Author Topic: The Half-Life Resurrection Thread: Preface (i.e., Read This Post First)  (Read 9182 times)

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#26: Lounge
« Reply #30 on: June 16, 2016, 09:59:09 PM »
Lounge

Map Title: Lounge
Author: Mike Warren (or, "PieGnome," if you’re into whimsy and whimsical things)
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: lounge.zip
Filesize: 127k
Number of maps: One.

[Note: There are few things I hate more than some pompous ass acting in a condescending manner just because he or she is going to college and has an .edu address. Majoring in Philosophy is NOT vital to the future of mankind. Nothing to do with this guy; it just bugs me.]**

[** This comes across as seriously insecure on my part, doesn't it?]

Abstract:
I’m in the process of making my dentist a very rich man. Two porcelain crowns + multiple fillings = new car. I asked if I could take a ride in the Porsche after he’s finished with me, but I never got a clear answer. I suggested that he consider the Lamborghini Diablo, which is hand-made and a bargain at only half a million dollars. "What the heck, pick up two...it’s on me!" Of course, he deserves every penny, since something so simple as merely cleaning my teeth leaves the office looking like a slaughterhouse. I keep expecting the hygienist to yell "I need two gallons of A+ STAT!!" I have to wear dark clothes because concerned citizens would tackle me and wrestle me to the ground until a policeman arrives to ask me very direct questions as to what, exactly, did I do with the bodies. After the GRINDING AWAY OF MY VERY SKULL, my lip really didn’t feel as big as Wyoming...more like Ohio, or one of the Northeastern states. I never knew Tylenol to be so integral to my destiny...

[Asking your dentist "Hey doc! Can I help you pick out the color of the new McLaren?" wins you no friends in this life.]

The Basics:
Lighting: Good. Decent, actually.
Architecture: No great shakes, but workman-like.
Textures: Okay.
R_speeds: A little high in the last two rooms.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, no.
Gameplay: Short. Aliens.

Story?
Once again, you are Gordon Freeman, enemy of everything tonsorial and Xen-trific. You’re taking a Coke break (the liquid kind, you freak) in the lounge when some of those alien knuckle-knobs show up and start killing people. I suppose if I could shoot lethal beams of energy from my hands, I’d be killing people too. I’d start with that guy who lived above me in those apartments. I mean, the guy would get really drunk on weekends and stumble around, making these godawful noises. I think he was having marital problems. My favorite pastime was taking the noise mufflers off my drums and playing at about 10am on Sunday mornings...right when the dumb bastard was really feeling the hangover. That’ll teach him to give his stupid kid a basketball as a present.

[I actually did that. It wasn't my finest moment, diplomacy-wise.]

Onward!

The author asks that we evil reviewers** go easy on him, because it’s his first level. Normally, we see this as a bull sees a red flag (actually, any movement at all enrages a bull, and...ah, shut up): charge and gore! However, since I’m not in a particularly nasty mood today (despite compelling evidence that I should be), I will show him mercy. Besides, it’s a nice day outside with temperatures in the mid-60s (Fahrenheit, you Celsius frads***), and since this map is really, REALLY short, I have a little reviewing space to stretch out.

[** As if "we" assorted level reviewers were a council of angry pagan gods sitting in judgement, hurling lightning bolts...and not just vaguely pissed-off, irritable malcontents staring blearily at our monitors at 3am because we couldn't sleep due to the stomach cramps.]

[*** I'm not sure what the word "frads" means. I'm not sure I knew what it meant then. I guess it meant something then, probably, but now it doesn't mean what it meant back then, according to Urban Dictionary. I really hate slang.]

As for the idea of releasing one’s first map, let me break this to you gently: don’t release your first map. Unless it’s a masterpiece of a map -- a map that would make King High Neil Manke weep at the joy of playing it -- don’t bother. The idea is to hone your craft without pissing people off with a lot of mistakes. No one wants to listen to a drummer practice, and no one wants to play your first map. Maybe later when you’re famous, and it’s a rare find type of thing, like finding a recording of John Lennon singing "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," at the tender age of three. "Wow," you’d say, "he really sucked!" But it would sell for zillions on eBay. This is what you want to shoot for: release excellent maps, and people will actually *want* your first map. It’s something to think about. Hell, why do I even bother??**

[** I ask myself this question a lot, and I don't limit it just to video games.]

If I were so inclined, I could summarize the entire review like this: Dark Hallways. Zombies. Dead Barneys. Vending machines. A stereo prefab that I lust after. A lounge about the size of the interior of a VW microbus. Another room with a broken wall. Houndeyes. Alien slaves in the next room. Beams of light that should lead to Xen, but the author hasn’t gotten to making a second map. As a result, no exit. The end.

See? That would be...um...that’s a fair shake, actually. I’ll leave it at that.

Summary? A very short map, but with some nice lighting. Shows promise, although I’ll make the observation that we’ll see Jim Jones selling Sno-Cones in Hell (make mine a Silver Fox** with gummi bears -- no, I don’t want grape) before we see a second map.

[** Ever try a Silver Fox sno-cone? It's pretty much just a sugar-flavored sno-cone.]

Rating? 1.5 out of 5.

