Author Topic: The Half-Life Resurrection Thread: Preface (i.e., Read This Post First)  (Read 9181 times)

Offline Silver Sorrow

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105: Opposing Force
« Reply #135 on: January 13, 2017, 11:32:24 AM »
Half-Life: Opposing Force

Game: Half-Life: Opposing Force
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: Sierra Studios
Price: Debatable
H16 Score: 5 / 5 (I wonder why...?)
Annoyance Rating: 2 out of 10. [Some things I just don't want to remember.]

Note: The screens [ahem.] in this review were taken with the High Definition Pack. Also, I might have additions here and there...and a reminder: if you don't like that set of circumstances, you can always bite me.

Note #2: Oh, and I'm also using the Penguin instead of the Snark. If you don't know how to get it, just ask me how and I'll show you a quick way to use our flightless friend as a weapon (in the game, I mean).

[No, don't ask me how.]

Ask Not For Whom The Stomach Churns...It Churns For Thee, Cool Breeze
So here's the scene: a bunch of guys at Gearbox were sitting around one day, wondering how they could get in on this whole Half-Life thing. "I know!" one errant soul exclaimed, "we could have the player play as an Intrauterine Device! Or a girl's bicycle seat!" He was pelted mercilessly by a hail of stale french fries and pepperonis fuzzy with floor lint.

After IUD Boy was dragged out of the room by his testicles and thrown down an empty elevator shaft, discussion resumed. "Hey, how about playing as a Medikit? You know...you wait inside a box...ooh, it's so DARK! But then...a crowbar SMASHES through the wood around you! It's...it's Gordon Freeman, and he needs health!"

Genius #2 soon joined the other guy at the bottom of the shaft. The brainstorming continued far into the night, with idea man after idea man being hurled screaming into the blackness until finally, clenching the sides of the open shaft doors in a death grip as a security flunky hacked at his wrists, one guy managed to redeem himself. "How about playing as a Grunt?" he gasped.

"Wait...now that I like!" shouted a faceless upper-echelon powerdude from within his triple-hulled Cabalco Executive Doomsday Toilet™, adding "I'm glad I thought of it! Get to work, you weasels! And...remove the witnesses."

His redemption short-lived, the betrayed brainstormer's last words were an epithet that would haunt the development team years after the final release: "May you never iron out all the bugs!" And this is where we stand today.

So what else can you say about the first commercial mod for Half-Life?* Unfortunately for me, I'd better say a lot; otherwise, we'll all be sitting around comparing belly button lint tapestries.
[* If you have evidence of an earlier commercial product for HL than OpFor, then please feel free to form your evidence into a cone-shaped object and insert it into your rectum. I...don't...care.]


I've Been Told That You've Been Bold With Harry, Mark And John
You are Corporal Adrian "NOT IN THE FACE! NOT IN THE FACE!" Shephard, USMC. As the story begins, you are on your way to...er...pass out candy and give free horsey rides to the disadvantaged children of the Greater Black Mesa Metropolitan Area. Okay, let's be honest: you're on your way to kill everything that moves in the Black Mesa Research Facility. Because like it or not, something's gone wrong, and you're there as part of the force sent to contain some really nasty -- yet not too bright -- shinola coming through from another dimension. Only you don't know the facts until you're dropped into the middle of it...literally, as your chopper does a Greg Louganis and lands...hard. You wake up in a room with a scientist, who is trying to revive your comrades.

Believe it, Cupcake...you're the bad guy. Ostensibly, that is...but not on purpose, no; all sorts of information and misinformation is flying around, and you're led to believe that the scientists -- in particular, one Gordon "I Am The Walrus" Freeman -- are responsible for the "incident" at Black Mesa. As it turns out, you're not the worst of the lot, no...there's downright evil forces at work here and it's going to take all of your training just to survive. Something bigger is at stake here (most likely...but wouldn't it be a kick in the nards if there wasn't anything beyond what you see?); there's something else going on, and you'll be lucky if you figure out just enough to keep yourself in one piece. And if you have the time, you've always wanted to know if a scientist really will melt if thrown into toxic waste.


I've Heard Uranus Is Big And Gassy
Opposing Force introduces itself to you in the guise of its dad, Half-Life. Graphically, OpFor is the same...nothing screamingly special, but it's not the worst I've ever seen (that honor goes to the second and third episodes of Doom). But what's new is the feel; OpFor just feels different from HL. You have a new HUD, two new weapon categories, clunky bootsteps and really big hands. And wouldn't you know it, there's new stuff to kill! Huzzah!

Essentially, OpFor is Half-Life from a different perspective; that's really the basic thrust of the whole concept. While you're not a bad guy per se, you are unwittingly the Avatar of Wrongeousness. But by the end, you and the scientists and Barneys and Otises all get to chant "can't we all just get along?" and toast S'mores over a flaming Bullsquid.

Because, see, it's made clear at the very beginning -- where you take over control of your movements, that is -- that the scientists aren't the enemy; the one that revived you informs you that your (and their) only chance of survival is to work together (in so many words). So you're not quite the bad guy anymore. However, some of the scientists you meet along the way are frightened of you; using this opportunity to confirm their fears is WRONG. Thank you. What's interesting is the fact that you don't meet any Barneys until far into the game; by then, it's obvious that you're not after them or the scientists, so they accept you as an ally. This method of introducing you to the world is beautifully done on Gearbox's part: it removes the possible stigma of being a heartless, cold-blooded, murdering weasel, at least for the more sensitive types among us...don't make me call you a wussy again.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of the whole thing here. You start off in an Osprey with a few other jarheads, and things soon go wrong...of course. What follows is a nice little romp through a zillion wonderfully-executed maps and set-pieces. You'll see a couple of familiar places, run into some familiar faces, and...trip over your...own...laces. Whatever. So much for rhyming. Paces aces races cases maces spaces...naaah.

From close calls with killer chunks of electricity to pools of nukeage, there's plenty of jumping, hopping, skipping, prancing...er... Uh, anyway, you'll be called upon to solve a few puzzles and generally cause so much death and destruction that -- well, let's just say that you'll kill more sentient lifeforms than R.J. Reynolds. At no point will you get to slow-dance with one of those Assassin babes (which, knowing them, probably translates into a particularly spastic version of The Hustle), nor will you get to see what's in the G-Man's briefcase (wild guess: manila folders and a giant black rubber "marital aid").

Which brings up the subject of sex: there is none in OpFor. Thanks for asking.

The maps range from the utilitarian to the sublime, but all have the Gearbox stamp of quality. The progress is logical, the pacing is just right, and you'll rarely feel the need to puncture your eyeball with a dirty thumbnail out of sheer frustration. You'll even catch a glimpse of ol' Gordon while you're at it.

And best of all, you don't have to spend a lot of time in Xen.

So, okay...great. That's all fine and good, but what are OpFor's features, O Argent Fellow? I'm glad you groveled, unworthy supplicant. Read on.


