Review by durran

"NS - a very innovative and fun MOD"

Note: my reviews' scores use 5 as an average score, rather than 7 -7.5 as an average as most people and schools do. Therefore, 1 is terrible, 3 is bad, 5 is average, 7 is good, and 10 is amazing.

NATURAL SELECTION

Summary: A mod for half-life that pits marines VS aliens. Combines RTS and FPS; resource race, buildings, tech tree. One player commands the team from a top-down view by giving orders, selecting troops, researching techs, while the rest are in FPS mode shooting enemies.

Graphics 8/10 (very good)
While it may be a bit dated by today's standards, these graphics really stretch the HL engine to its limits. No other mod for half-life (that I've seen) is as detailed in models and textures as NS is. The hive looks real, pumping out aliens, the animations are great as well. The only gripe I have is that when aliens bite, you see their teeth clamp down and blind your field of view - while you can clearly see that their eyes are NOT in their mouthes, hmmm >_>.

Mechanics/Controls 7/10 (good)
Everything can be customized (as most games), and there are plenty of shortcut keys. The commander can, for example, supply his marines with health packs in an emergency by pressing 2 hotkeys rather than slowly clicking. Aliens can bind keys to evolving to different life-forms and upgrades

Sound/Music 6/10 (above average)
The one thing about this game that isn't that great. The guns sound pretty much like a regular FPS' guns. The alien screeching sounds are okay, but can get old. Above all, the ambience and intro music when you start a game are distracting, but at least can be turned off.

Storyline/Depth 7/10 (good)
For an online-only game, this game has a very extensive story. If you go to the official site, there are pages upon pages explaining the story from the points of view of various characters. Essentially, marine ships are being infested with alien hives. The aliens are trying to expand and survive by building more hives in the ships and destroying what threatens them - the marines. The marines are also trying to survive, by clearing their ships of the infestation. Thus the title, Natural Selection - survival of the fittest.

Creativity 10/10 (amazing)
Combining RTS with FPS and doing a good job of it is one creative thing. Another is the entire way that aliens function - with their hive sight, melee attacks, and chamber upgrades. This mod combines two genres into one, and adds things to both.

Multiplayer Balance 7/10 (good)
The learning curve for a regular NS game can be pretty steep. As a newbie, you don't know much of what to do; and whatever you do AVOID commanding until you understand how the game works and know the tech tree. Fortunately, there is combat mode where there is no resource/building scheme, and you simply kill enemies and level up (CS style gameplay almost, but with levelling up and getting upgrades). Newer players can play combat until they get a hang of the game before moving on to the real game. The two teams are drastically different, and suprisingly well balanced. Humans rely on technology and guns, but they are slow moving. Aliens are fast (wall-climbing, leaping, and the Fade class has a near-instant "teleport" skill) and for the most part use melee attacks. Both teams, however, have certain things that are difficult for the other to counter. One on one, marines have very little chance against the two highest alien life forms - fade and onos (Fades have 300HP and can "blink" away as soon as it gets dangerously low, whilst Onoses are massive elephant-like tanks with 700HP that can devour marines whole and demolish a base by themselves). However, marines can build siege turrets which can shoot THROUGH walls to obliterate alien structures and can research jetpacks, which makes them annoyingly hard to catch.

Gameplay 9/10 (excellent)
For reasons already mentioned, the game's very fun to play. The two teams offer a completely different playing style, and the two modes (normal and combat) offer variety as well. Both teamwork and individual aiming and dodging skills are essential to winning.

Replay 7/10 (good)
It takes a long time to even learn how the game works well enough to enjoy and understand the game, but it remains fun. Teamwork is absolutely ESSENTIAL in this game, unlike other team-based games like CS or DoD. Thus, it may be more fun if you find a clan or play with people you know, as random pubbers tend to only care about their own K:D ratio and don't care that much about helping eachother out, building structures, welding eachother's armor, etc...

Tilt 9/10
The small problems such as radically powerful units/weapons on each side that are very hard for the other to counter don't detract that much from the overall gam.

Overall 8/10 - VERY GOOD

Rent or buy
It's free! If you own Half-Life, go to www.naturalselection.com and at least give this great game a try!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/19/05


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