[page=The Clone Warrior]
What happens when you cross post-apocalyptic vehicular combat, dueling armies of biker clones, a surf rock soundtrack that sounds right out of Six String Samurai, and more explosions than Michael Bay's wet dreams?
Everyone remembers the 1950's, the decade we still worship and revere affectionately through merchandise, icons, and nostalgia restaurants. The United States was a different place back then, not yet shattered of its innocence through the death of John F. Kennedy. This was a time of rock and roll music, juvenile delinquency, and an idyllic vision of the future with clean streets, strong moral values, and flying cars.
And then the Communists invaded, starting a nuclear war that devastated the face of the world forever, leaving behind nothing but a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
In this cesspool of human degradation, where the primordial ooze of the world mixes with radiation to create a world almost alien to our own, a war is about to begin. As the few people of this barren land wander from shore to shore, looking for any hope of survival, two groups of people stumble upon an abandoned military base. It is here, under the careful eye of the government, that white-coated scientists perfected the art of human cloning, cranking out jar upon jar of ready-made human embryo?s for use in whatever way democracy saw fit.
And as these two opposing forces eye one another across room filled with glowing green jars, it becomes immediately apparent that only one of them is going to survive the next ten minutes of madcap mayhem.
Clone Bandits, a contestant in the Make Something Unreal Competition, is the story of rival biker gangs that would like nothing more than to clone themselves a billion times and form an army of destructive might to rule over the already dilapidated countryside. Probably it isn't the greatest plan ever conceived, seeing as who really wants to control a few cubic miles of radiated nothing, but it is reason enough to blow apart anyone that get's in their damned way, that's for sure.
Clone Bandits puts you in the role of a nameless biker punk clone with intentions to murder every last member of the opposing team and use up all of their clones (or respawns) in the process. But despite your growing bloodlust, you crazy mutant clone you, it would take hours upon hours to just kill off each and every member of the opposing team while they endlessly clone themselves.
So, instead: We'll kill them AND steal from them!
And what better way to destroy one another than with some of the most intense and fast paced vehicular combat to hit the Unreal Tournament 2004 engine?
[page=Max Clone: Beyond the Jar]
Each match of Clone Bandits takes place in an enclosed area that features two bases and two pump locations.
Much like the different link nodes in UT2004's Onslaught mode, Clone Pumps can be built in two predetermined locations around the map, requiring only a nearby member of your team and maybe a little juice from your Link Gun to speed up the process. Once built, these pumps will begin the slow but methodical process of siphoning clones out of the enemy reserves, slowing adding them to your supply, as long as you keep the pumps protected and functioning.
However, there is also a much more direct way to snatch up the enemy's reserves. You could always just jump into a car, blast your way into the enemy base, grab a jar of them, and race like a bat out of hell back home again with them to the siren song of a million alarms screaming after you. It might be hard-headedly direct, but man is it fun.
And this is the entire mechanic that the game spins around. Each team begins with around 50 clones to use respawning their team mates and must remain the last team standing by the time all of the clones get used up or swiped by the opposing team.
To make things more interesting, however, the developers have introduced three new vehicles into the melee, which is half of what makes this game so fun.
First on the list is the Barracuda, a modified muscle car that has seen better days, bordering on better centuries. The doors have been removed and two Gatling guns have been added to the frame, allowing you and a partner to dispense endless amounts of ammunition at anything you choose. The Barracuda also features a nitrous system, so you can propel yourself at high speeds off of cliffs, ramps, and up the sides of canyon walls.
Next is the Lounge Tank, lovingly painted pink and featuring an umbrella, deck chair, and plenty of pink flamingo land mines to go around. The Lounge Tank, quite simply, is a devastator. With an unlimited supply of shots and enough armor to protect it from all but the most suicidal of foes, the Lounge Tank can tear from one end of the level to the next, destroying anything it its path and leaving everything behind it in flaming ruin.
But the true heart of the game, the vehicle that allows for endless offensive and defensive variations and won the Make Something Unreal Competition's category for best vehicle, is the Moscowboy. Imagine, if you will, a Russian Missile handcrafted into a motorcycle by someone with more than a few screws loose. When riding it normally, the Moscowboy acts as a beefed up Harley, moving with enough speed and force to run down an enemy punk without even a bump registering with the shocks. But flip the big red switch and that missile becomes active, blasting forward on a streak of fire, giving you five seconds to speed across the level, ram it into a foe, or simply take off into the night sky in a futile pursuit of the moon.
These three vehicles, working in conjunction and off of one another, are devastating. The Moscowboy is hard to handle, but take destroy a Lounge Tank in a single hit if aimed correctly. The Lounge Tank can dish out enough damage to pummel anyone in a lesser vehicle around it, and the Barracuda is the only feasible way to transport clones back and fourth to your base without getting your butt handed to you along the way.
With all of these utterly destructive vehicles going through the level at full force, the surf rock music cranked to the breaking point, and an operatic score of explosions tearing through a level, it is hard not to get caught up in this game. Whether you are defending your pumps, stealing clones at high speed, or blowing up everything in your path in the Lounge Tank, Clone Bandits is a visceral thrill ride from the beginning to the end of every match you join in.
That is, of course, assuming you can find a match to join.
[page=Fallout: Attack of the Clones]
As great as I find this game to be, it just doesn't have a big following out there playing it from day to day. While searching online for servers, you will invariably find one or two, but they are often completely deserted, much like the barren wastelands within which this conflict takes place. And on occasion when you do find a server to play on, the game can at times be rather different. In many servers I've played on, people refuse to turn on Berserk weapons, which I personally find to be a prerequisite for the intense mayhem that this title brings to the table. Also, I've joined into games before that feature entirely different levels and vehicles before, yet I have the latest version given on Demiurge's website for the mod.
Could it be that there is a mod out there for the mod or another version that exists only among a few select people? Perhaps if not now, then someday.
But while what is there is quite good, it is very limited. Though each of the levels is very well done, Clone Bandits only gives people three different arenas to rampage around in, with only one of the levels being truly exceptional and not more of a contrivance. Also, while I know they are clones, it would have been nice to have at least one or two options to play around with as far as player models go. As far as I can tell, the two armies are being led by warring twin brothers, one wearing blue and one wearing red.
For the time being, however, what we do have is great. When multiplayer mode gives you the ghost, there is always Bot Play to consider, which works out much better than many UT2004 mods I've played that feature bot support. Here we actually have characters stealing the clones, building the pumps, kicking your butt, and generally behaving the way players would online, despite the fact that they avoid the Moscowboy like the plague. Maybe they just aren't as suicidal as I am, but who knows.
On an audio and visual level, Clone Bandits excels to the levels of a professionally made game. All of the levels look very natural, the vehicles suitably gritty, and the polish just shines off of them as you play. Not once in my many many months of playing this game have I noticed tearing, unaligned textures, or any graphical hitch that might belie this as an amateur production.
And if I haven't made it clear so far, the soundtrack for this game is one of the best ever made. Though it is only a single song, constantly looping, it fits the atmosphere of the game so well that to remove it would be criminal. Very few mods, if any, prompt me to go digging through the audio files when I'm done to see if I can rip something out for myself, but Clone Bandits has.
And really, if there is one praise I can give to Clone Bandits above any and all else, it is this: I keep coming back to it. In all honesty, I probably play Clone Bandits more than I do any of the classic Unreal Tournament 2004 modes. I've certainly played it longer than any other mod, even my perennial favorite: Day of Defeat.
While games come and go, it is very rare to find one that consistently delivers an exciting and fun-filled experience despite its limited range. It may not have won the Make Something Unreal Competition, but it is certainly worthy of your time.