Yes, I Do This With ALL My Friends...So Bend Over And Shut Up
In addition to the scientists and the Barneys (you'll only run across a couple, and they're found late in the game), you'll have new friends to play with. Otis is a Desert Eagle-packing security guard who spends too much time guarding the candy machines. And wouldn't you know it, some of your buddies are stuck in Black Mesa as well.

There's your Engineer friend who can cut through doors; your heavy weapons friend; the Medic, who can heal both you and the other friendly Grunts; and others of varying weapon-carriage. The only guy that's missing is the West Point Peacock, who just struts around filing reports and screaming at you for having blood on your boots.

Taken in a cynical way, the friendly Grunts are just another source of ammo when they've outlived their usefulness.


It's No Fun Being An Illegal Alien
It's not enough that you have to deal with those Xen bozos...no, you have an all new alien race to contend with. Called "Race X", they're somewhat nastier than your standard Xen cretin. For comparison's sake, let's take the Race X Shocktrooper, a big green multi-limbed freak, and compare him to the Alien Grunt...no contest. The Shocktrooper is, in basic terms, a close approximation of the human Grunt: they're sneaky, organized, tactically-minded and tough to kill.

Some of the Race X byotches border on the ridiculously difficult, such as the Voltigore, a huge mother (shut yo' mouth!) who will make your day miserable. I cannot forget to mention the Pit Drones, whom I ended up hating with a passion. And you will too, if you live right.

Okay, never mind the footsoldiers for a moment: let's talk about those bosses. This time around, there are a couple of somewhat difficult alien obstacles to overcome; from a huge toxic waste-spewing sewer worm in a close space to a nasty clump of Jell-O with tentacles called the Geneworm...this means that you'll have to start thinking again. Damn.

Curiously, it becomes apparent later on that Race X isn't exactly news to the scientists...you'll come across labs where baby Shocktroopers are being kept suspended...for study?

The only *real* addition to the Xen-ites is really more of a mutation than a "new" alien...the truly frightening Gonome. He's the next step in evolution beyond a zombie and he creeps me out, especially when he starts running after me. Seriously. He's probably my favorite monster of the whole bunch.

Zombie Barney and the zombie Grunt round out the cast. I can't wait for the zombie HEV guy, or even the zombie medikit.


I Feel Comfortable With You, Brak...You Have A Gentle Touch
Since you're the Grunt, you have no reason to expect opposition from Grunts anymore...mostly [see the "They're FEATURES, Dammit! *FEATURES*!!" section for bugs]. So is it all aliens, then? No, no, no...you'll get to murder humans as well, my bloodthirsty little homey.

Remember the Assassin from HL? Well, she has a male companion...the Black Ops guy. Or as one of your Grunt acquaintances calls them, "those masked freaks". They're not the most sanguine characters to cross; some carry sniper rifles, others carry MP5's (and some of them carry contact grenades), and up close, they know Kickass Fu. On the bright side, they're not stuffed to the gills with amphetamines like the Assassins.

And that's...well, that's it for your new human enemies. Sorry. On the other hand, the original HL Grunts are available so you guys can develop mods with alternate story lines of the Marines teaming up with Black Ops...but you won't see them in OpFor. No, you'll have to play some add-ons for that.


They're Camouflage Stiletto Heels, Sir!
As a soldier, you're issued not an orange monstrosity with a female voice, but a PCV suit.** Standing for Powered Combat Vest, it keeps you from coming to a bad end prematurely (that's your department, butterfingers). It works like the HEV, but there are some differences. If you can't figure those out, then you really need to be playing something easier. Or else have a good friend beat you with the Observant Stick. You can still pick up batteries and use both health and HEV chargers. Happy day. Beyond that, you're on your own.
[** Not "PVC"...*PCV*. You're not going to be running around in a rubber suit shooting stuff...that's No One Lives Forever.]

Another nifty feature is Night Vision...instead of a flashlight, your PCV powers night vision goggles, which turn ordinary low-light limited-visibility situations into irritatingly green limited-visibility situations. I've found that it's easier to crank up my gamma until I can see in the dark.


...This Is For Fighting, This Is For Fun
The meat of the matter: what can I kill these things with? Besides the standard HL weapons (some of which you'll never pick up in the course of the game), you'll have access to some truly great weapons.

For starters, you'll be treated to the pipe wrench. Heavy and powerful, it even has an alternate fire, a vicious overhead swipe. And what's a Grunt's kit without a combat knife? Nasty...and fun to use on weak things.

During Boot Camp [see the next section], you're informed that the Desert Eagle is your standard-issue sidearm. And what a sidearm it is. While not quite as powerful as the .357, it packs enough punch to make you feel almost guilty about using it on Vorts...almost. One thing to remember is that there are two fire modes: plain, it can fire rapidly but inaccurately. However, if you hit your alt+fire button, a laser sight will be activated and your rate of fire will be slower...but accurate. Me, I use this mode all the time; ammo isn't as plentiful as popcorn, you know.*** This is probably my favorite weapon of the mod, in addition to the SAW.
[*** And before you e-mail me with questions, let me clarify: NO, there is no popcorn in OpFor.]

The M-249 SAW Light Machine Gun is a heavy-caliber ass-mowing device that is useful for your tougher enemies. Hey, I've even shot down a helicopter or two with it. It's great for Voltigores and Shocktroopers, and boasts a nice reloading sequence.

And what's life without a sniper rifle? The M-40A1 Sniper Rifle is an instant-impact weapon with one-shot, one-kill capabilities. I just wish I had one of these babies in the 1st grade. Of course, I'd probably still be in an institution of some sort, but hell...at least I'd have a feeling of accomplishment.

Hey, you remember those Barnacles from HL, the things attached to ceilings that could bite your head off? Well, you get to use one as a weapon. And not just a weapon, no...it's also useful as a grapple device. It attaches to organic materials, so be prepared for some swinging.

One of the obvious side projects of the Black Mesa Teleport Labs is the Displacer, a curious chunk of hardware. Normal firing mode shoots a destructive ball of energy...I still can't figure out whether it's supposed to teleport your target away or just gib them, but either way, it's sadistic fun. Alt+fire, however, teleports you...to Xen (provided you have enough ammo). But don't get cocky; sometimes you'll teleport in thin air above nothing, which is not good. Usually when there's a lot of ammo nearby -- it uses the same isotopes as HL's Gauss and Gluon -- that's a sign that it's probably safe to use it on yourself...probably. Saving before doing so is something I recommend.

Here's a twist: when you see your first Shocktrooper and kill him, don't shoot its Shockroach...let it jump at you...a new weapon! The Race X version of the Hivehand, it shoots lightning instead of wasps. There's only one firing mode, so be happy with that. Its front firing orifice also looks a little nasty if you take the time to stare at it, so try to avoid doing that...you don't need that in your head.

Finally, we have the Shocktrooper itself as a weapon...a baby Shocktrooper, really. But for soft-definition purposes, it's a Spore Launcher.**** This is an organic rocket/grenade launcher, in practice...normal fire is the high-speed projectile (a kind of green ball-like spore), and alt+fire is happy-bouncy-f!#k-you-up-if-it-hits-you fun.
[**** Imagine, if you will, a dumbass watchdog group getting hold of that and twisting it as usual: "They're using babies as rocket launchers!"]

