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Review: The Fury

Project Information

  • Title: The Fury
  • Author: Olav "Fawn" Gjerde
  • Platform: Unreal Tournament
  • Category: Small Campaign
  • Review Score: 55%

Main Review

You need to be a good shot with the Rifle, and preferably with the Chainsaw too!

Possibly one of the most underexposed SP releases ever to hit the community, Olav Gjerde's The Fury (released some time ago as two seperate maps, parts one and two) is a very solid first effort. But how does this barely mentioned map pack stand up under close scrutiny? Read on to find out.

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For a first project, The Fury is a remarkably accomplished piece of work. The setting, which is a kind of Skaarj industrial facility of some kind, is textured appropriately with Mine.utx (and looks particularly crisp using S3TC). A wide range of textures from the package are used to give a different look to each major area, and the numerous rooms are stuffed full of decent-looking industrial machinery. Whilst it's largely immobile (the best industrial maps have moving machinery), it's all convincing and adds to the sense of place.

Like many later maps, such as the Xidia series, these maps are also stuffed full of dark ducting that the player must navigate. Flashlights and Flares are provided, but you have to be conservative to make sure that you don't run out in the middle of a pitch-black nothingness - there's no Dispersion Pistol in this pack to function as backup illumination.

Darkness in The Fury is not confined solely to the ducting, either. In various places, particularly in the first map, the lights are either dim or out completely. Indeed, the first map carries a semi-abandoned feel, with little combat and a few collapsing grates, although this changes in the second map as the setting becomes a livelier one. On the whole, though, the lighting is done atmospherically, and mapper Fawn makes use of a few different colours to break things up.

The gloom of the first map is atmospheric, and this is enhanced by a strong if not groundbreaking use of a variety of ambient sounds very appropriate to the theme. At times it feels like a deathmatch level, but this is quickly dispelled by dramatic events and smaller touches that strike fairly regularly over the course of the early stages - from the classic Unreal-style "fight sounds and muzzle flashes behind impassable barrier" scene to the moment when a Skaarj Warrior bursts unexpectedly through a roof grate and lands right in front of the player. Nicely done.

My only major complaint about the build would be that it hardly pushes the envelope of conceptual design. Aside from that, it's a smartly built piece of work.

It's just as well that scripting is used to provide gameplay awe, however, as these maps have no story. Well, there's a very short paragraph in each Readme, but there are no translator messages in the maps - you don't even get the translator until half way through map one, and even then it goes unused. Whether Fawn intended to attach log entries to some of the many carcasses but simply never got round to it I do not know, but as it stands (the pack is unfinished, trying to link at the end to a part three that has not yet and almost certainly never will be made), the translator is useless.

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So now to gameplay balance: well, Fawn has tried to do something quite different here. Instead of the Dispersion Pistol, the fallback weapon provided is the standard Unreal Tournament Chainsaw. Minimal ammo for the Automag is provided at first, which means that the experienced player is immediately going to be faced with a challenge: attempting to decapitate a Skaarj Warrior with two or three swipes with the Chainsaw's secondary attack.

This may seem horribly unfair, but it's not long before the Unreal Tournament Sniper Rifle is provided, and so it only really has to be done once - and I have to say, I did get a certain grim satisfaction from successfully using my Chainsaw to cleave the head from the Skaarj's green scaly hide!

Gameplay continues to be tough as the maps progress, but I would say that for every major encounter there is a sufficient level of health and ammo provided. It's one of those finely balanced maps where you're not constantly deprived of ammo, but where you don't want to waste it either, particularly as regards the more powerful weapons (even the unpopular GES Biorifle comes into its own in one nasty corridor ambush scene that crosses Rrajigar Mine deftly with the creature factories on the ISV-Kran).

At one point the progression was fairly open, but after I'd died a few times trying to tackle four Skaarj Warriors with my Chainsaw alone, I found an alternative route and was able to progress fairly smoothly. After that the hardest part was a scary race against time to escape from a labyrinth of ducting before being obliterated by a chain explosion - a nice touch, given that it was right at the beginning of the second map and wasn't going to cause anybody to lose any significant progress through failed attempts.

Summary

A good pair of maps and better than I remember them being - but you need to be a good shot with the Sniper Rifle, and preferably with the Chainsaw too!
Review Scores
BuildThe combined value representing the technical quality of the level's construction.72% CastThe combined value representing the imagination and reasoning behind the level's conceptualization and design.38%
ArchitectureImagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.7 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.8 Story ConstructionBacking story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.1
LightingLighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).6 Story ImplementationProgression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.1
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.7
Technical ExecutionTechnical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.8 Gameplay BalanceBalance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.6
Final Verdict: Above average
Score: 55%

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