[page=Capturing as an Art]
HL2:CTF stays true to the Half-Life universe
The flag slowly blows in the breeze, rippling and unfurling like a sun tinted sea after a bitter hurricane, glowing in the afternoon sun before you. The court yard is empty, the sounds of the battle dying away like echoes of a forgotten past here, leaving you and the flag in a timeless embrace. Your hand tightens around the pole, the metal cool to the touch...
And the alarms scream, klaxons blaring their warning out as lights flash like an epileptics nightmare, obscuring your view as you dash for the exit. Gunfire follows you through the corridors, tearing your health away like marbles scattering out of your back pocket. You duck and weave, dodging and jumping over everything that seems to leap into your path, desperate to reach the capture point before it is too late...
Half-Life 2: Capture the Flag is about all this and more. It is about running like hell when gunfire explodes around you, it is about defending your team mates in an epic struggle for points, and it is about making wild plays in an attempt to get a seemingly pointless object from point A to point B without having your ass blown to pieces in the process.
To put it bluntly, Half-Life 2: Capture the Flag is the best multiplayer Half-Life 2 experience you are going to run across. Period.
It was a really great opportunity for me to play test this 1.6 version of HL2:CTF. I caught the Admin Watch just late last night actually when hammy-bob asked me if I was "going to play test." I was a little confused, especially since I haven’t really navigated much through aW in my time spent at Mod DB (sad I know). But there it was a nice little message from the team behind HL2CTF. I quickly commented my interest and actually joined their IRC channel today, gathering all the information I needed to receive these play test files. One of their private testers, Josh “Studderoxorzs” Perry guided me through the process of downloading the mod to my computer using Vapour Online, a program which I just discovered recently, allowing the distribution of modifications (basically like steam). So everything worked out smoothly, and soon the other four Mod DB testers, Koroshiya_Ichi, Hammy-Bob, and JoeX111 were able to download it. Just moments after I found myself attempting to capture the flag.
As soon as I joined the server running CTF_Dirtworks, I knew I was going to have a blast. Sure, Capture the Flag is available in just about every game from Doom 3 to Metal Gear Solid by now, but there is something tangible and meaty about Half-Life 2: Capture the Flag that just places it at a higher level than all those others, pulsating and vibrating with a warmth and vigor that so few multiplayer games truly seem to accomplish.
For starters, Half-Life 2: Capture the Flag is the most frantic and fast paced multiplayer experience you are going to run across for Source. Whether it comes from the new weapons, the enclosed spaces in the maps, or just the crazed rush that you experience when trying desperately to return to your base under heavy enemy fire, Half-Life 2: Capture the Flag simply makes it fast and fun. For a game series most noted for its vaguely slower pacing, that is saying a lot.
Half-Life 2: Capture the Flag has come a long way since its humble beginnings when Half-Life 2: Deathmatch crawled out of the primordial ooze. What was once a series of nothing maps consisting of little more than dirt and walls have become living, breathing environments from the Half-Life 2 universe, from unseen before sections of Ravenholm to half destroyed city sections emptying out into the great pit the central Citadel sits within. Each of these maps are complimentary to the game world they are set in, and more importantly, are a lot of fun to play in. While I experienced some initial difficulty in figuring out where the nuts I needed to go, most of this fell by the wayside as soon as I got the layout in my head and let the hardcore fragging, kill or be killed, flag stealing match ups begin.
Koro wrote: i was pretty impressed, the level design specifically stood out for me. It was like, it was pretty straght forward in terms of allowing for fluent teamwork and general navigation, but there was also something pretty unique about it, and really felt as if the levels sort of like, encourage the players to try new things (like with the gauss-jumping I seem to remember Chop enjoying)
Especially worthy of note are the new weapons implemented into this latest build of Half-Life 2: Capture the Flag, including Alyx Vance's gun (which does a wicked little transformation into a machine gun so nifty that it better be included in Half-Life 2: Aftermath), the OICW, the Tau \ Gauss Laser, and the Combine Sniper Rifle. Each of these create interesting new combat mechanics, as the OICW works as a good inbetween weapon between the Pulse Rifle and the standard Machine Gun, while the Gauss Laser packs a punch and allows players to launch themselves around the levels into neat little sniping positions. The sniper rifle as well was great leaving a "rippling" trace right after.
Domination is also a gameplay included as well. The goal of domination is to get hold of the flag and keep it for as long as you can until the round ends. All of us testers played the map dom_rust, which turned into an extrodinary fragfest, which we here love!
Runes were an entirely new experience for me playing this latest version, since I've been a little in the dark about Half-Life 2: Capture the Flag since its earliest version. For those who don't know, runes act as special power ups that any player can grab ahold of, giving them advantages over the other players in several different ways. My personal favorite is the Cloak, which allows you to move around the maps like a slightly more visible version of The Hidden, making you a much harder target to nail---until, well, you pick up the flag! Also worthy of note are Shields add ons and Runes for regenerating your health, which is never a bad thing in a frenetic gaming experience like this.
I had lots of fun with their modified version of SourceTV. I actually spent quite some time with it and took tons of screenshots in it. SourceTV allows many players to watch a game match, mainly used for touraments and such. It's great, the server i was on supported 128 players in SourceTV. I believe the camera focuses on the most group action. It's also great cause you can see who you are watching. Whether or not the SourceTV servers will be setup like this by default, but it was really neat that the SourceTV broadcast was actually delayed a bit. As I joined the STV server i found that i was watching myself play 5 minutes previously!
But the thing you wont notice when you play this, unless you really really look, are the little details that have been implemented all over, making this one of the smoothest and most exciting mode releases I've seen in some time. Dozens of tweaks, fixes, and little changes have been made all over this mod, providing an experience that is almost entirely without bugs. It's always really great to see how many points the player gains after each kill, flag capturing, or defense! What few problems we encountered during our playtest sessions a few days ago are all on record and being worked out as we speak, meaning there is almost nothing to worry about in playing this mod, except having your ass handed to you by a bunch of map pros like the Half-Life 2: Capture the Flag devs!
And while this may sound like little more than a fluff promotional piece, which I honestly felt is what it would turn into when the offer to Preview the game rolled around, I can safely say that all of this praise is deserved. While there are lots of mods and games out there that already have capture the flag in place, this one just nails it out of the park. I know one thing though. HL2:CTF is just the beginning of great mods, and at this point we can only expect to see good over bad. Be sure to download it this tuesday!