Half-Life 2: Update mod adds modern polish to old classic

It’s a little hard to believe that Half-Life 2 came out in 2004. The game has aged pretty well, but a devoted member of the Half-Life fan community, Filip Victor, wanted to bring HL2‘s graphics quality closer to modern standards. Victor’s first stab at that goal came out in 2009, as the Half-Life 2: Update mod, and he’s continued his work since. The latest version hits Steam today. It maintains the distinctive look and feel of the original game while improving the lighting and environmental effects. Have a look:

As a die-hard Half-Life fan, I’m impressed with the subtle, tasteful improvements that Victor has made. I’ll definitely be playing through the game again to see all of the nips and tucks. Those who want to revisit City 17 can download the mod for free, with one caveat: you’ll need to own a copy of Half-Life 2.

Comments closed
    • squeeb
    • 5 years ago

    Awesome!

    • albundy
    • 5 years ago

    wish i could play it, but i cant find my 3dfx AGP card and a copy of windows ME!

    • auxy
    • 5 years ago

    Hmmh. Slow news day, I guess. HL2 is a tremendously overrated game. (´・ω・`)

      • flip-mode
      • 5 years ago

      Opinions are overrated.

        • oldog
        • 5 years ago

        Not mine (at least not based on the number of thumbs down I get).

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      Pretty much

      It was overshadowed by Call of Duty (back when it was good) and Medal of Honor.

    • Aranarth
    • 5 years ago

    BTW for those of you missing HL1 I highly recommend playing Black Mesa.

    I definitely gotta get the mod and play hl2 again for the 10th time 😀

      • Chrispy_
      • 5 years ago

      Have they finished Black Mesa yet?
      Last time I checked (last year) they still hadn’t included the Xen endgame….

        • Goofus Maximus
        • 5 years ago

        Nope. The annoying jumping puzzles have not yet made it into the mod, and I really don’t care! 🙂

        Rather, I’d like Valve to just hand over HL3 development to these guys. They can’t be any SLOWER than Valve at it!

    • anotherengineer
    • 5 years ago

    insert
    *1 man revamps a whole game faster than valve can make a sequel to that game*
    meme here

      • UnfriendlyFire
      • 5 years ago

      There’s Black Mesa, which is a complete remake of HL1. Too bad I can’t play it because the micro-stuttering (on a single GPU) gives me headaches within 15 minutes of playing it.

    • plonk420
    • 5 years ago

    there seemed to be a lot of hate for the Cinematic Mod on Ars. am i the only one here, too, that likes it (leaving Alyx out of the equation)? it was one of my motivations to go from a 5870 to R9 280+

    [url<]http://cinematicmod.com[/url<]

    • Peter.Parker
    • 5 years ago

    I guess it’s clear now:

    F i l i p V i c t o r
    70+105+108+105+112+32+86+105+99+116+111+114 = 1163

    H L 3 = c o n f i r m e d
    72+76+(3)+61+99+111+110+102+105+114+109+101+100 = 1163

    I realize that the ASCII code of 3 is not 3 (it’s 51), but this is such an important piece of the puzzle that we MUST take the number for number value.

    • tviceman
    • 5 years ago

    The only problem I had (and still have today) with Half Life 2 was feedback while being shot. It’s a subtle nuance, but it’s more of an annoying splat than the jolt of being shot that other games display.

    Other than that, it’s still a masterpiece from my point of view and the fact that Valve feels the need to change the way they want to tell the Half Life story makes me sad. Not all formulas need to have major overhauls, hats, multiplayer, etc. Small upgrades along the way suite single player games just fine.

    • atari030
    • 5 years ago

    Does this mean we’re going to get a higher fidelity version of [b<]Full Life Consequences[/b<] as well?? Can't wait....I will laugh even more heartily. [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHxyZaZlaOs[/url<]

      • alloyD
      • 5 years ago

      OH YES! Please yes!

    • alloyD
    • 5 years ago

    Great. That’ll make Ravenholm [i<]even creepier[/i<]. Great.

      • fershnickety
      • 5 years ago

      We don’t go to Ravenholm.

      • UnfriendlyFire
      • 5 years ago

      Creepier? You mean s***ing your pants when hordes of those zombies swarm you, or when you fall off a roof into a group of them.

