Have You Played… Deathmatch Classic?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Remember that time Valve made a cover version of another developer’s game?

Operating with the thought that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Deathmatch Classic is a “tribute to the work of id software”. Specifically, it’s a recreation of Quake 1’s deathmatch in the Half-Life 1 engine, mimicking its shotgun, rocket launcher, quad damage, level design and physics and so on.

Interestingly, it’s not very good. The Half-Life 1 engine – retrospectively called GoldSrc – was built upon the Quake 1 engine, but with enough changes to its character movement, lighting and so on that it feels distinct. Deathmatch Classic doesn’t wind back those changes so much as seem to build a Quake 1 impression on top of them, and it doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe it’s the way the gun bobs, or maybe it’s just that I generally prefer originals to cover versions.

Deathmatch Classic was originally a free mod for Half-Life, but you can now buy it separately for £4. Steam reviews suggest there is maybe only one lost soul still playing it.


  1. Elusiv3Pastry says:

    I never understood the point of this, even back then. Stock HL1 deathmatch was so much better.

    • fabronaut says:

      I poked my head into it once a few years ago. I ended up on a modded server that had a grappling gun attachment patched in, which had a handful of players on it.

      the grappling gun definitely made it a lot more fun, since the weapons just felt like “Quake Lite” otherwise.

      I’m sure it was a fine pack-in, but asking money for it is pretty ridiculous nowadays. Might as well fire up Quake Live if you’re looking for that sort of thing! I’m sure there are standalone engine conversions that scratch a similar itch as well.

  2. theblazeuk says:

    This always confused me as to what it actually was. I actually quite enjoyed HL1 DM back in the day, beating people to death with crowbars frantically or chasing them around with a machine gun trying to whittle their shields off (until someone found explosives and turned you into paste). Can’t really remember playing much HL2 DM now that I think about it, beyond the fun of Grav Gun only fights.

    So… I guess I should thank it for reminding me of a better vanilla experience?