Get A Life

We’re a little behind the curve on this one – I actually started playing it some weeks back, but gave up almost immediately upon encountering a Source engine alt-tab crash (which at the time led to a mini-rant). Still, never too late, eh? The unnecessarily antagonistically-named Get A Life is a singleplayer total conversion for Half-Life 2 – a fairly rare breed, as most mods tend to content themselves with deathmatch variations. Don’t know about you, but I’ve seen enough machine gun renders to last a lifetime, so something like this always stands out from the crowd.


This French-made mod (with English dialogue) has much in common with both Half-Life and Half-Life 2 – its first level concentrates on the mundanity of heading to work, followed by disaster at a science lab, and a harrowing unarmed escape from said science lab whilst dodging murderous mutants. Then it’s out into distinctly European streets, battling g-men with Combine sound effects.

Its central shtick is health. A white box with a red cross doesn’t heal all wounds, but rather must be manually activated and applied to the parts of your body that require it the most. So, you might be generally fairly healthy, but a head wound has messed up your vision, or a shot-up leg is impairing movement. It’s a little bit Deus Ex, but Deus Ex never chucked quite this many foes at you at once, so panicking over how best to spend your last health kit during a 12-man firefight is a reasonably fun time. There’s also slow-motion, which so far (I’ve yet to complete all 11 hours of it) hasn’t been much help.

Is it a good mod? Well, it’s certainly a bold, expansive one – definably Half-Life 2, but doing enough interesting things with the interface and with scripted setpieces to be its own entity. There’s an occasional focus on survival horror and basic navigational puzzles, interspersed with intense firefights, the odd boss battle and disorientating dream sequences, so it’s admirably varied.

Unfortunately, it’s also fairly rock-bottom in its production values, which shouldn’t in theory matter too much, but does mean the storyline is horribly confused and the NPCs distractingly drone-voiced. It’s also worth stating that anyone who can no longer stand the widdly-wee or click-click sound that denotes an unopenable Half-Life 2 door should stay well away – there’s an awful lot of wandering around in circles clicking E on every possibly egress here.

But it’s big and it’s inventive and it tries its hand at a whole load of tones and challenges. Well worth a look, but keep in mind that it’s very much an amateur affair.

13 Comments

  1. Mman says:

    I’ve been holding off playing through due to some infamous HL2 crash bug, and unfortunately it seems a problem with the engine rather than the mod, so I have to wait for Valve to fix it (although it is kind of odd it only happens for this mod). It gets in the way of the immersion when you have to modify the command line to disable sound every half hour or so.

    From what I’ve played health system seems a bit gimmicky, namely because health and injuries are separate, so you can be near death yet completely uninjured and vice versa; it would work much better if healing injuries also gave a little bit of health back, which would make it feel a lot more natural, although there might be technical limitations on that.

    Oh yeah, one thing I really have to laud the mod for is including subtitles for once; I haven’t seen any other mods with custom voices do that, and it’s so helpful, especially with how horribly mixed in most mod voices are.

  2. Lord_Mordja says:

    It was actually pretty fun, though with a bit of an…how should I say? “Oldschool” feel to it. By this I mean that the level design felt somewhat archaic and many moments felt a lot like HL1’s singleplayer.

    I’m definitely agreeing with Alec’s consensus on bullet time; it’s practically useless. The enemies are generally pretty inaccurate until you go slo-mo and they suddenly start to hit you.

    Oh and the story is largely incoherent and you keep falling unconscious unexplainably and waking up in completely different locations.

    Still worth a download, and pretty much the only HL2 TC that lasts for more than an hour.

    Edit: Not true, there’s also a newly released RPG mod Called “Bloodstone” that’s supposedly long as well. Haven’t played it yet.

  3. Ging says:

    There’s nothing wrong with machine gun renders, especially when they’re just the default modeling package grey with fancy lighting applied.

  4. Thiefsie says:

    This reminds me to try the Toronto mod…whatever it is.. with Canada fairly accurately reproduced in game?

  5. ViscountGrizzley says:

    It was pretty slow, frustrating and anti-fun from what I played. Lot of effort around some bad basic design.
    I had a lot more fun with this.
    link to moddb.com
    Better simple and well executed than overcomplicated.
    Edit: Another good one, while I’m on it…
    link to moddb.com

  6. caesarbear says:

    Being tired of machinegun renders is a silly reason to skip HL2 multiplay mods. It’s were the best stuff is. Eternal Silence just recently released version 3. A pick-up space shooter in the Source engine? That’s standing out from the crowd.
    link to eternal-silence.net

  7. OverlordUbiquitous says:

    The level design is fairly unintuative, I spent many a while just wandering around trying to find out where I was supposed to go next. The biggest problem however, is the ‘Flashlight is a seperate weapon’. I thought we’d seen the last of that with Doom3. Yeah, yeah. It supposedly ‘adds atmosphere’. Only atmosphere it adds is that of frustration. Especially coupled with the aforementioned level design, and the lack of other light sources.

  8. Feet says:

    I’ve played through a good 7 hours of this until I hit the randomly on fire catacombs under a church bit where I got bored and stopped. Some parts of this were very good, the difficulty curve is all over the show, the voice acting and plot are pretty non-sensible, there are random dream sequences, and generally speaking it’s just way way too long to hold ones attention till the bitter end.

    I was impressed at points though.

  9. macc says:

    Singleplayer mods are quite rare for HL2, it’s a pity. All those deathmatch clones doesn’t quite do it for me.

    Anyway, here’s a list of HL2 singleplayer mods which I think are really worth the download:

    Minerva Metastasis (the best!)
    Riot Act (also very good!)
    Rock 24
    Union (a lot of Ep2 stuff)
    Coastline to atmosphere (long! a lot of stuff in here)
    Causality Effect (different storyline for HL2)
    Mistake of Pythagoras (very arty, strange and original mod)
    Dayhard (funny mod!)

    Too lazy for links, just do a search on moddb.:P

    By the way, the upcoming mod Strider Mountain also looks very promising:
    link to stridermountain.com

    And of course Black Mesa if it ever comes out.

  10. MacBeth says:

    Might well give it a go, despite the flaws. However, it’s things like this, that while admirable in themselves, remind you once again how brilliant the real Valve stuff is, in terms of all the elements that aren’t done so well here – voice acting, difficulty curves, intuitive route-finding…

    I get the same effect when building TF2 maps – I’m assembling something I’m quite proud of, but when I compare it to the real deal I still find myself somewhat lacking. Then again they do have epic resources and as much time as they want…

  11. Cooper says:

    On the subject of SP mods for HL2, Eclipse is a short, but fairly pretty, and an impressive bash and only-slightly-unwieldy attempt at focusing solely on physics based combat and puzzle solving.

  12. Chris R says:

    Nice, thanks for the heads up macc!

  13. Crispy says:

    Cooper, physics has a charming art style but the game is ASS! I completed it in 30 seconds due to them not blocking off parts of the level you’re not supposed to get to.