Map Title: Blue Lanes
Map Author: Bernard Texier
Review Score: 15%
Tagline: Simplistic and generic.
Blue Lanes is quite an ancient release now as it comes from 1999. It was a golden era of Unreal mapping and many hallmark single player levels appeared at that time. Can Bernard Texier's work be considered such a level? Let us find out.
Neither the release notes nor any of the present translator messages tell us a story, there's nothing to speak of in that department. The player's task is merely to find an exit. The entire time of the fifteen to twenty minutes required to complete the map you'll be running around in a two-floor-tall circular structure, pushing buttons to open locked doors until eventually you find the exit. However with all the Skaarj troopers around, armed with various weapons that are actually half of the entire enemy force, this plays out more like a botmatch of sorts rather than regular single player mission. While there is enough provisions of both offensive and defensive kind to survive the run through Blue Lanes, lack of variety, scripted sequences, critters or boss monsters and the resulting lack of any real challenge or progression takes its toll, violently. And too bad because the author is certainly capable of making an effort as evidenced by one spot of the level where pushing a skull button drops a metal grate into a lava pit along with any enemies on it - so, the player does have an option of staging a trap. Additionally, I noticed that the Skaarj warrior at the very beginning ignores the player most of the time. Given that I was equipped with a mere dispersion pistol and the area was cramped, I certainly appreciated the thought of allowing the player to get out before being engaged in this place while ill-equipped.
The starting area.
Visually, there's nothing to speak of. The blue texturing of the simple corridors reminds me of a really poor cousin to the ISV-Kran and there isn't much variety besides that. The name says it all: Blue Lanes, and there's all there's to it. There are a few geometry errors too, while not that many (I saw maybe two of them), in such a simple construction they're hardly acceptable.
The audio layer is poor as well and what's worse, it's totally unfitting for what little there is. There's only one thing being heard aside from the sounds of the carnage and that is the Nali Chant track which is completely unrelated to the technologically advanced level setting. Either of the Kran tracks would work better or Erosion. Or, judging by the fact that Unreal: Return to Na Pali and Unreal Tournament were both out before the level was released, any track from either of those two would work better. No way an ancient temple track could get the job done here.
While it can be seen that the author does have the skills to operate the editor and can implement interesting gameplay ideas like setting traps which enemies can fall into, Blue Lanes are far too simplistic and generic to show that potential. I'd rather recommend any other of Bernard's works, like the many multiplayer maps he's done, in which case he did a certainly better job. This map, sadly, just doesn't work. Pass.
Technical Execution 3
Conceptual Grandness 0
Story Construction 0
Story Implementation 0
Gameplay Awe 2
Gameplay Balance 4
Total Score: 15%
bluelanesbt225.zip - Dropbox
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