Forest Train

for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

What a beautiful day! Shame you’ve got nothing better to do than hang around monitoring the radio.

Well, today is your lucky day. You get a message to help some citizens reach White Forest.

Can you help them?

Only one way to find it!

Basic Details
  • Title: Forest Train
  • File Name: hl2-ep2-sp-forest-train-1.1.7z
  • Size : 28.4MB
  • Author: Jason Gimba
  • Date Released: 08 March 2014
Version 1.1 (May 23rd, 2014)

Please note, the screenshots are all from version 1.0.

  • Removed misplaced player clip brush at cabin driveway.
  • Updated slumped Zombies to use Actbusy to prevent animation popping.
  • Ragdoll magnets are no longer always active.
  • Fixed an issue where Manhacks would occasionally spawn infinitely.
  • Removed Headcrab from the air duct.
  • Tweaked difficulty and enemy tactics in the mounted gun battle.
    • Combine can lob grenades at players who use the mounted gun.
    • Pathing and spawn position adjustments.
    • Better balanced to support not using the mounted gun.
  • Updated the Hunter-Chopper boss battle.
    • Changed the way the battle starts.
    • Players can run around the train cars for cover.
    • The Hunter-Chopper tries to stay near the player.
    • The Hunter-Chopper only does bombing runs after being hit.
    • Razor Trains don’t start arriving until Hunter-Chopper is hit.
    • Sped up the Hunter-Chopper bombing run.
    • Sped up the rate at which the Hunter-Chopper drops ambient bombs.
    • Zombie spawner replenishes with each Hunter-Chopper hit.
    • Hunter-Chopper switches to long cycle, distance shooting at end.
  • Fixed or updated some textures, dynamic shadows.
  • Added some more props for detail.
  • Other miscellaneous fixes and tweaks.
  • Updated the bundled VMFs.

Download Options

Download Version 1.1 to your HDD [28.4MB]

You can still use it with MapTap once you have downloaded it.

Installation Instructions
  • Copy the ForestTrain folder into your ..\Steam\SteamApps\sourcemods\ folder.
  • Restart or start Steam.
  • Forest train should now be listed in your Library tab.

If you require more help, please visit the Technical Help page.

Awards

Forest Train is a HALL of FAME entry

Custom Grid View Icon
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

The file above comes with a grid view icon. To use it, select “Grid View” in Steam (top right corner). Make sure you have saved the image to a location on your computer – you can’t use it from the compressed archive directly. Right click on “Forest Train” and select “Set Custom Image”. Then browse to where you saved the image and choose it. Then click “Set Image” and that’s it.

Of course, you can create your own custom image if you prefer.

Videos

The playthrough below is provided by Custom Gamer. See more of his playthroughs on this site: VP: Custom Gamer

Screenshots

Click on the tabs below to select the size of screenshot you would like.
All sizes are the same screenshots, just in different resolutions.
WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

1024 x 576

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Reader Recommendations
Avoid It!
Think Twice
Maybe
Play It Later
Play It Now!

34 recommendations, average score: 4.91 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.08 (what's that?)
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Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 35 comment(s) with meta review data.

Installed:
Using Gauge: 4 Users
Manually: 31 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 0 Hours, 42 Mins
Shortest: 0 Hours, 19 Mins by iRocket
Longest: 3 Hours, 30 Mins by Emnu
Total Time Played: 24 Hours, 18 Mins
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69 Comments

  1. Phillip's Favourite

    This is without doubt one of the best mods released in years. The attention to detail is amazing.

    Full review to follow very soon.

  2. Personal Favourite

    This map was really good.

    The environment and general design of the map were superb.
    The experience was very flowing.

    Only thing that bothered me slightly was that there aren’t really any new things to try out. That’s not really a big deal though because I certainly favour good solid gameplay over a weird mechanic that doesn’t work properly.

    This one’s a favourite of mine now.

  3. Play It Now!

    A nice mod with excellent scenery and some pretty good gameplay. I liked the voice acting and found it really added to the story. I wish the mod was longer and had a more imaginative ending. But it’s definitely a PIN for me.

  4. ikar

    PP is still cake! Despite the fact that Valve almost killed HL saga, modders continue to delight us with great modifications! Thanks Jason!

    Moscow metro_http://russos.livejournal.com/1100882.html

  5. Max
    Personal Favourite

    this mod absolutely blows my mind

    it was easily one of the best mods, I ever played

    the mapping was absolutely excellent and flawless and the amount of enemies at the small heistpoints was just right (i must admit, that I played most of it on medium, but changed to hard around the part where I jumped on in the combine in that small office, which had me quickload at least 5 times)

    it even had custom voice acting, which is a pretty rare thing for mods / custom maps

    the amount of effort put into this clearly shows, and i’m really looking forward to more mods / custom maps from this guy

    1. Click his name in the Basic Details section to see what other maps he has released on PP.

    2. JG

      Hey Max, thanks for the kind review. I’d be interested to see a video for this level if you get the chance to make one. πŸ™‚

  6. Play It Later

    Really good map. It felt a bit rushed compared with previous Jason’s mods, but it’s still very good. The fight in the station lobby with the eternal coming combines was impossible. After dying like 40 times I decided to cheat, to move on.

  7. Play It Now!

    Amazin” Job!

