Freebie Friday is a semi-regular news feature where we talk about a freeware, just free or open source game. It can be anything from a throwaway web game to a free-to-play RPG or mobile puzzle game. This time: Half-Life 2 modification Transmissions – Element 120.
For a long time, PC game mods have ruled the roost as the best value free content . Big budget franchises from publishers like EA, Activision and Ubisoft started to appear without the typical support for the modding community like map editors or Software Development Kits. This is partly because it’s a lot of work to continue support, but also to maximise people’s desire to buy extra downloadable content and new games in the brand, as can be seen with the likes of Battlefield or Call of Duty.
There are still plenty of companies that support the modding community on PC, while others might not explicitly allow user created changes to their games, they certainly benefit from the (often hilarious) exposure they get. Recently, Bohemia Interactive, the guys behind DayZ and the Arma series, ran a modding competition called Make Arma, Not War, with prizes to the best of the best of the modding community. Then there’s Valve and their Source Engine games, who’ve made an art form out of curating community made content like mods or in-game cosmetic items, even providing a marketplace for their trade. Sometimes, these mods shine through, showing off a huge amount of talent, like Transmissions – Element 120 does.
A short single player experience set in the Half-Life Universe featuring a unique gravity defying weapon that allows you to jump buildings and sustain large falls. The story takes place at a mysterious date & location after the events of Half-Life : Episode 2. Where are you? Why have you been sent?
TE120 is the result of over 2 years of nights & weekends creating custom levels, code, models, sounds, and more by a single developer.
To help bring the Source Engine up to date several new features are included:
- Enhanced dynamic lighting
- Integrated Source Shader Editor 0.5 for enhanced post processing & lighting
- Improved support for complex physics structure
- Support for super massive physics objects
- Pre-processed AO
- Improved AI and group behavior on multiple AI types
This isn’t just a normal mod, though. Not only does the game push the ageing Source Engine further than it has any right to, it manages to capture so much of the atmosphere that made Half-Life 2 so great, without feeling like you’ve done it all before. One reason is the introduction of a new gravity gun which repels instead of attracts objects. The only catch is that it does tax your PC considerably. I have a AMD octacore and R9 280X and even that struggled in parts.
TE120 is very resource intensive, generally a desktop PC no older than 2 years is required.
- Processor: Pentium 4 – 3.0 GHz, or AMD equivalent
- RAM: 2GB
- Graphics Card: Shader Model 2.0 capable, ATI 9600, NVidia 6600 or better
- OS: Windows (Mac & Linux hopefully coming soon! If interested in helping to port TE120 please contact me here.)
- 780MB of free HD space
TE120 requires the steam client to be installed with the Source SDK Base 2007 to run. To install the Source SDK Base 2007:
- Go to your steam library.
- Select tools from the menu right next to the search bar which defaults to “games”.
- Scroll down to Source SDK Base 2007, right click and install.
Overall this is a great addition to Half-Life 2 and it’s all the more impressive when you think that it was made in someone’s spare time… one person’s time, in fact. Much like another Half-Life 2 mod, Minerva, te120 attempts to delve further into the mythos of the Half-Life universe, while we all so desperately wait for new of Half-Life 3. If you’ve got the hardware to run it, you have to give it a go.
What other great mods have you tried? Do you wish there was more mod support in games?