For a little while the Half Life 2 Update has been taking up space on my desktop, but little did I know this would spur my lust for a graphical overhaul mod that does a little bit more than a couple cool visual tweaks with HDR and some bug fixes which have been pointed out by the steam forums. In a nutshell, I’m looking for anything that updates graphics on Half Life 1 or 2 that drags them out of their dated skin. Here’s what I’ve found!
1. ENB Series for Half Life 2 – Link
by Boris Vorontsov
Not the most impressive out of the bunch, but it can change up the atmosphere just enough to warrant another playthrough. ENB Series works by applying a sort of “wrapper” to the Direct X renderer for the game. This can change anything from the intensity of shaders to the quality of colors in the game.(Images Below)
2. Half Life 2 Update – Link
By Filip Victor
Previously mentioned, the Half Life 2 Update is an Unofficial Update which fixes various bugs, meshes, adds water and lighting detail, and adjusts HDR for the better. I couldn’t skip this mod due to all of the hard work put into it, and the promised features in the next version of the mod. Which include Volumetric Fog, Improved HD, Light Shafts, and a new “State of the art 2012 lighting and shadow system”. I have t admit, the list of promised features has me a little bit excited, this one is at least a mod to watch in themeantime.
3. Cinematic Mod – Link
By Fake Factory
This mod is at the same time one of the most impressive graphics mods i’ve seen, and at the same time it sort of lets me down. I really love it for the ultra high resolution textures with the average texture size being 2048×2048, it’s bound to be impressive. The mod also adds replacement skins for all the main characters. This is the only area I would like minor improvements on. Some of the “New” characters are REALLY well done, but some stray so far from the originals, it turns my experience sour. Thankfully, you can enjoy the whole mod without replacing all of the characters, in the end the cinematic mod is pretty awesome, and its definitely recommended.
4. Half Life High Definition Pack – Link
Valves one and only mistake was that they released the models for Half Life 1 with poor quality, compared to the Half Life 2 models. Well, they fixed that for us, and provide us a link to download it straight from their servers. Not a huge improvement, but definitely worth it! *Note: Enabling this texture pack may disable the use to use other models.
5. Half Life – Source: Ultimate Definition Mod – Link
by Tapio, Franco y Joaquin, and RedFog
Criticized by many as trying to look too good for its own good, this is personally one of my favorite Half Life graphics updates. It adds ENB Series and Hi-Res textures for everything. This is probably one of the best looking out of all of these mods, but still the ultra high resolution looks slightly out of place on the blocky geometry. Nevertheless, the modders deserve the highest commendations for their work!
6.DiamonD Half Life – Final – Link
This specific Graphics Mod does a little bit more than add new textures or models to the game. With this we get new textures, new sounds, some changes to the interface and crosshairs, new models (along with some really nice animations) and bots to play offline deathmatch with! This is certainly a nice or better alternative compared to the Valve High Definition pack! (Images Below)
7. CGShader – Link
This pixel shader is designed to intensify brights and lights in Half Life (gldsrc). Now, it might not add next gen shadows or anti-strophic filtering, but it certainly makes Half LIfe look better. It just adds a really good looking glow to bright things. I recommend using this along with the DiamonD Half Life Mod.
There are definitely tons of mods that make these great games look even better. If I missed one – let me know, I’ll be sure to add it to the list. Until next time. That is all I have for you for now!