Playing through, I found myself most often alternating between the Spore Launcher, the SAW, the Desert Eagle and the shotgun...those turned out to be my favorites.

Side Note: if you play some of the add-ons such as our very own Intolerable Threat, you'll soon realize that Adrian has a buttload (more or less) of weapons in addition to the standard HL arsenal. Twenty-three, to be exact.


Heaven Is Texas In The Rearview Mirror
Instead of going through a Hazard Course, you're invited to lay facedown in the mud and enjoy Boot Camp. While you're there, you'll be instructed in several useful skills such as manipulating your fellow man (via the "use" key), picking flowers as bullets whiz by your head, learning how to operate a radio without defaulting to some pseudo-intellectual college radio station, climbing a rope and generally being berated until you're a lean, mean, shit-on-a-shingle eating machine. Or until you burst into tears and your mom has to come pick you up...either way.

The Drill Instructors are voiced in such a way as to remind one of R. Lee Ermey's sensitive portrayal as the understanding sergeant in the tender coming-of-age film, Full Metal Jacket...good stuff. My favorite part was where that one guy ripped Molly Ringwald's arm out of the socket and beat Andrew McCarthy to death with it. A great movie. My favorite line from OpFor boot camp: "By the end of the day, I'll have you eating danger and crapping victory!"


"How Far Did The Elevator Fall, Mother?"
But how does it play, exactly? OpFor is a little bit more difficult than the original HL...which is like saying that a perforated kidney is a little more painful than a hangnail. It's downright brutal in places...since the AI's smarter, you're going to have to use a part of yourself you've never used before: your brain. All right, maybe you have used it before...I'm not saying you're dumb, but boy...

*sigh*

Never mind. The point is that it plays well. Some things are a bit contrived -- for example, the laser guns placed conveniently at the big final boss monster's eye level -- but don't let that distract you from having fun. It's called Suspension of Disbelief, and it works quite well...especially if you watch a lot of Will Smith movies. I mean, come on...that skinny little squirt portraying a heavyweight boxer?? You might as well just get Urkel. Muhammad Ali has scar tissue tougher than Will Smith. Yeesh.

They're FEATURES, Dammit! *FEATURES*!!
Sometimes the friendly Grunts will start firing on you for no real reason. There it is. Let me clarify: sometimes -- perhaps rarely, let me stress -- after a firefight, they'll start shooting you, which isn't the most fun thing in the world. Adding to that is the fact that the HD Pack will throw in a graphical bug or two on its own...again, rarely.

What irritated me was one map in which my satchel charges stopped working; I selected the satchel from the menu, and the detonator button came up...but I hadn't dropped any satchels up to that point. I think they started working again later on...but I had never had that happen before. File that under "Weird."


Great...Now My Arms Are All Tingly
In addition to your standard movement, you'll also be called upon to use ropes. While not the slickest way to implement the conundrum of believable rope-scaling, Gearbox has come close, sorta...kinda. It's infuriating at times; sometimes you need momentum to swing over to a surface, but hooray, you might not have enough and fall to your death and/or dismemberment. My suggestion for an alternative is a butt-mounted jetpack...cramming a rocket up your ass and launching yourself at a large, immovable object is preferable to the rope.

But once you get used to it, you'll come to merely hate it.

Either This Wallpaper Goes Or...
Nothing new here, visually; it's the same ol' HL with new characters. Although if you use the HD Pack, then you'll find...well, not a whole lot. Besides what the HD Pack did for HL, there's not a lot to see here. The weapon models have been updated (even though you don't get to use all of them anyway) as have the AI...except for the friendly Grunts. But since the HD Pack Grunts are more or less matched to the OpFor Grunts, there's no reason to change. Did you get all that? Good. Where's the Tylenol?

What I remember from OpFor is a lot of green. Green everywhere. And while I like green as a color and as a euphemism for money (send me some!), it's not something I was prepared to see in such vast quantities. But, on further reflection, I like it...it sure beats that godawful omnipresent brown of Quake (aka, "Brown") or Quake 2's gray fetish.


I'm Sorry, I Can't Hear You Over The Loud Thing
The old voices return for a bow; we get new lines by the G-Man, scientists and Barney. And didn't I recognize the voice of Barney speaking for a Black Ops guy? Yes, yes I did. Unfortunately, the friendly Grunts -- who now have clear, distinct voices -- are rather limited in their idle chatter. It gets a little tedious hearing "Roger that!", "Have you seen any other soldiers from my platoon?", "All right, check in!", "Boy, this sure is some first mission!", "GET SOME!", "If only Drill Instructor Barnes could see me now!" and the worst of the lot, "I'm a natural-born alien killer"...even after I kill the alien myself! Jerks.

Anyway, most of the Grunt voices are same voice, or at least sounded really similar to my ear (which has been known to have its off days). For them to go through so much trouble to provide specialty troops, the voices should have at least been individualized a little more.

As for the weapons, let's just say that I found the SAW to be a joy. The Spore Launcher's alt+fire makes a kind of diaphragm-intensive "PLUH!", which delighted me to no end. The Desert Eagle, on the other hand, was a little weak; I figured for such a powerful weapon, it'd have more body. The Barnacle is wonderfully sickening, and the sniper rifle has a good crack to it (the sound, not its butt)...the Shockroach is a little muted for an energy weapon, however. But in short, nice job.

I wasn't knocked out over the new music; I usually keep the music muted, since it just tends to distract me somewhat. It wasn't bad, no...it was done well, in fact. But I still prefer HL's tracks.

The Clammy Group Hug
I guess it has multiplayer features...but I don't really care. No, I don't want to HEAR it. I don't wanna know about what kind of weird-ass stuff you're involved in. Let's be honest with ourselves, shall we? The only real reason that so many people are into MP is simply because they don't want to admit that they've paid $30+ for only half a game. Forced enjoyment, as it were.


But What I Really Mean To Say Is...
OpFor is quite a feat; it takes more than a couple of hours to play, it has something of a storyline, it introduces nifty new weapons and AI, and it's fun to play. If you need any more convincing of its worth beyond that, then there's something seriously wrong with that teeny-tiny little lump of malformed ganglia you call a mind. No offense...idiot.

The Envelope Please, Stacy
Five out of five. And you thought I hated it.

[Stacy???]

Recommended System Requirements
(Windows 98/95/NT 4.0 CDROM version)
[According to the box and Amazon.com, who aren't always right.]
P133+
24mb RAM
2x CDROM drive
400mb hard drive space
Full version of Half-Life

[I hate myself.]
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 02:37:50 PM by Silver Sorrow »
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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106: Who Knows?
« Reply #136 on: January 13, 2017, 11:33:48 AM »
I have no idea where #106 went, or if there even was one. All I know is that there's a gap between 105 and 107. So in the interim, enjoy this moment of truth:

« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 02:49:46 PM by Silver Sorrow »
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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107: Dressed To Kill
« Reply #137 on: January 13, 2017, 03:02:49 PM »
Dressed to Kill

Title: Dressed to Kill
Author: Jürgen Siebert
E-mail: [N/A]
Filename: map.zip
Filesize: 670k
Number of maps: 1
Download: [N/A]
Score: 0.5 / 5

Note: [HD pack, screenshots, blah blah blah.]

