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Dystopia: Jack in, Kick ass.

April 8th, 2009 by

pin-up

Dystopia; a cyberpunk game for the Source engine, is a free full conversion/mod of Half-life 2 which can be downloaded for free for anyone who owns either HL2, CS:S, DoD:S, HL:S, HL:DM, the OB or L4D (or any other source game I forgot to mention). It is purely a multiplayer game with about as much story as TF2 (barely any) and has some similarities in that the reds fight the blues (here called punks and corps) over controll-point style maps, with one attacking and one defending team. What separates Dystopia however is it’s attempts to promote teamplay by allowing mroe character customisation and more complex map objectives, completed in two interlinked “worlds”: Meatspace and Cyberspace. This makes the gameplay feel more deep and less repetitive than for example TF2 or CoD4, but it also discourages new players and makes it harder to get into the game.

I’ll be starting with explaining the meatspace action. The gun play is pretty arcade like in that that your aim isn’t affected much by movements, you have decent amounts of health and duels can take between 0.5 and 30 seconds depending on weapon, class and skill differences. You choose any of three classes: Light, Medium or Heavy (no surprises yet Smile ) Quite obviously lights have less health but more speed, while heavies are slow, lowjumping but can take more punishment. They also have different weapons.

The light has: Laser rifle, which acts as a sniper. The longer you hold fire the thicker the laser beam (which is visible for others) gets and the more damage it will deal. Hold it too long though and ti will loose power, so you need to time it right. The shotgun is a standard in-your-face weapon; fun but unpredictable. With the smart lock pistols you can first fire a “tracer round” that, if it hits an enemy, will cause all your following bullets to track that enemy. And then there’s my favorite, the bolt gun. It fires a metal bolt (with finite speed and small arc) that anywhere in the air can discharge electricity to damage opponents. But if you hit them directly, well: I guess “crucification” wouldn’t be too far of. And yes, I have a pink dot as my crosier. Trust me, you won’t be forced to use that Razz.

rocketsteer

The medium gets his fair share of Assault Rifle, the good-old Tesla (electricity) gun, a grenade launcher that seems like a combination of the Demoman’s two main weapons and a decent Bolt-action semi-sniper MK Rifle.

As a heavy, you get to choose between a TF2 heavy style Minigun, the basilisk (which is like a weaker minigun but without a wind-up time), the precise but slow Ion cannon and our all-time favorite: The rocket launcher. This one however, while not being that powerful and taking 10 seconds to reload, let’s you steer your rocket manually via a glorious low-res screen placed on the actual weapon.

But there’s one more major difference between the classes, and that comes with the use of “implants”. Take a look at this picture:

stealthshotty

Yes, I’ve got a cloacking implant. Only lights can use them, meaning that any stealther is great up to the point when he’s detected, after which life span can be estimated to 0.5-2.5 seconds. This is the “F2″ implant in the upper left corner. The F1 is the TAC Scanner, which costs 15 energy (the blue meter in bottom right) to activate but gives you and everyone in your team wallhack for a few seconds, and adds all nerby enemies to the map (see the red dots in the upper right triangle). Things like the TAC scanner or medplant take up a lot of implant slots of which the lighter classes have the most, meaning that you need a good balance of heavies with lots of firepower and lighter classes who can back them up. Soloing can get you somewhere, but ammo is very limited and there are NO ways to regain health except for from friendlies with mediplants, so you are really forced to get a balanced team to be succesful.
I’m not going to say much more about the implants, but when talking about detecting stealthers:

thermal1

The thermals can be used by any class, and therefore makes it relatively easy to detect stealthers one you realise they’re there. This encounter however, I have no idea who won.

Now, to the part that makes the game really interesting: Cyber space Very Happy

ice

Looks exciting, doesn’t it Razz

Think of it as an alternative universe abiding the laws of Quake 3 Arena, where everyone has ulimited rocketjumps and railguns. That is basically what /combat/ in there is about. That boring picture of me clicking some random words is from what you actually want to go in there for: hacking. Most objectives in Dystopia are not completed in meatspace (destroy the wall) but rather as a coordination between the two worlds. You can acces cyber via computer terminals refered to as Jack-In Points (JIP) provided you have a decking implant (meaning that you’ll be less valuable in meatspace combat). In cyberspace you usually first have to kill the enemy deckers standing in their home base (your energy meter in meatspace is your lifemeter in cyber) and then reach a virtual console on which you play a small minigame to “hack” something important in meatspace, for example stationary indestructible turrets. With the turrets on your side, your team can push forward towards a more protected JIP where they need to escort a decker who from there can acces another virtual panel and capture the enemy spawn.

Does it sound complicated? It probably should, but it wouldn’t need to. The main problem for new players in this game is to know what to do on different maps, where you must know the details of the meatspace world in order to know what cyberspace modules to toggle. But as a hangers-on, especially if you’re wearing a medplant, one can always be a credit to team while gradually learning the deeper aspects.

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