Review by diablosdemonP
"Natural-Selection... Has Come Home"
Well, where to start?
I'm your reviewer, diablosdemonP. I've played a lot of Half-Life MOD's in my time. Everything from Action Half-Life to Vampire Slayer to Heart Of Evil. I've played most of the common and popular MOD's such as Counter-Strike and Day Of Defeat, and the lesser known MOD's like Paintball and Global Warfare. So I like to think I know my Half-Life.
Introduction to Natural-Selection.
Natural-Selection is a team-based game that haves you taking on the role of either a Marine or an Alien from a race known as the Kharaa. Each are very different and require some intense trial and error before you get the flow of things. Although different in certain aspects, both have to work along side their teammates in order to survive and obtain victory. There's no running away on your own trying to rack up kills because you'll be dead in minutes.
Playing as a Marine puts in one of two situations, you either play as the Commander or follow his orders. The Commander is the heart and soul of the Marine team. He makes all the decisions and tells the rest of the team where to go an what to build. The Kharaa Alien race on the other hand, are allowed to work as individuals but their chances of success are greatly improved when they work together. The Kharaa have to focus on their Hives as the Marines have to focus on their Commander.
As complicated as it sounds, it's actually great fun and a unique experience.
Natural-Selection is a Half-Life MOD like no other. You can tell just by looking at it's Homepage that the Natural-Selection team have put a lot of effort into it. As you sit and wait for the 91 meg (correct as of version 1.0 Client) download to complete, you finding yourself browsing the online manual and forums.
The manual in itself is a work of art, literally hundreds of html pages for your viewing pleasure, all with superb images and a great layout to keep the newbies and the veteran players satisfied. On to the game itself.
Graphics - 9/10
It's hard to believe this is the Half-Life engine! Those of you who have played various other Half-Life MOD's will know that they all have that ''Half-life'' feel to them. Be it the maps or the player models... you can still smell it's Half-Lifeyness origin's. But you don't get this with Natural-Selection, everything has been tweaked beyond Half-Life and further. When you play your first game online, you find yourself bouncing around the Ready Room (The Ready Room is where you which you want to play as, or you can watch a game in progress) and looking at the beautifully crafted maps and textures. You're impressed before you've even joined a team! When you're actually in the game is where the REAL visual surprises are. Even from steam seeping out of vents to Aliens spitting acid projectiles at you! This game has the best Half-Life based visuals I've ever seen!
Sounds - 9/10
Now usually sounds aren't that important in a Multi-Player based game due to the fact that you're trying to hear what the other players are saying down their microphones, or listening for enemy movements. But Natural-Selection manages to use ambience background music without distracting you. There's also the excellent radio commands for the Marines and the Alien noises for the Kharaa. Everything from ''Commander, I need ammo!'' to ''My shrink says I need an outlet for my aggression'' and even the sound of a distant Alien chuckling as it waits for you to round that next corner.
Game play - 9/10
Personally I think this is going to be impossible for me to sum up in one review, as its so varied. Every different type of Alien has a slightly different control layout to master and each of these will be even more different depending on the extra abilities you have acquired from the different 'Chambers'. The Marines are varied due to the type of weapon you'll be carrying, be it Pistol or Grenade Launcher, they all require practice. And then there's the control layout of the Commander. All you Real Time Strategy players will love being Commander as there's so much to do and build.
Overall - 9/10
Since launch, Natural-Selection has given me nothing but pleasure and extremely late nights. It's amazing fun online with a willing team and the majority of public players seem to be more than willing to play it as a team, as they know they'll be eaten alive by the other team if they don't. As this is the first public release, there's bound to be the odd glitch or fault in the game but lots of updates are expected. I highly advise all Half-Life/Counter-Strike Retail owners to download this and give it a few hours of your life because it's a huge step forward in MOD making.
A more than welcome change from the one-man armies in Counter-Strike.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/12/02, Updated 11/12/02
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