General Battuta asked me to write up a review of Blue Planet. I'm trying to avoid spoilers since Battuta mentioned this review might be used to lure people to play BP. Blue Planet happened to be the first mod I played after four years and I had high expectations from all the hype.
I used one of the newer Blue Planet 3.6.10 betas. And now on to the review...
At first I was slightly annoyed by lack of voice acting (I hate that synth voice), but given how difficult it is to get a campaign voice acted, I put that little issue aside very quickly. However, I can see that some progress has been made in getting the campaign voice acted. Definitely a good reason to play it again once voice acting is completed. Without proper voice acting messages are difficult to time properly and while BP team did good job, many messages were difficult to read due to timing issues. But there is a chance these timing issues will be fixed by the time final version of 3.6.10 compatible BP is released. Listening to synth voice gets tedious after a while, so some people may want to turn it off from the launcher.
From the very first mission I was impressed. BP uses in-game cutscenes very carefully, managing to emphasize important events without blatantly overusing cutscenes. "Camera" use was also brilliant at times, adding rather good cinematic feeling into the mix. I think other campaigns could take a note or two from BP in this regard. Several times cutscenes bugged a bit and did not give me my HUD back along with controls, restarting the mission solved it though. Missions were all very well designed, I don't think there were a single mission that was bad. There were very few actual mission designing errors and no show stoppers, at least I did not encounter any.
I liked how much attention there was to the details, missions felt very alive and made it feel like the player wasn't alone in the space. Better yet, in BP the player is an actual character instead of nameless Alpha 1. BP sports quite a number of actual characters and tries to build on them. When I say tries, I merely mean that character development falls short on super cheesy character lines. If you have played the campaign, you know what I mean. If you haven't yet, you will. While there were super cheesy lines and lots of them, take it with humor and enjoy rest of the campaign. BP is too good to be missed because for this reason alone. Mission difficulty was well balanced. I played on medium and I got a fair amount of challenge at times, but my skills were rusty after four years of not playing FS2 at all.
While not exactly unique to BP, new terran ships fits BP setting very well and are very beautiful in their own right. Many FS2 ships differ quite a lot from their FS1 predecessors and considering that BP takes place later in the (FS2) future, differences in designs are plausible. While I did say I try to avoid spoilers, you see (and hear) Balor in the very first flyable mission. This is only my personal opinion, but Balor doesn't sound all that good because the sound engine has difficulties in handling sound effects at such rapid speed. Balor's rate of fire could have been lower to compensate this shortcoming. This wasn't a big issue by any means, but it got a bit annoying to listen to the weapon in the long run, as good as it was especially in the early missions. Other than that, I don't really have complaints about new ships or weapons. They are all well designed and put into good use in the campaign.
The bottom line is there are some good character developments, plot twists and generally just good mission designing going on that anyone will most certainly enjoy the ride to the very end, where you will be greeted with another plot twist and a cliffhanger of sorts. And all this makes you crave for a sequel.