|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.
In MINERVA, the player character is an anonymous person (hinted to be a renegade Overwatch Soldier by the in-game messages) who has either acquired or been provided with a stolen HEV suit, or similar powered armour. Guided by the mysterious MINERVA, an unseen individual who relays information only through cryptic text communications, the player character is deployed on a small island occupied by the Combine, hosting a huge subterranean facility, with the goal of infiltrating it and discovering its purpose.
The first chapter to be completed and released, Metastasis, consists of four episodes: Carcinogenesis, Downhill Struggle, Depth Charge, and Pegasus.
Carcinogenesis, or "Metastasis 1", begins with the player being dropped off by a Hunter-Chopper at the shore of an island identified as being somewhere in the Baltic Sea. Under attack by Combine forces from the outset, the player must navigate their way around the island aided only by MINERVA. Upon arrival, the player notices a massive shielded stream of super-heated plasma near the center of the island, corralled down from orbit via a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. Exploration of the island ensues, with the player venturing underground for a short period, before returning to the surface to follow the plasma stream down into the core of the island. As the player descends a rusted ladder, it breaks, cutting off the exit. From there, the only remaining option is to head further into the facility.
The player descends deeper, and MINERVA reveals the surface facility used to be a World War II outpost, perhaps large enough for 100 men. It is obvious the Combine have cannibalized the structure for their own ends, burrowing far deeper than the surface would imply. MINERVA makes further comparisons to the second World War, also hinting at the player's origin:
"What is this, Breen's own personal Mittelwerk? Those steel cells contain stalkers; worked to death, and now finally reaching for freedom, liquefying out of their cages into stinking pools of filth. You'd be the same if it wasn't for me."
The player progresses into the island, heading towards its core and following the plasma stream. Delving deeper, the player discovers that, despite the facility's size, it still would not require the immense power supply the stream of plasma provides and figures that something bigger must be located further below. As the player descends, it becomes apparent that the upper levels of the facility are used to prepare Headcrab Shells as well as hosting the results of some experimentation with the Headcrabs. MINERVA is still sure that the operation is not all that it seems and instructs the player to delve deeper still into the facility to uncover its true purpose.
Digging deeper past the Headcrab facilities, the player continues to descend, passing through a security field and losing all weaponry in the process. Unarmed, the player evades Overwatch Soldiers and Stalkers, eventually finding more weaponry. MINERVA compares the energy readings to those of a Citadel, though she notes there are some crucial, subtle differences between the two.
As the player continues, the true purpose of the stream of plasma is discovered: a massive portal opens, apparently linking Earth to one of the Combine's subjugated worlds, locking the player in the chamber. The other side shows a desert-like world stretching to the horizon, scattered with rocks and metallic debris and Antlions running across the sandy surface. Two dropships approach and fly through the portal as MINERVA urges the player to shut it down.
The player succeeds in disabling the portal and re-arms, preparing for the battle ahead. Upon returning to a central room that had been previously traversed, MINERVA explains the purpose of four hatches around the perimeter. They're stated to be plasma buffers, designed to prevent surges from overhead. The player ventures up to open the hatches and must then descend again to interfere with the buffers. Combine Soldiers appear alongside Manhacks to stop the player's rampant destruction.
The player manages to fight the waves of enemies and destroy all four buffers. At this point, MINERVA states that she intends to destroy the facility with the still player inside. She instructs the satellite to surge, leaving the player helpless to do anything but watch as the blast hits the facility.
The player manages to survives the blast, losing all weaponry save a crowbar. After the player's suit reboots, the player begins to navigate the wreckage of the facility. MINERVA is somewhat shocked at the player's survival and states that she is charging the satellite for a second pulse. Should the player reach the surface in time, she will allow him to survive and send a rescue party. The player must double back, traveling upwards through the now devastated facility to reach the surface, fighting through waves of Headcrabs, Zombines, and Fast Zombies which were let loose by the blast, as well numerous Combine soldiers. MINERVA also assists along the way by remotely reprogramming some turrets to assist the player in their journey. She finally reveals that she has procured an escape route for the player, and urges them to head to the surface.
As the player emerges from the underground chambers, he finds the Combine fighting off Headcrabs and zombies, apparently still trying to reclaim the island. MINERVA then announces that there has been a change of plans. Unable to prevent a dispatch order, there is now a Gunship headed for the island. The player manages to acquire an RPG launcher and shoot down the Gunship while fighting off hordes of zombies and Combine. Afterwards, the player heads for the designated pickup point and is retrieved by a Hunter-Chopper.
The chopper ascends and loops around the island before flying off into the distance, as the final, cauterizing blast fires, seemingly annihilating the island. The screen fades to black as the credits roll.
Out of Time
Foster has stated that the next chapter of the MINERVA series will be called "Out of Time", instead of the previous working title "Chronoclasm", and has promised "some freakish gameplay additions." Foster has also hinted that he would like to set Out of Time in "a snow-dusted coastal town, complete with its own Citadel." A blog post on the development blog further hinted Out of Time will take place in City 44. According to an email from Adam Foster, the next part of MINERVA's plot would have eventually followed the player and MINERVA into a parallel universe. There, the two would be forced to avert a universe-ending threat by collapsing that universe, including the alien world that was previously glimpsed in the third episode of Metastasis, deleting themselves in the process.
Behind the scenes
Foster has described MINERVA as an "anti-modification": "The aim isn't to replace as much game content as possible; instead, it's to tell my own apocryphal story set in the Half-Life 2 universe, and to actually release something for the public to play." Being critical of the "series of unconnected boxes" architecture he perceived in most games, he built the levels as actual environments using correctly proportioned structures and areas with gameplay worked in later. This was intended to create a more open design in which players may navigate the environment in multiple ways. As such, later locations can be seen in earlier stages of the game, such as along corridors or through windows.
On April 30, 2013, a director's cut of MINERVA: Metastasis was released on Steam as a free mod for Half-Life 2: Episode One. This version features improved visuals and adjusted gameplay and graphical elements.
- Infuriating the Public for Fun and ... More Fun on the MINERVA blog.
- Referencing City 44's Downfall on the MINERVA blog.
- Out of Time on the MINERVA website.
- Marc Laidlaw Vault on the Steam Users' Forums (archived)
- A new life awaits in the outer colonies! on the MINERVA blog.
- Interview: Half-Life 2 Minerva mod on ComputerAndVideoGames (August 8, 2006) (archived)
- Idle Thumbs: Minerva.
- Interview: Mister Minerva on Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
- MINERVA - on Steam on the MINERVA blog.