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Day of Defeat Review
game: Day of Defeat
two star
posted by: Tristan Mayshark
publisher: Activision
date posted: 09:10 AM Thu Jun 19th, 2003
last revision: 07:38 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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The Day of Defeat modification for Half-Life has made it to retail shelves, but it\'s not in any way the same game it was when it was first released as a free beta. Most levels and weapons that players who spent some time with the beta would remember are gone, and those that remain have been tweaked, cleaned and otherwise improved.

Day of Defeat is a team-based multiplayer-only WWII first person shooter. As of the time of writing this, there was no patch necessary to make the game work; online play worked fine out of box. Fifteen official maps are included with the game, and though I encountered an occasional server running an unrecognized map, most servers seem to be sticking, at least for now, to the official maps.

There are two basic gameplay modes: Territorial Control and Capture / Destroy. There are nine Territorial Control maps and six Capture / Destroy maps. I discovered quickly that more servers seem to be devoted to TC than to the Capture / Destroy maps. Territorial Control maps have fixed spawn points for each team, and then a series of control points, represented by flags, spread out across the level. This is a setup anyone familiar with Team Fortress Classic will recognize readily. Control points are captured simply by one or more team members being in the vicinity of the flag, either for an instant or a short period of time. The controlling team\'s logo (a British flag or white and green star for the Allies; an Iron Cross for the Axis) appears on the flag. The game is won by the first team to simultaneously control every flag on the map.

Capture / Destroy maps are objective based, and will be easy for any Counter-Strike guru to play. For example, on the Glider map the Allies must destroy a flak cannon and radar set as well as capturing several positions to win; the Axis must keep the allies at bay for a set time period. On the Kraftstoff map, roles are reversed with the allied forces protecting a fuel dump and truck, and the axis trying to destroy these locations. It is worth noting that the similarity between Capture / Destroy and Counter-Strike is only skin deep, as there are some fundamental differences. For example, in Capture / Destroy, being killed does not put you out of the game until the end of the round, but only keeps you from respawning for a fixed, usually short, time period.

Graphically, the game is based on the Half-Life engine, and it shows. While the textures and models look pretty decent overall, they fall well below the standard I have come to expect from retail software. Level environments are filled with enough minor details to hint at being believable, but at the same time look hopelessly cartoony (possibly a part of the reason the game only received a \"T\" rating).

The in-game sounds are also passable, with every weapon giving off a distinct report and reload. What impressed me much more was the degree to which Day of Defeat players are taking advantage of broadband and using voice chat in game. Players on a weak connection are often garbled or incomprehensible. The best players I saw, generally, worked in groups using voice chat to further their goals. Once while playing for the Axis, trying to defend a bunker, I heard another player cry \"taking fire at the bunker, I need some machineguns down here now!\" and I was able to get there, machinegun in hand, before the bunker was destroyed. In a later game, I tried to communicate the same message to my team, but was killed largely because I had to stop moving and type my cry for help.

Each team has six different classes of character. At first I didn\'t understand why anyone would pick the slow carbine rifles over either the machineguns or sniper rifles, but after being shot in the head numerous times by someone with a carbine rifle, I came to appreciate that those guns reload much faster than a sniper rifle, and are accurate at a much greater distance than a machinegun. The carbine rifles probably take the most finesse to use, but they\'re downright deadly in the hands of someone who knows how. There isn\'t a single class of character on either team (although the Axis classes are pretty much a straight copy of the Allied classes, just with different names and slightly different guns) that really feels useless, and most of the time I was happy to play spawning as a random class each time I died, only switching to a definite class if there was a particular need for a sniper, or heavy gunning man, or rifleman.

The box claims that it \"Also includes everything you need to explore and enjoy all MODs for Valve\'s games\", although it took a lot of effort to install Counter-Strike into Day of Defeat, and I was unable to get it to work completely satisfactorily. Many servers I normally play Counter-Strike refused to connect to my Day of Defeat client. I also noticed that WON keys are not universal: my Day of Defeat key does not work with my Counter-Strike CD, even though the key from my Half Life CD does.

The preceding paragraph begins to illustrate why I absolutely cannot recommend the Day of Defeat retail box to anyone. Even if the MOD integration were perfect, you\'re still paying thirty bucks for the Half Life engine, minus Half Life. When you consider that the same amount of money will buy the Half Life Platinum pack, which has two complete single player games, a WON key that works with all of them, and gives you the ability to download Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, FireArms and any number of other MODs for free, it just doesn\'t make sense to buy this retail box. It makes so little sense, in fact, that it\'s hard for me to view this release as anything other than Valve trying to flog a little more out of an already well-beaten dead horse to pass the time before Half Life II arrives. The only possible market I see for Day of Defeat is parents who want a Teen rated game for their child (both Counter-Strike and Half Life carry Mature ratings), but if that were the case it would have made sense to prevent Day of Defeat owners from playing other Half Life MODs, which was not done.

When all is said and done, Day of Defeat is an awful lot of fun, and I would highly recommend giving it a try to any fan of first person shooters. However, if you don\'t already own a copy of Half Life, and you really want to try Day of Defeat, go buy Half Life and then download Day of Defeat from http://www.dayofdefeat.com. You\'ll end up with a lot more game for your buck. As a free add on to an established enterprise, Day of Defeat shines. As a self-contained, commercial product, however, it\'s lacking.