[Honestly, I like the reviews where I don't have to explain every damn thing.]
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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#27: The Interview, Stage 1
« Reply #31 on: June 16, 2016, 10:17:01 PM »
The Interview, stage 1

Map Title: The Interview, stage 1
Author: ]S3[Coolio
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: intrvw1.zip
Filesize: 232k
Number of maps: One.

[Note: I don’t know why anyone would want to name themselves "Coolio," after how the guy acted when his song was used by Weird Al. What an idiot. On the bright side, Weird Al’s version was MUCH better. Some people have no damn sense of humor.]

Abstract:
As some of you were aware, actor Alec Baldwin has publicly stated that, should a Republican become President, then he will leave the country. Due to such a statement, I say we should elect Bush right this very moment. We’ll move Pork Rind and Plywood** out of the White House, move Bush in, and deport Alec. Does he think we are *threatened* by his absence? Hell, I think the national IQ would increase if he and his stupid wife left our shores right now. But if worse comes to worse, and we do get Gore as President (vomitous be the sound), we can make the best of it: we will execute one Baldwin a day until he resigns. If we should run out of Baldwins -- as unlikely as that seems -- we can start on the Wayans clan. After that, the Estevez/Sheen family. We may just have to repeal that two-year term thing, just to whack them all. "Pleeeeeease don’t resign, Mr. Gore! I still haven’t gotten to Emilio!" Either way, we win. At any rate, vote for Dave Barry!***

[** That is, Bill and Hillary Clinton, respectively. Although I now refer to her as "Commie [lady part]"...]

[*** An election year makes this relevant, sort of. Between the fascist lunatic Trump and the commie [lady-part] Hillary, I feel the need to write in Dave Barry's name again...]


The Basics:
Lighting: So-so.
Architecture: An interesting pendulum layout, but otherwise...asi-asi.**
Textures: Nothing blatantly idiotic. (But there is the question of subtle idiocy?)
R_speeds: Okay.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, and no.
Gameplay: Like someone walking up to you and saying that you’re a little ugly: in other words, vaguely upsetting with a potential for violence towards the source.

[** I think that's Spanish for "so-so."]

Story?
This is the first stage of Gordon’s interview after...taking...the job...with the G-man...am I the only one who thinks there’s something wrong with that? Why interview someone AFTER hiring them? I was never hired right off, and then interviewed...it was usually the other way around (and I’ve never really progressed past the interview stage). Taking this into account, and the actual gameplay, I am reminded of a quote by Henry Beard in his excellent book, Latin For All Occasions: "Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant!" In English, "May faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy!" (Yes, I took three years of Latin in high school, and no, I don’t remember any of it.)

[Still don't. Although I can tell someone to go fuck himself.]

Onward!

Okay, you start out in a room with a scientist and that creepy guy with the briefcase staring at you through a window. You pick up the HEV, an MP5, a clip, the long-jump module, the .357 and some rounds (did you ever look closely at the box for the .357 shells? Neat, huh?). You open the door to kill three Assassins in a small storage room. Now, I don’t know about you, but I tend to balk at throwing my well-trained killers into a room to be killed, just to get a skills interview of some guy I’ve already hired. So after killing them, I notice one thing: the door doesn’t open!

Hooray!

The door doesn’t open! I wasn’t expecting THAT at all! It’s like eating hot soup on a hot day: it’s weird, and leaves your stomach upset...just a little queasy feeling for the rest of the day. Just shoot the door repeatedly. It will break. Yeesh. Going through puts you in a cross-shaped hallway stuffed with Grunts. Terrific. I really didn’t care at this point. Christ, my teeth hurt.** So what’s next? A glass maze.

[** As revealed in the previous review, I was undergoing a LOT of dental work at the time. I found that it colored my perceptions of the world, if only a little. I think I began a longtime obsession with Morrowind about this time...not that it has anything to do with this, but I did equate jumping all over the hills by Seyda Neen (to level up Acrobatics) with the deep ache that only a root canal can fix.]

I hate mazes.

I got through okay, despite the fact that it would’ve made a whole lot more sense to give me the crowbar *before* the maze, instead of making it a prize at the end of the maze. The crossbow would’ve been a better prize, or even the hornet gun. So after this is a long walkway with swinging pendulums (penduli?), ready to knock you into some decidedly toxic-looking water. Since I am a patient soul (I can stand in a line of people for a full fifteen seconds before going on a rampage), I took my time timing it (!!) and jumped across.

At the end of the walkway is a long hallway. At the end is the G-Man. Walking down the hallway is a pointless exercise, since it explodes and sends you plummeting to your death. I really don’t see any rhyme or reason to this map at this point. Why solve puzzles just to kill me at the end? Is this *irony*?? Is this just another outward symptom of the author’s deep contempt for the player? And where did I put that gun?**

[** That meant I was looking around for something with which to shoot the author of this map. Back then you could say such things and people knew you were kidding. Now? Good luck with the waterboarding.]

Summary? If I met the guy on the street, I wouldn’t take a swing at him (although after this review, he might take one at *me*); the hell of it is, this could’ve been a decent map if he had fixed a few annoying things...like deleting this map completely and stepping in front of a moving bus (I admit, that’s probably taking it a bit too far). Do NOT download this map. Only give thought to downloading it if it’s part of the insane demands of a group of raving psychotic terrorist drug lords who are keeping your mother hostage. In the long run, you might just let them keep ol’ mom’s ears. She’ll understand.

Rating? 0 out of 5.

