Mod of the Week: Fistful of Frags

Christopher Livingston at

If a mod is released as a standalone game, can it still be called a mod? If a column features a mod that's almost eight years old, can it still be called "Mod of the Week"? Did cowboys in the Wild West really kick each other in the face all that often? The answer to all three questions is: who cares? Labels, dates, and historical accuracy aren't important, because Fistful of Frags, a 2007 multiplayer mod for Half-Life 2, has been released, all on its own, on Steam, for free, and you can download it and play it and kick a bunch of cowboys in the face. Pass the whiskey!

I know we look for a bit more from our multiplayer games these days than we used to. We want to team up with friends, form clans and communities, and arrange serious gaming sessions. We want to come up with battle plans, use tactics and strategy, and minmax our warriors. But let's take some time to remember what was great about the old, uncomplicated days of multiplayer shooters, because sometimes just running around like an idiot and blasting people in the face can feel liberating as hell. You'll have plenty of time to get screamed at and berated by some hysterical asshole teammate in Dota 2 later. Right now, just go kill some cowboys!

Running at someone with lit dynamite. Can definitely be effective.

I played a bunch of different maps and I can't tell you much about them because I was busy shooting people in the face. There were a few different modes but I can't tell you much about them because I was busy shooting people in the face. After a week spent squinting at the fine print of strategy game menus, Fistful of Frags is is just what the old-timey doctor ordered. It's fast, it's hectic, it's funny, and even elderly PCs can easily handle running it. And frankly, it's just a joy to turn off your brain for a while and start blasting away.

Yep, you can shoot their little hats off. Yeehaw!

As far as your shooting options go, there are plenty. Dual Derringers. Smith carbines, Colt Navy revolvers. volcanic repeaters, sawed-off shotguns, and even a bow and arrow. Fistful of Frags is also the rare game where you can hold your gun in whichever hand you like (why don't more games do this, anyway?) Just click the mouse wheel and you'll swap your gun between hands. Some servers even let you specify which hand you're a better shot with.

Fanning your revolver lets you shoot faster, but with less accuracy. And vision.

But forget about shooting for a minute. Instead of using a Mare's Leg to kill your opponents, use your own leg. Have you ever wanted to kick a cowboy to death? You can do that, and you will, and sometimes massive kick-fights will break out on a map which is one of the funnier events to witness and participate in. Double-handed fisticuffs are on the menu, too, with bare fists or knuckle dusters, which let you punch someone so hard they'll drop their gun. Did they even have brass knuckles in the old west? Again, it doesn't matter, as long as cowboys die comically.

Ain't that just like a cowboy. Brings a fist to a gunfight. Or is it a footfight? Wait, there's a bow, too...

You'll need to use those melee attacks, too, because reloading takes time, this being the Old West, back when guns needed shells fed into their ammo-holes one-by-one. When you do have to reload, make sure you're in cover or at least try to get a little privacy. Alternately, every time you kill someone you can simply pick up their gun—a green glow will let you know its still loaded, and a red glow will tell you its empty. In fact, you can pick up just about any weapon someone else drops, and in a pinch, you can throw your own empty gun as a projectile.

Sometimes twin brothers just gotta have it out. With a hatchet.

You can dual-wield guns as well, even mismatched ones. And, there's a host of other weapons you can equip at the start of the match or find in special crates or on the ground during a fight, including dynamite (lit with a cigarillo), throwing knives and hatchets, and various shotguns and rifles.

In a server full of guns, the bow is still surprisingly effective.

This may simply be because it's new on Steam, but there seemed to be no shortage of bustling servers the times I played, and it never took more than a few moments to find a nice crowd of cowboys to kick to death. I hope those servers stay full, because man, this mod—or game, or whatever it is—is a whole lot of fun.

Installation: Download it on Steam. That's pretty much it, partner.

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