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MINERVA

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MINERVA is an episodic single player modification for Half-Life 2, and is a follow-up to the author's previous mod for Half-Life called Someplace Else.

OverviewEdit

In Minerva, the player character is an anonymous person (who is hinted to be a renegade Overwatch Soldier in the in-game messages) who has either acquired or been provided with a stolen HEV suit. Guided by the mysterious MINERVA, the player character is deployed on a tiny island occupied by the Combine - an island which hosts a huge facility - with the goal of infiltrating it and discovering its purpose.

The CharacterEdit

The story follows an apparent traitor to the Combine (this is revealed to the player via messages) under the guidance of a SHODAN-esque entity known only as "MINERVA". MINERVA mainly serves as the player's guide, helping them through their objectives with additional guidance and direction, though sometimes she is exploring with the player, not knowing what is around the next corner.

However, if the player is in fact an Overwatch Soldier, his cranial implants would need to have been disabled, as it is explicitly stated that Combine Soldiers are implanted with a mind controlling device prior to deployment as a safeguard against sympathy with the Resistance or becoming rogues, further evidenced by their suicidal actions in the Citadel instead of escaping in an attempt to save their own lives as a rational person would do. Therefore, the player cannot be a Combine Soldier. In fact, the player is repeatedly called a traitor to both the combine and humanity by MINERVA. If the player was a citizen-turned-combine to their own free will but was somehow subverted by MINERVA, this would be true, but knowing how Soldiers are created, it is extremely unlikely that anyone would willingly become one. This leaves the common method-being forcefully captured by the combine and converted into a soldier or stalker, in which case the player would not be a traitor to Humanity, not having been turned of their own free will. Also, MINERVA could simply be toying with the player. However, this is unlikely as well, as comments made by MINERVA suggest the player was actually a Rebel at one time ("While your dear human rebel friends certainly have a cause, their means of fighting for it leaves much to be desired. Dulce et decorum est pro terra mori? Yeah, right. But you renounced all that regardless, didn't you?"), and she has been shown to have sympathy for humans and Rebels, especially those who have suffered at the hands of the Combine ("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."). A third theory states that the player was a human who was once a member of the resistance. However, for reasons unknown, they betrayed the resistance and became a spy for the combine. However, this theory could be considered unlikely by some, seeing as the player is stated explicitly to be a Combine soldier(you're just a dumb, processed grunt with his Larynx torn out.). Therefore, the identity of the player is left to the player himself to decipher.

The character is known by fans as Perseus, due to that being the only thing MINERVA calls him during the course of the entire game. ("I am your Athena and you are my bastard Perseus.")

MINERVAEdit

MINERVA serves as the player's guide and mentor, exploring through them as the character explores the mysterious island they are deposited on. She is highly reminiscent of SHODAN of System Shock 2, and makes frequent references to Greek Mythology, as well as stating the character is little more than a lab experiment or test subject, and that their sole purpose is to discover the island's true purpose. However, she is not entirely detached, and later shows at least some compassion towards the character.

Some backstory to MINERVA can be found on its official site in a series of messages.

Message OneEdit

MINERVA's apparent first appearance, a console in Black Mesa

"$ofut&re nokpa)t no pres}nt no li2e no deaH# no wSrldddddddddd"

"*Ometimes it can be hard to reAlise thf tru7h. When so much information hA(@Been hidden, destroyed, or otherwise made unavailable; when so much of what you see and hear is disinformation, distortions of the truth - it can bE{Jasy to get lost in the void. I was once in a simil3r situati?N|gbut after considering one of the few remaining options, I learned how to escape, how to view thin's from afar, from outside the plane the player is stuck in. IT:K/Not impossible to leave the mundane surroundings in which you find yourself, it%^ust requires a little lat#ral thinking. IF the player follows others, the player might get there sooner or later, b(T remember - for7iveness of enemies c_Wb%nly come upon their repentance."

"A friend of a f=iend."

NotesEdit
Minerva-Metastasis suit reboot

The Suit reboot sequence.

"$ofut&re nokpa)t no pres}nt no li2e no deaH# no wSrldddddddddd" is also seen during the fourth chapter of Metastasis, during the suit reboot sequence.

Message TwoEdit

MINERVA, again, speaking to someone, via recorded message, somehow;

"Is this thing on?"