[Another zero rating. I wonder about the maps that I considered *worse* than this one.]
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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#28: Mission Of Mercy
« Reply #32 on: June 16, 2016, 10:40:45 PM »
Mission Of Mercy

Map Title: Mission of Mercy
Author: Dave Waters
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: mom.zip
Filesize: 3,623k
Number of maps: 7

[Note: Betcha can’t guess which two versions of Half-Life I played this on.]

Abstract:
This made for a couple of weeks’ worth of procrastination. As I originally envisioned it, I would run through these maps, take a few too many screenshots, and write a pithy, fundamentally flawed review. I didn’t count on the idea of interior pain, as my very body kept me from doing what I love so well: not recording summer reruns. Other than that, I fancy writing a review or three...but not in pain. I won’t go into it, but let me just say that honey, while a sweet treat for those who can handle it, is a form of poison to me. And let’s face it: it’s bee puke. It’s pollen processed by bees. It’s bee puke. I cannot stress that enough. You’re eating bee puke. It’s cheap, sweeter than white sugar (which, contrary to stupid popular opinion, is not bad for you at all), and as a result is used by corporations to save money. It’s bee puke. I ask the question: why is a substance like sugar -- which comes from a plant as well -- considered harmful and evil, while honey -- which is mostly pollen and, yes, bee puke -- considered good for you? I don’t know about you, but whenever I step outside (once or twice a month) to smell the flowers, I sneeze myself into asphyxia. Sugar, on the other hand, is my friend. White sugar. Yum, yum. Not bee puke at all. Remember this, kids: whenever someone wearing a hemp suit tells you that white sugar is bad for you, consider the source...a pot-wearing bee puke-eater who’d vote for Woody Harrelson for President in a heartbeat. And they say *I’m* insane.

[Although I will still point out that honey is bee puke, I'm usually a lot more...well...sardonic about it now. Someone puts honey on something and eats it, and I just chuckle quietly. "What's so funny?" they ask. "Oh...nothing," I say with a smile.]

The Basics:
Lighting: Good; excellent in places.
Architecture: Terrific.
Textures: Nicely done.
R_speeds: No problems.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, no.

Story?
The Government is failing in its efforts to keep Xen under control. Big surprise there, huh? I mean, the slapnads can’t even keep the fat chicks out of the Oval Office**...what makes them think they can control another dimension? I wouldn’t trust the Government to wash my car without setting it on fire, somehow.*** So anyway, the Xen-izens, thinking that some guy wearing an orange hazard suit can help them, enlist the aid of one Gordon "Home of the Whopper" Freeman. That’s you. So your mission, should you choose to smear your body with orange marmalade and go "Where are my feet??"* is to save the aliens! You know that if Greenpeace had their way, this would be one of their rallying cries. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking of clubbing a dolphin and eating it raw, just to spite those dirty greasy smelly Birkenstock-wearing tree-hugging organic broccoli-eating idiot bee-puke-slurping freaks.
[* gratuitous "Night Gallery" reference]****

[** I think Clinton would have weathered the fallout of that whole ordeal if the woman in question had been, say, Cindy Crawford. JFK had Marilyn Monroe, and all Clinton could scrape up was Monica Lewinsky?? But if it had been Cindy, there'd be high-fives from EVERYONE. Although I could never look at Cindy again without throwing up in my mouth a little...]

[*** This goes back to a Dave Barry column in which he compared Republicans and Democrats with a flat tire metaphor. If your car had a flat tire, the Republican would simply drive on by; the Democrat would stop to help, but somehow end up setting your car on fire by accident.]

[**** That is, the Rod Serling TV show, "Night Gallery." (Which I preferred to "The Twilight Zone.") The episode was called "Marmalade Wine"...the upshot is that the protagonist had his feet amputated.]

Onward!

I’ve come to expect a certain level of quality from Dave Waters; his maps are always enjoyable, and always fun. Now take this map pack, for instance (if you don’t then you might as well be doing something else): the basic premise is NOT to kill the aliens in the beginning. Damn. Although I admit, it’s a little fun to curb my baser, bloodier desires. So I let the aliens live. Okay, so that isn’t the basic premise at all. It’s really more of a side note to the larger document: you’re helping the aliens by launching a rocket. It may just be the six pounds of metal in my jaw talking here, but I don’t see...oh, okay, I remember: you’re supposed to launch the rocket before it’s armed, thus saving the Xen race from becoming very small piles of radioactive grit.

So you gotta get into the complex, kill some Grunts, prime the rocket, launch it, and then fight your way back out to where the aliens will pick you up. Of course things wouldn’t be the same without the possibility of shooting down an Osprey (the troop-carrying helicopter, not the irritable water fowl), which I enjoy immensely, as they blow up better than the Apache (the helicopter, not the reservation-incarcerated people).

The encounter with the Nihilanth in the beginning was quite well done, as was the lobby of the complex. The lighting was fantastic. There is a side quest to get the Gauss Gun -- you need Barney to get it -- and you can snag the crossbow in the same general area as well. Hint: air ducts. On the whole, the complex area itself is nice and laboratory-like, making me actually homesick for that General Science course I took my Senior year of high school. Okay, not really, since the room looked nothing like these clean white labs -- it looked more like a storage room with black-topped tables -- and it was missing the two Laotian sisters whose English wasn’t very good. More about them some other time. (Get your minds out of the gutter!)

