If you’ve come here looking for a full-blown review of Day of Defeat: Source, you’re going to be somewhat disappointed. I’m only recently back to this game reviewing thing, and I’m still loosening up my writing muscles. My stamina is low, I’m likely to pull something, and my hygiene isn’t all that great either. Besides, I only have a single gaming night playing DoD:S under my belt and while that’s not enough to really know all the little things, if you add that to probably three solid years of playing the old DoD, I feel qualified to give you at least the flavor if not the usual nitpicking that my regular readers have come to know and tolerate.
For those of you who have never played DoD before, it is very similar to UT2k4 Onslaught, only with a WW2 slant and no vehicles. The map is some area, typically several bombed out city blocks, which contains five flags. Each team is trying to capture and hold all five flags. This is accomplished by standing near the flag long enough for it to change to your team’s flag, and the preventing your enemy from taking it back. Some flags require more than one soldier nearby to change, and some change very slowly. The biggest difference from Onslaught is that when you die you always respawn at a single starting spawn point, not conveniently at any captured flag location. This does lead to some spawn camping, though it’s not as bad as some other games because your actual spawn point is guarded by an indestructible automated machine gun turret to discourage enemy campers.
DoD:S looks better than DoD, vastly better – the Source engine does a fine job of that – but at least the initial release has only four maps, maps that the regular DoD gaming crowd will recognize only too well with only minor variation. The weapons are unchanged, with the sole noticeable exception that the heavy machine gun can now be deployed anywhere at all, even on very narrow balcony railings. It creates a mounted cone of death that is effective at cutting off any and all approach, and I hope a later patch is going to rebalance this because a couple of well-placed heavy machine gunners can create choke points and totally grind the game to a halt. The Source ragdoll physics engine leads to some amusing moments, like blowing bodies up onto roofs with grenades or once when I shot a dead body that had slumped against a wall and looked alive to me, but it’s really just a new layer of icing on an old cake.
When you get right down to it, DoD:S is really just DoD using the Source engine. Well duh, you reply? Perhaps you were expecting exactly that, but I was expecting something more. Why? Because Counterstrike: Source (which was more or less unchanged from Counterstrike) came out only a short time after Half-Life 2, and DoD:S came out so much later I couldn’t understand what was taking so long unless they were making some significant changes. They didn’t change anything, not even the maps in any significant way. Don’t get me wrong, I like DoD. I like DoD better than Counterstrike because when you die in DoD you get to respawn, while in CS you have to sit around and wait until the round ends. I’ve also found that people who know the maps have much larger advantage in CS because they know all the hidey holes to snipe from, and I can spend the better part of an hour more dead than alive. At least in DoD I get to respawn quickly, getting more time to explore the map and close that knowledge gap. I just figured that with all the time it took to release DoD:S that they might be adding vehicles (a la Call of Duty – United Offensive) or weapons. It turned out that I was wrong. Doesn’t make it a bad game, and the $20 bargain price (which is almost certain to include more maps from Valve at a later date) doesn’t hurt, but if given the choice (and Steam doesn’t) to just keep playing the old DoD, that’s probably where I would have stayed.