By Alec Meer on April 30th, 2013 at 11:00 am.
I hate Adam Foster, creator of last decade’s rapturously-received Half-Life 2 mod series MINERVA (not to be confused with BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den) and more recently a Valve employee. I hate him not because he is talented, not because he works at a cool place and not because I have a pathological distaste for people called ‘Adam.’ (Smith, you’re fired). I hate him because today he has made me feel SO OLD.
One of the first long-form pieces I ever wrote for RPS was an interview with Mr Foster about his excellent, thoughtful mod, and its fine accomplishments in level design and mood. That was in 2007. Now it is 2013. Six years later. And I am posting about MINERVA again. He now works at Valve, and meanwhile I’m still typing words into the same CMS, but older, grimmer, fatter. At least I’ve changed my chair twice since then. Something Foster has also done is repackage and spit’n'polish his mod for a well-deserved re-release on Steam today.
It you’ve never played it, you’ve now no excuse (presuming you already own HL2: Ep 1). If you have, tweaked puzzles and graphics are a fine reason to return. That and the fact that, in the ongoing absence of official new Half-Life, this is a rather adept stopgap.
MINERVA: The Director’s Cut should be going live any hour now, but in the meantime you might want to have a delve through the agreeably cryptic site which accompanies it and sets the scene for this unofficial side-story on Combine-occupied Earth. A seemingly all-knowing narrator guides and teases you, identities and motives are questioned and, best of all, barely an inch of digital space is wasted.
What I most remember about Minerva is how free it seemed from those damnable loading points in official HL2 games – its maps were layered like an onion, and just seemed to keep going. They also offered an evocatively bleak, lonely setting, set away from the comparative hullabaloo of City 17 itself. Here’s what I wrote about it back in 2007, which I daren’t read now. I can’t imagine how dreadful the words of my callow youth may be.
Definitely look at this one (er, the game, not my ancient words), is what I’m saying. Meanwhile I’m going to go and look at myself in the mirror and weep for a fortnight.