Tuesday, January 19, 2016


So, today we have a mod, that has new, custom stuff, continues the original Half-Life story, and it came from the land of baguettes, striped suits, and pointy moustaches. Yep, this is a French mod, and it’s pretty damn awesome!


Half-Life: INVASION actually begins RIGHT AFTER the conclusion of the original Half-Life's story, with Gordon Freeman standing inside the flying tram car with the mysterious G-Man. Basically, this mod asks the question "What if the player didn't have a choice at the end?". Shown in a  cutscene, Gordon just stands there in the tram, while the G-Man gives his offer. When the door revealing the green portal closes, the view cuts away to a group of scientists in a laboratory, giving directions to each other and pushing buttons. The scene cuts back to the G-Man and Gordon, the two of them standing motionless.  The view cuts back to the scientists. One of them pushes a red button, and a strange, vehicle-like object is seen hurdling in a black void. The strange object crashes through the front of the flying tram, landing on the floor of it. The object reveals a green portal, which Gordon jumps through before the G-Man can catch him. Gordon then arrives in an orange room and is greeted by two scientists. Freeman then passes out onto the floor. Waking up, Gordon finds himself in an infirmary being tended to by a scientist, who tells him that they are inside a subsidiary laboratory that is affiliated with Black Mesa, and that it’s the last location yet to be discovered by the HECU. The scientist then sends Gordon to meet his colleague, who tells Gordon that the G-Man was planning to send him to an alien infested area where he would never have survived. The scientist then states that this department of Black Mesa was working on teleporting solid objects to and fro, and that his team is looking for ways to teleport directly to Black Mesa for unknown reasons. Before the labcoat can say anymore, HECU soldiers drop in from a hole in the ceiling in a room Gordon is observing. The scientist is killed, and being unarmed, Gordon flees. He runs to a room containing a blue HEV Suit, with a restyled HUD and new features. Immediately, a scientist contacts Freeman via radio, telling him to find him in the computer room on the third floor before the HECU do. Evading enemy fire and arming himself with what looks like a caliper, as well as guns, Gordon goes to rescue his colleague. Eventually finding the scientist, he gives Freeman a lighter to make up for his suit not having a built-in flashlight, and tells him the code to the door which exits the current area. Later on, another scientist contacts Freeman and tells him all the helipads at the facility are controlled by the HECU, and that the best thing to do now would be to head to the administrative buildings to try and find friendly survivors. After getting trapped in a hangar and several encounters with HECU soldiers, Freeman finds the administrative building, which is infested with soldiers. After sneaking and fighting his way through, Gordon sees the G-Man just before he walks through a door that becomes locked. After fighting off the enemy forces in the room, Freeman encounters a hologram of the G-Man, who tells him that some Xen aliens are taking residence in Black Mesa, and have recreated a piece of the Xen Crystal to keep the portal between Xen and Earth open despite the Nihilanth’s death.

 After fighting his way through the building even further, and pushing into a HECU military camp, Gordon is ambushed by female Black Ops assassins and encounters a scientist inside an equipment garage. He tells Freeman that he must get to Black Mesa before the HECU does, and gives an armored tank to help Gordon cut a bloody path to the research facility. After breaking into his previous place of employment, Freeman discovers that Xen aliens are indeed reshaping the old corridors of Black Mesa to suit their needs. After battling strange, new creatures, Gordon comes across a lone scientist locked in a room. He explains that the aliens have created an elaborate underground passage way to the portal leading to Xen, and that the only way to open the passage way is by partially reactivating the old Anti-Mass Spectrometer. After fighting more aliens, and helping to reactivate the device which caused all this madness, Freeman descends into the chasm. It is a VERY long fall, but Gordon manages to survive and return to Xen once again. Carving his way through the alien dimension-scape, Gordon eventually finds what he is looking for. The recreated Xen Crystal sample that is keeping the portal between Earth and Xen open. After opening the sample’s container, a cutscene plays where Freeman takes out a pistol and aims it at the sample from a distance. Realizing his journey is over, he fires at the sample. A number of images flash in his mind after doing so. First the G-Man, then the ruined test chamber, followed by an HECU soldier, the flying tram car from the beginning, Gordon’s scientific colleagues and friends, the Nihilanth, and finally himself and the G-Man. Not having a way out of Xen this time, Gordon reels as he is engulfed in a fiery inferno, the portal to Earth collapsing in the process, and the passage way to Black Mesa getting destroyed as well.


