|This article is about a mod.|
The subject matter of this article was conceived by third-party developers and is therefore deemed both non-canon and non-official. It cannot be used as a relevant source in articles on official subjects.
December 5, 2014
Scott "Sbeast" Houghton
Lambda Wars, originally titled Half-Life 2: Wars, is a free, standalone real-time strategy Source engine modification, set during the Combine occupation of Earth, focusing mainly on the mutliplayer aspect.
Despite not having a full single-player campaign, and therefore no story, the game features three mission maps (
sp_valley), each with its own plot. In Abandoned, the player has to re-secure a forest while commanding groups of hungry and hopeless Rebels. In Radio Tower - rebuild the titular structure, which was destroyed by an Advisor, after collecting the needed parts, and send a message to White Forest about an upcoming Combine offensive. In Valley - gather Resistance forces and defend a group of refugees from waves of Combine units.
Lambda Wars features four single- (vs. AI) or multiplayer gamemodes (Annihilation, Destroy HQ, Overrun, Sandbox), three singleplayer missions and a tutorial. In the standard skirmishes, players can choose to side either with the Combine or the Resistance; additionally, the sandbox also features Antlions. The mission maps are played from the point of view of the Rebels. The AI difficulty (easy, normal or hard) can always be set before starting the game.
The player wins the game in the Annihilation mode when every enemy building is destroyed and each hostile unit killed. In the Destroy HQ mode, the goal is to demolish the opponents' central buildings. In the Overrun mode, the players, commanding Combine troops, work cooperatively to build defensive structures and purchase units and devices such as Hoppers and Turrets to defend their garrisons from never-ending, increasingly stronger waves of Antlions. The objective is to survive as long as possible before the swarm overruns and destroys the Combine outpost.
Both factions have their own units, abilities and buildings. Each can be recruited, utilized or constructed by builders using requisition points, scrap (for the Resistance) or energy (for the Combine). Requisition is produced by the headquarters and captured points, which then can be further upgraded. Scrap can be gathered from special piles by Resistance Engineers or found after killing enemy units. Power can be produced by Dark Energy Reactors or Scrap Power Generators. While at the beginning of the match, only the requisition points are used, scrap/energy is needed to unlock higher-tier units, buildings, and abilities. Moreover, an increasable population limit prevents the player from recruiting an unlimited number of soldiers. Randomly placed crates, which can be turned on or off before starting the game, provide the players with units or resources.
The units can engage in combat, patrol between their current and target position, hold their position and not pursue the enemy, man previously build turrets and use their abilities (such as throwing a grenade, deploying a Manhack or a Turret, shooting an explosive bolt). Stalkers and Resistance Engineers can also construct structures (such as Garrisons or Barracks, Generators, Billets, higher-tier upgrade centers, Aid Stations, depending of their faction). Some units (for example Scouts or Medics) utilize energy, which regenerates over time, to activate their abilities.
The development of Half-Life 2: Wars began sometime in 2007. Since that year, the modification has seen several major and some minor version releases, along with media and news updates.
On November 3, 2007, a version 0.1, intended as a "preview of the mod", and featuring two single-player maps, was released. It required Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One to work. The release of the version 0.5 on July 11, 2008 brought two new maps, balance and gameplay tweaks, and AI improvements, though single-player was still the only mode available. From then on, it required having The Orange Box Source SDK Base installed.
On November 27, 2010, the version 1.0, the first multiplayer public beta of the modification, was released, featuring three game modes: Overrun, Antlion Skirmish and Antlion Capture the Point. The first one is still present in the newest builds of the game, and has been described above. Antlion Skirmish is a multiplayer deathmatch between Antlion colonies, competing for control of local pheromone markers, which produce Grubs that can be harvested by Workers and then used to purchase units. The match ends when one colony reigns supreme and annihilates all competing colonies. Antlion Capture the Point is a variation on that game mode.
The next major update saw the light of day on September 25, 2012. The version 2.0.0, with all of the core multiplayer gameplay fully implemented, from then on required having Alien Swarm installed and Half-Life 2: Episode Two purchased. It brought a completely redesigned HUD, new models, new maps (
hlw_slums - a 1v1 map set in a sprawling urban environment, designed for the primary game mode of Half-Life 2: Wars - Annihilation - and
hlw_synth, later renamed to
hlw_antarctica, taking place in a snowy Arctic installation, meant to be played by up to 4 players either in a free-for-all or a team game), and a bigger variety of units (such as Striders, Hunters, and Vortigaunts), buildings and abilities.
The versions 2.0.1 to 2.3.6 introduced gameplay balance changes, bugfixes, new music tracks, visual improvements, a tutorial, new maps, both single- and multiplayer (such as
hlw_slumdoll). On November 25, 2013, the modification was renamed to Lambda Wars. In January, 2014, the mod successfully passed through Greenlight. The last two non-Steam versions (2.3.5 and 2.3.6) were updated not to require owning Episode Two.
Lambda Wars seems to have been gaining critical acclaim since the very beginning of its development. In November, 2007, Rock, Paper, Shotgun writer, Alec Meer, said that the modification is "really lovely, a smart and pure celebration of the House That Valve Built" even though "it’s barely past tech demo stage at the moment". He praised the concept of a Half-Life RTS game, stating that "it’s very, very early, with a lot of work to go – just two rather sparse levels, with minimal AI and no base-building as yet – but it’s a ton of fun to see the familiar in such a different, and well-considered, format."
The mod's Steam release was reported by various gaming websites. Wired called the mod "amazing" though "not without problems", saying that some models are difficult to tell apart at the standard aerial viewing distance, and that the game has occasional problems with pathfinding. LambdaGeneration stated that the modification "still has a few rough edges but it looks great and plays well." Kotaku's Nathan Grayson said "it's cool that fans are keeping the series alive in our hearts and minds, and on our PC screens as well." ValveTime stated that the modification is "definitely an ambitious and exciting project."
As of August 2016, user reviews of Lambda Wars on Steam are very positive, with 93% of reviewers praising the game one way or another.
Awards and recognition
Lambda Wars has received the following awards:
- Mod DB - Mod of the Year 2008 (10th place)
- Mod DB - Players Choice - Mod of the Year 2010 (9th place)
- Mod DB - Editors Choice - Mod of the Year 2014 - Best Overhaul
Achievements and trophies
The Steam version of Lambda Wars features 20 Achievements.