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.