Now that the Mod of the Year contest has finished and the winners have been revealed, it seems like the popular choices of the year were the realistic military shooters of the multiplayer variety. While most enjoy a good shooter that focuses on tactical realism, I can say with great certainty that I'm burned out on the genre for a while. I've logged many hours playing the top 5 of this year to see what all the winners had to offer and while they are all worthy, it was almost too much of a good thing.
Taking nominations from the staff and doing some digging myself, I've come up with a list of shining gems from our very own database. The list focuses on projects that have been pushed to the sidelines in a flood of constant media and news updates, yet merit some of their own time under the spotlight. Each of them embodies the overall spirit of modding in their effort to introduce new concepts and gaming experiences. You might also notice that this year there are no specific awards or ranking. ModDB has done away with the categorization this year to just focus on the gaming experience that each offering provides (or hopes to provide). Most of all, we tried to represent the many facets of the modding community with these choices, including the quality and variety available. Without further ado, here are the 2007 Editor's Choice winners:
(Unreleased: Doom 3, Singleplayer)
Mind is one man's journey through the minimalistic spaces in his own head as he tries to comprehend the dire situation he's placed in. At least, that what I gathered from the information provided:
"Your name is Jack and you're under arrest. They say you were on drugs. They say you killed your wife. All you know is the back of the police car smells like vomit. Maybe you are on drugs because now you're seeing things .... and suddenly ... you're very ... tired...."
In any case, Mind promises to be a puzzle oriented game with no firearms involved. The only weapons being your fists, flares and some telekinesis thrown in for good measure. The footage below shows the unique style and situations they are aiming for. The aesthetics of the level design concentrate the focus on a surreal environment where anything can happen. Mind is being put together on the ID Tech 4 Engine accompanied with an original soundtrack. So far, the release date is unannounced, but we look forward to Mind bringing us an intellectually challenging experience.
(Unreleased: Half Life 2, Singleplayer/Multiplayer)
Inspired from a custom RPG board game made from the creators in 1998, E.Y.E. is an evolution of a concept that the development team has been shaping for years. What does E.Y.E. stand for? I have no idea, but they are group of elite rebel warriors trained in "cyber and parapsychic arts" that fight against the oppressive multi-planetary government referred to as the 'Federation'.
Equal parts RPG and FPS, E.Y.E. will not only incorporate single player and multiplayer but tie the two together, presumably through some sort of character progression. Released footage is almost 6 months old, but shows an encouraging amount of polish with their own adept AI system included as well. One can only assume that a possible beta is on the horizon. This mod goes above and beyond the task of just creating another point-and-shoot clone. It aims to create a wholly unique experience on the Source platform.
(Half Life 2, Multiplayer)
Disrupt the blackness of space with dizzying space combat. Invade and conquer the opposing faction's capital ship before they can do the same to you. Eternal Silence brings a welcome change to the shooter genre by intertwining it with a healthy dose of space sim. It allows for two different game archetypes to co-exist within the same space and pulls it off with grace. While this mod has its dedicated group of small players, it surprises me that it isn't more popular considering its more than just your ground troop warfare variety. The Eternal Silence team themselves have been releasing a steady stream of updates and it sounds like they are in the final stages of a major update. In the meantime though, do yourself a favor (if you own Half-Life 2) and check this one out.
(C&C Generals Zero Hour, Singleplayer/Multiplayer)
Fans of the Command & Conquer series have always enjoyed variety within their games and Shockwave certainly delivers on that point. A plethora of new units and 3 brand new generals await you here. Shockwave hearkens back to the old days of modding when not everything had to be a total conversion and players were just happy with adding on to an existing experience. Unit and general diversity adds even more customization and options that allow you to further tailor your play style. Compete online or tackle the new challenge maps made with each of the new generals in mind. Custom made sound effects, music and particles also compliment the new additions to this mod. All of this makes C&C Generals: Shockwave a must have.
