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[MP] Katabasis


zeko
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  • 1 month later...

I've completed Chapter 1 and I have to say that this is one of the most ambitious projects I've laid my eyes on. Unfortunately it doesn't fully realise all of its ambitions just yet (we'll see whether it changes come the final mission), and sometimes it's overly ambitious, to its own detriment.

 

The plot so far is very confusing and honestly isn't really engaging. I understand there are characters that are doing something, but why? What's their agenda? What are their motives? Nothing is given a certain answer, which gives off the impression that Katabasis tries to look smarter than it actually is. Hopefully it's smoothed out by the end.

 

The 'fixed camera' perspective borrowed from the likes of old survival horror games a-la Resident Evil looks fantastic, love it.

 

The puzzle sections can be frustrating at times. It took me a while to figure out the 'combination lock' from Episode 5, and although it's not really that hard to understand, it's a bit unintuitive. Same can be said about the other puzzle sections in this Chapter.

 

The 'vent' set piece from Episode 7 is awful, the third-person camera constantly clips through certain sections of the structure making it disorienting and confusing to traverse and find the exit.

 

I'll write something a bit more in-depth after finishing my playthrough, but so far those are my initial thoughts.

Edited by Satourn
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34 minutes ago, Satourn said:

This message will be edited with the full review

 

I've completed Chapter 1 and I have to say that this is one of the most ambitious projects I've laid my eyes on. Unfortunately it doesn't fully realise all of its ambitions just yet (we'll see whether it changes come the final mission), and sometimes it's overly ambitious, to its own detriment.

 

The plot so far is very confusing and honestly isn't really engaging. I understand there are characters that are doing something, but why? What's their agenda? What are their motives? Nothing is given a certain answer, which gives off the impression that Katabasis tries to look like it's smarter than it actually is. Hopefully it's smoothed out by the end.

 

The 'fixed camera' perspective borrowed from the likes of old survival horror games a-la Resident Evil looks fantastic, love it.

 

The puzzle sections can be frustrating at times. It took me a while to figure out the 'combination lock' from Episode 5, and although it's not really that hard to understand, it's a bit unintuitive. Same can be said about the other puzzle sections in this Chapter.

 

The 'vent' set piece from Episode 7 is awful, the third-person camera constantly clips through certain sections of the structure making it disorienting and confusing to traverse and find the exit.

 

I'll write something a bit more in-depth after finishing my playthrough, but so far those are my initial thoughts.

 

I can understand. The plot in chapter 1 is indeed confusing for the most part and isn't properly explained, but that's what the later chapters are there for.

Yes, it's overly ambitious as well. I tried experimenting with everything I can, map mods, skin mods - you name it. But it created such mess that I've abstained from doing such thing ever again ('overloading' a MP with mods); the vent map was created in MTA and ported to GTA SA and for reasons unknown the camera clips through the objects.

 

Appreciated the camera look, it gives something new.

Also about the puzzles, I get the problems with it (bad explanations) and I looked to improve upon that in the next chapters.

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So let me preface this by saying that I did not finish this mission pack. And despite only having the last two missions left to play, I do not intend to finish it because the last act of this project (namely, the 'Lunar Soul' saga) frustrated me to no end. This may come off as unprofessional, but at this point I just want to get this over with.

 

'Katabasis' is a supposed card game Lawrence plays. 'Katabasis' supposedly holds deeper meaning in relation to Lawrence. 'Katabasis' is a 'journey to the underworld' according to Wikipedia. 'Katabasis' is a military retreat, as written in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

 

'Katabasis' was an 18-mission long project originally conceptualized and created by zeko in 2020. 'Katabasis' is a 56-mission long remake of the original project created, too, by zeko throughout the course of the last two years.

 

'Katabasis' is a peculiar word. And so is the project that holds its name...

 

'Katabasis' places us in the shoes of Lawrence Lee Corwin, a former inmate suffering from amnesia who's hunted down by Walter, an enigmatic persona searching for the rumored treasure of John S. Mosby, a real-life American Civil War commander who fought on the side of the Confederates. It's admittedly a unique set-up for a DYOM mission pack, one that promises an adventure full of mysteries and explorations. There's a lot of ambition here, emphasized by the sheer scale and the amount of external modifications required to play this project. And it pains me to say that a lot of this ambition goes unrealized once the first Chapter is complete, as 'Katabasis' quickly devolves into your run-of-the-mill action movie flick with flat characters and overdone plot devices the moment Lawrence gets to meet Arthur, the deuteragonist who becomes Lawrence's best friend. All of the potential character development and the entire mystery aspect of this story go out the window in favor of standard shootouts and plot progressions.

 

Lawrence himself never really questions what exactly happened to him after a certain point. Who was Jack, another fellow inmate and Lawrence's supposed best friend who was killed during the prologue? Who exactly is Walter, a man with whom Lawrence apparently shares a lot of history as stated multiple times by Walter himself? Why are so many people trying to find Mosby's treasure, and what IS even the treasure itself? All of these do get answers, of course, but the answers are so unsatisfying and delivered in such a nonchalant manner at the end of this excruciatingly long project that by the time they appear, it doesn't really matter. And it's a shame, really, because the potential to create something truly never-before-seen was there - it was just blatantly wasted.

