A Half-Life 2 remake, which takes the abandoned beta version of Valve’s seminal FPS game, and uses old design documents and concepts to create an entire, full-length shooter, is due to receive a new chapter, revitalising the famous Raising the Bar project and giving us something to enjoy as we wait – and wait – for Half-Life 3.
If you’re not familiar with the original Raising the Bar mod, it began in 2012, using documents, drawings, concepts, and anecdotes from the identically named book by David Hodgson, which recounts the development of Half-Life 2 from its initial builds to final release.
Originally, Half-Life 2 was very different to the shooter we now know and love, featuring different weapons, alternative versions of characters like Alyx and Eli, and a City 17 that looked more like an American sci-fi dystopia – a la Blade Runner – than the Eastern European metropolis of the finished game.
Raising the Bar was abandoned in 2016, but has since been picked up by a new modding team, which is now working on the ongoing Raising the Bar Redux. The ambitious mod’s next chapter, Division 2, has a new trailer, and is slated for an imminent release.
With new guns, full voice acting, enemies and levels that were scrapped by Valve, and a complete retelling of the original Half-Life 2 story, this is a total remake of the superlative shooter as it was initially intended. Offering a fascinating tour of what might have been, a darker, more sombre Half-Life 2, where familiar faces play very different roles, you can play a demo of Division 2, and Raising the Bar Redux’s first chapter over at Mod DB.
Alternatively, you might want to try some other classic old games, or maybe take a look at another Half-Life fan project, which rebuilds the Gearbox expansion Blue Shift in the style of HL1 remake Black Mesa. Otherwise, find out whatever happened to Half-Life 3, which at this point, will probably be finished by modders before Valve finds the time.