Created by one man, Richard Seabrook, Prospekt is a kind of Half-Life 2 fan fiction. It’s not a mod as such—you don’t need to own Half-Life 2 or its episodes to play it—but it’s set in Valve’s world, and uses its enemies, weapons and assets. Presented as a follow-up to Half-Life: Opposing Force, you play as Adrian Shephard—recently rescued from the G-Man’s stasis by the Vortigaunts, and dumped into Nova Prospekt to help Freeman.
Need to know
What is it: A standalone game set in the Half-Life universe. Not Half-Life 3.
Expect to pay: £7.50/$10
Developer: Richard Seabrook
Reviewed on: Windows 10, 8GB RAM, i5-3570k, GeForce GTX 970
Half-Life 2 is one of the best shooters ever made, making it a strong launching point for another game. But, from Prospekt’s first combat encounter, it felt to me like something was off. The breaking point came during a battle at the start of chapter five, when, in a fit of frustration, I quit out, loaded up Half-Life 2, and used the command console to check out a hunch. Sure enough, the Combine Overwatch Soldier and Elite—the two enemy types you fight throughout the majority of Prospekt—have been given significantly more health.
Unfortunately, more health doesn’t just mean a greater challenge. It’s bad enough that the enemies are so bullet-spongy, but it also upsets the flow of combat. Where, in Half-Life 2, you could reliably pump both barrels into a soldier and instantly move on, here that same act might not do the job. Prospekt was constantly nudging me off a rhythm I’d spent 11 years perfecting, but not in a way that felt interesting or subversive.
And there’s so much combat. In Prospekt, a change of pace means walking a long corridor or pressing a couple of buttons. Some early lightweight puzzling had me hopeful for some variety through the campaign. Instead, the
vast majority of this game is about shooting the same few enemies over and over again. Even the toolset is reduced. It’s understandable that Shephard wouldn’t have the Gravity Gun, but the removal of the crossbow is keenly felt—especially when so much of the combat takes place in large, open rooms.