Big mod projects tend to get some hype, like the Misery mod for S.T.A.L.K.E.R., the Long War mod for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and the Skywind mod for Skyrim that attempts to add an updated version of the whole Morrowind game into it. However, these projects can take quite a bit of time, even years spent on perfecting them. For instance, the Black Mesa total conversion mod for Half-Life 2 had been in the works for 8 years and its initial release was on September 2012, which came out to pretty good reviews. Just recently, another one of these Half-Life 2 mods has come up to the surface, and it could be worth a look.
NEOTOKYO is a free-to-play multiplayer first-person shooter by STUDIO RADI-8 that first came about as a mod for Half-Life 2, then developed into its own standalone title on Steam. The project had been in the works for a very long time, and it has finally been released for free after 5 years. It has a cyberpunk theme, mostly inspired by Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell, which shows in the maps and the character models that basically look like tactical operatives with visors and other tech enhancements. It’s almost like Deus Ex, but with less monotone protagonists and more gunplay.
At first glance, it seems to not have aged well, but the visuals still fit the game’s aesthetic of mixing traditional Japanese architecture with lots of cyberpunk elements. Perhaps it’s forgivable since cyberpunk in itself goes for a dated 80′s sci-fi look anyway, which also gives it that mod look that reflects its origins. Perhaps the most obvious drawback here is that it has no singleplayer campaign, which seems like something that could really fit this theme. But then again, Blacklight Retribution doesn’t have singleplayer either, and that’s doing alright for itself as well.
In terms of gameplay, its a lot like Tactical Intervention in that you can’t just charge in and expect to get good results. The shooting is more about positioning and tactical awareness rather than just trying to overwhelm everyone with firepower. Having no crosshair when not aiming down means that you have to position carefully and aim down before you can expect to lay down fire that will actually hit opponents while not getting killed. If you’re out in the open, you’ll be gunned down quickly and your teammates will scorn you for it.
You get to play in one of the two teams, either the Jinrai (GSDF) or the NSF. You can then choose one of three classes, which are Recon, Assault, and Support; each with their own weapons and equipment to choose from. The one piece of gear that makes this game different from most other games is the thermoptic camouflage, which lets players cloak for a limited amount of time. The options you get between the classes and available weapons lets players be able to fit in their own playing styles in the game, whether they like to hit hard and fast from the shadows or take them out from afar.
When you aim down your weapon, it doesn’t even show you aiming down the sights of the weapon. You just get a zoom in with a big crosshair for aiming, even if your weapon has red dot sights. It would have been nice to get more realism by aiming down the actual weapons, but it does not entirely derail the gameplay action altogether. When played well, it can be just as exciting as any other multiplayer tactical shooter out there. You can fire from cover by leaning left and right, although it’s just a slight lean so you have to get used to clinging onto the very edge of the corner to get the desired effect.
Despite all of that, it must be said that the best thing about this game is the soundtrack, which definitely blows everything else out of the water. It was composed by Ed “0edit” Harrison, and it has tracks for both the Jinrai and the NSF. It is perhaps what got a lot of fans into the game in the first place, especially the track “Departure” that had been used for the main trailer. As you listen to it for the first time, you get a good sense of what the game is about right then and there.
It’s thematic atmosphere that truly stands out in this game, despite whatever criticisms you may have about its age and lack of polish. You can’t help but get that feeling of this game being a labor of love, especially with it being released after so long. Even if you are not into multiplayer shooters, you may like cyberpunk and Japanese-inspired art, which this game has quite a bit of.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 7.5/10