Experiences in: Half Life 2 Revisited and Modified

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Experiences in: Half Life 2 Revisited and Modified

Post  AKMARK5000 on Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:31 pm

Half Life 2, I played it long before middle age and STEAM ended my CD/DVD game collection hobby.  I saw it on a STEAM 2013 Winter Sale and just had to usher it into my Digital Game Collection.  Being really cheap, I was able to purchase Half Life 2, Episodes 1 and 2, Episode Lost Coast and a few other bundled programs for under $20.

For a 2005/2007 era game, the game mechanics and graphics are competitive with some of today's games.  In fact, the experience reminded me a lot of Left4Dead.



Here's a thorough review.  If you're new to the game universe or maybe just unsure about the Half Life 2 Game then this is most likely for you (a little old, but chuck full of information).


My desire to revisit a previously played title did not come without a new twist.  Besides being all digital, Half Life 2 introduced me to an interesting modification called Synergy (no, not business synergy).

The Synergy Mod was developed to make it possible for more than one player play to play through the regular campaign and it's episodes (Episode 1 and 2) and you may also use other third-party mods too.  This seems no big deal as many of today's games have a Coop mode of some sort.  However, Half Life 2 was developed as an SP mode... revisiting the game can be an entirely new experience!

The Synergy Mod is FREE and is easily downloaded/installed right through STEAM... even if you still use the DVDs there's a way!  I recommend that you read through the Synergy Mod About/FAQ page.

Synergy Mod Information (Click Image):  

STEAM Download (Click Image):  



Sample:



Last edited by AKMARK5000 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:55 pm; edited 25 times in total (Reason for editing : Update Information)

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HL2 Revisited: DESURA

Post  AKMARK5000 on Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:38 pm

Much like STEAM, DESURA is an alternate game platform... an alternate place to find, install and play some of the HL2 mods that STEAM may not even have available.  

DERURA's support and organization for finding, downloading and installing mods leaves STEAM in the proverbial dust in my opinion.  I found a bunch of HL2 mods on DESURA that STEAM did not have available.  When I downloaded and installed them via DESURA, the mods also displayed and were accessible via my STEAM Library.  

Note that this does not work the other way around.  So, its a really good idea to use DESURA for finding, downloading and installing mods as much as possible.  But at the same time, I recommend downloading/installing the Synergy Mod all through the STEAM application only... its not available on DESURA anyway.

Click the image to visit the website.

Click the image to visit the website.

DESURA registration signup was a breeze.  DESURA scanned my computer for compatible games.
Half Life 2 (including episodes 1-2 were detected later) Battlefield 2 and Left4Dead 2 were detected right away.

Click Image For Lager View.

Click Image For Lager View.


Last edited by AKMARK5000 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:25 pm; edited 13 times in total (Reason for editing : Update Information)

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Half Life 2 Mods Not Working

Post  AKMARK5000 on Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:45 pm

Sometimes Half Life 2 (including Episodes 1-2) mods returned launch errors such as "...could not find background image... materials/console/xxx.vtf.?  To remedy all this, I followed the fix advise at...

==> http://steamcommunity.com/app/420/discussions/0/864971765497379056/

The top half lists the mods with fixes needed.  If a "fix link" was missing, I followed the lower half.  The lower half just gave some general advisement... replace the mod's "gameinfo.txt" code (copy/paste, very easy).

Below is the correct code for Half Life 2 Episode 2 Mods.  This does not work for Half Life 2 Episode 1 Mods... and yes, I tried it!

Code:
FileSystem
{
SteamAppId 420


SearchPaths
{
game+mod |gameinfo_path|.
platform |gameinfo_path|.

game_lv hl2/hl2_lv.vpk
game+mod ep2/ep2_english.vpk
game+mod ep2/ep2_pak.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|episodic/ep1_english.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|episodic/ep1_pak.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2/hl2_english.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2/hl2_pak.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2/hl2_textures.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2/hl2_sound_vo_english.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2/hl2_sound_misc.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2/hl2_misc.vpk
platform |all_source_engine_paths|platform/platform_misc.vpk

mod+mod_write+default_write_path |gameinfo_path|.

game+game_write |gameinfo_path|.

gamebin episodic/bin

game |all_source_engine_paths|episodic
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2
platform |all_source_engine_paths|platform
}
}
}

Below is the correct code for Half Life 2 Mods...

Code:
FileSystem
{
SteamAppId 220

SearchPaths
{
game+mod |gameinfo_path|.
platform |gameinfo_path|.

game_lv hl2/hl2_lv.vpk
game+mod hl2/hl2_sound_vo_english.vpk
game+mod hl2/hl2_pak.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2/hl2_textures.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2/hl2_sound_misc.vpk
game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2/hl2_misc.vpk
platform |all_source_engine_paths|platform/platform_misc.vpk

mod+mod_write+default_write_path |gameinfo_path|.
game+game_write |gameinfo_path|.
gamebin hl2/bin

game |all_source_engine_paths|hl2
platform |all_source_engine_paths|platform
}
}
}

Also there is some code to correct missing texturs and models.  I'm not entirely certain how or when missing textures and models occurr, but to fix this issue, use Valve's VPK tool ([anysourcegame]/bin/vpk.exe) to extract HL2 and EP2 content. Then copy "models" and "materials" folder to the mod's directory (delete everything else). Don't overwrite any files....

