Half-Life 2 VR Mod 1.4 on Oculus Rift Development Kit 2

Posted September 12, 2014 by in All

Developer: Valve, WormSlayer, Nathan Andrews
 
Release Date: Mod Release 1 - 9 - 2014 Game Release almost 10 years ago :( where is HL3?????
 
Game Type: FPS, Action
 
Platform: PC
 
HMD: Oculus Rift DK1 & DK2,
 
Control Schemes: Xbox Controller, Keyboard & Mouse, Razer Hydra
 
Download: Click Here
 
All Games: ,
 
 
 
 

Best Part:

Novel gesture controls, and clever UI. Also, the shooting.
 

Worst Part:

Suffers from a lot of black smearing.
 
Bottom Line

Simply a must-play experience – the closest you’ll get to the holodeck right now.

Rating

Graphics
 
 
 
 
 


Sound
 
 
 
 
 


Controls
 
 
 
 
 


Gameplay
 
 
 
 
 


Comfort Level
 
 
 
 
 


Immersion
 
 
 
 
 


Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

4.5/ 5

by Edmund
Full Article

Half-Life 2, the game that launched Steam, was released almost ten years ago to universal critical acclaim.

Even after all these years, it’s easy to see why – it is a master class in videogame pacing through design; building from an iconic opening, through a series of distinctive and brilliant set-pieces and encounters. It is completely linear, though rarely feels that way moment to moment. Through extended chase scenes, every turn and every doorway can feel like an improvised choice, made out of desperate necessity. The Half-Life series chose to tell its relatively simple story entirely in-engine, which was a bold design decision that trusts the player to be in control at all times. As well as being a hugely influential design philosophy, it also happens to be a great fit for Virtual Reality, almost as if the game had been designed with the tech in mind.

Half Life 2 VR Mod 1I really didn’t get on with Half-Life 2 in VR when I originally tried it for the DK1. It can be quite a frantic game and had a tendency to make me nauseas. But since Valve released an official update enabling DK2 support I gave it another try, and found it comfortable and eminently playable. I’d have definitely replayed the whole thing with a gamepad, if I hadn’t been able to get hold of some Razer Hydras to try the incredible mod, version 1.4, by WormSlayer and Nathan Andrews. Earlier versions of the HL2 VR mod employed one Hydra to provide positional tracking. With the DK2 taking care of that, issues surrounding the old tracking solution have been solved and the other controller is free to be employed for immersive gesture controls for reloading.

There is something quite magical about decoupled looking and aiming with good motion controls. When it’s working well it significantly amplifies the immersion. I did find, however, that Hydras do need to be recalibrated quite frequently, which can definitely be a presence-breaker – thankfully it’s easy to do in-game, and soon becomes a habit that you’ll do almost unconsciously, like you might regularly check that your weapons clips are full before a fight.

Half Life 2 VR Mod 2My absolute favourite thing about the mod is the placement of UI on your weapon and right hand – I really love glancing down, and, with a twist of my wrist – as if I were checking my watch – seeing my health. Reloading often involves releasing a clip then a motion with your left arm to load in a new one. This is really fun but I’d definitely recommend trying the training simulation before you begin Half-Life 2 aproper. This helps introduce all the controls in a sensible way, and since some of the reload gestures aren’t necessarily obvious, it’s well worthwhile. The revolver is at once a pain and a joy – you need to flick your right hand to pop out the cylinder then raise the gun to allow the old cartridges to drop to the floor. Then you bring your left hand across to load in the new bullets, finally flicking your right wrist again to put the cylinder back in place. It can be very satisfying, but it is easy for it to mess up, or for you to mess up, particularly in the heat of the moment.

Reloading panics aside, it should be noted that even with flawless motion tracking, aiming with your arms and your eyes in 3D space is tougher than using a gamepad or a keyboard and mouse. I miss my targets, I get overwhelmed and even on easy mode I die quite bit. Smashing wood with the crowbar is not as reliable with the hydra as by pressing a button, although when you do get the knack of it, it becomes quite satisfying. Aiming the crossbow through the scope is cool, but it needs a pretty high level of concentration to use well. Motion controls do not make Half-Life 2 easier, but if you dismiss them on that basis you are missing the point. VR and motion controls transform the experience into something new. They alter the pace of some of the moment-to-moment play, without radically changing the overall pace of the experience. They make things harder, but they also make things thrilling, and fun, and so much more immersive.

Half Life 2 VR Mod 5The level of immersion you get from Half-Life 2 on the DK2 intensifies the emotions of the game, though not unmanageably so. Of course Ravenholm is still really scary. Not quite on the level of some available Oculus horror games but it’s also still not for the faint of heart. Fighting dumb faceless Combine is fine, fighting creepy-crawly, leapy headcrabs, I don’t do so well with. A lot of Half-Life 2 is quite frantic, but the DK2 really shines here – it’s a pretty comfortable experience all, in all. Features like fading to black in place of loading screens also help to maintain a comfortable experience. The main factor that stopped me from playing for more than a couple of hours at a time, was not sim-sickness, but the sweat that you can work up by standing and moving in a head mounted display.

Half-Life 2 is a Virtual Reality treat in its slower moments as well. The in-engine narrative sections are really engaging experiences. It may be so remarkable, in part, just because there aren’t that many Rift games available at the moment that contain a cast of speaking characters of this size. Even on a screen, having characters turn to look at you and talk to you wherever you happened to be standing can be an effective device. However, the fact that the narrative itself doesn’t offers players choices beyond whether or not to pay attention and take things seriously, means that a lot of people wind up just pratting around and messing about with the physics. In VR, the characters you interact with command your attention much more powerfully than on a desktop screen. It feels natural to try to hold eye contact, for example. Even mute, I feel like I can express myself a little: I give a modest bow of the head towards admiring resistance fighters as they exclaim “Thank God you’re alive!” The expressive quality of head movements transforms character interaction into a space for the player to role-play the silent protagonist. Through the lens of the DK2, Gordon Freeman’s character changes, or comes into clearer view.

Half Life 2 VR Mod 4Of course, this mod is, as great as it is, is not without its technical issues. Black smearing on true blacks plagues the darker sections of the game. There are a few bugs here and there, at one point, early in the game I got stuck on a doorway at the start of an area – completely unable to move, even after re-centering. Thankfully, these kinds of issues are few and far between and developer console commands can allow you to progress in worst case scenarios.

Overall, Nathan and Wormslayer’s Half-Life 2 VR mod, using a DK2 and a Razer Hydra is a revelation. The hardware, though still not perfect, allows for a comfortable and highly immersive experience. The mod has been made with creativity and care – it is easy to set up and easy to use. The Training Simulation is an excellent introduction to the controls. Half-Life 2 stands up so well in VR, much better than I had ever thought it would. It’s really nice to see this cult classic given a new lease of life by such a superb mod – giving newer gamers a chance to experience a seminal game and old gamers an excuse to revisit. It really is the definitive way to play Half-Life 2.

Download Mod Pack Click Here

 

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About the Author

Edmund

Edmund Ward is a philosophy graduate who has focused on aesthetics and cultural critique in the information age. He grew up with 'the dream of the holodeck' and is prone to get very excited by new innovations in natural user-interfaces. Edmund is currently looking for volunteers to look after the glucose drip that will sustain his "fleshform" (as he insists on calling it) when he migrates permanently to VR.

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