Minerva: Metastasis is the first episode of what promises to be a wordy and well-made single-player mod series for Half-Life 2. The gist of it is that you’re some type of ex-Combine operative, and you’re investigating something on a small, once-deserted island… that’s suddenly become some sort of Combine encampment, complete with orbital plasma stream. Note to self: When establishing covert military base, large glowing plasma stream descendng from orbit might not avoid attention as well as not having a large, glowing plasma stream descending from orbit.
Why wordy? It’s almost as if you’re playing with the Architect from The Matrix as your backseat driver. It’s not unpleasant, just noticeable. Lots of big words. Lots of overwrought sentence construction. Lots of trying to comprehend a sentence when you’re trying to play. What I’d like to see is a mildly simplified voice acted version. Yeah, you heard me. Voice acted. Find the talent, recruit from the web, record it over Skype, whatever… make it happen. It’d only add to the already-tangible atmosphere. And the download size.
Playing on Normal, it took several attempts to make it through the map. Quicksave and quickload decided not to work, so I had to actually get back to the menu to do any saves – I’m not sure if this is intentional, but it was annoying, and proved more intrusive than simply allowing quick saves might have been. The difficulty is compounded by a permanent and noticeable ammo shortage; shots count. Also in the “weird” basket, my ammo counter was cropped to the point of invisibility. But, it didn’t really affect me too badly, it was still fun.
The audio is HL2 standard plus some thumping tunes which add to the atmosphere, and the feeling of qualite.
Overall, it’s a fun map mod that took about an hour to play through from start to no-jumping-the-shark-here finish. Concordantly, I expectantly await future episodes forthwith.