5 Amazing Game Mods
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PC gaming has long been acclaimed for its customisation capabiities, allowing users to generate huge arrays of custom-created modified content. But some modders go far, far beyond expectations to bring you truly gobsmacking results. Michael Glavin takes a look at some of the most impressive mods out there.
5. Playing as Spiderman - Just Cause 2
The Just Cause series has earned a reputation for being one of the most expansive and outrageously fun open-world sandbox games of this generation. In Just Cause 2 the player takes on the role of Rico Rodriguez, an armed-to-the-teeth freedom fighter wreaking havoc on the oppressive regime governing the vast sprawling island-state of Panau.
That is, until you start modding.
Some savvy modders out there have noted the similarities between Rico's signature grapple hook technique and the web-slinging antics of a certain spandex-clad superhero. And with a few simple adjustments to the player model skin, gravity settings, and the number and reach of deployable grapple hooks, the game becomes pretty... "Spectacular".
4. Afraid of Monsters - Half-Life
After the release of the classic FPS Half-Life in the late Nineties, a string of amateur mods were made available that took advantage of the game's incredibly flexible engine. Valve's open-source engine tools allowed small teams of modders to create a staggering array of different games using Half-Life's basic functions, some of which became so widespread that they were adopted as full retail games in their own right - namely, Counter Strike and Team Fortress, and later the Portal and Left 4 Dead series using Half-Life 2's Source engine.
But even so, perhaps one of the most impressive mods that came out of the Half-Life boom is "Afraid of Monsters", an online horror mod that featured an impressive amount of custom content and excelled in creating an absolutely terrifying experience - especially for a non-professional game. Afraid of Monsters, in itself, then inspired a string of horror mods using both the Half-Life and Source engines, such as Nightmare House and Cry of Fear. What makes AoM stand out most, though, is not to do with its technical finesse but with one particular individual that came to be known in infamy among the mod's fanbase.
You see, on a very particular Afraid of Monsters server that runs 24/7, players will sometimes find themselves accompanied by the server's administrator, who goes by the moniker of "David Leatherhoff". Mr. Leatherhoff likes to make a habit of spawning monsters in unexpected places, manipulating players and the environment, and generally scaring the living hell out of anyone who dares to play in his presence. It's hard to convey exactly how terrifying David's antics become, but fortunately Youtubers around the world have chronicled their own encounters with the server's ominous administrator.
The following video is only Part 3 in a 12-part series from "Let's Play" enthusiasts Spike & Barley, who document almost every encounter with Mr. Leatherhoff during their play session - teleporting one or both to different points of the map, triggering sound files and wall decals, and spawning flash mobs of zombies to rip the players to shreds, to name but a few. And as can be seen, it's hard to keep a level head when his empty-eyed visage appears to haunt your every move and disembowel you at the slightest whim.
3. The Third Age - Medieval II: Total War
Typically, grand strategy games are not the first genre of games you think of when considering the topic of modding. But perhaps surprisingly, the Total War series has quite a dedicated userbase commited to tweaking the game to provide all sorts of new and interesting scenarios for players to experience.
But one in particular stands out from the crowd. "The Third Age: Total War" is a mod for Medieval II: Total War that competely modifies and reskins the game to replicate the Lord of the Rings movies. It's impressive enough that modders have taken the time to painstakingly recreate the entire world of Middle-Earth within the game, but what's even more impressive is the attention to detail that's gone into the playable factions - players can choose to lead the armies of 12 different factions from the Lord of the Rings universe, including Dwarves, High Elves, Gondor, Isengard and Mordor. And it's not just aesthetic changes, either - each faction have their own strengths and weaknesses to overcome and their own unique units, such as bands of horsemen, regiments of archers and even giant lumbering platoons of trolls.
2. Morrowind Overhaul - The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Yes, you knew I couldn't make a list of amazing mods without mentioning and Elder Scrolls game. Skyrim might be the game-of-the-now, but one thing its predecessors have a huge advantage on over its are the variety of mods available. As a matter of fact, Morrowind was the game that sparked the now-massive Elder Scrolls modding community into fanbase into life, and as a result the number of top-quality mods made available for it are simply staggering. Some, such as the hyper-ambitious "Project: Cyrodiil" and "Tamriel Rebuilt" projects which aim to create mind-bogglingly huge, lore-accurate areas of the game universe, deserve an honorable mention, but one mod in particular stands out above the rest.
See, despite being one of the most iconic and well-polished RPGs of its time, Morrowind has not aged well. By today's standards the graphics, audio and technical effects are all incredibly dated. But one small Italian modding team have set out to make Morrowind as breathtakingly beautiful as the sequels it spawned. The "Morrowind Overhaul" project seeks to compile all of the very best graphical mods out there for Morrowind into one single, functional and easy-to-install executable file, without inferfering with the game's core storyline or gameplay. The project has been running for years, with incremental releases to take advantage of the most up-to-date graphical mods, and can be installed in just a few clicks rather than the gruelling copy-pasting task and load-order woes that typically accompany modding an Elder Scrolls game.
As a matter of fact, v3.0 of Morrowind Overhaul is to be released in just a few days, and can be downloaded from the team's project page. And from the few teasing glimpses we've got so far, it's easy to see why fans are excited - the graphics on display arguably put Skyrim's to shame, and breathe new life into the classic. Not bad for a game that just recently celebrated its 10th birthday.
1. DayZ - Arma II: Combined Operations
It's no surprise that DayZ tops our list of must-have mods. The brutal zombie-apocalypse simulator for Arma II: Combined Operations exploded in popularity a few months ago and has gone from strength to strength in that time, from being a buggy almost-unplayable mess to a highly-polished mod fraught with danger and tension. Players see themselves squaring off against both each other and the hordes of the not-so-shambling undead in order to survive, and one wrong step or stray bullet can see and end of hours upon hours of perilous scavenging for survival.
The mod has become so popular, in fact, that the game's developers Bohemia Interactive have decided to officially back the game and launch it as a stand-alone game, at a cut-down price in its alpha stage and with ongoing updates following the Minecraft development model. As it stands, in around 6 months DayZ has aready clocked in over a million players worldwide, and with continual support in the future it'll be interesting to see where the mod goes from here.
Know of a fantastic mod that we've missed on our list? Tell is in the comments section below!
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