Mod of the Week

Mod of the Week: Spider-Man IV, for Grand Theft Auto IV

Christopher Livingston at

My spider-sense is tingling... and it's because there's yet another superhero mod for GTA IV! This time it's the Spider-Man IV mod, which introduces Liberty City to the masked hero who shoots webs, sticks to walls, beats up policemen, and swings around from skyscrapers, just like spider can. And since Peter Parker is a photographer by trade, there's even a neat photo mode that slows down time to a crawl (heh) to easily allow you to snap pictures of everybody's favorite web-slinger.


Mod of the Week: The Keep on the Borderlands, for The Temple of Elemental Evil

Christopher Livingston at

I was scrolling through ModDB's latest offerings, as I do most mornings, when the words "The Keep on the Borderlands" first caught my eye... then caught my memory. See, The Keep on the Borderlands was the first module I ever played in Dungeons & Dragons, the pen-and-paper RPG, back when I was in grade school in the early 1980's. It's been modded into The Temple of Elemental Evil, the 2003 D&D video game by now-departed developer Troika. Though the full-conversion mod is still in development, I couldn't pass up the chance to check it out while getting all nostalgic for my first D&D campaign.


Mod of the Week: Pilot Civilian Air Rescue, for ArmA 3

Christopher Livingston at

ArmA 3 is a challenging game to learn, especially so when it comes to piloting choppers. Enter the Pilot Civilian Air Rescue mod, which features a number of single-player Mohawk chopper missions, from insertion (transporting doctors to a combat zone), extraction (retrieving injured NPCs and delivering them to a hospital), and even search and rescue, in which you look for lost hikers or downed pilots and ferry them back to safety. It's a great way to hone your chopper flying skills offline while getting a warm and fuzzy feeling from helping NPCs in need.

Mod of the Week: The Citizen Returns, for Half-Life 2, Episode 2

Christopher Livingston at

The Citizen Returns, a mod for Half-Life 2: Episode 2, is a sequel to a 2008 mod called The Citizen. They're both about, as you may have guessed, a citizen. He's trying to escape City 17 at the same time Gordon Freeman is fighting the Combine elsewhere, and he's teaming up with rebel forces along the way. In addition to urban combat with enemy soldiers, zombies, and gunships, there's a fun rescue mission in which you can choose the style of your attack, either at long range as a sniper, up-close in disguise, or just plain loud, with explosives. It's like a little taste of GTA V's heists crept into the Half-Life universe.

Mod of the Week: Witcher Kings, for Crusader Kings 2

Christopher Livingston at

Excited for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but can't bear to wait until next year to get some fresh Witcher action? The Witcher Kings mod for Crusader Kings II might tide you over in the meantime. This full conversion mod (still being developed) transforms medieval Europe into the Witcher's world. Go to war with Nilfgaard (or rule them), employ sorcerers and witchers in your court, and send your children to magic academies in hopes of developing their arcane talents. Or, like I did, become moderately obsessed with the idea of becoming besties with Geralt himself.


Mod of the Week: Hopelessness: The Afterlife, For Half-Life

Christopher Livingston at

With another E3 come and gone and nary an official word from Valve about another Half-Life game, it's probably time to get some new content the old-fashioned way: with mods. Enter Hopelessness: The Afterlife, which gives Half-Life-hungry gamers about forty minutes of new-yet-retro action split between careful puzzle-solving and frenetic gunplay. Grab your crowbar: we're going back to Black Mesa.


Mod of the Week: Holidays, for Skyrim

Christopher Livingston at

I'd just installed a Skyrim mod and was standing in Whiterun, noticing that nothing seemed to be happening. Broken mod, I assumed, or more likely I installed it incorrectly. Then I noticed a few NPCs drifting into the outdoor market area. Then a few more. A couple started playing instruments, some began to dance, others stood around chatting. I noticed some decorations were up, and a couple tables of sweets had appeared. As night fell, it became a full-on party with throngs of townsfolk, followed by fireworks. It was one of several celebrations added by the Wet and Cold: Holidays Mod, one of the most enjoyable mods I've ever tried.


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 get download it and play it and kick a bunch of cowboys in the face. Pass the whiskey!


Mod of the Week: Warsword Conquest, for Mount and Blade: Warband

Christopher Livingston at

Years in the making, Warsword Conquest is finally playable in beta: a full conversion mod for Mount and Blade: Warband that transforms the game into a world based on Warhammer fantasy. There are thirteen different factions to join, including the rat-like Skaven, the scaly Lizardmen, Chaos, pirates, and of course, dwarves, elves, and orcs. But screw all of those, because you can play as a skeleton. Don't you want to play as a skeleton? I'm gonna play as a skeleton.


Mod of the Week: Monstrous Megapack, for Dungeons of Dredmor

Christopher Livingston at

Gaslamp Games recently delayed the release of Clockwork Empires by a few months, but perhaps we can kill the time with another romp through their 2011 roguelike, Dungeons of Dredmor. With the random level generation and robust character customization, every game of Dredmor already feels different, but that's no reason not to add hundreds more differences. The recently updated Monstrous Megapack adds over a hundred items and artifacts, scores of new rooms and dungeon features, plus several new breeds of baddies, boogies, and bosses.


Mod of the Week: For the Enclave, for Fallout New Vegas

Christopher Livingston at

In the Fallout universe, The Enclave -- deservedly -- have a bit of a bad reputation. On the other hand, they have cool armor and they're always landing vertibirds all over the place like total badasses, and while that doesn't make me like them, it at least makes me think they're kinda cool. That's why For The Enclave, which recently released its final version, is the Fallout New Vegas mod for anyone who's always wanted to join the Enclave.


