Having recently finished everything in The Orange Box, I moved onto the Half-Life 2 Episode 2 mod Research and Development, which I’d heard about several months ago via glowing endorsements on Rllmukforum and Rock Paper Shotgun.
The mod puts you through a fascinating series of physics-based puzzles involving a lot of lateral thinking and no firearms use. It’s utterly fantastic — a brilliant example of how creatively the basic HL2 gravity gun/press-E-to-use mechanics can be employed.
I particularly loved the gravity gun charging laboratory. And the microwave bit — a nice little nod back to the kitchen in the original Half-Life! And the zombie torso puzzle. And the end sequence. And Mr Whirly — who, in a just world, would become as iconic as any Weighted Companion Cube…
Some of the difficulty spikes could have been evened out a bit, and there were a few slightly buggy or unclear bits where I got stuck because of something other than a puzzle — for example, I took out the gun turrets with the gravity gun, but then died every time I walked past. I could see that the floor was sparking, but the point at which it kills you seemed arbitrary. Turns out [highlight spoiler:] you have to keep the glass shield with you or it won’t let you progress. Also for some reason, when I’d completed it the mod wouldn’t let me start a new game at any of the chapters — they’re all listed in the menu, but stay greyed out.
But these are very minor issue compared to the sheer creativity on display throughout. DOWNLOAD IT. NOW.