Modders are on an RTX rampage having added ray tracing to Half-Life 2, Max Payne and even SWAT 4

The Swat 4 RTX mod working in game.
(Image credit: Irrational Games)
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A while back we reported that Portal was getting a full Nvidia RTX overhaul (opens in new tab). Created in-house at Nvidia's Lightspeed Studios, it's been made possible through the use of an Omniverse tool called RTX Remix (opens in new tab).

The fantastic thing about the tool isn't just that an age old Valve classic can now be played in shiny, ray-traced glory (as a free DLC); the fact that you can so easily add ray tracing to almost anything (opens in new tab) means we're now up to our eyeballs in RTX mods.

Joining the ever growing list, modders on the Beyond3D forum (opens in new tab) have thrown RTX into yet another Valve classic, Half-Life 2, as well as Max Payne, and even SWAT 4. And damn do they look great. 

Admittedly the Max Payne RTX mod is still a little funky on the texture side of things, which does kind of lessen the effect of the pretty lighting. It's due to the fact that there's still no access to Nvidia Remix's AI Texture Super Resolution tool.

As Wccftech (opens in new tab) reports, modder acoulte93 only managed to get the Max Payne RTX Mod working by utilising Crosire's d3d8to9 tool (opens in new tab) on Github. A "pseudo-driver module" that helps with Direct3D 8 compatibility by "converting all API calls and low-level shaders to equivalent Direct3D 9 ones." The shader support in Direct 3D 9 being much better than with the older version.

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User Lord Vulkan jammed the RTX Remix files into SWAT 4 "with basically no tweaking," says Alexander Battaglia in a Twitter post that shows some awesome screenshots of the tool in play.

Of course, as Nvidia admits in a little disclaimer at the bottom of the Remix application, there are bound to be compatibility issues when Portal RTX files are used in other games. It seems to have gone pretty well with the aforementioned games, however, at least for the most part.

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All this magic RTXification is helped along by the oh so eloquently named Reservoir Spatio Temporal Importance Resampling (ReSTIR (opens in new tab)) tool, which is able to render direct lighting "from millions of dynamic light sources," says Nvidia. Direct Illumination (opens in new tab) also helps to make those millions of lights in a single game scene actually possible without bricking even the likes of the RTX 4080 (opens in new tab).

If you didn't know, game lighting can be pretty resource intensive, which is probably why there are so many badly lit horror games on itch.io, my own included.

Nvidia recommends a GeForce RTX 3060 (opens in new tab) at minimum, in order to play Portal RTX at 1080p on high graphics settings, and it's likely the same story if you want to enjoy either Max Payne, Half-Life 2 or SWAT 4 in their newfound RTX version. 

Without that minimum GPU spec, there's no way you'd be able to achieve 'playable' frame rates of around 30fps, Nvidia says. Either way, it's great to see people being creative with the tools Nvidia has provided, even if it means AMD gamers (opens in new tab) might be a little left out—without the help of DLSS, running these RTX mods could be a challenge.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for two years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.