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Review: Kaliber

Project Information

  • Title: Kaliber
  • Author: Juergen 'HERBy' Parnitz
  • Platform: Unreal Tournament
  • Category: Small Campaign
  • Review Score: 41%

Main Review

Decent, even if linear and unfinished

'German' is almost universally recognized as a synonym for 'solid', 'good work'. And it indeed is the case with Kaliber, a two-level map pack by Juergen Parnitz. Despite being short and - to my knowledge - unfinished, it still offers a few minutes of decent entertainment.

You are part of an unnamed starship's crew and, as it turns out, the only survivor. Due to a fluke you survive the surprise attack by hiding inside a cargo box - a fluke indeed, because your crewmate who had the same idea was found and killed by the Skaarj once the boxes were moved to a Rrajigar-like outpost. Once you exit your hiding place, you need to do the standard Unreal fare: find a way home, killing everything and anything in your way. That's at least what I've figured out from the scarce translator messages and common sense.

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The outpost looks decent, even though it's pretty linear. Players with a knack for exploration will be let down: there's no way to sidetrack. Just go forth, kill, press a button, kill, follow Nali, kill, go down the sewer, kill and so on. The architecture is simplistic, but correct and visually appealing, save for the lighting factor which seems a bit monotonous. The environment itself is diverse! At one moment you're in a Rrajigar-like outpost, later you end up in a sewer, cave, ancient tomb and lastly, a fortress where the pack comes to an abrupt halt - the third level is nowhere to be found and I do not know whether the author ever made it in the first place.

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The gameplay does offer some surprises though: a Skaarj can crush you by opening the cargo box he's hidden himself in; an explosion of a Tarydium barrel can cause tremors in the cave, the doors may suddenly close behind you, trapping you in a room full of pupae and my personal favorite: one of the crucified Nali will curse you if you kill him, causing a large pack of razorflies to attack you. Aside from those last two parts however, there is almost nothing to hinder the player's progress: armed pretty early on with a level 3 dispersion pistol, an automag and a flak cannon, and later on with an ASMD shock rifle, you may as well be unstoppable.

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What I feel most let down by is the audio layer: there's very little ambience. There's some here and there, but for example the sewage part just begs for enrichment. At least the music is used with variety: we have a total of three tracks in use, QueenSong, Nether and Crater. It begs for a question why only one song section was used in case of the Unreal tracks, some of the situations in the level would warrant for a more lively track instead but at least it doesn't hurt one's ears.

One more gripe I have with this pack is that the author seems to have had a lot of ideas which he didn't give time to fully explore, instead being happy with just proof-of-concept areas. The Rrajigar-like part is small and feels lacking in tech normally used in an outpost like this, the cave is tiny, the tomb feels like it's been put there out of the blue. Only the transition between the tomb and the fort seems fully natural.

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On a side note, there were more problems within the levels initially but were fixed by me: the levels were not connected despite the obvious advantage of it, they were tied to the super-obscure SinglePlayer4UT package, the translator messages required proofreading and lastly, there were two different Flak Cannons placed: the U1 one in level 1, the UT one in part 2 which caused a needless mess. However all of the above problems will not be taken into account for the score due to them being fixed in the version reviewed.

Summary

While Kaliber definitely has its share of shortcomings, it still offers a couple minutes worth of entertainment in a varied set of environments. Sometimes old means gold and it is so in this case. Too bad it was never finished.
Review Scores
BuildThe combined value representing the technical quality of the level's construction.46% CastThe combined value representing the imagination and reasoning behind the level's conceptualization and design.36%
ArchitectureImagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.4 Conceptual GrandnessScale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.4
TexturingUse of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.7 Story ConstructionBacking story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.2
LightingLighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).3 Story ImplementationProgression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.3
SoundUse of ambient sounds and event sounds to give the level atmosphere, and the quality of any custom sounds. Appropriate use of music and silence to complement the atmosphere.4 Gameplay AweQuality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.5
Technical ExecutionTechnical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.5 Gameplay BalanceBalance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.4
Final Verdict: Average
Score: 41%

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