Stop, Drop, Roll: Action Half-Life 2 V2 Out

Two men dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight, yesterday.

I played a lot of Action Half-Life back in the day- it’s a mod which adds leaps, rolls, kung-fu and so on to Half-Life multiplayer, as well as a small collection of colourful weapons, each of which is (in theory) the equal of any of the others. It also boasted some of gaming’s most legendary map secrets. You can read my love letter to AHL here, or read my account of an expedition into one of those secrets here.

It therefore fills me with a delicate, Monday morning joy to announce that Action Half-Life 2 version 2 has been released. If you own Half-Life 2 you can get the installer here, a Linux server binary here and read some details as to what’s new and watch a trailer after the jump.

In short (and I’m paraphrasing this from an already-paraphrased email from one of the coders), they’re switched over to the Orange Box engine, fixed 200 plus bugs, incorporated all of the old AHL1 features that were missing from AHL2 and added a suite of features so that server admins can customise their games. Sounds like good stuff indeed! If you’re curious, give this one a shot. There’s a majesty to it which was never going to come across in a trailer, so here‘s that link to my piece again.


  1. dethtoll says:

    Now here’s the burning question before I go to the trouble of pulling this whole thing down over my poopy, intermittent DSL (and reinstalling HL2 for that matter): Is anyone actually going to fucking play this? Or are they all still sticking their dicks in Black Ops and TF2? Because I notice most HL2 MP mods don’t tend to retain their playerbase, if they get one at all.

    • Gnoupi says:

      The other “burning” question is why the need to swear for such comment.

    • Grinterloper says:

      If swearing was “needed” it wouldn’t be as fun. Bum Nuggets.

      Concerning the post, does action HL2 have esoteric underground mazes in the maps? I recall a great article on this very site about a clock face and a giant pear.

    • Bilbo says:

      @Gnoupi that’s more an “irritating” question than a “burning” question. Nobody’s forcing you to swear too.

      I share OP’s concerns, but the answer is pretty tough to predict. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “no, nobody’s gonna play it”, but I’m a cynical bastard at the best of times and it looks like fun. I’m installing.

    • Harlander says:

      This article.

      link to

      This terrifying, terrifying article.

    • MD says:

      You seem to have a highly unorthodox idea of how one interacts with a game, which may explain the burning.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      You mean the article I link right there in the post? (But thanks for the kind words!)

    • Gpig says:

      Excuse me, excuse me, you still haven’t answered the question. The swearing, what about the swearing?

    • Baliame says:

      Not exactly HL2 but…

      Natural Selection.

    • Jack Bandit says:

      The servers I played on kept crashing. But that was the most fun 2 hours I’ve had in a manshoots this year!

      Edited to add:
      I was gunned down on the tracks of the subway map. Which turned out to be a blessing in disguise — in those few seconds of my disembodied consciousness watching my slumped-over corpse, I witnessed my killer frantically jump up and down on the pipe stuck to the side of said tracks. A second or two of questions to whether it was some sort of bizarre celebration ritual were answered, as the subway cab speed over my viewpoint, turning my killer into red paint on the walls and ground.

      In his death, he became a hero whom selflessly took all the humiliation for himself, sparing me none.

      So to answer your question, dethtoll: yes. I, for one, will be playing this quite a bit in the near future.

  2. fr0y0 says:


  3. gorgol says:

    OK. I’ll add this to my to try list. You have convinced me.

  4. DevilSShadoW says:

    So do you need HL2 for this or will any source game do?

    • er910 says:

      Any source game will do. Steam will need to have Source 2007 installed.

  5. skyturnedred says:

    I think AHL is my most played multiplayer game ever. Even though I was never really that good at it, it was fun. It was never just trying to get as many kills as possible, more often I (and many others I assume) was just trying to kill people in the coolest way I could think of. It was just pure fun.

  6. Aska says:

    Funny – Coming from the AQ2 crowd (Action Quake 2) in the old days – this game was widely advertised and trumped up and touted as the successor to AQ2, however upon finally trying it out we found everything that made AQ2 awesome and charming to play (strafe-jumping over houses, gliding sniper shots, monkey-dance akimbo etc) was simply gone from that iteration – probably mostly due to engine differences.

