Crankshaft games makes some noise with the latest offering of their Half-Life 2 mod, Eternal Silence. Learning from the mistakes of previous lag-ridden launches, the development team behind Eternal Silence beta 3.0 promise their most stable and feature complete release yet. Is this the mod space combat fans have been waiting for or will it be doomed to get lost in the void? Read on to find out what ModDB's first impressions are and whether or not Eternal Silence delivers the goods.
This mod has undergone a visual overhaul that has given it a more vibrant and saturated color palette. Leaving behind dark and dingy corridors of 2.3, beta 3.0 features ample lighting that showcases the excellence in texture work, modeling and environmental design within the maps. All of the ships retain their showroom shine thanks to some new shader implementation and the dazzling light show on display while engaging enemy bogeys out in space really is a sight to behold. All the old infantry weapons make their return but the damage they deal to the environment seems a little lackluster. In fact, the whole indoor, FPS portion could benefit from additional visual flourishes to heighten the intensity of battles within the capital ships (update: devs report to add this content in 3.1). Stuff like exploding consoles, falling debris and alarm systems to signify intruders and hull breaches would all increase the immersion factor. Overall, it really feels like the Crankshaft team has hit their stride in developing a unique, consistent visual style that is all their own.
The audio in Eternal Silence sports original sound effects throughout. The space combat has also been given the special treatment in this area as well. Dogfights are reflected in the hectic soundscapes of missile lock-on alarms and automatically generated radio chatter. Add to that the low hum of giant laser beams narrowly missing you with the staccato pings of high caliber rounds penetrating your hull and you have an audio suite that compliments the space-faring action every step of the way. Unfortunately, the interior sections have taken a backseat here too. While the gunfire and weapons sound effects are adequate, there's little else to engage your ears other than the odd radio chatter.
Eternal Silence beta 3.0 trailer.
Crankshaft developers claim to have created their most stable and balanced release yet with beta 3.0 thanks in large part to the hundreds of hours in play testing. This is clearly evident while playing, as the action is evenly distributed over both modes of the mod by introducing attack and defend phases. Teams have to destroy the opposing forces corvette ships before they are able to board an enemy capital ship. This forces even greater coordination between teammates and you really feel like part of a strike force as you escort friendly bombers to their destinations. Capital ships are constantly taking damage from weapons systems so this avoids any stalemates that can occur during the ebb and flow of battle, as sooner or later one of the ships will explode. The order in which capture points you secure also affects the tide of battle and adds another layer of of strategy. Go for the weapons point and you can stop your ships from taking extra damage or capture the shields point and you can disable the defenses to increase the damage taken by the enemy capital ship.
Stenchy's first steps in beta 3.0.
There are a few mods out there that set out to incorporate aspects of two separate genres but do so only with limited success. Eternal Silence beta 3.0 achieves a seamless transition between FPS and space simulation that has you spending less time dealing with overly complex controls and focusing more on just having fun. You'll be able to launch your own space offensive this Friday, June 6th, when Eternal Silence beta 3.0 releases. See you on the servers!