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[u1] Custom Map Review: "The Return Home" by Eric 'Swartz' Evans

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Subject: [u1] Custom Map Review: "The Return Home" by Eric 'Swartz' Evans

Post Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 02:03

Map Title: The Return Home
Map Author: Eric 'Swartz' Evans
Reviewer: Mman
Review Score: 48%
Tagline: Solid in almost every area but not remarkable

This map was going to be part of a trilogy, yet it's actually supposed to be the middle map. Despite that it's the one that was designed first and the only one released. Despite it's age I don't think I've ever played this map before, and it made for a nicely pleasant surprise.

Swartz apparently worked on multiple maps (including Quake levels) before releasing this one, and it shows; every aspect of the build is solid, if not necessarily remarkable, and builds up a compact mine/terrain map well. Architecture is about Unreal quality throughout (including some nice small details like wires running to electrical boxes), and with some original touches like the strange "bulging" house. Beyond some misaligned textures on terrain and curves texturing had no issues. The lighting is well implemented, but doesn't make much use of colour or other effects to spice it up. However, the end of the level uses some cool effects and the sky is very distinctive with it's powerful use of colour; some might find it a bit much, but I found it the most striking part of the level. Sound use doesn't go beyond generic but there's sounds where there should be. Unfortunately the music use drags it down; Wargate is used, which is okay in itself, but a significant part of the level uses the action songsection and it goes on for way too long. The only technical issue I noticed is some doors not opening in the way their texture suggests they should.


The main mine entrance

The layout is pretty linear, but there's localised bits of interlinking, and a nice return over an earlier section towards the end. Unfortunately you are way oversupplied for the opposition, and there's pretty much no challenge at all. It also ends anti-climatically as the level finishes just when you're ready for a final encounter. While the combat gameplay isn't anything special, the thing that stands out here is the use of other gameplay; there's various small puzzles (including one or two optional ones) and environmental hazards and similar are used throughout.


Alien skies

There's little backstory established, but messages throughout the map build up a plot of the Skaarj coming from a gate that has been opened in the mine. There's also a sense of progression throughout and it does have a climax, despite that climax not having any challenge.


The mining facility

Summary:
Solid in almost every area but not remarkable (with the possible exception of how early it came out). There's some nice variety added to the gameplay that makes up for the too-easy combat, and it builds up a basic story and progression. Too bad we never saw the rest of this series.

BUILD (50%)
Architecture 7
Texturing 7
Lighting 6
Sound 4
Technical Execution 7

CAST (50%)
Conceptual Grandness 5
Story Construction 1
Story Implementation 3
Gameplay Awe 5
Gameplay Balance 3

Total Score: 48%

Download links:

Gate2.zip - Dropbox
Formerly Mman

User avatar TheIronKnuckle
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Subject: Re: [u1] Custom Map Review: "The Return Home" by Eric 'Swartz' Evans

Post Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 02:21

I'm particularly impressed by the second shot. Much more intense colours than the usual na pali ravesky
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And only idiots know everything

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Subject: Re: [u1] Custom Map Review: "The Return Home" by Eric 'Swartz' Evans

Post Posted: 20 Nov 2013, 13:11

This small pack is better than I remembered. In my opinion it deserves 50+ points.


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