Code:
HL2 -» "SteamApps\common\Half-Life 2\hl2\hl2_textures_dir.vpk"
EP2 -» "SteamApps\common\Half-Life 2\ep2\ep2_pak_dir.vpk"
VPK tool -» "SteamApps\common\[anysourcegame]\bin\vpk.exe"

Just drag and drop HL2/EP2 .vpk file on "vpk.exe" and it will start extracting the files.

Note that in some mods, sounds might not be played and particles might not be displayed. This won't be fixed by copying "particles" and "sounds" folder to the mod's directory. I've tried it, and it didn't work. You can try anyway


Last edited by AKMARK5000 on Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:50 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Update Information)

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Half Life 2 and SweetFX: Indiference

Post  AKMARK5000 on Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:56 pm

Mentioned in other game articles written by me, for just about every game that I play, I like to add SweetFX.  Adding SweetFX to Half Life 2, including Source SDK, Source SDK 2007 and third party mods like Black Mesa, is a bit different.  

1. Add sweetfx via configurator like normal.  
2. Cut/past the d3d.dll and injector files into the Bin folder.  
3. Deactivate the in-game AntiAliasing, as with every other game, in order for sweetfx to work.  

Sweetfx does provide deeper and richer colors, but jagged edges appear on some objects.  The sweetfx antialiasing and other 'rounding/soothing edge' settings do not seem to handle this as does the in-game settings can.  As shown in the screenshots below, it is most noticeable when looking at the edges or highlights of building, structures and other objects.

Click Image For Lager View.

Click Image For Lager View.

Click Image For Lager View.

Click Image For Lager View.

The bottom line is that for a first time play-through, SweetFX is great even with the "rough-edges."  It can even be applied to the Hale Life 2 Episodes and most freely available mods.  I can also recommend SweetFX for reasons found in the below posts/articles about the default cheats preventing STEAM Achievements in the Cinematic Mod.

However, for second or third time play-troughs the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod is highly recommended.  This mod focuses in on one game... Half Life 2 and it's Episodes.  The CM Mod converts Half Life 2 into a whole new experience.  Not only are the graphics enhanced by deeper, richer colors, some different textures and soothing of jagged objects, but it also changes some of the game's immerse atmosphere and other game-play features.

Click the image to go to the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod webpage.

Click the image to go to the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod webpage.


Last edited by AKMARK5000 on Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:27 pm; edited 14 times in total (Reason for editing : Update Information)

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Half Life 2 and Cinematic Mod 2013

Post  AKMARK5000 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:34 pm

Unlike the SweetFX Mod talked about in the previous articles, the Cinematic Mod focuses in on one game... Half Life 2 and it's Episodes.  The CM Mod converts Half Life 2 into. high definition rendering... a whole new experience.  Not only are the graphics enhanced by deeper, richer colors, some different textures and soothing of jagged objects, but it also changes some of the games immerse atmosphere and game-play features.

For example, the iconic crowbar, obtained early in the game, no longer uses cross-hairs.  This can arguably make things a bit tougher to hit in the right spot in order to be effective, but, really, who has ever seen gun cross-hairs on a crowbar?  Of course, if you really want the standard cross-hairs applied to everything, you can un-hide the cross hairs via the CM Mod's configuration program.  In fact, there's many aspects that you can customize using the CM Mod's configuration program.

Along the same lines, another example would be the pistol, which now uses a red-dot laser sight instead of the standard cross-hair.  Besides the red-dot laser sight, the pistol also looks different as do all the other Half Life 2 weapons.

There is one part where you crouch and navigate under come cargo containers.  In the original game this is a straight path to the other side.  However, in the CM Modded version the path in in an 'L' shape and has couple crates containing health and ammo and the opening has a breakable grate covering the opening.

I also want to mention the all the charterers can be changed, optionally of course, via a "pimp-character tool."

Its the little, yet plentiful details and changes that really make this mod shine.  I would recommend using the CM Mod for anyone who has played the original.

To play this mod, you must have Half Life 2 + Episode 1 + Episode 2 fully installed and unlocked (unlocked in this case simply means "played a few minutes of the game").  So, if you don't have those mentioned games, then the CM Mod is not for you.

The install process is a bit length (about 15 minutes).  So, if you can't calm down and wait 15 minutes without getting frustrated, then the CM Mod is not for you.

At the time of this writing, the CM Mod has the "sv_cheats" activated by default.  This renders STEAM achievements useless.  So, if seeing STEAM achievements is a priority, then the CM Mod is probably not for you.

Click the image to go to the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod webpage.

Click the image to go to the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod webpage.

There are many screenshots and videos of comparisons between the visuals of the original game version and the CM modded version... just Google it... here's a STEAM discussion... 

==> http://steamcommunity.com/app/220/discussions/0/846958724668319824/

However, I've yet to see a screenshot of the CM Mod Configuration Tool.

Click Image For Lager View.

Click Image For Lager View.


Last edited by AKMARK5000 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:11 pm; edited 14 times in total (Reason for editing : Update Information)

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