    [spoilers]

    A short, but sweet mod-and one map too! Probably would have taken me 15 minutes if I hadn’t been messing around or admiring the scenery. It’s a good length considering the actual size of the map, it appears a lot smaller then it felt; the author made a great use of space. I also like the “freedom” in some ares, mainly a couple forks that led to the same location. It’s a simple tactic, but for a brief second you get the “illusion of free choice”. I really like the looping affect, and it has a nice ending that adds to a sense of mystery.

    I felt like the author put enough story “bites” to give the player a sense that something else was going on. I really like the parallelism between the map splash screen and the start or the map itself-I hadn’t realized where I was till I saw the truck outside. I got a nice “ah-ha” moment. The voice acting was good too. When ever I hear non-civil protection voices for civil protection officers (same thing applies to soldiers), it always kinda breaks immersion for me, but the only scene it was used in was too good for that to get in the way (by the way, I like the headcrab spooking 427). One quick story note, the map does a good job of respecting HL2 cannon, but I always feel seeing civil protection officers in the outland is a little weird-especially when they’re mixed in with soldiers, but the cps were used to good affect, and I never fought both at the same time.

    Onto the combat. Now that I look back on it, there wasn’t that much, but they were spaced out well and each fight felt like it had meaning and though behind it. The fast zombies in the beginning gave me quite the panic moment. They’re best used when least expected, and the author did a great job of making the player think the combat was going to take a slower pace in the beginning (I also can’t aim well against fast zombies with the .357). The zombine entrance seemed a little weird, but the multiple “movement inhibitors” made the encounter a mad dash to get some distance. I tried to get one into a barnacle, and then got myself trapped in a barnacle. I had to quickly punt a grenade while crowbaring a zombine. The zombie-hoppermine-sniper combo was great. A good example of smart hoppermine usage(something valve doesn’t always pull off). I think one zombie “back spawned”, but he could have been “sleeping” and I didn’t notice-and it wasn’t that big of a deal. As I said before, the combat with the cps was good-I like the “flip” they do in the mounted gun room. The “H” shaped room was great, a good example of how one hallway can make all the difference. Back through one of the shotgunners caught me by surprise in that room. In the return trip through the mounted gun room, things got a little heck-tic, but I made it through. One thing I noticed was that a soldier reloaded while on the move, I’m curious if the author changed the AI, or that was just a result of the assault behavior I bet he was running. I think the author was using standoffs to modify the behavior of the AI, which I like(if its true). I rarely see them used by modders- then again,they are hard to notice when they are in use. I missed the elite and hunter’s entrance-proof that every HL2:EP2 map need hunters ;)Again, I like the connection; you can assume the elite and hunter was the ones you saw on the TV. They both went down easily. Which reminds me, I felt the map was a little to generous with pickups. Sure, I found most of the “secret” stashes, but it made the map feel challenging at times, but then it turns out that’s not entirely true. I can understand why-because the player needs to be resupplied on the way back-but couldn’t the mapper have spawned new crates instead? The final fight was great, though.

    You have just enough supplies to keep you going, and the zombies and train keep you moving and keeps the fight progressing, the chopper also liked to stick to the back of the “gullet”, so you were forced to get in grav-gun range while under pressure. The chopper seemed to drop bombs sometimes without any real purpose, but I can’t think of a better way of doing it unless the chopper tried to drop the bombs directly overhead. Which isn’t that fair when you think about it. When the chopper blew up I almost thought the map was just gonna fade to black, but the author put the effort into making the loop back to the start and the gman scene.

    A great ending to a well thought-out map!

    1. JG

      Great observations. Yes, standoff was used extensively throughout the map with the Combine. It’s an entity I first noticed back with my Endville entry, where I really tried to understand how encourage the use of cover between the Combine and player. For most scenarios here, it was used to make the Combine take cover behind objects in tandem with Crouch Cover Low hint nodes. That’s why in the mounted gun battle, they have this point-to-point weaving strategy instead of charging the player. It really brings out the best in the standard Combine AI.

      As far as the abundance of health, this was always a concern with the level. The mounted gun battle, in particular, was a difficulty spike in testing, especially if a weakened player took all the supplies on the way going and left none for the return trip. For some, it may continue to be. I think what happens is that it all goes south very quickly if you allow a shotgunner to penetrate the blockade. The moment those guys show up, you need to prioritize them with the mounted gun. The SMG Combine on the upper deck are second priority since they won’t take cover like their brothers in the lower area. Keep in mind that only the lone Combine Elite has an AR2 (and it’s great that you connected him with the one on the TV screen!). Spawning new crates would have been an option, but I feared that a player would have written off those areas as places to search after having previously cleaned them out. Another option suggested was to have an alternate route back to the waiting room which gets blown open and reveals some health crates (although there wasn’t much space for such a thing). In the end, I basically settled for having an overabundance of batteries such that even a healthy player couldn’t use them all up (and the suitcharger) on the first pass. In testing, you are able to recover from taking heavy damage on the way going (i.e. getting shot by the sniper a couple times) and be at more-or-less full health/suit prior to the mounted gun battle.

      The Hunter-Chopper’s bomb dropping mechanism gets “stuck” after the first bombing run, is how I explain it. It won’t periodically drop bombs until the first run. Once it gets to half health, it flies to the end of the railroad canyon (usually, not always) and switches to an intentional, lobbing drop for bombs.

