curiosity. Without giving away too much of the story, this research facility is running some pretty nasty research involving human subjects and this adds to the feeling that there is more to it than meets the eye. Adding to the vacuous nature of the game are well designed levels, augmented by immersive background score. The captivating mystery of this quest which is devoid of any civil human interaction motivates you to keep pushing forward in the hopes of finding the answer around the next corner.
The greatest thing about Minerva is its surprisingly high production value and game-play length that is at least as long as the official episodes. If you liked the ambience of Portal— where you feel like someone is always watching and getting a kick out of your predicament— you are going to love Minerva. This mod expertly carries on the mood set by Half-Life 2 and later enhanced by Portal—a feeling of a rat negotiating through a maze to find the cheese at the end of it all. And it looks like Adam Foster’s work on Minerva deservedly caught the attention of Valve Corporation and he is now working with them on HL2: Episode 3.
[Could it be that the cheese is also a lie?]
Through this series of articles, we will bring to your attention at least one Source (HL2) mod every Friday. We will try to keep it fresh and discuss mods of varied genres—here is the list of mods we hope to write about in the following weeks:
- Curse: Episode 1 [Fantasy]
- Dreamball [Puzzle]
- Dear Esther [Narrative]
- Age of Chivalry [Fighting]
- Synergy [Co-op multiplayer]
- Flipside [Platforming]