Abstract:
The other day, I read part of an article that featured a female country singer...I say "part of an article" because I have better things to do than read articles about country singers, like seeing if I can get my cat to eat a whole bag of Red-Hots. Anyway, in the article she said that her brother or sister or some other family member had this weird disease, and she had always wanted to write a song in tribute to them...but she never did. Then two songwriters came along and, as she put it, the song "wrote itself." It...wrote...itself. Okay, sure...whatever. I can see that. Uh-huh. Excuse me, but that is just PURE EVIL. Let's break it down: woman wants to write song for family members. So she gets two Nashville song writers. They write the song. She records it. She makes a zillion dollars. Then she claims that the song wrote itself. Yes, with the help of...two...professional...son gwriters. Forget rock 'n' roll: the Devil's a country fan.

[I don't recall the singer in question or the song, nor do I want to. Neither can I be sure of where I read that article, but I'm guessing it was in a magazine with Dolly Parton on the cover. Because why else would anyone open a magazine dedicated to country fucking music??]

Back to the map. Unless you want to just stick your finger down your throat instead.

Story?
Kill the monsters. Start the rocket.

Onward!

The author states that this is his first map. I believe it. From the massive ceiling fan in one room ("Don't stand -- ," ZZZZZZZTT! "-- up..."), to the drama of wondering what caliber handgun with which to blow your brains out, you'll be enjoying all manner of torments. Hell, you might just want to throw yourself feet first into the first stump grinder** you see after playing this map. I say go for it.

[** I don't know how these things slip through. What I meant was "wood-chipper." You can't throw yourself into a stump grinder...not in the way I envision it, that is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stump_grinder]

I fell out of the map at one point, and things didn't get any better. If I were to say anything positive about this map, I might say, "at least it didn't snap my spine and leave me in the desert to die."

Okay, okay, OKAY. Fine. Positive stuff: once you get used to the off-kilter way of doing things, you might actually enjoy yourself...that is, if you enjoy using pruning shears to snip off your toes, one by one. Okay, that wasn't so positive after all. Screw it. Some parts were somewhat playable (believe it or not), but on the whole, you might be better off not trying.

You'll be asked to break a lot of things with the crowbar, suffer through some serious HOM*, perhaps even fall out of the map at one point (you can't miss it), but it's nothing so terrible that the author would be deserving of death. No, a good mauling would be more in line. The gameplay in particular is a tad off-putting; at one point, I ran through a room with a long line of ceiling-turrets into a room with two Alien Grunts...a little distressing, but not an altogether unpleasant experience. Okay, so I'm a masochist.
[* For those of you just joining us, HOM means "Hall Of Mirrors"; a holdover name for an effect from the Doom days, it's caused by various things -- leaks between brushes, long distances in the player's view, and so on -- and is fun to see, unless it causes a crash.]

The layout is reminiscent of a nightmare; an unsavory mix of unpleasant textures and architecture will trick you into thinking that you're in the grip of night terrors and make you wish for the cold, thin light of dawn...which will never happen, because you're not really asleep.

So in essence, if this map were highly polished and given a lot more attention, then it would be playable, if psychotic. As it is, it's merely psychotic. I do encourage the author to keep trying, however, as some elements were mildly interesting.

Summary? Fire good. Map so-so. Me go watch TV.

Rating? 0.5 out of 5.

Annoyance Rating: Well, let's just say that if it were a wall, then the Annoyance Rating could be seen from space.


Bonus!
As a special treat for our readers, I've managed to score an interview with the author, Jürgen Siebert, whom I found by his favorite pond. Children were sharing their bread with him and his fellow map authors; in fact, I believe I saw Chris Spain and Neil Manke fighting over a particularly attractive female. However, I was here only to interview Mr. Siebert, but I'm glad I know where these guys hang out.


Silver Sorrow: I'm here now with Jürgen Siebert; thanks for agreeing to this interview, sir. I was quite surprised to see how much you liked the outdoors.

Jürgen Siebert: Quack. Quack-quack. Quaaack!

SS: I'm not following you. Perhaps I should've brushed up on my German. Ha ha ha.

JS: Quack! Quackqua-quaaaaack!

SS: Perhaps if utilize the Universal Translator...there. All right. Mr. Siebert...would you say your skills at WorldCraft have improved since this map?

JS: Quaaack! Qua--hole, I'm a duck.

SS: I'm sorry?

JS: I said, I don't know anything about WorldCraft! I'm a duck! And just who is this Jürgen Siebert character, anyway??

SS: Such modesty! Such humility in the face of recognition is a rare thing. Most other authors would be quacking like little miniature volcanoes!

JS: That makes no sense, you stupid, stupid man! Where's one of those touchy-feely weirdos from PETA when you need them?

SS: I admit, at first I was taken aback by the cute webbed feet and the sheer profusion of green feathers...do these things help you in the "building of worlds"? Ha ha ha ha!

JS: Get away from me, you sick freak!

SS: Wait! Come back! Ah, well...there he goes: the reclusive genius going back to doing what he does best. It's so nice to see a man at one with nature, skimming across a still pond like a duck, or something. Until next time, kids!

[I never did hear anything, angry or otherwise, from the author. Just as well...knowing me, I probably wouldn't have handled it very well.]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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The Cerulean Dragon
« Reply #138 on: January 14, 2017, 09:36:36 PM »
Skimming through what I have left to repost, it occurred to me that I don't have all of the reviews just yet. I haven't managed to go through every CD I have, so there are some just waiting to be found. What I do have stops at #127, but there are a couple of reviews that I distinctly recall doing that just aren't in this current batch. The Gate, for example, and that other one set at the White House? Don't recall the name, but the author liked the review. Which was a refreshing change.

I found some additional Thief reviews, but I have no idea how or why I have gaps in the numbering. Where did #3 and #6 go? Did I even HAVE and #3 and #6? Who knows?!?

In other good news, I finally found my review of the re-release of Swiss Cheese Halloween (I KNEW I had reviewed that damned thing!) and the final version of Heart Of Evil, which caused certain Hangar-ites -- who shall remain nameless, as I cannot remember their exact names -- to complain on Ten-Four, of all places, that my review sucked. OF COURSE it sucked, dumbass. I was tired of having to review the ever-fucking thing every time a new version came out, and I just. didn't. care. anymore.

Happiest of all, I finally found The Cerulean Dragon.

The Cerulean Dragon was an Abstract that was utterly denied posting soon after I submitted the review...I had to replace it with another piece at a certain webmaster's vehement insistence, and rightly so. One-celled organisms would have been offended by it. But reading it again, I figure: what the hell.

But don't expect a risque masterpiece, nor something so shocking that it would break the internet...although I'd be happy if it just broke Twitter. That'd be hilarious. Suffer, assholes.