      I used Civil Protection forces mostly for visual variety and because I liked the “small scale” pistol combat also seen in mods like In Medias Res. I feel Ep2 overuses the Combine Soldier. And who knows – maybe the Combine send annoying CP forces out here to work in low-importance facilities. πŸ™‚

      1. In Medias Res? Hey! That’s my map! πŸ˜‰ I totally agree, combine soldiers are a bit over used as of late. One thing I forgot to mention is I like how the only two soldiers before the counter-attack are manning heavy weapons, maybe overwatch doesn’t trust 427 with a sniper rifle or heavy machine gun πŸ™‚ Now if somebody could make a map without any combine what so ever, THAT would be a neat change in pace.

          1. AlienVille? “No Trans-Humans Allowed”-Ville?

            I actually hadn’t considered it as a mapping contest, but it sounds like it could work well.

        1. JG

          FWIW, I wouldn’t mind a NoCombineVille. The only real problem with that, however, is that the Combine faction has all the cool “boss” entities, with the exception of the Antlion Queen.

          The Combine Soldier on the mounted gun was born from the need to have a stronger enemy manning it. In earlier tests, players were able to headshot the Metrocop before he could do much of anything. It’s still somewhat possible to do that with the stronger Soldier, but between the higher platform (the landing was moved up 32 units) and a carefully placed block bullets brush over the gun, you’re more likely to trade damage now. The intent of the scene, obviously, is to go around and get the grenades. That intent is what led to the Hopper Mine-Sniper scenario outside. Since I didn’t want the player to come into the train station already armed with grenades, I wanted to find another way to kill the Sniper.

          In practice, of course, you could take the Hopper Mines with you as an alternate strategy. Not many will think of that, though. For that matter, you don’t actually have to kill the Sniper. If you don’t kill him, you’ll encounter a Combine Soldier in his place when you get upstairs. πŸ™‚

  8. Ade
    Play It Now!

    – nice background map, not many bother with that and this 1 is actually quality
    – eye catching chapter image, as well
    – and a nice intro, not many bother with lipsync nowadays either!
    – as soon as I come out and the door closes behind me, I realize I’m in the set presented in the background image; quite a nice connection and bit of story telling when I realize those 2 characters are now dead in the house
    – it has a very strong sense of atmosphere and I can even feel the fireplace indoor, and outside I’m tempted to smell the mountain air even, while just walking about; dont even feel the need to run
    – mapping is beautiful and nicely detailed, even the almost ever present sound of the water is nice
    – the 2 zombines were bit glitchy while getting up in the water, prolly cus uneven terrain
    – interesting new use of hopper mines, against a sniper! it’s hard to find new combinations like that, which actually work
    – major stash upstairs in the train station is foreshadowing a big fight
    – I could barely make out what the combine were talking about
    – oh I see, I turned off a combine fence so the train of rebels can pass πŸ™‚ that’s cool
    – idk where I’m supposed to go now tho (and the combine of course are buggy when facing odd props like a couch they’re trying to climb hehe)
    – so I’m blocked by 2 fences in the doorway and I don’t fit thru some blue broken window; and cus I can break a window near the mounted ar2, I die trying to jump thru that window
    – sittin near the mounted ar2 is also bad idea, apparently, as enemies come from all sorts of directions and in great number
    – only when I decided to whip out my entire inventory and fight the unknown amount of enemies coming at me, I finally survived; I guess I kind of forgot about all the weapons I had, since they were all given to me so fast and without immediate use
    – fighting the chopper on busy traintracks was nice
    – weird enough I’m back where I started
    – no wait, even weirder, G-Man waiting for me near the fireplace haha
    The sense of direction for me was lost after accomplishing my goal, and sometimes giving the player choices apparently isn’t that good if only 1 will work, but it didn’t lead to (much) frustration and it gave me some good fights overall.
    The intro and outro don’t make much sense, I’m just placed there but then again the game does same thing, and the objective is presented soon enough and I think it’s pretty understandable for all English speaking players.
    All in all it definitely deserves a play, specially for us hungry ep2’ers. It will be the talk of the town for a while but that shouldn’t stop the author from growing and taking his potential even further.

    Playtime: 29m, writing things down included.

    1. JG

      I’m happy you enjoyed it. I’m also glad you connected the intro screen with where you start. One of the things about the mod is that it underwent a pretty significant ambiance change towards the end. Originally, the forest was doused in a blue fog (which you can actually see in Phillip’s Forest Train banner, since that was taken from an earlier build) and the title screen was taken from the river looking at the two drainage pipes. This changed to the mountainous (dare I say, very Pacific Northwest) look it has now and based on the positioning of the mountain, I decided that the ranger cabin was a more attractive focal point.

      Of course, the title screen can always use a little life, and so I thought maybe I could show what happened here before the Combine ransacked the place. My hope was by prominently featuring the rebel in the white shirt, the player would connect him to the dead guy on the floor. These guys would have responded to the train’s request for help, but since no one was there to answer, the idea is that the G-Man inserted you here instead. Note that the train rebel never realizes who you are.

      1. Ade

        Well he didn’t call me by name, if that’s what you mean, by the description even I thought I was just another rebel, til the combine gasped “Freeman’. Indeed a unique way to tell a bit of a story and connecting it to the background image; the white shirt helped.

