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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!

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.

8

FakeFactory Cinematic Mod

Mod review

I feel as if Cinematic mod has garnered very vocal critics and quite a devoted group of fans. Both of whom have a very intense love it/hate mentality that initially made Cinematic Mod in general feel unapproachable, another thing that kept me away was the initially cumbersome installation that turned me away, not to mention the ungodly size of the files.

However, after finally caving in to downloading a torrent when I watched a playthrough on youtube, I wasn't necesarilly disapointed, and I found myself having fun playing through a new version of Half-Life 2 with general ease.

The new graphical effects can be tuned to ones liking, and the new level details really bring a new level of realism to the levels that I particuarly enjoyed, heck, I even liked the optional orchestra music that has drawn some ire from critics.

As a big fan of Half-Life, I understand some finding many of the options to be rather blasphemous regarding the skins and design choices in the game (some of which I happen to agree with, I didn't like the additional crude graffiti that had nothing to do with City-17 or the combine) and playing through some levels left a sour taste in my mouth after finding some routes changed for the worse rather then for the better.

For the most part, it is still Half-Life, just with plenty of changes that may be rather divisive. While I liked the attention to detail (Highway-17 featured some of my favorite changes, with old Latvian military bunkers dotting the countryside) there are some blemishes here and there regarding design and I can't help but feel turned off the the perverted skin-choices for Alyx (I do like how FakeFactory finally caved in and made a more lore-friendly Alyx in the end of his long run). In the end, this mod started as a personal pack and ended up as a 52Gigabyte mod file that pushed Source to it's limits, and it was something I was finally glad to play from start to finish.

Some may be turned away from the changes (many of whom are optional), but others may find another excuse to play Half-life once more like I did :)

8

R e b e l l i o n

Mod review

While it's a joyous romp with plenty of nice details and scripted events, it ends rather abruptly with a sequel planned but ultimately scrapped with no announcement or even another word from the devs :(

Not to mention the voice-work for some characters is heavily accented to the point it's hard to hear what they are saying, especially our two main leads. Which is a shame, because it's decent for the most part.

Give this a gander, once you apply the fix that is.

Go kick some rebel butt (For as long as that lasts, anyway :) )

8

Penetration

Mod review

While it ends rather abruptly with little payoff, Penetration is an excellent Half-life 2 mod from the early days, with splendid pacing, design and gameplay.

Give this a gander, you won't be sorry :)

8

Men of Valor: Vietnam

Game review

Playing this back in 2004 on the original XBOX was certainly a painful experience. I never finished it on that console due to the difficulty, but me and my brother did enjoy the online play.

However, blasting my way through the game on the PC recently reminded me how much I missed.

The game was an interesting take on the Vietnam setting, focusing on tactical combat rather then going in guns blazing against a vicious enemy. The graphics also looked top-notch for the time, on par with HL2 IMO.

While it may not have aged well, it's tough-as-nails gameplay, articulate level design and voice-acting made it stand out from generic shooters at the time.

Today, you should nab a copy. Just be prepared to get your butt kicked :)

8

Ladder

Mod review

While a little choppy, Ladder is a great gauntlet shoot-em-up with 30 waves to fight through with a highly destructible environment that keeps you on your toes as you fight heavier and more challenging (not to mention destructive) foes.

Not ground-breaking, but just apply an EP2 fix and you'll be sure to have a blast :)

8

NecrovisioN

Game review

Seeing the trailer for this game left me in an ecstatic state, the premise was just so surreal!

Granted, I've always wanted a realistic WW1 shooter, but Necrovision got a few things on my wishlist.

But, I have to admit, playing it for the first time in 2012 left me very disappointed. The game just wasn't optimized very well for ATI cards! Alongside a framerate that chugged, I was surprised by gameplay glitches and other snags, including a bug that prevented a bridge from extending, stopping me from crossing a dangerous railroad!

However, I couldn't deny the fun I was having with the game.

Dual wielding shovels, knives, grenades and other weapons with pistols was just ingenious, letting me take on enemies with whatever I damn well pleased alongside ww1 weapons that sounded powerful and gave me a surprisingly realistic kickback.

The enemies themselves were varied and the massive level design was dotted with secrets and little tidbits that rewarded keen explorers!

The story itself was very scatterbrained and many of the voice actors did a pathetic job in some areas, ruining some already silly dialogue. It also didn't help that upon entering level six, you loose a lot of dual wielding options :(

However, I have to give props to the VA behind the main character, Simon Bukner. His voice sounded genuine and his character development was very believable and likeable. Seeing a protagonist who went into a war for glory only to be horrified by what he sees before denouncing his choices and declaring all he cares about now is going home, was honestly very rare in FPS shooters at the time.

It also helped that Simon had some of the best dialogue in the game. There were even some poetic moments that I didn't think would ever occur in such a zany shooter.

NecroVisioN may not be for everyone, playing it a second time with a better rig and some helpful commands smoothed the FPS so be prepared before buying. Those looking for a satisfying shooter should be pleased. :)

8

SMOD:Realism

Mod review

There are glitches, such as certain ragdolls falling through the map upon death and the knife attack phases through the weapon you are holding, but for the most part, Smod: Realism lives up to it's name.

The fighting is tense and the AI is very pinpoint and brutal, not to mention the weapon limit made the initial Route Canal levels some of the most intense fighting I've had in a Smod release (Running around with a magnum and only a couple spare cylinders had me making haste like Chow Yun-fat).

While the attack damage and vision blur got on my nerves at tense moments and may put people off from playing for extended periods, the amount of work in Smod: Realism shows and shouldn't be disregarded.

I'll be sure to revisit this Smod Release with community maps very soon :)

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