(Posted by: Alex Deckard)
Wow. How the hell am I supposed to explain Garry’s Mod? It’s almost beyond description. I guess I could start by saying that it’s less of a game and more of a tool. Why then, am I talking about it on a gaming website?
I'll tell you why. Because it’s ball-punchingly awesome. When Valve released the Source engine in 2004, people were wowed by its ability to model physics events, facial expressions and environmental graphics. One person was so impressed that he decided to make a small Mod to play around with the physics engine. That man was Garry Newman, and that Mod was Garry’s Mod. It was released a mere five months after the engine itself, and over time, became more popular. It’s been distributed via Steam since 2006, and is currently on version ten. Why am I reviewing it now? Because it recently came out on the Mac, which means I finally have everything necessary to play it. (For the record, it requires at least one Source Engine game. I have five.) Now, to try and put in a review the various things that you can do in Gmod would be insane and very boring to read, so instead, I will describe my experience with playing it recently after the jump.
I started by opening up the basic map “Construct”. 9 out of 10 times someone uses Garry’s Mod in single player sandbox, they use this map.
The first thing I did is press “q” to open the massive spawn menu. From here you can spawn any NPC from Half Life 2, and any prop or ragdoll from ANY SOURCE GAME YOU HAVE INSTALLED. Also, you can access the plethora of tools available, as well as an online “Toybox” where you can download new weapons, props and scripted entities from in game.
I spawned several NPC’s of Dr. Isaac Kleiner, which I then shot. After the initial novelty of this wore off, I got to work. I spawned a large shipping container with one end open and used the “Easy Weld” tool to put a seat in it.
Then, I started attaching Hoverballs on all the corners of the container, and mapped their altitude control to my “Numpad”, which is in quotes because I’m on a MacBook Pro and had to map the Numpad keys to some unused keys on the right of my keyboard. After testing the box by raising and lowering it to make sure the balance was even, I started attaching thrusters to the back so it could go forward and backwards.
These were also mapped to the “Numpad”, and made a Combine Dropship noise, which made me happy. After this, I attached more Dropship-noise-making thrusters to the sides for strafing motion. Finally, I put thrusters on the front right and rear left for turning left, and front left and rear right for turning right.
Now I had this kind of stupid looking flying box with a chair, and I was feeling pretty good. But it was missing something. I decided it needed to be able to kill people too, so I put five guns on the front and mapped them to a “Numpad” key. They fired AR2 rounds, had the spread ramped up, the rate of fire increased, and were overpowered as hell. Basically, when I activated them, my little airship turned in to a forward facing fountain of death.
“But what if there’s something below you that begs to be destroyed?” I hear you asking. Well, for that, I put a max powered, max rate of fire, semi-loose spread laser cluster. Now I had a problem. I couldn’t see the glorious destruction below me when I was in my flying box of doom. To solve this, I spawned a camera that was mapped to my “Numpad” and welded it to the bottom of the ship. Now I could press a button and look down at the flaming fruits of my labor.
Eventually I decided that my awesometastic danger throne needed a door/ramp to enter. To accomplish this, I attached a metal door to the bottom of the front of the thing with three pieces of short rope. Then, it was attached to the two top corners by a pair of winches, mapped to the “Numpad”.
Now I had a different problem. I couldn’t see anything from inside my floating fortress of infinite pain.
To solve this, I put another camera mapped to another key on the “Numpad” to the top front of my evil craft. Having done this, I had completed my basic death box. I will point out now that at no time did I get frustrated or bored. The whole thing was very intuitive and organic. However, there are some problems I have with Gmod.
Firstly, the effects emitters. You can spawn emitters to shoot out everything from sparks to blood to shells from guns. However, the emitter itself takes the form of a big, unwieldy plug.
This doesn’t sound bad, but when you’re trying to do a photoshoot of a static battle scene, this can make it hard to have muzzle flash on the guns. You’ve got to hit them with the “No Collide” tool, then you’ve got to position them JUST RIGHT so it looks like the flash is coming from the gun in the shot, and THEN you have to use the “Material” tool to change them to “Volumetric Light” and then make it clear with the “color” tool. (For the record, when you're in camera mode, I just discovered that the plug disappears, but STILL...)
You have to do this every time, and that’s AFTER you’ve gone through and meticulously positioned each ragdoll with a gun, which is goddamn difficult. Point is, why can’t the emitter just be infinitely small and invisible? If I select “Emitter” and click the end of a gun barrel, it should have muzzle flash coming OUT OF THE GUN, not out of some bullshit fountain plug. It wouldn’t be difficult, in fact, there may even be an addon on the internet that does this. But there shouldn’t have to be.
Secondly, and as previously mentioned, the ragdolls are hard to pose. There’s a tool for facial posing. There’s a tool for eye posing. There’s even a tool for finger posing. Why don’t we have a tool for posing the rest of the body? I can manipulate my ragdoll’s fingers to minute amounts, but positioning his legs is left up to the wildly imprecise and twitch-heavy Physics Cannon.
I can get a realistic looking face, and it just looks strange on top of a guy who appears to be standing as if he’s held up with invisible wire. It’s bullshit. It needs fixing.
Finally, and probably least important, the Toybox. It’s a fairly new addition, but I do have some complaints. First off, the selection. It’s limited. I know for a fact that there is a LARGE amount of user generated content, and I’m seeing very little of it here.
Shape up people. Secondly, I can download a new gun from there and use it. But what I CAN’T do is keep it in my weapon spawn menu permanently. EVERY TIME I LOAD AND WANT TO USE IT I HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE TOYBOX. Why? What purpose does this serve? What if it’s not there when I go back? Do I just lose it forever? EXPLAIN!
All in all, I love Gmod. For all my gripes about it, it’s pretty fantastic. There’s a few problems, but there’s always a few problems. If you’re creative and like fun, go buy it now. If you’re not overly creative, maybe you should steer clear of this one. Without a big imagination, it’s tough to find stuff to do. It’s ten dollars on Steam, and that’ll be money well spent.