  9. Play It Now!

    In my opinion this mod is getting quite a bit overrated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely good, and everyone that has an interest in mods should play this, but it’s not “amazing’. While I didn’t find anything to be jaw-dropping, there is very little I can personally complain about in the mod. As such, this is not so much a review as it is a compliment to the creator and a little ego boost.

    I guess I’ll start with what I liked the most. The combat was very well made. It presents the player with scenarios that I personally haven’t seen before. These include dodging the zombies around the barnacles, hoppers and sniper combination, man-able combine machine gun + hunter and that great chopper fight with the trains running along in the middle. All of these worked very well and presented the player with new challenges that hadn’t previously been done in much capacity.

    I also feel the need to compliment the visuals. Bear with me when I say the visual don’t look particularly spectacularly. They look just fine (except for a few areas where it seems the skybox is completely empty), but what really impressed me was the way that, while the world looks different from the ones seen in HL and it’s episodes, it still felt like it belonged in the same universe. Also, one of my biggest complaints about HL is how to world doesn’t seem realistic in the way it is built and presented, but this mod fills in that gap, while still not sacrificing the gameplay in favor of that.

    As far as stuff I didn’t like or think could have been done better, there isn’t much. I didn’t particularly enjoy the voice acting, especially for the combine. For one, I couldn’t really understand what he was saying, and more importantly, it just didn’t seem enough like a combine. I don’t know if the author made the VA himself or not but I didn’t feel with was on the same level as the rest of the mod. Another little complaint is with the chopper fight. There is too little cover in my opinion, and the chopper was flying very low. At some points it even managed to crash into the ground, clip through some of the train cars and fly back up like nothing happened.

    All in all, a very good release, with nice set pieces, good level design and well scripted events. I just wish it was longer than a single map.

    1. JG

      Thanks for the review.

      There are customized subtitles and closed captions available for the whole mod if the Combine are too hard to understand. I couldn’t do anything about the Hunter-Chopper’s exaggerated reaction. The amount of reaction force is hardwired into its damage function (which is quite daft if you ask me) so it is possible to get it hung up on the scenery. I’ve never seen it get completely stuck – eventually its goals will change and make it choose another waypoint – but a fair bit of stuff around that area lacks collision for the purpose of keeping the chopper in play. Unlike the chopper at the end of Water Hazard, this chopper is completely scripted because the canyon is very different from the wide open space in that battle and I didn’t trust the default “bullrush” behavior to properly handle the bomb dropping.

      You might ask why I didn’t use avoidboxes or avoidspheres. They didn’t work well. There are times when the chopper is first arriving that it comes in abnormally fast and clips through the bridge over the railroad tracks. I tried putting an avoidbox there once and the end result was that the chopper would take off like a rocket. The same thing would happen if the canyon was lined with avoidboxes – the chopper would shove itself upward or through the floor. My guess is that the chopper’s bounding box is simply too large relative to the width of the canyon, especially when it’s not parallel with the tracks.

  10. Play It Now!

    That was indeed a wonderful & lovely mod.

    The layout and texture choices really convinced over the duration of the entire mod. If it wasn’t for the Zombies and different wreckages etc. I would have almost called that an idyllic landscape.

    The same positive aspects go regarding the game play. There were 2 minor places that were little tough but all in all was it a well made and well balanced game. Never to easy and never to hard. Nice job. Can you help the citizens to reach white forest & what is our mutual friend up to this time? Go and find out for yourself.

    But it doesn’t just end here. The mod also uses some very nice custom voice lines which instruct the player exactly what needs to be done and that alone also sets a nice atmosphere around it.

    A shorter mod experience but a flawless one in my opinion. Go ahead and play it. Now.

  11. Play It Now!

    This is a solid map with great visuals and great re-use of space.
    Nothing new gameplay wise however which prevents me from calling this a PF.
    Great maps, take the various elements in the half life tool kit and put them together in a way we haven’t seen before. Everything here is put together so well, but we have played it all before.
    That certainly doesn’t take away from the fun of it all and there’s some great combat on show here. Would have liked possibly to have seen an attempt at a puzzle…

    The turret hold out area on your return from the control room is rather frustrating as the only way I seemed to be able to beat it was by using the turret itself. Got massacred any time I tried to do something else. Great maps allow the player to make choices and to try different approaches, forcing the player to play a certain ways makes the game way less fun.

    Recommended to play for all however!

  12. Play It Now!

    Great map, glad I played it.

    The enemies and encounters were fantastic. My only gripes were that the manhacks that fly out of the hole in the ceiling seemed to spawn infinitely despite being the only enemies left in the area. Also there was a huge difficulty spike during the fight in the central courtyard with the combine turret. This fight was much harder than even the final “boss”.

    1. JG

      Huh. Well, I was going to say it’s not infinite, but it looks like both sides are set to infinitely spawn, which is kind of weird seeing as it always seemed very finite in every test I’ve seen and from running through that area a bazillion times myself.

      I think the reason I never caught it is because it was probably done to fix the issues I had with Manhacks not spawning in mid-air and in such a confined space. When the ceiling is destroyed, it would halt the spawning – but since it doesn’t actually turn the spawner off, it’s possible that certain conditions could cause it to produce more.

      Well, it would be on the short list of things to fix if I do another version. Thanks, stoop.

