Author Topic: The Half-Life Resurrection Thread: Preface (i.e., Read This Post First)  (Read 9180 times)

Offline Silver Sorrow

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First up, my Half-Life reviews from Hangar 16, in chronological order.

I wrote over 120 reviews of Half-Life mods for Hangar 16. Give or take a few, since I can't explain a few gaps in the numbering. I don't know. I'll figure it out. Or not. Planetphillip retrieved a bunch of them, but his site's gone or morphed into something else...hell if I know. So I thought I'd drag my stupid reviews out and repost them here...not for the sake of ego, but more of an effort to discover more clues as to what the hell is wrong with me.

The answer may be as complex as the wind, it may be as simple as -- and here, note that it took me five full minutes of gazing into space to come up with an example of something simple -- sticking my face in a fan. Regardless, the evidence may be locked in these nascent scribblings...

...or maybe I'm just blowing smoke up your pretty yellow sun dress. Perhaps the truth is that I'm bored and/or disappointed by most games I've played and I need a project to keep me from taking yet another tour of Skyrim.

So, yes: my Hangar 16 reviews. Some good, some not so good, some downright bewildering. Because I was a (relatively) youthful naïf of about 26 years when I began these things, I find at the age of 41 that a large portion of what I thought was funny and/or witty then, is just irritating now.

I'm more interested to see how long I can keep this going before I get bored and abandon it.

These reviews will be AS I SUBMITTED THEM, and not how they actually ended up on the site. See, I submitted them in MS .doc format to first Vnitro and then Darkwolf after him; they were responsible for the formatting and placement of screenshots, etc. I have no more technical ability than the common flatworm, thus it was up to them.

On a side note, I still don't know why I didn't put them in a simple text file. I absolutely do not understand my reasoning for that. Ever try to open up an MS word file in something like Notepad? It isn't pretty. I'm using Notepad++ right now, and it's a little tedious to...never mind. Point is? I bleed for my art, goddammit.

Some caveats:

1. I have no idea where to find any of these mods.

2. If you do manage to find them, I don't know how to load them, or if they'll even work. So don't ask me.

3. That's so important that it bears repeating: DO NOT ASK ME.

4. I won't post screenshots, unless I really need to do so. Taking screens and editing them was the worst, most thankless part of the reviewing process. Happily, I don't have to reproduce them here.

A little later on in my reviewing career, I introduced a few features to the reviews, such as Annoyance Rating (never had a fixed numbering system on that, honestly) and The Grace Scale. Oh, and the "Onward!" thing, of which I have no clue as from whence it came. It may be a repressed memory.

Ah, The Grace Scale. Grace is, of course, the character Grace Nakimura from the Gabriel Knight series of games. Perhaps you've heard of them. In particular, my personal Grace is from the second game, "Sins Of The Father"...you know, the one with FMV and werewolves. The actress who played Grace is Joanne Takahashi. The scale used her expressions found throughout the game to denote how much...uh...

...well. I really don't know for sure just WHAT I was attempting to do. I'm assuming that it was stupidity-based.

I'll add footnotes here and there to perhaps attempt to explain what I may have meant by one thing or another. I'm not sure just how I'll frame those comments in terms of font boldness or color, but you know what? I'll figure it out as I go along.

And finally, yes: I do know what "abstract" means. As a noun in regard to paper-writing, it means "a summary of a text, scientific article, document, speech, etc."

However, I used other definitions of "abstract": Adjective: "difficult to understand; abstruse." Noun: "an idea or term considered apart from some material basis or object"; "to draw or take away; remove"; "to divert or draw away the attention of." Idiomatic: "without reference to a specific object or instance."

So that's why they usually had nothing whatsoever to do with the mods in question.

Okay, enough of that. Enjoy the reviews, if you can.

UPDATE: June 24th, 2016

I'm not the biggest fan of my past writing style, so this project has been more torment than fun...if just a little. The problem lies in the sheer insipidity of many of the Abstracts, as well as my blatant disregard for proper punctuation (i.e., placing period outside quotes, etc.). It's not something to lose sleep over, but it bugs me. I will, however, continue my stubborn refusal to adhere to the proper usage of prepositional phrases.

So from review #46 (Fallback) onward, I will be correcting my punctuational slip-ups, as well as removing the Abstracts I find irksome. This may be seen as revisionist -- and it probably is -- but if I may quote Yes, now I "hold the right to rearrange how the stories can be heard."

Nothing so drastic, though. I'm just...well...pruning the worst crap and leaving the less-embarrassing crap. It's all crap, I know, but it's my crap.

...uh...

Well, it's an apt metaphor. When asked why he kept prescribing enemas for the inmates, Dr. Van Helsing said, "It gives him a feeling of accomplishment."

UPDATE: July 6th, 2016

Minor change: I've added "Half-Life" to the subject title, as I found my Thief series reviews and will be adding them to another thread instead of this one. This is to keep them separated. That's right: I'm a filthy thread segregationist.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2016, 10:07:04 PM by Silver Sorrow »
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#1: Rescue 9-1-FREEMAN
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2016, 02:48:13 PM »
Rescue 9 - 1 - FREEMAN

[My first submitted review. Vnitro wanted me to cut the length a bit, and with good reason: I'm my own worst editor. The published review was slightly shorter. I think. I don't really remember.

Title: Rescue 9 - 1 - FREEMAN
Author: TylAK
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: http://www.tylak.com/ [Oddly enough, it's still there. Follow the link to his blog.]
Filename: 33885_r91freeman.zip
Filesize: 879k
Number of maps: 3
Download: [N/A]
Score: 3.5/5

[Note: played with v1.0.1.6.]**

[** I vaguely remember holding onto that version with great stubborness. I think it it had something to do with the next version removing the crunching sound when Gordon ran over cockroaches. Beyond that, I don't know.]

[Note #2: Heed the author’s warning: "make sure you type the bsp name Res1 WITH A CAPITAL 'R'. If you don’t the level changes won’t work." I learned this the hard way.]**

[** To be clear: I have no idea if this even applies anymore.]

[That's right, there was no Abstract...]

[...and I didn't have a "Story?" section yet...]

[...aaaaaaaaaaaand there was no "Onward!"]

When authors start out their maps with a "Part One of..." tag, my usual reaction is one of weary skepticism. Hint to mappers: if you have a series in mind, don’t tell us. Surprise us!**

[** I've never been a fan of proposed big projects. They almost always fail.]

Anyway, let’s start with the design stuff:

The lighting here is of the lurid, dingy type (i.e., "It’s bright enough to read by, but not bright enough to perform major surgery by"), showing off the gritty, dirty walls. Very convincing.

The architecture is not bad. Nothing fancy, but more importantly there weren’t any screw-ups that I could see.

The difficulty is -- at the default level -- easy. I never dipped below 90% at the worst of times, but that’s because I’m sneaky. Sneak sneak sneak. (Ah, is it time for my Thorazine again? Thank you!**) The third time I played through I went all-out Doom style and still never went below 70% (except once when I pulled a real bonehead move near a Houndeye).

[** For some reason, I once thought I was an amusing person.]

To give proper props to the author, there is nothing blatantly incompetent here; the textures are essentially okay, the level design is solid, and he used some nice prefabs. But there are...problems...** let’s focus on the bad rather than the good, shall we? On to the actual play experience:

[** Reference: Marillion's "He Knows You Know." (YouTube link)]

There is a storyline: You have to make your way through a military installation to rescue Einstein (funny, I thought he was dead...maybe that Relativity stuff works, huh?**) and escape the base. Not that the mission was prefaced by any story elements, mind you -- you have to figure this thing out on your own.

[** What the hell do I even MEAN by that??]

To begin with, my trip begins with a drop into a vent-like area; from an engineering viewpoint, this room really doesn’t make any sense. It’s essentially a small, pitch-black room with a metal vent shaft texture. This room has no discernible function, since to be useful, it would have to have another outlet.

Okay...picky, picky. So realism takes the first hit, and the annoyance factor is next: in your drop you pick up the HEV, a Glock...and the HEV Lady drones on and on about the suit's various and sundry features. By the time I heard "communications interface...online", I was ready to be kicked to death by the first human Grunt I saw. "Please kill me," I’d plead.**

[** Oddly enough, this is the first thing I say when I wake up in the morning.]

Anyway, your first contact is with a human Grunt, who says his "I...HAVE...SOMETHING..." line convincingly. But I asked, "what? What does he have? And is it catching?" Then I thought, "Does he have something for me, perhaps? How nice...could it be flowers, maybe candy? Maybe even caramels! I love caramels!" But he didn't really have anything for me. He just walked in and started shooting me. What a bastard.

So it finally hit me that I was in a military installation (points deducted from my personal experience scores for sheer density of skull). After killing a couple more Grunts, I came to a room with bars on the window, which set up the first real set-piece: a Bradley crashing (sorta) into the room. It more or less just bumped into the wall, damaging it slightly. A Grunt yells "SHIT!", but I wouldn’t go that far. It wasn’t a bad set-up.**

[** Rim shot.]

Creeping out of the window into a courtyard, I felt it prudent to hide...uh, "assume a strategic defensive position" behind the Bradley; the next event was the opening of two facing doors on either side of the courtyard, discharging Vortigaunts on one side and Grunts on the other. Also up in a watchtower was another Grunt...why there’s a watchtower on the *inside* of a military installation, I’ll never know. Maybe he was keeping an eye out for the Enemy Within.*

[*gratuitous Rush reference]**

[** Reference: Rush's "The Enemy Within." One of my favorites. "I'm not giving in to security under pressure / I'm not missing out on the promise of adventure / I'm not giving up on implausible dreams / experience to extremes" (YouTube link)]

Thus far, the number of enemies vs. my hit points had been bearable, even for me. So I go down a flight of steps, nicely lit, and into a medium-sized room. The ceiling breaks, a Vortigaunt falls through, and a Grunt APPEARS out of thin air to kill him. (I’m not even going to try and justify that) The next room was an L-shaped hallway, leading to a couple of Barnacles, some crates ("Piles of CRATES!! Slowly I turn...step by step..."),** and since I had played this set of maps before, I knew it to be the first map’s end. So I step forward...but instead of the next map, I am taken up into the cold embrace of an error message: "HL caused an invalid page fault in module HW.DLL at 0167:0442a448."

[** Reference #1: the ubiquitous crate in games. Reference #2: the old Vaudeville "Niagra Falls" skit; specifically, the Three Stooges' take on it. (YouTube link)]

A good rule of thumb, no matter what you’re playing -- be it Doom at home or Daikatana in the bowels of a psycho ward** -- is to save often. This I did. So I restarted with my saved game. It loaded the second map, but in a weird way. Stuck in the void with no hope of getting out, I pulled down the console, starting RES2. KEE-RASH! "HL caused an invalid page fault in module HW.DLL at 0167:0440fb84."***

[** I was implying that playing Daikatana was a mark of insanity. Daikatana wasn't as bad as most people think, though.]

