With all the comparisons to Half-Life, I'm surprised you didn't point out how similar the two games' dam levels are. You start off by destroying a helicopter, it's got that little outbuilding on a tower, and you even showed Blade diving into the water and encountering a pair of water monsters.
Also, are all the issues you had with this game present in the current digital version, or do you insist on only using your original vintage copy when you have one?
I'm impressed that the draw distance of the props actually is adjustable. I know for a fact that in Source games, it's something you hard-code into the map file. Maybe there's an obscure console command to disable fading entirely, but I'm not aware of it.