  13. Play It Now!

    A really interesting map, with a polished scenario and some furious action to finish off the mission. An unwelcome tripod scared the crap out of me though! My fault for not playing mods for a few months!
    Great attention to detail and the nostalgia was a bonus too.
    It crashed on my XP system until I saved it with the “crosshair” command set to “1” and then it was perfect.
    I so love killing combine!!

  14. Personal Favourite

    Brilliant. So much better in every way than all but the best maps. Definitely a PF. Hoping for more maps from the author.

  15. Personal Favourite

    A really enjoyable experience all around. There isn’t much in this mod that we haven’t seen before, but the combination of existing elements is expertly done to make interesting encounters. The combat is well balanced throughout, although there is something of a difficulty spike in one area involving the mounted gun.

    The graphics do everything that is necessary, with an appropriate use of fog to add to the atmosphere and a good level of detail throughout. Although there isn’t a hugely complex plot, this mod does far better than most in both conveying a story and giving it context in the wider Half-Life universe, with some subtle “bookends” to the map. This is without mentioning the amusing scripted scene with a Combine soldier which was a pleasant surprise.

    This mod is a very good example of a well-planned and executed idea. The map is actually quite small but has an intelligent loop-back design which makes the most of the space and fits the theme. All the gameplay builds up well to the final encounter which also has an interesting twist. All around, a great experience and one for all Half-Life 2 fans.

    1. JG

      Thanks for the review. Perhaps if it’s a slow news day on Lambda Generation you could post a blurb about it. πŸ™‚

  16. Technicall offtopic:
    I get “Failed to launch (missing executable)”. I tried to redownload archive but still get that error.
    Help!

    1. Firstly, please don’t add the MetaReview data unless you have finished playing the mod.

      When exactly do you get that message? When you try to run it via Steam or another time?

      1. I haven’t found a proper place to ask so I posted it here.

        Yes, I get this message while trying to launch mod from Steam library.

        I’m not participating in any kind of Steam beta programs (it caused problems with mods not so long ago).

        1. You are asking in the right place. Do other EP2 mods work?

          1. Looks like after last Ep. 2 autoupdate 1226 files went missing somehow. :/ Oh well, I fixed it anyway… Is that possible to correct my first message into proper review (I guess not)?

            1. No, sorry, it’s not. Please just post a new proper review (not a reply to anybody’s comment) with a recommendation image and the Meta Review Data and I will delete the old comments

  17. DaZ
    Play It Now!

    Beautiful visuals and interesting scenarios to encounter. This is a great example of a backtracking style of level done correctly!

    The only issue I had was that the ultimate encounter at the end of the map felt a bit off. The pacing seemed wrong and the enemy would sometimes move very far away and not return for some time. I got the impression that the level was trying to draw me out to follow but I didn’t want to due to lack of cover πŸ™‚

    1. JG

      The Hunter-Chopper area is divided into a handful of different regions. When the player enters a region, it triggers the chopper to fly to a point near the south end of the region.

      I think what happened, at least in your stream footage, is that you kept crossing between the regions while you fought Zombies and scrambled for cover, so the chopper kept repositioning itself. Outside of the buffer space between triggers, there’s nothing that tells the chopper to hold its position for at least X amount of time. A relay could have been placed that disabled the region triggers for at least X seconds and then re-enabled them.

      At half health, the chopper is triggered to fly to the end of the corridor and start lobbing bombs, which does look pretty silly if the player doesn’t take the bait.

  18. Play It Now!

    Pros:
    – great environmental design
    – properly voiced and even lip-synced NPCs
    – use of space. You’ll end asking yourself – is that REALLY just one map?
    – enemy encounters. Some not trivial stuff here! Firefights with CP and Combine soldiers was exciting, challenging and different

    Cons:
    – I really not that much into final fight because for me it turned out into sitting under train for about half of time I used to complete rest of this mod. It probably personal issue anyway.

    As it says: Play It Now!

  19. Play It Now!

    Its really nice to play another great HL2 map,, Big Thanks to the mapper πŸ™‚
    I didnt know tub chairs could fit through doorways until now,, but it provided cover and took out a gun so its all good.
    I like throwing bombs back at choppers so the ending was a bonus.
    Good map.

  20. Play It Now!

    I thoroughly enjoyed playing through this mod. It has been a while since a good quality HL2 mod has been released outside of the Ville mapping competitions.

    There wasn’t much in the way of new gameplay but the use of the standard HL2 gameplay felt reminiscent of the original. One of the differences I liked was the way the combine AI stayed in cover and generally tried to avoid my fire rather than mindlessly charge at me. As good as the gameplay felt, there were a couple of points that I felt disrupted the flow of the gameplay.

    The first was the encounter with the man-hacks. When I first played through the mod, there seemed to be an infinite spawning of the man-hacks and I spent a good 5 minutes fighting them before they stopped spawning. A second and third play through didn’t have the same problem so I guess that’s a bug in the triggering.

    The second was the arena with the mounted gun on the backtrack. The first play through I used the mounted gun as I thought was intended and the area seemed quite easy to complete. In fact, when the hunter enters the room, I felt it was too easy to kill with the mounted gun. The second time round I tried to play the same area without using the mounted gun and it was extremely difficult. During this play through, I found the hunter much more effective as a boss fight because there wasn’t an obvious way to defeat it without the mounted gun, making the encounter much more challenging and intense. A third play through, I tried hiding in the previous area and waiting for the combine to come to me. This broke the mod as I was unable to proceed after I had killed all the combine.

