Let me specify something- for 8 years, this has been my favorite game of all time. I played the absolute ♥♥♥♥ out of the xbox version of it- and while it may feel more suited to a controller, it can be handled just as well on a mouse and keyboard (though you may want to bind the keys to your liking). Since there's less of them- we'll start with the bad things, shall we?
Stealth games NEED good, balanced cpu opponents. While the game gets the awareness of guards correct on a standard basis- the dudes you're sneaking past can be remarkably stupid, and occasionally even the converse of that, as it has its faults sometimes with twitchy/schizophrenic AI.
The character models' faces can be REALLY ugly. Mainly, that comes from stretching in an exaggerated expression, as grabbing someone and holding a knife to their neck raises their eyebrows roughly 3 feet above their face, and their mouths even wider than the area aforementioned. Their eyelids are also triangles.
Another fault for the PC version is that it doesn't quite have the sound design that the xbox version did- sound effects don't fade and echo like they should. Which is kind of bizarre! It's not often that the console counterpart ends up sounding better than PC master race's version.
There are a few issues in the multiplayer modes:
-Game can desync and completely ♥♥♥♥ up a mission that you and your partner had spent an hour on
-Framerate is LOCKED TO 30 FRAMES FOR SYNCHRONIZATION PURPOSES
-This game absolutely hates when you Alt+Tab and will kick you off the server for doing it too much
-Opens separate program
-Completely different (and less visually appealing) engine
-Resolutions only offered in 4:3 format (but can be easily fixed by editing default.ini)
-Some of the maps are so huge it boggles your ♥♥♥♥ing mind that ubi thought only 4 players could support it
Now then- I've told you what isn't so hot about the game, and if all of that turns you off, that's okay.
So what makes Chaos Theory so great?
Make no mistake, gameplay is the breading AND the frosting on this delicious cake. The engine is completely revamped from its' predecessors, which is a magical thing that they were able to tear down what they had before that was already superb, and make something that is nearly perfect. There's a new sound meter, that lets you take a look at just how noisy you are in a situation, which makes for a better sense of immersion- rather than LOUD/NOT LOUD. The new engine the game runs on feels substantially smoother than SC or Pandora Tomorrow (which is still yet to see a steam release); All of your actions, as well as the AI's, both look and feel realistic. There's no half-hearted spring step like the original, nor do guards have to hug walls to get past eachother. All you have to worry about is coming up with the method to either stun your foe, eliminate him, or how to slip past him unnoticed. I often prefer the latter, but when in co-op, you can't really trust your partner, nor yourself to be this stealthy. You're better off quick-saving frequently or just knocking out whomever you encounter (or both!).
Sound-wise, the game sounds awesome. Stellar voice acting, great sound effects, and some of the greatest music in a game ever. In fact, Ubisoft was so pleased by composer Amon Tobin's work, they released the soundtrack a MONTH before the game was due. Tobin was able to create the tense atmosphere of the game, all while retaining the feel that you're a ghost's shadow. You ARE what goes bump in the night. Needless to say, the game's OST has wound up on every different generation of an MP3 player I've had.
Seriously. Just listen to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SzhjG6OkvI
The voices in the game sound smooth and believable at every time. There's no forced lines like there were in Pandora Tomorrow, where there was that occasional young voice in the ambient audio tracks that absolutely did not fit the bill for the lines or the character he was given.
"DON'T SHOOT, I'M AMERICAN"
That line is going to haunt me til the day I die.
Like I've explained before, the game still looks nice, visually. The environments look polished, with the lights shining in just the right spots that make the game still a pleasure to look at, nearly a decade after release. The character models are very nicely detailed in terms of both texture, and shape. With bumps and edges on not just their faces, but clothing as well. In a game about stealth, you could imagine how important shadows and lighting are- and the balancing of the light-index along with the visuals work great (although this excludes a few particular downloadable co-op levels). The Co-op looks just like the Singleplayer, and doesn't sacrifice the engine for the sake of performance. But the extra levels included in the v1.05 patch leave a LOT to be desired. It feels like there was a completely different designer who had absolutely no spatial awareness, and didn't even understand how lighting works- and that large, stretched blood textures serve no purpose when there is no body they are connected to. Stay away from those maps if you wish not for your partner and yourself to succumb to occular leprosy.
How do I love thee, Versus? Let me count the ways.
1. When I grabbed parker and threw him off a ledge, breaking his neck.
2. Charging into and scaring the ♥♥♥♥ out of Binary_2 right after the elevator doors opened on 'Club House'.
3. Both Parker and I getting killed after bd648 fired a grenade into the rafters, taking the ceiling along with it.
4. wwchicken running headlong into yet another proximity mine next to the VIDEO GAMES terminal in 'River Mall'.
Versus makes its' return from Pandora Tomorrow, and with a vengeance. Gameplay is considerably more balanced, providing an easier challenge for the mercs. Mercs can now hit spies in the FACE, and knock them down- which levels the playing field, since spies have a tendency to sneak up and break your neck. You can also customize your loadouts for both classes, which is nice when you're trying to balance the game to fit your playstyle. Spies are still stuck with their shocker rifle, but mercs have the option to take either their default assault rifle, an SMG, or a shotgun. There's various things you can use on both sides as well, including spy traps, tracking bullets, and even stealth camouflage. It's all there, and it's a blast to play. I have no idea why there's so few people playing such a fantastic game. I mean, Counterstrike came out 13 years ago, and it's still one of the most played games on Steam.
Where is the JUSTICE.
TL;DR This game is fun as hell. If you haven't played it, and you love to be a stealthy SOB, get your hands on this delicious classic. Don't care about the multiplayer/ have no friends? The singleplayer tells a great story that can be beaten anywhere from 10-20 hours. A great deal that you can get on steam for an average 5-10 bucks. Wouldn't miss it for the world.