Summary: Day of Defeat: Source. $20, 4 maps, HDR lighting, fast gameplay... but very closely based on a free mod. How to decide? Jakub's got his thoughts, as well as 99 yummy screenshots full of blood and gore and LMG camping.
So Iím wondering why I paid $20 for Day of Defeat: Source, which is apparently Day of Defeat with nice graphics, some gameplay updates, and four maps. Thatís right, you count them: four maps. Enemy Territory had six maps. I donít even know how many the original Day of Defeat had, but Iím willing to bet my right nut it had more than four. Also, Iíve been told that there are fewer weapons now; apparently the original Day of Defeat gave some choice to certain classes about which weapons they could use. From the deep and thoughtful discussions that occur on Half-Life mod servers, I managed to gather between the ďwtfpwnĒs and ďu closet h0m0 n*****Ēs that the weapons that have been modeled for DoD: Source are the more popular ones from DoD.
So again, this brings us to the $20 issue. On the one hand, Enemy Territory is quite exceptional Ė after all, no one releases games for free on the internet. On the other hand, even high quality mods are usually free. Whether your flavor is Counter-Strike, Red Orchestra, or Desert Combat, you didnít actually pay for those. Mod developers have their own incentive for toiling away at their creations Ė to gain experience and gather the attention of actual development teams who will hire them. If thereís an actual market for these, all the better, right? How many of us would have paid for Counter-Strike back even before 1.0, knowing how good a game it was at the time? Of course, that brings us to the other issue, how good Day of Defeat: Source actually is.
DoD: Source is a team-based multiplayer World War II shooter. Though community lingo describes it as capture the flag, DoD is more like Domination from Unreal Tournament; players move in on flag points to capture them. There are five per map and the team with more points under its control gains points. Capturing the entire map is instant victory, otherwise the team with the most points wins when the timer runs out. To seize a flag, one or sometimes two teammates must be in close proximity of it without any enemies nearby to block the capture. Like Enemy Territory or the Battlefield series, once you die you wait for the next wave of reinforcements. Unlike Enemy Territory and Battlefield, spawn areas are fixed and do not change.
Weapon balance is intriguing in Day of Defeat. The German Kar98 bolt-action rifle is often capable of killing a target in a single hit, though this isnít guaranteed. This means that even though, as a long-barreled weapon with a slow rate of fire it is supposedly worse at close combat, there are players who excel with it even at short range due to its stopping power. Generally though, the SMGs of the Assault class are best suited for short ranges, with the assault rifle-toting Support class filling a middle-ground between rifles and SMGs. Rifles enjoy the ability to fire rifle grenades, adding a great deal of distance to the nade and being able to kill pesky machine gunners and snipers by bouncing shots off walls. This seems to impede the utility of the bazooka and panzerfaust-toting rocket infantry, who are seemingly without a niche. Machine gunners are deadly in the right location and useless out of it. Their guns need to be deployed on a secure surface, but this doesnít mean just the ground. Oh, no, anything will do Ė a window sill, a wall of sandbags or even a bathtub if that is your fancy.
By far the single most impressive achievement in DoDís gameplay is how the developers handled snipers. Snipers are the bane of good games; they attract the worst kinds of players who would do nothing but camp all day to achieve a high kill/death ratio without doing the hard work of capturing flags. The AWP of old or the original sniper rifle from Call of Duty are perfect examples of how not to do a sniper rifle. Of course, the Battlefield-series sniper isnít any better, with weak firepower. Day of Defeat makes the sniper very realistic, forcing him to move slow when aiming, adding a fair bit of gun waving and yet retaining the lethality of the gun. Consequently, the unit is never imbalanced and keeps the wankers at bay.
The maps are rather varied, all things considered. dod_avalanche is a camping map with routes across the map are all very close to each other and machine gunners can dominate if they have any support. dod_donner is a popular choice with two main routes that split off into more sections, itís a more balanced map. dod_flash is somewhat similar to donner though more open. For true chaos, dod_anzio cannot be beaten, with tunnels, multiple exits from spawns, quick routes. Other than avalanche, none of the maps struck us as particularly bad, but the fact remains that there are only four of them.
There is the other side of the argument, of course, that weíve been getting mods for free. The fact is that we will continue to no matter what, since these end-user add-ons wonít gain the popularity they need to charge money by charging it in the first place. Even if paying becomes standard, it wonít be exclusive as long as someone wants to make a name for himself.
With Day of Defeat: Source, this issue is more complicated. Itís already heavily based on previous source matter that was well developed. Counter-Strike: Source has set the precedent of releasing a free version of an updated original as well. Are there better games? That solely depends on taste; Enemy Territory is not as fast-paced or realistic, but the gameplay is more evolved. Medal of Honor isnít nearly as pretty and while it retains the tempo, it doesnít have as much realism to it. Battlefield 1942 is much larger and slower, and features vehicles Ė for better or worse.
What it comes down to, however, is that the development team exchanged the number of maps and weapons for visual goodies, and then decided to charge money. More maps arenít necessarily better but four is a prohibitively small number for a multiplayer game, especially one that actually costs the player money. Fancy artwork and the beautiful HDR lighting notwithstanding, itís hard to justify the value.
Mods have to offer more before they go commercial. Simply making the graphics nice doesnít cut it. People arenít still playing Battlefield 1942 and its add-ons for the graphics. Theyíre playing because of the experience it offered. With DoD: Source already having been delayed so much, Valve could have held off until more content was available for the launch. Most people simply would not have noticed.
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