[*** Aren't you glad that we never have to deal with game crashes anymore?]

[That was sarcasm.]

It’s moment like these that make me wonder if we'd all be better off with slave collars around our necks, toiling in the radish patch while some hypertensive psychotic midget screams pointless orders at us in an indecipherable foreign language.**

[** Just ignore that. I was reaching.]

So my methods needed to be changed...I’ll start right in at RES2! Yes! So I did. And after taking the time to give myself what weapons and extras I had upon ending the last map, I stepped forward...to end the level. Then I appeared in the Great Void, looking down upon all creation. I kid you not. I could see the HEV suit below me...in the start room...and then it hit me: RES2 had started me off facing backwards! I remember frothing at the mouth and chanting in an unknown, hitherto unheard-of dialect of gutter Latin**...and that’s all I remember.

[** I was attempting to be clever. I blew it.]

So I try again, this time *turning around*. It’s really not my fault, since I’ve been abused by the "appear on the other side of a door" foolishness before, and just assumed that’s what happened. I just didn’t think about it.Shortening my painful experience, let me point out here that if you started the first map with either "map res1" or "map RES1", you are going to have serious problems changing maps. This is what I did. So learn from my stupid, pointless experience, read the text file carefully, and again, heed the author’s advice and type "map Res1" at the console. Also, despite this, the first map still crashed at level-change. But I restarted with my saved game and experienced no more of this type of problem.**

[** Happily, since I haven't played HL in over ten years, I don't have to care about such things anymore.]

Okay, map two. A couple of dingy rooms, Headcrabs and some Mawmen do not stop me from reaching my goal: an elevator that goes downward. "How To Set Up A Death Trap For Idjits Rule #234: Place claymore mines in a small hallway right outside an elevator or door, forcing the player to duck under them." Then it's on to a couple of offices with Houndeyes and Vortigaunts. The next room is has a metal floor, several crates...and that institution unto itself, The Pit o' Instant Death. So imagine my quandary: "should I cross this pit -- which I am sure will instantly kill me should I fall into it -- using the seemingly sturdy metal crates suspended over the pit itself...or should I use that metal catwalk?" Now here’s the twist...no, find out for yourself. It’s more fun that way.

NOTE: if you take the catwalk, and are *surprised* at what happens next, please do humanity a favor by throwing yourself under a moving bus.**

[** Tortured. I would adjust it to "...by throwing yourself in front of a moving bus."]

The next room puts me in the audience again to witness another combat between Vortigaunts and Grunts, but this time taking place in...water. Yes. I don’t know WHY there’s a pit with water in the middle of the room, but there is. It must make sense to someone. What makes me uneasy is the fact that there are Vortigaunts blasting Grunts with bolts of electricity...while standing waist-deep in murky brown water. Anyone remember what happens when you mix electricity and water? Alas, that doesn’t happen here. Where’s Mr. Wizard when you need him??

"Now Timmy," Mr. Wizard says, tossing Timmy unceremoniously into the water, "this energy-wielding alien being is going to fire bolts of electricity into the water. Observe carefully..."

"Won’t this hurt, Mr. Wizard?"

"Not for very long, Timmy..."

[Reference: Mr. Wizard. Growing up, my knowledge of Mr. Wizard was limited to his show on Nickelodeon. This bit is in reference to a parody of his original (radio?) show I still have somewhere, in which Timmy takes a pill that makes him freak out. Mr. Wizard says something about the future being in your hands, to which the wasted Timmy replies, "And I have to eat with those hands, Don!"]

[EDIT: Someone put it on YouTube. Here you go.]

Unreality aside (there’s a bad joke in there somewhere),** at this point my job involved cleanup. No matter who won, I’d have to shoot them. Sad, when you think about it. There were two doors in this room, one leading to a valve that lowered the level of water *slightly*. I think this was to show those of us with less than 6 IQ points that it is possible to get out of the watery pit via knee-high steps, should we fall in. The way leading to that valve is stuffed with Houndeyes, all hiding behind crates much like Imps are prone to do.*** Back in the watery pit room, the other door takes you to a room with a Vortigaunt surprise, a hallway full of CRATES with an Alien Grunt at the end ("Gleeplegork, guard these crates!"), and to a ladder with two Houndeyes at the top. Then there’s the hallway leading to the map’s end.

[** Or something like that. It's all a bad joke, if you ask me.]

[*** Reference: the original Doom. Imps placed behind crates, etc.]

The third map is a great ending to the set: you get a message from "Black Mesa Mission Ops" (or whatever) that tells you that since you’re entering into a high-security area, you must not be seen by anyone. Now *this* was interesting. I picked up the crossbow with glee, remarking to no one in particular that the Grunts guarding this high security area must be deaf as posts not to have heard me killing Headcrabs in the storage room.

Fortunately for those of us with no sneaky skills (more Thorazine? I couldn’t possibly...I’m stuffed. Oh, all right...just one more glass),** the bad guys (aside from the first two; peek around the crates) were looking the wrong way. So how do you test your player at this point? Claymore mines! If you blow ‘em up, the alarm sounds and your game reloads. If you walk through them like a complete idiot, the alarm sounds as your suit tells you upsetting things about your medical condition as you stare at the walls at an odd angle. So you need to use your hopping and ducking skills at this point, my personal success rate with these types of maneuvers reaching as high as 33% on a good day.

[** Obviously, I believed the Thorazine reference was an absolute scream, which is why I inflicted it upon you twice. It just makes me tired now.]

I won’t give away the ending, but there were no problems from here on out. I just wish the stealth portion of this map was a bit longer.

Summary?
If you did as the author said in regard to "Res1", and experienced no level-change problems, then this can be classified as a short, entertaining level set; i.e., a good -- but short -- ride.

[There was no "Rating?" section yet.]

[There was no "Annoyance Rating" section, either.]

[So there you have it. Mildly amusing -- if you're high -- but no great shakes otherwise. It reads more like an irritated walkthrough that an actual review of its merit. I never really improved on that, sadly.]

EDIT: Formatting tweaks, YouTube links, etc.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 10:12:04 PM by Silver Sorrow »
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline bobdog

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Re: The Resurrection Thread: Preface (i.e., Read This Post First)
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2016, 06:52:21 AM »
This is AWESOME!!  :lol:  I especially like your look back at what you wrote 15 years ago. My, how we've changed. Keep it up.  :onethumb:

Offline Silver Sorrow

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Re: The Resurrection Thread: Preface (i.e., Read This Post First)
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 12:47:40 PM »
Thankya kindly...I have a few more ready to post, but I'm still reconsidering my formatting. The teal seems a bit dark, but I don't want it overpowering the original text.

I could go with pink -- [like this] -- or even lime green -- [like this] -- which is my favorite. Decisions, decisions.
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#2: Aggregate Pain
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2016, 09:53:36 PM »
Aggregate Pain

[Posted review #2. How long can I keep this going before I lose interest?]

Review: Aggregate Pain
Author: Michael Sisk
Homepage: [N/A]
Reviewed by: Silver-Sorrow - 08/08/00
File Name: agpain.zip
File Size: 1.8 mb
Number of Maps: 3
Download: [N/A]
Score: 3.5 / 5

[Again: No "Story?," no Abstract, and No "Onward!" It makes me wonder how society will ever survive. Hopefully it won't.]

Is this doable? Can I, as a representative of the Ten Left Thumbs Society, triumph over these maps? The answer is yes, with some slight hesitation.

But first, The Basics:
The lighting was not noticeable; it was just there. So I give him a good grade for that. When lighting is actually something you *notice*...that's when you get into the whole good/bad argument. It's "adequate", I'd say.

Architecture: Some interesting places; the catwalk running between the two giant fans comes to mind (second map), as does the inevitable Pit o' Instant Death (map one), which I hear has gone free agent and is currently looking over some promising scripts.** Also of note is the outdoor "pool area" (map one), which is nice to look at. In short, nothing earth-shattering.

[** I've been asked to describe myself in one word. The word I use is "tiresome."]

Textures: Again, nothing to press charges over, but okay.

As for difficulty...let's just say that being thwacked on the head with a jagged piece of pipe would less stressful. I'll elaborate on that further on. To quote from the text file: "Many people also complained that it was too difficult." Next time, please listen...I beg of you.

There IS a storyline! You are Gordon Freedom, new member of an organization dedicated to thwarting the military's evil plans (and here you thought they were kind, gentle MP5-wielding souls). Your mission: sneak into the compound and destroy the big ugly monster they've created. There you have it. Granted, it isn't a wild joy ride like The Goonies, but it isn't any given Swedish art film, either. [those of you who actually like plodding surreal "artistic" films should make your own damn analogies]**

[** I used to hold up Swedish cinema as the epitome of boredom. I've since expanded that to include French films involving errant balloons, any given Japanese period piece, and...well, just "film" in general. If it doesn't feature Jennifer Aniston's lady parts or a boat exploding (ideally: both), I'm not interested.]

On to the Maps:
You start out in the back of a truck (bringing to mind a line by Lewis Grizzard,** "Shut up and go wait in the truck"), with a crowbar nearby and a Grunt without. (Without what? Ha!... never mind.) You have two choices at this point, but ultimately one grim question surfaces: whether it'd be easier using the crowbar to kill either a Grunt...or a Bullsquid to progress? The choice is yours, although I chose to bludgeon the Grunt, who knocked off several of my vital health points. Turns out, I needed those hit points...

[** Sometimes I wonder if anyone remembers Lewis Grizzard. He was a humor columnist based in Atlanta; he died sometime in the mid-1990's. One of my favorite sayings was a title he used for a book: "Shoot Low Boys, They're Ridin' Shetland Ponies."]

For there is very little health available to you, the consumer. What does that mean? A lot of reloading. I counted only two health packs in the first map; about the same number in the second map, which had a Health charger as well. There was no health in the third map, as far as I could tell.

The idea is to evade the notice of the first Grunt, waiting 'till he strolls out of sight. Sneak out of the truck and use the door behind you on your right and get the HEV suit. How you do so is up to you. This is where that nasty choice comes up: the Grunt or the Bullsquid? [not to be confused with a certain Lady and a certain Tiger, although whacking the Lady with a crowbar would be an amusing end to that tale**] Playing peek-a-boo with Grunts behind a door is weird, but get used to it. I screwed up in the pool area, when I didn't check my six; there was a Grunt behind me, and my health dropped to 20% (it hadn't been exactly blazes in easiness to this point anyway). If I had remembered what came next, I would have reloaded and tried again. Well, we can't live in past quicksaves forever, I guess.

[** What?]

There is a secret in the first map, which I'll let you figure out on your own. Hint: water. On to the second map.

