A Mission Worth Fighting For: Mission Improbable

Reminiscent of a Valve-styled level design and execution, Mission Improbable Episodes 1 and 2 delivers a lot of fun in a small package.

It’s hard to replicate a Valve-Level map. Sometimes they can pale in comparison when it comes to detail, enemies can be too hard (or sometimes too easy.) or it can be an unoptimized mess. Because of these issues, some developers don’t even like to touch the original Half Life 2 plotlines in the fear that comparing them to a retail product will cheapen it.

Mission Improbable Episode 1 and 2, a Half Life 2 mod, successfully leaps and bounds over these hurdles and is a fun, action packed game. In fact, there are moments when I almost forget this is a mod. It’s difficult to convey, but there where quite a few times where I simply forgot this was not a Valve Product. Between it’s excellent flow, mechanics and clever mapping styles, this could easily be its own standalone product and sometimes reminds me quite a bit of Lost Coast.

 

Improbable begins with you on a small boat, sailing into a rebel-held cave in the attempts to gain entrance into a lighthouse and re-activate a radio outpost. Things quickly go to hell as you realize that the buildings and other areas leading to the lighthouse are riddled with Zombies, Headcrabs and enemies of all sorts to be weary of. It was almost a bit surprising how long the first episode was considering how small things looked initially. Eventually you reach the Lighthouse and re-activate the radio tower, being quickly warned to escape before it’s too late. An insane shootout between yourself, Zombies and Combine troops ensue, including shooting down a few gunships. Things end fantastically with you quickly jumping into a car and rushing out into Episode 2.

The next episode of the series is even more fantastic than the first, using more ambitious mapping styles and taking full advantage of the Half Life 2: EP2 assets and effects. Navigating around a beautiful map, blowing up a gas station and being launched in a Headcrab missile just happen in the very beginning, and is the most fun I’ve had in quite some time. After a bit of exploring you come across the Rebel Base, and are asked to lure the Combine away so they can make an escape safely. Traversing underground canals and passageways, you fight more Zombies and Headcrabs, all of it ending in a crescendo outside with Combine, Hunters and Manhacks all coming at you through the trees.

Sexy.

As I had said before, the quality of mapping here is utterly fantastic. Huge, well-optimized and nothing felt out of place or wrong. The Rebel Base had a perfect atmosphere and the placement of trees, rocks and other vegetation was done effortlessly despite it being sometimes very troublesome to implement in Hammer. While there isn’t much of a story to speak of, Mission Improbable does not exactly need one. Like some Half Life 2 levels, you are simply given an objective and carry through with it, slowly understanding the back story in the scenery and visuals you see as you explore. And to be honest? That’s the way I like it. Long expositions are unnecessary and can be cumbersome to implement well in games such as this and I’m glad the developer is aware of it.

As for the enemies and battles, while being tricky in places and the final fight in the second episode being a death trap if you simply charge in and fire at what moves (Which is what I love to do.) it’s a lot of fun. Health and Ammo are steady so there isn’t a huge need to conserve ammunition.

Final verdict? Mission Improbable is a lot of fun. A lot. I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking to get some more of a  Half Life 2 fix while we all eagerly await episode 3. Whenever that is.
Download the Mod here:  http://www.moddb.com/mods/mission-improbable

 

Want to scream at me? Tell me how much you love me? Have a mod request for me to review and look at? Email me at [email protected] !

 

 

 

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