Eclipse

Discussion in 'News' started by Munro, May 24, 2009.

  1. Munro

    Munro ValveTime Administrator
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    The evolutionary process has sped up a hundredfold.[/b][br]
    [br]
    Normally, a mod like this would maybe appear a couple of years after the original
    game came out. A third-person physics-based total conversion set in a beautifully
    realised fantasy world? Madness, and certainly the last thing I'd expected from
    the Source engine (actually, I lie. The last thing I expected was...well, that's
    another story). But for such a thing to materialise before even a year has passed
    since the game's release is cause to leap around joyfully, and then get on with
    downloading Eclipse, all 200 megabytes of it.[br]


    The story begins with you playing as Violet: lady-sorcerer separated from
    her father at an early age, all grown up now and returning to the ruined family
    home to try and track down her long-lost dad. The plot is moved along by the
    discovery of fragments of your father's journal, hinting at the dangers to come
    and giving instructions. You load up the mod. The animated menu screen is impressive
    enough, but then you're in the game...[br]
    [br]
    ..and it's beautiful.






    [br]






    The camera swoops in over a confusion of green growth, buzzing insects;
    a yellow haze hanging in the air. This is Auldhaven: the idyllic rural-fantasy
    tangle of vegetation where your adventures begin. The horizon is smudged by
    lighting effects - the full power of the Source engine in action. Even on this
    reviewer's less-than-stellar PC, the initial amble through a lush valley - past
    trickling streams and waterfalls where insects and birds flit and flutter between
    the trees, leading on to castle ruins crumbling under a liquid sunset - was
    utterly stunning. The first level is like looking at a very pretty picture through
    a haze of golden honey.


    [br]
    It takes a fair bit more whack to run than vanilla HL2, but hell, it's worth it.
    Soon you're out of Auldhaven, the land of butterflies and "tinkly" music, and into
    the sinister valleys of Darkmoor - a shadowy forest of dead trees and ancient ruins.
    Every environment is a ready-made treasure trove of splendiferous-ness. Look, it's
    so good I'm inventing words here. Brillsome! Superful! Beautiant![br]
    [br]
    Eclipse hinges around the employment of Violet's telekinetic powers - or magic,
    to the layman - for picking up and throwing bits of rock and suchlike. Clicking
    on an object lifts it into the air; holding down right-click charges up a storm
    of telekinetic energy that, when released, will propel the object in the direction
    of the crosshair. Objects stay in place when lifted, so tactics become a matter
    of careful positioning and timing, lest you end up crushing yourself under a great
    big rock.[br]
    [br]
    At first, you'll just use it to clear objects out of your path. But after the intro,
    where you're free to explore without any danger of combat, you'll need to employ
    your powers to fight the Keepers. Gorilla-like, slightly reptilian orc-creatures,
    they make fun enemies to battle, with their unearthly howls and their tendency to
    leap from high hiding places. With nothing more to fight them with than whatever
    objects you can find lying around, you'll need to keep on your toes. Physics based
    gameplay - utterly compelling. As you progress, the emphasis changes from exploration,
    to combat with multiple enemies, to puzzle solving and back to combat again for
    an explosive finale. All the way through, the production, and especially the music,
    is exceptional - in fact, the soundtrack is so good you can go to their website
    and download it. [br]
    [br]
    On top of the three 'story' levels (of which only Darkmoor has any real length)
    there's an entertaining arena mini-game, pitting you against waves of howling, screeching
    Keepers - with only fireball-flinging to defend yourself. Entertaining enough, but
    it gets boring quickly, even with the recording of times and kills that incites
    further play to beat your own records.[br]
    [br]


    Unfortunately, if your graphics card isn't up to scratch, you'll be paying
    for the experience. It's a lot choppier than Half-Life 2, and at some points,
    unplayable (this was with a Radeon 9600 SE - not the best of cards, for sure).
    There were moments where the entire game irretrievably and irrevocably plunged
    into a deep dark low-frame rate pit, refusing to come out until I quit, restart
    and reloaded. The controls can also be somewhat fiddly, occasionally unresponsive.
    Some of the animation is less than brilliant, but what can you expect? It's
    a third-person conversion of a first-person game; and the models are impressive
    enough.






    [br]
    But it's all over far too quickly. Much more could have been made of the plot -
    and quite a good plot it seemed, even though there wasn't much of it - and you could
    polish off the whole mod in one night. But without revealing anything, the ending
    seems to suggest there's more on the way...and apparently, that's exactly what the
    team is working on. Brilliant as this mod is already, what it needs is more plot,
    more levels: more content![br]
    [br]
    Criminally short as it is, Eclipse shows us what can be done with the Source engine.
    It's a shining example of the originality and production quality that all mods should
    aspire too. It's rare to find a mod displaying such levels of professionalism; rarer
    till for it to be as ambitious as this. And despite being a prodigious system hog,
    Eclipse is something all HL2 fans should experience, and I fear that it might slip
    under most people's radar. Go and
    download it right now,
    if you haven't already. [br]
    [br]
    Note: Some people have problems with installing Eclipse. If you get an error
    message like "could not find steam directory" (usually because Steam is not on the
    primary hard drive) then go to the Eclipse website where you can download a .zip
    file that can be unpacked directly to your Sourcemods folder.
     

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