As we all know, gameplay is what makes or breaks a mod, so let’s go over the gameplay and aesthetics of Half-Life: INVASION. Asset wise, this mod is essentially an expert at making old assets look new, and it even throws some new stuff in just for giggles. The majority of new content is centered around weapons and equipment, the magnum opus of which is the “new and improved” HEV Suit. Aside from its blue color, the suit has a new HUD, with a detailed view of the various sections of armor, such as the legs, arms, etc. This helps identify how much damage one particular part of your armor is taking, and yes, this IS important. Another difference is how you handle health kits and batteries. Now, in any other goldsource mod, you just walk over the aforementioned items and they automatically do their thing. Not so here. In this mod, you can collect and hold up to 9 health kits and 9 batteries in a sort of pseudo inventory. You can use your collected rations whenever you please, by pressing the appropriately binded keys. Perhaps the most interesting new additions in this mod are the four new enemy types. I won’t give them away here, but know that both the HECU and the Xen aliens get 2 more fighters to their ranks, and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses you must avoid and exploit respectively. As I stated before, Half-Life: INVASION’s new assets come mostly in the form of weapons and equipment. Every new weapon in this mod looks great, and returning weapons from the original Half-Life get a decent facelift, with updated models and textures. The mod also has somewhat overhauled decal and particle effects, with all new decals in the environment. Mind you, a couple of decals look out of place in the Half-Life art style, but in my opinion, they help stand the mod out from the rest. On a final note, Half-Life: INVASION is probably the most “strategic” Half-Life mod I’ve played. I use quotations in “strategic”, because while the mod and game it’s based on are primarily shooters, the mod has sort of the same strategy system as games like Bioshock. Things like picking and choosing your fights, using health kits and batteries wisely, and looking around EVERYWHERE for items, because trust me when I say, you’re gonna need them.

Now it’s time for ze pros and ze cons my friends! Let’s go break ze mold and go with le pros first.

#1: THE CHALLENGE IS REAL. This mod, while not impossible, can be very harrowing at times and if you don’t ration your items wisely, you will no doubt fall victim to the many ambushes set up by the enemies. The enemy A.I is kicked up to a harder difficulty inherently, being able to set traps, flank, duck and cover and having the gift of near pixel-perfect accuracy. I list this as a pro mostly because, in my opinion, I like my games to be challenging. It shows competence by the developers, and that they aren’t afraid to make something that makes the player want to try and overcome whatever hardships the game throws.

#2: TOTAL BADASS WEAPONS! Half-Life: INVASION doesn’t have a gigantic arsenal, but it does have some weapons that I think have some totally awesome concepts and ideas. Stuff that goes against the standard model for Half-Life-esque weaponry, for example, using a Gargantua’s own dismembered arm as a portable flamethrower. How about a cluster grenade that when thrown, spawns 5 other grenades in the area? HOW COOL IS THAT? It's stuff like that and a few other new weapon types I won’t spoil here that make this mod’s repertoire of weapons so awesome and memorable.

#3: ITS MORE THAN JUST A FLESH WOUND. Who loves dismemberment? How about decapitations? Well, then I got good, or bad news for you. This mod actually has enemies who’s heads and limbs you can, and likely will shoot off. The gore effects are nothing special, but I do admire how the developers were able to edit the base models to achieve the appearance of the dismembered/decapitated bodies. A nice touch.

