Overview: Seems every time I do a game review, someone has to mention Dystopia. Well, I’ve heard your voices and checked it out. I can definitely say that Dystopia indeed needs to be reviewed.
I’ve been sort of reluctant to do a review because, unlike G String, Dystopia is strictly a multiplayer mod and lately there haven’t been many servers in operation to play. But maybe once this review is seen by able fans, there may be more servers going online.
The Story: Dateline 2069: After a series of wars, recessions, mergers, etc., governments have practically vanished as corporations now run everything. Anti-corporate resistance exists as mercenary “punks” have taken up arms against the private security “corp” forces seeking to bring law and order to the chaos of the arcologies.
There’s no “I” in “team.”
Teamwork is important in Dystopia. Like having a heavy guard a decker who’s jacked in and vulnerable.
To survive in Dystopia, you need to rely not only on your own skills in FPSs, but in your teammates whether they be corp agents or punk mercenaries. First of all, once you log into a server and select a map, you have to decide if you want to be corp or punk. Then you need to decide which of the three classes you want to be. The light class has little armor and has to rely on speed and stealth to survive. Fortunately, they also have four implant slots to augment their stealthiness. Heavy classes don’t have implant options, but their firepower options really don’t require augmentation. Medium class is a balance of the others, with two implant slots available.
Now you can select from the weapons and implants available to your selected class.
Make certain one of your light/medium members has a cyberspace deck installed. You’ll need a deck to access cyberspace.
From there, all you need to do is complete the objectives shown within the time limit to win.
Lone wolves need not apply. Dystopia is very much a multiplayer mod. Single players will be out of luck in playing, unless they can set up a server where only one player can log in… or develop bots that can act as allies/enemies. There is a tutorial that shows the basics, but you’ll only be able to experience it as a corp “light shotgun decker” (light class with a shotgun and deck, working for the corps).
Not too long ago, there used to be a couple of dozen servers available to play on. You might even find a few without anyone logged in so you can explore the maps and practice against the automated defenses by your lonesome, until someone logs in as an opposing player. Recently, there have only been one server (if any) with only one map at a time available. That might be due to my timing, as I do work a forty-hour work week.
Besides, death is an experience best shared.
Conclusion: It’s hard for a long-time solo player to get into a game like Dystopia, especially one who’s deathmatch experience comes from Quake Reaper-bots. For fans of cyberpunk, the atmosphere and background just might be what brings those soloists into the multiplayer venue (unless they’re trapped in Neocron for some odd reason). Though a single-player campaign or career would be nice.
In the mean time, how about setting up some servers so we can get into the Dystopian groove, K?
If you think the world today is messed up, try living in Myo Hyori’s world.
Overview: Following the footsteps of games like Doom 2, Quake, and the Unreal series, Half Life 2 released the tools, like the SDK (”software development kit”), to allow talented hackers and modders to literally change the game. They have made mods and conversions that allow for realistic or overpowering weapons, deathmatch bots, and whole new dytopic worlds to explore.
G String is the latest mod that throws us into a cyberpunk world. Against a background of a dying Earth dominated by civil unrest against air-supply corporations, you’ll be traveling and fighting through corporate fascists, berserk robots, and your own mutations as you join the “War Against Money.” Just be prepared for a few surprises along the way.
The Story: Dwindling oil supplies spark a nuclear war in the Middle East, leaving what little bit remains unreachable and unusable. This triggers massive earthquakes that shake North America and sink Asia, while Africa and South America are raped of their natural resources. The polar ice caps didn’t melt, they just moved to Europe. The fallout, pollution, and deforestation has made the air poisonous so that people who wander outside must wear environmental suits with air-filtration systems or risk destroying their lungs. Whole cities are encased in domes that allow large air filtration and recycling systems make the air a bit more breathable. But as the companies that run the systems collect all currency in the world, some have begun to fight back against those who finance them.
This video should give you an idea of the future Myo lives in.
You are Myo Hyori, a Korean girl living in the North American Union. Your family moved here to TokyoTwice when tsunamis sink Asia. You wake up one morning discovering that you can shoot fireballs and telekinetically move objects… and you’re not the only one with such abilities. The corporations view you and your mutated kind as a threat to their profit margins, and are taking steps to stop you before you can put them out of business.
