The Half-Life High Definition Pack, also commonly abbreviated to several other forms, including the Hi-Def Pack, or simply HD Pack) is a content pack consisting of new and upgraded material, but mostly models, for games in the Half-Life series. It was created by Gearbox Software and originally included with the PC release of Half-Life: Blue Shift. It includes content for the original Half-Life, Opposing Force, and Blue Shift, as well as content for Team Fortress Classic created by Valve Software.
The improvements coming from the High Definition Pack mainly stem from the increased polygon count over the default Half-Life models. However, despite the increased level of detail, the style of some of the models, most noticeably the HECU soldiers, has been changed. Subsequently, while the models are improved in terms of the level of detail, it remains a matter of opinion as to whether they look better.
The upgraded character models in the High Definition Pack included the scientists, security guards, and HECU soldiers, as well as several of the Xen creatures. In addition, all of the weapon models were upgraded as well. This included some notable changes to the game's original arsenal. The Glock 17 was replaced by a Beretta 92FS, the Colt Python by a Colt Anaconda, and the MP5 submachine gun by a Colt Model 727 assault rifle. To reflect some of the weapon changes with the high definition models, new sounds were given to the shotgun and assault rifle, as well as new sprites for the game's HUD.
The High Definition Pack spawned from the canceled Sega Dreamcast version of Half-Life, in which Blue Shift was included as a bonus addition to the game. The Dreamcast port boasted improved graphical content, and these models were eventually carried over to the PC after the game's cancellation. However, they were evidently not directly converted as the models that appeared in the Dreamcast port appear to be earlier versions of what would finally comprise the High Definition Pack. The leaked version of the DC game included models that possessed some very noticeable differences from the finished high definition models and even had some improved models not made part of the High Definition Pack at all. Earlier preview shots of the Dreamcast version shows yet even older incarnations of some of the high definition models.
The PlayStation 2 remake of Half-Life saw even further improved models to the game, also created by Gearbox. This included full facial animation and individually-animated fingers. As such, they're considered a continuation of the High Definition Pack. The PlayStation 2 port took advantage of a "Level of Detail" system, allowing these very detailed models up close without sacrificing performance. Health and H.E.V. Chargers have been converted to 3D and have special animations during use. These extra HD features were never officially released for the PC version of the game.
On August 25, 2005, the High Definition Pack was made available for free through Steam by Valve. However, Valve was criticized for not using the fixed version of the models, which were already available in Gearbox's patch for Blue Shift. These patched models re-included animations missing from the high definition models that, although did not appear in any of the official games, were commonly used in custom levels and modifications. Without these patched models, many modifications will act erratically, as the missing animations can interrupt scripted sequences, possibly preventing the player from continuing or even crashing the game. Many also complained at how the High Definition Pack was implemented in the program. When enabled, Steam automatically disables the use of any other custom content. Over a year later, on August 30, 2006, a staff member of Planet Half-Life released a fixed version of the patched High Definition Pack for use in Steam.
Currently, the High Definition Pack can be enabled in the video settings and requires the game to be restarted in order to take effect. This option is also available in Counter-Strike 1.6, where scientists and, in some cut maps, G-Man appear as HD hostages.
The Half-Life High Definition pack has been made usable in Half-Life: Source, due to work by the High-Definition Source project . Using this port you can experience Half-Life with the graphical enhancements from both the high-definition pack and the Source engine.
- Steam Client Update Available, 30 Aug 2005
- Stephen Bahl as quoted on Marc Laidlaw Vault on the HalfLife2.net Forums
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- Half-Life Updated Preview. GameSpotUK (2001-11-10). Retrieved on 2012-04-12.
- PHL Steam Client Update Available. Official Steam website (2005-08-29). Retrieved on 2007-11-08.
- Opposing Force & Blue Shift Patches. Planet Half-Life (2006-03-11). Retrieved on 2007-11-08.
- PHL High-Definition Pack for Steam!. Planet Half-Life (2006-08-30). Retrieved on 2007-11-08.
- Enabling the Half-Life High Definition Pack for Steam (official)
- Half-Life High Definition Pack: Source for Half-Life: Source
- Half-Life Improvement Team Forums – A forum dedicated to improved Half-Life models.
- Ambient.Impact.Design – An example of popular PS2-version based models for the game.
- "Fixed" PHL High-Definition Pack for Steam – A Steam-compatible version of the fixed HDP from the Blue Shift 184.108.40.206 patch. Unlike the official Steam version, this HDP is fully compatible with Half-Life mods.