    However – I cheer that at least some iteration of those awesome mods still survives to this day – Action Quake 2 gaming made me, you could say! :)

    • Lamellama says:

      Indeed but from the trailer, it does look like it moves a little more like AQ2 now.

      I love you AQ2 and I will try this out for you.

    • cluddles says:

      Ah yes, I loved AQ2 too. I think it was the last FPS that I played online to any significant degree. I tried to get into AHL but it just felt stodgy and awkward in comparison. I always assumed AHL2 would suffer from the same problem, but maybe I should give it a go.

  7. Baris345 says:

    Everyone is ignoring the real question here: how did Kieron Gillen become a character?

    link to

  8. Reverend Speed says:

    Will give it a go… but is it actually better than The Specialists? Or Action Quake 2? AHL/AHL2 Always seemed more like a disassociated compilation of mechanics than a single fluid system.

    • pepper says:

      We shall have to see..

      Question, what happened to these game since HL1? I remember Action Half-Life, The Specialists and The Opera(opera? something like that) that all shared these mechanisms, leaving out the quake variants I dont know.

    • CMaster says:

      The Opera changed from having a planned version 2 for HL which was scrapped, to a planned version for UT2k4 (which got further I believe) which was also scrapped as the mappers were finding UED hard to work with, with the final attempt being made on a Source version. I’ve still got Alpha 5 of The Opera R2 (HL2) on a DVD somewhere – movement and fully mixed akimbo were working pretty well by that point. The idea of a scoring system was there, but not working so well. I’m sure Dan “Myre” Lawrence will be along in a bit to tell you more – he was the superstar mapper for The Opera R1 and programmer for the HL2 version.

      Edit: A couple of maps for The Opera UT wound up in AUT in the end.

    • Dan Lawrence says:


      Yeah, I think the modding scene around Half-Life became diffused over a whole bunch of other games once Half-Life got a bit long in the tooth. Epic were offering cash incentives to modders to pull them away from Half-Life and Half-Life 2 seemed to take forever to arrive and then when it did the documentation and tools were a bit crap compared to Half-Life. At the same time you started to need more and more people or manhours to match the quality of the stuff being put out by the professionals. All those things started to put a bit of stress on previously successful modding communities and they drifted apart into other things.

      On The Opera: Souce edition we just ran out of developers until it was just me and Sean and then neither of us were exactly developing at full speed. We had a good run though, even made it into PC Gamer back in the day when Kieron was a plucky young game journalist :)

      With AUT CMaster has it right that a fair few of the assets and a level or two originally churned out for Opera : Unreal edition ended up in it when I went over to help out. AUT was never anywhere near as popular as the Quake and Half-Life variants and was mostly made to try and make something for Epic’s contest. I have absolutely no special insight into The Specialists, it rolled up on the modding scene some time after TO and AHL and went for a more ‘anything goes’ vibe than either of them, as far as I know there wasn’t much cross pollination between their team and the other Action Quake derived mods.

      I think a lot of the ideas in these mods were taken up in games like The Club and Stranglehold (though can John Woo really ‘borrow’ back his own borrowed ideas?) and I guess you can still see them today perhaps in games like Brink. Most of the old developers on them have gone on to do ‘real’ jobs with several currently at game developers. I’m off making indie games now. I’m pretty sure it’s the new modding.

      I’ve been playing AHL2 over lunch by the way and it’s getting pretty close to that old AHL feeling, I advise any old fans to give it a try, though sadly at the minute the servers crash pretty regularly.

    • CMaster says:

      As a tester for TO (HL2), it never really seemed to take off. Myre/Dan here was fixing bugs and churning stuff out, but I could never find anyone else on the testing team to try things with. Combining this with the fact that well, playing Alpha games isn’t exactly fun meant my enthusiasm drained away.

      Its a shame, as to me at least, The Opera provided a staggering freedom of movement and a brilliant and unique (if flawed) experience. The Specialists always seemed a mess, and along with AHL always seemed to suffer from rewarding playing the game like a pretty conventional mess.

      I was also a kid who said some pretty stupid things when I first got involved with The Opera too, (first found it on a coverdisk, heh) but thankfully the demise of the redeemedsoft forums has covered most of that up now. Although I’m not sure I’ll ever quite grow out of thinking that Hospital and Barfight were two maps that just hot things perfectly right for a mod that played uniquely.

