Thursday, June 24, 2004

UT2004 Mod Roundup Part 2

I realized sometime over the last week that if I were to only write about one mod a week, I'd take forever to cover all the ones that have me interested. Of course, there was a fairly simple fix to this situation: Write about two a week. And in that spirit, I'm going to try to cover games that have at least a little something in common. This week's theme: Round based, tactical, squad oriented games.

Upon firing up Frag.Ops, one can't help but draw tiny mental comparisons to Counter Strike. For one thing, Counter Strike was a major player in the introduction of round-based multiplayer games to the general public. For another thing, you buy your equipment at the beginning of each round; much like CS. Then there's the realism factor. This isn't quite Instagib, but you're not going to take so many bullets that a human body would start to resemble strawberry jelly before you go down. There are no health packs, you actually have to remember to reload your weapon, and you can't jump fifteen feet down while putting only a minor dent in your health. Even if you're not a Counter Strike fan, you're going to want this mod for your copy of UT2004. Of course the UT2004 engine looks a lot better than the dated Half Life engine, but where Frag.Ops trumps CS is in the feel of the game. A lot of people complain about (or praise) Counter Strike feeling more like a sport than a shooter. I for one tend to agree with them. Frag.Ops certainly concentrates a lot more feeling like a shooter than fucking basketball or whatever.

Domain 2049 doesn't owe anything to Counter Strike. If anything, this mod feels like a souped up, more realistic version of UT2004's Assault gameplay mode. Where it kicks it up a notch is in the execution. In the standard Assault gameplay mode, one team is trying to achieve a series of objectives (opening certain doors, blowing certain things up) while the other team concentrates on keeping these objectives from being pulled off (make sure doors stay shut, certain things don't blow up...), at least entirely. Domain 2049 adds to the formula by often having both teams tasked with certain objectives while trying to keep the other team from achieving theirs. This can often get pretty hectic, and can possibly result in a thorough pants-shitting immediately after being shot. Of course, in Domain 2049 there are respawns, even if you do have to wait a couple of seconds beforehand.

The bots in both of these games are fairly intelligent, although in a Frag.Ops botmatch once you're out you can be pretty sure that your team will not win. Your once active bots now just sort of run back and forth, waiting to be shot, while the other team's bots do what they were doing all along. I guess that once the bots get used to some sort of direction, they can't think for themselves ever again. This is actually a small issue in both mods, you just don't notice it as much in Domain 2049 because of the respawns. When it comes down to which one is better, that's a toughie. I'm sure most people would tell you Frag.Ops (it is one of the more popular mods out there right now) is the better game, but my personal preference leans towards Domain 2049.

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