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.
Mod stands for Modification, either it is a Single Player Story modification a Multiplayer Modification or an improvement what so ever to the original game that fills more than one category (level design, texture, sound and models).
Other wise it would be call a texture pack, map pack, model pack ect...
But to actually re-imagine, re-make and re-mix elements to give a new fresh look and feel to an already existing game is no easy task.
The models in CINEMATIC MOD are simply the best models in terms of quality and realism that there are today, with the exception of the CRYSIS games.
That one person, is actually competing with a Video Game company in terms of overall graphic quality, is simply astonishing.
You might like, or not like the actual new feel and look of CINEMATIC MOD, but either way one thing cannot be criticized, the quality of work put into this mod.
From a designer's perspective, I give it an absolute 10 !
From a gamer's perspective, I also give it a 10, simply because I personally enjoy this new feel, look and sound for Half Life 2.
I do not think it is better or worse, but simply different and fresh, to me Half Life 2 remains one of the best games ever made, but this is Cinematic Mod for Half Life 2, and it's exactly what it feels like, a Cinematic Experience.
Fake Factory mod is one of few that adds more to HL2 than most mods. Everything is almost replaced, materials, weapons, sound files. Tripod sounds for the Strider, believe it or not, fit them alright. Some of the scenery look almost real and is one of those moments that you want to just stare at it. The different sound files for enemies changes gameplay alittle, hearing a sound of the tripod in the middle of the open where you have no RPG can scare the crap out of you and start to panic for a better hidding spot. Its almost to that point that if it was a movie using the Source Engine, it would be just as good, but interacting makes some things better. Able to player with enhanced models of citizens & Combine, change the weapons to new models or leave em the same. Great scenery, interesting change of sounds for a change of gameplay, and great modeling and skinning. 10/10 score for all the thought that went into this.
The high definition props and NPC models detail amount is amazing.
Effects like lens flare and bloom make things look cool.
Head shots actually instant kill, which adds realism.
NPC models and some other settings can be changed or set to Valve's default, and you have different model choices.
This is just a well worked on modification overall, and the people who don't see the point in having an HD mod can just stay away.