Ah, the second map...dear God what an ordeal. Houndeyes pose no problem, but a pack of Grunts *does*, especially when you're at 20% health. Opening a set of garage doors reveals a courtyard...with Grunts. I'll leave tactics up to you. So after perhaps three to six quickloads, I came out ahead, sorta, at 17% health, not bad when dealing with Grunts. In the courtyard, I found the most dumbfounding dilemma: how to kill an Apache (the helicopter, not the oppressed indigenous peoples) with only an MP5, a Crossbow and a Shotgun? Okay, so I had a crowbar and a Glock, but that's really like David saying to himself, "Okay...I have this sling and some rocks...and some dirt under my fingernails. I wonder if that will help?" This sequence took me several tries, and as I began what turned out to be the final try, I was desperately trying to remember what was available somewhere in the courtyard to fight the Apache. Was it an RPG? And was it behind the sandbags? Nope...as I ran behind them, there was nothing. Then the chopper's rotors started up and I ran into one of the three watch towers. I was thoroughly cheesed off at this point, so I did something that was a little weird (and seemingly futile and stupid): I climbed up a ladder and, standing just out of direct sight of the Apache, emptied clip after clip into it. It worked, at the loss of a lot of ammo and 15% worth of health, putting me at 2%. Needless to say, I descended the ladder *carefully*.

The final map is another exercise in sneaky tactics (besides the interminable elevator ride). I recall one of the helpful hints the author provided: "Use the alien weapon against the big blue guy at the end; it works the best." And I remember thinking three things at that point: one, the only "big blue guy" in Half-Life is the Gargantua; two, the only alien weapons are Snarks and the Hivehand; and three, "I ain't fighting a Gargantua with a Hivehand! Is he nuts??" Turns out, he meant the Gluon Gun, which isn't an alien weapon; it doesn't really matter.

A Procedural Hint: keep well back in the tunnel to pick off first the Xen Masters, and then the Gargantua. Proceeding directly into the chamber will only get you fried, as the tunnel closes off (I believe), leaving you the mercies of some nasty monsters. That's as far as I'll go here, as a review of procedures and impressions is one thing, a complete walkthrough is another.**

[** I still don't know why I felt it necessary to provide my readers with gameplay tips.]

Summary?
Nicely done, but difficult. Watch your health closely, take no unnecessary risks and keep your wits about you (inside your skull, I mean...not strewn out all over the ground where someone will step on them).

Rating? 3.5 out of 5.

[Ah, well. Better than the first review, I think.]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#3: Infiltration
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2016, 11:48:15 PM »
Infiltration

[Review #3...and the hits keep comin'.]

Review: Infiltration
Author: Matthew O'Brien
Homepage: [N/A]
Reviewed by: Silver-Sorrow - 08/08/00
File Name: inf.zip
File Size: 556 kb
Number of Maps: 1
Download: [N/A]
Score: 3.5 / 5

The Smudged Brass Tacks:
Lighting: What you would expect from a building with failing electricity. Well done, with the start room being nice and gloomy.

Architecture: Again, what you would expect from a research facility, with nice blocky walls. (I mean that in a good way) In short, the architecture was not flashy - but it was functional. You believe that it is what he claims. He mentioned some rot_doors that open the wrong way, but I don't think we'll slam a stapler on his hand for those.

Textures: The author mentions the shortcomings of this map in his text file, including some misaligned textures in "obscure" areas. I really didn't notice any misaligned textures, apparently since I wasn't in any obscure areas. Whatever.

R_speeds:** Adequate. However, they became slightly high near the end, but nothing unbearable. I mean, we aren't talking about a voice screaming "Captain! I canna give 'er no more power!" from the general area of your video card.

[** From what I've observed in my own reviews, "r_speeds" were a thing back then. I only vaguely recall the furor over them. Apparently, if they were high, it was bad; if they were low, it was good. Every so often I glom onto a technical phrase or concept and just go with it. I find that it makes me appear far smarter than I am...until the point where I have to explain whatever the hell it is I'm talking about, at which point I perform a distraction of some kind and make my exit.]

Believe it or not, there is a story (I'm starting to think that maybe Half-Life is story-driven...): You are a Marine named Gordon Freeman, no relation...or ARE you? Ah, perhaps not. Forget I even mentioned it. Your mission is to infiltrate a research facility (whatever happened to infiltrating malls, maybe swinging by Bargain Clown for a Meatsa Treatzeratti?).** The problem is that the military's taken over and as a result have taken head researcher scientist-type guy Einstein hostage (the reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated). You are there to kick ass and chew bubblegum...and you're all out of ass. Wait, no. You're all out of *bubblegum*. Sorry.*** So you need to beat the crap out of the Grunts, banter with Barney, and free Einstein so he can go back to figuring out how to make really big holes in the ground.

[** MST3K reference. You're welcome.]

[*** I think that would've been funnier had it been simply "You're there to kick ass and chew bubblegum...and you're all out of ass."]

Okay, since I'm playing on "easy", I should have no problems, right? Well, not TOO many problems. Since I am a prudent, careful player (about 75% of the time, running away and screaming like a little girl whenever a Grunt shows up), I never died in this map. However, if you go in guns blazing, you will get seriously hurt; and for some reason -- call me weird -- I hate dipping below 70% health, especially with grunts around. There were several moments when after taking damage, I quickloaded and tried another method of visiting pain upon my fellow pixels. The best method here is to use your cover wisely; yes, there is plenty of health...but it's seeded around the map in such a way that care is needed in your methods. In other words, the health is used well: not too much, and not too little. One nice touch was putting a health charger next to the first big firefight you encounter.**

[** I guess that would be considered cheesy nowdays; the signpost up ahead, proclaiming difficulties await? Whatever.]

The only puzzle-like elements of this map deal with finding buttons to open doors; not a minus, definitely. The only real problem -- this was near the middle of the map -- was trying to get Barney to follow me to another section...but after I gave up and abandoned his ass, I found that I didn't need him anyway.

That part was where I almost bit the dust. Let me illustrate: I walked into a room where I heard the sounds of scientists being executed (obviously someone takes those employee Coffee Club rules *very* seriously); I looked out the window to see three Grunts in a rocky area below. They saw me, one yells "TARGET!" - and they fire on me, breaking the glass. Crouching, I threw a grenade; as I threw it, I heard the most horrible sound that any right-standing male human being can ever hear: the sound of an MP5-mounted grenade launcher firing. I scuttled to my right behind a column, and only was reduced to 45% health. Simultaneously, I heard a "SHIT!!" from the yard -- those Grunts are such eloquent fellows -- and heard a couple of weapons dropping. One Grunt left. Since I was out of ammo for the MP5 at this point, I took out the remaining Grunt -- it's possible that this was a stupid move -- with the shotgun. Well, it worked anyway. And I was down to 30% health.

Now, I considered quickloading and trying that again, but thought, what the hail Jim, let's move on, shall we? (paraphrased)** The final portion of this map, incidentally, is where you experience some slight hits in frame rate. The end was nicely done and I am giving nothing away at all, so you can just find out for yourselves. I am not a walkthrough, for God's sake.

[** What?!?? I don't know. I DO NOT know.]

Summary? This map does what it does well. There were some nice (meaning, "nasty") surprises, functional architecture with believable lighting, cohesion to the theme (theme: "you are in a research facility"); a tight map. I recommend this map if you want to kill some stuff for a quarter-hour. It's hard to believe that this is the author's first map...and I look forward to further efforts. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.

["Architecture"..."cohesion"..."theme"...I might as well mention "hues" and "underlying angst," or something. Geez.]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#4: The Haunted Lab
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2016, 12:05:01 AM »
The Haunted Lab

[I hate this review. I absolutely hate it. I only include it here due to a sense of completeness. Otherwise, I'd delete it from existence entirely.]

Map Title: The Haunted Lab
Author: Michael Hindman
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: HauntedLab.zip
Filesize: 1,464k
Number of maps: 4
New models/sounds/code/gfx? Yes, sorta, no...I don’t think so..., yes.

[Note: played with v1.0.1.6 AND v1.1.0.1]

Preface:**

[** I started throwing in these random bits of fluff for whatever reason; they had nothing to do with the mods, but I used it as a sort of "This Is Me And I'm Weirder Than You" introduction. I'm not sure if I could have justified it even then, much less now. Eventually the section became the Abstract.]

Just the other day, I was half-listening to my mp3s, and I noticed that there was a song by America in the batch, “Ventura Highway”, and one verse hit me:

"'Cause a free wind is blowing through your hair
And the days surround your [something something]
Seasons crying [something] despair
Alligator lizards in the air"


My first thought was: "What...the...hell...??"
My second thought was: "WHAT lizards??"
My third thought was: "Did he just say 'ALLIGATOR' lizards??"

My fourth thought was: "That must be some good stuff they’re smokin', man."*

How nicely that song and "The Haunted Lab" dovetail together, hmmmm?

[* I do not condone drug use in any way, shape or form; I’m messed up enough without drugs, thank you. Just say no. Hugs, not drugs. Boobs, not doobs. Ass, not grass. Some babe’s back, not Fly Guy’s crack. I could go on all day.]**

[** ...and I usually did. AS I mentioned elsewhere, I was my own worse editor. Anyway, I hated that whole section. Even though the concept of alligator lizards in the air continues to torment me at random unexpected moments to this very day, I believe now that it's something I probably should have kept to myself.]

And now for the nitty gritty dirty evil basics:**

[** ...which became "Onward!" eventually.]

The lighting was...workable, I guess. If his intent was to give me a splitting headache and minor nausea, then I guess his plan worked.

The architecture was...uh...how do I explain it? The first map is a shack, which looks appropriately scary with the lighting and such. The next map was pretty much inside some sort of scientific center kind of place or something, the third was a graveyard, as was the fourth. I guess they represented whatever they were supposed to represent.

The textures were okay, I think. I was too busy thinking about the Tylenol I was going to take afterwards.

The R_speeds were nasty in the last two maps, what with all of the doings and goings on and such.**

[** MST3K reference. I think the original line was "what with all the shenanigans and goings on," but I blew it.]

The author states that the real purpose of this release was to show off his new models. Okay. The new models were...interesting, in a strange kind of way. From the Mawman replacement (with parts of a scientist sticking out of its abdomen), to the Headcrab replacement, which was a scientist’s head (the one that looks like Jeremy Irons)** with Headcrab legs...bizarre. Actually, I liked the Headcrab thing. The baby Headcrab is now a rat here. The Mawman however, is a little disturbing, from an aesthetic point of view; I believe he intended it to be this way, so I’m not going to criticize him on this point.

[** The scientist "that looks like Jeremy Irons," was commonly known as "Slick."]

The weapons models...well, they weren’t bad. The new shotgun and axe (the HUD sprite is just the word “AXE”...cute)** -- replacing the crowbar -- are well done. The replacement of the Hornet gun was a skull, next to be seen in his “Medieval World” release; not bad.

[** "'AXE'...cute" just cracked me up. I have no idea why.]

