Scrapheap Challenge.

In PC on July 21, 2009 at 10:55 pm

R and D

Half-Life 2: Research and Development Mod- PC

Is Research and Development the mod of the year so far?

If I had actually played more than a handful of mods this year, I’d been in a better position to judge the barrage of superlatives being heaped upon this puzzle-adventure.

R&D puts you in control of an anonymous scientist attempting to escape the NERDS research facility, following a combine assault. The big issue here is that you have no weapons- not even a crowbar- and with the exception of ye olde zero point energy gun, that you discover later on, you’re entirely reliant on making use of your surroundings to overcome the many zombies and soldiers in your way.

The result of the author’s attempts at learning the Hammer editor, R&D is very much a series of map building experiments, but they’ve been stitched together so well that these separate puzzle rooms feel like a cohesive whole- to the point that the industrial wasteland of the NERDS facility is reminiscent of a lo-fi Black Mesa.

Every room is a new idea, with puzzles involving everything, from microwaves, to the flailing end of a head crab zombie. It doesn’t settle on any one idea for too long, though, and there’s enough of them that even the odd dodgy puzzle can’t overshadow the whole experience. R&D is a surprisingly polished effort, with some nice little touches- the level titles displayed on the scenery, the emails from other survivors, and the scrapheap challenge style building session to construct the EVISCIRATOR (or Mr.Whirly)-that elevate it beyond what could have been a chaotic first attempt, into something quite good.

Is it inventive? Yes.

Is it ridiculous? Yes.

Is it the best mod of the year so far? Maybe.

It probably is, though.


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