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Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

For gameplay advice and broader discussion of single-player Unreal including custom maps, mods and mutations that alter the game.

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User avatar UBerserker
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Subject: Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

Post Posted: 16 Aug 2015, 17:48

Replayed on Unreal 227 on the hardest difficulty (whatever it is) and the 115% gamespeed these mappacks:

One Day
This is the first one I played because it ended up recently into MOTW. This is the most unusual pack because out of 6 maps, only two of them are core playable ones; the others are just interludes.
It's a weird mappack and that's its strongest point because it leaves you curiosity, and this curiosity comes back after some years telling you "PLAY THIS MAPPACK AGAIN".
It feels like a dream than a real adventure because the places are so random and the overall connectivity between them doesn't make any sense.
The use of textures is horrible (mostly indoor) but in the Nali town, when you get out of the library, the 2d mountains of the skybox feel incredible with the strongest S3TC textures, with the way how mountain sheets are used one behind another and the blue foggy lighting on the farthest mountains. Much better effect than any 3D skyboxes ever done so far. I stood in the Nali town for several minutes because I wanted to watch the mountains for more, too bad you're only stuck in two portions of the whole map.
The temple is classic. I don't know how the fuck you ended up in a pyramid in the middle of the mountains as you've just went underground only a few steps from the town. See this doesn't happen in reality and looking at the rather clean nature of the temple, how silent it is and how empty it is from the outside - nah man this has to be a dream and author tried it best to make it hidden from the players.
I liked the temple layout though, felt quite intricate, a lot of secret passages that go from room to room and most of it is just for the exploration's sake. The huge number of Skaarj and dumb Nali make for a pretty tough gameplay at times; Brutes are easy targets, the Slith are forgettable. There was a time when I got locked in a room with doors and the character said something in the lines of "look up...", indeed I had to look up because there was a button on the ceiling waiting to be shot. However you got to look up twice - first one is for the message itself because on U1 it appears on the top-left of the screen and it's white, hard to see (pretty sure UT would make it show in the center with a blue font). The jumpboots are completely useless. Opal is a good song when you have to take a shit.
Once you're done with the temple you're literally done with the mappack. Most challenging thing in map 4 is to survive an enormous group of Pupae and afterwards there's this white tower of bricks in the middle of nowhere. I like the emptiness of it... I mean all you have to do is kill the Titan, climb to the top, read a book, go down to the spire, fly, fly to a hole that was accessible even without flying, fly through a long flyby that could have easily been a PLAYABLE LEVEL and see your character calling himself immortal when flying over a sea of tar.
It's fun and hasn't aged that bad.


Strangeworld
Operation Na Pali Zero is a much more coherent mappack than Operation Na Pali. The same exact concepts are there: you go through a valley, you fight a bunch of Skaarj, then you enter a compound of Mercenaries who don't like Skaarj at all, then you get out in a valley again, the end up in a random place (Sky Island) for whatever reason, then you get down in a valley again and escape with an ending where you can easily see ONP guy as the protagonist.
Well, the only difference is that the Mercs aren't friendly but ok because this mappack is so easy to the point of making that BSP insta-kill hole in one of the Sky Island's staircases the hardest threat of Strangeworld.
The Railgun and the GES-NikitaStinger, aka "throw the ASMD in the garbage" and "RazorJack in U227 is fucking useless" - oh because seriously, the RazorJack in U227 is terrible because the headshot part seems to be totally luck-based, compared to UT where it's purely skill-based. This kills the gameplay of this gun and needs to be fixed (even the Rifle sucks so I think something got unnecessarily changed about the head collision, definitely an unwelcome choice).
Ok back to the new weapons, they're too strong. The GESNS can kill almost every enemy with one direct hit.
The part where you use that Eightball turret is really fun and there are a lot of Skaarj vs Mercs battles for you to watch. DavidM had a quite great understanding of Mercenary architecture, really feels like Terraniux-y here, more than it ever did in ONP. Can't forgive the rotating Sky Island skybox however but the whole Sky section was just a filler mess full of HOMs.
Overall straightforward, doesn't excel at anything aside the excellent lighting color from the day/night cycle skybox and being a perfect time-waster. It's a legit lite version of ONP with 30 less filler maps.