There were some ghostly scientists, which fit with his theme nicely. I shot one (at the starting point), and was rebuked by Barney ("Stop that!"). I wonder...**

[** What I wonder is what the hell I meant by "I wonder..."]

As for the maps...well... The first map created a mood nicely: flashing lightning, an odd shack, Zombies, an axe...I liked it (I’m easily amused). The second map (which started out okay, with Barney dying above you in the shack) didn’t spin my tasseled pasties at all. The third map, with the graveyard was a nightmare (I mean that in a sorta-good way, probably). The fourth ended with the G-Man. That ends with you screaming -- like someone who realizes that Mike Meyers might make another movie – and the text that it was all a dream. Because of that, I *almost* gave myself a concussion by smashing my face into the keyboard repeatedly, but not quite.**

[** I exaggerated from time to time. It was for effect. It's more dramatic than "I sat there for a while, doing nothing, kind of depressed."]

The sounds -- mostly just rearranged sounds with a couple of new ones -- round out the levels. Unfortunately.

This set of levels is like a fever dream; not "fever dream" in the sense of "Morena Corwin you give me fever 'cause you hurt me so bad, uh-huh",** but in the sense of "this malaria is not letting me sleep as well as I should."

[** Besides my unfortunate tendency to place punctuation outside of quotes, I was also under the impression that everyone knew exactly what semi-obscure naked babe I was going on about. If anyone actually *does* remember Morena Corwin, I'm guessing they don't give a rat's ass if she's still alive or not.]

I’m sorry to say, but this set made me sick to my stomach. Not out of fear, horror, or the really annoying sounds, but because of three factors: 1) it is hot in my bedroom in the middle of the day. As a result, I don’t sleep very well, and I wake up with a nasty headache and mild nausea, which makes playing games happy fun candy.** 2) The constant flashing, blinking, strobing and whatever else lights make me nauseous.*** 3) Serious hits in framerate tops off the experience. I tried playing with my eyes half-closed, trying to avoid direct eye contact with the monitor...I didn’t have to drive the porcelain bus (kneel at the porcelain altar, meet the earl, do the technicolor yawn, yawp my yummies, shout "Europe!", etc.)****, so that was a relief. Thank God the whole thing was short.*****

[** Some things never change. Actually, I don't think I've ever slept well in my entire life. Not that I'm complaining, no...I'm just pointing out that this may be a contributing factor to my various neuroses and psychoses.]

[*** Whoever invented the idea of strobing lights should have had his balls ripped off and stuffed down his stupid goddamn throat.]

[**** I'm so fucking amusing.]

[***** Also on that same day, someone in The Fortress Of Sorrowtude (*cough*) took it into their heads to pan-fry hamburgers. Even on the best of days, the smell of pan-fried hamburger makes me seriously nauseous. Consulting some notes I took at the time, I didn't throw up that day, but I probably would've felt better if I had.]

Philosophically,** I can’t help but think that maybe the author was influenced somewhat by "They Hunger"; I'm not sure if he was or not. The problem here is that whereas TH was an immersive, lengthy experience (which startled the Stove Top out of me a couple of times), this is limited to four maps. He does have an offbeat talent for models, as well as creating a creepy mood; if he teams up with a mapper as weird as he is, then they should come up with something interesting. As it is, the maps don’t quite carry much weight here. I give it a 2 out of 5...

[** Yes, I typed that.]

The experience as a whole can be summed up in one phrase: "I never should have bought those mushrooms from Timothy Leary."** So if you like injecting LSD directly into your eyeballs,*** then pick up The Haunted Lab!

[** It's thanks to such references that I am considered timely and relevant.]

[*** Yet another MST3K reference.]

[Again, I hate the hell out of this one. Plus, formatting in Notepad blows.]
« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 09:13:44 PM by Silver Sorrow »
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#5: Deth
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2016, 12:16:58 AM »
Deth

[#5. Keepin' it goin' for the kids.]

Review: Deth
Author: DETH
Homepage: [N/A]
Reviewed by: Silver-Sorrow - 8/14/00
File Name: deth.zip
File Size: 770 kb
Number of Maps: 2
Download: [N/A]
Score: 1 / 5

[Warning: some adult themes are present here. Cover the kids' major information-gathering sensory-input organs and hope your minister isn't watching as you play this.]**

[** Why would your minister be watching you play this? Sometimes I have no idea what the hell I mean.]

The Basics:
Lighting: Dismal (in the sense of competence). The last map will make aficionados of seizure-inducing Japanese TV shows rejoice.
Architecture: Sometimes I just want to crawl under my desk and cry. You know what I mean?
Textures: Execrable. Never speak to me about this again. I mean it.
R_speeds: Never a whimper from my sound card, unlike me. I did notice an odd weeping sound whilst playing, but it just turned out to be me.
New graphics? No, thank God.

Story: Your mission, should you choose not to ignore it, is to make your way to the last hangar and hop in the UFO. There it is. I'm wondering if that jangling phone is George Lucas with a handful of contracts?**

[** He'd probably screw that franchise up, too.]

Review: The author states that this is his first map. Now I understand why the zip, the bsps and the author all share the same name. Cute, in a megalomaniacal way.

Ah, DETH, by DETH, in the DETH.zip. I can NOT get over that. Ask our glorious leader, Vnitro. "He won't shut up about that," he might tell his therapist, "it's driving me nuts!"**

[** I might have caused Vnitro to give himself a frustration-borne concussion or two.]

As always, I try to find something good about every map; anyone can bitch about finding zirconium in the rough, but it takes a rare masochist to find something worthwhile in some maps. This experience was no walk in the park. If pressed to find something good in this, under threat of thumb screws and nude pictures of Pamela Anderson (I'm sorry, I don't find her attractive at all...I find her horrifying; an unholy amalgam of stupidity and plastic that Victor von Frankenstein could only dream of achieving**), I would say this: the penultimate room of the last map will at least make epileptics feel completely at ease by allowing them to relive their last seizure...in green!

[** I protested too much. OF COURSE I found her attractive. I just needed an example, "a lightning rod of hate" (to quote Colin Mochrie) to set the tone. And then I went on and on and on, much like I'm doing now, about how much of a boner-killer she is.]

Anyway, you start off in a small room looking at a picture of Monica Lewinsky wanking Bill Clinton. Is that some sort of political statement? Hmmm....there's a shotgun, which is a phallic symbol in itself. Forget it; I am not doing a Freudian analysis of this map. Besides, I'm not a Freudian.** Wandering around without the HEV is an experience. You will do so, but not for too long. Facing a collection of Headcrabs, Vortigaunts and a solitary Mawman, you'll get some use out of the shotgun.

[** I'm more of a Dumbassian.]

Your next (and final) experience with the seamier side of the human psyche occurs in the form of a homoerotic encounter between two scientists in a closed bathroom stall. Yeah, it's funny, but so is Jerry Lewis. That doesn't mean I want to watch -- or listen to -- either one. Also, the water in the toilets (and whatever was *in* the toilets, needless to say...yes, he did put something in one) was floating above the bowl. Somebody call in some professional Physicists, STAT!**

[** I think, judging by the context, I was attempting "humor."]

Anyway, you'll finally get the HEV along with the MP5 (of course, like all good "Aliens" devotees, I use the Pulse Rifle**). The next leg of the map involves tripod guns and Grunts. The less said about the room with the catwalks, the better. You open a door and that's the exit. This was admittedly nice-looking, with a security-fence theme.

[** The Pulse Rifle model replacement for the MP5, that is.]

The next map was what made my very soul cry out for revenge. The door opens to a strobing green light, blinking and blinking and BLINKING AND BLINKING AND BLINKING... There's a tripod gun here, hard to see because of the STROBING GREEN LIGHT. There's a button next to the door, which open up the final room, which is hard to see because of the STROBING GREEN LIGHT. The door opens to a couple of Grunts: one active, the other apparently hypnotized by the giant rotating monstrosity in the middle of the room.

Is this the UFO? How am I supposed to hop into it? Does the HEV have a set of wings that I'm not aware of? After some experimenting with jumping on the rotating rings (you had to ask, didn't you?), I was carried to the top and dumped inside the UFO-type thing, where a button on the floor awaited me. So, being the type who can't resist pushing a button, I did. The beginning of a fade to black, then a resounding crash back to my desktop. My wallpaper never looked so good.**

[** It was probably some woman in a state of undress. Maybe even Pamela Anderson. I'm such a hypocrite.]

[CORRECTION: In my review revision notes, I found that I did indeed make a note of what wallpaper I was using. Apparently, my wallpapers the week of August 7th through the 13th followed a Laura San Giacomo theme. With that knowledge, your life is complete.]

I didn't play this normally; in fact, I used God mode. I had every intention of playing through normally, but I never want to do this again. I give it a 1 out of 5. If the author sticks to it and works really hard, I'm sure he'll be churning out map with "average" scores!

Summary? I'm not crying in a bitter, despairing way... really. I just have something HUGE AND DISTURBING STUCK IN MY EYE!!

[Another one gone. Over a hundred more to go. Can you STAND it?]
« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 09:20:01 PM by Silver Sorrow »
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#6: Assault On Roswell
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2016, 09:46:17 PM »
Assault On Roswell

[#6. Will it ever end?]

Review: Assault on Roswell
Author: Andy Hulatt (Migandi)
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Reviewed by: Silver-Sorrow - 8/19/00
File Name: Assault.zip
File Size: [There's some debate over that between versions of the review. I don't know the answer.]
Number of Maps: 24 [?!?]
Download: [N/A]
Score: 4/5

LET'S START WITH THE BASICS, SHALL WE? SHALL WE??

FOR ONE THING, THE AUTHOR TYPED HIS TEXT FILE IN ALL CAPS, WHICH MAKES FOR A VERY LOUD EXPERIENCE, AT LEAST VISUALLY AND MENTALLY. NOT LOUD, AS IN "THAT PARTICULAR SHADE OF ORANGE HAS BEEN KNOWN TO CAUSE VARIOUS TYPES OF INCURABLE CANCER IN LABORATORY RATS SO PLEASE DON'T WEAR THAT SHIRT," BUT AS IN "IT'S REALLY VERY LOUD IN MY SKULL RIGHT NOW AND YOUR WORDS ARE BOUNCING OFF THE BACKS OF MY EYES AND MY TEMPLES HURT AND I WANT TO KILL A MAJOR CELEBRITY JUST TO MAKE IT STOP PLEASE MAKE IT STOP JUST PLEASE TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I IMPLORE YOU I'LL GIVE YOU MY UNBORN CHILDREN FRESH FROM THE WOMB AND PLEASE GOD--"

You get the idea. Anyway, aside from the desire to manually remove my caps lock key via standard screwdriver, this map left me with no hard feelings at all, sort of. Quite a contrast to the good ol' Doom days, where you could tell how bad a level was just by counting the number of spelling errors in the text file.

