Do you have a high-end PC and want to play Half-Life 2 without the dated visuals? While the Source Engine is nearly a decade old, it still surprises everyone with what it’s capable of. After the release of Episode 2, everyone was stunned by the new lighting effects the engine could do. It same for when Left 4 Dead 2 was released and then Portal 2. The engine continues to deliver quality, but it doesn’t have the next-gen flair that every PC gamer craves. Cinematic Mod gives us this option with advanced lighting effects and higher-resolution textures.
I won’t review Half-Life 2 itself. All I will say is that it’s the best FPS game ever made, hands down. The Cinematic Mod is noticeable right away while you’re on the train ride to City 17. You can see the sun rays beam down, the ambient occlusion along with the benches, and the characters look much better. Once you get into the security room with Barney you will notice that the interior lighting looks 10x better thanks to the AO. Once you step outside into City 17 you will notice how the light just falls so naturally and beautifully. You will also notice the depth of field and various other effects working in the background. This goes across all three HL2 games and is worth a play-through even if you have played the game 50 times.
Of course, you will need a pretty decent rig to get the sweetest effects up and running at a decent clip. Light reflects through the water more realistically and the eye adaptation when coming out of tunnels is just awesome. I have never seen such a beautiful mod for HL2. There have been countless re-skins, models updates, re-textures, but Cinematic Mod hits the nail on the head and drives the whole package home. When you hit Episode 2 you will really be in for a treat. The glowing bugs in the Ant Lion tunnels look great, and all the light refracting around the forest is just amazing. The mod does the series justice and every gamer with a high-end rig needs to download this. I also need to mention the original take on the characters, some are good and some aren’t. There are various re-iterations of Alyx that make her look completely different, but what’s wrong with variety? Some hardcore fans may bash this mod for that, but it’s completely optional.