Minerva: Metastasis

Tonight I will be reviewing Minerva: Metastasis, a single player Half-Life 2 modification.

Before I get into the meat of the article, let me tell you that I had planned on putting this in my “Projects” list and filing it for later writing.

Well, I just finished playing the mod, and I was so excited that I decided I just must review it straight away. So, here we go.

Architecture
Something that totally blew me away in this mod is the architecture that was created for this adventure. It is truly a piece of art in a vivid 3d universe that was remarkably created by just one man, Adam Foster.

The island, the buildings, the subterranean rooms, every piece of the grand scheme feels as if it is really there. I was amazed by how many different rooms and alcoves there were that served no purpose in the game, but truly were well thought out, as if Adam Foster were a Combine architect.

The environments were truly breathtaking.

Gameplay
In true Half-Life style, there were moments of shear, intense, piss-my-pants action. You hear quite a few Combine soldiers coming around a corner, only to look at the other end of the hallway to see two Zombines coming your way. Of course, the Combine shoot the Zombines, and the Zombines fight back. But usually, one side wins over the other, (depending on the numbers) and you are forced to deal with the leftovers.

Wow, just a seat-of-your-pants ride the entire time. I would have thought it had taken a full team of Gameplay Engineers to create such a great and intriguing set of action sequences.

Story
Where Metastasis lacks in voice acting, it more than makes up for in storyline. Not to reiterate any of it here, you are lead by a mysterious person who is sending you signals into your HEV suit. Every few minutes, you get a new transmission with a 3 paragraph or so snippet of story, and you need to follow the directions.

This would seem like a surprisingly terrible idea, but it works and it works well. I did find myself stopping and hiding in a corner to read the latest transmission, but that’s how I imagine I would do it if I were actually in the shoes of our hero.

Puzzles
Due to lack of a gravity gun, the puzzles contained in Metastasis were devoid of physics-engine-based concepts. This was a great escape from the usual Valve Half-Life 2-style puzzles. You had to blow things up, figure out what valves to turn, and various other interesting and good ideas.

Overall
Overall, as a standalone game, I would give Minerva: Metastasis an 8/10 rating. Because it is a free modification, I am compelled to up that to 9/10. This is truly the best mod that I’ve ever played, and I’m including all of the other game engines out there. I’ve played quite a few games in my time, and this shines as a wonderfully unexpected gem.

Bonus Level
Interwebs Half-Life news site, PlanetHalfLife was abuzz with the news that the author of Minerva: Metastasis has been picked up by Valve software, and will be working on Half-Life 2: Episode 3. I say this is a well-deserved role, and I say good luck to you, Adam Foster.