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SoC - "Autumn Aurora 2" mod review.

TheREVIEWER Dec 9th, 2013 3,373 Never
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  1. The cold times have finally come. There's autumn, where the snow hasn't already fallen. To many of us, autumn is a cheerful time, to the most of us though.. Imagine the autumn..
  2.   In the happy summer times of 2013, depressing "MISERY 2" for CoP was released. Those, who managed to keep their saves and play "MISERY 2" happily through wanted more. One brave modding group took on the challenge of taking the idea of MISERY and somewhat "porting" the idea to "STALKER: Shadow Of Chernobyl". The mod was called "Autumn Aurora 2".
  3.  "Autumn Aurora 2" claims to "overhaul the graphics, sound and gameplay of STALKER: SoC". It contains official AtmosFear for SoC that hasn't been released and that it has been extensively redesigned to match the looks of the time of autumn. It also promised to make the game difficult and "well-balanced to avoid being unfair".
  4.  AA2 relied heavily on its graphics and I can happily say they were more than successful. Textures everywhere look sharp and detailed, all the models, from NPCs to weapons, looked polished and smooth, like the animations. Nature of the Zone is a lot more dense and lush, even overflowing at times and the unmown, irradiated grass actually looks a lot like unmown, irradiated grass now. Yantar area, for example, was a nature wonderland. The skies and the clouds look stunning and the sunrises and sunsets were simply breathtaking. The lighting effects were a bit different too, sitting by a campfire or near anomalies, slightly adds an appropriately colored tint (yellow tint for sitting by a campfire), which was a really nice feature. The new weather system made every weather look even more Zoneish, thus a lot better. If there was a storm going on, you really felt that there indeed was a storm going on with the powerful sound and dramatic weather. Perhaps foggy weather occurred too often, but that's just my two cents. Whilst playing the mod, I also noticed, that almost every screenshot I took randomly, looked beautiful, whether I was in a battle, standing on top of CNPP or in the middle of an anomaly field. New NPC models looked awesome with new gas-masks and armor (honestly, Freedom armor looks badass), however in my opinion replacing Professor Sakharov in Yantar with Dr. Kleiner from HL2 was a bit obnoxious. If you are going to do that, replace the dramatic and serious undertone of the mod, too. Having mentioned the dramatic/depressing undertone, there's only one thing I'd like to bring out negatively in the graphics area - the colors. I get it, autumn and the mod are supposed to depict depression and misery, however a little color wouldn't hurt. How can you create depression, if there are no happier colors to bring out the depression with.
  5.  The sound effects were revamped in AA2, with new ambient sounds creating an even more powerful atmosphere, noticeable by the unsettling atmosphere in underground areas. AA2 nights were definitely spooky, too, with little to no ambient sound effects at all, creating the perfect "night" atmosphere. Unfortunately, sometimes the audio would bug out and the weapons or the mutants would not emit sounds. It was uncommon, but it did happen time-to-time.
  6.  Gameplay was definitely made more difficult. The only HUD element was the map in a small compass on-screen. Simple, yet a very effective change. With AA2, you were as easy to kill as others. You were equal with your enemies. Never in the game, you'd feel like a superhero or a god, even wearing an exoskeleton, since your weapons and armor degrade quickly. Ammo was a scarce resource. In addition to some new weapons, the mod also added nifty items - "Weapon repair kit" and "Armor repair kit", which are heavy, yet portable kits that allow you to repair your equipment on the go. This is a really useful addition for the long trip to the North. The kits were pretty common to come by, too!
  7. Artifacts in AA2 now had to be found via an artifact detector and that is the new gameplay element I liked the most. It was still comfortable to find artifacts, but now it had become a challenge.
  8.  On the negative side, the overlays of the armors with helmets were distracting and sometimes faded the beauty of AA2. I also noticed that zombies had perfect aim, even from 100 metres. The AI accuracy, overall, was a bit too accurate long-range-wise. For some reason AA2, made the AS VAL (VLA assault rifle) really ridiculously overpowered. Keep that in mind when entering the Monolith area ;) . Other than those nitpicks, the gameplay was quite alright!
  9.  I had no serious technical complaints about AA2. The loadtimes were snappy and only had 1 crash throughout the whole gameplay. However, Kruglov did bug out for me and didn't want to move away, so I had to kill him to get the flash drive and sometimes after loading a save, an enemy would spawn right beside you. It was unfortunate, that SweetFX does not work with the Steam version, but that is not the devs fault.
  10.  To sum "Autumn Aurora 2" up, as a graphics mod, AA2 was superb, it was just the gameplay area, that might need a little polishing.
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  12. 9 / 10 - The STALKER mod, that manages to look outstanding in every situation the Zone puts it in.
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  14. "Autumn Aurora 2"  for STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl can be downloaded here
  15.  http://www.moddb.com/mods/autumn-aurora-compilation-mod/downloads/autumn-aurora-2
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  21. Contact: reviewerkris@gmail.com
  22. Review feedback, mod review requests and general mail much more than welcome!
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