Anyway, here it is...uncensored, offensive, and lacking in all sorts of admirable qualities.

~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~

The Cerulean Dragon

"Look! It is the Cerulean Dragon!" cried Pin Yi, almost wetting her cheongsam in excitement as she scanned the horizon. "When he arrives, he will have vibrating rubber toys and depilatories from America for all us ho's!"

"Let us go down to the docks and 'sing' to the American sailors," said a bored May Wing.

"Yes, let's!" agreed Ching Ming Ling Ding, who was idly squeezing a giant, painful zit on her neck. Dark blood stained her collar, betraying an infection. She had been picking at the thing for days.

Pin Yi considered. "If we go now, we will have to wait too long before the Cerulean Dragon docks his ship. His ship will not arrive in port until this evening."

"So?" May Wing asked derisively. "We'll blow a few sailors, let the others watch, and the time will pass. Come ON, I am so bored!"

"I am already sitting on an icepack from last time," said Chow Down, tensely poised. "If another sailor even looks at me, I am going to scream."

"They like it when you scream," May Wing said. "But you do not have to go. You can stay here with my grandmother and recall old times."

"Such a pretty girl I was," May Wing's grandmother began as she squatted in the dirt, boiling a pot of rice. "Many sailors I kneeled for behind the Lucky Fucky Sucky Tavern. They called me 'Yellow Peril,' because of my chipped front teeth. I remember..."

But Chow Down did not hear the rest, as she was hobbling after the rest of the departing girls, except for Ching Ming Ling Ding who had dropped dead from septicemia mere seconds before.

~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~

And there you have it. It ain't much. Or anything at all. My apologies to anyone and everyone of even vaguely Asian heritage.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 12:25:57 AM by Silver Sorrow »
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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108: Mel Soaring 2: Star Rancor
« Reply #139 on: January 24, 2017, 09:16:11 AM »
That went over well. ::)

Mel Soaring 2: Star Rancor

Title: Mel Soaring 2: Star Rancor
Author: Shaun Ross, aka [Kona]
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: alk03.zip
Filesize: 1,389k
Number of maps: 5
Download: [N/A]
Score: 2 / 5

Note: [Models, screenshots, High Definition pack. Whatever.]

Abstract:
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have yet to provide a Public Service Announcement on the dangers of drinking and driving. I'm talking booze and driving -- not, say, driving with a Big Gulp -- although that has its dangers as well. No, I'm talking about getting all liquored up and driving your Range Rover on the highways and through the residential neighborhoods of this fair land of ours (the USA, I mean; you other countries have problems with your drivers staying on the freaking roads, so I wouldn't be feeling too smug right now if I were you!). My Announcement is this: don't do it, you morons. Unless you're in Beverly Hills or other known hangouts of stupid celebrities...then feel free to run down a useless celeb, like Alec Baldwin.** Since I'm not a drinker myself, I feel fairly confident that I won't be violating my own directive. Okay, back the Silver Truck up there, you're saying...Silver Sorrow? A non-drinker?? The guy who once compared a bad map to a mercury cocktail? Un-friggin'-believable!! Yes, it's true. I have very little inclination to spend my days in an alcoholic haze (which, needless to say, rhymes); however, a lot of you are under the impression that I write these reviews, and especially the Abstracts, while three sheets to the wind....nothing could be further from the truth. I'm a crackhead!

[** Please do not run down Alec Baldwin. If you must, aim for a Kardashian instead.]


The Basics:
R_speeds: Good.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No/no/new sky
Gameplay: Unspeakable.

[Goddammit! The section that just wouldn't die!]

Story?
You are Mel Soaring, intergalactic villain. To tell you the truth, the story frightened me. I'm afraid of it. It has something to do with friendly Iron Maidens from Quake2 and I think I felt my skin try to crawl off and hide*...it mentions something about fighting the Xen aliens on a floating asteroid and there was something about Meeylark, who I think once played for the Harlem Globetrotters...or was that Meadowlark Lemon? Anyway, to really find out what the story's all about (standing on trout, eating grout, after midnight, we're gonna get a whole bunch of trout...after midnight, after midnight), take a gander at the story in the readme. I am not a "relate in your own words" fan.
[* Sure, the Iron Maidens got back AND front...but I don't know if any brown paper bag could hide that much ugly.]

Onward!

First off, we need to identify just who Shaun Ross really is. After a few hours spent in the National Archives, poring over 200 year old shipping ledgers, I was forcibly reminded -- via the unabridged edition of Dave Barry's "Necronomicon" bouncing off my skull** -- that he had done a few Quake levels. So after looking through my collection of Quake maps, I remembered. Wait...back up a second: actually, first I clutched my forehead in the throes of extraordinary pain...THEN I went through my Quake maps. Actual quote: "Oh, Shaun Ross...right. That Quake guy who has the thing for the Iron Maidens." I amended after further memory-jogging (via two white-hot knitting needles administered to the groin area...it's not a memory- inducer, it's just a hobby): "That guy who makes all those great-looking maps for Quake."

[** It was on a high shelf and it fell off and bonked me on the head, see...never mind.]

This is far more important than you would think, initially. The making of Quake maps, I mean. When you think of Quake, what comes to mind? Besides "brown," I mean. And besides "even more brown, you fool!" Honestly, people...I'm going to have to spell it out for you, aren't I? Okay, fine: fast, furious gameplay, a complete lack of sophistication (a purely subjective opinion, I admit), and respawning monsters...not to mention the ubiquitous key hunt.

Right, right...get off the floor, you pussy. So when you consider that the author's main contributions to the FPS scene have been specifically for Quake and Quake2, you might have the impression that this set of maps just may bear some semblance to those games. And you would be right.

This may be a sweeping generalization (and I don't care if it is), but these maps play more like the Quake series than Half-Life. The only things missing are rocket-jumping off the ceiling and a futile search for the Gold Rune Key. However, since we are in the realm of Half-Life -- remember? -- I'll try to bury my furtive pre-HL past under a thick, rich layer of soil...add the chives...and try not to think about Quake. Unfortunately, the author himself makes this completely impossible, as these maps are a continuation of an ongoing storyline, which takes place in...hell, I don't know. It's his universe, and we're catching a glimpse of it. So I should undertake these levels in the understanding that we're NOT in the HL Universe As We Know It, Exactly, and Mel Soaring -- for that's the character's name -- has made a side trip to kill some Xen aliens. Okay, I get it...stop hitting me, I get it! It's supposed to play like Quake! Okay! OKAY!

Before diving in with both feet encased in concrete, I must point out that the onscreen text doesn't work...so you'll get a "MSG14", etc., when there's supposed to be mission info. If you're really curious, open up the pak file with a pak utility (I use QPed) and read the titles.txt...you might even print out the messages and read them aloud at the appropriate moments, preferably in your best Basil Rathbone or James Earl Jones voice. Okay, on with the show.

