- Title: One Day
- Author: Chris Burgess
- Platform: Unreal
- Category: Small Campaign
- Review Score: 80%
Holds its own despite its ageNOTE: Due to the absence of a player start in the 2nd level of One Day, loading a saved came will result in a crash. Also, the titles of the map .unr files may conflict with existing directory names available in Unreal and other custom maps. The name "dusk" conflicts with a Unreal music track and the name "dawn" conflicts with a custom script file that some people may have downloaded. Temporary solutions to the above problems are to play through the second map in one sitting (not difficult due to the benign nature of said map) and to temporarily remove any other "dusk" or "dawn" files from your Unreal or UT directories that are not necessary for this pack for the playing time of One Day. Alternatively, you can download an unauthorised fixed version, linked at the end of this page.
There was a charming moment early in One Day where my player character, still without the aid of a Universal Translator, walked by a Nali sign and mused that it might have read "Bed and Breakfast". This made me smile not only for the obvious reason, or even for the fact that it was quite clever on the author's part to make levity of the player's need for the Translator. But it made me smile for the simple fact that all these Na Pali Stories we've all played over the years depicting the trials of countless protagonists with no names that wander the landscape of our community maps... they're all really in the same situation, aren't they? A lone survivor down on their luck, lost on an alien world surrounded by things that want to kill them.
That's what makes the premise of One Day so enjoyable. Because it's really just another day in Unreal. Another day and another faceless character and their own little episode. But the difference with this one is that this character seems like he's/she's in on the recurring gag. As the title suggests, the entirety of this small map pack takes place during a single day. It opens with the protagonist... just another wanderer... as they drift in through a canyon. No mission. No backstory. Because we all know where that canyon leads. By the end of this single day, our lowly protagonist will have chatted up with the locals, shed blood with defilers of an underground temple, and battled a Titan inside a Krall-infested castle.
Our hero is a comical one. Shortly after the game begins you'll notice that he / she makes a habit of speaking to himself. This self-reflective style of narrating has appeared in many packs over the years, but here it's more effective than most. Our guy... or gal... is witty, and the general mood here is more lighthearted as a result. But the pack does this without being campy, and luckily One Day arrived before the time when Unreal Community packs started to use voice acting, so the effect isn't ruined by awkward dialogue. This format extends even after the player actually finds the Translator and begins to decipher books and Nali speech. Sometimes he/she will even interject within Translator messages to mention something like pages being missing. Even though the pack is brief, it's an effective way to keep the player entertained and it maintains the idea that the person you are representing is really involved with what's going on. The fact that this pack does this so seamlessly without custom scripting and cutscenes is pretty remarkable.
There are six maps altogether. The first two are essentially "safe" maps, where the player has to find their way to the Nali village, communicate with some of townsfolk and read some books, and collect enough ammo for the voyage underground. The third map places the player inside an underground crypt that adjoins with a temple segment. This is perhaps the most interesting level in the pack due to the variety of combat situations and path choices. It's highly interconnected and a player can, for the most part, decide when they want to take a certain route. This idea of choice even relates to how some items are used. For example, a player can take the longer route around some obstacles by scaling them or simply using their jump boots. The assortment of enemies in the map is fairly diverse, with Brutes, Skaarj, and Slith sharing space with Mantas. The scale is unapologetically large without there ever being an instance of running fatigue, and you can actually walk along the external tiers of the outer structure, revealing it to be in form a large pyramid or ziggurat. To complete it, there are some interesting mechanism sequences with multiple moving pieces and sliding architecture.
The fourth map is the pack's weakest, although that's only in relation to the other maps and not indicative of any criticisms I may have. Aside of course by its length and the choice of using the Terraniux song as the level's music. While Unreal tracks are used appropriately prior to this level, the sudden switchover to high octane techno was surprising, given that the theme of the fourth map is a retread of the first map. In a fashion popular with the better packs under the Unreal banner, One Day does a one-eighty at one point and the player finds themselves at the beginning. Besides the difference in the time of day, the map is now occupied by baddies, including some Krall. The player now gets a chance to traverse through a section that was locked previously and moves on to the final level.