Another “mutant” that’s out there… somewhere. If you can meet up with her maybe you can stop the madness that’s killing this planet.
See the sights, hear the tunes. You start off in your room in the suburban slums with your television on fire. Once you make it outside you get to travel to many different places. From back alleys to main streets, rooftops to sewers, squeezing through ventilation ducts to precariously balanced on a narrow ledge some fifty stories above the streets, you’ll be traveling across some interesting and dangerous terrain. Along the way, you may encounter some of the living who may be resistance or corporate. Corporate types will shoot you without provocation, so shoot them back preferably before they start shooting. DON’T SHOOT THE RESISTANCE FIGHTERS! They’re only trying to help (even if they do get in the way), and shooting them will not only make them shoot back, but they may call you some nasty things as well.
Keep your ears open as well as your eyes… or you might miss something.
Sounds also play a role heightening the atmosphere. Distant gunfire, screams of agony from behind closed doors,… even announcements from the hidden public address system can give you encouragement, or a warning of what’s ahead in your travels. An eerie psychic whisper in your head can be expected as well.
Most of the music is the standard ambient background music, but some spots (like a nightclub in the slums) have J-pop blaring through your speakers, even while you’re engaged in combat. If you find the right spot while traveling through the ruins, you’ll even get to hear the Zager & Evans tune “In The Year 2525.”
At several points in your adventure you’ll be subjected to a “mindfuck”. Some you just have to endure for a minute or two, others you will need to find an escape.
Future imperfect. MyoHyo said she spent some five years developing this mod. For the most part, the quality shows through. Even so, there are some technical issues. While making my way down from a roof, I kill two corp guards only to have the game abort with a “no free edicts” error (or something similar). After restarting and luring one of the guards to the door and killing him, I was able to continue without any further major errors. But the ladders gave me the most problems, especially when trying to jump across a deep drop off one. I did make it, after a few deaths, but it’s still hard for me to do consistently. Also, throwing fireballs requires that you press forward and backward simultaneously. Not the hardest thing to do with a keyboard, but it would have been better if you can bind that function to a single key or button for joystick/gamepad users.
MyoHyo is currently working on a version 2.0 that, hopefully, will address these issues. She’s looking for a couple of voice actors, so v2 looks like it may be an expanded edition. Just keep an eye on her site to see when it comes out, along with the soundtrack.
Conclusion: G String has what it takes to be a classic HL2 mod. MyoHyo has certainly created a serious cyberpunk trip for her first version. Can’t wait to see what 2.0 has in store.
Overview: Ever see a short movie and wished it could be made feature-length? OK, 9 made that jump in 09. Now, a new short has similar designs. Thieves made its debut in film-festivals in July, claiming audience choice at the Mitten Movie Project with a nomination for short of the year, and is now available for online viewing (like above).
The Story: America has created a new prototype energy cell that is now powering New Detroit. To protect both the cell and the city, an agency known only as “Butterfly” is formed to foster patriotism and stability, and to “recruit uniquely skilled people” to make it all possible. However, a terrorist organization has taken the prototype cell and plan to dismantle it. While the world waits for Armageddon, Butterfly has captured a high-value terrorist and plan to “recruit” him.
Sheldon Simmons: Remember his name. I got a feeling his name will be called at some future Oscar ceremony.
A Piece of a Larger Puzzle. Fourteen minutes hardly makes for a feature, so this short may make you feel like you’re missing a lot. THAT was intended:
From the beginning, Thieves was conceived as an excerpt from a much larger saga of feature films. As such, Thieves is not a self-contained piece. It’s made quite clear from its opening moments to its closing frame that there is most certainly a hell of a lot more going on before and after the events showcased in the short film.
Of course, there is the danger that if Thieves does become feature length it may become another Snakes on A Plane. But as long as the Zenisphere crew keeps true to their vision (and creative control of the project), that danger should be minimal.
Conclusion: If you haven’t heard of Thieves before, be ready to hear more of it in the future. Zenisphere has made a slam-dunk short that’s going to leave you wanting more. Already gathering high praise from indie film bloggers, Thieves is set to garner even bigger accolades (like ours), and possibly become the next Blade Runner, or at least The Matrix.