    As for the environment, I felt it was nicely detailed. There didn’t seem to be anything overly out of place and, for me, it felt as if the place was a valid location in the HL2 universe. There were a couple of minor things that pulled me out like the room the sniper was in been brightly lit from the inside. Though, that might be just nit-picking.

    I thought the inclusion of custom voice-acting was nice but as entertaining as the combine’s conversation was, it felt out of place in the HL2 universe, for me at least. I feel that it may have been that the voice filtering wasn’t the same as the metrocop’s usual voice or that the language of conversation was more casual or conversational than I thought it would be in the situation.

    Overall, I felt this was a very polished mod and I can’t wait to see what comes in the future. Highly recommended.

    P.S I’m also enjoying the comments about the various design decisions made and the insight into why they are made. I would love to find out more about the process of the mod’s creation.

    1. JG

      Thanks for the review!

      You’re right that there seems to be a bug with the Manhack spawning. If I do another version, it’s definitely something I’ll look into. I know I set them to infinite spawning in order to test forcing them to spawn. It seems that after the plaster ceiling gives way, they can’t find legitimate places to spawn – which is why in most playthroughs, you get the intended 5 and no more show up despite the spawner still being enabled and infinite. Obviously, there are some conditions where they continue to find valid spaces and the spawning continues – although as you noted, it stopped at some arbitrary point.

      Retreating to the H hallways in the mounted gun battle shouldn’t break the battle, however. Because the mounted gun fight is quite tough, it wasn’t unusual for testers to retreat back there (fighting the Hunter is actually kind of fun in that area). What’s supposed to happen is that the initial flood of Combine continues spawning, but the Elite/Hunter combo won’t break down the door until you return to the main room, so the player is lured back over there at some point.

      The mounted gun battle, in general, is tricky. I think it’s difficulty is based largely on how quickly the player can address and kill the shotgunners and how much suit energy they have going into it. If a shotgunner should break from the crowd, it can do tremendous damage to the player in a short amount of time, especially if the player’s suit is depleted. When the player’s suit energy is depleted, it goes downhill extremely fast. On one hand, I like how it gets frantic and the fact that even I can beat it on Hard (as well as others) shows that it’s not *too* hard. But at the same time, I respect the view that the battle should be winnable without the mounted gun. How that’s accomplished, I don’t really have a good answer. The whole room is clearly focused on the mounted gun and if you’re standing anywhere else, the Combine feel like they are pegging you from all directions. At one point, there was more cover along the upper catwalk (which looked strange) as well as a gap in the railing near the upper door to promote jumping down. It could be that restoring the gap would help, since it creates a movement “circuit” for the player and allows them to get some clear shots on the Combine who emerge from the upper door before they can reach the catwalk.

  21. Play It Later

    Some obviously relish a never-ending onslaught of enemies. I prefer to have a reasonable chance of survival. I got extremely frustrated after numerous attempts at the fire-fight in the station building. It isn’t fun if you have to cheat your way out, so I gave up and didn’t finish the mod. It’s a shame because I really enjoyed it up to that point. A hard fight would have been enough, but I thought it was ridiculous.

  22. Play It Now!

    I really enjoyed this mod. As many people have already remarked, the level of details and the game flow are superb. The number of enemies and their occurrence were just right for me… The mod is of course a bit too short and therefore feels somewhat rushed. Seeing how good mods have become scarce recently I can nevertheless recommend it wholeheartedly!

  23. Hec
    Personal Favourite

    Wow! I guess that’s the overall reaction after playing this mod.

    Like Phillip once or many times has said, this mod-map oozes quality, the lighting of the whole maps and the whole sections into it is perfect, almost valve quality, and the whole nice simple concept is just brilliant. Why the concept is brilliant? well because is simple but perfectly done in the map, I mean, you are Gordon Freeman in a special rΓ©sistance mission: take the train station that some of our rebels weren’t able to take, so you are there: the mighty Gordon to save the day again, once you are there you notice the details in the atmosphere of the mod, the whole map looks like a big battle has happened where the rebels didn’t take the best part, yeah, they’re all dead, so you proceed to the station, then you find a middle fortified station with an sniper in it, well the rest is history, when you reach the control post you can hear that CMB soldier pissing himself because of “anticitizen one” presence, and claims for the whole CMB army to come to the station to kill this warrior, then you know things are going to play interesting….

    The voice acting is really cool and overall very well executed, the battles are entertaining and fun, only I would have wished some 2 or more Hunters to kill, but it was OK. That last battle against the Heli was great too, using your lovely grav. gun to kill the bad guys in the air.

    The story line into the HL2 universe was a great detail too. because this citizens from city 17 were escaping from that city now in the wrecks. This is the kind of mods I like, because they put some effort to bring at least some simple story plot into the HL Universe, a thing that we see less and less in mods or some maps this days.

    Maybe the only bad thing about this mod is the sudden black finale once you’re back again where you started. You know, I would have preferred the Jalopy muscle car to escape in that main road blocked by the CMB force field, or at least meet some rebels in that point to take me out of there.