Lighting: Workmanlike. That is to say, it is adequate. The flashlight will be needed at times, but never for so long that you'll be left alone in the dark, waiting for your batteries to recharge. (what, 12 D-cells? Is that why Gordy can't jump that high?)

Architecture: Spacious. Extremely spacious. One might be tempted to say "too spacious", but that's a bit much. Nicely done, regardless. Some nice vertical traveling in one area (you'll know it when you see it).

Textures: Nothing blatantly wrong.

R_speeds: Some choppy areas, usually in places with high detail or a lot going on. I can't believe I just typed that last line. "Usually in places with high detail or a lot going on." What an idiot. OF COURSE those areas are choppy! I can't believe myself sometimes.

HOM? You'd better believe it. Although I only noticed HOM in the first map, when there's a really really really long tunnel, and one other instance, the tram ride over some -- here's a term from the Doom days -- nukage. So there are some instances of HOM, but your life won't end because of them. At least I hope not.**

[** HOM = Hall Of Mirrors. It happened in the Doom days (to which I keep referring) due to sectors not being closed off, etc. In HL, it could be caused by extremely long hallways with nothing to block the player's line of sight. Some people used it as a special effect.]

Hulatt story? Why, yes! We do have Hulatt story! We just got Hulatt story today!** So (essentially): You're a British secret agent whose face has been altered so that you look like American van dyke-wearing lab puke Gordon Freeman. Apparently America has been brought to its knees by widespread insanity of the American populace, possibly due to that Pokemon crap. I really don't see how the British have noticed that we Americans have all gone insane, since we look nuts to the rest of the world in first place. We are the unpredictable nutcases of the world and we have nuclear capabilities! HA HA!! Fear us, you pasty soccer riot enthusiasts!*** We all wear cowboy hats and have gun racks filled with semi-automatic weapons strapped to our backs as we scrape roadkill off the roadsides and eat it raw while we marry our sisters! Tremble before our unimaginable might as we stick our collective nose into dumbfounding, unwinnable wars that have been going on for centuries and consequently lose thousands of our young people in the futile effort to be known as the policemen of the world! Step aside, world! We take very large steps!****

[** In reference to Dracula: Dead And Loving It, in which Korman and Brooks went through a bit about the Necronomicon. That itself was a reference to something else. It's neverending around here.]

[*** This offended some British people, who sent me e-mail about it. I say: if the lime fits, then suck it.]

[**** Self-loathing, really.]

Ahem. We Americans are really not like that at all. Sometimes we wear baseball caps instead of cowboy hats. Anyway, you have been sent to Roswell to stop the spread of a possibly alien virus; you can kill everyone who tries to stop you, since it'd be kind of boring without bad guys I guess.

First off, let me preface the critical part of this review by stating this: this is still one of my favorite add-ons. It's a lot of fun. Hard as hell in places, but with some great areas. There. I like it. Objections? Talk to the butt, because the hand has a hangnail.**

[** Ouch.]

Okay. The first map that begins The Total Assault on Roswell Experience (featuring Mitch Mitchell on drums)** is nothing more than a quaint roundabout train ride (at least it felt that way) with story text. I estimated that this went on for about as long as my personal gestation, 13 months (it was cold that year). After that, the action picks up. Or DOES it??

[** The Jimi Hendrix Experience? With Mitch Mitchell on drums? Does any of this ring a bell?]

No. Not for about nine maps. Perhaps you think I am kidding. Perhaps you are a fool.** It really doesn't matter, because you get to walk around some really gigantic corridors before meeting any (hostile) Grunts. When you do meet them, you have the distinct tactical advantage: you have a crowbar, while they do not. However, they are armed with MP5s. Kinda makes your crowbar look a little stupid, doesn't it? Fortunately, Half-Life has this nifty "quick save" feature which will let you replay your fantasies of bludgeoning Grunts to death over and over again.

[** Credit: Dave Barry.]

Up until this point, the Grunts were present, but they weren't out for your blood. I don't know why. Maybe it's some sort of Grunt-specific insanity. "He's up to map nine or something! Shoot him now!"

[Here is where the original review more or less ended, due to its original length. I originally felt bad about giving Vnitro this humongous review that said nothing...but c'est la vie, oui? What follows, from here to the Summary?, is what I cut out.]

I’d also like to mention a couple of AI points:

1) When you get to the HEV suit. Barney isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, so you might have to do a little acrobatics before he pushes a certain button. Or you can push him over to the button.

2) The Scientist in the bathroom. You need him to push a button, but he doesn’t want to leave the bathroom! Talk about anal-retentive. Anyway, push him out of the bathroom. That’s a tip from your Uncle Sorrow.

Looking at my notes (yes, I took notes...shut up), I see numerous comments referring to “LONG hallways!” I wrote that several times, so beware. (of the darkness*)
[* gratuitous Spock’s Beard reference]**

[** Technically, it's a George Harrison song, but the Spock's Beard guys were only aware of Leon Russell's version... :ss-disbelief]

Here’s my problem: this map pack is absolutely jammed with interesting stuff...and it would take me pages to cover it all. So I’ll just hit on my favorite parts:

Fighting the Assassins outside, around the campfire. (there’s a song in that)

The ledge-hopping. (Quote: "Oh! Crap it’s a long way down!")

The UFO. Zip. Zip. Zip. Zip. Zip. Repeat as necessary.

The ordeal to get the RPG (although the last door closed a bit fast for me to get the extra rocket).

The subterranean tunnels. Very atmospheric. (but where was that green light coming from??)

The final button puzzle.

Spraying Le Chuck with root beer and...no, sorry. I’m thinking of something else.**

[** Specifically, one of the Monkey Island games.]

Shooting down an Apache (the helicopter, not the previous landlords of The Great Plains). Every single game should have you shooting down a helicopter with an RPG, even the Mario Brothers franchise. God knows, though, it’d probably be some big freakin’ turtle with wings or something.

There are some other parts, but I don’t want to give away everything. Just play it, bub.

Also, you might need help in certain areas (although a lot of it is somewhat linear)...his website has a walkthrough, which proved helpful in the final button puzzle.**

[** I have no idea if his website still exists. More importantly, I don't care. That's one of the luxuries of being a total screwup.]

Summary?
I highly recommend this one, if only for the length of play. It's along, involved experience, and you'll enjoy yourself. I would give it higher than 4 out of 5 if it were more polished; i.e., fewer errors and less long-distance walking. As it is, it's pretty good.

Rating? 4 out of 5.

[Next up...Barry Bollinger's maps.]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#7: Resistance
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2016, 10:06:11 PM »
Resistance

[The first of Barry Bollinger's maps that I reviewed. I haven't talked to Barry in a long time. Life, you know.]

Review: Resistance
Author: Barry A. Bollinger
Homepage: [N/A]
Reviewed by: Silver-Sorrow - 8/20/00
File Name: resistance.zip
File Size: 512k
Number of Maps: 2
Download: [N/A]
Score: 3.0 / 5

The Basics:
Lighting: It has lights.
Architecture: It's a series of offices and medium-sized generic rooms. What do you want, Unreal?
Textures: There are textures. How well they're used is up to you. I was too busy having fun with the explosives.
R_speeds: Admittedly, slightly choppy in places; that's understandable, when you have a bunch of entities exploding at once.
Pre-fabs: Many. (too many have stood where I stand*)

[* gratuitous pre-80's Genesis reference]**

[** To be clear: all of my references are gratuitous.]

[However, to be specific, it's Genesis' "Many Too Many."]

Story?
Why...yes. Yes it does have a story. A story filled with subterfuge and cleverness. Although why you need a story is beyond me. Wait. Wait. No, sorry. I was thinking of Quake 2. Yes, a story IS important. And the story he outlines is fairly okay; he's no Hemingway, but then again, neither am I. Thank God for that, since we'd both have to eat a shotgun eventually. Actually, the story is informative. It may have no bearing whatsoever on the concept of shooting your way from one end of a building to the other, but at least he cares enough to make the effort, and it gives you a nice sense of place. If you're so inclined, you can take the entire thing at face value and just play it without knowing why you're there. Like amnesia, in a way...taking a splintery 2x4 and clopping yourself on the head before playing tends to add an element of mystery and character to your role as an amnesiac! Try it, it's fun! But don't hit yourself so hard that you forget how to load the maps. That'd be stupid.

Onward!**

[** The first "Onward!" Imagine the gentle smile of a man about to crush baby mice with a mallet.]

I gotta admit: I really do like Barry Bollinger's maps. According to *other* review sites (you know who you are, you miserable sons of motherless goats! -- no offense), the first two in the Resistance series are little more than Grunt-fests... but what sets his maps apart from those others is that they're *fun*. I mean, you're not going to enjoy yourself if you take it too seriously and try to play through carefully, watching your health, conserving ammo, trying to avoid shooting scientists, etc.

I suppose that these maps are survivable; I didn't try the "normal" method (i.e., "duck and cover", "duck and covering fire", "covering ducks and firing", and "ducking Fire Ducks' covering behavior"). I just loaded up, Godded up, and visited death, destruction and other nasty forms of um, death, on those bed-wetting doody-heads, the Grunts.

My point is that you're going to have more fun if you use every available explosive available to you. I admit something else: I do so enjoy seeing Grunts explode...it comes from being the kid of an Air Force vet, I guess. One of the funnier things in Half-Life was when a Grunt would throw a grenade *into himself*, and you'd hear: "OH GOD!" [BOOM] I don't know, maybe it's just me. But I digress.

The problem with methodical maps - and I like those as well, don't get me wrong - is that they don't give you the freedom you need to express your inner rage at life: be it some dumbass at work messing with your porn site passwords ("Hot Buttered Asians!"); the fact that the damned mailman wrecked your copy of PC Gamer or Woman's World or Cat Fancy; or even some dumb blonde who cut you off in traffic, trying to put on her face while simultaneously fiddling with the radio ("WASP Radio! We play all the hits! Manilow! Manilow! Manilow!") and having a deep, meaningful conversation with her equally dumb friend on a cell phone ("So I said to Debbie, 'that's so wild!' And she goes 'Sooooo true! Totally awesome!' And I go, 'Totally!' And she goes, 'Totally!' And then some TOTALLY grody guy walks in, I mean, back hair and huge awful sideburns? And we go "GROSS! Gag me with a chafing dish!' And...no, that's a Crock Pot. A chafing dish is for keeping things warm. A Crock Pot is for cooking all day. So anyway, this guy just..."), all compounded by the cherry danish that's crumbling on her dress and the Diet Coke she's guzzling as if it held the key to immortality...a Grail o' Coke, if you will ("that looks like the kind of soft drink a carpenter would buy!"); all of these factors build up in the course of a day. And what better way to relieve that unsightly build-up than by blowing the living crap out of some guys? Computer-animated guys, I mean. I'm sure the Grunts are great people. You see them hanging around Barney, quaffing beers, trading guard duty stories ("I once guarded a block of Government cheese that was this big!" "Oh yeah? Well I once guarded a block of Government cheese that was THIS big!" "You guys are amateurs! Why, this one time..."). But sometimes, you just want to see them die. And I digress again.

