June 14, 2008

Half Life 2 Mod: Age of Chivalry

When not playing an MMO, I tend to scour the Internet and my game collection for a project to scavenge. This past week I found the Age of Chivalry (AoC) mod for Half-Life 2 (HL2). I know, I'm playing AoC, heh.

I've played a lot of HL2 mods over the past couple of years, but I haven't talked about many of them. Why? Because most of them are terrible and take years to develop into an enjoyable state.

AoC has gotten some coverage lately that spurred me to try it. Supposedly it was a fun mod, but after playing it for several hours I am not quite sure what game those reporters were playing.

AoC, to me, was about as much fun as watching paint dry. Well, maybe a bit more fun. After all, AoC aims to be a recreation of medieval warfare, complete with knights, castles, and siege warfare. That should count for something.

The models and maps look nice, but the gameplay, controls, and weaponry suck. Every class available to play moves about as fast as a Heavy from Team Fortress 2 (TF2). For those that have not played TF2, just imagine playing a game where your avatar is trying to run through knee-deep mud the entire time. This wouldn't be that big of a deal if the maps weren't HUGE and players didn't start on opposite ends of the map. It honestly took minutes to reach action, only to get creamed by a long range siege weapon.

Then there is the combat, slow as well. Even bows, which one would think could give a feeling of FPS normalcy, are so horribly inaccurate that it literally took me twenty arrows to hit my first stationary target. On top of the inaccuracy, it always felt as though the arrow traveled far too slow. So slow, that I never hit anything other than other stationary archers.

When playing an up-in-your-face Knight or Footman, I found the best tactic was just to chase down archers. Archers die in a single hit, have crap for defense, and rarely would their ranged damage be enough to break through a Knight's armor. Archers are free kills for the competent Knight.

I will admit that I did find some fun in the mod. Playing as an Archer, perched upon a castle wall was cool, even if I couldn't hit the incoming enemy. I did get to see one archer land a lucky, long-range shot, fired into a mass of enemies, halfway across the map.

The objective based gameplay was also refreshing. I am a sucker for games that shake-up the standard deathmatch/team deathmatch model. Every map has a different set of objectives, from capture the point to kill the horse. Yes, a noble Knight was required to lay down his life for a horse!

Unfortunately, due to server version mismatches, I was unable to play some of the maps. Hopefully this will be resolved, as a new patch has recently hit, and I'll get a chance to play some other maps.

If anything is to be gained from this mini-review, it would be this: AoC is a typical mod. It is cumbersome, buggy, and in an ongoing state of development. However, there is potential and it is a cut above the bulk of mods available. Given time, this could become a bearable time waster for anyone with a copy of HL2.