Now for the nitpicky bit (I hate that phrase, "nitpick," since it brings to mind a group of limp-haired pimply X-Files fans sitting in a circle tearing apart an episode with glee, while simultaneously picking the nits out of one another’s hair): the rocket-launching cutscene (happening after you launch the rocket, natch), though well done, is a pain in the ass. It’s a bit lengthy, let’s just say (and keep your little sex jokes to yourself). But it’s over soon, and you can get back to killing things.

After wading through a water-pipe system of some sort (I am nothing if not observant), you get to a rocky area with the chopper and a zillion Grunts (give or take a couple). Then there’s more water-pipe traversing behavior, and popping up under a bridge. A very handsome bridge too, I might say. This is the coda, so the rest is up to your experience.

Summary? Pretty good: the lighting was excellent, the gameplay was nasty, and the architecture was great. It is, to put it simply, fun. Grab it.

Rating? 4.5 out of 5.

[Very little input required from me this time. Hallelujah.]

[And I shall say nothing of the Laotian sisters.]
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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#29: Zubben
« Reply #33 on: June 18, 2016, 03:37:41 PM »
Zubben

[The difference between this version and the original draft is that the original was simply batshit. The Abstract alone would have been grounds for massive shock treatments. So what follows is what I submitted. As disturbing as it is, it's nowhere as incoherent as what you'll never see.]

Map Title: Zubben
Author: Ronen Basch
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: zubben.zip
Filesize: 2,902k
Number of maps: Seven

[Note: played with v1.1.0.1. You are growing sleepy. You are reaching into your wallet and sending me all of your money.]

Abstract:
I just got my birthday present in the mail. She's swell. The good thing is, the postal guys remembered to ventilate the package, so my little Japanese beauty is just fine. What? You perverts! I'm talking about the Japanese release of my Rocket Scientists CD!** I mean, how could you possibly misconstrue that?? Bunch of weirdos.

[** Rocket Scientists is a band and not a mail-order bride. Just to be clear.]

Anyway, this map’s storyline takes place in 2128. Coincidentally, while watching TV the other day I reflected on the science fiction movies and books of the 40’s and 50’s. Isn’t it kind of funny that we as a species keep pushing back the general time frame of our technological peak? Back in the 50’s, the general populace’s assumption was that we’d have conquered the entire galaxy by 1995, and we’d all have personal jetpacks and live in peace and harmony forever and ever amen. If you haven’t noticed, we’re still earthbound. Sure, we’ve managed to blow up a few space shuttles several miles up, but what do we have to show for it, besides a higher content of disintegrated astronaut in our water supply? Nothing, that’s what. Okay, there’s a space station or two with rapidly decaying orbits, dropping flaming debris the size of Roseanne on Australia (I may be exaggerating), but we still haven’t realized the point of our goal of universe domination: silver jumpsuits with butterfly collars. You never meet anyone who looks like Erin Grey,** just a bunch of Calista "Concave Chest" Flockhart wannabes, with pierced navels, their bellies distended from forced hunger. I think I may have lost my point here.

[** That's Erin Gray. Stupid typo. Apparently, I equated the future with Erin Gray...who was the future in my past. "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," I mean. '79 to '81. If had been thinking more clearly, I would have said "Jeri Ryan"...although to be honest, I still find Erin Gray to be WAY hotter than Jeri Ryan.]

The Basics:
Lighting: Excellent. Gloomy, dim...
Architecture: Impressive.
Textures: Well done.
R_speeds: No problems.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, a couple of nice prefabs.
Gameplay: Mucho Grunts, several aliens.

Story?
The year is 2128. The place: the planet Zubben. ["AD?" "Of course it’s AD! Nothing happened in 2128 BC! Not in space!" "Sumeria, then?" "Okay, yes, Sumeria, but I didn’t say 'The place is Sumeria!' It's Zubben! 2128 AD! The YEAR!"]** You are Gordon Freeman, Jr., a research assistant and a junior administrator at the Zubben ground base. Apparently, the team there has found something interesting. A "research" vessel, named the USS Arizona and sent by the ULN, is on its way to "check things out." Your fellows have been ordered to cease all excavations and enter the cryo chambers until they arrive. You step into the cryo chamber, timing it to wake you up when the Arizona arrives. The Arizona lands and all hell breaks loose (or most of Hell, anyway...I imagine Hell’s a pretty big place, what with all the record company executives and such). For these aren’t scientists, they’re soldiers. They’re there to make sure that no one finds out what you’ve found there. If you can figure out my own tortured English, then you’re set.

[** From Monty Python's "The Final Rip Off." Specifically, the introduction to a bit about The Holy Grail.]

Onward!

You start out in the cryo chamber, and the door is opening. Very cool. In fact, this is how I would describe the entire set of maps. And I will, thank you. After getting the HEV (none of this "fight all kinds of horrible things without the HEV" business like in other, more repulsive maps, no sir), you meet Barney. This area, along with the observation area, is quite well done. In the observation area, you see a vessel -- obviously the Arizona -- land. A ramp extends to the shuttle. You turn around to go back to where Barney is, and...where is he? And who is this green-clad fellow?