Tower of Shrakith'a
First mappack to ever have "decoration" doors to give personality to places and more sense to rooms instead of game-style, one-way dead ends.
First mappack to ever have a convincing desert map.
First mappack to ever have killer fog (conspiracy theory: it's poisonous gas thrown by Skaarj).
First mappack to ever use pitch-black skybox mountains to "hide" map borders in the most artistic way possible.
First mappack to combine Krall guarding dark hallways with thunderstorm lighting.
First mappack to have a stealth section where you have to walk/crawl to avoid waking up three Skaarj.
First mappack to have your destination (a tower with a hand deco holding a green orb, also first mappack to ever do that) visible from ground.
First mappack to have drips from wine barrels.
First mappack to have a Nali butler holding a plate with food and water that he drops afterwards accidentally because the player scared him.
First mappack to have a section where you are under fire from snipers.
First mappack to use Skaarj Snipers coherently.
First mappack to use SuperHealths as health vials with a different energy color.
First mappack with a Giant Manta scaring the shit out of people as it came from the skybox's darkness.
First mappack to have a room magically collapsing into nothingness as you perform a memory puzzle.
First mappack with a 100% puzzle bossfight against a Skaarj.
First mappack from 1999 to kick ass everything that came afterwards.
This mappack owns, it's perfect. The more you play it the more you understand the design decisions with the gameplay and artstyle. I can't believe that by the end of Map 2, I found out a Shield Belt in one of the two sniper towers, accessible by jumping on a window midway down the tower itself.
The best custom mappack forever. This was made in 1999 with U1's UED and when we were all young and beginners. A professional work.


Shinigami
Usually people pair Shinigami and Shrakith'a in the same vein of classic mappacks, probably because for the "S" letter but goddamn Shinigami really aged horribly. The plain empty valley at the beginning, the insanely cramped indoor areas, the ultra-generic gameplay, the lack of a real story, the custom music, etc...
It's quite depressing to play this after Shrakith'a because the quality differences are enormous but the mappack still has a bunch of memorable aspects: the oriental arches, the lighthouse's lamp, the galleon and the inverted castle.
The galleon is the map's best and worst point. Best because the galleon design is cool, the size is close to that of a real life galleon. It's better than KGalleon.
This memorable place is ruined by the gameplay because fuck, how these monsters can fit in? It's a torture. The ship is filled of enemies including Tentacles. Also you have no idea what to do (final door gets bugged and doesn't open). I didn't bother finishing the mappack because the last map goes too far with Skaarj Troopers of all sorts inside the galleon. It's not fun anymore.
Too bad because the sight of the inverted castle (inspired from CV SOTN as the author said once) is one of the coolest endings of custom mappacks, only second to Shrakith'a's desert.


Hexephet
Nice timing now with the Dead-Star mappack scandal; I get to play the original legit thing again.
Hexephet probably aged even better than Shrakith'a, probably because of the more complex Skaarj architecture (which is the high-end of Unreal indoor best graphics). No contest, Hexephet's build was insane for its time and it's top-tier even for today Unreal's standards, easily on par with ONP/Xidia.
Now, this mappack isn't on the same level as of Shrakith'a because for its goddamned forsaken OBJECTIVELY terrible gameplay. Being much harder than Zephon is an understatement so Hexephet's closest competitor is Dark Souls X.
It's extremely aggravating because: you don't know where to go; enemies instead of popping up in your face, they pop up right in your back from exactly nowhere! If you look back when they ambush you they don't appear but leave for 1 nanosecond your sight from the spawnpoint and there's the Skaarj spawning for battle. This happens all the time and it's bad, even in Map1's ending when you use the elevator you get attacked by a Manta which spawns extremely close. Stop it, holy shit.
There are also other things such as ultra fast Skaarj with strong weapons, deadly combination of Troopers, teleporting straight in front of a Trooper, waves of Brutes, hot gas leaks that only hurt the player, infinite Pupae, getting ambushed from two Skaarj in both directions, Skaarj Gunners in tight corridors, a Kevlar Suit which cancels the screen-flash effects and hurt voices so you can't tell if you got hit, at least other 50 ambushes, the RazorJack in U227 being a piece of shit weapon in the hands of a player and I guess probably more. Ending isn't exciting.
It's a great looking mappack but with perfect zero replayability.

