Map Title: Nali Canyon 1 and 2
Map Author: Nicklas "DeluxScan" Teisner
Review Score: 35%
Tagline: Decent for such an ancient duo of maps
These were two levels I played years ago and I've decided it's finally time to review them. I was kind of surprised to realise the author is DeluxScan, who went on to release Na Pali Odyssey years later. They were supposed to be part of a much larger set that was apparently never continued.
The story casts you as another crash-landing survivor, however there's a much heavier focus on story than most early sets (and the readme specifically mentions this focus). There's a nice thread through the two levels (based around the fate sheltering a Human has brought upon a Nali town) and various messages, including some important to progression. It's let down by being a small part of a larger set that was never released, but the main story does manage to be relatively self-contained, if pretty simple.
The first map is somewhat of an intro map, with light opposition and a few puzzles. There's a variety of settings that segue quite well, which gives it some variety. The second map is set in a Nali town and manages to have some pretty decent vistas and an ambitious scale for such an old map, and a nice sense of progression where you work your way around the town.
A hidden library
Architecture of the main areas is quite decent; it's only a bit below original Unreal quality for the most part, which is pretty good for such early maps (and actually better than I remembered it to be). The main thing that drags it down is the side-areas that are much more cubic and basic than the main ones. The terrain is also somewhat lacking (especially in the first map). Texturing is pretty competent; there's some nice attempts at adding extra detail with texture use and some of the terrain texturing is surprisingly well aligned. There are some oddities like a house with a bed textured in brick though. The lighting doesn't have much flair but it does the job, and there's some nice use of elements like fog too. The use of heavily saturated colours sourced from unlit computer panels at one point doesn't really work though, and the second map has some strange looking darkness around the edges. Sounds are quite rare but do add a little when used, and the music tracks (Hub2 and Eversmoke respectively) fit well despite no songsection usage.
Looking over the town
Gameplay balance is unfortunately pretty off; the first level gives you a small provision of weapons that fits the lack of enemies well. The second map has a lot more combat, but then hands you massive amounts of Razorjack ammo that completely trivialises it and makes your other weapons have little use, although a late rifle acquisition does help with the last couple of fights. A couple of troopers with strong weapons in cramped spaces demand some strategy, but that's about the only challenge on offer. The small puzzle elements do add some variety, although one trap is oddly designed as it's very obvious you could easily crawl under the bars blocking your way out if the collision on crawling wasn't broken. Said trap requires some fast reflexes but you can easily spot it beforehand if you pay attention and the way to avoid it is quite logical so it's not much of a problem.
A Skaarj-owned cellar
The only problems I found technically is that there are parts of the terrain you can get stuck on in the second map with no way out, although those parts are a bit off the main path, and also that doors open in ways that don't fit their texturing. The final switch can be reused, which I'm not sure is intentional, but the thing triggered can be clearly seen from where you press that switch, so it's not hard to tell if you've activated it.
Decent for such an ancient duo of maps; there are flaws if you take a closer look, and the combat is completely trivial, but it has a couple of nice sights and the story does a good job building interest. Too bad it was never continued, even if DeluxScan did go on to make something greater years later.
Technical Execution 4
Conceptual Grandness 5
Story Construction 2
Story Implementation 4
Gameplay Awe 3
Gameplay Balance 3
Total Score: 35%
Note: These maps are currently distributed as separate releases. Since it's obvious that they will never be added to I've decided to link them with teleporters myself (with extremely minimal tweaks as a result of that) and upload them together with the original two readmes intact (but put together in one file) and a small note at the bottom on the changes I've made. If any technical/compatibility issues are encountered with the new version please tell me. The original versions can still be found on Oldunreal and probably elsewhere.
NaliCanyon1and2.zip - Dropbox
NaliCanyon1and2.zip - Mediafire
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Post Posted: 17 Nov 2013, 18:14
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