The true method of knowledge is experiment. So, strapped to the underside of a stolen Combine helicopter, you're part of my latest scientific investigation. Objective: To infiltrate and observe this peculiar little island a few miles off shore, its heart burrowed out by our ever-loving benefactors...
This is the first mod I can really remember playing that blew me away, way back when I had my first PC with its little Radeon 9200, had already played and loved Half-Life 2, and was for the first time investigating the treasure trove of free content that was mods. Recently I played through Black Mesa, and the level of quality and craft put into that mod reminded me of Minerva. As magnificent as Valve's games are, in my eyes Minerva retains the award for the most efficient and ingenious level design in any "Half-Life" production; the infamous Half-Life loading times are reduced in Minerva to "few and far between" (as well as shorter) because Adam Foster designed the island the mod takes place on to be laid out and layered realistically, thereby using space efficiently and creating environments which "make sense" and adhere to basic architectural concepts in the real world. In other words, rooms and areas "fit into" each other rather than hang out in empty space on a linear path, and since it all takes place on an island, this effectively means that the levels are built vertically rather than Valve's less efficient horizontal layouts which lend themselves to longer and more frequent loading intervals. I mention all this because it is part of how I continue to admire Foster's mod from both an artistic and technical perspective. The game experience itself is sublimely paced (yet continuously challenging), tense, varied, visceral, compelling, cerebral, *fun* and all wrapped up with a satisfying, intriguing and yet considerably mysterious plot told via the text of radio messages from the patronizing, manipulative, uncaring and yet decidedly moral, complex and endearing Minerva in combination with the environmental story telling we've come to expect from Half-Life games. The long and short of it though is really this: Half-Life fans, hell, video game fans with a copy of Episode 1 have *no reason* not to give this a spin. No. Reason. Play it now and forever be impressed
If you haven't played this mod, you should; level design is tight, it looks great (surprising since it only uses what's there in the base Source SDK), and the gameplay is fast and solid
After 7 years this is still one of the best mods out there for any game, and shows that you can make a Source Engine level look good with default HL2 content without making it look like something from 1998.
Right off the bat the story grasped my interest. It's vague, and leaves questions, but interesting none the less. The level design is spectacular and the puzzles are simple yet a challenging. And they just seem to go on forever! It's a great thing, there are very few load screens. This is one of the few mods that I could truly say are Valve quality.