I'm a french player in his thirties. I've played hundred GoldSrc/Source maps and mods, since 2006. I was here when HL1 was announced at E3 1997 and when it was released in november 1998. I've also sub-translated Cry of Fear in french. I'm usually friendly in my reviews because mod's are free and need hard work from usually amateurs. However, I'm a diehard opponent towards mods put on sale, becoming retail games. Donation is a better system for this kind of things.
As unexpected as it is, ECHOES is maybe the greatest vanilla HL1 mod of all time.
Developed for 5 years by a "one man army", MrGnang, a fellow HL1 and mod fan who wanted to create a mod to thank VALVe and the community for 20 years of good services, for 5 years, informations were scarce and basically it look like another "survivor in Black Mesa post Resonance Cascade" as we've seen countless times already, like VISITORS, CASE CLOSED, OPERATION NOVA, but also OPPOSING FORCE, BLUE SHIFT (duh), etc....
In the end, from the teaser trailer a few weeks ago, to the first minutes of gameplay, it turned out to be an incredible experience, the ultimate project born out from 20 years of intense HL1 games and mod's.
First of all, it has upgraded graphics to the point of being very "Source-Like", giant map's in the likes of FOCAL POINT, you will visit and enjoy Black Mesa like you've never seen before, be in from the inside or the outside. Very interesting also, those Black Mesa rooms where Xen fauna has invaded everything, etc.
Then, it has numerous, intense, varied, sometimes funny, sometimes scary, scripted sequences where Black Mesa has never felt that "alive", you'll have some buddies here and there to help you, some will live, many will die...
And then, it has a very varied gameplay, "harder" than average of course, we've all 20 years of playing isn't it? We want challenges!! But it's not "unfair", and it takes the shape of puzzles, more and more intense fights, with some "boss" fights where STRAFE is the rule, the final 2 chapters "ASHES" and "DUST" are a complete Pandemonium where every hostile forces, be it Xen or HECU, will get to you in a maelstrom of blood, explosions, and complete mass destruction, to the point or you won't be able to take your breath.
It's not only "puzzles" nor "fights", it's also a "survival horror" trip where sometimes you'll have to flee undestructible horrors, be it your 'nemesis', a Garg from the beginning to the end of the mod which will stalk you here and there, wreak havoc and disappear until your next battle, or that insane part with "Mr Friendly", that cut enemy which is back here for a few thrills.
Finally, after all of this, be it graphics, map's, gameplay... What can I add as the cherry on the cake?
Ah, it's the story. The story of that BM survivor you play, in the end, you see, there is a twist for that story, you are closely followed by the Gman, you'll see him many times, but why?
In the end, the last chapter ECHOES answer it all, From the beginning, who you are playing is... [REDACTED]
and what was overall one of the biggest projects ever made for HL1, turned out really to be the "missing link", the lost adventure of one of the biggest yet unseen characters of HL lore, I really wanted to cry tears of mixed joy, and sadness, for such a marvelous project to come to us after 20 years of mod's and hundreds of projects played.
And also, it's full of easter eggs and links to the HL lore such as Gordon, Shephard, but also Epistle3, etc... Because, in the end, it's the story about a battle never to be resolved, of those survivors put against an unstoppable invasion, and manipulated by an unconceivable and out-of-time-and-space character which is the Gman, the mastermind of it all, which will never be truly unterstood, nor that is the will of VALVe's writers and dev's, indeed.
The greatest, simply the greatest. It turned out to be the "Episode Three" of HL1/GoldSrc story.
This is beyond words...
This one is an interesting fella, which I can basically summarize in a few words : PROSPEKT for free.
(but better than Prospekt, in fact).
with the old "one man army" development flaws we see here and there (the Gate 1/2, Focalpoint, ...), where beta testing seems unrealized and unforgivable bugs, uncorrected.
Despite all of these, I'll give this one a PIN because the overall quality, be it maps, story, or gameplay, is really above average and we can clearly see the dev' put a lot of work and time into this.
First of all, it's the better of all the "Play As Combine/the bad guy" mod, even better than Human Error (because this one was also "unfinished" in the end), where you're put in the shoes of a Metrocop, killing Citizens and Headcrab, in another City, not City17, but the snowy and deserted City10 touched by a "plague".
