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Half-Life 2: Lost Coast

aka: Hλlf-Life²: Lost Coast
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Lost Coast is an add-on for the original Half-Life 2. Originally slated as a part of Highway 17 chapter of the game, it was left out, reworked and released separately. Although it is essentially only a single level and not part of the main storyline, it contains minor storyline details.

The levels starts when Gordon Freeman wakes up after falling down. He is greeted by a man referenced as The Fisherman on a dock. He opens a gate and tells Gordon the St. Olga church has been taken over by the Combine. They use it as an outpost to launch headcrab rockets onto a nearby town. Your task is to infiltrate the church, take out the launcher, and dispose of all resistance.

Valve also used Lost Coast as a playable tech demo to showcase the Source engine's HDR lightning (high dynamic range lighting). It includes an optional commentary track as well. While playing, you can activate commentary nodes shown as speech bubbles. The enemy AI is then temporarily disabled and you can listen to the developers discuss certain challenges and choices for that part of the level.

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Average score: 81% (based on 6 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 52 ratings with 3 reviews)

Well, that was not what I expected.

The Good
Lost Coast is an expansion for the game Half-Life 2 which I got for free when I bought that game from Steam. I mention this at the start of the review because hey, why take any of my criticism serious when it's a free expansion to a critically acclaimed game. If you got Half-Life 2, then why not pick it up for free, you got nothing to lose.

This expansion takes place somewhere in the middle of Half-Life 2 (I picked up it was after the Highway level) and runs on an updated engine (I don't care for graphics, so once again "So I was told"), Whether or not this is a new engine or not, in terms of gameplay is still works the same as the one from Half-Life 2, which means that shooting and platforming around the battlefield still functions perfectly and is still very enjoyable. I sometimes noticed the lighting was a bit better though, which is a nice little upgrade.

Despite its length, Lost Coast is a nice and decently challenging title. You got a few tricky jumps, the difficulty curve goes up pretty fast and you don't start out with just a crowbar. The designers knew most people would play this expansion almost immediately after they finished the original game, so they didn't waste any of their and our time rebooting your inventory and the difficulty curve and I have a lot of respect for that. Take notes F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate!

The story is pretty easy to follow and since this is supposedly just a tech demo, you don't miss out on an integral part of the story if your decide to skip this game. As the game starts Gordon wakes up on a beach and finds a fisherman there who informs him that there are combine firing Headcrab pods into town. He opens the gate for you and your cannon-assassinating career starts off. What I like best about this, is that while it isn't a major part of the overall storyline, you do feel like you genuinely accomplished something after your finished and in doing so helped the rebellion out once again.

The Bad
I already mentioned that the game is very short, it is just one level and all you do is shoot your way up a mountain, do one puzzle and leg it again. Since it's free, it doesn't really matter that much, but the problem is that I settled down with cola and Pringles for this, only to find myself finishing things off before I even started eating.

If this really is supposed to be a tech demo to show off the graphical capabilities of the new engine, then I must say that they missed out on chances to really "show off". If we're on that mountain anyway, then why not let us snipe at something from a long distance, forcing us to scan around your beautifully designed environments for a while. Why not let us use that cannon to lob some pods into Combine settlements, so that we had to see your houses from a good perspective.

Ehm... yeah. That's it.

The Bottom Line
It's hard to make a good review when the game doesn't even last as long as a bag of crisps during a lan-party, but I'll be buggered before I leave a game un-reviewed. So yeah: Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast is a short snack that plays and looks pretty good. The story is a bit lighter than the full games, but I can take that. The only real problem is that it's legendarily short and people shouldn't go into it, expecting it will fill up their entire evening (like I did).

If you own Half-Life 2 and got it on Steam, then you likely have Lost Coast too and if you also played and preferably finished that game, then it might be worth playing the expansion as well. If you haven't really touched upon Half-Life 2, then you won't grasp what is going on, but you'll at least be able to play an amusing shooter/platformed for a while. If you don't care for the Half-Life games though, then this short adventure is most definitely not going to change that.

Windows · by Asinine (957) · 2012

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.

Windows · by Katakis | カタキス (43053) · 2009

Short but fun

The Good
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast is just a map that was included in Half-Life 2 game but was cut for the final release.

So, the developers took the opportunity to release it alone that you can download on Steam for nothing. Yep, Lost Coast is free. So, why not enjoy it?

Lost Coast is most a demo for the HDR, the system enhancing effects of light and graphics. And they just add the possibility to hear comments from their team. Later, it would become a major feature in the Episodes. It was experimented here, in Lost Coast.

It's true that the enhanced graphics were really great. The fisher you meet is really well-detailed and the effects in the church are really very superb.

And I liked hearing the comments, even if the feature enables the god mod and takes control of the game if needed but you can have a lot of stories or technical stuff.

But Lost Coast is also fun to play. You have Combines to kill, a missile launcher to stop (oh yes, it's launching Headcrab missiles on the town in the background, making it a Ravenholm 2) and some little acrobatic things. The gameplay is the same as HL2, you grab a weapon, you shoot, you duck, etc.. Soundtrack isn't really marvelous but it's HL2, so, it's good.

Oh, I forget to explain two things: Combines and Ravenholm. If you've played HL2, you already know about them. But if not, you can't really understand what I'm talking about.

Combines are the race who had invaded our world after the Black Mesa Incident, related in the first Half-Life trilogy. Their political beliefs are very clear: enslaving human race and making it disappear, not with massive killing, but with enrolling them in the Metro Cop or with making them Stalkers, poor humans without brains, without real limbs, well, something awful.

Ravenholm is a town near Black Mesa East, the main base of the Resistance before White Forest (another base in HL2 Ep2), leaded by Eli Vance. City 17 citizens that escaped their town were living there peacefully until the Combines bombed them with special missiles, containing Headcrabs. The goal was achieved: practically everyone there is a zombie.

That's why I'm fearing that the costal town would be the next Ravenholm. Because of these Headcrabs missiles.

The Bad
HL2: Lost Coast is short, very short. If you don't want to hear comments, the game will be finished in 15 minutes. As I stated previously, Lost Coast is more a demo for technical stuff than a real mod or extension.

What I didn't like is the fact that I was stuck in my quest because I couldn't see clearly the path, even with my flashlight.

I can't really find another default because I know why Lost Coast was released and I also know that it's just a free thing for players who want to see enhanced graphics or hearing comments and not for hardcore ones.

The Bottom Line
HL2: Lost Coast is just one map, with enhanced graphics and hearing comments from the developers, without great expectation. So, you can download it without problem because Lost Coast is still fun to play and the graphics in the church are worthy to be seen. So, go for it!

Windows · by vicrabb (7272) · 2008


Audio commentary

Activating a special options through the options gives you the ability to hear a in-game commentary spoken by Gabe Newell, managing director at Valve Corporation. He talks about all the behind-the-scenes in the game.

Stress Test

Remember not to play the Stress Test placed on the main menu before having finished the entire game! It spoils the whole passages and sections in few minutes.

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    The Half-Life 2: Lost Coast article on Wikipedia

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Niccolò Mineo.

Linux, Macintosh added by me3D31337.

Additional contributors: Sciere, Patrick Bregger, Plok.

Game added November 19th, 2006. Last modified May 1st, 2023.