(Half Life 1, Singleplayer)
Paranoia manages to look, sound and play great. The kicker here is: it's doing it on the Half Life 1 engine. While the technical merits alone allow Paranoia to compete for attention amongst its current generation rivals, the team has also made good on the overall narrative and pacing within this single player offering. The story puts you in the role of a Russian officer in the secret service as you and your squad mates end up exploring an underground genetic laboratory. The build up to the climax is great, you actually feel like you're interacting with characters and everything is routine until things go awry. While I did encounter some minor problems with the AI, Paranoia is worth a download as it manages to comes close to putting together a complete package.
(Half Life 2, Multiplayer)
Take a step back into the past when combat was a lot more personal and the armor considerably more shiny (and heavier). Age of Chivalry forces you to holster the firearms so prevalent in most mods and dispatch of your foes medieval style - with swords, bows, maces, and daggers. The map rotation is preset to follow a campaign which links all of the maps together. Style points are given to the presentation in this mod. Crisp textures and good use of shaders make the characters and environments truly stand out. Everything from the dynamic lighting on viewmodels to the blood speckled weapons make hacking and slashing with your friends all the more enjoyable. Thanks to Age of Chivalry for taking multiplayer mayhem to the medieval ages.
(Half Life 2, Singleplayer)
Flipside is all about guiding a mental institution escapee to freedom. The one twist, and likely reason for your incarceration, is the way the main character changes his perception of the environment. One minute you may be strolling through a meadow spotted with cheery bunnies and sun shining brightly, the next you're in a dark, dreary wasteland full of killer bees. The mod is short on length but challenging. Flipside is the result of an attempt to expand and challenge the conventional standards. Granted, the light/dark mirrored world game mechanic has been done before but not on the Source engine. The same can be said of the paper cutout visuals and the platforming. Flipside succeeds at creating a bold experience that stands out on the Source platform.
(Company of Heroes, Multiplayer)
Company of Heroes won many awards for being the best of the RTS breed in 2006. While it was officially declared that Company of Heroes Online would only be delivered to China, (any word if it made it there yet?) fans took matters into their own hands and started Europe in Ruins. Europe in Ruins adds persistence to the army you control as you fight battles that decide an overall outcome. Veteran units that stay alive stay with your forces can be summoned in future battles. This places even more value on your units and strategies through discouraging hopelessly desperate rushes. While still early in development, Europe in Ruins now supports the expansion pack for Company of Heroes, Opposing Forces, and plans to include war-maps to track the progress of your side's campaign. For RTS nuts looking to add life to an already amazing game, Europe in Ruins should be a top choice.
(Unreleased: Dark Places Engine, Singleplayer)
When looking at the sparse amount of information concerning The Hunted Chronicles, I was somewhat hesitant giving it the go ahead for an Editor's Choice. That was until I found a bounty of videos for THC on youtube (note: please update your mod profile THC!). The additional videos show the progress that's been made over the last few months and even at this early state, it's apparent this game has the potential to turn me into a screaming ninny (I deal with horror games with about the same aptitude as the infamous MESH). The visuals already show their capability to deliver and if everything else matches up to the same calibre, The Hunted Chronicles will be one experience you won't want to miss. Considering this is the third Hunted game in the series, there's a good chance this will see the light of day. In the meantime, check out the first two:
(Prototype Unreleased I-Novae Engine, Multiplayer)
Infinity doesn't promise the world, it promises the universe. It's a tall order, but with an impressive proprietary engine and an already massive roster of ships, Infinity has garnered a lot of well-wishers in support. Media releases have already boasted seamless transitions from outer space to a procedurally generated planetside and visuals that include a variety of celestial bodies. Those interested in doing so, can already test out the combat prototype themselves. It's hard to even grasp the sense of scale this game will introduce. Everything from planet-sized destroyers to the tiniest escape pod will be incorporated. Infinity will be an online persistent world that does away with the turn based number crunching and instead relies on wits and reflexes to come out as the top gun. Combat, trade, explore and network with others anywhere, truly anywhere, within a virtual universe. Can Infinity deliver?