Firstly, I feel it incumbent upon me to point out the reason why these maps rated an average score of 2...allow the following to illustrate:

In these maps, you'll soon find out that Xen aliens will spawn behind you with no warning, just like Quake's minions. Isn't that wonderful? You'll be bleeding with joy. In fact, the words and phrases I used while playing this map, if given a good spin by a particularly talented Etymologist, could possibly be described as "enthusiastic, if not in the way the author intended." Let me clarify:

!!!I!!!

!!!HATE!!!

!!!RESPAWNING!!!

!!!MONSTERS!!!

!!!#$%^&!!!

HL was supposed to be about intelligent gameplay, wasn't it? Not this knuckle-dragging Neanderthal-like sack of monkey...okay, okay. I'm sorry. I'm just pissed off from having to deal with all these VORTS APPEARING OUT OF MIDAIR BEHIND ME and ZAPPING ME IN THE ASS with their LIGHTNING ATTACKS, or just SLAPPING ME AROUND like IKE TURNER opening a can of WHOOPASS on TINA TURNER.** What's worse is going through a doorway, seeing an Alien Grunt in front of me, then getting zapped by two Vorts from behind while the AG sprays hornets at me. This is NOT enjoyable gameplay, and I spurn it as I would spurn a rabid dog.
[** "Bruisin'...Bruisin'...Bruisin' up the singer...dee dee-dee-dee-dee-doo"]

On the weapons side of things, I might point out that HL's weapons do not lend themselves to most rapid-fire don't-have-to-reload-because-the-game-does-it-for-you situations such as you find in the Quake series, especially the shotgun. You have eight shells, and sometimes the Vorts take two blasts to put down...factor in that the average room may have upwards of three Vorts, and you're screwed. Why? Because your shotgun is mostly what you have to rely upon...the .357 is available and useful, but there's only so much ammo available. You'll pick up the crossbow much later on, but how useful is it, really? Two bolts for an Alien Grunt, one for a Vort...that's the same as the .357. Remember that I'm playing this on "easy," btw...if I had played on a higher level, then you would've seen it on CNN by now.

"Reviewer goes nuts, demands $900 billion and 'an end to the tyranny that is Cheez-Wiz!'...back to you, Lynn."

Bitch, bitch, bitch...I know, I know. But I can't help it...my neck hurt after playing through these maps, and when that happens, nothing good ever comes of it. Are there any bright spots? Yes...the maps are nicely done, the outdoor terrain -- when you have to do some ledge-hopping -- is nice, the textures are, of course, well-done. If it weren't for the Vorts popping up in rooms I had just cleared out, then this would be a far-more respectable set of maps. I've heard of gaining notoriety through your work, but this...this...

And it'd be easier to take if the enemies showed any solid variation on the walk-into-room-kill-Aliens-turn-around-kill-aliens-newly-spawned-behind-you theme, but it doesn't, really. The last map is particularly ulcer-inducing, and that's all I will say about that.

How could this have been made easier to digest? For one thing, provide the MP5 and enough ammo...give the player some flexibility in his weapons choices. Second, get rid of the respawning monsters; we've evolved beyond that (Serious Sam notwithstanding). Finally, some more HEV batteries would've been nice.

In the long run, let me say this: I will admit to a few choice colorful metaphors here and there, but at least I wasn't bored...angry at times, yes, but bored? No.

Summary? Good-looking maps, wretched gameplay, one revenge-minded reviewer (give me money and I will like you).

Rating? 2 out of 5.

Annoyance Rating: No one's ever counted that high yet.

[Strange...somehow, I get the impression that I didn't care too much for this mod...]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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109: Southeastern LAN Party
« Reply #140 on: January 24, 2017, 09:27:34 AM »
Southeastern LAN Party

Title: Southeastern LAN Party
Author: Michael "MurderINC" Whitlatch
E-mail: [N/A]
Filename: selparty.zip
Filesize: 2,267k
Number of maps: 1
Download: [N/A]
Score: 1 / 5

Note: The models depicted in the screenshots [huh?] are part of the High Definition pack. Yeah, I'm wetting myself in joy.

Abstract:
I've come to the realization that in real life, I'm a boring conversationalist. Either that, or I'm surrounded by rude people who never let me finish a damn sentence.** So in the spirit of deep clinical depression and wanton self-destruction, I've decided to obsess on the former by pursuing a cynical little dream: yes, I've decided to collect all of my boring stories together and inflict them upon people. I didn't know this sadistic streak ran so deeply in my character, but suffice to say that you will all suffer accordingly. For example, today I was thinking about Jeno's pizza rolls. I then flashed on telling my children (when and/or when I infect an unsuspecting woman with my DNA in the far, far future, hopefully by the traditional method and not through a "donor" program) about Jeno's pizza when I was a kid:

[** Nothing has changed. On reflection, I don't think I've ever completed a sentence. Maybe I'm just not hanging out with the right people. Then again, once a new group gets to know me, they'll cut me off too. Because I'm shit.]

"When I was a kid, Jeno's made frozen pizza; they were about the size of Totino's pizza, but a little more spicy. Now they just make pizza rolls. Well, that's not true, because they still make pizza. But if it was true, it'd be a damn shame, because I really did like those pizzas. Could eat a whole one by myself. Yup. But they give me the speecy-spicies something awful...the dreaded Ring Of Fire*, if you know what I mean. Now I have to settle for Totino's, which aren't bad, but the way they clump the sausage all in one place makes it look like a dog took a squat on my pizza. I mean, it'll make you PUKE if you think about it too much. So I have to scrape all the sausage off, or redistribute it. Like I have nothing better to do with my day...with Jeno's pizzas, you never had to do that. Because they didn't put anything on the pizzas, see? Just sauce and a couple of shreds of cheese. What do you expect for under a buck? When I had the Chicken Pox, that's all I would eat. Oh, and those Lifesaver's suckers? Those were excellent. I had a lot of dental work that year, I can tell you. All I did was play Atari and eat pizza and suckers. I can't look at one of those things now without feeling sick. The Atari, I mean. It was a 2600. Then when I was playing Raiders of the Lost Ark -- you don't remember that one; it really sucked -- I rolled on my side and one of those son-of-a-bitchin' blisters friggin' POPPED, and left a damn scar. I still have it...want to see?"
[* "Sing it, Johnny!"]

And so on and so on and on and on and on. Taking a boring story and turning it into a rambling, unfocused (and potentially violent) rant has all the earmarks of a person who is alone a lot. Why? Because I hate people, that's why...but most of all, I hate you.** Thank you gentle reader, and may Darren McGavin bless.

[** Overkill. "I Hate." YouTube link. It's my anthem.]

The Basics:
R_speeds: Sluggish.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No.
Gameplay: Demented.

[Stupid Basics.]

Story?

MURDER DONE DEAD
by Silver Sorrow

Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty Seven: Things Happen, Sort Of

Private Dick Slick Wisenbone smirked as he trained his gat on the cowering Ewan Dehorsturowdinon, who glared at him with murderous hatred from underneath the sink, where he had jammed himself in the previous chapter.

"Have a drink on me," smirked the smirking Wisenbone.

"But there isn't anything under here but drain cleaner," the villainous cur objected in confusion.

