As long as I've been playing games I've wanted to make my own. Captivated by the possibilities of level editors, I started mapping in 1996 for Doom II. Not long after my gaming experience was changed by the release of Half-Life in 1998. This game got me hooked for the next couple of years and it should come as no surprise that as soon as I found Worldcraft, I was making my own Goldsource wolds. As we moved into the new millennium, online gaming started opening up to me and I found Sven Co-op in 2000 for which I made countless maps and content. I closed off 10 years of GoldSource development with the release of Land of Legends in 2009. Since 2008 I've picked up Source mapping and worked on maps for Resistance and Liberation, Overwatch and Fortress Forever. After that I worked on a discontinued MOD called "An Open Window\". After a long break of mapping, I got back into the game by creating the remake of HL:Uplink for Black Mesa: Source in late 2012.
Very well done MOD, both visually and gameplay wise! It's pretty unique to start off right in the vehicle and there is also a lot of open space to explore (compared to the original HL2 campaign). The creator really gives players enough freedom to engage problems in several ways or visit certain locations in different orders. Very non-linear, and thus good!
I expected it to be short, but I hoped it would at least last till the end of the story line. Now it feels more like a preview than an actual release. But surely a lot of work has gone into making these maps, so I don't blame the author for this. Let's hope there will be more chapters in the future!
Little design critism:
Some doors are boarded up and can be broken by crowbar and some can't. It's best to chose one way to handle this mechanic, not to confuse players if they are doing anything wrong.
Visually, this is game is a great achievement! Everything breaths 80's and 90's USSR style and it's full of small details. Map layouts are a bit straight-forward but still offer a realistic feeling. The engine can't hold up with today's tech, but gets close to Source, although performance and stability needs to be improved. This is really how far you can push this old cart.
And then gameplay. The AI is stale and offer no challenge even on Difficult. Some monsters just don't make any sense (huge spiders? 0_o) or where you have to crush a giant. He just redicilously runs around following you and when you finaly get to crush him under a pounder (which are there for what reason? It's not a factory..) he just disappears into small gibs. The game could have done without this 'boss fight'. Also, the infected soldiers (I guess that's what they are?) don't make any sense. The virus makes them brainless zombies, so why can they use weapons and tactics?
Also, finding certain objects is a pain in the @ss. There's a clever system indicating which items can be interacted with, but for some wierd reason certain vital items are not included in this system. And so you walk around for 15 minutes finding a certain piece of paper in a hall full of paper. Anyone found that keycard in under 10 minutes?
Story is also very thin with characters popping up all of a sudden. I press a button on a pc and suddenly a cutscene comes up and there's a surving scientist.. who's been there for 20 years? Who is she? What? Where? Then the start and end in the hospital seems like something 'borrowed' from a certain movie.
Clearly, there are some really talented people on this team. Visuals and audio are great! But the 'underground-lab-virus-outbreak-zombie-thing has been done a 100 times now. For Paranoia 3, have a sit-down and a drink and come up with something new, something fresh: story-wise and gameplay-wise. Take all you know about zombie-outbreak games and movies, then turn it around, shake it up and lets see what comes out.
As a small HL2 mod, this would be a passable piece. The level design is ok, monster placement is ok but it doesn't really excel at any level. It's also quite short. At this point I'd say 6/10.
But what drew me to the mod was the title. A mod where you have to be resourceful seemed really cool. In the sewers, suddenly a CP voice sounded. My expectation: CP's will patrol the area and I have to carefully sneak past them or trick them somehow. But: No CPs, I could just walk through the sewer.
Then in the prison. Armed with only a pistol and limited ammo, I encounter 3 heavy armored combine soldiers with shotguns. It's a completely unfair fight, so I imaged: now I have to be resourceful! I pile up the boxes and carefully block their views so I can sneak past and try to find an alternative route. But: no alternative route. I actually have to engage those soldiers to get past them.
Later I'm in a city. Up ahead I can see a combine outpost but it's far out. Where I'm currently at, there's a bunch of zombies which pose no immediate treat. Maybe here I have to finally be resourceful. Maybe the mapper wants me to use these zombies to distract the combine. So I lure the zombies up to the outpost waiting for the firefight. But: there's no-one there. I can just walk straight through the city and the combine outpost. There is some howling from fast zombies, but they also do not show up.
After that I just literally ran past every encounter and finished the map within minutes without firing a bullet.
I realize my review tone is quite harsh but none of my expectations were met giving the single goal of this MOD: being resourceful. Currently the maps are just empty shells of 'what could have been'. However, this can be remedied. If the maps get a visual update they are good enough to be used again. But this time: think outside of the box! Come up with at least 3 ways to beat the encounters in these maps and make sure the player has the opportunity to use those alternatives!