The last playable map involves the player crossing over a land bridge to a castle surrounded by water. If that sounds familiar, the fashion is close to another kind of castle you should know from the mother game. Although not as engaging as the third level, the fifth map has some enjoyable Krall pounding moments and gives the player multiple options in how to infiltrate the castle and deal with its central guardian. I speak of course of the Titan fight, which is prepared in a way that is fairly interesting considering how most Titan fights are set up in packs. The fight is dependent largely on the way the player wants to fight. Be it a direct engagement on the ground level or a game of hit-and-run through a couple of balconies. But the most likely scenario is that a player will ascend to the top floor over the arena to procure the game's only Rifle and use that vantage point to engage the Titan. What results is probably one of the more interesting Titan fights I've played in community maps; a Z-Axis exchange with a rock tossing Stone Titan.
The final map is a cutscene... and while it’s a flyby it's a quite distinct kind of flyby that probably makes the best use of Unreal's gun-holding interpolation issue. Bravo, and the last narration by the player character made me laugh out loud. Other aspects of the story revolve around a recurring subplot about a Nali prophet that discovered a great power but went missing in the process. There are also little details here and there that made the pack shine for me without being heavy handed, such as a tidbit about a Nali in the village who asks you to look out for his brother who got lost in the temple... who of course you do find eventually. But unlike most packs where the "look for my lost bro" subplot gets played out as an attempt to cash in on some Unreal tragedy clichés, you actually have a pivotal role in deciding this Nali's fate. It’s a subtle case of player choice, but for the time and climate that this pack was released it’s actually pretty neat. I gave the pack high praise in regards to the story here, because I feel that scores should only reflect how an individual map rates in effectiveness. And in the six map experience that is One Day, the story is consistent and highly inclusive.
On the technical end of things, I was surprised how well this pack holds up. While some bits of the terrain might be out of date and some torch fires seem a little dark, for the most part it's a solidly constructed pack. The player never gets stuck, no matter what choices they decide to make. The architecture, layouts, and overall visual appeal has as much lasting appeal as anything in Unreal or Return to Na Pali. There are some very rare BSP glitches but you really have to hunt for them. It's more than likely that you'll play the whole pack without seeing any, and they never interfere with the gameplay. My only technical complaints are some of the music choices in the latter maps, since they clash with the levels they are used in on a thematic level... as well as some issue with typos in the early levels. But they aren't horrible spelling mistakes and they don't hinder the story at all. For the most part, the pack is quite strong in the technical department.
If I have to comment on a real criticism, it's that the pack fairly simple to complete. This has much to do with the abundance of healing items. There's just a lot of them, and once you acquire a superhealth it takes a major foul up (maybe falling off a ledge by mistake) to drop down to a level where you’ll need to grab any more healing pickups. You can find armor, and while the pack doesn't contain all Unreal's guns I do think that maybe it contains one or two too many. For instance, the Eightball was overkill in a pack where you can find the Flak Cannon, the Rifle, the Stinger, the Automag, and the ASMD and use them against a force composed mostly of Skaarj Warriors, Krall, and Brutes. There isn't a single Skaarj Trooper to be had here, and by the time you engage the Titan you might be a little top heavy with the ammo. To further add to player's advantage, you can also locate an Amplifier in the third level... an item I all but forgot I had because I was gibbing my way through carcasses so easily.
But that's not to say that the enemy placements and sequences are amiss. On the contrary, you can find quite a deal of smart enemy usage here. Well planned out Skaarj spawners. Expertly planned patrolling routes. Good Brute placement. Effective quantities. And on some occasions there were some nice ambush spawners. No, the issue is not the way the enemies are used... but rather... the items afforded to the player that tip the scales. It is the only real blight on an otherwise solid pack and I'm giving the pack rave scores for gameplay despite this. Upping the difficulty to Unreal might make for a more challenging experience.
SummaryOverall, One Day is an essential Unreal episode. It can hold its own despite its age and manages to stand out in a community of packs where ideas bounce off each other as fervently as Hollywood jumps on a trend. It's up there with the best of the classics.
|BuildThe combined value representing the technical quality of the level's construction.||78%||CastThe combined value representing the imagination and reasoning behind the level's conceptualization and design.||82%|
|ArchitectureImagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.||8||Conceptual GrandnessScale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.||8|
|TexturingUse of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.||8||Story ConstructionBacking story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.||9|
|LightingLighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).||7||Story ImplementationProgression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.||9|
|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.||7||Gameplay AweQuality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.||8|
|Technical ExecutionTechnical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.||9||Gameplay BalanceBalance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.||7|
Final Verdict: Exceptional