"I know that!" Wisenbone growled, his smirk gone. "I was being facetious!"

"Oh...I get it now. You were referring to the incumbent social habit of our time, which is to offer someone a drink; since the drain cleaner is a liquid, you were making a joke based on the juxtapositioning of the two understood elements present. Um...I should say ‘no thanks, ya dirty snoop!' now, shouldn't I?"

Wisenbone, in the meantime, had slumped against the wall and was tiredly rubbing his hand over his face. "Yeah, whatever. Look, just forget it...it just isn't working."

"You'll never take me alive, ya lousy--"

"I said, forget it. The moment's gone."

"Don't I get to laugh maniacally at some point?"

"No."

"But--"

"No."

Meanwhile, Bunny Tokugawa, Wisenbone's increasingly busty secretary with hopes and dreams of her own, doesn't appear in this scene.

[Get it? "Ewan Dehorsturowdinon"? Sound it out. Yes. It sounds like "you and the horse you rode in on," which is just about as clever as it seems. Which is to say, not.]


Onward!

Made ostensibly as a stress reliever/lark, this map is, essentially, a scientist-killing map. Why it also takes a few texture wads totaling about 2.7mb to render this is beyond me, but to quote Vincent Price, "oh, to hell with it."** So I loaded it up and what before my wandering eyes did appear, but room filled with computers and all their wonderful gear!

[** You'd never guess the movie. Comedy Of Terrors, yo.]

Folks, it just gets worse from here on in, so try not to hurt yourself over my prose.

There's not really a whole lot to say about this one, but it does have a couple of nice surprises...one of those being a lone shotgun Grunt. Two Barneys and a bunch of scientists make for about five minutes of applied cruelty, so all you're expected to do is find something else with which to fill up those other 23 hours and 55 minutes.

What was satisfying about the experience was the fact that the computers exploded in such a delightful way...something which I've thought about quite often lately...lousy non-JKII-running piece of...never mind.** The scientists proved to be easy adversaries, as did the two Barneys, who at least had the guts to fight back...not that it did them any good. No, my real foe was the big screen TV...I was standing too close to the thing when I shot it. Hint: don't do that. It hurts.

[** I guess I was having problems running JKII (Jedi Knight: Outcast) at the time.]

I only have two minor gripes about this map (a term I use loosely, as there is no ending, nor is there any real objective beyond shooting people): one, there isn't enough ammo for the MP5, just in case I wanted to rock ‘n' roll on the scientists; two, the r_speeds were a bit much.

Otherwise, this is a small footnote to HL history...a somewhat disturbing footnote, yes, but it could be quite entertaining if you've had a really bad day. However, might I make a suggestion? If you want more of this sort of thing, try out Barry Bollinger's OpFor Postal, which is a terrific example of this sub-genre.

I might add that there are a few Gamespy banners...quite a tacky statement, as we all know that Gamespy is more evil than all of history's Hitlers, Stalins and Maos combined, as well as a large helping of Adam Sandler, Carrot Top, Mike Meyers and Pauly Shore thrown in for the brain-damaged moron aspect of their corporation. I'd call for a bloody revolution, but there's only so much rabble-rousing I can do in one day. So instead, I found a decal I had downloaded a while back and applied it under one of the Gamespy banners...see the screenshot,** it's around here somewhere. Keep the faith, people. Download at the church of your choice.

[** No, I'm not posting the screenshot. But I will describe it: it's the Fileplanet logo (remember FilePlanet? Of course you do!) with tag, "Get In Line, Bitch." This refers to the torment you had to go through just to download one measly goddamn file. And it was even worse because everyone was on dial-up back then. Good riddance to GameSpy and FilePlanet.]

Summary? One room (plus another in the back), lots of scientists and shootable computers. Not a bad map, but not really an immersive experience, by any means. If you do find yourself immersed, seek professional help immediately. It took me longer to write this review than to play the map, but I wasn't expecting more than what it advertised.

Rating? 1 out of 5.

Annoyance Rating: Low.

[File this review under "Crap I Reviewed Because I Could."]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#110: Half-Starwars
« Reply #141 on: February 02, 2017, 01:26:05 AM »
Half-Starwars

Title: Half-Starwars
Author: DG
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: half_starwars.zip
Filesize: 3,931k
Number of maps: 2
Download: [N/A]
Score: 1 / 5

Note: [Screenshots, etc.] Excuse me while I go take a cold shower.

Installation Note: The installation for these maps may prove to be a little tricky, as you'll have to put the files in their appropriate folders manually. Extract the contents to its own temporary folder. Take all of the .bsp and .map files and put them in your "valve/maps" folder; take all of the .wad files and put them in the "valve" folder; put all of the .mdl files in your "valve/models" folder. Start HL and bring up the console; type "map mosg3" (without quotes) and you're all set. When you want to get rid of this thing, just remove the files. That's it! I won't mention the mental anguish that you'll never be able to get rid of, but that's par for the course.

[Or, you could just ignore the thing completely. That's what I should've done. Also: the guide above is WAY out of date, as things have changed in the years since this review.]

Abstract:
Well, the idiots have finally done it; they've lobbied, they've rallied, they've screamed, and finally, the dreaded day has come to pass: yes, now Tostitos corn chips come in a "scoop" design so that morons won't lose their dip. Now call me a Luddite, but the old-fashioned corn chip was enough for me. It took many, many years of intensive trial and error, but I finally was able to appreciate the art of chip-dipping. (This is an American thing, so my friends in foreign lands might want to go do something else for a while.) I can take an ordinary corn chip and plunge it into the dip of my choice WITHOUT breaking the chip and WITHOUT losing a ton of dipping material.* Magic, you say? Am I some sort of sorcerer? Do I have a crystal ball?** Not really...I just have a somewhat reliable store of common sense when it comes to snack foods. (Example: never eat anything with "rind" in its name.) But this current trend of "upgrading" the food is insidious...what's next? Doritos escalates the chip war by introducing Teflon chips? "Look!" the Common Man might say while hoisting a huge ball of congealed refried beans with one chip, "These Teflon-itos are Teflon-riffic! Thanks Doritos, for giving me something to believe in once more, as well as increased sexual function!" Huh. Teflon-itos...I wonder what they'd do to my teeth? As long as they don't come in "Cool Ranch" flavor...
[* This is NOT a metaphor for anything! Get your minds out of your pants and back in your asses where they belong!]
[** I lost the other in a tragic bicycling accident.]
**

[** Rim shot.]

The Basics:
R_speeds: Horrendous.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: Yes.
Gameplay: Enh...could be better.

[I swear, I thought I had gotten rid of "The Basics"...]

Story?
You are Pheonum Rendar, son of Dash, the seasoning salt magnate. You've been hired by the Rebellion to snuff some Imperial leaders, blow the shit out of some important Imperial stuff, and generally make a friggin' nuisance of yourself to the hard-working employees of the galactic Totalitarian regime that is the Empire. ("From this day forward, all subjects who do not name their first-born male children ‘Palpatine' will be torn in half! This I decree!")**

[** Still not as evil as that fat North Korean lunatic who proclaimed that the nation will worship his grandmother instead of celebrate Christmas.]

