Half-Life: ESCAPE was released early last decade by a group called DMC Interactive and its sequel, ESCAPE 2 was released in 2007. In both mods, you play as Dr. West, a scientist at Black Mesa who has to escape the complex when all hell breaks loose.
In ESCAPE 1, you start out at the end of a tram ride and you go through the big doors just like in Half-Life. You are greeted by a security guard who has a custom voice which is a surprisingly unusual addition to Black Mesa-style mods. The premise is similar to HL's, too, in that you partake in an experiment that goes horribly wrong. Except while in Half-Life you caused the disaster, in ESCAPE it seems you just wait around for shit to hit the fan for you. It's very underwhelming compared to Half-Life's experiment, but at least it sets the scene and I like it when a mod starts out before the disaster.
Gameplay is generally pretty fun, though there's a constant theme of alien slaves spawning left, right and centre every few minutes which gets old pretty quickly. The quality of mapping ranges from average to good and it's a solid experience throughout. In the finale parts of Blue Shift are re-created and it drops you in just after Barney, Rosenberg and the others escape, though you don't actually see them. There's a final boss battle which- to put it simply- is an extra-strong grunt. It uses the robo grunt model, so while it makes sense, it doesn't seem like they put much effort into it.
ESCAPE 2 starts off exactly where ESCAPE 1 left off. You assume at the end of 1 that you make it out, along with the rest of the gang but what actually happens is you are sent off to a different part of Black Mesa to try escape all over again. In ESCAPE 2 the models have been upgraded and there are some new, more detailed decals. One big issue with ESCAPE 2 is, as far as I can tell, you never get a crowbar or any kind of meelee weapon. So, what happens if you run out of ammo? You're screwed, that's what. Whilst you're supplied with enough pickups throughout the game, it's still an issue that would have been easy to prevent. Another problem with this is to break open the crates (of which there are many) you have to waste ammo, trying to shoot them open. To be extra cruel, most of the crates in ESCAPE 2 aren't breakable.
By now, the spawn-a-million-slaves-every-two-minutes gag is really starting to wear thin. If anything, it's worse in 2 than it is 1. Another frustrating part is a large section of near pitch-black corridors jam-packed with zombies and headcrabs. It's not that it's too hard, it just goes on for too long and for me, it's not a fun experience.
The ending is a huge anticlimax, too. In ESCAPE 1 it is assumed you made it out safely so it's disheartening that at the end of ESCAPE 2 you get caught in the nuke that the military set off.
I realise I've devoted a large portion of the review to pointing out flaws but ESCAPE 1 and 2 are definitely decent mods, well worth your play. The combat is intense and requires concentration to get through in one piece. They're both pretty big too, and (generally) don't feel repetitive or boring. ESCAPE 1 captures the essence of Black Mesa better but ESCAPE 2 seems to be more ambitious. You play in a larger variety of scenes in 2 and you even catch the HECU and Black Ops soldiers fighting against one-another.
Overall, I award ESCAPE 1 and 2: 4 chromedomes out of 5
Yeah, I know I went a little crazy with the screenshots. These are two pretty big mods we got here. (The last 4 are ESCAPE 2)