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.
EDIT: Let me clarify, this is a GOOD REVIEW. Don't take the thing at the beginning as a bad review!
"DUDE THIS MOD IS TERRIBLE EVERYTHING LOOKS DIFFERENT AND STUFF!!!!!!!!!! THE WHOLE REASON IT IS SO BAD IS THAT IT IS SO GOOD!!!!!!!"
Basically, that's what all the idiots who think they rule the Internet are saying. Every SINGLE reason that a bunch of people hate it are the reasons that I love it. Just go read some of the 1/10 reviews and you'll see what I mean. Just PLEASE, the Internet has enough people flaming about how stupid and terrible things are, just like the news channel. We don't need ANY MORE of this stuff, so just stop. Also, someone seems to think that changing the game's maps to make it look better has nothing to do with "remaking HL2 with new graphics." I'm not going to tell you who, but their username initials are MF. So please, if you think the mod looks nice, clear out a nice 45 GB space on your hard disk for it, and hit download.
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.