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Review: The Vigil 99

Project Information

  • Title: The Vigil 99
  • Author: Holger Huck
  • Platform: Unreal
  • Category: Single Map
  • Review Score: 73%

Main Review

Always keeps you on your toes

Vigil99 is... well... old, hence the 99. It was made in 1999, by Holger Huck. The last version to come out was v1.22, which was made compatible for the 220 version of Unreal. It has remained this way for 11 years, until Casey came along early in March of 2010, and took up the task of porting this great map pack to now-a-days Unreal, to be played in version 224 and above. I have played both versions, as to compare the original and the conversion, and I must say that there is no difference whatsoever from the two. Casey did an excellent job.

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Vigil99 consists of 3 maps. The first map is an intro, with an interesting style of introducing the map pack, with floating exploding creatures, and giant mover letters as the title flying across your screen. The number 99 is backwards though, which I always found quite hilarious. The second map is the main level in which you'll probably spend most of your time, and where most of the fighting takes place. It is a bit of a puzzle map as well which I will explain later. The third map is even more of a puzzle map, same as the second, but a different kind of puzzle.

To start off, Vigil99 has a whole new variety of weapons to play with, including a Shrinker, a BFG, a Freezer, a Shotgun, and more. In fact, the weapons are almost exactly the same as the Unreal 4 Ever weapons for Unreal, except an earlier version of them, and without custom meshes or models. The same person who made Vigil99 (Holger Huck) also made U4E.

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There are also many new creatures as well, but they do not resemble U4E like the weapons do. The new creatures are modified versions of existing pawns to do things they normally wouldn't, like Skaarj shooting fire balls at you and other such things. Then there are the Zombies, which are actually quite cleverly made. I don't want to spoil to much, so I won't say anymore except that they do more then just meelee attack you like most Zombies you see in custom content for Unreal.

The first playable map (not the intro) thrusts you right into the middle of a battle, inside of a well designed arena room with 2 floors you can switch between when battling. You have a new HUD display, showing a monster kill counter out of the amount there are, and a health bar of the monster you are looking at. You will find crystals that the monsters will drop now and then, which will give you access to various rooms and locations during your fight, which will usually contain new weapons to fight the baddies with. There are also some clever traps you can use to kill your enemies.

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The third and final map is the more puzzle-like map, where you must find all the buttons in the location you're in, in order to move on to the next location. You won't be fighting as much in this level until you reach the end for the final boss fight. Don't want to give away to much here, but be extremely careful and reserve as much ammo as you can. Once all your foes are defeated, there is an ending flyby sequence within the level, and full credits.

As for build, the maps themselves are extremely well done, with interesting, ancient-looking architecture, and many cleverly scripted sequences and events. The lighting is also very well done, with many colorful lights to fit the mood of where you may be in a map, like the red-lit bloody hallway of stairs when you fight zombies. Textures are aligned and used properly to fit the overall theme of the maps. Nothing out of place there. Sound design is good, with sound effects where they should be, and a great use of the music for atmosphere. The framerate is perfectly smooth. I may only speak for myself though, as other systems may experience FPS issues when rendering some of the effects, most noticeably from the new weapons. There are no visual glitches like HOMs or anything, but there is one minor bug, where if you quicksave after the second door closes you in to the Zombie room, and you then reload, the Shotgun you're supposed to get will not spawn and then the Zombies won't spawn either, so you'll be trapped in that room. This doesn't happen in the 220 version as often, but it still does once in a while.

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As for cast, well, was there really a story line to this map pack? It's not exactly explained in the intro, nor the readme, so the story could be confusing, but as far as I can tell, there was a woman you failed to save, and you didn't, and now you're fighting to save her soul. It's basically an excuse to have some awesome fight scene, which it is. The scripted sequences in the map pack however are great, with always keeping you on your toes, whether it's to get a new weapon, or when introducing the Zombies. And again, I don't want to give away too much, so you'll have to see for yourself. The gameplay balance could be argued over, as there's no real "easy" difficulty level. You start at Unreal difficulty, and are able to choose 3 other new difficulty levels, named "Hardcorps", "Nightmare", and "DeCyber", as this is a DeCyber map from the early days. I myself had trouble on the easiest difficulty the first time around, and playing on any other takes real skill, which I apparently do not have. I know I'm not the greatest player around, so it could be easier or harder for other people. The best choice is to start on the easiest setting there is, as to get used to the maps. It's not that there is a shortage of weapons or anything, it's just mostly the monsters can overwhelm you at times. I had to reload a saved games few times, mainly due to me falling into my own set traps, but I do remember having to God mode once. I did manage to avoid God mode the second time I played it though. Over all very original and great design. There's just no real story line to speak of, and even the easiest difficulty can be quite difficult.

Summary

Over all I'd say that this is one of the best map packs Unreal has to offer, and it's definitely a keeper. It's a shame that this wasn't converted over sooner. It has been forgotten throughout time, and map packs as good as this can't be allowed to just fade out from existence. Much thanks to Casey for finally bringing this back for everyone to experience.
Review Scores
BuildThe combined value representing the technical quality of the level's construction.76% CastThe combined value representing the imagination and reasoning behind the level's conceptualization and design.70%
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.9
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.4
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.6
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.9
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: Good
Score: 73%

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