Tech

Half-Life remaster, out now, makes Valve’s iconic FPS game even better

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A Half-Life remaster, available to try out now, improves, tweaks, and upscales the iconic Valve FPS game without seriously affecting gameplay and style, offering an ideal middle ground for Gordon Freeman enthusiasts searching for something less transformative than Black Mesa – and another means to pass the time as we wait for Half-Life 3.

Half-Life: Enriched has just been updated to cover every level of the beloved Steam shooter up until Gordon Freeman reaches the alien world Xen. It offers a “full overhaul” of Half-Life single-player that “will look and feel like the original Half-Life, but better looking and with various gameplay changes”.

First off, many of the maps and areas in Half-Life have been merged together, meaning that the loading screens that often break up each section are severely reduced – “about 60% less loading points,” says creator Hezus. Every texture has been upscaled to increase detail, and there are about 250 brand-new textures to alter the look of both Gordon’s weapons arsenal and the Black Mesa lab itself.

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Lighting has been improved to cast sharper, more dynamic shadows, and to produce ambient glow effects from a variety of light sources. There are detailed overlays for each texture, meaning walls and surfaces now have scuffs, marks, and other elements baked into them, and new NPC models to make the Black Mesa staff – from scientists to security guards – feel more varied and alive.

There are also a few minor quality-of-life changes to the level design itself. The dam section in Surface Tension, for example, used to be a pain to navigate since the HECU chopper would blow up the bridge leading to the control room. That bridge is now restored, meaning you don’t need to jump in the water and confront the horrible ichthyosaur (the way they swim at you and glitch inside the camera, urgh) before reaching the way out. There’s also a whole-new level-select screen, so you don’t need to rely on saves or console commands any more to jump back into your favourite sections.

It’s incomplete – the Xen section isn’t finished yet – but for a neat remaster of that maintains the original game while still offering a welcome upgrade, Half-Life: Enriched is a fantastic project. It works with every version of Half-Life, and you can download it now from Mod DB.

Of course, we’re still wonderingwhatever happened to Half-Life 3, but if you’re a nostalgia fiend, you might take solace in some other great old games on PC, or perhaps some of the best free shooting games to keep those twitch reflexes top-notch.

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