Every dog has its day, but can the same be said of mods? For every celebrated success story there are twice as many polished, lovingly crafted amateur works that never found the audience they deserve. NeoTokyo is one such example: a Half-Life 2 mod set in a near future Tokyo inspired by Ghost In The Shell. It had lush, detailed maps, a soundtrack of "brooding cyberpunk electronica" (Spotify, Bandcamp) that one listener (Alice) called "redonc", and combat mechanics that one player (me) called "tops guns."
Five years after its original release, NeoTokyo is now available as a standalone install via Steam. It's still free and mostly unchanged since its last major update in January 2013, but hopefully this brings a new audience to the game. Perhaps every mod does have its day. Trailer below.
If you've ever watched Ghost In The Shell - or a whole slew of related anime - then the concepts therein should be familiar. Two teams of cybernetically enhanced soldiers (they can turn invisible and stuffz) are fighting over a half-destroyed android torso (called a ghost). Both teams are trying to capture the ghost and return it to base. Players rank up based on their in-game success, unlocking new weapons - each one a familiar archetype like shotgun, submachinegun, etc. - by killing and capturing.
At the time of its initial release, I thought the above trailer seemed especially well edited for a mod. I watched it over and over, but only last year discovered who created it when I interviewed James McVinnie, the director of an in-progress Team Fortress 2 short called End of the Line.
NeoTokyo can be downloaded from Steam for free now. There's no in-game tutorial, so check the straightforward manual while it downloads.