 

The 56 missions you get to play are usually strictly divided into purely story-driven long cutscenes and purely gameplay-driven set pieces. Unlike the aforementioned story, the gameplay sessions do offer unique solutions to the formulaic action of DYOM. You do shoot a lot of bad guys - but it's not necessarily all the same. Sometimes it's in a fiery building; sometimes a bit of stealth is sprinkled in to keep you on your toes; sometimes there's a chase sequence; sometimes you get to ride a train. It's great honestly... until it's very much not by the end of the project. Tedium does kick in around the time you start up the 'Lunar Soul' four-part finale, with the final part being perhaps the most boring it gets.

 

But not all gameplay is good gameplay. The last two Chapters make use of DYOM REd, and while some of its features are implemented well, some are just outright broken, adding to the overall frustration. Two great examples of this are 'Tedious ride', the opening act of Chapter 6, and 'Lunar soul, part II' from Chapter 7. 'Tedious ride' has Lawrence meet up with one of the side characters, Hoover, to transport a helicopter to the main base of operations. At a certain point, Lawrence and Hoover have to fight off a horde of angry farmers, and I honestly have no idea what is even supposed to happen (AznKei's playthrough was of great help in those last few Chapters by the way, props to him). 'Lunar soul, part II' is a simpler case - Lawrence needs to defend a moving truck from Walter's army while said truck follows a train. But for some reason after the truck starts moving, Lawrence just spawns outside of it, with the player having to follow it in their own vehicle (no footage is available here unfortunately, as AznKei still hasn't finished his own playthrough of 'Katabasis').

 

There's also a puzzle element to this project, and for the most part these puzzles are unintuitive. It might be my own stupidity, but I couldn't figure out what to do next in several instances where the player isn't given an exact location or an exact solution. I'm not saying that everything must be spoonfed - but a bit more clarity would definitely help.

 

What is commendable is the map work. And I'm not just talking about self-made full new sections of the map - the Montana mountains, Virginia, the island from Chapter 5, all of which are sprawling huge locations, even if they're not exactly well-made. The overall set decoration is astonishingly good and detailed, it's genuinely a rarity to witness such amazing object work in a DYOM project. Add to that the various skins used throughout the entire course of the story, and the attention to detail is stunning.

 

...'Katabasis' is a peculiar DYOM project. It is both unique in certain regards, and utterly derivative in other. It's overly ambitious to its own detriment, but when it realizes its own ambitions, it's one of the best projects the DYOM community has seen in a long time. It's good enough that I can recommend it, and it's bad enough that I can't recommend it.

 

It's a divisive work... and I'm sitting on the fence.

Edited by Satourn
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All points you have mentioned and the cons that are there are true. While working on this project, I felt like the gameplay needed to be implemented more so the player doesn't get to watch hours of cutscenes where characters just... talk to each other. But then, I didn't acknowledge that it would impact the story greatly (Chapter 7 was a whole mess on its own, mods not working, etc). 

 

About the story though. The first chapter was there, which introduced the important guys and the chapter 2 did the same. But as you mentioned, the MP did go down the unfavorable path and focused more on the CHARACTERS themselves rather than looking to emphasize the plot more. Everything has an answer to the question in the MP, but I also felt like they "weren't enough". They were delivered, but like you said - not in a really satisfying way. Mainly because I couldn't figure a better way to do it, but that's on my end.

 

I tried my best with the characters and to make them look as "real" as possible, like giving them some stereotypes, hobbies and such. While focusing on that, I completely overshadowed the other aspects of the plot and understandably, worsened it.

Like Lawrence's amnesia, for example. It was overshadowed by other aspects and didn't get enough detail within it.

 

The gameplay on the other hand is what I've felt was done with good intent, but it gets broke for some reason (like the truck-chasing-train part, I've never had that issue on my end) or fighting the angry farmers - I've never had this issue as well, thus making me go along with it and thinking "all is well".

I appreciate how you noted that the gameplay is divisive. For obvious reasons I didn't want everything to be the same and sound, bland or outright boring. If I had used DYOM IX, there may be even more variety.

 

Now to the maps. Really appreciated how you pointed out the details, which is one of the things I focused upon. Combining  all the maps' objects, there are probably over 8000 objects put in there thanks to modified Fastman Limit Adjuster settings (and thank you M316 for configuring that, without him, it wouldn't be even possible). Due to maps, I refrained from using DYOM IX, which uses different fastman settings.

The skins were also done mostly by M316, while some were done by Raxo and Mikul. Real thanks to them, it helped the immersion in this MP get going.

 

In conclusion, all of the cons and pros you mentioned are on the spot. Really appreciate the review as it helps me fix those things in my new MP, while not repeating the same mistakes again.

 

 

 

Edited by zeko
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