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10

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Chernobyl

Mod review

About the most fun I've ever had with STALKER.

10

Fallout 1.5: Resurrection

Mod review

One of the slickest, most professionally made mods I've had the pleasure of playing. It's one of those rare mods where you can almost forget you're playing a fan-created work, so seamlessly does it hit all the checkboxes for a studio created game. It's right up there with Black Mesa in that regard.

For Fallout fans wishing for another classic, this is your dream come true. Get it and play it - you won't be disappointed.

10

The Dark Mod

Mod review

A nigh-unto flawless adaptation of an aging game, which continually rewards long time fans with more and more missions. It deserves your download and adoration.

8

Chernobyl Chronicles

Mod review may contain spoilers - 1 agree

A pretty great mod with a strong, interesting storyline. The translation is a little rough in places, and there are some logical inconsistencies throughout, including;

for the mission against the merc encampment, Navigator says it'll be a few trainees with you, but instead it's a bunch of exo-suit wearing leviathans armed with heavy machine guns.

one quest tells you to look for a stash on the eastern side of town when it's in fact in the west

There's a few instances where dialogue seems to be missing; for instance, a character at one point vanishes. Your character then tells another character that they parted with some "strange advice." But this never happens - the aforementioned character simply vanished without saying much.

Aside from those quibbles, this was a really good effort. Nice job!

9

Arctic Incident

Mod review

A very enjoyable winterized romp through some classic Half-Life set pieces. It won't hold you for overlong, and it won't overburden you with a clumsy narrative, and it WILL make you shiver for all the arctic style oozing out of it. A solid experience overall.

6

Wilson Chronicles

Mod review - 1 agree - 1 disagree

A fairly decent experience that recalls a lot of the pulse-pounding adrenaline of the original Half-Life. The maps look beautiful, albeit terribly designed from a gameplay perspective (unless I'm just an idiot, you'll spend a lot of time hunting around for doors that'll work. Expect to press "E" a lot.)

Story is thin as thin gets. You are man. You work at Black Mesa. You get HEV suit. You get gun. You shoot soldiers and aliens. Rinse, repeat. Dialogue is clumsily recycled from HL2 in a way that would have been excusable during the early days of modding for this game, but now just comes across as lazy and incompetent.

The penultimate map (a clerverly redesigned version of the Hazard Course from the original HL) fails to link up properly with the last map, which itself is a tonally inappropriate gun battle against hordes of soldiers. It's a masterstroke in losing player confidence, and I was rolling my eyes as the "to be continued" blurb flashed across the screen, as if I should be waiting with baited breath for the conclusion of this shoot-man chronicle.

I'm honestly not sure what compels mod makers (and hell, even studio developers) these days to release buggy, half-finished products. Is it a lack of discipline? A need to drum up hype among players? Why even release this as a beta when they could have had a slam dunk with more fine tuning and patience?

Anyway, all of this may seem to contradict my assertion at the top that this is a decent experience, but I'm going to hold myself to that. The gun fights are solid, the difficulty is appropriately slanted against you (at least on hard mode,) every gun you hold feels solid, just waiting to spit hot lead into aliens or soldiers, and the map aesthetics successfully recall the Black Mesa of old - aside from a few rather baffling anachronisms and pop culture references. I'm lookin' at you, Little Big Planet dolls.

It's just... kinda disappointing, in the end. But hell, for the low-low price of free you can do a helluva lot worse than this. My humble recommendation is that you wait until this is actually finished before playing, but you wouldn't be wasting your time if you played it now.

Still, give 'em a few months, I say.

6

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Lost Alpha

Mod review - 5 agree

Have a pastebin! Pastebin.com

4

tr1p

Mod review - 1 agree

The only reason this isn't rated as a 1 is because the mod creator mentioned it'd be difficult as hell. That's fair - he did exactly as he said he would.

All that said... if I were to come up with an apt metaphor for playing through "tr1p," it'd be like placing your testicles in a vise and squeezing as hard as you can. It is not fun. There is no nuance to this, no puzzles to solve other than the "puzzle" of finding out where the hell you're supposed to go next. The map design (which is decent) offers no hints, other than the occasionally missed sound - this is not a player friendly experience and the designer seems to take a sort of pride in this fact.

I agree that games have become dumbed down and easier, but even MGS told you to look on the back of the ******* box when you couldn't figure something out. There's a difference between challenge and completely alienating the player, and this mod gleefully does the latter.

Anyway - you play as someone who is apparently Gordon Freeman coming back from a "48 hour shift" (what is he, a firefighter?) Mind you, this is all flavor description from the mod page, so if you just load it up without looking you'll have no clue what's going on. It's just a barebones set up intended to offer some lame and flimsy pretense to go out and fight zombies and a metric fuckton (a precise measurement, imo) of Combine troops.

This doesn't tickle the brain, it holds no nuance or detail that doesn't continually drive you into combat or offer much to think about. It's a big dumb set of maps where you brutally kill things and press the F9 key a thousand times until you either open up the console and give yourself God mode or, more preferably, exit out.

Give 'er a miss. Again, I at least salute the creator for explicitly mentioning that this would be difficult as balls. I just didn't realize he meant "to the point of not being playable."

8

Deus Ex: Nihilum

Mod review may contain spoilers - 2 agree

Quick and dirty pros/cons list;

+A pretty well told Deus Ex story, with your classic web of conspiracies and betrayals. There's a few odd discrepancies with established canon. Overall, though, it's very well executed and well written.
+Characters are interesting, if not particularly memorable.
+I'm not going all affirmative action on you here, but I really appreciate the main character being black. More games need that kind of diversity.
+Maps are beautifully well made and filled with plenty of secrets - enough to delight any explorer.
+Locations are classic Deus Ex stuff, with seedy nightclubs and illegal laboratories.
+New guns are interesting and well implemented.
+Difficulty isn't too challenging nor easy.
+Lot of interesting new elements and mission ideas.
+Music is absolutely amazing and perhaps my favorite aspect of this mod. If there's a soundtrack around somewhere, I'd love to download it.

-Mad Ingram's voice acting... is not that great. And that's being charitable. He sounds stilted and addicted to Valium - if you intend to make another release, or patch or whatever, consider getting someone else to voice act Ingram. Most of the VA work is pretty good, though.
-The maps, while beautiful and well constructed, are almost too large and too empty at times. Berlin and Hong Kong are the worst offenders here. It felt like you could have decreased the map size, or at least filled these locations out more adequately.
-Some of the story beats are muddied or not well fleshed out.
-I wasn't a huge fan at the attempts at humor in this mod - both the fourth wall breaking references to Deus Ex itself and the obnoxious ham sandwich jokes. It's not funny just because you keep referencing it.
-There is a frustrating amount of backtracking in this mod.
-There were a few bugs, but I'm not sure if this is the mod's fault or Deus Ex's.

Anyway, overall I really enjoyed it. Had a few obvious problems with some of the writing and voice acting, but yeah. Good work.

7

Spherical Nightmares

Mod review - 4 agree

A decent-ish mod, filled with competent gun fights, puzzles, and adequate pacing. Story starts off intriguingly but quickly fizzles out in favor of pretty much non-stop action, which is disappointing. There's some nifty set pieces, though - particularly the tram sequence. Everything else is pretty much run-of-the-mill but, as I said, competent enough.

Ended very abruptly and left me feeling very cold about the whole thing. I get the feeling you can do so much better.

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