Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Mission Improbable" by Magnar Jenssen and Rick D

It's fascinating how two of the most polished Half-Life 2 single player campaigns (Magnar and Rick's newly released Mission Improbable and Adam Foster's MINERVA: Metastasis) totally ignore the gravity gun and dispense with the most iconic piece of the original game.

The implied argument, then, is that the gravity gun can't replace the sheer killing power of the AR2. The gravity gun is a gimmick, it only gets used as a last resort -- after hordes of zombies in Ravenholm eat up all your ammo.

Or maybe we, as designers, avoid the gravity gun because we can't control it. There's no "gravity gun ammo" to ration out. We have to contrive really specific puzzle-like situations to overcome how much players loathe using it: here, pick up these mines and shoot them at the chopper, or here, pick up these sawblades, or here, pick up these strider-busters.

Some last remarks: the brushwork and custom assets in Mission Improbable are meticulous. The setpieces are large and involving. There's some strong Robert Briscoe influence in the pair's interpretation of Combine architecture. Good variation of encounters and effective use of manhacks. The car still feels like an afterthought, but there wasn't much room to expand the car portion anyway, I suppose.

Anyway. It's very pretty and very playable, so give it a go.

(DISCLOSURE: I beta-tested this mod.)