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9

Half-Life : Residual Life

Mod review

Playing this from the first release in 2002, it's amazing how many maps have been brought to life in the name of the Residual Series.

Having played through the latest build, I'm still awestruck by the level of detail while still retaining the class atmosphere and design of Half-Life.

There are some discrepancies, such as low-def and high definition models mixing and with multiple routes I have to say I got lost on a few occasions, but these are slight blemishes on a massive project.

Absolutely phenomenal work. I hope the author still has a few maps up his sleeve for future releases! :)

8

Nightwork at the factory

Mod review

After playing every SP Kingpin map pack and mod I could get my hands on, I have to Say Nightwork at the Factory is without a doubt the most ambitious and highly detailed of anything I have ever seen on this aging engine.

The story itself is rather lackluster with odd cutscenes sprinkled here and there, with laughably bad an nearly inaudible dialogue, but where NATF shines is the sheer attention to detail.

It's no wonder this took 10 years to bring to completion, as every level, right down to the cobblestone on the sidewalk, the cracks in the ceiling, the peeling plaster on the walls, everything is so articulate, I was floored by how this was accomplished on a such an old engine. I have barely seen HL and even HL2 mods with this level of detail!

That being said, the levels themselves can chug, even on modern settings, and it's a miracle these levels even run on the game at all.

But detail aside, how is the gameplay?

It's actually quite methodical and much slower then the Kingpin we know and love. Most of the tiem you are merely armed with a crowbar and a pistol, with a shotgun appearing midway and most heavy ordnance coming in at the end. Most initial encounters with enemies are best avoided with stealth and quick running and thinking instead of ham-handed bravado.

This may turn off fans of Kingpin, but what may turn off other palyers is the maze-like levels that require many keys to progress, or a keen and perceptive eye to navigate some dead-ends. Many times I would backtrack and retrace my steps, only to spot a vent or some obstacles I needed to jump over to reach a ledge. Due to the large vertical nature of some of the levels, looking up, around and observing nooks and crannies are your best bet to proceed forward, although I myself needed to follow a walkthrough for some of the harder sections.

These puzzles obviously hurt my enjoyment, but not enough to refrain from recommending this to others itching for more Kingpin. Due to the level of detail, this may as well be Kingpin 2, it certainly felt longer then the actual game it is built on.

Give this a try, it may be the last Kingpin SP project we may ever see, but if that is the case, this is one hell of a project to cap a legacy.

Give this a gander sometime, even if you give it a pass halfway through, the level design will sure as hell floor you :)

8

Half-Rats: A Fever Dream

Mod review - 1 agrees

It's like I just went back in time to 1999 :D

The level design, sound quality and texture work are so on the point it's astounding. If you told me this was released in 2000, I'd believe you without question. It's marvelous how much this has emulated They Hunger while still maintaining it's own creativity.

The writing for our main hero is fantastic and delicious, and the combat can be quite tense with only a 6-round magnum at my side.

Ammo can be very scarce so some combat scenarios are quite unforgiving for those who are bad shots or are not the most perceptive looters, not to mention the lack of more weapons can make dispatching the foul demons rather one-note beyond the Gatling guns and cannons in fixed positions.

The short length and a bug that prevented me from getting into the train-yard also deterred my enjoyment slightly, but I'm not going to let it hold back back my admiration for the overall product.

Half-Rats is a work of love with some kinks in the fender here and there, and is certainly not something any fan of half-life should miss, especially if they adored They Hunger.

I look forward to the sequel!

5

Clone Crisis

Mod review

Not a whole lot of sense was made during this short romp. Why a cloning facility is situated so close to a dead-end road in a busy city is beyond me.

Detail wise, the level design and set-pieces were very bare and passable at best, with enemy placement very close-quarters it was a short, albeit easy playthrough.

The best I can say about this rather mediocre level for F.E.A.R, is that it is one of the few made for the game.

8

Out Of Hell

Mod review

A mod I bought UT2004 just to play.

And I have to say, it was worth the purchase.

The atmosphere just oozes a sense of dread and foreboding that doesn't once lighten up until the very end. This is helped by a grimy asthetic, engrossing sound effects and some of the most depressing and anxiety inducing musical score I have heard in a game.

For an old game, the graphics look splendid and at times I stood in awe at the beauty of a once living world now falling part under a storm of autumn leaves and decay.

The combat is also nerve-racking, even with a full arsenal of shotguns with their own ammo pools, an SMG, grenades a sizable handgun, I felt nearly defenseless against the tide of undead and demons that lurked behind every corner.

That being said, finding ammo can be hard and unfair at times, especially when some crates yield no ammo at times when you are in desperate need of a refill. The level geometry can also snag around your ankles and traversing some of the more prop-heavy levels can be annoying to traverse at times.

One of my greatest complaints, however, is the instability of it all. Even on my beefy system it can chug heavily and at times, level changes will crash! I could never get past the first level without bypassing it with a level skip code (to the next level of course) and the lack of any real manual saving is infuriating on the harder levels.

All and all, Out of Hell was a great surprise and a pleasant way to get in the Halloween spirit, there are just a few large kinks that keep it shy from perfection and it is a blast if you can navigate the bugs and crashing with a calm head.

10

Transmissions - Element 120

Mod review

Quality that even Valve would bow down to.

The game-play, design, flow, detail, everything was unbelievable. This was perhaps my most enjoyable modding, if not my favorite and most unique gaming experience all year!

Simply stunning work!

5

Hopeless Night

Mod review - 1 agrees

I can see a lot of effort went into the level design, as the detail levels are quite eye-catching, and darting around hordes of zombies with little ammo is quite pulse pounding.

I just feel it relies too much on cliche, and it can be quite frustrating at times when you are forced to melee zombies with an infective pipe, as they do incredible damage in a short time.

Direction was also pretty crap, the constant key hunting and the jarring cutscenes sucked me out of the tension and gameplay very often.

Not to mention the ending comes out of nowhere, with characters that were never mentioned beforehand suddenly being the only reason for the main characters drive through the apocalypse.

It's well made, and I might play it again for sightseeing, it is just flawed :/

5

pagoda

Mod review - 1 agrees

Great mapping and excellent use of textures aside, the gameplay is WAY to difficult with little resources, an over-abundance of enemies and way too many cheap death-traps to ensnare even the most perceptive players.

It's not entirely unplayable, however. But the only people I can really recommend this game to are masochists and those looking for one hell of a challenge.

I hope the mapper doesn't take this the wrong way, as he has a keen eye for details. I just hope his next map or mod takes it easy on the enemy placement, and leaves a little more resources for the player to use :)

9

Station 51

Mod review

Excellent layout and splendid attention to detail, Station 51 is a nice, short romp through familiar locals with a nice touch of decay and secrets to find.

The combat is quite tight and the enemy placement is sensible. While it ended too quickly for me, I believe the pacing made it more worthwhile, and seeing your objective from afar in the last level is something not a lot of HL2 mods do :)

Give this mod a gander, it's a blast!

7

BENEATH

Mod review

For what it's worth, the level itself is detailed and the combat is tight and close, so those looking for a challenge should be in for a treat.

It's over before you know it and the voice acting could have been better, but it's still got some charm. I just wish the author continued with a decent follow-up.

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