[I'm not even going to TRY to untangle that unholy mess. And it gets worse...]

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is this: I like using the weapons. And Master Bollinger provides those weapons without the furtive shamefulness of just typing "impulse 101" at the console. Just being able to use an RPG in a room full of bad guys is exhilaration that has to be personally experienced to be believed. The satchel charges also release the feral, primal beast in all of us (well, maybe just us *guys*) for a short while; that snarling, clawed thing that loves to see pixels explode. It chortles in glee to see an unsuspecting Grunt disappear in a bloody cloud, whitened bone and charred viscera bouncing off walls...in short, it's fun for the whole family.

And it just isn't the Manson family getting involved anymore! No, it's all of us...from the pasty whitebread kid (hi) to the coolest African-American badass to walk the planet (just talkin' about Shaft: he plays Half-Life; really, he told me when we went cruisin' for mommas. He once said to me, "You whack-ass mutha[BEEP]! Get the [BEEP] away from my [BEEP] car, [BEEP]head [BEEP BEEP BEEEEEP]! I'll kick your [BEEP] mutha[BEEP] ass all the way to [BEEP] Mexico!" We understand each other: he's such a kidder!)... we're all bound together to one dream, one hope, one goal: to use a highly experimental energy weapon to disintegrate all kinds of living things. I'd like to buy you all a Coke...and keep you company! We'll all gather on a hillside, singing in harmony. C'mon, sing! Sing, dammit, SING!!

"New York, London, Paris, Munich
Everybody talk about: Pop Musik!
Talk about, pop musik!
Talk about, pop musik!
Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop Musik!"
**

[** From "Pop Musik" by M.]

Ah, screw you guys.

Anyway, kudos to Monsieur Bollinger for making mindless killing fun again! But this time with a story line!

Summary?
A little more attention to the surroundings is needed; he succeeded with his OpFor release, "Dark Operations", which proves that he's improving. As it stands with these maps, my recommendation for enjoying them is to turn on God mode and rock. You'll be glad you did. If you're one of those "accomplishment" types and want to play this through normally, then I suppose you'll enjoy yourself, too. Just play it. I give it a 3 out of 5.

[This one was just batshit. But I don't care enough to apologize for it.]
« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 10:26:47 PM by Silver Sorrow »
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#8: Resistance 2
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2016, 10:25:39 PM »
Resistance 2

[And on it goes.]

Review: Resistance 2
Author: Barry A. Bollinger
Homepage: [N/A]
Reviewed by: Silver-Sorrow - 8/20/00
File Name: resistance2.zip
File Size: 1,902 kb
Number of Maps: A plethora! (five, I think)
Download: [N/A]
Score: 3.5 / 5

[Note: I apologize for any vague, indirect references to "The Three Amigos", and also for any accent marks I may have left off of certain letters. Sorry. I am so, so sorry.]**

[** I really wasn't. And I'm still not.]

[Note #2: Forgive my blatant asides. I eat those Rice Krispies Treats and I turn into a raving maniac.]**

[** Ambush Bug reference. His weakness was Yoo-Hoo.]

The Basics:

Lighting: Once again, light was present.

Architecture: There were more walls than you could shake an alien wasp-shooting weapon at. The architecture here is more detailed than the first in the series ("Resistance", for those of you who aren't into the concept of using the restrictive traditional cardinal numbering system that so typifies the corporate-oriented industrial-military drones making up the United States and her contemptible territories and allies...viva la revolucion! Listen to Rage Against the Machine and become vegetarians! Let a band with no credentials whatsoever think for you! You are in good hands! They support the Revolution! The common man! And the more or less common woman! Buy their albums! Buy their merchandise! Buy enough of their stuff so that they can get really rich and buy capitalist Jaguars and change the system from the inside! Viva la cynical marketing techniques!).** It's nicely done, with many corners to duck behind. (No more duck jokes!) There's a good outdoor area.

[** Porcupine Tree summed it up nicely in "The Sound Of Muzak" (YouTube link):

Music of rebellion
Makes you wanna rage
But it's made by millionaires
Who are nearly twice your age
]


Textures: Some new ones, I guess. There's an included wad file. All this makes me wonder: what is the deal with Valve and Xena?**

[** In fact, why the hell was anyone fascinated with Xena in the first place?]

R_speeds: Get ready to STUTTEEEEEEEEERRRRRR!! Sorry. Won't happen again. Now, I don't know if it was just Win98** being stupid again (it keeps doing things in the background), but in certain areas the going became somewhat choppy (kind of like saying "Yoko Ono is somewhat unattractive"***). It wasn't bleeargh-intensive, and it was only a little annoying.

[** Yes. Win98.  :ss-disbelief]

[*** I'm not sure why I kept picking on Yoko, or even why I thought the reference was relevant. I often think that I could be more useful to society if I grew peas for a living.]

Humor: Of course! The "Days Since Last Injury" sign with blood all over it was cool.

Story!
Yes! We have a story! You can read it yourself! I am not an anthology!

Onward!

I reiterate what I said in the Resistance review: I really like Barry Bollinger's maps. They're fun. That, to me (oh, okay, and to the rest of the friggin' world, too), is why I play games. But what makes them fun for me is the sheer proliferation of weapons. They're all there. The most fun is saving at certain spots before encounters and going through different methods of killing bad guys. You'll ask yourself "Should I use a satchel and clean up with the MP5 this time, or should I cut my losses and use the RPG?" and no matter what answer you come up with, it's fun to find out. One could say that these are like Scientist-killing maps, but with the added facet of your targets shooting back. I mean, after all, Walter doesn't fight back...and you can't empty a clip into him without feeling just a *little* psychotic. That's the beauty of Grunts.

Now, if you follow my methods (lob explosives into group of Grunts at close range), you will surely blow yourself up. So pull down that console (what do you mean, you can't? How are you playing this, anyway? Dumbass!) and type in those four little characters that mean so much: \god.

I have an idea that Mr. Author-man Bollinger didn't mean for you to play like me (I'm a danger to myself and others), what with all of that health laying around; but I'll have fun my way, you have it yours. If your idea of fun is to finish these maps with a feeling of accomplishment, that you beat the Devil and spit into his eye...that you climbed that mountain and I don't know what the hell else, then that's your business. I think you will be able to do this. Me? Probably. I used to kick fundament at Megamania, so maybe. Of course, my cousin Jennifer used to kill me at Pac-Man, so to hell with it.

But all of you who enjoy playing some good, Grunt-stuffed maps -- oh, and there are some aliens and Assassins, too -- with a virtual arsenal at your disposal while on God mode, you will have fun too. (I have some theories about how Gordon carries all of those guns, but not enough space to tell you. Sorry, maybe some other time.)** I think you'll have a lot of fun, even playing through normally. We're all in this together! We're still on that hill, people [see my review for Resistance for an explanation...you know you want to]. Let's raise our Cokes and sing a new song!

[** I could've just said "Magic Invisible Gun Rack." That was my theory.]

"She comes out of the sun in a silk dress
Running like a water colour in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came In the Year of the Cat."
**

[** Al Stewart. "Year Of The Cat." (YouTube link) Still one of the best songs ever recorded.]

Sing! I said SING! Come on, you twerps! You know the song! SING!!

Stupid bastards. I hate you all!

Summary?
Better architecture, more maps, more weapons, some diversity in enemies, and overall, more fun than the first map. I give it a 3.5 out of 5. Play and enjoy. Or not. I suppose it's up to you, really.

[And moving on...]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#9: Resistance 3
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2016, 10:40:35 PM »
Resistance 3

[#9, third Bollinger map.]

Review: Resistance 3
Author: Barry A. Bollinger
Homepage: [N/A]
Reviewed by: Silver-Sorrow - 8/20/00
File Name: resistance3.zip
File Size: 2,360 kb
Number of Maps: 6
Download: [N/A]
Score: 3.0 / 5

[Note: played with v1.0.1.6. You may wonder why I always make a note of this; it's because under v1.1.0.1, the roaches don't crunch underfoot anymore.]**

[** And that's the reason right there. I knew it had to be something stupid like that.]

[Special Offer! I can tell you how you, yes... YOU, can make 75mb of free space on your hard drive! Just open Windows Explorer and go into your Half-Life directory. Select the folder "tfc". Now press shift+delete. Answer "YES" to the pop-up window question. Voila! You now have 75 extra megabytes of space you can devote to mpegs of Demi Moore shaking her saline bags! Disclaimer: if you actually like what's in the tfc folder, you may want to try instead buying a bunch of floppies, or something, to make space.]**

[** There's no "Abstract," but here is an Abstract-like guide on how to rid yourself of Team Fortress Classic. I wonder how many people followed that advice. I never got any hate mail over it, so I'm guessing it was ignored just like almost every other thing I've done in my life. On a side note, you never see Demi Moore shaking anything anymore, do you? Man, I'm depressed today.]

The Basics:
Lighting: Good.
Architecture: Xen-ish.
Textures: Bizarre.
R_speeds: Bearable.

Story?
Why, sure. This release picks up where the last left off. That's "Resistance 2" for those of you who are into linear time. Now you're on Xen, fighting those nasty bad guys, the Grunts (low gravity is the order of the day here). The Grunts have been systematically wiping out the Xen race survivors (obviously, they don't have the Eye of the Tiger),** but a new leader has arisen; a strong leader who is only growing stronger and stronger every day...ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our next guest, a citizen of Xen who's pulled himself up by his bootstraps (as it were), an alien who is an inspiration to us all, he's one heck of a guy, here he is, folks: Nexus! And you have to kill him. Bummer.

[** Survivor. "Eye of the Tiger." I hate that song.]

Onward!

It's Xen. Low gravity. Bizarre design themes. Weird fauna. Weirder flora.

So I slog my way through this, through two boss monsters, zillions of Grunts (give or take a few), and a multitude of Xen-izens, as I have come to think of them. (of course, I have also come to think of Minivans as "mommy-mobiles", so that's just me) It is survivable, as I have proven to myself, my God, and my country (me, none of your business, and the USA). Despite the fundamental flaws in my playing, I survived. Of course, I enjoy the savegame feature a little too much, and I play like a sissy-mary; but I lived! Ha ha ha! I kiss the sweet ground!**

[** Calvin & Hobbes reference.]

I admit, I have no idea what I'm doing.

Anyway, the ordeal begins in a teleport whatchamacallit, with several Grunts outside; here you can experience the joys of "decision time," as Vincent Price called it.** Should you use the crowbar...or the Glock? The choice is yours, but probably the smartest thing is to scuttle around the corner and grab a shotgun off a dead Grunt. Whatever works for you.

