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Old 01-21-2010, 08:23 AM   #1
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Free and Worth Every Penny - Issue 30: Harmony

A hockey rink in a ruined city, down the block from a mutant zoo. A train ride out of a bio-weapons lab overrun by monstrous lichen. A functional missile silo and submarines and bizarre temples that tower over a poisonous landscape dotted by giant mushrooms. I didnít expect any of this from Harmony when I first booted it up. Your character wakes in a mundane building that houses corridors straight out of any old school FPS, maybe Duke 3D or Marathon or Rise of the Triad. Once outside those halls, though, and a level or two into the game, it's clear that Harmony is more than just familiar corridors. It is a look back into the history of a beloved genre that innovation has rendered unrecognizable from its original form. It's a reconstruction that benefits from the patient love only a hobbyist can give to a work; according to Tigsource, it took creator Thomas van der Velden 8 years to complete the game. I think it was worth it.

is everything youíd expect from a AAA first person shooterÖ if it were 1995. There are 11 sprawling levels full of bad guys to kill, secrets to reveal and keys to find (purple, yellow and limeó a departure from the usual primaries). Each level is increasingly more over-the-top than the last, with impressive use of scale, open spaces, and expressive architecture. The enemies are particularly memorable, handcrafted out of clay and well animated. The same canít be said for the weapons, which, besides the grenade/rocket launcher, are wholly typicalónothing more than functional. And while the music is palatable, I found myself turning it down and listening to podcasts or my own tunes instead.

Everything looks crisp and clean, and a wide variety of aspect ratios and screen resolutions are supported. Harmony is very pretty for what it is. The controls are map-able, mouse look is supported, and if you enable crouching and jumping, you wonít feel restricted in your movement. I donít think the levels are designed for this freedom, but I prefer it, even if I did accidentally bypass certain areas (I think?) or jump myself over a few ledges-of-no-return.

If you have any place in your heart for the first person shooters of yore, download Harmony immediately. Itís fun, itís free, and itís a chance to play a new old shooter. Give it a shot, at least for nostalgiaís sake.

Harmony is:

-a resurrection of the old school fps.
-full of well designed levels.
-pretty hard. I played it on very easy.

Download it here:
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Old 01-21-2010, 01:21 PM   #2
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I downloaded this last night when Bandango sent me a preview copy of this piece, and let me tell you, he's not kidding about the game being hard. On Easy I was getting my ass kicked by some of the early enemies. Even on "Very Easy" I'm still saving after every room.

That said, it's a very impressive total conversion of DOOM, with a whole lot of nice additional stuff. The enemies here aren't re-skinned versions of the DOOM enemies, they're totally new creatures with new behaviors, new animations, new weapons. (The homing explosive thing is a bitch, and why doesn't he drop it for ME to use when he dies?!)

I was also really happy to see that, like in DOOM, the enemies can and will shoot each other and get in fights with each other.

Highly recommended download, just to see something "new" with a decidedly old-school feel. Don't know if I'll beat it but I was glad I spent an hour or so with it.
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Old 01-22-2010, 05:10 AM   #3
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I gave it a test drive too and it is worth the download! Especially if you want to do some "retro" gaming. And just in case you were wondering, it does run under Windows 7 64 bit which is awesome! However the only issue I had with the setup was the initial keyboard mappings. Since we live in a world of WASD I had to remap those to get around better than the defaults. But with that coupled with the "mouse look" and I was right at home blasting baddies. My complements to Thomas van der Velden for a job well done!
America- Home of the free, defended by the brave.
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Old 01-22-2010, 03:12 PM   #4
Waste of good suffering
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Downloading now. I miss the olden days. I'm going to play on the hardest difficulty. I'll let you know if and when I beat level 1.
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Old 01-22-2010, 03:14 PM   #5
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Hmmmmm.... maybe I'll give this a try. If only it weren't for all those non-free games I'm playing.
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Old 01-22-2010, 04:28 PM   #6
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To follow up on my previous post, it will also support most 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 resolutions as well. Which means I have run it at 1680x1050 on LCD monitor with all the eye candy that the game can support turned on and it does not even blink.
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free, worth every penny

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