If you haven’t heard of Counter-Strike, the standalone game that started out as a mod for Half-Life (HL), here’s some background. A mod is a modification of an existing game, done by amateurs like you and me, by using tools provided by the creators of the original game. For more, see the wiki on modding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mod_%28computer_gaming%29).
These are some of the popular mods for HL2 that you can download and play for free if you have the original game.
The Hidden (http://www.hidden-source.com)
The Hidden (still in beta though) has an intriguing premise: In a bioengineering experiment gone bad, The Hidden (aka Subject 617), has been created. It’s an invisible, genetically engineered freak who’s being hunted by armed soldiers, IRIS (Infinitum Research Intercept Squad). One player is The Hidden, the rest play the IRIS. While the IRIS has heavy weaponry, The Hidden has a shimmering invisibility, can cling to walls, and has a lunge attack that can decapitate. There are moments of madness, like when you see something move, empty your magazine in the vicinity, then realise you were shooting at shadows. The next thing you know, your throat’s ripped from behind. Pant-wetting stuff.
One of the best single-player mods I’ve played for HL2. The game is set in the HL2 universe, but on an island in the Baltic Sea. You are to find out the purpose behind the Combine activity on the island and you’ll find your mission objectives changing as you gain more information. As mods go, Minerva exemplifies what a talented and determined individual can do when given the right tools. The entire game plays smoothly and neatly, with interesting level design and challenging game play. Two thumbs up!
Eternal Silence (http://www.eternal-silence.net)
Eternal Silence (also in beta) is an ambitious multiplayer mod for Half-Life 2 . It mixes elements of space shooter (think Star Wars ) with the run-and-gun FPS (first person shooter) style. You play either the United Terran Forces (UTF) or the Neo Galactic Militia (NGM). Your goal is to defeat the opponent’s capital ship. The graphics are great and the space-opera theme looks fantastic.
Watch out for Black Mesa (http://www.blackmesasource.com), a mod in progress, attempting to recreate the original HL universe.
Write to Arjun Nair at email@example.com