"I believe I've correctly interfaced myself with this god-forsaken network; it seems to have grown a little since I last saw it. Still nothing like what I've come to appreciate (now THAT would be telling!) but it should still be sufficient for at least basic communication."

"So."

"Who am I, what am I, where am I, why am I?"

"Questions. I like questions. They give me something concrete to ignore, to skirt round, to carefully tease apart and weave back into something completely against their original intent."

"I used to answer questions - questions which nobody had asked, usually. It's often said that the most important process in science is in asking the right questions. Still, I also came up with answers - answers which weren't exactly welcome. Stolen, plagiarised and cited throughout a tiny circle of friends, yes, but the warnings heeded? You must be bloody joking. There I was, a proper little Cassandra crying out for attention with simulations which PROVED the imminent downfall of all we held dear, and it all became an interesting little trinket, a toy which could be investigated some irrelevant afternoon..."

"But that's enough on that. Your current predicament is more interesting. I'm still at a loss to explain who YOU are, but I'll persist nevertheless. On the outside, seeing in? I've done that. A pretty little box of lights, a window on to a whole separate world. I suppose that's one way of describing me - but I'd rather you didn't."

"Instead, consider me as your future saviour, your salvation and your only hope. A messiah complex? Hardly - I'm FAR more powerful than that!"

"Yours,"

"Minerva."

The IslandEdit

Minerva-Metastasis Island01

From World War II remaining Buildings in addition to Combine structures.

Identified as being somewhere in the Baltic Sea, this small island is a puzzling thing. It appears to have housed bunkers in World War II, but was otherwise unremarkable until the Combine occupied it. Adam Foster's use of vertical instead of horizontal design means the surface is a relatively small area, and the majority of the maps are underground, far, far below the surface of the island. Like an iceberg, a relatively small and easily dismissed surface is actually the sign of a much larger subterranean presence, complete with Razor Train tracks, Headcrab Shell packing facilities, containment pods, and countless Combine Soldiers.

The GameEdit

There are currently four chapters to MINERVA: Metastasis;

MetastasisEdit

Chapter 1 - CarcinogenesisEdit

Minerva-Metastasis chapter1

Dropoff Spot in the beginning of chapter 1.

"The true method of knowledge is experiment. So, strapped to the underside of a stolen Combine helicopter, you're part of my latest scientific investigation. Objective: To infiltrate and observe this peculiar little island a few miles off shore, its heart burrowed out by our ever-loving benefactors..."

Carcinogenesis, or "Metastasis 1" begins being deposited at the shore of the island by a Hunter-Chopper. Under attack almost from the outset, the player must navigate their way around the island, aided only by the mysterious Minerva. The most obvious feature, almost entirely unmissable, is a massive shielded stream of super-heated plasma, corralled down from orbit via a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. A tour of the island ensues, 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, apparently stranding them. From there, the only option is to head further into the facility.

Chapter 2 - Downhill StruggleEdit

"Experiment shall continue; further data sought. Upon completion, peer review followed by publishing; discoveries communicated to a greater audience. Infiltrate. Observe. Reveal. Destroy."

Minerva-Metastasis chapter2

Headcrab Shells being filled with Headcrabs.

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;

"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."

As the player progresses through the island, heading towards its core and following the plasma stream, discovering that, despite the facility's size, it still would not require the immense power supply the stream of plasma provides - something bigger must be going 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 aforementioned parasites. MINERVA is still sure that this operation is not all that it seems, and so the player must delve deeper still into the facility to uncover its true purpose.

Chapter 3 - Depth ChargeEdit

"A warning - anything that is dropped will be removed. The system's transient power requirements are quite astounding."

Digging deeper, past the headcrab facilities, the player must descend, and passes through a security field, unsurprisingly losing all of their weaponry in the process. Unarmed, they must evade Overwatch Soldiers and Stalkers until they find suitable weaponry. MINERVA compares the energy readings to those of a Citadel, though she notes there is some crucial, subtle differences between the two.

Minerva-Metastasis Portal

Combine Dropship coming out of the portal.

As the player continues, they discover the true purpose of the stream of plasma - a massive portal, apparently linking Earth to one of the Combine's subjugated worlds, opens locking the player in the chamber. The other side shows a desert-like world stretching to the horizon, scattered with rocks and metallic debris. Antlions can be seen running across the sandy surface. Two dropships approach and fly through the portal as MINERVA urges the player to shut down the portal "...AS SOON AS INHUMANLY POSSIBLE."