Your first mission is to assassinate General Akardy, commander of the Imperial garrison at Mos Eisley. So you need to grab your land-speeder, get some weapons, and uh, bomb...the...cantina...where he hangs out... Um, does this sound a little antisocial to anyone else? Isn't there any way to kill the guy without also killing a zillion other lifeforms*** at the same time? Anyway, your next step as terrorist scum--er, I mean Pheonum, is to steal the guy's shuttle at the Gaul spaceport (it's divided into three sections, for ease of access...or so I hear; there's also rumored to be a small gift shop holding out against the invading food court, but that's just an asterisk to history) and escape the planet.
[*** "Lifeforms...you tiny little lifeforms..."]

[A Star Trek reference AND an Asterix reference in one paragraph? I don't know whether to be proud or ashamed of myself. I'm leaning towards "ashamed."]

Okay...so you're a mass-murdering terrorist ass-monkey, and now you're a no-good shuttle-jacking thief. Am I to understand that this Pheonum is some sort of despicable hero? The ends justify the means, I suppose...well, let's put that aside for the moment. Your second mission is to break into an Imperial factory on Hoth (breaking and entering, trespassing on federal property with intent) and destroy the newest batch of TIE fighters (rampant vandalism and wanton destruction) by hitting a destruct button (genocide of Union workers...the local 404 will have your hide nailed to a wall!). Your criminal charges are piling up almost as fast as the bodies, and you really need to pee.

Onward!

...so she starts screaming, "What are you doing to my cats?!?" and I say, "Huh! I wondered why my slippers were screaming all of a sudden!" Get it? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! Oh! Uh...welcome back!

The author has a postscript in the readme, and I quote: "SOMEBODY MAKE A HALF-LIFE STARWARS MOD!!!" My question is, why?? There are already some fine Star Wars games out there, most of them quite satisfactory to fulfilling your bloodthirst needs. I can see a mod for Serious Sam based on "Starship Troopers"****, but Star Wars??
[**** Since the movie -- compared to the book -- sucked, people rightly feel the need to compensate for the Suits' wholesale raping of Heinlein's masterpiece in the name of mass-market appeal...I mean, where were the friggin' combat suits??]

Okay, let me save you some time here: instead of downloading and trying to play these maps, scrape together some cash and buy the Jedi Knight II collector's edition (I also recommend scraping together some cash for a good processor, but I'm just bitter), which had Dark Forces and Jedi Knight I included. Fine, professional games all of them, and you don't have to monkey about with extracting wad files to the right folder.

[You can get all the Jedi-based Star Wars games via both GOG.com and Steam. Cheaply too, especially when they're on sale.]

But I know you're going to ignore sound advice and play these maps anyway...so don't come crying to me when you lose your will to live. Let's take it map by map, shall we?

First off, there's Mos Eisley, where you take a slow trip through the streets on a land-speeder. Yes, I know how that sounds. Along the way is a weapons shop, so gear up (I especially like the idea of a laser-guided RPG in the Star Wars universe...if Qui-Gon had one of those, he would've been alive in the second movie; eat screaming rocket death, Maul!); then get to the cantina, where things become a little unclear. Okay: I'm supposed to bomb the place to kill a guy, right? Well, I just shot everyone in the joint and hustled out the back...to be faced with some paraplegic Imperial Walkers with their turrets set to "puree." A few Stormtroopers tried to stop me, but...but...waitaminit...when do Stormtroopers run around without their helmets?? I must've surprised ‘em while they were getting dressed...one of them even had a beret.***** Anyway, I got to the shuttle and took off, which really meant another slow train ride, but above Mos Eisley...the fadeout didn't work, either. I put that down to the wanton patchingness-ness of Valve. Fadeout...return. Repeat until pissed off. Load the second map manually ("factory7").
[***** "Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaspberry beret!"]**

[** Prince, of course.]

Okay, the Mos Eisley map didn't look bad at all; the use of the Xen aliens as inhabitants makes some sense, but it's yet another forcible reminder that I'm playing Half-Life and not a Star Wars game. There's an effort at immersion with a new X-Wing pilot skin for Barney and Stormtrooper skins for the Grunts, but when I walked by Barney, he said "Hey, Gordon." Hmmm. And why are there scientists here? Okay, okay...enough. The map looks fairly good (except for the obvious mistakes and too-clean textures) with nice outdoor lighting (notice I didn't mention the indoor lighting...), and there's a shootout with Grunts...er...Stormtroopers. Bugs exist, but we're bored now and we want to move on to the next map.

The Hoth Factory: you start off in the shuttle outside. Quick quiz: what happens when you have a huge outdoor area in Half-Life? Answer: motion sickness. Chupchupchupchup. Get used to that sound, because it's what you'll hear whenever you do anything...like looking around. It gets particularly irksome during combat, whereupon I just hit god mode...I don't have the time, the patience nor the stomach lining for endless reloads. In fact, did the author actually test these maps? I can't believe that he put them together, ran through them and said "Fabulous!" If I seem a little miffed to you right now, then you would be right. Things finally came to a head when I entered this huge room with computer consoles and thirty thousand Grunts -- uh...Stormtroopers...ah, screw it! Grunts. They're Grunts in white armor. Deal with it, pinkboy.

Anyway, I was at 55% health at that point, thanks to a Grunt around every corner and no HEV power until the previous room. Another gripe: hand grenades?! Is this a poor man's thermal detonator? Okay, never mind. At this point, I was annoyed and I was starting to get sick to my stomach...not to mention that headache one gets right between the eyes at times like these. God mode. Stroll to the end.

The map itself isn't bad to look at (apart from some horrifying texturing in places), but godawful to play. The elevators are downright non-intuitive. I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel...there's a figure there...he's looking impatiently at his watch and tapping his foot... But after blowing up the TIE Fighters, I think that's it...you can't get out the door, and there's nowhere to go. The end, I suppose.

If the author ever decided to spruce up these maps and re-release them, I have a few suggestions: split each map into at least two or three maps; if you must have large rooms, minimize the viewable area with a few walls. Limit the number of AI running around; keep the Grunts to a minimum as well...again, if you must have a zillion Grunts, then make health and HEV power readily available, as well as a plane ticket to some foreign country with murky extradition laws. More ammo and a better weapons selection are needed; the crossbow would've been terrific, as would HL's energy weapons. If you can't go all the way, then at least use the most appropriate weapons at hand.

I would make a comment here about the odd missing texture here and there, but I'm afraid that would be the very thing that sent me spiraling into another bout with clinical depression and ultimately, into the warm, waiting arms of the food service industry. So I'm thinking about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings...

[I cannot in all honesty say that any of these are my favorite things.]

[Rim shot.]

Summary? It looks like a Star Wars mod left unfinished at about 1% completion with no testing. Consider it a novelty and play it as such.

Rating? 1 out of 5.

Annoyance Rating: 1,138 out of 10. [A few things...but mostly the r_speeds.]

[...blah...]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

 

everything