Review by BlooditeDrakan
"Run. Think. Shoot. Don't bother to live."
How long has it been since I've first known this game? Probably roughly after it came out. The funny thing is that it never caught my attention the way it caught the masses. I mean, come one. It's a nice game that did some interesting things, but 50 freaking awards!? I don't think it was quite worthy of that, but hey, that's just my thoughts.
Story. Yawn. We all saw this in Doom. It's just another day at the lab in this underground lab facility. There was apparently a potential residence cascade if the experiment went underway. But hey, they went against the odds and now look what happened! Aliens are spawning into the building! They're everywhere! Oh wow great! Uh, yeah. We saw this in Doom, but with demons which was cooler anyway. And what's this? The story is laced into the game play! Oh wonderful. Now I get to see this pointless story unfold before me. Seriously, it's not like I hate this style, It's just that this story is full of holes! I mean come on. There are things that happen I just don't get. It's like why did that piece of gold we shove into the test chamber machine cause the alien break out? All I know is that the scientists tweaked a few settings for it, it was a new sample of some sort and somehow that sends an invitation to the Xen to go partying and killing through out the whole frigging base! And then the marines. Why the hell do they have to kill everyone as part of covering up the project? Nice try Valve, but you fail to impress me. Way to overuse a story used since the 70's and badly at that. So to basically sum it up Plot twists with no explanations for and ordinary story.
Graphics. We're going on without the HD package, and I doubt I'll even use it. Besides, why the hell would Valve decide to make one anyway? Are they ashamed of their graphics or something? Well anyway, It could be better, but it could be worse I suppose. The texturing can look pretty muddy from about five feet away or less. That's pretty sloppy if you ask me. Some other textures don't suffer this simply because they're bland. Yep, a simple solid colored wall or Iron Gate or something with a little bit of detail thrown into it to keep it from reaching Atari 2600 depths. Oh, and don't get me started on an argument on that either. Quake 2 was made in 1997 and has MUCH better texturing and graphics than this. Or am I just not using OpenGL like I think I am?
And the world itself which we run through? It's mostly bland to look at. The places you run through are often uninteresting and your best bet for a place that looks nice to look at are the entryways of the complexes. And even when your outdoors it's just dreary to look at. We've seen better anyway. The world of the Xen also starts off bland at first. But it does get better to look at gradually. Not as interesting as it could have been, but it managed.
Still, the monsters and humans look ok. At least, they don't look like anything I've seen in other games, so that's a plus. I can't say the same for soldiers though, they get monotonous and boring to look at after a while. At least you get a mixed variety of monsters and soldiers, so that's always nice. The worst case scenario for graphics here however, is the Barneys. Yes that's right, one single security guard cloned into 100 of them. And they come complete with the same voice, face, skin color, and skilled shooting too! I laugh! Oh well, at least all the other kinds of humans have SOME sort of variety. Well then again, that could have been done much better too.
Sound. Not bad I guess. For me this is the stronger point of the game. The voice acting is good for the most part. Everyone sounds natural when they speak although it's not perfect. Gordon's voice is, uh. Hang on? What's this? Did Gordon lose his vocal chords in an accident or what? Apparently he has no voice to use for communication what so ever, and it makes me wonder how the hell he communicates with his colleagues. It's really odd too. I mean come on. He gets shot up or falls off a high ledge and doesn't even say Ouch, quit it? Maybe that big ugly suit of his does it for him? Morphine administered! Yes, he seems to have a voice built into his suit for him, informing you of all sorts of useless information. Things like running out of ammo, or losing blood (like the pain in your nerves doesn't tell you that) and so forth. The soldiers sound laughable too. I've heard robots on TV shows sound more fluent and human than this. Seriously, why couldn't their communication devices or whatever the hell they're using sound a wee bit more human? It's all garbled and has little emotion to them.
The monsters sound pretty cool though. Some of them have rather amusing pain and death sounds too. You have to love that meow the bull squids make when shot to death. The gun sounds aren't too bad I guess. They sound nice and real as it can get. All nice and powerful sounding. That won't save this area though. Well there goes another bad score.
Gameplay. The good? It has its nice moments. Using Scientists to escort you through doors and having Barneys fighting along side you is somewhat interesting. Watching marine squads fighting it out with the Xen aliens is cute too. Or how about using the environment just to kill your colleagues and feed your inner psychopath? Sure, little moments like these are amusing, but they're nothing revolutionary what the hell ever. Now, people say this is such a wonderful game and even come back to it often. Bluntly putting it, I find no reason to come back to this pile of irritation and average rolled into one. You see...
First, there are too many annoying puzzles. Not the sort that makes you think, just one's that oddly make you use your timing and control prowess. Things like box jumping, or using some cute trick to kill a boss, rather than letting you have a flat out gut wrenching gun battle. Whatever happened to that? As if that's bad enough, the mapping is the most linear I've ever seen and it's not even poorly disguised either. So basically, there's only one path, one way and that's it. The alien battles aren't much either. You get maybe a small pack to take on now and then but hey, so long as you have plenty of ammo and somewhere to take cover, it's pretty easy. Hell, they don't even ambush you. Oh sure, some of them teleport in, but if that's an ambush I've seen the demons on Phobos do better. And on top of all this, I'm rather puzzled as to how a man with apparently no military or even combat experience can pick up any gun and start killing and frying everything and everyone like a pro. Uh, can anyone tell me how that's possible?
Speaking of which, the weapons are ok. They're Interesting at best. You have the standard pistol, shotgun, a grenade launching MP5 (sweet) and such, along with new weapons like the gauss gun and some interesting Xen weapons and Duke3D styled weapons. Satchel or trip mines anyone? They're ok I guess. They sound real enough and some pack a real punch and they get the job done.
The Xen world is interesting. Prepare for many fierce battles and slightly bigger alien fights, along with scarce ammo and health within.
Replay. This is easily the strongest point. It's not like this story itself is worth going through yet again, let alone those irritating jump puzzles. But hey, user maps galore along with a few user made map sets and mods set the stage for further replay value.
You want me to be honest? I'm not in denial here. I've known the game for years since it came out now and I can conclude that it's a nice once through experience but nothing worth coming back too. I've played it so often too from time to time. So don't think I'm some in denial fan boy. Cheers!
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 03/29/06
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