        • Klimax
        • 5 years ago

        It wasn’t terrifying on such scale. F.E.A.R. beats that by kilometer. (And beats 2 and 3 for that matter) Doom 3 did better too in this regard…

    • Kretschmer
    • 5 years ago

    HL2 was overshadowed by Doom3 (atmosphere, satisfying weapons, not a physics demo), and I could never get into Gordon Freeman’s bland urban shooter.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 5 years ago

      Doom 3 had some really annoying gimmicks that made it less enjoyable.
      No duct tape.
      Totally black shadows, with no specular/indirect lighting.
      Clearing a room only to have monsters pop up out of nowhere behind you every time.

        • auxy
        • 5 years ago

        Doom 3 does have specular highlights. It’s just that there is usually only one light source, hehe.

      • GrimDanfango
      • 5 years ago

      Lol.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 5 years ago

      Doom3 was good, but more so after you mod it. Both HL2 and D3 were lacking in a few areas that mods fixed, and TC’s kept the game relevant down the road. But yeah, I did enjoy doom3 more than HL2, mostly because it was consistent and had a darker atmosphere. People who complain about the lighting don’t get it. That was the point, and they missed it.

        • Goofus Maximus
        • 5 years ago

        I’d say, rather than “missing” the point, we got the point but were annoyed to the point of rage by the application of this point in gameplay. If I wanted a game that dark, I’d just play any game with the monitor turned off! 😉

        The demo was enough to let me know that Doom 3 just wasn’t the game for me. I still fire up the original Doom and Doom II, which have stood the test of time, and look quite pretty when using one of the fancy ports with 3d models and high resolution textures. I use Risen3D, myself.

        • Krogoth
        • 5 years ago

        I don’t understand the Doom 3 hate.

        Doom 3 is closer to what Doom 1 was envisioned to be, but it was held back by limitations of PC technology. Doom 1 was full of ambushes. The first two episodes had plenty of dark places where baddies jumped out if you tried to blitz through.

        I think people where expecting a Deus Ex out of Doom 3, while id made it clear from the start it was going to be a throwback to the original Doom.

          • l33t-g4m3r
          • 5 years ago

          Exactly. This is a simple case of people projecting their incorrect expectations on a game that never claimed to be an update to doom2, but a scary reboot of the series.

          Doom2 fans crawled out of the woodwork and whined that it wasn’t doom2, which was really rather pathetic. Doom3 was a completely different style of game, and it did a good job for what it was. The whiners just wanted it to be something that it wasn’t, then threw a fit because they didn’t get it.

          I thoroughly enjoyed Doom3 for being Doom3, even though I’m also a fan of Doom2. I just realize that it wasn’t doom2, and didn’t project those expectations on the game.

          Also, doom2 is extremely dated, and IMO only worth playing with the Brutal Doom mod nowadays. Vanilla doom is just too boring. Doom3 is in a way like brutal doom, in that it upped the challenge between the player and the monsters, and the lighting was incredible for it’s time. No other games had real time shadows or took advantage of it. Even today, doom3 holds it’s own in that regard. I actually DON’T LIKE the BFG edition, specifically because they upped the lighting, which ruins the atmosphere.

            • Kharnellius
            • 5 years ago

            Hmm, strange. I never found Doom3 challenging except for the fact the shotgun had 170 degree spread meaning any shot more than 11 cm away from a badguy’s face was useless. Also, the bad guys often announced their arrival with very long “teleport in” animations that made it pretty easy for them to be killed the second the finally spawned in.

            I found Doom 2 to be much harder and challenging. Doom 3 was just frustrating (wonky shotgun, can’t see crap, 4 whole healthpacks in the entire game, etc, etc, etc…)

            • Krogoth
            • 5 years ago

            Shotgun was fine and there is plenty of health in the game (except for Nightmare difficulty).

            The problem is that you twitch and you aiming got thrown-off if you took damage. The blur motion effect for killed the framerate back with GPUs of Doom 3’s heyday. If you got your timing down, shotgun still destroyed imps and former humans.

      • jmke
      • 5 years ago

      is this guy serious? HL2 was/is still one the best single player experiences on PC if you’re into FPS games.

      Doom 3 does not make that “must play” list in a long shot.

