Royal Rudius Entertainment’s Hunt Down The Freeman is a game set in the Half-Life universe. To be clear, this is not a mod of Half-Life; it is a game licensed and built on the Source engine. The title retails for $25 on Steam but is currently being offered at a 15 percent discount until March 2.
Hunt Down The Freeman (HDTF) launched on Steam about a week ago and has already generated 291 negative reviews out of a total 351. The game has raised the ire of Half-Life fans to unprecedented levels. Scrolling through the reviews and digging through the forums, it becomes clear very quickly why players are mad.
There are two specific complaints against the game. The first (and arguably most serious since it is a legal issue) is that Royal Rudius Entertainment has violated numerous copyrights. Accusations are flying that the developers used assets from several mods without permission.
Royal Rudius Entertainment flatly denies the allegations. A spokesperson told PC Gamer that all assets were either purchased by them or they otherwise had permission to use them. In one example, the spokesperson explained that the US soldier models were purchased from TurboSquid which allows the use of its assets in commercial projects.
Another accuser claims that a shot-up car in the game is identical to one found in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and that it is "proof" they had ripped off assets.
“It took me three minutes to find the car, and it was in one of L4D2's DLC files, of which we have permission to use,” said the spokesperson.
Others have accused the developers of stealing textures and models from Firearms: Source. Holymac, a representative of Firearms: Source responded, saying, “Our art team determined that upon a cursory look of the content released with the demo, and assets the HDTF team provided willingly, it appears no theft of intellectual property has taken place.”
There are also claims that assets were stolen from the Black Mesa development team. Black Mesa has not responded but so far it looks like Royal Rudius is in the clear legally. No legitimate claims of infringement have been confirmed.
That still leaves the other major complaint, which boils down to the game just being crappy and incomplete. Specific issues mentioned in reviews include crashing during load screens, missing textures, no cutscenes, losing weapons between zones and invisible enemies, just to name a few.
According to Project Director and Creator Berkan Denizyaran, the wrong version of the game was uploaded to Steam.
“We kind of failed on the file organization,” Denizyaran said. “The person who was supposed to release the final version, released an older version of the game. And right now we are basically collecting all the files, the final versions of everything, which is ... it's a pretty big game.”
They are currently scrambling to get the proper version of the game together for a re-launch on March 5 but fixing the bugs and technical issues may not be enough to save the title.
“It's not really something that bug fixes or visual improvements alone will change,” said PC Gamer’s Christopher Livingston, who had some hands-on time with the game. “The quality and consistency varies from one level to the next. Even on the small starter levels I became lost more than once, with no real indication of where I was meant to go. In short, what I played feels like an unfinished mod project with rudimentary level design.”
It sounds like file organization was not the only thing Royal Rudius failed at. There are plenty of mods with a higher level of quality than what Livingston describes but he is still reserving final judgment until the proper version of the game is released.