User avatar YappieChappie
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Subject: Re: Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

Post Posted: 26 Aug 2015, 22:07

UBerserker wrote:Opal is a good song when you have to take a shit.

Uh. What.

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Subject: Re: Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

Post Posted: 13 Mar 2016, 13:06

Nali Chronicles
Best mappack ever! 10/10

Unreality Episode One
Great gameplay! 8/10

User avatar UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

Post Posted: 13 Mar 2016, 14:37

integration wrote:Nali Chronicles
Best mappack ever! 10/10


Literally relevant https://forums.beyondunreal.com/threads ... le.204614/
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User avatar YappieChappie
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Subject: Re: Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

Post Posted: 24 Mar 2016, 20:47

UBerserker wrote:
integration wrote:Nali Chronicles
Best mappack ever! 10/10


Literally relevant https://forums.beyondunreal.com/threads ... le.204614/

"1. Despite Nali mysticism and levitation, Unreal 1 (and UT, where a Nali fights in the Tournament IIRC, or at least there's a mod to allow one to do that) is a tech universe, not a fantasy milieu. That means straight-up magic is out."
Lol wut. There's several things in this game that fall under the 'magic' category, Unreal isn't really tech or fantasy, it's Unreal.

User avatar Sat42
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Subject: Re: Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

Post Posted: 24 Mar 2016, 21:23

YappieChappie wrote:
UBerserker wrote:
integration wrote:Nali Chronicles
Best mappack ever! 10/10


Literally relevant https://forums.beyondunreal.com/threads ... le.204614/

"1. Despite Nali mysticism and levitation, Unreal 1 (and UT, where a Nali fights in the Tournament IIRC, or at least there's a mod to allow one to do that) is a tech universe, not a fantasy milieu. That means straight-up magic is out."
Lol wut. There's several things in this game that fall under the 'magic' category, Unreal isn't really tech or fantasy, it's Unreal.


I agree with YappieChappie, reminds me of another thread, basically the Unreal universe is open to interpretation and at the end of the day it falls within the science fantasy mixed genre.

Hell just look at my sig :lol:
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

User avatar UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

Post Posted: 25 Mar 2016, 15:32

Oh the guy in that thread is also the new user here actually.
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User avatar YappieChappie
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Subject: Re: Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

Post Posted: 29 Mar 2016, 02:32

Sat42 wrote:
YappieChappie wrote:"1. Despite Nali mysticism and levitation, Unreal 1 (and UT, where a Nali fights in the Tournament IIRC, or at least there's a mod to allow one to do that) is a tech universe, not a fantasy milieu. That means straight-up magic is out."
Lol wut. There's several things in this game that fall under the 'magic' category, Unreal isn't really tech or fantasy, it's Unreal.


I agree with YappieChappie, reminds me of another thread, basically the Unreal universe is open to interpretation and at the end of the day it falls within the science fantasy mixed genre.

Hell just look at my sig :lol:

"Science fantasy", I like that name, been wondering what a magi-tech genre would be called for a long time.

User avatar Kajgue
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Subject: Re: Looking back at some classic AAA mappacks

Post Posted: 21 Apr 2016, 23:25

I never saw/regarded the nali's powers as magic, as much as I saw it as telepathy/astral physics/paranormal stuffs.
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