Further on is where you receive your first object lesson: because your weapons are limited, you must, repeat, MUST use stealth and cover to survive. If you go in rashly, guns blazing, you will hear the sound you most fear: the HEV making stupidly obvious observations about your medical condition. Make no mistake: these maps are hard due to two factors. One, there are a lot of Grunts...but not *too* many, if you know what I mean.** Two, there is very little health laying around. Extreme care is needed...kind of like Thief, but not boring and not likely to lock up your computer because of sound card issues (I’m not bitter).***

[** Even I didn't know what I meant.]

[*** Yes, I called Thief "boring." I hadn't quite gotten the hang of it yet, and I did indeed suffer from system issues. It had something to do, not with my sound card, but DirectX. It was a mess. I got it sorted out eventually. So now you know. And your life is richer and more precious than ever before, as you are now the keeper of that knowledge. God bless, traveller.]

The architecture is impressive. I admit, I have a fondness for spacious corridors (I’m not claustrophobic, but seven of my other personalities are), and there are many places where I was a happy little elf (whatever that means...and I’m not gay! Really! Shut up!).** I also enjoyed the outdoor areas, despite my atavistic abhorrence of reality as it applies to fresh air. Also of note was the lighting, which was entirely appropriate. You’ll find yourself using the flashlight often in some places, but not for so long that it depletes itself.

[** A somewhat indirect reference to a Dana Gould stand-up bit. He observed that there's always that one friend... "What time is it?" "I'M NOT GAY!"]

Another set of pluses is the prefabs. The Arizona resembles the Imperial Shuttle from Return of the Jedi, and yet, fits in. One other is a mech from Starsiege that he did himself...very nice. The last is an APC, which fits in completely with these maps.

Finally, there are the puzzles. Blessedly, he includes a helpful text file with answers, which I didn’t need because I’m the smartest and handsomest person in the whole entire world and you’re not so there nyaaah. The tough spots take some thought as to strategy, but aren’t impossible. Half the fun is actually working it out for yourself. The other half of the fun involves a Grunt shouting "OH GOD!" before getting blown up. I would have like a little more health, since I was below 40% health most of the time (due to my own blatant stupidity than anything else, I think), but it’s really not a problem. After all, I made it to the end.

Summary? Very cool, very tough. A little short. If you like maps that involve more strategy and duck 'n' cover, then this is for you. (y’know, a great name for a store that sold ducks and patio awnings would be...)**

[** "Ducks 'n' Covers." Yes.]

Rating? 4.75 out of 5

[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.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#30: Chemical Existence
« Reply #34 on: June 18, 2016, 04:16:04 PM »
Chemical Existence

[This was the Big One, el Enchilada Grande.]

Title: Chemical Existence
Author: Red Genesis Entertainment
Homepage: http://www.redgenesis.com [Still there, actually...but as WIT Entertainment.]
Filename: ce100.exe
Filesize: 66.6mb
Number of maps: 35+

[Note: You really, REALLY need to play this mod using the latest version of Half-Life. Of course, you could try to play it using Doom v1.1 (with the cool panned sounds), but that’d just be stupid. It wouldn’t even work! What’s wrong with you, anyway??]

[Note #2: PlanetQuake has the crappiest search function ever.]

Abstract:
People are always asking, "If you could become anyone for the day, who would you be?" The idea is to pick someone whose life you always dreamed of living...say for instance, Beethoven...being a stone-deaf genius appeals to some people, I imagine. Or perhaps becoming Chairman Mao, with the intention of crushing every idealistic individual with a basic desire for some sort of social dignity, mostly by running over them with tanks. Then there’s the option of being Madame Curie, and spending your day as an extremely radioactive scientist...when they say she was hot, I don’t know if they meant "ticking-hot." Of course, there’s Charlemagne, who was some sort of king or something...I dunno. I took more English courses than history courses in college (but it doesn’t show). So who would I become? Simple. I’d become Dolly Parton** and spend the whole day in a locked room feeling myself up. Thanks for asking!

[** These days, I'd probably say Amber Rose. Or Jennifer Aniston. Or Kaley Cuoco. Or...I don't know. There's so many to choose from!]

The Basics:
Lighting: Appropriate.
Architecture: Varying in quality from very good to excellent.
Textures: No really horrifying problems that I could see. In other words, pretty good.
R_speeds: Might be a tad high in some places, but I had no problems.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: You’d better believe it.
Gameplay: You gotta play it to understand it. It’s like jazz...if you gotta ask, then you’ll never know, baby.

Story? You want a story? Here’s your story! (Buckle in, kids)

You are Reese Max, a computer programmer by trade and with the physique to prove it. You’re currently on your way to the city of Motashe (not to be confused with Motown) to visit your sister...which you haven’t done in a while, since she has all the characteristics of a zombie, albeit without as much emphasis on intelligence, manners, hygiene, dignity, etc.,...so having put off your familial duties for far too long, you decided to bite the proverbial bullet and visit her and her stupid new husband. How that steaming social animal** ever managed to trap and marry something living is beyond you, but he is your brother-in-law, no matter how many key teeth -- and brain parts -- he might be missing. So you get a friend to feed your fish, water the plants, feed the cat, walk the dog, and hope that none of them decide to feed on each other. You wrap yourself in the warmth of your Keanu Reeves-issue trench coat, thinking that on some level you look like him (despite the carroty-red hairdo) and hop into your generic -- yet vintage -- muscle car, an Oldsamaticustangolet (it’s a work in progress). You hope that your electrical system won’t screw up your tape player, forcing you to sing to keep yourself company yet again.