      Doom 3 was launched with the option to have OR your weapon out.. OR flashlight. All the maps were too dark. No wonder one of the first mods was the “ducktape” mod ( [url<]http://ducttape.glenmurphy.com/)[/url<] making it quite obvious that Doom 3 was more of a tech demo. While HL2 had a brand new physics engine, it actually ADDED to the gameplay experience. -- or you're just trolling.

        • Kretschmer
        • 5 years ago

        I had to push myself to get through HL2 once, while I’ve gone through Doom 3 half a dozen times. This is purely subjective, but I found the gunplay, visuals, and atmosphere of Doom 3 to be light years ahead of bland Combine zapping.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 5 years ago

        I’d say it’s the opposite. You clearly don’t know how doom3 was meant to be played if you are mentioning the duct tape mod.

        While I have nothing against the mod, in and of itself, that’s clearly not how the game was MEANT to be played. Gameplay experience? That’s what the flashlight was for. It was SUPPOSED to be dark. That was so the jump scares got you. If you turned up the brightness and saw everything, there’s no way the zombies could scare you, and there would be no tension.

        That’s like putting a PISTOL MOD in Amnesia, where you’re not supposed to have a weapon.

        If anything was a tech demo, it was HL2’s physics, which were mostly unnecessary to the story. Games have had environmental puzzles since Myst. Physics added nothing new. You could pick up boxes in Deus Ex, so it wasn’t that revolutionary doing it in HL2. Very gimmicky.

        Doom3’s biggest mistake was not using Reznor’s sound effects. That was the real problem.

      • kvndoom
      • 5 years ago

      HL2 never, ever got overshadowed by Doom 3. I know which one I played through multiple times, and which one was played once and forgotten. Sheesh, I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours of my life playing Doom and D2, but the 3rd was a throwaway game.

      And let’s not let facts get in the way:

      [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_PC_games[/url<]

        • travbrad
        • 5 years ago

        Those sales numbers are even more significant when you consider HL2 and CS:S were basically the “killer apps” for Valve’s new Steam platform, which I’m sure now makes far more money for them than their own games ever could have made.

        The only thing overshadowing Gaben are the piles of money blocking out the sun.

      • odizzido
      • 5 years ago

      I also liked doom3 better than HL2. I am not saying either were super great and I can think of quite a few FPS games I like more than either.

      And I know exactly what you mean by saying HL2 was a physics demo. The whole thing was just bland and not very fun.

      • travbrad
      • 5 years ago

      I’m pretty sure it was Doom 3 that was overshadowed, literally. The shadows were too dark.

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      I think DNF was a better FPS experience than HL2.

      HL2 is one of the most overhyped FPS that ever came out along with COD:4.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 5 years ago

    Yes! Clearly THIS is the only believable tip-off that H-L3 is just around the corner!

    …a far corner, in some distant part of the universe.

      • Grigory
      • 5 years ago

      Please stop rubbing it in.

        • Neutronbeam
        • 5 years ago

        I know and I’m sorry; I still believe there WILL be a H-L3 some day.

          • sweatshopking
          • 5 years ago

          of course there will be. and it’ll be full DNforever, EXCEPT nerds will still buy it and pretend it’s magic because it’s half life.

    • Laykun
    • 5 years ago

    “The best game ever made” — HL2 wasn’t THAT good. It was good but it wasn’t exactly amazing.

      • Anovoca
      • 5 years ago

      I understand the appreciation for HL2 but I had always been more into playing F.E.A.R at that time. I thought the graphics were nicer and the AI was miles better. Then again I had never played HL1 until years after so much of the story was lost on me.

      Orange box on the other hand is a different story.

        • odizzido
        • 5 years ago

        FEAR is really good. Good control, good weapons, nice and clear graphics. Add in fun gameplay and mechanics with a creepy design and you have something that easily beats HL2.

        • NeronetFi
        • 5 years ago

        That is what is wrong with games today. People are more about the graphics and AI than the story told. It was not the graphics that made HL2 so popular. It was the story, a story that you play through and remember the characters, a story that takes you on a journey that will be remembered for a long time.

          • odizzido
          • 5 years ago

          I am all about story. I just finished playing through planescape torment for the first time and I liked it. I had no nostalgia goggles on either since it was my first time and I was just fine with the graphics and terrible terrible AI.

          HL2’s story was…well, pathetic I thought. Compared to games like vampire:bloodlines…..yeah. terrible.

