Half-Life 2: Calamity Review



Half-Life 2: Calamity is, before anyone thinks a new Half-Life 2 game has been released, a new community mod which was released late last night by its creator, Bobby Cardona. It’s essentially a (completely non-canon) prequel to the events in Half-Life 2, taking place on the 6th day of what Half-Life 2 characters and aficionados call the 7 Day War (when the combine arrive at Earth and blah blah blah… You’ll know it if you’ve played Half-Life 2, and you need Half-Life 2 to play). The mod’s been a fairly long time coming, and I’ve been keeping a casual eye on things as they progressed for the last year or so, so here it is: Half-Life 2: Calamity.

First of all, the mod stays very true to it’s source game – the gameplay you find in the mod will not differ hugely from Half-Life 2 in any way. It puts you in the very shoes you inhabit in Half-Life 2, with the same weapons and enemies as you would find in the original. This is not a criticism, as the creator is clearly not going for anything other than a mod in the Half-Life universe, and what he attempts to do, he pulls off with a fair amount of success.


The gameplay for example, while I said it won’t differ from HL2 in any meaningful way it does manage to play a lot like HL2, which as many will remember has very good gameplay. The levels are a familiar blend of streets, houses and squares which cause a good flow from one area to the next, and it never gets repetitive due to the constant introduction of new enemies from HL2 – you’ll fight standard combine, snipers, zombies, manhacks, striders and gunships all within the space of a few hours. This makes for an intense, if somewhat crowded feel within the game, and the game constantly ups the ante towards the climactic finale.

There are a few places in the mod where the flow does fall short, however. The developer’s choice to have audiolog-type sections where you have to stay near to a stationary radio to hear what the broadcaster is saying, and therefore fill in a bit of the backstory, are jarring to the comfortable flow that had been built up to that point. However, these points are few and far between, and you’ll soon be back to shooting zombies in the face.

Visually, the mod does leave a little to be desired. While the maps are all functional in terms of scripting and gameplay, there’s little visual flourish which could be found in Valve’s games. The lighting in particular is a little dull throughout, and really makes a difference to the mood of the game overall. It’s a shame, it doesn’t really detract from the fun you’ll be having but you will notice it.


The level progression is a little odd as well. When you start, you’re given instructions by someone painting messages on walls as you progress. This is a perfectly reasonable way to find purpose without having to make a convincing character, but often you’ll find a message like “We’ve made the train into a bomb, activate it in their base!” in the open, right next to where combine enemies had been. This makes it a little hard to believe that the combine didn’t notice and do something about it. As well as this, while you are directed by these signs, the mod never really gives you the illusion of choice that Half-Life 2 really excelled at. It tells you what you’re meant to be doing, but never makes you feel as if you’re taking some initiative yourself. Instead, you just follow the corridors from beginning to end.

Of course, none of this really matters if the game itself plays well, which it does. If you’re looking for a free bit of Half-Life 2 that you’ve not played before, but aren’t looking for anything visually stunning or with a strong plot, I heartily recommend Half-Life 2: Calamity. If you’re a bit fussy about which free mods you play, well first of all you’re probably a bit of a dick, but secondly I’d urge you to give this a try for the gameplay alone. It’s available on ModDB and FileFront.


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4 Responses to “Half-Life 2: Calamity Review”

  1. LJ Maz Says:

    This is an amazing mod, I loved it. I’d download it asap.

  2. absurdistof Says:

    In my opinion, the AI could have used a lot of work, and especially on hard there are some parts that could be considered impossible at best, namely the ending, a battle right before the combine coming out of the elevators part, and the train area with the three snipers. It seems to me like every AI battle was just spas12 dumping a pile of enemies and saying ‘fight.’

    Some parts of it also seemed very unrealistic, such as a massive combine structure that they erected within hours. Finally, on a much smaller note, there were a lot of unnecessarily model-textured brushes that seemed very out of place(mostly small crates, or large shipment boxes), the intentions of their placement or method of creation puzzling as well(if you want an indestructible box, ramp up the minDamageToHurt to 9999).

    All that wonderful criticism aside, the mod played fairly well until the end, and the visuals adhered to the half life two standard.

    Great architecture, not so great gameplay, my rating 8/10

  3. SnApEy Says:

    Well, I would like you to first disregard that absurdistof dick’s 2 cents.

    Half Life 2 Calamity is up to the unprecedented standard of that at valve.
    Anyone who has played Garry’s Mod and tried to compose there own stages or fight scenarios whilst implementing functioning A.I would have an understanding of how difficult its is to parallel the original Half Life 2 game play.

    I also think that the plot was totally irrelevant because valve was in no way associated with the creation of the modification, a guy named Bobby Cardona was the architect of this mod. Weather it did or didn’t yield the the level of omnisity or complexity of its original counterpart it would not matter because it would be false or bogus.

    Good job Bobby!

  4. olegv11 Says:

    >>”taking place on the 6th day of what Half-Life 2 characters and aficionados call the 7 Day War ”

    Lol there wasnt 7 day war in HL universe. There was 7 hour war. After this war dr Breen said(and nobody even asked him!) that the Earth surrenders. Yeah. %)

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