[** I have no idea what that means. Seriously. Not a friggin' clue.]

It’s a long drive. Your tape player works -- oddly, you have an mp3 player even in your *shower*, but not your car -- and you while away the miles, pounding the wheel in time to the latest vanilla neo-prog band. As you reach the outskirts of Motashe (and not Detroit Rock City), you notice that traffic is light...more the better for you. As you reach the city proper, you’re too busy changing a tape to notice anything blatantly amiss; namely, the streets are virtually deserted. Giving up on finding something good to listen to, you irritably snap off Kraftwerk and toss the tape out the window (only taking the time to back up and run over it three or four times). As your drive takes you through some of the rougher parts of town, you notice that the more ambulatory residents are shuffling along listlessly, almost as if in a drugged daze. "Hmmm," You hmmm to yourself, "there must be a Tony Robbins seminar in town." Just then you slam on the brakes, because that’s what you do when Wolfen leaps over the hood of your car. Startled, you look around for the beast, but it’s disappeared. Deeply troubled by your surroundings, you speed off, racing faster and faster -- even ignoring the infrequent "Crack Babies Crossing" signs -- in an attempt to get outta...well, not *Dodge*, I mean, that’s in Kansas, but it’s really just a saying you see... Of course, this is your cue to round a corner and slam into a truck parked in the middle of the street.

Grim, yet colorful metaphors spring from your lips as you get out and survey the damage. Nothing major. Now, out in the open, you fully notice your surroundings -- the screams, the moans, the gunshots, the Democratic Presidential candidates screaming phrases from their godawful eco-warrior books -- and you shrug further into your trench coat. Suddenly, gunfire erupts behind you! You dive behind the truck as a vehicle full of phat pants-wearing suburban white kids races by, firing their weapons. They drive off, having missed you. You rise, shaken, and dust the broken crack vial shards from your $300 coat...just in time to duck as some sort of grenade whistles over your head and plops into the headshop across the street. Bongs, beads and posters of monkeys sitting on toilets are everywhere. You decide to investigate yourself, because hey, you’ve played Doom. You cut across the street, just as your car blows up behind you, instantly incinerating your vintage collection of foam Big Mac boxes and knocking the truck over on its side.

As you stare at the wreckage from your vantage point of laying supine upon the dirty sidewalk, two men in trench coats -- theirs aren’t as expensive as yours, obviously, but they still look better than you -- emerge from the shadows. You get up and dust yourself off, wondering what your drycleaner’s going to say. To hell with that dirtbag, you think. You notice that the two guys are coming towards you. You decide on a friendly, yet guarded tone.

"What in the blue !$&@ is going on here?!?" you ask reasonably.

As one of the men goes inside the smoking ruin of the city’s urban renewal project ("Bongs For Everyone!" was the last mayor's motto), the other walks up to you, staring at you through his Cool Hand Luke shades.

"You’d better come with me, if you don’t want to end up dead...like Sandra Bullock," he says menacingly.

"But Sandra Bullock’s not dead!" you protest.

"Oh, no? Have you seen Hope Floats? How about Speed 2, huh?"

"I won’t end up like her! I won't! I won't!" you shout as the man lunges at you. You slap his hands away. He reaches into his coat, assumedly to pull a gun. You, your reflexes honed by years of closing invitations to chat on AOL, quickly shower the thug with punches. He falls...and you run off, trying not to scream like a Japanese schoolgirl who’s just seen her first set of male genitalia. You’re sure that the guy’s companion would shoot you on sight for your transgression, so you run and run, down back alleys, through coffee klatches, under fire escapes, through puddles of God-knows-what, until you figure you’re far enough away.

Since it’s night, it makes no sense to venture out amongst the screams, the cries, the growls, the Jehovah’s Witnesses...so you hole up in an abandoned building with a chunk of wood as your new best friend and ally, to wait for morning. You’re determined to survive.

Still, this beats having to visit your stupid sister.


Onward!

Okay, so I may have taken a few liberties with the story. But hey, I’m a lonely, depressed little man...it's all I have, okay? Okay, never mind. The point is, you want to know what Chemical Existence is all about. That’s what I’m here for. I’ve anticipated the length of the download...it’ll take a while. So read...and hopefully, you’ll finish before the download ends (but frankly I doubt it). But I’m not a spoil-sport, so you’ll just have to figure out the rest of the story for yourself. You’ll thank me someday.**

[** I will state here, quite bitterly, that not one of you spiteful bastards has thanked me yet.]

For starters, the opening cutscene (and the rest of them as well) is high quality. It’s clear that a lot of effort went into the concept of conveying atmosphere, mood, and most importantly, character (or maybe mood is more important; I admit, I have no idea what I’m doing).

The voice acting is...interesting...sometimes, but it’s never boring. The new phrases for the NPCs are hilarious, if you spend a little time just listening to them ("Ooh, I think I’m...injured...or something. I can’t go another step."). And they actually got a woman to speak for the women characters, as opposed to some guy pitching his voice really high ("Your name will be Mrs. Esterhaus!").** There’s another method for this, but since it involves pliers, well...

[** Reference: Dan Aykroyd in Caddyshack 2.]

