In the week of Portal 2's release, it seems apt that Valve's games should dominate the mod scene's output. While the range of titles you can mod these days is impressive, and so many of the tools are easy to learn, I've still yet to come across a moddable engine that's quite as intuitive and flexible as Source. I can't wait to see what people can do with Portal 2 when we're able to mod that. It's going to be very interesting to see the results. Onwards, then...
The likes of Cry of Fear show what can still be done with the now-ancient Half-Life engine, and modders are still utilising it as a base for their big ideas. This week, Office Shift emerges. It's a Half-Life mod set in the city of Jefferson, near Black Mesa, where plenty of portals have ripped open and dumped Xen-native life forms into your path. I'll be interested to see how this one turns out.
Talking of Cry of Fear, did you see the awesome new screenshot? There's just the one new image, but it's the first I've seen that really shows off a dramatic in-game moment. Since it's a 13-year-old engine the team is using here, it doesn't exactly look like a modern shooter, but still, it in no way looks quite that old. Still no release date announced. But still it's supposedly almost finished.
There's also this Half-Life 2 mod called The Fifties, which is about being either a cop or a gangster 60 years ago. In this team-based FPS you pick one side or the other, then battle it out in one of several close-quarter game modes. A couple of new images show off a character model and the general visual style.
More organised-crimey times emerge in American Gangster, a small Half-Life 2 mod made in three weeks as a school project. This team had no modding experience prior to this project, and have learned everything from scratch in order to piece it together, so I'll be interested to see what it's like once it's all available. They'll now be spending the next few weeks polishing up the visual side of things and suchlike. Good for them. I'll be playing this once I can.
And there's a huge and splendid update from Wilson Chronicles, which features lots of impressive new screenshots. It's been six months since we last saw anything of this mod, and the progress that's been made is remarkable. Head on over to the relevant ModDB page to check out some lovely new media. There'll be a demo out on August 16th.
Away from Valve, there's a new media release from the Crysis Crash Bandicoot mod, Crash Bandicoot Return. And it looks simply wonderful. It's both authentic and fresh, and exactly what I'd make the thing look like were I in charge of its art direction. It has the lush foliage of Naughty Dog's recent stuff, alongside the playful feel of Crash of old. Great work, I say. One of the new screenshots is below.
Also, hey, look! A new Oblivion mod. It's a prequel of sorts to Skyrim, and is said to be planning a release a good time before that game gets out. It's called Darkshines: The Lonely Journey, and in a smart move there'll be different versions of the mod released, in order to accommodate for differently leveled 'Blivvy characters. I'll be keeping my eye on this one. (And thanks for the tip, Thomas!) Here's the trailer:
Yet again, I've not spotted the release of anything especially interesting. So I'll use this space to note that a bunch of new games and their mods are now supported by Desura. Total Annihilation, Civilization IV and Homeworld 2 are among those titles. So while nothing new of interest has been released, you can install some older mods in new and exciting ways. Hurrah!
More Half-Life 2? Oh goodness, there's just so much of it! But yes. Precursor, the single-player mod released recently, has received an update. The mod's developers have been taking player feedback since it came out, and have pieced together a patch which purports to fix everyone's concerns. Among the changes are bug-fixes, a tad of content modification, and lots of tweaks to balance. The full changelog is beyond the link above.
Build 7 of Blade Symphony is knocking about now, as well. This Half-Life 2 mod's well into the beta process now, and you can get the details about signing up over on ModDB, along with a collection of lovely new screenshots like the one below.
And finally, the complete version of Oblivion mod Integration: The Stranded Light has appeared. Originally released in 2008, Integration's seen a slow stream of updates, but this should be the "final" build, say the devs. That's in quotes because, apparently, Version 1.0 does not necessarily mean the end, and if issues arise, they will still be fixed. You can read all the details here.
'Til next week.