    • HybridHalo says:

      I think I remember The Specialists team vowing never to move on to source, so I’ll give AHL2 a go.

  9. kororas says:

    Looks pretty comical to me, i might try it out.

  10. tomeoftom says:

    Man. Quinns. YOU ARE A WRITER.

  11. DeepSleeper says:

    So I’m seeing one server up, with two people on it.

    Hooray for Action, but…

    • Lamellama says:

      I cant figure out how to start a dedicated server for it but if someone figures it out let me know.

  12. Ergates_Antius says:

    Is this less terrible and broken than AHL2 release 1 then?

  13. Cryotek says:

    I need to get back into the community. I did a ton of mapping for AHL (my regular nick is Jinx). Temple was my map, and I retextured/optimized Monorail and did a lot of community work. Got a map in Vampire Slayer, too (Revenant).

    The best thing about AHL was the community. Some of the best people I’ve met online, a truly talented and cool group of people. <—- my old mapping site

    • pepper says:

      Nice! Back in the days I also did a lot of mapping for Half-Life, It was good fun.

    • Cryotek says:

      I really miss mapping, I started some Source maps but never had time to get very far :(

  14. YourMessageHere says:

    “incorporated all of the old AHL1 features that were missing from AHL2”
    Apart from the SAAs and the semi-auto sniper, that is.
    …I actually find it hard to believe I’m still resentful about that. Never mind, getting, will have a shot ASAP.
    Hopefully this version will not fry my graphics card, like the first release did (I mean, OK, the PC had been in storage for a year, but still, it worked for a solid week, right up until I found and joined a populated AHL2 server for the first time).

    I wish steam had had a time-in-game counter when I was at my height, because for several years, this was the only multiplayer game in the world for me. Any old AHL players hereabouts remember the ]c[ DM server?
    @ AHL1 naysayers: well, to each their own. I never found any game better balanced, more fun or more intentionally varied and nurturing of self-expression. AQ2 was as good as Q2 would let it be, and AHL did everything AQ2 did (except the ridiculous exploits), only better. TS and The Opera were excellent things, but neither was as “easy to play, hard to master, fun to try” as AHL.

    EDIT: a bandage animation…I am literally rather surprised. Nice! But where are the side-dive rolls?

  15. bill says:

    Err….. why does the video seem to have no kung fu and not much action? Just a load of people running around shooting each other with pistols like every other game. Oh, and some long jumps.

    I was expecting flips, kicks, somersaults, wallrunning, etc..

    There seems to be a rugby-tackle though.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      If the bits of an action film that embody action to you are not the bits where the characters run around shooting at each other, which bits make an action movie actiony?

      Probably there’s no kung fu in the vid because kung fu in Action mods was always a last resort, due to ‘gun vs. no gun’ being a fairly predictable sort of fight. It’s AHL, but in HL2…not some sort of martial-arts-meets-Mirror’s Edge thing (which might be good, but is not and was never going to be this).

    • bill says:

      But how does people running around on the floor shooting people with pistols make it more action than any other FPS? What does it add?

      It’s given me an idea for a new Half Life mod though: Gun Half Life – it’s like half life multiplayer but you can shoot people with guns!

  16. tomeoftom says:

    Bah! There’s like four servers up, and all of them are very, very far away from Perth. Even with in/tense/ lag, though, it still manages to be fun, which is some achievement.

  17. Nick says:

    Interesting Master of Puppets ripoff tune.

  18. Big Murray says:

    That trailer managed to make something that should look like awesome fun to play look like a confused mess. Don’t think this is for me.

  19. mollemannen says:

    they way it’s written it sounds like it only supports four players :P

  20. Bungle says:

    It’s fun! I found myself laughing out loud repeatedly. Not sure if I’ll be able to convince any of my friends to play it. They’re boring old fucks.

  21. Joseph says:

    I wish every time a new ‘action’ mod came out, bloggers would just post about the specialists instead, because it is ACTUALLY GOOD, and this is mostly broken and the rest not fun.

    • yourgrandma says:

      AH1 came out before the specialists and was its inspiration i believe. Both mods were fantastic though. AH1 is pretty much completely dead and the only active servers for the specialists now are a bunch of completely retarded role playing servers…. how the hell did this happen? Who knows but its a damn shame really.

      I still have hope for AH2 but progress has been slow… and that alone is killing the community off for the mod.