What's interesting is that each chapter is a different story/gameplay where you have to use different tactics to win, be it "stealth" when faced against numerous reprogrammed turrets, or to follow your only source of light : a feeble Stalker in dangerous corridors.
So, yes, the difficulty : who is meant to play ENTROPY ZERO? Is that those casual gamers nowadays? Or veteran 30/40 years old players who followed HL1 and/or HL2 since one or two decades?
As I've played more than one hundred mod's, I've seen so much worse in difficulty.
In fact, there are two kind of difficulties : one that is based on "skills", in the likes of the low armor/health, numerous waves of enemies, sometimes in infinite respawn...
These one can be tough... Not the worse, again, I've seen. It's not Black Death, the Gate, or else.
It's "fair" but you've to be "skilled".
The other one is "unfair" difficulty : it takes the form of that now infamous Stalker section where the Barnacle tongues sometimes disappear, and the Stalker dies for apparently "no reason", or some bugs here and there like in the final battle,
or some fights where you absolutly don't know what to do and you die because... ignorance.
But, in the end, it has so many "wow" moments, such as the ride to the Citadel, the Citizens dumping the characted (thought to be dead) in a hole with other dead Cmb, and the final part with the "bad" Vort threatening to destroy everything, corrupting a Hunter to his side, and numerous light and SFX effects such as those "liquid" effects during the final battle, it was great, really...
Too bad many players will give up because the "unfair" difficulty parts... The "skilled" parts are more a problem of a generation...
But, overall, don't give up on this mod, or maybe wait for the next update, which will probably correct the flaws of this version...
It's worth, really, worth, the time.
Here is my review about DARK INTERVAL.
I'm amazed, in fact Cvolaxury and A-Shift "twisted" the HL2 Beta concept as we've seen it on Missing Info 1.6 or other (unreleased) mod's, they took the scrapped concept and compiled back into their own perception of the beta story.
Rather taking on the classic FPS path where Gordon starts almost "naked" and gradually gets stronger to fight enemies, here - at least for the four chapters -,
Gordon stays as a feeble character, weaponless - or near - , like a mouse trapped in a house full of cats.
Indeed, there are virtually no fights beside some headcrabs, and the greatest battles are fought in a virtual simulation of manhacks "arcade", which are "bonus" and don't affect the rest of the story.
In fact, it reminds me a lot of GSTRING, that HL2 mod which evolved into "cult classic" - a status I think Dark Interval can also quickly gain.
Like GSTRING, DI also has - and it's the main point of interest - insanely HUGE map's... City 17 never felt so opressing, mind-crushing, like it is here, it has many "wow" moments, from the beginning in the docks with the Borealis, to the glimpses of the ever-present Citadel and also the Skyscraper.
Dark Interval isn't dark just in its title, it's also a "dark" feeling/ambiance you get throughout the mod, that eerie sensation we can feel, as a lonely guy lost against an enemy too much powerful to handle...
even thought the dev's managed to make it feel "alive" with many scripted sequences and newly recorded dialogue, which felt very VALVe-like!!! , but the "life" felt also in some scenes like the factory with all those workers, an abandoned bar, etc etc...
Clearly a huge piece of work.
Finally, the mod managed to resurrect and put back in place some "cut content" in the likes of the Cremator (and you'll get to use his FlameGun - a nod to the heat/ice gameplay intended for Ep3???), the Vort-Cells, etc...
Well, amazing, indeed, a great mod destined, when it'll be complete, to be remembered perhaps in the top 10 greatest Source mod's.
For now, it's a very interesting and promising first part, which will surely gets better and better in the future.
For example, there are still "flaws" like no lipsync (will be added later), the Consul is still Dr Breen, etc... But it's very minor problems.
I will finish the review with the HIGHLIGHT of this first part : the amazing Combine "Imperial March" just before the Combine Arcade. Full of promises of future threats! :)
For the moment it's a bit messy and short but it's The best available and, more important, playable, in-game information about Episode 3.
It's bad. It's too short, bland, gameplay is weak, this is very low level modding.
Furthermore, the title and teasing are misleading, there is no intro, no story, nothing.
Nice GoldSrc mod more brains than brawls.
Would you kindly delete yourself?
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