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PC Review - 'Day of Defeat: Source'

by Alanix on Oct. 7, 2005 @ 1:12 a.m. PDT

Day of Defeat is a World War II multiplayer first-person action game that pits players in Axis vs. Allies battles in Western Europe at the height of the war in 1944, remade using Half-Life 2's Source engine. Players enlist as snipers, infantrymen, machine gunners, riflemen and sergeants, and then hit the frontlines running using authentic weaponry.

Genre: FPS
Publisher: Valve Software
Developer: Valve Software
Release Date: September 26, 2005

It's 4:34 pm on September 26th. DoD: Source is going to be unlocked in a paltry one hour and 26 minutes, and yet it's like waiting for a potato to bake. In fact, sometimes I will put a potato in the oven even if I don't want one, because, by the time it's ready, who knows? (Thanks to the late, great Mitch Hedberg) I pre-ordered this the day it was announced, and have been waiting (im)patiently since then … come on!!! Do you have any idea what I am going on about? Well, since I have an hour and 22 minutes (yes I checked) left, I suppose I can fill you in a bit.

One of the most popular mods for the amazingly versatile Half-Life engine, the original Day of Defeat was a strategically deep, WWII-themed, team-intensive shooter that placed you in, around, and under the streets of Europe during "The Big One." In my humble opinion, it rivals (and in some cases, betters) the EA juggernaut Medal of Honor series for its realism and attention to detail. When Half-Life 2 was released, the technological bets were raised, and a new engine, named "Source" became the head honcho in the FPS world.

After playing Counter-Strike for years and then goggling at the improvements made to the Source engine facelift, I knew that DoD: Source was going be a hit on everyone's hard drive. In fact, Valve has reported an amazing number of pre-orders, and I just hope their servers can keep up when we all start storming the beaches in an hour and 12 minutes. I'll be back shortly with my impressions. Meanwhile, go on out to the kitchen and get yourself one of those frozen things, and by the time you get back, I'll have more to say.

Are you back? Sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin …

Um … it's tomorrow morning. I haven't slept well, my mouse hand is twitching, my eyes look like cherries in a bowl of sour milk, and I keep hearing soldiers shooting at me, even though I'm not playing at the moment. Wow, they did it again!

Day of Defeat: Source is every bit the great game its predecessor was, and then some. What immediately caught my attention was the extraordinary detail in the wall textures: you almost feel as if you could reach out and chip off a chunk of plaster on the interior walls. In addition, the weapons have been overhauled and … well, heck, everything has been overhauled!

After choosing a team and deciding which of the six classes of soldier you will be (anything from a close-up badass with a shotgun, to a sniper, to a psychopath with a rocket launcher, and everything in between), it's time to take to the streets. Trust me on this one, gang: accuracy is the keyword here. If you are the type of FPS player who likes to spray a bunch of bullets and hope enough of them hit to take someone out, you will soon be laying in a pool of your own blood here, and for Pete's sake, try to stay somewhere near your squadmates. Unlike Counter-Strike, where a single assassin has a chance using stealth and surprise against multiple enemies, in DoD, the loner is, more often than not, the worm-food.

The main scheme of things has one team of Allied soldiers taking on a team of their Axis counterparts, with the intent of controlling certain key locations around the large, challenging maps. Here is yet another stellar feature of the game: the incredible map design. There is a noticeable lack of "fail-safe points" as I call them, or perches, holes, etc., where a guy can sit and snipe without worrying about enemies sneaking up on him. Most maps in other shooters seem to have at least one of those spots, which, if you can find them, are the ultimate camping zones. This is not the case in DoD, Sparky. Every time I thought I found a good, safe place to lie prone and use my sniper rifle, someone would cap me in the back of the head, execution style.

Previous players will immediately feel at home, but n00bs won't have too much of a problem finding their way about. Unlike Counter-Strike, DoD: S utilizes an on-screen radar, which shows you the layout in your immediate area, as well as informing you of your objective points and the whereabouts of your teammates. All of the standard maps contain a multitude of buildings, most of which have free-roaming interiors! You generally learn this the hard way while you are running down a street and are suddenly head-shot by some s.o.b. camping behind a doorway. In the map named "Flash," there are a number of great interior positions, replete with sandbags in the windows where you can steady your weapon for a more precise shot. Again, precision rules the day. There are already a handful of new, player-created maps available on the 'net if you look hard enough, so rest assured, this game won't get old anytime soon.

Your weapons loadout will contain pistols, knives, grenades, shotguns, sniper rifles and most anything else you can think of. Each weapon has its own inherent strengths and weaknesses in different situations, and part of the challenge is switching weapons on-the-fly to suit your current dilemma.

The weapons are painstakingly detailed after historically accurate models and provide recoil and reloading time, which makes it imperative to choose your shots wisely. A missed shot from a bolt-action rile could easily spell your own demise. What really impressed me was the recoil of the machine gun. When walking, or running or anything involving movement, one pull of the trigger on this beast sends the muzzle straight up to the sky, but if you stop and steady it on a sandbag or while lying prone, the recoil is totally negated. This is a wonderfully strategic element: you have arguably the most powerful weapon in the game, but in order to wield it, you must pretty much abandon all hopes of cover.

The sound effects and environmental audio are chillingly real. Hearing approaching footsteps will immediately get your heart beating, and at times, you can startle yourself if you accidentally hit the fire button. Trust me. All of the voice communication is intact, as well as computer-generated chatter, but the German accents used by the Nazis are a little too cliché for my tastes.

As of this writing, there are no "bots" available for offline practice, so there's nothing to say about enemy AI. When you hit the ground running, it's other people who will determine (along with you) what your experience will be. So far, 95% of the servers I have played on have had really decent people who all realize that, whether or not you played the original, we are all still n00bs when it comes to this new incarnation of a modern-day classic.

DoD: Source is a wonderful update to a classic game that will provide many hours of team-based carnage, and I highly recommend it. I usually wax on for another page or two, but in this case, the only way you can possibly get what I am saying is to plunk down your bucks, sit through the download, and meet me in the streets (my handle is -=WP=- Alanix).

Score: 9.0/10

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