Half-Life DM - Alive and kick-ass
by Alpha-XP [ e-mail, homepage ] 11 Jan 2001

Half-Life, the game that's ushered in the next era of singleplayer gaming, has made equally impressive inroads in multiplayer action gaming. Popular mods such as Counter-Strike, Firearms, Front Line Force, and Team Fortress 1.5 have set new standards in multiplay. However, as good as these mods are, they seem to be catalyzing a noticeable decline in the popularity of Half-Life DeathMatch (HLDM). HLDM is more fun and addictive than these mods and in many ways better than them; yet it is abnormally overlooked. HLDM is multiplayer perfected, with unusually compelling gameplay, maps, weapons, and above all, fun.

Okay, who said science is dull?
Hey, watch the suit, I just had it dry-cleaned!

HLDM one-ups all mods by having a certain familiarity with its singleplayer root - it plunges players into a world that closely emulates the HL SP experience. In fact, quite a number of the standard maps appear to borrow many elements from singleplayer. HLDM does more than pull mapping ideas from HL singleplayer, though. It creates the same sort of "intellectual" feel that the SP game evokes. As HL players know, HL SP isn't a standard run-and-gun fest; it requires a quick wit and strong reasoning skills. HLDM replicates that quality, differentiating itself from all other mods and games through unique strategic and tactical gameplay. No game before or even after HLDM has evoked this strangely intellectual sense.

Though not all of Valve's eleven maps are paragons of excellent level design, they all stand out for one primary reason - they verily define the various facets of HLDM, a trait that few multiplayer games can boast of. Boot_camp is the default, providing a highly strategic and tactical playing style. Bounce, set in a box canyon where bounce pads rule, defines the level of HLDM mastery - only a skilled player can consistently rank at the top. Crossfire borrows from HL SP's Surface Tension with a layout that lends itself to heavy, tactical combat. Datacore and Snark_pit together form the basic level at which HLDM can get no more simple.

Frenzy is a no-holds-barred fight to the death, ramping up the HLDM experience to a furious pace, where only the skilled and strong can survive. Gasworks is quite possibly the apex of the entire DM experience, switching from one playing style to another seemingly at random spots across three separate tiers.

Things got out of hand at the annual science fair.

Lambda_bunker, a recreation of the "Forget About Freeman" chapter in HL SP, slows gameplay down to a very deliberate and careful level where only fast thinkers can rule. Stalkyard boils HLDM down to pursuits, retreats, and ambushes. Finally, Subtransit and Undertow create a startling complexity and originality based on some of the other maps.

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