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Video Game / MINERVA: Metastasis

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MINERVA: Metastasis is a Game Mod for Half-Life 2: Episode One, created by Promoted Fanboy Adam Foster. Its intriguing level design, taking cues from the Silent Cartographer map from Halo: Combat Evolved, along with mysterious backstory and overall quality caught the attention of Valve, who decided to hire him.

MINERVA takes place within the Half-Life universe. You play as...well, it's not really very clear. Hints and clues picked up throughout seem to have the Player Character as a former Combine Overwatch soldier outfitted with a Black Mesa HEV suit. You're infiltrating a small island base the Combine have taken over, and the mysterious secrets held within. You're doing this apparently at the behest of the enigmatic title character, who is never seen. Instead, she/it plays the role of a Voice with an Internet Connection, intermittently sending you messages throughout the mission. As to her/its identity, that's equally mysterious, although she/it seems to have something of a mythological bent.

Also of note is that this isn't Foster's first mapping experiment. Someplace Else, a mod for Half-Life, appears to be set in the same universe and seems to be a prequel of sorts.

The second episode, MINERVA: Out of Time is missing in action, and the author, now working at Valve, doesn't appear to have plans to finish it any time soon.

The mod's Web site is here. It's also on Steam.

MINERVA: Metastasis provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ambiguously Human: Minerva fancies herself as an all-seeing entity that separates herself from humanity. Though later, she has shown moments of vulnerability, it's hard to tell what exactly is she.
  • Collapsing Lair: Once Minerva fires her energy cannon, the Combine base... loses its pristine condition.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Your Mission Control will have some rude word for you if you linger too long. It's justified in chapter 4: the game keeps spawning Fast Zombies behind you, so not getting forward is a bad idea.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the canon Half-Life games. All of the comical elements are missing, and the only friendly character is a Jerkass.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: At the beginning, MINERVA is a cold, uncaring Jerkass. As the story progresses, she become more emotional, and grows a soft spot towards the Player Character. She even lampshades it a little, loathing to admit she's grown fond of the player character.
  • Developer's Foresight: If you try to take a dip in leech-infested water at the start of level 1, Minerva will angrily berate you for being Too Dumb to Live. If you do that again in the final level, her message will change to acknowledge how much she invested into your survival.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Combine facilities. Most of the game takes place in it.
  • Eldritch Location: The alien world which the protagonist gets a glimpse of from the portal. The sight leaves Minerva utterly horrified, stating that it conceals "abandoned, eschatological secrets far beyond even my reckoning".
  • Elevator Escape: In chapter 3, you are stripped of your weapons, and have to run from the pursuing Combine. You have to get into an elevator to get them off your trail.
  • Escape Sequence: At the start of chapter 3, your weapons are lost to a Suppression Field, and you have to make your way to the bottom of the facility while the Combine soldiers chase you.
    • Also, the goal of Chapter 4 is to escape the base and the island.
  • Eternal Engine: Whatever's down there that requires an enormous amount of energy beamed from outer space...
  • Everyone Has Standards: Minerva is an Insufferable Genius who treats the protagonist with little respect, but her distaste for the Combine and their practises seems genuine.
  • Expy: Minerva seems to be inspired by SHODAN, an arrogant, all-powerful entity that's using an avatar to do the dirty work, only to betray them once they outlive their usefulness. However, Minerva eventually comes around and returns the player's loyalty, something SHODAN never did.
  • Heroic Mime: Justified, the protagonist's larynx is removed, as he was a Combine goon, prior to the start of the game. Minerva herself notes this on occasion.
  • Hold the Line: Subverted. You have to set up some turrets to stop the incoming horde of enemies... but if you keep fighting them, they will never run out. You have to solve a puzzle AWAY from the turrets to progress.
  • Insert Grenade Here: A variation. Instead of armored vehicles, you disable Combine generators this way.
  • Island Base: The Combine facility is on (and under) a little island.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: Played with. Sure, the last chapter is about climbing a vast vertical structure... after you spent the previous three chapter descending into it. Also, the entire "tower" is underground.
  • Mook–Face Turn: While the Face part is a bit blurry, the protagonist used to be a Combine soldier before Minerva converted him. The same goes for the chopper pilot who flies him in and out of the island.
  • No Name Given: The player character. The closest thing to a name we are given is when Minerva claims "I am Athena and you are my bastard Perseus".
  • Portal Network: Well, a single gigantic portal, leading to a world with "escatological secrets."
    • Precursors: Apparently what lay on the other side of the portal - Minerva makes references to some sort of organization, of which the Combine seek, especially in the post-script.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The Player Character is a hapless Combine soldier who is put into a HEV suit and sent to the island to sabotage the Combine's great plan... mostly by pushing buttons and pulling plugs out.
    • Also literally: to solve one puzzle, you have to drop a spanner into a Combine generator's opening.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Minerva loves to wax philosophical and curse like a sailor, sometimes both in a sentence.
    "From manufactured war criminals to saviours of the universe - quite a progression for discarded pieces of shit."
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: The title character.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The power link is used as this once the safeguards are removed, trashing the facility. It has to be repeated after the player character got out, as the first strike didn't wipe it out.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After the protagonist takes out the reactor core, Minerva double-crosses him and tries to blow him up with a satellite strike. She quickly changes her mind, however, once she realizes that he survived the strike.