There is a widespread belief among developers that ray tracing is the future of the gaming industry. Its use in some cases already gives spectacular results, and progress is still being made in this area. It is also a field for modders, thanks to the work of which support for real-time ray tracing was added to many older titles. The latest example is the legendary game Half-Life.
Thanks to the work of a certain modder, Half-Life has received support for ray tracing. The end result is impressive, and the performance of the game after applying the mods should be assessed positively.
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Valve’s production is already years old. The title was originally released in 1998 and since then it has seen, among others, a fan remake called Black Mesa. Of course, the original game cannot in any way compete in terms of graphics with newer productions. However, this did not discourage a modder nicknamed sultim-t, who has just published a modification that adds support for ray tracing (specifically its most advanced variety, i.e. path tracing) in this somewhat old title.
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All necessary files can be downloaded from GitHub. To run, you need the basic version of Half-Life, preferably purchased on Steam. Installing the mod is extremely simple. Just copy the downloaded files to the game folder and run the appropriate executable file. For owners of weaker GPUs from the RTX family, files that add DLSS support are also available. The modification also supports the AMD FSR 2.1 technique. This is the first public version of the mod, so it’s not without some minor issues. However, they do not significantly interfere with the gameplay. Players have at their disposal the ability to switch with a single key between standard lighting and generated using ray tracing. Fans of retro games will surely like the mode that allows you to turn on pixelated textures, reminiscent of the years before the spread of graphic accelerators.
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The effect of applying mods is really impressive, considering the age of the game and the fact that it is a fan project. The lighting quality is incomparably better than in the base version of the game, although the result achieved in Quake II RTX is somewhat lacking. The author did not specify the mod’s minimum hardware requirements, but as is usually the case with ray tracing, the better the RTX system, the better. During quick tests on the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super, I managed to achieve performance at a level around 45 FPS, without using DLSS and AMD FSR techniques. After enabling DLSS, the value increased to about 95 FPS, but keep in mind that I only checked the performance in the starting location. Therefore, these results do not necessarily translate into the results of the later part of the game.
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User sultim-t is also known for other mods that add ray tracing to older productions. He also prepared mods for Quake, Doom (1993) and Serious Sam. In each of these cases, you can count on an impressive end result, which gives these titles a new lease of life. For now, it is not known what game the modder will deal with in the future, but given his achievements so far, Half-Life will not be the last and we will soon see another graphical refresh.
Source: GitHub, PC Gamer