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Top 10 Half-Life Mods of All Time

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by Tyler Treat Nov 20, 2009 1:07 AM CST
filed under editorials, features, pc, top 10

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The Half-Life franchise has the biggest mod community of any game. We’ve seen some amazing mods created by independent developers, some of them have grown to become major titles themselves. Here’s our list of the top 10 best Half-Life/Half-Life 2 mods ever.

10. Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat

Released in 2007, Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat is a tactical online shooter built on the Source engine. Development on the game began in 2002 by a Canadian soldier named Andrew Spearin. Spearin was later joined by Jeremy Blum, creator of the popular WWII game Red Orchestra, and other Red Orchestra developers. The developers of Insurgency aimed to build a realistic kind of first-person shooter that promotes teamwork and immerses gamers in the chaos of war. There is no cross-hair, forcing players to aim down the iron sights to fire accurately, and weapon damage is very realistic (just one or two shots from a rifle will drop you). Currently the team is working on porting the game to the latest Orange Box Source engine.

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9. Frontline Force

Frontline Force is an intense, objective-based FPS that focuses on teamwork. Created by Adrian Finol in 2000, Frontline Force went through many different versions that continued to add new features. Finol handed the project to Dave Dynerman in 2001 to go work with Valve Software. The game’s popularity declined quickly when Half-Life 2 released and mods based on the Source engine came out. A new team of developers began working on Frontline Force: Classic, which was to bring the fast-paced shooter to the Source engine; however, the game was picked up by Blackened Interactive in 2008 who have since then stopped development on the game.

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8. Firearms

Firearms is a Half-Life mod that actually originated as a Quake mod. The game features five different game modes, all of which are team-based. Firearms was well known for its vast arsenal of in-game weapons (over 30 of them), which were purchased using credits. It used a skill system that allowed players to spend points on things such as marksmanship, agility and leadership. Firearms was also the first FPS to feature parachutes. The game won PC Gamer’s Best Multiplayer Game of the Year Runner-up in the year 2000 among other awards.

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7. The Specialists

If you’re a fan of generic action movies, then The Specialists is for you. This mod, intended to resemble generic action movies, is an awesome multiplayer game that features bullet time, stunts, kung fu and over 29 weapons. The game has many similarities to the movies Face/Off and The Matrix. Power-ups, weapon customization and destructible environments are also a central component to The Specialists. Released in 2002, the game is based on the GoldSrc engine, and the final update to the game was released in 2007. No one has attempted to bring the popular mod to the Source engine so far.

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6. Sven Co-op

Sven Co-op, named after the game’s original creator Daniel “Sven Viking” Fearon, is a cooperative-style game where players must work together to defeat AI enemies, solve puzzles, and complete objectives. The mod released on January 19, 1999, making it the oldest Half-Life mod in existence that is still in “development.” Sven Co-op is also one of the highest played non-Valve games on Steam. Currently it’s in version 4.0 with a full team that continues to work on it.

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5. Natural Selection

Natural Selection is a hybrid of the FPS and RTS genres. Created by Charlie “Flayra” Cleveland in 2002, Natural Selection involves two forces, an alien race called Kharaa and the human space marines called The Frontiersman. The game has two modes, Classic and Combat. Classic is the combination of RTS and FPS where one team member is elected to be the commander. The commander issues orders and purchases upgrades, and he also has a top-down view of the battlefield. Combat, the second game mode, introduced in version 3.0, is simple team deathmatch, designed to help new players learn the game. Natural Selection is one of the ten most played Half-Life mods in terms of players. Charlie Cleveland founded Unknown Worlds Entertainment, who is currently working on a sequel to the game expected to release sometime in 2010.

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4. Garry’s Mod

Garry’s Mod is the sandbox of Half-Life. It allows players to play with objects from Half-Life 2 and its Valve-made mods and experiment with the Source engine’s physics system. Garry's Mod was created in 2004 by Garry Newman, starting out as a simple mod that allowed players to rope objects together.  It also made the pistol shoot out manhacks. The mod has gone through 12 different versions and is now considered as a standalone game rather than a mod. The game is well-known for its support of user-created content and mods.

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3. Team Fortress Classic

Developed by Valve itself, Team Fortress Classic was a remake of the Quake mod Team Fortress. Released in 1999, TFC is a class-based FPS game that has a number of game modes, such as capture the flag, VIP protection and territorial control. Some game modes allow more than two teams, creating very frantic firefights, and the game supported up to 32 players. Each class in the game has its own strengths and weaknesses, making teamwork a central part of it. Valve hired the original quake mod creators to head the mod’s sequel Team Fortress 2. TF2 went through a long development process where the game was rehashed numerous times, eventually ending in a cartoon-like art direction.

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2. Day of Defeat

Day of Defeat is a WWII mod based in the European theatre of war. The game is also class-based and attempts to simulate squad infantry combat. Certain maps have certain objectives, consisting of conquest, destroy the target, capture the target and a couple others. Day of Defeat started as a Half-Life mod in 2000. The developers behind the game joined Valve Software and the group created Day of Defeat: Source, which released in September 2005. Day of Defeat is one of the most popular mods on Steam.

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1. Counter-Strike

And last but not least, we have Counter-Strike. Easily the most popular mod of all time, Counter-Strike is a tactical FPS that involves two teams: terrorists and counter-terrorists. The mod was originally made by Minh “Gooseman” Le and Jess Cliffe in 1999 (both of which later joined Valve). The game is round-based and has teams trying to complete a number of objectives like planting/defusing a bomb, rescuing hostages, and escorting a VIP. Because of its competitive nature and huge popularity, Counter-Strike saw a massive amount of cheating where players used hacks to give them an edge in the game. After the mod was picked up by Valve and went through a number of changes, it was re-released on the Xbox. Valve released Counter-Strike: Source in 2004.

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Honorable Mentions

  • Science and Industry
  • Action Half-Life


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