Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39516)
Written on  :  Dec 15, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

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Hey, check out the view from the top of the hill

The Good

Half-Life: Lost Coast places you in the hands of Gordon Freeman, who wakes up on the beach and is told by the local fisherman that the Combine is in town. As you make your way through the coastal town of St. Olga, you find out that they are using the local church to launch headcrab rockets onto a nearby town. If you have the time to look at the sights as you make your way up the cliff, you can see a rocket making its way to that town and setting one of the houses on fire.

After loading the game, the first thing I did was run the Video Stress Test, which is used to measure your average FPS. I knew that my system was well up to it as it averaged around 150fps. While the test was running, I admired the view of the structures in the distance, including the silos, bridge mountains, and the town. The test also showed me the path that I must follow. One thing I regretted is interrupting the test and get into the game. Freeman turns left or right very fast once I interrupted the test.

Lost Coast serves as a technology demonstration of High Dynamic Range rendering, or HDR. From what I know about this technique is that it is used to imitate real lighting, and how that light reflects on surfaces such as the rocks and water at the beginning. You hear all about it if you enable the audio commentary through the Audio options. Yellow commentary nodes (speech bubbles) appear along the path; and if you hover the cross-hair over one and hit the Use key, you'll hear one of the developers talking about the surroundings and the challenges ahead. I also found out when you turn on the audio commentary, you can cheat in the game by finding a node that has enemies nearby. Activate the node and the enemies just stand there doing nothing. You can shoot them until they die.

As I said earlier, I enjoyed making my way up the cliff and admiring the breathtaking view as I went along, smashing crates to get more ammo, and killing the Combine and stealing their weapons. As I made my way toward the church, I enjoyed exploring the open courtyard and seeing what I found there. I saw that the church is under construction. Sure enough, your mission is to disable the launcher before it does any more damage. It did not take me long to figure out how to do this. Once you have cause it to malfunction, the Combine will be upset that they send in more of their troops to finish you. Then, you have to deal with them in their chopper.

You then have to drop down from the edge, and carefully walk along the support beams -- without falling to your death – to a vertical tram that will take you back to the bottom. The fisherman tells you to watch out for the leeches, which attack you anyway if you go far out to sea at the beginning of the game.

The Bad

I found nothing bad about the game, but I managed to make my way to the nearby town. I could walk through it, but there were walls missing, meaning that I could see the ocean through the structures. I could also walk through the front door of houses.

It was like the “noclip” cheat permanently turned on; I didn't realize that the player was supposed to be there in the first place.

The Bottom Line

Lost Coast was supposed to be a mission found in Half-Life 2, but this was cut in the last minute due to space constraints. It is a mission that isn't included in the original HL2 CD's, but if you activate your copy of HL2 on Steam, it shows up in the “My Games” list, so I was happy I could download it then have a go at it.

The time it takes for you to complete the mission will depend on whether you switched on the audio commentary or whether you want to explore your surroundings. When you play the game with the commentary on, you tend to stop what you are doing and listen to what the developers say.

I completed the game twice. Once with the audio commentary, and once without. As I said, this game was used as a technology demonstration for HDR, and I learned a lot from this process, how it simulates real lighting and the way the light is reflected onto the surfaces. The audio commentary is a feature used in Valve's future games.