As for the enemies...you have your hands full. A good variety of human foes await, with the most memorable being the punk gang: the guy with the hammer, the guy with the spiky hair and specs, and the middle-aged punk chick. They always travel together. The soldiers are the proverbial** red-headed stepchildren, all grown up...and they’re packin’ heat! Okay, I don’t know anything about their family lives, but if red-headed stepchildren joined an evil corporation that was poisoning people, then this would be them. No offense to red-headed stepchildren. [LOOK. Just shut up, already?] Anyway, further on you come across some corporate types...I am forcibly reminded of Men in Black, but in a good way. One of them is even a woman. And she’s packin’ heat! In fact, they’re all...packin’ heat! [I’m not warning you again. Shut up!] One of the MiB gang carries a laser, another an assault shotgun...they’re well-armed. There are few monsters, however, the most prolific being the green mutant. I only saw one wolf, and two or three of those flying things. Now, I would’ve like an area where there were a lot of wolves attacking...that would’ve been keen (never mind); but this doesn’t happen, and I can only wonder at the choice to underuse the wolf. As a side note: the soldiers’ deaths look a little stiff in some instances, except when you blow their heads off. It isn’t a big deal, which is why it’s a side note.

[** That's the second time I used "proverbial." I could say I'm sorry about that, but I think the damage has been done and it's too late. Now there's only room for regret and shame.]

The weapons...ah, the weapons. You will not be disappointed by the weapons. So much to choose from! You’ve a stick of wood (I always liked hitting people with a 2x4), a .44 with a laser sight, a machine gun with a flashlight (which can be selected, even when out of ammo -- very useful), an Uzi (the pride of the Israelis), a Tommy Gun (hooray!), a sniper rifle with a zoom feature, of course (the zoom isn’t as good as I’d like it to be; it’s a little grainy…and green…and there’s a long reload time, but not as long as Rebellion’s rifle), a poison dart gun (quite well done...and a joy to use), an assault cannon (a high-powered shotgun-type thing), a laser gun, a plasma rifle (oh, where have you been, sweet plasma rifle?), and your standard-issue manually-worked grenade, but this time with three modes (bounce and boom, boom on contact, and boom when someone walks by). Along with your selectable weapons is a very cool twist on the standard "pick up health" story: portable health. Yes, we’ve seen this before in Duke3D, Shadow Warrior, etc., but this is a welcome addition to the Half-Life experience. We NEEDED something like this, and we didn’t even know it! (well, I didn’t, but you probably did) Plus, it’s interesting to see your character shooting up (with morphine). Wait’ll the idiot watchdog groups see this! Also, you can pick up a rad suit ("radiation," not "radical"), which is cumbersome; you can’t carry a weapon while wearing it. Clever, both of them.**

[** As you can see, I had no compunctions about inflicting a Wall Of Text upon the reader.]
 
As a special note, there is a clear bar at the bottom middle of your HUD; it’s a meter that determines how close you are to death (as far as I know). When it fills up, urrrgh. Thump. Watch this meter when using the rapid-fire weapons such as the Tommy Gun, because you can shake yourself to death.

The maps are quite good. They aren’t huge by any means, which means one thing for you: framerates are kept down. A good variety of locales is represented: back alleys, a junkyard, a river (with a cool boat sequence), a corporate monolith, a walk through a sewer or two, a mall, a jeep chase (woo-hoo!), and so on. It’s all there, except for a low-gravity hop in a space station (which suits me just fine). And no Xen! Ha ha! The truck chase later on is a lot of fun. Caveat: there is some duct-crawling. A special note should be made here about the screwed up dream map: it’s incredible. It looks like something Koumei Satou would have put in Peaces Like Us (still one of my absolute favorites)...it’s that weird (and we all know that weird = good). Plus, you get to meet...the Grinch! (you’ll see)**

[** SPOILER ALERT: the end boss looked like the Grinch. I think. I don't remember, exactly.]

As for gameplay, it ain’t easy. There are several instances where you’ll die instantly, which is not conducive to a healthy equilibrium. In other words, it’ll piss you off (to quote Ghandi). Very few times did I find myself above 83% health...but that may be because I suck. Ammo is at a premium, so don’t waste it in the early stages of the game. In fact, that’s a good rule to live by anyway. "Conserve ammo!" you might yell to your grandmother, who is helping you in holding off the cops. Armor is a fleeting thing, disappearing under light gunfire (isn’t it the point of armor to protect...never mind).

There is a part where you must race past a tank of some sort; as I hate losing health, this was a particular bugaboo for me...but I survived, and you should too, unless you ride the short bus. One of the most visually arresting sequences was the river chase...and I died there as well (those laser guns hurt!).

Finally, the big boss (figuratively speaking). Since the story unfolds as you go along, I won’t say anything about that. But I will say that the final bad guy is a little odd, in that he isn’t 30 stories tall and has a rocket launcher for an arm. But he isn’t easy to kill, either.

As a special feature, I give you some random notes and phrases I uttered while I played. Some comments might have nothing to do with this mod. Fair warning.