Mod of the Week: Thinking With Time Machine, for Portal 2

Christopher Livingston at

I've never really gotten into playing custom levels for Portal 2—I just don't find the game that much fun without the inclusion of Wheatley, Cave Johnson, and GLaDOS. That's why it's great when Portal 2 mods add something new to make up for what's missing. In this case, the added element is a hand-held time device that lets Chell make a time-shifted duplicate of herself, and team up with it to solve puzzles. Thinking with portals is no longer enough, now you're Thinking With Time Machine.


Mod of the Week: Star Wars Ships, for Space Engineers

Christopher Livingston at

While Evan continues to make a mockery of Star Wars canon, I thought I might try something different: sticking to the celebrated story that no one has a right to change (except George Lucas, who has the right to change it but really, really shouldn't). I noticed that Space Engineers, while still in early access, is a part of Steam Workshop, and that players have been busy constructing tons of Star Wars ships and bases. While I don't know if player creations are technically mods, it's player-made content, and I figure that's close enough for my purposes.

And so I present a completely accurate and above all respectful re-telling of the original Star Wars trilogy, in screenshots!


Mod of the Week: Ironfall, for Minecraft

Christopher Livingston at

For weeks I've been dying to summon a robot from outer space, have it land next to me, climb inside, and start whomping on my enemies. Unfortunately, I don't own Titanfall, and simply yelling at the sky hasn't produced a single robot from the heavens. YET. In the meantime, I can play Ironfall, a Minecraft mod that mimics Titanfall's team-based shooting and giant robot summoning. Drop your pickaxe, pick up a gun, and prepare for Ironfall!


Mod of the Week: Tame the Beasts of Skyrim II

Christopher Livingston at

As an animal lover, it sometimes bothers me to have to slaughter so much wildlife in video games, particularly in Skyrim, where wolves, bears, deer, and mammoths often give you little choice. There's an alternative, however, that lets you put down your sword and pick up a leash. Charm creatures with magic, make them your companions, feed them treats, sell them for profit, and even breed them, with Tame The Beasts of Skyrim II.

The central feature of Tame the Beasts is the Pet Shop (or petshop as it’s called in the mod). There you’ll meet Roselia, the shop owner, who will teach you a new shout. Then, you just need to run around in the wild until you find the animal you’d like to adopt, or just settle for whatever random animal you find, because believe me, when you’re out deliberately looking for a bear, you will never find a bear.


Mod of the Week: Altis Life, for Arma 3

Christopher Livingston at

After two hours of tense waiting, the op was launched. The four of us, all policemen wearing night-vision goggles, slithered from our vehicles, spread out silently, and sprinted around the darkened buildings in the middle of the night. We converged on the civilian helicopter pilot who had landed nearby a moment ago, surrounding him, our weapons drawn and ready. Then we politely asked him to produce his pilot's license. He promptly did. We thanked him, dispersed, and met back at the vehicles. No illegal activity had transpired. Mission accomplished.

Altis Life, the police and civilian role-playing server mod for Arma 3, reminds me a bit of the time—the very little time—I spent on a few Garry's Mod role-playing servers. Rather than engage in multiplayer warfare, players engage in, well, virtual life. If you're playing a civilian, you buy a car, get a job, and collect a paycheck. If you're a cop, you police the civilians and enforce the law. The laws that include the requirement to have a proper license to operate vehicles such as helicopters, boats, and cars, hence the covert nighttime op.


Mod of the Week: Metroid Mod, for Spelunky

Christopher Livingston at

It was teased a couple months ago, but it's now been released! The Metroid Mod for Spelunky slickly brings the sci-fi world of spacefaring Samus Aran to the subterranean perma-death platformer. It's the best of both worlds: monsters, items, pick-ups, character skins, music, background art, and even the title and menu screens have all been Metroid-ified. The core game, however, is still pure, unfiltered Spelunky. Fans of either game -- or both -- will love it.


Mod of the Week: Star Trek Armada 3, for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

Christopher Livingston at

If you've been looking for a reason to revisit 2011's SIns of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, might I tempt you with a fresh injection of Star Trek? Galaxy-class Federation starships? Borg Cubes? Klingon Vor'cha? Romulan... whatever it is Romulans drive? The Star Trek Armada III mod completely transforms Sins into Trek, with custom models, animations, effects, and technology.


Mod of the Week: Mouse Interface, for Grim Fandango

Christopher Livingston at

By now you’ve heard some clever modder has added mouse controls to the LucasArts classic adventure Grim Fandango, allowing you to play the game without having to awkwardly steer Manny Calavera around like a friggin' cargo barge. I've actually tried it out, and I can answer all of your questions. Is the mod hard to install? Not really! Does it work? Almost entirely! Can I squeeze an entire column out of telling you how to get it running? Most definitely. Read on to learn how you can point -- finally point -- in Grim Fandango. Just like Manny's doing!


Mod of the Week: The Last Days, for Mount and Blade: Warband

Christopher Livingston at

The last time I played a Lord of the Rings mod, I made Aragorn marry a giant spider. This time, I'm not looking for weird fan-fiction nuptials but for massive fan-fiction battles. The Last Days (of The Third Age of Middle Earth) was originally released in 2011, but it's been recently updated and made newly compatible with Mount & Blade: Warband, transforming the game into Tolkien's Middle Earth.