Well, as you may already know, I'm a big fan of 8472. After finishing HMS Defiance 2, I was very excited to see his next mod. And it's finally here! Dissolution is a unique sci-fi mod with a very cool style, but unfortunately, it does have a few minor problems. Anyway, lets dive right into Dissolution!
The mapping for this mod is quite good. It still has that certain "touch" that you see in all of 8742's mods, often setting it apart from the mapping of other source modifications. But there's a good bit more to this mod than just his mapping style, theres also a stupendous amount of excellent new textures and superb custom models. This really helps you get into the "sci-fi" feeling, presenting lots of posters, audio logs, and little "hints" that build the world. There is often a lack of clutter, which can be precieved as good or bad, for it makes the enviornment often feel more futuristic and also presents a change of pace from the standard Interlopers "TRASH EVERYWHERE!" approach to HL2 modding. The one big complaint that I have about the mod's mapping though is the fact that there are NO windows! Seriously, there isnt one time you get to see the surface of the planet/moon/asteroid you're on. This is a huge flaw in my opinion, because I often felt that this space station was instead just a Black Mesa-ish underground facility. I was really looking forward to seeing the surface of another large body in space during this mod.
The storyline in Dissolution is... Good. I won't say its great, because I'm afraid it isnt, but its certainly better than 70% of the mods out there. It was told well, but just didnt quite amount to anything. They have a gripping setup for a sequel, which I look forward to, but the actual storyline in this mod isnt the greatest. I listened to every audio log, so I don't think I missed anything.To go farther into the story, I'll have to reveal some minor details, so you might want to skip this part. Shouldnt ruin too much though.
Alright, so it had this great setup for an uprising in the colony, but kind of threw it out the window and replaced it with a rather generic "experiment gone wrong" story, except that I feel its sort of half-done. There are no zombies, just insane citizens and... Yes, Im serious... Supercrows. Suprisingly, the mind-twisting telekentic crows are actually pretty cool and unique. Good job with them :D. No, Im just rather saddened by the "insane" citizens. Apparently the telecrows did something to them, and now they want to kill you. I really wish it would've gone for a Bioshock "madness" feeling with them, but they kind of just strike me as people with guns. I hate to say it, but I think the standard "zombies and soldiers" approach could've gone a lot better with this mod.
-NO MORE SPOILERS!-
Anyway, other than what was stated above, the rest of the mod's story was awesome. The setup was EXCELLENT, I really loved how they showed how Xterrier was a dictatorship-styled government, but still a corporation. It didnt have a diabolical imperial military of enormous size or command a gigantic starfleet, but was rather a single company that looked out for the last of humanity. It promoted some points that made you question whether they were doing the right or the wrong things.
The gameplay in this mod was a TON of fun. Due to an objectives system and signs indicating certain areas that were very easy to understand, the mod could create fairly large maps that made you feel like you were in a vast facility, but never really confused the player. There were also many audio logs scattered about, which were very interesting and told a cool backstory. The locations were also interesting, ranging from residential districts to laboratories to even a good ol' tram system. The music was also fantastic, fitting the theme very well.
There were some issues though. First of all, the combat wasnt especially intense, and while that was nice for once, it just didnt feel as fun to blow up the bad guys in this mod as it does in others. The weapons were also very uninspired; all of them, excluding perhaps the shotgun, are easily found in present day. I just think that the mod couldve done better than you running around shooting guys on a sci-fi space colony with a pistol made in the 1950's, a rifle from the 1970's, and a fire axe.
One other problem is the ending. There is no boss fight, it just... Ends. You kill 5 soldiers, run into a room that looks like all the rest, and the screen switches to a cutscene about how the HMS Defiance picks you up. Even a half-assed random boss like a giant defense robot that comes out of nowhere or a short holdout against a few dozen enemies would've been better. Hell, throw in a 10 ft tall telecrow for all I care, it would've been entertaining.
All in all, Dissolution is a really fun mod that is definately worth your time. The mapping is great, the story is decent, and the gameplay is fun. Its a refreshing take on HL2 modding and makes an interesting sci-fi title.
FINAL VERDICT: 8/10
Hope you enjoyed the review,