Strider Mountain. An experience that we can live without...
* Contains spoilers * - But it doesn't really break anything special I think
Lets start at the beginning. A promising intro, the player doesn't expect anything here just a good gaming experience. We can see ourselves as Gordon Freeman, quite a revolutionary approach, but I think the model has been borrowed from somewhere. You might want to get used to the cutscenes because we are going to see a lot more later on.
So the story in a nutshell. You are Gordon Freeman, the loyal and mute servant of humanity. You have been given a task to go up a mountain and destroy the Strider factory planted up there, because the noise bothers the imbecile citizens of the local town (I will get on to that too). So you go up, while the Combine sends out everybody to stop you, you pump everyone with lead, blow the whole facility up, ride away into the sunshine. The End. The usual, unoriginal mod story really, nothing special. But luckily it's a bit spiced up that along the way you sometimes have a little chat with the rebel leader (the voice acting is good actually) and you need to gather Portal Data for the so called "Easter egg" level, but the truth is it's the actual final level. The game sends you back if you haven't received the data, so the bonus level is not an Easter egg, and if you miss a data then It's just an alternative (sad) ending. Like in my case where some triggers accidentally glitched or I don't know what happened and the mod didn't register one of my data
gathering which made me really frustrated and I had use the console to load the last level and not play through the whole game again. That glitch was like a middle finger in the face saying "F**k you player, I the mod made an error and you are going to pay the price". I was going to give it a 5 for the average story, but considering that horribly stupid ending if you don't get all the data (just watch that cutscene), the poking into the Half-Life storyline, putting G-man on the combines side, etc. I'll have to give it a lower score.
But the story is just one part, lets see where we play: The mapping. Well if we say that Half-Life 2 has great maps then this mod goes from good maps to really bad ones. There were only a few moments when I felt like I'm on a mountain. I might mention that every map is a chapter (there are 17 altogether, expect hours of gameplay) and the maps are huge (takes some time to load though) I felt that on some places they are unnecessary huge. We go from interior to the great outdoors. Sometimes the skybox ruins the whole map, sometimes it's pretty nice. I liked the giant bridge part for example. The other thing that bothered my eye was some of the architecture. It made no sense on parts. Like there was balcony outside, but I had to climb out the window to get there. How many of these do you see in real life? Or in the last level (if I don't count the easter egg level) there is a big sign saying "Main Portal", that was a stupid touch really. Combine don't posses the short range teleporter as they clearly stated it in HL2, but we bother into a lot of them. Also the lack of HDR (The mod was released 2009, OB was already out, no excuse), the sometimes bizarr texture/brush work and the overall blockyness of the maps makes me give the mapping a 6. But just because I can clearly see they have tried, and this is probably the only strong point of the mod.
What about the the custom content, characters, voice acting, etc.? Well it had a lot of custom content like custom weapon skins. The charaters... well the usual HL2 rebels and Combine, but we could see some skinning on some soldiers too (transparent elite combine soldier). The maps had custom brushes, I somewhere read that it's actually some of them are from Doom, so I'm not sure which is original work there and which isn't, but it works at least. It had voice acting which was pretty good, they didn't really give there 100% but the sound quality was clear and it was a nice touch.
Custom content: 7/10
Now to the one of the most important part: Gameplay. *sigh* and this is where Strider Mountain falls. The gameplay is just really long and boring and the story can't save it. The mod is linear, but when you have to take a large detour just to get to the other side of a door, then you will surely feel cheated. The weapons are the same as in HL2, only the skin and sound is different. There aren't any big variety in the enemies: Combine, combine, combine, combine, combine, headcrabs, combine, combine, etc. I've played it on Normal and boy those f*ckers could shoot me from 200 miles while the same SMG in my hands wasn't that effective. I hate long-range shooting with a high-spread gun, but the bolt shooting sniper rifle (crossbow reskin) or the magnum was almost always out of ammo. One time I got allies in the city in the form of some rebels, but those idiots lived about 5 minutes before picked off. What a great resistance. The rebel leader said later on that "looks like the members of the resistance are dead" I almost laugh out loud from that, but it wasn't supposed to be a joke. The boss battles where also boring. Big sitting ducks, just waiting for my rockets, especially the helicopters, how much rocket does one helicopter withstands? I shoot like 20 in them.
Although it's called strider mountain, we only fight with 4.
So it's basically a boring shooter, when sometimes the enemies can see and shoot you kilometres away which it becomes a hell frustrating boring shooter. It has some puzzles yes, but the puzzles are spoon-fed to us, don't expect anything physics-based. Take this keycard (cutscene shows where it is) to this location. Go back to download the portal data. Big text on the screen telling what to do, Instruction video how to be a terrorist and 4 bomb just for that goal in the perfect place and order. Ridiculous. Oh, and on a side note: I experienced dozens of engine errors, 2 freezes, 4 Blue screen of deaths, and various other problems. Some of them could be my computer, but I couldn't even watch the happy ending because of a constant (engine?) error.
And what the hell? Did I just heard Gordon Freeman saying "Oh no" with a HL2 rebel's voice?!
I can't find words!
This is a long mod (like this review). I suggest you should only play it if you really have much time to waste and don't want to bother with much thinking (except for aiming), because this mod is a real time-vampire (not consumer, vampire)
Pros: - At least you tried...
- Some good map parts
- A few funny moments (for example the strider pillow [see if you can find it] or the "No strider is permitted beyond this zone" sign. I would like to see which one of those giant beast will read that small text.)
Cons: - Boring gameplay
- Same enemies all over again with sharpshooting skills.
- Unsatisfying boss battles
- Modifying the Half-life storyline.
- We can see Gordon and HE TALKS!
Custom Content: 7/10
- 1 Because GORDON FREEMAN TALKS!