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Lost Alpha Review

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May 5th, 2014
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  1. This mod is a great example of what not to do when trying to recreate a game in your own image, due to it being worse than the SoC in almost every way.
  3. First up, the good things.
  4. The map design for the majority of the maps is great, pretty much all of the maps from SoC are significantly improved, and the majority of the new maps are great, some maps are a bit poorly thought out but they make up for that fact with the sheer level of details put into them, whoever designed these maps did a fantastic job. My only real gripe with the maps is that a few of them pretty much require cars to traverse quickly, but then again, going on foot lets you notice the many smaller details put into these maps, so it's not too bad of a thing.
  5. The environments are also really well done, the enhanced grass density and draw distance really helps make the maps look even better, however there are .dll's out there that do the same thing.
  6. The textures are fairly well done, a nice upgrade to SoC's textures, but not amazing.
  7. The introduction of an upgrades system is a nice touch, but also isn't anything groundbreaking.
  8. The lighting however is excellent, sure it can cause frames to die, but in my opinion it is worth it, since the shadows drawn along with the subtle sun-rays peeking in every so often still made me stunned when reaching the end of the mod, especially from the fact that it was built on SoC's engine.
  10. Sure it may look like there's a fair amount of positives, so why is there a 'nasty' 5/10 instead of a typical 10/10 like the hundreds of other reviews, thats because these positives are brought down greatly by the negatives.
  12. As I said before, the maps are big, full of interesting areas and overall improved from SoC's maps, however, they are completely empty of things to do in them bar gawk at the scenery. No A-life bar a few mutants and quest-related NPCs, maybe a group of STALKERs who sit at a fire and don't move for the rest of the level. That's all there is though. Once you have done all the quests that a level has it turns into just another place you have to walk across to get to the next quest location. There is so much space in the maps that goes completely unused due to there being nothing to do in such a location, sure you can go there if you like to explore, but unless you like to appreciate the maps you will be left unrewarded.
  13. The sound design is pretty bad in this, weapons sound weak as hell along with the majority of any sounds that were actually changed.
  14. The voice acting is really poor, worse than all of the other STALKER games, at least in those you weren't forced to hear characters speak for long amounts of time, with a 3 second pause in between each line. It would be much better if everything was kept to text only, then it wouldn't break immersion and atmosphere.
  15. Another issue is the large amount of cutscenes, which not only cause you to be torn away from the gameplay, but they are also so bad that you cant help but laugh. Every time I was met with the horrendous 'animation' and 'plot' contained in such scenes I couldnt help but to laugh, at one point I had to pause the game, get up and grab a drink because of how unintentionally hilarious it was (see - SEELLUMINATI).
  16. Speaking of which, the entire plot is as if it came out of a middle-schoolers 'write your own story' assignment. It completely ruins any resemblance of a believeable world that STALKER had, and makes it so convoluted and ridiculous its unbeleivable. To make matters worse, there are references practically forced down your throat, at one point in the game there is an unmissable reference in an unskippable segment of gameplay, and it completely ruins any immersion you have left by that point. There is also an issue of a new faction that has three missions done for them and then is never touched on again, or the fact that factions often do things completely out of character (Monolith especially).
  17. The atmosphere is constantly broken by the two points above, but worst of all is when the tension is at a high level, and you are feeling chills due to the creepyness of the place you are exploring, you walk forewards towards a body and then hear 'MUHAHAHAHAHA'... completely ruining anything it had going and throwing you back out of the game that had so well drawn you in. Every single time I am immersed in the 'scary moments' they throw in some 'forced scares' and completely ruins one of the best things STALKER has to offer, its atmosphere.
  18. Now, onto the most glaring flaws, the AI, or lack of it for that matter. The AI is probably the worst AI I have seen implemented in any STALKER game or mod. It will literally let you shoot its comrades in the face, whilst completely hostile to you, and standing right next to you, staring at you and seeing you kill his friend, then will take a few shots like a champ and maybe then he will react and attack you, but it is more likely he will just take the final round and die by that point. I have 'stealthed' many levels with my shotgun by simply shooting AI in the head due to their horrendous reaction times, and when I do get spotted I can count on the AI to wipe eachother out with worse grenade-spam than in Clear Sky. At least half the time the grenades dont prime, so I can watch as the ground gets filled with broken grenades when I go to raid an outpost.
  19. There is also a complete lack of A-Life in the game, I can stash my items away anywhere and have no fear of them being snitched, I can drop my gun on the road and come back in an ingame week to pick it back up. There is also the issue that the AI doesn't populate the levels, making the already empty maps even emptier.
  20. At least there is still exploration though, right? Wrong. The man whose first mod was to remove fences from SoC has done a 180 and has added invisible walls and impassable barriers to his latest mod. You cannot go to areas that haven't been unlocked by the story, essentially funnling you into completing the story so you can do things in other areas. Unfortunately my first negative point still stands when you do unlock these areas, so you don't have much to explore in the first place, but you don't even get the option to do so with Lost Alpha.
  22. With all these negatives, it seems rather clear that this mod deserves its 5/10, and it's lucky it even got that, as I was debating as to weather or not to give it lower than a 5. Lost Alpha is held up entirely by its maps and lighting, without those it would be a 4/10 at best. It makes me wonder if dezowave decided to take all the good things from SoC and then do the complete opposite of them. The fact that you can take 7 years to work and 'hand test' something that is ultimately worse than what it was supposed to 'fix' astounds me, since I simply cannot see how that time was spent, nor where it went.
  24. The good thing that comes out of all this however, is the fact that all my issues can be, and probably will be, modded out. With the hard things to change already done, Lost Alpha has a great potential as a modding goldmine, and will hopefully reinvigorate the currrently slow modding scene for STALKER. However, I am not reviewing Lost Alpha as a tool, I am reviewing it as a mod, and for that it is mediocre at its best, and overall a big dissapointment, luckily I wasn't too invested in watching this mods developement, so the blow was a lot softer than it would have been for someone watching this mod from day 1, but it was still a harsh blow none the less.
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