Since I purchased the Half-Life 2 silver plan back when the game was released I have been patiently waiting to play the updated Day of Defeat mod/game on the new Source engine. At first, the team was just going to do a port of the old version--similar to Counter-Strike: Source--but later wanted to include the HDR lighting and decided to do a full blown conversion from the original DoD; hence the long wait. I thought that since the “game” will be available to purchase in retail stores at some point, it would be reasonable to write a brief review of the update.
Let me begin by explaining Day of Defeat for those who haven't had the opportunity to play the great “mod that could.” It was originally a Half-Life modification that grew in popularity and similarity to Counter-Strike and eventually made its way onto store shelves through Valve (I'll refer to it as a mod even though it could be considered a game). It's a World War II mod where you choose to fight for the Allies or Axis: U.S. Army or German Wehrmacht. Similar to Team Fortress Classic, there are a set number of classes--six--for each force: Rifleman, Assault, Support Sniper, Machine Gunner, and the newer RPG man. Each class has its own weapons and role in the fight. The mod strikes a perfect balance of having to work with the team but also giving the option of being somewhat effective on your own. You're not going to win without the help of others, but you can sneak up behind a few enemies and take them out.
So far, all four of the Source maps are flag capture point maps: some you can capture by yourself and others you need the help of another soldier. All of the updated maps are beautiful to see compared with the old ones. I was disappointed that only four were released ( Anzio , Avalanche, Donner, and Flash) but I have faith that Valve will release new or updated maps as time progresses. For some reason I am a huge fan of the capture-the-flag maps (where instead of instead of holding a point you bring the flag back to your spawn-point) and I hope to see one ported or included in the future. Before I leave the subject of maps, I am happy to report that Valve has made changes to the maps. For example in Anzio , Allies have easier access to the Church with a new door and passage from the first flag area. You can keep going through the church to find a cemetery behind it and can now go all the way around to where the Germans jump out the windows. I cannot complain about any of the new changes that I have come upon so far.
When it comes to considering the gameplay, the most important thing with these online mods is the level of intensity. You know that you're playing a good mod when you are on the edge of your seat, stalking an enemy that you know is around the corner, just waiting to pull the trigger and let him have it. This level of intensity was present in the previous version and I'm happy to report that not only is it present in the update, it seems the intensity level has been raised; excellent in my book.
One of the first differences I noticed was how the weapons felt. The accuracies and recoil have been changed but they still present a good overall feeling. My only complaint is that the accuracy on the assault rifles is toned down a little too much. I tried testing the Thomson by firing at one spot on a wall about fifteen virtual feet away and it made a circle about four feet in diameter. I do think that these guns were too accurate before but now they are too inaccurate. I wouldn't think these weapons would be this inaccurate in real life. It does help to fire in short bursts over long distances.
Something else players will notice right away are the new iron sights for the bolt action rifles. I think these are fine, however, I definitely think that the time to raise the rifle to your face is much too slow. If you think about a real life situation, when you are in a war and expecting to encounter enemies, I would think that you would want to get the sights in view as fast as possible without hurting yourself--it's a matter of life and death.
Other new things with the weapons:
The HDR lighting really makes a big difference in the game but you really need a high end machine to appreciate this new effect. It looked nice on my rig but I you could say I'm due for an upgrade. Either way I'm glad Valve was able to include it in the update.
As far as the rest of the graphics go, all I can say is that everything looks great. You really get the feeling that you're venturing through European towns in these maps. The player and weapon models look excellent even though I would like to see some variety among the player models. I don't know if this is a problem with the Source engine but all of the player models are the same on each team. This issue is also present in Counter-Strike: Source, so it makes me think that there's an overall issue. Objects such as plants, rocks, signs, wires, barrels, furniture and the like all look great. There is a huge amount of detail put into Day of Defeat: Source for which the dev team deserves a lot of credit.
At first I didn't think much of the sound in DoD:S but then I put headphones on and it really changed my opinion. All of the background noise is really incredible. From wind to planes to distant machine gun fire, it really brings the mod together. The new MG42 sound really sounds great from a distance, similar to the sound in (for example) Band of Brothers. You can hear players coming with headphones but I wasn't able to as much without them.--perhaps the footstep noise could be fractionally raised. Otherwise, all of the sound is perfect.
Physics, physics, physics. Wow, I think the new DoD has done the best job of utilizing the Source physics engine! I was camping out in the top buildings in Avalanche when a grenade went off in the area below and a soldier's helmet went flying by me. Some other examples of the physics engine in work: when a sniper takes an enemy soldier out the enemy's body will fly leading with the part of the body that got hit – something that really looked realistic. Using grenades will really get things and bodies moving – who doesn't love priming a grenade?
In concluding, I have to say that I am very impressed with the new Day of Defeat. I really think Valve pulled everything together quite nicely and I know that it will provide hours upon hours of entertainment for me and others.
- The overall score is a bit lower than you would have guessed by looking at the other categories. The reason for this are the issues presented above – in time I think things will be tweaked to perfection and more maps will be added but in its present state this is what I believe it deserves.