[** Comedy Of Terrors. Vincent Price played a funeral director who killed old rich people in the community because they weren't dying off fast enough for him to make good on his rent. In a nusthell. When it was time to kill again, he said to his henchman, as played by Peter Lorre, that it was "decision time." They would go out in the night, smother some old rich guy, and then show up the next morning in their horse-drawn hearse and take things from there.

I grew up watching this movie. It explains a few things about me when you realize that it's pretty damned dark when you look at it (Richard Matheson is a bubbly writer, isn't he?), but it really is pretty funny. Vincent Price as the eloquent, verbose drunkard ("I'm going out and drink myself into a state of stupefaction."), Peter Lorre as the put-upon, reluctant accessory to murder, Joyce Jameson as the lusty nagging wife who destroys everything with her singing, Boris Karloff as the deaf, doddering old fool of a father-in-law ("Egyptians used to hollow 'em out and pour 'em full of resin!...Give 'em false eyes!...YANK their brains out with a hook!"), Basil Rathbone as the Shakespeare-obsessed landlord...it really is one of my favorite movies.]


So your basic, unavoidable goal in this release is to survive. You don't have to mix the Head-B-Clear with the Grog,** or use Murray's arm with a lantern,*** but it's interesting enough. It's very simple. You kill Grunts. You kill aliens. You even get to kill an Apache (the helicopter, not the severely cheesed-off people with a legitimate complaint). There are no puzzles, except for the tactics you use against the bad guys.

[** Monkey Island reference. The first or second one, I don't remember. It may have even been the third one.]

[*** Now that's definitely the third one.]

I can't really say that it was a truckload of constant fun-ness (?!?), but it was good for what it was: a bunch of levels set on Xen. Some areas, despite my lackadaisical attitude*, are interestingly done. The portion with the Assassins, for instance. Now, up until that point, nothing had been able to kill me. You can kill my brother, but you can't kill me!** But it was at this point when I was trying out different tactics that I was inadvertently standing in the doorway. Splork! My actual, unvarnished thought:

"Hey...I got killed by a door!! What do doors have against me, anyway??"

[* "Lackadaisical Manslaughter" would be a great name for a band]

[** gratuitous Gong reference]**

[** I hate Gong. They're one of the few prog bands that I hate unequivocally. Dunno why, but there it is.]

So you gotta watch out for them vicious scientist-splorking doors!

As I sit here staring at the Pokemon keychain I got from a box of Rice Krispies Treats,** I can't help but wonder why I'm here. Probably because I live here.

[** I meant the cereal "Rice Krispies Treats."]

Okay. The rest of your time on Xen will be spent avoiding serious injury at the hands and/or weapons of your sworn enemies. It's amazing how demoralizing "GET FREEMAN!" is, when you think about it. A couple of instances will test your anger quotient; here I am thinking of facing one boss monster, and then...well, you'll find out. I don't want to give everything away. Hint: conserve your energy ammo, if possible.

But seriously, the focus in this release has shifted, it seems; the first two were pretty much "toss a satchel in a room, press button, see things die". This one, however, follows that "methodical" aspect that is the soul of good Half-Life maps. But at heart, it's still a bit of a Grunt-fest. From all appearances, Chief Bollinger** was moving away from the more mindless side of HL, trying to make more of a lasting impression. What short-comings we see here are indications of his efforts to improve his work, making them into a more cohesive SP experience. "Dark Operations" (for OpFor) is proof of this, and we should take what problems that are present in this release with a grain of salt, as these maps are merely an early indicator of what he is capable of doing.

[** I went through a slew of names for Barry, eventually settling on "El Bollinger." I still have no clue as to why I did this.]

Summary?
Average maps, some interesting areas, and an actual discernible purpose. There are some gameplay aggravations, but overlook those and try to enjoy yourself. I give it a 3 out of 5.

[Moving on...]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#10: Try, Try Again
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2016, 11:09:34 AM »
Try, Try Again

[#10. Just a hundred or so to go.]

Map Title: Try, Try Again
Author: Ronen Basch
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: tta.zip
Filesize: 1,615k
Number of maps: 3

[Note: played on v1.0.1.6 yada yada yada bull bull bull]

Basics:
Lighting: See-able to extremely dark.
Architecture: Good, with at least one large attractive area in each map.
Textures: Adequate.
R_speeds: Good.

Story? Yes sir, there is. Apparently, The Gord-meister** got a job similar to his old one, and the Grunts have found out where he’s working (obviously, they reconnoiter parking lots and look for familiar names on the parking spaces; of course, when you’re a contributor to the United Way, they put your name on a sign in front of your parking space... The Gordo-machine should have used a comical alias – such as "The Blarney Bone" – and said "no" when they asked for contributions). So they’re aiming to not only clean his clock, but put in some new batteries, perhaps fix the broken band, maybe even to change the quartz crystal. Wait. I think I murdered a metaphor.

[** I guess I thought it would be funny to use variations on the name "Gordon," a la that recurring skit on Saturday Night Live. (I know now that it's never a good idea to use something from SNL as a basis for your joke.) So I swtiched to using variations. I still can't imagine how I thought this was funny. Some more for consideration: "Gordolicious," "A-Gord-able," and "Cheesy Gordon-zola Spread."]

Onward!

This, according to the author, is his first set of maps. Not a bad first try; there are several niggles, but nothing that shrieks "amateur!" In fact, the architecture shows definite promise, should the author stick with level editing.

The beginning has you (as The Gord-monster) arriving for work, with Barney saying "We thought you’d never make it!" Et tu, Barney? Is that a slur on my penchant for a grand entrance? In plebian terms, I’m late. You bastard.

So then you pick up the HEV in a nicely done green-lit room, and the crowbar isn’t far behind. The design of the first map is done with an interesting eye to detail: the dark HEV room, the conveyor belt walkway that takes you through a tunnel over the landscape, where you see an Apache (the helicopter, not the disenfranchised people with a bone to pick). It seems you’re about to meet your nemeses: the Grunts (note: "nemesis" is singular; "nemeses" is plural. There’s an English lesson from Your Humble Professor. You’re welcome).**

[** Sarcastic pedantry. I'm an insufferable asshole.]

The second map takes place in a specimen lab, or zoo, or whatever. Because the way is blocked at one point, you have to hop into one of the animal pits and crawl through some ductwork (always a favorite pursuit of mine) to reach another pen where some sort of tree has fallen over to create a ramp. Attention: A note on level design for the budding author: please please PLEASE do not put important points of egress behind an alien tentacle tree. That is all.**

[** I wonder if the author was thinking of the Whomping Willow from Harry Potter. You know, the really aggressive tree that was guarding the secret entrance to the Shrieking Shack (or whatever). I certainly wasn't.]

Next, you come to the most striking part of this map: the green-lit room with a specimen under glass and four or five Grunts. Further on, there’s a room with a scientist and four ventilation ducts. "Oh God NO," I thought. And the next time some dumbass scientist asks me if I still say there’s nothing to Chaos Theory, I will personally jam a grenade up his alimentary canal.**

[** Reference: The Road To Wellville. Matthew Broderick threatening to ram a tree branch up someone's alimentary canal remains one of the high points of my life. I need to get out more.]

Most of the third map is very dark. I don’t know if this is some sort of first-author disease, but whatever it is, it seems to be catching; truth be told, when someone states that this is their first map, I like to have my eyedrops nearby. Because if the lighting of a level is so dark that I can’t see it through burning, watery eyes, then it defeats the purpose of that whole "3D" thing they keep talking about. "But it’s moody!" you might object, to which I would say, "But so are the Moody Blues, and they haven’t had a good album out in years!"** And while you’re confused, I’d kick you in the crotch. I do not suffer fools gladly. The point is, when darkness (a.k.a. "non-lightness," a.k.a. "the un-light," a.k.a. "the complete absence of the bright shiny thing I read by")*** is used strategically, then it’s a welcome aspect to the SP experience. This is a particular gripe of mine, going back to my days playing every single Doom and Doom2 map I could get my hands on...as a result, I acquired a light cheat (by Mark Klem, author of many Doom soundtracks and a good level designer, to boot) so that I could actually see the !!$#@!! architecture. I like to be able to see my surroundings, thank you.

[** Gratuitous Moody Blues reference.]

[*** ...a.k.a. testing the patience of the reader...]

But despite my curmudgeonly diatribe, the absence of light is used well in this, the first half of the third map (remember the third map?). It’s appropriately gloomy, what with the tunnels being apparently little-used and with rusty catwalks; the dark portion culminates in a nervous romp in a very dark mainframe room with Grunts and trip mines.

The second half of the map is brighter, with the centerpiece being a large, airy room with a large glass-windowed wall and a metal staircase. Quite nice. Here you meet more Grunts. After this area comes a room whose inhabitants' presence I don’t really understand: why were there Alien Grunts here? Confusing. Your next step is to somehow make it up into the control booth of this room (hint: jumping) to open the garage door. I don’t know if it really is a garage door, it just looks like one. Out the door, over the rock bridge, through the woods—wait, no. Scratch that. You meet with Barney in front of an Osprey (the helicopter, not the bird or mammal or whatever the hell an osprey is – no, don’t e-mail me with a correction; I revel in my ignorance, as you can tell). The end.

The gameplay is pretty much shooting Grunts. There are aliens, but usually you only fight them when you intrude upon their domain (how does a Houndeye become master of his domain?),** i.e., the animal pits in the second map. In the third map however, it’s several Alien Grunts on the offensive. Why, I don’t know. Don’t ask me.

[** Reference: Seinfeld.]

Another (frivolous) point: how well-funded is the company that The Gordo-lator works for? I mean, research labs are one thing, but being able to afford a helicopter is another. Never mind me, I just have this desire to own a helicopter with rocket launchers on it. THEN people would respect me...give me tribute, or I’ll strafe your friggin’ house!**

[** I'm not so keen on choppers with rocket launchers anymore. Maybe just a control console that delivers the rockets without involving me leaving my lair.]

Summary? Appropriate lighting, good architecture with some eye candy, plenty of ammo. Not bad. I give it a 3 out of 5.

[Rollin'...rollin'...rollin' down the river...]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#11: Chaos Theory
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2016, 11:21:55 AM »
Chaos Theory

[#11. There is no light at the end of this tunnel.]

Map Title: Chaos Theory
Author: Stuart Maine
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: chaos.zip
Filesize: 3,069k
Number of maps: 8, I guess.

[Note: When Nestle's Quick tells you to put in two tablespoons' worth of powder, they aren’t kidding.]**

[** What...the...f!!k??]

