by: Aaron R.
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Half-Life 2 mods are great ways to get some extra fun out of your game without paying anything. There are so many on the market though, that you might not be able to find the diamonds in the rough. Here's a few suggestions and reviews.
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Half-Life 2 mods are very plentiful. Half-Life 2 is one of the easiest games to modify, so it makes sense that there are still a number of developers making cool mods to get some extra gameplay for free. You could probably use some help sorting through them. I'll give you the best rundown I can of the bigger mods on the market with the multiplayer mods on this page and the single player mods on the second. If you really want to see every Half-Life 2 mod available, then just check out this complete list of mods.
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Age of Chivalry
This is a fairly interesting multiplayer mod for Half-Life 2. STEAM has an official copy in their store and it's been gaining a nice boost to its player base since the inclusion. The principle is simple. You can choose to play as a medieval inspired class as part of a campaign of missions. Most are pretty simple and exist as an excuse to raid a castle. It is nice to have the majority as objective based though, since that guarantees a healthy flow of combat.
The classes are probably the real strength here. You can play as a sword master, a heavy warlord, a crossbowman, or an archer. The combat feels fairly realistic with archers regularly taking up good positions as the melee fighters do war below. It's a fairly fun mod if you are willing to get past the steep learning curve.
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D.I.P.R.I.P. Warm Up
This is another STEAM endorsed Half-Life 2 mod. It's seen a bit of a boost to its community, but it hasn't been huge. I consider that as a real shame, since it is my personal favorite out of the 5 endorsed mods. You have a choice from a few car models and just drive around shooting at the other team's cars. It basically plays like a crazy version of an arcade driving game. It gets repetitive and there isn't a lot of variety in the gameplay, but it is incredibly fun to jump on for a half hour and blow some stuff up while you're speeding around an arena in a big demolition derby.
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This is another endorsed Half-Life 2 mod. I personally don't care for it. The mod is a realistic combat shooter simulating the fighting between insurgents and marines. The big draw is that it truly is different from most games. A single gunshot is usually enough to kill you, weapons aren't 100% accurate, and you aren't a super soldier. You have to listen to your teammates and work together to accomplish anything.
I have to say that I personally don't like it though. The game just felt like a cheap imitation of Battlefield 2 and I just couldn't get into the community. You can give it a try if you want. You might really get into it, especially if you can get into a gaming clan. It just never clicked with me.
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I'm now getting to the Half-Life 2 mods that I really don't like. Synergy is another endorsed mod that I just don't like. The idea is that you can play a massive co-op game with a number of other players. It just doesn't feel right though. There just doesn't seem to be much to do and it really isn't much fun to play with random people. I suggest you give this one a pass. There's too many annoying people online and too little to do in the games.
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Zombie Panic! Source
This is another Half-Life 2 mod that I don't like. It's one of the most popular mods of the STEAM endorsed ones, but I just don't like the dynamics. Each game follows the same routine. You start as a group of humans facing a few NPC zombies and possibly a human-controlled zombie or two. If you die you become a zombie. Theoretically, you should play a tense game of cat-and-mouse until the end, but it doesn't work like that. The humans always rush to the weapon drops and then hide in a room. The slow zombies then futilely fight a war of attrition until they kill enough humans to turn the tide. I've heard objective play is a bit more fun, but good luck finding a good game. I also suspect that the demand for this mod will continue to decrease as Left 4 Dead gains a larger following.
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These are the 5 endorsed mods and you should at least have an idea of what they are about. I could suggest a few other cool concept games, but there's a problem plaguing most multiplayer games. If they haven't been endorsed by STEAM, then they tend to have a really small following. Unless you are really into clan matches and organizing matches ahead of time, then you are probably going to be out of luck.
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Single Player Mods
These are the single player mods that I can suggest. There are tons of mods available and you can check out a full list of Half-Life 2 mods here if you want to dig through them.
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I feel like I have to give a nod to this even though it's technically not a single player game or even a mod anymore. It's now endorsed by STEAM and on sale for $10. It's basically just a sandbox built on the STEAM engine. You can spawn objects, built things, play with the physics engine, or stage fights with the NPCs. If you are really into making videos and cool pictures, then this cost shouldn't be a problem. If you are an amateur who wants to play with the Source engine, then you might just want to do some changes in the console before you commit to the purchase. Their should be a guide or two on Brighthub concerning all the ways you can play around with the unmodded game through the console. You can also look for a copy of Gmod 9, but it's no longer supported officially.
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This is a fairly cool mod for anyone who has already beaten the game once. It does a bunch of things to make the game much more “hardcore." There are tons of new and interesting weapons and the enemies are a lot more plentiful and powerful. It lets you play the original campaign with a ridiculous amount of stylistic changes, which should put some new life into it. It doesn't offer anything too substantial, but it's pretty cool. Substance might be better for you though.
This Half-Life 2 mod is in the same vain as SMod. It basically just amps up the gameplay. I personally prefer Substance since it works a little harder to be original and a little serious. The biggest addition comes in the form of five suits with four based off of the different Snakes from the Metal Gear series. You have options to switch between a hunter, a spy, a super soldier, a ninja, and a stronger Gordon.
It's hard to cover everything that they changed. You can look up the Substance mod and see for yourself. Here is a glimpse though. Allies are more plentiful. During the airboat chase through the canal, you will see resistance soldiers and vortigaunts battling combine reinforcements in the water. There are far more enemies spread throughout the levels. You'll see striders very early. There are tons of new weapons and features. You can set enemies on fire with the flare gun, release a manhack from your stun baton, build a turret, or even use a special grenade to trick the soldiers into killing each other. Enemies like the stealth assassins and the bullsquids are given unique models and added to the game.
It's just cool, but it does get old after a while, since some of the new enemies just seem forced. You develop combat fatigue easily and it may get boring for you. It's a cool mod though and it's really fun to just play around with all the little features they added.
I've heard mixed reactions on this one, but I personally like this Half-Life 2 mod. You take the role of a combine soldier who's part of team sent to retake a base in the mountains. It's pretty cool since you'll be fighting rebels occupying the facility and even run into a few vortigaunts. The battle then stretches into the nearby town where it's a three-way fight between rebels, zombies, and your raiding party. Not the best, but it's fairly entertaining for a few hours.
This is a fairly cool mission cataloging your escape from a secure combine prison. It's a little short with the average game taking about an hour and half, but it's a fairly professional Half-Life 2 mod with a lot of effort in scripting and plot. The environments are also fairly nice and make it a new Half-Life 2 experience. It's another one that's worth a look as a nice expansion for the game.
This is pretty cool for a single player pack. It's a set of mission that have an atmosphere similar to the Half-Life series. You are stuck on an island having to fight through the combine guarding the base to please an unknown controller. The mod stalled for a bit in development and you will need to have Episode 1 to actually play the full mod, but it's a cool experience that's one of the more professional mods on the market.
This is a fairly new Half-Life 2 mod, but it looks good. You are a resistance fighter taking part in a major escape. The levels are basically just Nova Prospekt, but you get some nice additions. There are allies and new enemies to fight and it should be something fun to try. It's another mod that doesn't necessarily bring a lot to the table, but it's admirable as a professional addition to the game.
There are a lot of single player maps and games. I've tried to pick the cream of the crop for you. If you want to look at some of the more interesting concept mods, then feel free, but if you don't have a lot of browsing time you should stick with these.