ividyon will never get this done, will he.

Review: The Bunker

Project Information

  • Title: The Bunker
  • Author: Dakha
  • Platform: Unreal
  • Category: Single Map
  • Review Score: 40%

Main Review

Too decent to be left completely ignored

The Dampener is a good item, same with the Invisibility. I don’t know why people never bother using those but it doesn’t help that almost all the maps made for this game force you to kill enemies in order to trigger scripted sequences. Besides those kind of events, if you know how to use both items they’d work wonderfully in various situations.

Anyway, we got here Force Shield Bunker (or known as “The Bunker”), an old map from 1999 made by Dakha. Never heard anybody in Unreal forums mentioning it, perhaps “bunker.zip” not striking any interest being the reason.
It’s a decent custom level: in order for a military force to invade an alien planet and destroy all the Skaarj and Krall, they need to take down the force field which protects the whole planet. Luckily, a magnetic storm temporarily deactivates it, letting the military send their random super-soldier to the planet so he/she can turn down the force field forever, whose control panel is located inside a bunker. With a Dispersion Pistol and a Dampener – do you know how to use it?

The Dampener is known to have a very low charge, however in this map it lasts five times longer than usual, perfectly enough due to the longevity of Force Shield Bunker. Problem being, you can miss it depending on which directional button you press before the level loads and the item itself is barely visible too.

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The map is nothing special today but it looks good, on the average side I'd say. I have an issue with the first mover, a door, which is seen going throughout the mountain while it is opened, and a pillar next to the same door being placed some units higher than it should be. Oh, and a chest which looks completely out of place in a hi-tech area.
On the other hand, there’s this nice but extremely short outdoor area and the bunker itself, which feels “clean”. Consistently low-poly and the textures feel appropriate, most of the time, with a very good deal of repetition and misalignment. I don’t exactly know how a bunker in real life should look like, but it feels pretty hidden and fortified with the exception of the low amount of Skaarj protecting it, especially when the bunker itself contains a “Skaarj, Game Over” button.

Sound is minimal. Aside the ones from movers, you either hear cricket or computer noises, and nothing beyond that.
K_Vision.umx, which is the track used, really has nothing to do with an infiltration-themed mission if you ask me, however considering that the bunker is very colorful lighting-wise and has the standard Unreal atmosphere of any random ultra-modern outpost, I can’t see Crater.umx or Kran#.umx fitting there that much.
Lastly, I have to say, the sky is very well done.

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Infiltrating the bunker doesn’t require any stealth maneuvers but avoiding useless battles with the help of the Dampener isn’t a bad idea. The poor idea has been choosing the Dampener as the item for stealth missions, because scripted pawns are very good at spotting targets; doesn’t help also that the majority of the enemies here are placed in a way that you have no choice other than fighting them. A Krall must be killed too to trigger a scripted event, and a second one as well unless you don’t care about the Translator he drops (there are few messages in the map, all well-written).
However, the lack of powerful weapons (assuming you have no idea how to use the secondary fire of the Razorjack) pushes you to skip battles, which is the best thing to do while you’re in the bunker as Skaarj Infantries armed with Stingers and Automags are your main opposition. The rooms of the bunkers never lead to a dead end, so you can sneak the remaining patrolling Skaarj once you deactivate the security system and then turning down the force field before the Skaarj reach you. The Dampener will only be of little, but useful, help, especially if you like running and do surprise attacks. The progression would be totally different if you had the Invisibility, though it would have completely killed the challenge.

About that security system, the mission briefing warns you about that. Choose the wrong corridor and you’ll be trapped and destroyed by a cannon. I loved that bit.

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The map is short, and you have several ways to deal with the opposition. It is overall replayable and the Skaarj Infantries armed with the Automag are strong on Unreal difficulty and require a bit of creativity with the Dispersion Pistol – one of the weapons that Troopers fear the most. A single cutscene concludes Force Shield Bunker.

There appears to be some defects with the lighting in the last set of stairs due to how the mapper built the corridor, and they’re very visible in Unreal Tournament and 227. It’s the only bug I know of, besides two other ones where Dakha cannot be faulted in any way. The first one revolves NBSpecials.u, a system file that people should know after playing packs such as StrangeWorld. The one found in the pack only works for Unreal versions older than 224, so you’ll have to use instead an updated version (the StrangeWorld version is fine). Another bug is 227 only (at least until version “i”), where the cannons won’t work at all. Due to this issue, one of the traps will make you stuck indefinitely; so, until this will get fixed in a new 227 patch, I suggest playing this map under Unreal Tournament or older Unreal versions.
The Bunker supports Coop mode.

Finally, one last thing about the sounds: why useless Trigger actors were used instead of Ambient Sound ones?

Summary

If there is something better than the Invisibility and the Dampener, then it's the Invisibility and the Dampener being used together. About Force Shield Bunker, I thought it was too decent to be left completely ignored.
Review Scores
BuildThe combined value representing the technical quality of the level's construction.44% 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.5 Conceptual GrandnessScale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.3
TexturingUse of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.5 Story ConstructionBacking story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.3
LightingLighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).5 Story ImplementationProgression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.2
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.2 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.5
Final Verdict: Average
Score: 40%

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