Despite my rather tepid review, I was still tempted to buy DoD: Source, $4.99 was a very good deal but I didn’t in the end, but I am sure many did and this just reinforces how successful such events can be.
UPDATE: The offer was extended until Thursday so I went ahead and bought it. Who knows, I may get a few hours of fun from it :)
This weekend you can play Day of Defeat Source for free via Steam, it corresponds to the launch of the Palermo services across steam which greatly adds to the platform by adding unlock-able achievements for each game. So what is Day of Defeat I hear you ask? It started out as a FPS mod using the original half life engine and was set in the second world war era. What initially distinguished this game from other stand-alone games and mods of the same and similar genres at the time was how thought out it was. Rather then blindly killing the enemy, to win the round you had to capture (or destroy) strategic points as well as blindly killing the enemy. In essence, it was a slower paced Counter Strike with a lot more emphasis on teamwork and strategy.
I have not played DoD for a number of years which is surprising given the fact I have been playing it since Beta 2 and had a waypointing site dedicated to the mod. Back then it was a damn good ‘rough round the edges’ community mod with a lots of promise and bags of potential.
Beta 3.0 was released and everyone celebrated. It built on the strengths of the first betas- tweaking and balancing them as well as adding new features. For a while nothing happened, we all were content playing beta 3.0 and listening to rumours of the ever elusive beta 4.0. Then, in my opinion, it all started going wrong. The mod team struck a deal with Valve and the mod became a commercial game. Beta 4.0 was actually released as version 1.0. It was highly polished and improved, as one would expect from Valve’s backing. Unfortunately it also had a boat load of issues in particular 56k dial-up gamers (yes there still were a fair few back in 2002/2003) were hit hard with very poor gaming experiences for no tangible reason.
At this point I walked away from Day of Defeat, life was complicated at the time and I was about to start Uni so I didn’t have much time for gaming. So, today I eagerly launched DoD:Source which I had preloaded a few days earlier… and was sadly disappointed.
The game itself is largely unchanged apart from being Source-ified which is both good and bad. It was nice to know most of the maps already, despite their new and frighteningly stunning clarity, as well as the basic classes and the useful routes / camping spots etc. What irked me is that the game itself had been dumbed down somewhat. Features which, at the time, differentiated DoD from other Mods such as bleeding, slow paced objective based gameplay and side weapon differentiation were either dropped or drastically tweaked.
What I find inexcusable however is that many of the old problems still linger. Despite the servers I have played on today having between 4 and 16 players the game frequently juddered and lagged particularly during explosions. The hitbox issue, allegedly solved in Day of Defeat, also reappears with some rather odd damage and hit patterns which can be very frustrating. What is even more peculiar, the game designers have appeared to have focused on beautifying the graphical side of the game considerably, adding odd looking ‘film grain’ effects as well as a kill cam with ‘Press F5 for snapshot’ and other useless ‘features’. Some of these additions are almost pretentious in the flashy way they are implemented especially given how inconsistent the effort appears to have been across other aspects of the game.
This is not to say the game is not fun to play and you can currently buy it for $4.99 (half price until the free play period expires) which is an absolute bargain, but I still think beta Day of Defeat 3.0 was the best version to date. I may have to fire it up with some sturmbots at some stage.
Graphics : 6.5/10 – Good but mostly thanks to the engine and sloppy in places.
Sound : 6 / 10 - Reasonable, but not earth-shattering – somehow feels less meaty than before.
Gameplay : 7 / 10 – Same classic DoD, but a little dumbed down and sadly nothing to distinguish it from other modern games.
Difficulty : 7 / 10 – Shallow learning curve and a wide range of players out there.
Overall : 66/100
Worth playing, but won’t keep you occupied for long.