Scraping The Barrel – Half-Life 2: Lost Coast

Scraping the Barrel is a series in which I sort my Steam games by recently played, scroll aaaalll the way down to the bottom and fire up the game that has gone the longest without being played. Why is it at the bottom? Does it deserve to be ignored? At the end, we’ll wrap things up nice and tidy with a “Will I continue to play this?” rating system, and then we’ll be on our way!

Let’s see what’s at the bottom of the barrel! This time, it’s Half-Life 2: Lost Coast.

How fitting that Scraping the Barrel begins with Half-Life 2: Lost Coast. According to a report done by Ars Technica it is the single most unplayed Steam game sitting in players’ libraries. A whopping 10.7 million players have it gathering digital dust on their library shelves. Valve gave it out as a free tech demo when someone downloaded Steam in an attempt to drive them to purchase the actual Half-Life games.

As far as tech demos go, it does its job. It is, after all, Half-Life. You get instant access to all the lovely guns of the series, including the always entertaining Gravity Gun. You scamper along ledges, hop along precarious paths in an attempt to shutdown an artillery gun that is shelling a nearby town. None of this is explained really. Sure there’s a fisherman who tells you what you are here to do, but once he putters off presumably to play shuffleboard with a bunch of head crabs, you are on your own to find your way to the gun and figure out how to disable it. Valve have always been good about self-guiding environments, ones in which the architecture or scenery guides you naturally toward your objective.

Is it fun? Insert the most noncommittal noise you can imagine here. It’s Half-Life, so the shooting is great (seriously, I think Half-Life has my favorite guns of any FPS ever), the physics are awesome even if when you are platforming you feel like your one foot has to, HAS TO, be somehow floating off that tiny girder yet you still haven’t fallen. But it feels soooo much like a tech demo that to call it a game feels like a disservice to all the other games that have gone before it. Here’s where we show off the water, here’s where we show off the gunplay, here’s where we show off the physics based puzzle solving. Lost Coast had its checklist of things it was going to show you, and by golly it’s going to check those boxes!

Why was it at the bottom of my last played list? Because it was given to me when I first downloaded Steam. Same as you. You can’t judge me! Who are you to judge me???

Will I play Lost Coast again? Absolutely not. One and done. There’s no reason. It is Half-Life Lite, and why on Earth would I ever play that when I could simply play Half-Life? But it does deserve that one play through I think that so many people are denying it. And that’s what Scraping the Barrel is all about, drawing attention (and perhaps scorn) to those forgotten games of yesteryear. And also to stave off that buyer’s remorse I get whenever I look at my Steam library.

1 out of 2 Half-Lives.

Tom Henrich

Tom finds solace in cardboard and computers. He smashes words together, sometimes coherently. You can find him smashing words on Lizard Lounge and 2 To 4 Players.

2 thoughts on “Scraping The Barrel – Half-Life 2: Lost Coast

  1. I remember playing this. I might have been a little boozed at the time though. Once concluded it prompted me to send an email to Valve expressing my thoughts. I did so and got an almost immediate response from Gaben himself – he too thought I had an exotic name. It was most assuredly a tech demo. One playthrough was all it needed.

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