MINERVA further describes the world beyond thusly; "The world beyond that portal is not part of that sickly, euphemistic Universal Union - instead it conceals abandoned, eschatological secrets far beyond even my reckoning."

The player succeeds in disabling the portal, then finally arms themselves, preparing for the battle ahead. They return to a central room they passed through before, and MINERVA explains the purpose of four hatches around the perimeter - 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.

Once all four buffers are destroyed, MINERVA states that the player is collateral damage. Friendly fire. She instructs the satellite to surge, blasting the facility (apparently) to smithereens. The player then has twenty seconds - not that it matters, as they are frozen in place - to watch as the facility begins to break down. Their vision fades to white.

"... I have a confession to make."

"All this time, I have been allowing you to dig your own grave."

"That mysterious pulse of power I described? In a few moments I shall instruct the satellite to blow this hateful place, and you, to ashes."

"Collateral damage. Friendly fire. Allusions for a modern age."

"You were a traitor to our species, but also a traitor to the Combine - so just hope you've redeemed yourself in the eyes of whomever, or whatever, you may still hold dear."

"Twenty seconds."

"I'm truly sorry..."

Chapter 4 - PegasusEdit

Minerva-Metastasis Scr 00

Remaining Combine Soldiers fighting against Zombines.

Minerva-Metastasis last resort

Hunter-Chopper waiting at the shore to pickup the player.

Minerva-Metastasis Scr 01

The second blast hitting the island just after the chopper took off.

"I suppose you've just encountered a goddess on one of her off days. I'm charging the satellite up for another pulse; if you make your way to the surface before then, I may just send out a rescue party."

"Perhaps..."

Apparently, despite severe injury, the player survives and the HEV suit is intact, though the player has nothing to hand, save a crowbar. After their HEV suit is done rebooting, the character hauls themselves to their feet. MINERVA is somewhat shocked that he survived the initial blast, and states she is charging the satellite for a second pulse. Should the player reach the surface in time, they may just survive. The player must double back, traveling upwards through the now devastated facility - which is literally falling down around their ears - to reach the surface. The player encounters "Zombine" - Combine Soldiers afflicted by Headcrabs - as they fight their way to the surface, as well as fighting numerous Combine soldiers and Fast Zombies, as well as various types of Headcrabs.

"Please don't take it as some residual aspect of my own purported humanity, but I've grown quite attached to you. I'm holding off that final, cauterizing blast from the power downlink - but I have no idea how long this humane gesture can last."

"Continue to the surface. Every moment longer that you survive is a further insult to your former Combine masters."

MINERVA also assists 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 surfaces, the Combine appear to be fighting off the Headcrabs and zombies, apparently still fighting in an effort to reclaim the island. MINERVA also states that there has been a change of plans. Unable to prevent a dispatch order, there is now a Gunship headed straight for the island. Obviously, this is somewhat undesirable - the escape route would be easy pickings. The player must acquire a missile launcher and shoot down the Gunship, all the while under attack from hordes of zombies. Several crates supply additional missiles necessary to down the Gunship. Once it has been destroyed, the player can head for the designated pickup point, where they are retrieved by a Hunter-Chopper.

"You're a tough little bastard, I can tell you that. Return to that sea arch, and prepare for escape!"

"The power downlink satellite's fangs are now dripping with metaphorical venom. Please don't be on this island when it bites."

The chopper ascends and loops around the island before flying off into the distance as the final, cauterizing blast fires - presumably annihilating the island, and wiping it off the map for good. The screen fades to black as the credits roll.

Out of TimeEdit

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.[1][2] However, it has been over three years since the announcement of the sequel, and there is still no news on its development. Adam Foster is currently working with Valve, and though he stated he will work the sequel in his spare time, no information regarding the mod's progress has been reported.

"Objective: comparative, social, literal and metaphorical archaeology, to precisely determine and decipher the reasons for, causes behind, and perpetrators responsible for the downfall of a particular monster entitled City 44..."[3]

GalleryEdit

ScreenshotsEdit

Videos Edit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Review on Mod DB
  2. Infuriating the Public for Fun and ... More Fun on the MINERVA blog
  3. Out of Time on the MINERVA website

External links Edit

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