Abstract:
Did anyone else notice that it’s hot outside? Here in the godforsaken heartland,** it’s currently 110 degrees (110 fahrenheit, to clarify for you metric system-loving wussies in other countries),*** and god is it hot. I hear about the elderly freezing to death in the winter, and I actually envy them...anything is better than MELTING. Being smothered in the icy embrace of a snow drift is now my demise of choice; I cannot wait for moderate weather. The water in the shower does not get cold enough for me; I have a constant headache and sinus problems...everything hurts and I’m this close to lashing out. The next zipperneck who isn't raucously -- even orgasmically -- enthused at the coolness of fall, will suffer having me drive a garbage truck right up their urinary tract. Geez, it’s hot.****

[** Oklahoma.]

[*** No offense, wussies.]

[**** Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.]

Basics:
Lighting: Dim. Not bright enough to neuter a poodle by, but visually acceptable.
Architecture: Interesting, in a way.
Textures: Nicely done.
R_speeds: Good.New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, no.
Gameplay: Great.

Story?
Well, you are Gordon Freeman (who’s having an identity crisis now, eh?), still a lab puke, still afflicted with a van dyke. Your research team is currently -- in a top secret capacity, no less -- working on discovering the parameters and actual implications of chaos theory. Apparently, having a zillion butterflies flapping their wings and a man in Peking to check the weather is too esoteric; no, you empiricist dog-breaths have got to have these gigantic machines and a bunch of vaguely familiar lab-coated yahoos asking who ate the last of the doughnuts (not "donuts"! NOT "DONUTS"!!). All in the hopes of discovering what chaos theory actually means. Good luck on that. Me, I’m accepting Jeff Goldblum’s explanation for the time being.**

[** Reference: Jurassic Park.]

Onward!

Have you even wandered into something gelatinous and squishy, yet not an unpleasant feeling at all? Have you ever wished you could involve Carrie Fisher in it somehow, perhaps wearing that little slave girl outfit? Well, keep your personal sex fantasies to yourself, you sick little monkey. This is science!

Anyway, you start out, late as usual (what time is it? Time for you to buy a watch!).** The screen text explains that no breakthroughs have been made yet, and day 126 of testing is about to begin. Those butterflies are looking pretty good, right about now. So you pass a couple of Barneys (not the guy from Napalm Death)*** who inform you that your arrival time is less than optimal in terms of what is considered socially appropriate. The bastards. Anyway, this next part was damn cool: when you reach a large door, you hear a scientist tell you to wait a minute before he lets you in. Then two turrets pop up on either side of you, beeping. Gotta love that. And of course, once they start up the machine, something goes wrong. You must believe me, no matter how outrageous my claims.

[** Old joke. Question: "What time is it?" Answer: "Time for you to buy a watch."]

[*** That is, Barney Greenway from Napalm Death.]

You regain consiousness in a burned-out rocky environment, with tunnels and half-demolished buildings and the like. Plus, there’s this Gargantua. Don’t worry, you’ll have enough weapons and ammo. The weird thing -- and this becomes a common occurrence whenever you finish a task -- is that after killing him, you hear that horrible grinding whirr that characterizes your ass being transported someplace, and then the screen goes red. Get used to seeing that. The first time I played this set, it annoyed me to no end. I’m used to it now.

Next, you’re in a series of dimly-lit labs with knee-deep...water, I guess you could call it. This part isn’t hard to figure out, but I did find out that Snarks don’t attack icthysaurs. Also, there’s a sequence when you get into a caged elevator and are lowered into the water...shades of Quake’s e2m5.**

[** Don't ask me, I don't remember.]

Then you’re on Xen, apparently. Barnacles and Gonarchs, let me tell you. Weak Gonarchs, but still spitting out those damned baby headcrabs.

Now, I know what you’re saying.** You’re saying, "You haven’t fought Grunts yet!" Well, look no further! Grunts? Great! I LOVE fighting Grunts! We got a plethora of Grunts! We got Grunts coming out of our various orifices! Grunts! Fighting them! That’s the best part of my day! Yeesh. The architecture here is effectively linked to its purpose: it actually gives the impression of corridors and rooms. Dim corridors and rooms. Two nice touches: the computer stacks that you can blow up, and the hallway with the aquarium.

[** I really didn't.]

Then comes a level that is so well-rendered in terms of creepiness and atmosphere, it’s almost a crime. Tons of Mawmen. Thunder and lightning and chaos. Sweet. I’m not going to spoil it for you.

Your final combat situation is an Apache (the helicopter, not the disgruntled people of the plains). These things can really ruin your day. Use your cover.

Then you’re face to face with the scientist that looks like Jeremy Irons, and he asks you if you still say there’s nothing to chaos theory. So after you break his jaw (this is only assumption on my part), you request transfer to a less-stressful facility. You’re reassigned to Black Mesa.

A prequel?? This was a prequel?? Help me.

Summary? You will enjoy yourself, once you accept the annoying red-outs at the conclusion of each segment.

Rating? 3.5 out of 5.

[I didn't rate things very highly in the beginning. Next up...]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#12: DwellSP
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2016, 11:36:30 AM »
Dwell Single Player

[Soldiering on...]

Map Title: Dwell Single Player
Author: Brenda Ellen Perdion
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: dwellsp.zip
Filesize: 10,782k
Number of maps: 6

[Note: Played on an Atari 2600 emulator. No, wait. I was thinking of something else.]**

[** Huh??]

Abstract:
I swear, I must be a masochist. After all, I volunteered for this. It must have been very late at night; y’see, things seem sane to me when I’m exhausted. For instance, King Crimson...I understand King Crimson when I’ve been awake for 20 hours straight.** If you’d like to experience salve for the soul, try Al Stewart or Quaterna Requiem just before your face hits the keyboard. And what does this have to do with Dwell SP?? If you’re like me in regard to exhaustion, then play this after a long, yet boring, day. Your patience will unravel quickly, but you’ll *understand* it. I understand all kinds of crap at 4am.

[** Actually, I've come to think of King Crimson as the punishment for every wrong that I've ever done.]

Basics:
Lighting: Well done, albeit very dark in most places.
Architecture: Excellent.
Textures: Great.
Gameplay: Excruciating.
R_speeds: Is it choppy sometimes? Does the Pope wear a funny hat?
New sounds/models/etc.? Yes. Yes, skins. Whatever.

Story?
I don’t know. I didn’t find one really coherent line in the "story" section, but that’s no big deal. After all, I once read some of H.P. Lovecraft’s poetry before ultimately jabbing my thumbs into my eye sockets and lobotomizing myself...so I know a little bit about the inscrutable method of storytelling. (translation: "I am used to not knowing what is going on.")

Apparently, you are going to find out what the hey is going on at some house that’s owned by some Black Mesa-types, who have been digging under the house or something like that. At this point, my left temple was screaming for Tylenol. I think I got something about the question of whether they made contact with ancient Native American ghosts, or aliens. Then my head exploded and I had to go lay down. So decipher it yourself.

Onward!

The author has a track record of making beautifully detailed maps, but at the same time neglecting the point of the first person shooter: specifically, to kick ass and eat candy canes. (never mind, you probably don’t remember the show)** For instance, the Nike map for Quake2;*** that was all eye candy and no fun. If your expectations are as jadedly low as mine (actual quote: "another Half-Life map? Geez. I bet this one sucks too."), then you won’t be disappointed too much. For the record, these are some of the most meticulously-detailed environments I’ve seen for HL...unfortunately, the gameplay is cat dirt (no offense).****

[** Reference: MST3K. It was the episode that featured Kevin Murphy as Santa Claus challenging Satan (Paul Chaplin) to a wrestling match. He entered with the line "I'm here to kick ass and eat candy canes...and I'm all out of candy canes!"]

[*** I was referring to the author's map for Quake 2.]

[**** I could be quite unkind. Oh, well.]

But realistically, you can’t have both excellent gameplay AND highly-detailed environments with the Quake engine. So she goes for the visuals. And succeeds, to the detriment of the actual point of having The Magic Invisible Gun Rack©: to kill stuff.

Anyway, your surroundings throughout most of the game take place in a series of subterranean archeological digs (or the equivalent thereof). The ruins are Native American in origin and excellently done. But there is a fine line between "detail" and "obsession". To quote a little from the text, and my reactions [in brackets]:

"I wanted to add real Native American Translations in the game though I couln't [sic] find decent materials to do it well."

[We’re now tripping happily down the Road to Bizarre.]

"Saddly [sic] the American/Navajo dictionary I bought seemed mainly for outsiders dealing 'with' and didn't have the word 'respect' in it."

[Well, that’s what happens when you skimp and just buy the pocket Navajo dictionary. You need the unabridged version, which also features full-color plates of coral sponges and the birds of Madagascar.]

"Because I couln't [sic] give honor, I didn't utilize the language."

[That never stopped me.]**

[** Still doesn't.]

"Given the area it should really be in Hopi because [sic] I have read that they are decendants [sic] of the Hisatsinom."

[Great. I am the descendant of people who were kicked out of some of the finest countries in Europe.** I only hope that someday when someone makes a game about me, they remember that I was married very happily to Cristy Thom.*** Yes.]

[** ...who then came to the New World and humped the living honey out of the natives.]

[*** That's adorable. Like someone's gonna remember me.]

Under her section on system requirements: "I feel a system that will run Quake 3A well should run this well too."

[Oh, no. Oh nooooo.]

Anyway, You start out in a gorgeously-done house after suffering through a breathy, rushed female voice-over that brings to mind Mary Jo Pehl as Pearl Forrester; the Lawgiver is waken up from a sound sleep after watching Thunderheart, and she starts babbling about ancient ruins and Val Kilmer, then she wakes up completely and belts Bobo.** After that, you’re in some caverns leading to some ruins. Then some more ruins and an enigmatic meeting with something or other on the Big Screen TeeVees of the Gods©. Then you’re in a gully under the highway fighting Grunts. Finally, you sneak into the Black Mesa facility. Make of this what you will. Your weapons will be restricted to a crowbar, a Glock...and that’s about it until the very end. I cannot tell you how I feel about that, since it would violate several anti-obscenity laws.

[** Dear God. How many MST3K references can I make in one review??]

Gameplay notes: This is pretty much your active role: shoot Houndeyes. Kill (or avoid) Barnacles. Shoot Alien Grunts. Repeat. Some slight variations may apply. Offer void in Utah. The further you go, you get to meet more alien-type things, like Mawmen (is that Welsh?), Bullsquid, a weak Gonarch, and sheer numbers of Headcrabs. At one point, I was jumped by a whole platoon of the little punk-ass freaks. I really hate Headcrabs. It’s not a kind of "casual" hate, but a full-blown soul-deep hate I’ve only experienced before in connection with Quake2’s Berserker.

Summary? Well...I’ll just leave you with this quote from the text file: "I just wanted to make what I imagined." Don’t we all. Next time, just imagine some good gameplay to go along with it.**

[** Again, I could be quite the bastard.]

Rating? 2.5 out of 5, just on the strength of the architecture alone.

[Next...]
An interview with Kim Kardashian? Who wants to see that? I'd rather see an interview with the mortician's assistant who had to piece her head back together so they could have an open-casket funeral.

 

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