Imagine, a Hollywood producer got his hands on the game. The result would be similar to what the Cinematic Mod is: a graphics blockbuster, redesigned to the typical game to movie adaption with an orchestral soundtrack and beautiful people everywhere.
The latest version (2013) is a nearly 20GB download plus nearly 50GB install. On top of that it uses this terrible out of place music instead of the original soundtrack, and the new characters look nothing like the originals, this is a problem for a narrative driven game. Sure you can use the default models with the new textures and turn off the music but that seems to be missing the point for an overhaul mod like this. Additionally the new take on mapping is basically just to cram unneccessary details into every corner. More trees, more random tat, it adds nothing artistically and makes the World seem to busy and confused.
I feel as if Cinematic mod has garnered very vocal critics and quite a devoted group of fans. Both of whom have a very intense love it/hate mentality that initially made Cinematic Mod in general feel unapproachable, another thing that kept me away was the initially cumbersome installation that turned me away, not to mention the ungodly size of the files.
However, after finally caving in to downloading a torrent when I watched a playthrough on youtube, I wasn't necesarilly disapointed, and I found myself having fun playing through a new version of Half-Life 2 with general ease.
The new graphical effects can be tuned to ones liking, and the new level details really bring a new level of realism to the levels that I particuarly enjoyed, heck, I even liked the optional orchestra music that has drawn some ire from critics.
As a big fan of Half-Life, I understand some finding many of the options to be rather blasphemous regarding the skins and design choices in the game (some of which I happen to agree with, I didn't like the additional crude graffiti that had nothing to do with City-17 or the combine) and playing through some levels left a sour taste in my mouth after finding some routes changed for the worse rather then for the better.
For the most part, it is still Half-Life, just with plenty of changes that may be rather divisive. While I liked the attention to detail (Highway-17 featured some of my favorite changes, with old Latvian military bunkers dotting the countryside) there are some blemishes here and there regarding design and I can't help but feel turned off the the perverted skin-choices for Alyx (I do like how FakeFactory finally caved in and made a more lore-friendly Alyx in the end of his long run). In the end, this mod started as a personal pack and ended up as a 52Gigabyte mod file that pushed Source to it's limits, and it was something I was finally glad to play from start to finish.
Some may be turned away from the changes (many of whom are optional), but others may find another excuse to play Half-life once more like I did :)
Superb mod. Tremendous work done regarding details, re-texture and gameplay. Adds a dark/realistic feeling to the game. It is a pleasure to the eye. Although bloom effects might be exaggerated, especially outdoors, there a lot of tweaking options to choose from to get the perfect image. Been playing the whole HL2 saga for 40 hours, feeling that first time playing HL2 sensation, congratulations to the staff for such a fine accomplishment. With the exception of a few bugs which were easy to fix...it has been a very sweet melancholic ride ;) Keep up the good work !
FF mod forgot completely their mission: Remake HL2 with new graphics.
It was doing it well on the first versions, until it started to do weird things to the maps and characters.
Now, is like if it not longer tried to be a decent mod: The ambient is now completely different from the HL2 feeling, is full of props which their placement has no sense, their characters not longer respects the original aspect (for not say the quality of some models, both ugly and terrible), music that it doesn't fit, and much more...