- Requirements: Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source (because of props)
- Released Date: Dec 10, 2005
- Author: The DayHard Team
DayHard is a single player modification for Half-Life 2 which places you in the shoes of Gordon Freeman's not-so-famous brother, Morgan. When I first heard about this mod, I was quite skeptical as to how well the team would be able to pull off what they planned to do. Although they claimed it was supposed to be a funny, surreal mod loosely based on the Half-Life 2 world, I assumed it was going to be another one of those boxy-roomed, detail-sparse failures filled with 2nd grade humor. How wrong I was ...
The silliness of this mod is apparent as early as when you view the menu screen. After watching a ridiculous cut scene involving George W. Bush and an eye-patched Dr. Breen, all before I had even started the game, I knew I was in for a good laugh. The remainder of the game does not fail to deliver either: there are jokes-a-plenty all the way from the beginning to the end. However, amazingly enough, the mod manages to supply this endless stream of humor without sacrificing any game play or challenge that would render it little more than a comedy movie. It presents a substantial amount of content as well, providing me with about 5 hours of game time, throughout which I was literally "LOL-ing" in my seat.
From the names of the guns (for instance, the combine rifle is called the "bigger gun" in reference to the smaller mp5) to the ridiculously inane Father Gregori, DayHard offers gamers a wonderfully relaxing break from the more depressing and serious Half-Life 2 world that we are familiar with. However, parents should be aware that there is quite a bit of sexual innuendo in the game, and even a few bits of nudity, which might make this game less suitable for the younger crowd. (Then again, Half-Life 2 is rated "Mature," so any parents letting their under-17 kids play it probably don't care very much about the content, do they?)
The game starts off with you watching Morgan waking up in his 'pad, another normal day ahead of him, or so he assumes. However, as you leave the bedroom, and a man falls past your window to his death 5 stories below you, it becomes obvious that today is no ordinary day of drinkin' soda and playin' Grand Theft Auto 3. After meeting up with your obtuse and irresponsible neighbor Jack, you both try to escape the apartment complex. Unfortunately for you, simply walking down the stairs to the front entrance is easier said than done. In fact, it's impossible ...
After escaping the building Jack is led on a crazy adventure reminiscent of a Clint Eastwood Western movie. Other game and movie references are strewn throughout the world, much to the delight of any observant players. Although some of the architecture is not as detailed as it could be, the game play and humor more than makes up for it. Throughout the levels there are areas where a player can listen to "developer's commentary," including a description of the team's inclusion of their own advanced game-making technology in the mod. According to the developers, this technology, called "Gghheh," allowed them to create the incredibly immersive world that the player is subjected to by using such innovative and revolutionary techniques as "texturing the walls" and "building doors and windows." A strong sense of sarcasm is required to truly enjoy this mod.
The developer's succeeded very well in balancing the game play by providing the player with a challenge, without making it hopelessly impossible. This is an area in which many third-party single-player mods fail. The DayHard team's weapon, ammunition and medkit placement are perfect, forcing players to be mindful of their surroundings and not to carelessly waste bullets, but allowing the player to health-up after large battles and preventing the common "melee weapon reliance" throughout the majority of the game, due to a lack of ammo. If the player DOES run out of ammo, they can always resort to their kick-arse katana, one of the coolest weapons in the game.
There are a few areas that could use some improvement, of course. There are points in the game where it is quite confusing what your objective is. Unlike the very one-track method that the Half-Life series is known for, DayHard often has more than one route, making it more necessary to have a bit of guidance. Sometimes it is necessary to backtrack with no explanation as to why you are backtracking. Also, after reading the walkthrough on the DayHard website, I realized there was an entire chapter of the game that I somehow managed to miss because I didn't go to the correct area. One could argue that this provides more replay value though, so I guess I can't complain too much.
As far as bugs are concerned, the mod (with the 02 patch) is relatively bug-free, although many players have claimed that their game freezes up after a cut scene about halfway through the mod. The A.I. often leaves something to be desired as well; there were times where an enemy would be standing still for at least 15 seconds before attacking my NPC ally, who would in turn stand still facing me instead of defending himself. In a way their idiocy somewhat adds to the amusement of it all though, so in the end it's not that big of a deal.