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Half-Life 2: Lost Coast is a technology demo showing off the Source engine's HDR rendering capabilities. The town of St. Olga, where the game is set, was originally slated to take place between the levels Highway 17 and Sandtraps, but was dropped. Lost Coast was released on October 27, 2005 as a free download to all owners of Half-Life 2.
The level begins with Gordon Freeman waking up, after having apparently fallen close to several decaying piers underneath the shadow of a large Byzantine-style church set up on a large outcrop of rock overlooking the coastal town of St. Olga (a loud splash can be heard shortly before Gordon awakes).
An unnamed man (referred to in the commentary as "The Fisherman") standing on a dock recognizes the player as Gordon, although he cannot accurately remember his name, and tells him that the Combine have made a base in the area. He lets Gordon through a gate and tells him to "take out that gun".
The gate leads to a winding path along the side of the outcrop the church is located. The player soon encounters resistance in the form of Overwatch Soldiers, some of whom rappel from the cliffs above. As he proceeds up the cliff, a launcher based in the church at the top begins bombarding the nearby town with headcrab shells. Upon reaching the top of the cliff, the player finds the church and its courtyard unguarded. The church itself is relatively undamaged except for the religious paintings on the walls, the faces of all but a few of the characters having been rubbed away.
On one wall of the structure, the Combine have constructed the shell launcher. At a regular interval shells are loaded into the chamber and launched at the town. When the player destroys the launcher by jamming the mechanism with debris, an alarm is triggered, prompting the Combine to launch a second attack on the church itself, with a Hunter-Chopper acting as air support. The player must fight their way out of the church and shoot down the Hunter-Chopper with an RPG. After completing the task, the player must ride an elevator back down to the docks to meet The Fisherman, at which point the level fades to black.
Aside from visual fidelity and HDR, Lost Coast also acted as a testbed for a commentary system where, when the option is enabled, additional items appear in-game that can be interacted with to play audio commentary, each piece ranging anywhere from ten seconds to a minute of commentary. Players will hear the developers talk about what they are seeing, what is happening, why the team chose to do what they did, what kind of challenges they faced, and so on. Commentary tracks are represented by floating speech bubbles known as commentary nodes. To listen to a commentary track, the player must place the crosshairs over it, and presses the
USE key. Doing the same again will stop the commentary track. Commands can be run when a commentary track starts and stops; in Lost Coast, this is used to completely disable the AI while the track plays. However, in Half-Life 2: Episode One, running a commentary track renders the player invulnerable to in-game damage for the time being rather than disabling the AI.
Valve has added the commentary system to all subsequent games.
Recommended system specifications
- Processor: Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or AMD 2800+
- Memory: 1 GB RAM.
- Graphics Card: DirectX 9 native
- 335 MB disk space (with Half-Life 2 installed)
Lost Coast is a 98 MB compressed download from Steam.
Despite some claims, Lost Coast can run on computers with specifications lower than those listed above, albeit without some of the key visual features, such as HDR. It should be noted that a computer with the bare minimum specifications to run Half-Life 2 will not be able to run Lost Coast.
Behind the scenes
- The subtitles file indicates that the game was intended to be longer, with The Fisherman staying with the player for a longer time and mentioning Bullsquids.
- The Fisherman does not have a physics model and, if killed, he will either crash the game or he will do a reference pose.
- The Hunter-Chopper that opposes the player towards the end of the demo behaves and even sounds like the Combine Gunship; it shoots down incoming rockets and its pulse gun is much more accurate.
- The Fisherman is the first Source character whose face was made from scratch without a real-life model.
- In the Source SDK Base, a flyby of this level can be launched as a video stress test.
- The shell launcher, despite its printed warning sign stating that its moving parts can crush objects, can be disabled with any available physics object small enough to pick up and fit into it. Oddly enough, it cannot be destroyed with a grenade or any other weapon.
- Half-Life 2: Lost Coast is currently the only game to not get updated to use Source Engine version 15. However, if the Steampipe Beta is activated, the Source Engine version 24.
- The game is included with the purchase of Half-Life 2.
Half-Life Wiki has more images related to Half-Life 2: Lost Coast.
- EuroGamer Half-Life 2: Lost Coast preview
- bit-tech.net Half Life 2: Lost Coast HDR overview
- bit-tech.net Half-Life 2: Lost Coast playtest
- bit-tech.net Half-Life 2: Lost Coast benchmark