Nyxified review o'clock. Warning! Large amount of polgrish text on collision course!Introduction
It appeared suddenly and unexpected, but screenshots Darius posted several times here and there proved that he's working on something. And it was something big. When official annoucement appeared, my reaction was like "What? The guy who made BP announces a total-conversion project? It must be something nuts!". With plethora of shiny, PBR models and overally very high quality of materials, I through "Yeee... It will
be crazy stuff". Looks like next release of Inferno won't be first PBR mod. Well... Than we will be second. And now let's download this stuff and see what Darius cooked.There be dragons...
After shiny intro and nice introduction, subtle, minimalistic, clear and stylish menu welcomed me with open hands along with techroom full of ships... And man, this is crazy! Quality of the modpack is stunning. I've never seen so many new models for FS mod since INFR1 release. BP: War in Heaven, Ancient-Shivan War and finally my own Exile bring impresssive collection of new models, but I was amazed by sheer amount of content brought by Solaris. I know the story of this ships, but converting itself that amount of 3D material is sheer amount of job and as veteran 3D artist, I know what I'm saying. I spend first half of a hour reading tech entries and familiarizing with Solaris lore. It looks simple at first glance, but careful examination of provided intel hints sheer amount of story hidden behind classic "war of three factions" scenario. Just like BP:AoA hides tons of detailed storytelling behind the most overused scenario ever - "the choosen one". I'm not saying that using classic ideas is bad, because execution of such is much more important thing. And as staple for Darius' work, it's outstanding both in case of BP and Solaris. I already picked the side, and it's Commonwealth. Hail the king! For Crown and Country! But why are the icons gone?
I'm unhappy to start this part from something I actually dislike. I don't understand this visual novel thing appearing surrounded by inactive buttons etc. I tried to click on arrows to get to next stage, but it's all inactive. Wtf? Awww... The dialogue pannel below is active. Allright, lets go. Mission introductions are stylised on TV News and TBH, it's not convincing. We're serving the Federation. We're soldiers. Why do we get all the macro-scale news from TV? Classic command briefing is much better for this. Later stages are direct introduction to missions and they simulate briefing, but why? I get the point of fresh features of FSO etc, but I can't see visual novel feature to be any better than classic briefing and CB for the purpose Solaris use it for. I want to click on ship icon to see the class it belong to. Furthermore I don't get that noisy TV part. I admit I'm attached to FS style of mission introductions, but I can also accept different ways. Solaris in this regard unfortunately failed.Alright ladies, sit tight...
Than I launched first mission and great Universe... This thing is amazing! Flight model is clearly Diaspora inspired, but also it's much more liberal and forgiving for new players. Handling a spacecraft is a joy in Solaris, especially with addition of glide. Man, I love gliding! Autoaim is a controversial feature for FS, but Solaris executed it well. It's not making me OP, it's not turning gameplay into just lazy shooting stuff, it just helps me to stay alive and compensate difficult targetting of high-vel combat model. Lack of missiles was annoying at first glance, but I quickly got used to it. Than the fun begun! Tearing apart enemy fighters with intense maneuvering, gliding at max speed along impressive warships of the Combine and stripping their subsystems en-masse via hell of bullets... Yay, that's my kind of stuff. Solaris is well-balanced and incredibly satisfying experience in terms of actual gameplay. Through the whole campaign I encountered only one moment I struggled with:
Osiris rescue. When Imperiatrix appear, there is no way for me to stop enemy bombers from nuking Osiris to kingdom come. I tried spearhead, I ordered every pilot available to kill enemy fighters, I tried sneaky, stealth actions... Everything failed. I either ended up dying or with Osiris turned into piece of radioactive junk every time. That's the only moment when I actually cheated to progress forward. It may be actually not badly balanced. It may just me failing to find a proper way to deal with this part.
. Crossing the Styx
The deeper I ventured into Solaris, the more amazed by this thing I become. Capship battles looks amazing. Railguns and Torps > Beams! I always prefered more sustained ways of dealing damage in ship to ship combat, because let's be honest - those things are not made from paper. They were designed to withstand hell of heavy pummeling and live to tell the tale. Ship to ship combat model Solaris proposed appeal to me also because it provide me with time to analyze the situation and take action while I still can. Solaris is challenging, but is not hard at the same time. I find majority of missions forgiving for player. I won't complain about lack of flashy visuals, because I know this part is already improved and I will surely endorse this part during my next playthrough. Following main theme, Solaris is telling simple story at first glance, but there is waaaaay much of a depth below. First, released act works well as "First steps into hell" scenario. Modern 3A games are frequently dropping us straight into chaotic, intense action we know nothing about. Solaris represent old-school... Lel... Old-school school? Yay, old-school school of narrative. It carrefully introduces player to it's secrets step by step, raising the tension progressively and elevate the curtain of mystery in appropiate moments. This is also appealing for me. Solaris is not chaotic and unintuitive. It's like a mysterious stranger who wants to tell you a story, and he certainy knows how to do it. And it will do it without crazy freaks talking about destiny, like AoA did. New Age believers, enthusiasts of conspiracy theories, followers of spiritual teachers, turn around. It's not the thing you're looking for if you think that Darius' work is all about metaphysical stuff. Instead I assure you, it's hell of a good, dark, intense story about war with many secrets hidden underneath main narrative.I have no idea where I am... But this place is amazing!
Solaris offers fresh, unique and consistent atmosphere to dive in. Style of starships, my fractal nebulae combined with other backgrounds, outstanding soundtrack composed from remixed OST from many mods, games, movies provide us with one-of-a-kind experience. Familiar at many points but also standing strong on it's own, fresh, exotic and internally consistent. It's different from any existing settings, despite noticable influences of BSG and The Expanse. Is it bad? It's not! Solaris is influenced only by the best. I encountered only one bug and it was a checkpoint in the last mission. If I remember correctly, I mentioned it before. In the difference to other players, I encountered almost no bugs, no FPS drops, no pop-up erros and any nasty stuff we all deal everyday as players or mod developers.The Slavic Lord of Night approves!
Solaris has flaws. It does like every other mod, but awesomeness of this thing is outshining every bad side of it. It is outstanding piece of art I can safely add to my personal hall of fame of FS mods, next to Ancient-Shivan War, BP:War in Heaven or Bem Cavalgar with strong 9/10 note. Darius plz make moar.
Let's see them aliens!