      • rahulahl
      • 5 years ago

      I think its fair to say it was considered the best for the year when it was released.
      Today we got far better games.

      • sweatshopking
      • 5 years ago

      i thought it was mediocre. HL1 was the best game valve has ever made, and they’ve been coasting ever since.

        • The Egg
        • 5 years ago

        HL2 was a great game (better than mediocre for sure), but I think it overshadows HL1 a little too much. HL1 was the best game Valve has made.

        • odizzido
        • 5 years ago

        I think that as well. I don’t really have much interest in valve beyond them getting linux gaming going if they can.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 5 years ago

        Agreed. HL2 was off in a few ways, especially the vehicles, whereas HL1 was really good the whole way through. Not to mention HL1 had a different vibe. Even if HL2 shared the base story, HL1 felt darker and more mysterious, like an x-files episode. HL2 had none of that. I’m still waiting for a real continuation of the first game, but that’ll never happen.

          • sweatshopking
          • 5 years ago

          It was just an all around better game. Better atmosphere, story telling and environment.

            • swaaye
            • 5 years ago

            I think you can only say that if you are looking at them from a nostalgic angle of “how fun it was at the time”. HL2 is really the same stuff but with a lot of refinement.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 5 years ago

            Nope. They’re completely different games. It’s like saying HL1(x-files) is the same game as HL2(Babylon5).

            They don’t match on multiple levels. The background might be the same, but the genre is not.

            HL1 was a sci-fi thriller like Aliens, HL2 was a trekian soap opera. That’s not “refinement”, but a complete change in direction, probably because some of the original developers of HL1 had left when Valve made HL2.

            This is likely why they can’t make HL3. They can’t agree on where to take the game, and they’ve already deviated too far from the original, so whatever happens in 3 will probably be too far fetched to be accepted by the public as a proper sequel.

            HL2 is the real reason why we haven’t seen HL3. They’ve left the path, got lost in the woods, and now they have no idea where to take the series. I don’t really care at this point anyways. Regardless of how it turns out, HL3 won’t be a sequel to HL1, but HL2. A deviation of a deviation. It won’t live up to anyone’s expectations, and will be decent at best. They took too long, they’re not taking it serious, and the community expects too much.

            • sweatshopking
            • 5 years ago

            I agree. I think especially with the community expecting too much EXCEPT that valve commands some of the most irrational fans going (even coming from me) and regardless of what they produce, it’s treated as gold. l4d2 was well received despite being EXACTLY the same game as the first a few months later. Some people got annoyed, but it’s an 89 on metacritic. It doesn’t matter what they make, the fanboyz will love it, even if it’s subpar and ugly.

            they’ve literally bought all their IP since hl1 anyway. They struggle to come up with good games internally, and instead buy staff or ideas from people that actually have them.

            • Krogoth
            • 5 years ago

            HL2 has nothing in common with Babylon 5 (Epic story and series-long plot threads).

            It is more like Star Trek: Voyager. 😉

      • jmke
      • 5 years ago

      no the best, but definitely in the TOP 10 FPS games of all time, together with Half-Life 1.

        • sweatshopking
        • 5 years ago

        ONLY IF YOU LIKE CROWBARRING PEOPLES FACES FOR 2 HOURS BECAUSE THEY DON’T SHUT UP AND THEY WANT TO BEAT YOU OVER THE HEAD 1000 TIMES ABOUT THE STUPID STORY.

        • Laykun
        • 5 years ago

        I would definitely not put it in the top 10 personally.

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      HL2 was meh.

      It was just the first major FPS that used DX9-effects and where ATI’s hardware completely dominated their Nvidia counterparts (limitations of NV3x architecture became apparent). The gravity gun was handy, but gimmicky. The story backdrop was a classic post-alien invasion dystopia plot. Combine were a more malevolent version of Overlords from Childhood’s End. I was annoyed that Valve ham-fisted Gordon Freedom into kind of some pseudo-messianic figure (OMFG, THE ONE FREEMAN!) when he was little more than an everyman that had a degree in the hard sciences. He was thrown in a situation that was far beyond his understanding and control. He was just trying survive it all despite all of the odds (The reason why G-Man even noticed you.)

      I think Valve never got back with HL3, because they probably felt that HL franchise was stale and there were far more fertile IPs to pursue.

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