Mod of the Week: Crylife, for Half-Life 2

Christopher Livingston

Can we talk about Dr. Kleiner from Half-Life 2 and what a huge failure he is as a science person? Sure, the guy cobbled together a teleporter in his garage, but when Gordon Freeman shows up after being gone for ten years, what does Kleiner have waiting for him? The same old clunky outdated HEV suit Gordon wore back in Black Mesa. You'd think that as the leading bald science man on earth, he may have added some upgrades in a decade's time, something along the lines of the nanosuit from the Crysis series. Alas, no: he left that to the modders of Crylife .

Should I use strength, speed, armor, cloaking... or Alyx?

Crylife, created by the two-person Dev.Muffin modding team, is actually a mod for SMOD, which is a mod for Half-Life 2. If you're not familiar with SMOD, it's been around for almost a decade and still gets updated and patched every so often. Essentially, it adds new weapons, new enemies, bullet time, and extra gore, making Half-Life 2 crazier, more violent, and more X-TREME. It helps to picture Valve developers sitting around a table in 2004, putting the finishing touches on Half-Life 2, and suddenly Jerry Bruckheimer kicks open the door and shouts “I'm here to help, and my contribution is this GIANT BAG OF COCAINE!” That's SMOD.

There's something very un-Freeman about dual pistols. And yet something so satisfying.

So, you've got SMOD for Half-Life 2, and now Crylife for SMOD, meaning you've got all the extra frentic action of SMOD plus the nanosuit from Crysis. Let's go over the suit's powers, by saying them in a super deep, somewhat creepy voice ( here's a refresher if you need it ) with an English accent:

MAXIMUM SPEED

Where Half-Life 2's sprint was really more of a trot, Crylife's speed will have you zipping all over the map, which is useful if you want to run up and punch an enemy soldier, which is something you want to do. Did I mention there is punching in Crylife? There is punching in Crylife, by holding down the V key, letting you smash wooden obstacles and crates and faces without having to cycle your weapon over to the crowbar, which you no longer have. Punching is fun, though it's much more effective when using:

MAXIMUM STRENGTH

It's not just for Tylenol anymore! Now you can punch things (see above), and the things break or go flying. Also, you can jump, while sprinting, which will give you a nice big leap. You know how sometimes you have to jump onto crates to get over walls and fences, or use ladders, or muck around solving see-saw puzzles by stacking cinder blocks on a board? Now, the environment is conquered by your nanobot-infused super-thighs.

Punch-a-Vort: the City 17 answer to Whack-a-Mole.

Which takes us to:

MAXIMUM AHH-MUH

Armor, well, it lets you get shot a lot more without dying, which is useful because with SMOD's extra enemies and their extra bullets, you will be getting shot extra times. Also, some of the enemies have their own nanosuits, just like they did in Crysis. You'll definitely need armor you protect yourself against them. Even with AHH-MUH (set to MAXIMUM), I die a lot in this mod.

You're not the only one jumping around City 17 like an idiot.

Finally:

CLOAK... ENGAGED

Thanks to CLOAK, this ambush never got sprung. And I got that big promotion! Thanks, CLOAK!

Cloak is fun, because you can walk right up to enemies without them seeing you. As in Crysis, you can't really do anything violent while remaining cloaked, so it turns into a fun game of, “Can I quickly switch to MAXIMUM AHH-MUH and then carefully insert bullets into everyone before they react?” The answer is yes, usually.

I'm not sure if night vision makes Ravenholm less scary or more scary.

There are weapons, new ones, in Crylife, and with SMOD's iron sights they're all MAXIMUM FUN to use. Plus, each gun has two slots for attachments that you'll find while you're sprinting, jumping, cloaking, punching, and AHH-MUH-ing around City 17. The pistol can be fitted with a silencer, or turned into dual-wielded pistols for the whole John Woo experience. The machine guns can be fitted with different kind of scopes and silencers as well.

Do you like guns and attaching things to guns and shootin' dudes? Here you go.

The mod is still in beta, but Dev.Muffin has been patching things quickly. I played it earlier this week and noticed some textures missing and a few other minor problems, but when I went back to the download page the next day, they'd already released a new version fixing the issues I'd spotted. There's also a few extra maps and gamemodes you can access from the "New Game" menu: just scroll past the Half-Life 2 chapters and you'll see them.

Installation : Not much entanglement here. You'll need to have installed (and have run at least once) Half-Life 2, HL2 Deathmatch, and Counter-Strike: Source. Download the mod file (it's a hefty one which includes all the SMOD stuff). Open your "sourcemods" folder, which is in your "steamapps" folder which is in your "Steam" folder. Extract the "Crylife" folder into the "sourcemods" folder. Restart Steam, and you'll see SMOD: Crylife appear in your games library! MAXIMUM DOUBLE-CLICK IT, and you're ready to play.

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