    In conclusion this is a delightful mod, packaged all in one single brilliant done map. I’d say this is at the level of brilliant HL2 Universe mods as “Sebastian” and others surely are there but I can’t remember them. Play It now, I Love it and maybe if you don’t love it, well, then sure it will entertain you a LOT!

    1. Hec

      Guess what boys???? JG is also the author of “Sebastian” mod, so now I know why this is a great release!

      Jason Gimba is definitely one of the best modders in HL2 universe, now I can confirm that.

  24. JG

    Hi all, author here!

    I’m glad to see everyone is enjoying this mod! Now that it’s been out in the wild for a bit, I’m looking at doing a formal version 1.1 release. These are the things I have currently fixed:

    – Remove an incorrectly placed player clip brush near the cabin driveway.

    – Fix the issue where Manhacks can occasionally spawn infinitely.

    – Address complaints of difficulty in the mounted gun battle by reducing simultaneous enemy count, limiting the number of Shotgunners and eventually adjusting enemy tactics.

    – Redesign the Hunter-Chopper battle to make the H-C easier to hit and greatly simplify the way it was implemented.

    – Remove the Headcrab from the air duct.

    – Fix misaligned textures in the sniper room and adjoining hallway.

    – Minor texture tweaks and additional detail.

    If you have any other bugs or problems to add, please feel free to reply to this.

    1. Ade

      That’s nice to hear, very few authors come back and polish their releases based on general feedback.

      1. JG

        Version 1.1 should be officially on its way.

  25. Personal Favourite

    The first mod I’ve played for months and it’s stormer! Brilliant stuff, and perfect for whetting my appetite for more.

    Pretty much everything has been said above, though I am one of those who killed the sniper with a mine as I couldn’t immediately see any alternative. The scenery and attention to detail was great, and I only found one unexpected invisible wall, on the back of one of the rail trucks, but otherwise it all seemed pretty straight forward and thoroughly enjoyable. I will definitely play it again and have another proper look around!

    1. JG

      No worries – throwing a Hopper Mine at the Sniper was actually the “intended” solution. It’s more than possible to get by without killing him, though. You will eventually run across him when you reach that spot inside. πŸ™‚

  26. Version 1.1 is now available. If you would like to re-review it and change your recommendation image and or the Meta Review Data, that’s fine.

  27. Play It Now!

    So I finally got around to installing this after the 1.1 update!

    What an entertaining little map! Surprising amount of stuff to do on it, given that it is small. It’s not twisty-turny and it’s not cramped in any way. The environments are all very believable and *extremely* nicely lit. I did have to use the flash light, but that’s not what I mean: the lighting is gorgeous through the whole thing.

    On “easy” it was exactly that, I don’t think I came close to dying except when I accidentally threw a hopper mine at myself, but hey. πŸ˜‰

    Loved the ending, perfect inclusion of the most mysterious of sounds. heh.

    Great work. If someone’s on the edge of deciding whether to install and play this, do so! Well worth the short amount of time, and leaves me wanting more.

  28. Personal Favourite

    THIS IS FREAKING AMAZING!!!!

    The level design was amazing, the combat felt great and the length is just about the right time.

    JUST PLAY THIS RIGHT NOW!!

  29. Play It Now!

    Nice mod. Good design, good and interesting gameplay… Although this mod is too short, it is one of teh best mods of this year. Mod has got good balance, interesting gamepay, nice design and lighting… So good

  30. JG

    I just wanted to give some attention to a wonderful walkthrough of this level I’ve had the opportunity to see recently, courtesy of BJ Kill Ji-Mae.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XUB4Ih96UM

    Why is this video awesome?

    1. It demonstrates version 1.1 of the mod.
    2. It’s almost entirely in Korean.

    It’s a wonderful reminder of how the fun of video games transcends language barriers. These are the things that make all those long hours of modding worthwhile.

  31. Unq
    Play It Now!

    This map was exactly what I enjoy – short and really sweet. It’s a prime example of great level design that doesn’t feel linear even though it’s more or less a linear path you take through to the end.

    You get what is effectively a basic briefing at the beginning, to clear out the Combine from the train station for an approaching train of C17 refugees. And the clever part is that throughout the map, you’re nicely reminded of that mission since you often get a view of the train tracks, including walking across a bridge right above the tracks.

    Mixed in throughout is a nice variety of enemies, including zombies, a well-designed sniper section, and of course a bunch of Combine. But the finale is really what shines in Forest Train – a showdown with a bomb-dropping chopper that takes place right on the rails in the train yard. Add in some zombies for an ever-present minor threat, and occasional speeding trains that come through and you’re in for an entertaining and challenging battle that doesn’t get frustrating. A nice way to finish off a great map.

    Overall this is a fantastic, tight experience that is certainly worth your time to play. Gets my vote for the best of the year.

    1. JG

      Thanks for the great review!

      The helicopter battle was one of the key points of improvement between version 1.0 and 1.1, so I’m happy it seems to have paid off. πŸ™‚

  32. Play It Now!

    Theres not much to say for this one. Beautiful mapping, solid gameplay and a great start and ending. One of the most important things for me in a map is that I know my mission. Your task is explained at the start and you know all the time what you have to do to beat the map. I didn’t find the map too hard or too easy, it was the perfect balance πŸ˜›

  33. asterixer

    Running great under Linux, Works out of the box.