#4: FULLY VOICED DIALOG…IN FRENCH. I joke, but it’s actually quite impressive that all of the custom dialog is done through okay voice acting. Not only that, but the dialog is shown through a text box in the lower left hand side of your screen. While I don’t necessarily like characters like the G-Man speaking French, I’ll let it slide, and be happy that this mod actually HAS custom voice acting to begin with.

#5: OH LOOK, NEW THINGS TO SHOOT! As I stated before, the 4 new enemies added to the roster in this mod really help the whole thing shine and differentiate itself from the crowd. Each enemy has a unique design, purpose on the battlefield, and are each challenging in their own right.

Alright, now is ze time…okay I’ll stop with the stereotypical French talk. Cons coming at ya!

#1: THIS IS NOT WAR THUNDER! The tank section of this mod sounds good on paper, but man does the feeling wear thin once you actually play it. I want to give the developers a gold star for trying to make a decent tank section here, but I just can’t excuse this. The tank itself controls okay for the most part, but the two biggest problems with this tank are the accuracy of its cannons, and the environment around it. The cannons are powerful against most enemies and structures, IF you can actually hit anything. The tank is played from a slightly overhead third person perspective with no targeting reticule to help you mark your shots. Furthermore, the machine gun turret mounted on the top is mostly useless, having a piss poor range. Lastly, the entirety of the tank sections in this mod take place in cramped, twisty pathways inbetween cliffs and inside tunnels. Now, if the tank were controlled in a first person perspective, this would have been fine, but nope. You’re stuck with trying to fight the camera along with your enemies when you have to fight in a cramped industrial tunnel complex. Not to mention the tank has a tendency to bump into every obstacle it comes across, despite the player’s careful control. Goldeneye 64’s tank level this is not.

#2: TOO MANY SOLDIERS! Like any diehard Half-Life fan, I like fighting the HECU. However, there is something to be said for diversity and variety being the key in video games. Half-Life: INVASION pits the player against the HECU for the majority of the mod, with the Xen aliens being enemies for about the last 10 sections of it. I mean, adding the 2 new kinds of HECU soldier does alleviate this issue, but only by so much. You WILL come across moments where you’ll say “Man, ANOTHER pack of soldiers? Really?”. Maybe it’s just because I like fighting the more interesting Xen creatures more than regular human soldiers, but that’s just my opinion.

#3: NO WAIT DON’T USE THAT! This is the first time I’ve brought an actual gameplay bug in my cons list, and that’s because I don’t know how to fix this. I have looked at multiple solutions and all have left me fruitless, so don’t come running to me asking how to fix this problem. In the mod, if you pause the game, and you have ANY, repeat, ANY health kits or batteries in your inventory, when you return to the game, one of the aforementioned items WILL be USED without your consent. Again, I have no explanation, nor solution to this bug, it seems to be buried deep in the mod’s code, and it does affect gameplay to a degree, and so must be listed as a con.

Half-Life: INVASION is an interesting one. It has neat ideas, especially for weapons and gameplay features, but it falls short of being the grand adventure it wants to be, and it’s not because the mod is French. It’s because of the little things that pile up as one plays it. The multitude of beginner’s traps, the repetitive combat with the HECU, the frustrating as all hell tank section, the embarrassingly small Xen levels, and the soul crushing difficulty. Overall, I’d say the mod has a lot of things going for it. It has good action, competent level design, amazing weapons, and a decent story, with just a few things holding it back from true greatness.

Half-Life: INVASION gets the final rating of 3/5. Thanks for reading everybody, and stay classy!

Here are two links for the mod's ModDB page. These two files are recommended to play Half-Life: INVASION at it's best. 

 Don't forget to post a comment on this webzone, share this page and follow me on Google+ and Twitter https://twitter.com/Killbuster37 for more reviews of Goldsrc mods and Sourcemods here on Modzone!

Oh and I almost forgot, if you want to contact me, or play games, or just whatever here's a link to my Steam account. https://steamcommunity.com/id/3432401

No comments:

Post a Comment