[drop_cap type=”1/2/3″]L[/drop_cap]et’s say you’re late to the scene. You had to give up on playing some of the most popular games back when they’d been released because you didn’t have the hardware or maybe you suffered from carpal tunnel. Years later everyone is waxing nostalgic about how awesome those games were and you’re sitting there with absolutely no inkling as to what these guys experienced and you missed out on. You now have powerful hardware but these games feel so dated so what do you do? You strap on some mods and give the game a new lease of life. Now, this is not an article about the best mods for current gen games like Skyrim which are indeed transformed drastically with graphics mods but for those old classics and we begin the rundown with a classic…
Half Life : Black Mesa
Speaking of Half Life, this classic game underwent an official remake when Half Life 2 came out with the Source Engine. Valve’s own port, Half-Life: Source, received mixed reviews from the community and given the new engine’s capabilities, a few of the community members came together to create Black Mesa which retells the Half Life 1 story but is actually a Half Life 2 mod. You’ll easily notice the enhanced textures, physics and animation. Also, they’ve added Xbox 360 controller support but why on earth would you do that to Half Life? It’s a PC GAME! Another thing to note would be that it took the developers a good eight years to come up with this mod. OK..ok…it’s not a mod in the truest sense, because you don’t need the original game to play Black Mesa but just the Source Engine SDK. Still, it’s worth it.
Deus Ex : New Vision
New Vision makes Deus Ex comparatively playable in this day and age. The mod took a good five years to achieve completion and it makes the 15-year old game seem like a 10-year old game. Apart from increasing texture render quality it also fixes a lot of the compatibility issues that the game would throw up on modern machines. Though not a consolation by any means, the mod does give it a look akin to Half-Life 1, rather than Zero Wing.
Doom 3 : Sikkmod
Deus Ex and Doom 3 were released just four years apart but visually they seem to have had at least a decade between them. Slap on mods onto both of them and it makes the gap seems even wider. Sikkmod is the one to go for Doom 3, this mod makes Doom 3 seem like the Crysis of its era…wait…it was the Crysis of its era. Well, you get the message. The important thing about this mod is the level of customisability that it brings to the table. You could very well screw up and it might not seem to be all what it’s chalked out to be, but if you spend a little time tweaking the options then the end result will make your jaw drop, literally! You can fiddle with HDR and bloom till it actually makes the game look better than current gen AAA titles. Or as we’d like to call ‘em, disasters that overuse HDR and bloom to mask shoddy level design.
Stalker : Complete Series
Not a small mod by any means and they aren’t purely graphical mods either. The “Complete” series of mods are constantly updated and each game in the Stalker series has a “Complete” mod. The mod completely transforms the game’s visuals and brings with it improved textures, more music tracks and sound effects, a weather system, ragdoll physics and other improvements to the AI and the user interface. Despite all of this, the story-line has been kept intact with one little change that allows you to continue playing once the main story missions are over. You can download S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Complete 2012 now which happens to be the current version of the mod.
Medieval II: Total War: Kingdoms :
Third Age – Total War
Enough! No more FPS mods. The time is nigh for Tolkien fans to unite! LoTR is full of big battles with monstrous numbers on each side and the Total War series has long been known to be that game where you experience exactly the same. So Third Age – Total War brings the Total War mechanics to retell the story of Middle Earth. 115 settlements were created from the Tolkienian universe, so you can hop over to Osgiliath for breakfast and then over to Minas Tirth for second breakfast and then onwards to Rohan just in time for Elevenses before finally ending up as some orc’s dinner in Mordor. You have 14 factions to choose from across all races and the battles feel different thanks to the improved AI. Apart from visual improvements, there is an extra level of immersion thanks to unique music and sounds for each faction.
There isn’t any one game in particular that this mod is targeted towards. It comes with a lot of different variants for a lot of games, both old and new. Generic versions of the mod runs across thousands of games but all options will not be available for tweaking, obviously. Then there are versions tweaked for a certain game which will be accompanied with improved render settings and textures to push the envelope a little further. DoF, Lens FX, HDR, Bloom, Sun Rays, detailed shadows are just some of the options that you can mess around with. And to handle this near-excessive level of customisation you’d need a pretty decent graphics card but your existing card should also be able to work wonders. After all, this mod has certain improvements that reduces memory usage to better optimise application of each effect. Right now it’s just current gen games that seem to be favoured by the mod but there are a few oldies that have gotten a new lease of life thanks to ENB.