I'm Chris. I I've been working with the Source Engine for around 4 years now, and GoldSrc a year or so before that. I'm currently working as a level designer on the Black Mesa Hazard Course.
Just a note, I'm only posting this here because I can't fit all of what I want to say in a single review post, so on we go.
Before I start my review, I wanna direct a bit of advice towards the Triage team: Listen to these reviews, and do a huge patch.
So on to the review. Upon loading the first chapter I'm greeted by a man in a forest-ey area. This is apparently the training as he hands me a shotgun and tells me to shoot some ducks. I'll sum up the voice acting in this mod right now: Forced. The writing isn't terrible, but about 80% of the lines sound as if they're being read from a script. I know they are, but they shouldn't sound like it.
A minute and a half passes by and I'm already in a huge firefight with combine. It could be argued that this was to get the player in a sense of how urgent the situation is, but personally it's not my thing. This is an excellent time to bring up a major point: The dialogue and choreography aren't done in a way that let's you know it's happening. I was in this firefight for about 20 minutes before I realized that apparently awhile ago I was instructed to go somewhere. Which was the door that the game just made me go out of.
This is the one time in the game that I'm entirely sure of what I'm supposed to do. "Meet me at the top!" Okay, simple enough. "I'll be at the top, meet me up there!" Alright, I'm coming, already! "Meet me at the top!" GODDAMMIT. I shouldn't be instructed what to do LITERALLY every 7 seconds. They basically took Far Cry 3's tutorial system and gave it a voice, here. What's worse, after this objective had already been completed the NPC repeated to instruct me to meet him there while my new objective was to go downstairs.
Fast forward a bit, and I start noticing some graphical errors. Mostly small things, like odd reflection, but the most noticeably was my view clipping through the walls on either side of me. (IMAGE: Goo.gl )This shouldn't be happening at the reasonable FOV of 90.
While we're on the subject of graphics, I should note that the mapping for the most part is very plain. Plain building usually decorate the foreground, while the background and sky is decorated with white bloom: (IMAGE: Goo.gl) Very boring. It's not all plain and white, however, as fancy dark areas are something game gets ridiculously right! (IMAGES: Goo.gl | Goo.gl )
Of course, there is a huge draw to that. Y'see, the game doesn't offer a flashlight, and the latter half of it is spent in the dark. I wandered in the first dark are, which was pitch black for about a minute before finding the right diection. As apposed to the usual instant find, this is pretty bad. (IMAGE: Goo.gl) The effect on combat is also pretty terrifying, in a bad way. You try spotting the combine amidst the heat of battle in picth black settings: (IMAGE: Goo.gl )
Gameplay feels odd. It's sort of like some beginner programmers tried to take Source and have it replicate more modern FPS styles. Strafing moves slower than walking, iron sights exist and make your guns terribly inaccurate if you don't use them, and your weapons are ridiculously overpowered. It should not take two pistol shots to the arm to take down civil protection. The classic number style healing system is replaced with the newer red jelly wait-to-heal style. Some may find this nice, I personally hate it. At least you have to wait 15 seconds instead of the common5. Boy is that fun or what?
All in all, this is the worst mod... that I've actually enjoyed. Trust me, it has an insane amount of problems, it's like it wasn't playtested by anyone who was willing to tell them they messed something up, but... it's somehow fun. What they did do right, they at least did it decently, and the dark area designs are absolutely fantastic looking. If you're willing to look past it's glaring flaws, it's not a terrible mod. In fact, if they could patch the majority of the bugs I'd be willing to give this one a second go, and even grab the second part when it's released.