  34. I installed the game correctly and it says like for most people missing startup_loading.vtf.

    Please help the mod looks fantastic.

    1. Try validating and running Episode Two.

  35. Personal Favourite

    Great mod! I played it through and it contained some damn solid combat, mapping and atmosphere. I really liked storming the Combine train station and the chatter with the CP officer and the elite was a nice touch.

    My favourite part was the ending. Spoilers follow:
    When you get back to the lodge, with things being eerily quiet, you just have to think “I wonder what am I going to do here”. I was expecting another Combine ambush and was pleasantly surprised with an amused G-Man to greet me and most likely take me away to recruit. I love mods with the G-Man present unless it is absolutely overdone.

    The use of ragdoll magnets were pretty silly, though amusing. Having enemies suddenly flip 90 degrees to the right while gunning them down made me laugh, though it seemed like an attempt to get “cinematic deaths” by having them fall over the ledge. Also throwing a hopper into the sniper’s nest and having him fly into the horizon was also very funny.

    Overall a supremely solid mod with beautiful brushwork and realistic setting. Mixed with good combat and pacing it makes it one of my favourites I’ve played here.

  36. Play It Now!

    Forest Train is a high quality mod in every aspect. Great visuals, atmossphere, pacing, level design and so on. And surprisingly the mod also doesn’t overuse music like 90% of all mods … except for the final fight, there it didn’t fit to be honest. I think you could just even have no music at all there, but that is really the only criticism I can think of and that is a big nitpick. Also the final fight itself was really cool, some nice touches to an existing concept. Oh and the map has a good consistent theme.

  37. Personal Favourite

    I loved this mod.
    It was a short and sweet experience that was very crisp and well made.

    Definitely one of the better mods I’ve played recently.

  38. Play It Now!

    This is the first custom HL2 map I have played in years and I’d say it’s a pretty good way to reconnect with the modding scene.

    It’s well crafted and designed, both visually and gameplay-wise.
    The theme and objective of the map was easy to understand, and there was enough room for choice in how to advance through the level and how to approach combat.
    Visually it was consistently detailed, and sounds complemented the general ambience perfectly.
    There are a lot of visual cues that aid the flow of the level subtly and efficiently. To name an example: the fireplace you can see when you deactivate a force-field, which catches your attention and leads you to the next area.

    I did have a small “problem” early on, and it’s the same I had with Powerstation 17 (and Sebastian to a much lesser extent) now that I think of it. Trying to fit so much of the cast of enemies in short segments of play doesn’t feel natural for me. At the beginning I was too aware of entering a ‘zombie area’, dropping down to a ‘zombine vs barnacle’ space seconds later, going up to a ‘sniper encounter’ also a mere seconds after etc. This feeling thankfully disappeared as the game progressed, but I had to point it out.

    In terms of lighting, I think the choices were universally excellent. Lighting helped texturing to give a sense of place to each area and help in navigation. For example, the blueish hue of the room with the mounted gun helped me recognize automatically later on upon backtracking. This was a very good aspect of the mod throughout.
    I did think the lightmap grid in quite a few places could’ve been adjusted to enhance the visuals. In some of the outdoor geometry I felt it almost begged for it. I also found too many props that, due to their position, weren’t properly lit in regards to their surroundings. I know this is something we mappers have to live with (lightmapped geometry vs vertexlit models), but with more careful planning and placing it can be avoided almost completely.

    In terms of architecture It was consistently good. There were strange things here and there that I personally found distracting (proportions of pillars, beams etc in relation to the expanse they’re supporting) but in Maki’s defense this is something most retail games get wrong all the time and most players simply don’t care too much about.

    All in all, this was an enjoyable map, with good gameplay, visuals, custom voice acting and overall feel.

  39. Play It Later

    This was a great mod. I enjoyed the voice acting and the level design, particularly getting to backtrack through everything was really neat.

    What I didn’t like was the end hold up scene. It was way more difficult than the rest of the mod. It would have been nice to be able to set traps or something when I knew they were coming. Or at least more grenades. I played 1.1, and I see that the scene was rebalanced to make the turret gun less useful, but I must say it wasn’t worth using it at all.

    It was also a bit of a disconnect having the combine helicopter chase me through the building after the ambush, but if I go back to that part afterwards I can’t even see it through the window.

    Overall I think such a short mod needs to get every encounter just right, and this one just fell short and felt frustrating. There was nothing really new about this mod either, apart from the nice voice acting. After playing a lot of HL2 mods, there needs to be some novel gameplay to keep it fresh.

  40. The buildings and nature was pleasing to the eye.
    The gameplay was never boring and I was never confused.

    I loved it.

  41. Exceptionally designed, honestly it’s a Valve tier map.
    Short but sweet, quality over quantity, any fan of HL2 should play this.

  42. Play It Now!

    This is a pretty short map, which is exactly why everyone should play it! Every moment kept me engaged. The whole thing looked great and it felt like a smooth ride. Sweet stuff!

  43. Personal Favourite

    Wow, this mod really blew me away. It felt like I could have been playing an official Valve HL2 game. The voice acting is great, the level design is great, everything about the mod is great! When I played I experienced no glitches or bugs and the journey through the map was very smooth and just generally well made. I especially loved the ending πŸ˜‰

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