Truly a lot of work has been put into this game, content-wise and story-wise. The prologue itself is longer than most other MODs and the first Chapter is nearly a full-length game.
Where Underhell excels is the gameplay, mainly the combat. Either zombies or soldiers, enemies are to be reckoned with in their own unique way. Less impressed was I with the minigun-scene and CoD-like jeep chase, which was really over the top. The gameplay features nice breaks from battle with searching for supplies and solving puzzles. The puzzles however mostly come down to flipping a switch and finding keycards. Some more innovation would be good in this area.
One of the gems in Chapter 1 is the amount of NPC dialogue. There's a lot of conversation you can listen to which brings the setting and characters to life. Other games don't really dare letting NPC's speak more than the minimum required amount of lines. Downside: NPC's are heavily based on stereotypes which makes them predictable, 2-dimensional and sometimes a bit annoying. I'd love to see characters with more depth and personal backstory in Chapter 2. Also, sometimes the animation is a bit choppy.
The selling point of Underhell is certainly the House. In here the developers can freely experiment with weird gameplay and effects, which turns it into a very interesting part of the game for the people who want to dive further into the depths of the protagonists brain. If you're done with all the psychological stuff, you just jump back into the main story. There is always something to do for whatever type of player you are or what mood you are in.
As for design, the Prologue had some rough edges. Chapter 1 is visually more appealing. I replayed the Prologue hoping it had been visually updated, but alas. For future updates I'd recommend polishing the older areas a bit more.
Conclusion: Underhell is a great MOD that grabs you with it's story and gameplay and makes you eagerly await the next installment.
This MOD is just a hacked (and also a really bad) version of SvenCo-op 4.7.
SixCentGeorge copied all content made by various artists especially for Sven Co-op and called it his own MOD without any permission from the original authors, including myself. The SC developers have not given him any permission to use their files.
Assaultstrike needs to be shut down.
I was pretty impressed at the start. The mod jumps right into the action with snipers, combine, dropships, etc. No tedious learning curve, since MOD-players are experienced players. The good design puts monsters below you, under you and make them flank left and right.
After that the MOD sadly starts to decline. Before the zombie part you have to shoot the energy ball to unlock the door. There is no reason for that advanced security to be there and what makes it even more strange is that the gravity gun is on the floor right in front of it. Why not just make a regular door then? If you add gameplay elements, they need to be functional.
The placement of the zombies wasn't very good either. You just slice your way through them without any interesting fights. Also, the combine placement gets more predictable after a while. It's you versus 5 combine soldiers, then restock and do the same thing over again in a different place. There should be more variation. Let players use gameplay elements! I wanted to bring some of the surviving rebels along with me but you immediately block off all ways to do that. The same goes for the hopper mines. They can really influence the battles, but you made sure that bringing them along is a tedious job. Reward innovative players instead of punishing them for not following your predetermined paths.
Visually it's pretty well done but the design also becomes more blocky and repetitive after a while. It felt rushed to me. The ending is probably the best example: Pushing a button to blow up some device and then teleport to an unknown location. It's quite an anti-climax and it doesn't make sense. During the entire game I had no idea what my objective was.
More variation would make this MOD a lot better. Remove some of the combat phases and add puzzles, story elements and nice sequences instead. I experienced severe combat fatigue while playing this. Down-time to relax en enjoy the design is just as important as combat.
Triage is Half-Life meets Call of Duty. Backflashes containing story elements, but mostly shoot and press-on action. The large amount of NPCs and the crosshair aiming system makes it feel more like Call of Duty in gameplay than Half-Life. Also the movement system seemed to have changed, making me unable to strafe and move foward at the same time, much to my annoyance.
Where the MOD receives kudos is certainly the new AI. Enemies react faster and use cover, making firefights quite intense. Sadly the design doesn't rely on this updated intelligence. Instead, combine and rebels move in large packs, being chopped down as cannon fodder with the player somewhere in between. Less NPC's with better placement would make this a lot more interesting.
The current release feels like an early alpha. I was able to walk out of the map, jump into the skybox and I had to reload my game a few times because my actions somehow broke the scripts or just failed on their own. Often it wasn't really clear what I was supposed to do, and the voice-acting didn't help me much. Audio was low volume and there were no subtitles, so I didn't receive any hints. Having a huge message on my screen telling me where to go completely broke any feeling of immersion.
The visuals are below average. Buildings are just blocks and there is hardly any detail. You are mostly on ground level running through straight streets, which isn't what City 17 looks like, or any real city in eastern Europe for that fact.
Even with the low detail, the performance was choppy (even on my high-end gaming system). Source wasn't made to handle so much AI. While I appreciate what the MOD is trying to do (bring huge and intense fights) the current approach isn't working very well. COD can pull it off because of their high production values, but Triage can't. Rethink your design choices and look more at Half-Life than COD for inspiration, then this might actually become a good MOD.
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