"Crash, crash, crash. Good thing I have a shortcut. Argh."
"What’s the deal with this sniper rifle?? ZOOM, DAMMIT!! ZOOM!!"
"That spiky-haired guy looks like someone I went to high school with."
"What’s that, Pikachu? You like Nikki Cox? What a coincidence!"**
"I’m really, really sick of Cher. Shut up, already!"
"More ammo for assault cannon, please. And the dart gun as well, thank you."
"Wait’ll the idiot watchdogs groups see me shooting up with morphine! Take that, Tipper!"***
"Three modes for the grenade? They all kill me, why not?"
"Area specific damage...!"
"Mariah Carey as Wonder Woman?? What’s next, Jim Carrey as the Grinch? Oh, crap. It’s the end of the world!"****
"AAAARRRRRRGH!!!"
"Oh, SON OF A..."
"A new Genesis boxed set!" [repeated often]
"Stella Stevens?? In a Borgnine movie??"*****
"!@$!@$ !@%#% !%!@#% !%!%#$@!!!!"
"Interesting...!"
[a limited variety of coughs and sneezes]
"I was perfectly happy with Win95...why the hell did I have to get Win98??"******
"It’s kind of hard to get out of this pipe..."

[** Nikki Cox was hot back then. Then she fucked up her face. Now she looks like a goddamn duck. Catherine Bell did the same thing. And Dolly Parton, too.]

[*** A reference to the PMRC...which had nothing to do with drugs. I probably should've said "Take that, Nancy Reagan!" You know...her "Just Say No!" campaign, which proved 100% effective since no one does drugs anymore.]

[**** Mariah, at the time, had the body to be Wonder Woman. Then she didn't. Then she did. Then she didn't. Then she did. She tends to yo-yo a bit. She's too old for the role now.]

[***** Don't ask me.]

[****** I ask myself a variation on this question every time I switch to a new OS.]

Summary? I recall that this mod was supposed to be a commercial product...and I think we owe Red Genesis a great big thank you for releasing it for free. Despite some of the annoying instant death problems (some of them even unintentional) and the odd crash here and there, Chemical Existence is well worth the download.

Rating? 4.9 out of 5.

[...and 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.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#31: Faraon
« Reply #35 on: June 18, 2016, 04:35:53 PM »
Faraón 1

Map Title: Faraón 1 [Pharaoh 1]
Author: Odin
E-mail: [N/A]
Filename: faraon1.zip
Filesize: 668k
Number of maps: 1

[Note: The text file’s in Spanish, so I stuck a bagelfish in my ear. It was messy, so I threw it away and found AltaVista’s *babel*fish (**), which worked a little better...but not much.]

[** Sadly, AltaVista and its babelfish doesn't exist anymore. Remember, this was before Google was everywhere. However, Google's translation tool is arguably better.]

Abstract:
See the note above. Like I said, AltaVista’s babelfish translates about as well as Britney Spears’ improper fractions-adding abilities. Now, my Spanish is really rusty (it’s been nine years since Spanish 1, after all),** but I can pick my way through the text file with a general idea of what’s going on. From what I gleaned (which is illegal in fifteen states, sadly), this map is supposed to introduce the Faraón (Pharaoh) series. When I got stuck, I used the babelfish, much to my amusement and/or dismay. For example, in the “Hints” section, he says, “Aprovecha las balas.” It was translated as “It takes advantage of the bullets.” Talk about non-intuituve. It didn’t get any better, with “No te fies de que las zonas están limpias” coming out as “Not you fies from which the zones are free.” You can say that again. I got that old “what the hell, let’s try something stupid” gleam in my eye...so I tried a little Chaucer (from the Knight’s Tale, randomly chosen...I dislike Chaucer, so I don’t care), translated from English to German, then German to French, and finally French to English. It’s a fun way to kill those grinding hours of loneliness. The passage in question:

[** Now 25 years...  :ss-sad1]

"Up spring the spears to twenty foot in height,
Out go the long swords flashing silver-bright,
Hewing the helmets as they shear and shred;
Out bursts the blood in streams of sternest red,
The mighty maces swing, the bones are bashed..."


Et cetera, cetera. Here’s how it turned out in the end:

"The bars assemble outside the autumn to twenty feet in the height, the long blades which ignite luminous and the helmets of fall strike, while they shear and break; Impulses, blood in electricities makes a red star print which maces powerful, the violently struck bones balances."

And people wonder why there are so many wars.

[And I wonder why I thought this was so interesting that I'd make such a big deal out of it.]

The Basics:
Lighting: Pretty good.
Architecture: Damn impressive.
Textures: Aligned.
R_speeds: Okay, I guess.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, no.
Gameplay: Ow, it stings...like a small, angry, stinging insect wreaking hell in your sinus cavity.

Story? I’m wondering myself...

Onward!

Okay, you start out in a bunker of some sort (so sue me if I studied Norse legends more than Egyptian architecture) with the HEV and a butt-load of weapons (as always, your personal buttload may vary; always check your manual). As you exit, a truck backs up to a cool Egyptian temple. Enter some Grunts. I had a bad feeling at this point...

...which reminded me that I should really pay attention to such feelings. After entering the temple (or whatever, okay??) and observing the giant Ankh, I was soon up to my mucous membranes in Grunts. They were *everywhere*...they were running all over the place, they were rappeling in, they were, I assume, cloning themselves at a rate that rabbits and wire coathangers would envy.

Thank heavens for God mode (did I just invent an Irish Bull?),** since I would’ve been listening to that beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeep quite often. To put it in frank terms, there were a LOT of Grunts. To add insult to injury (among other things), they were tossing grenades at me. Fantastic. To cut short my expositive Grunt crap, the idea is to run up to the roof. Then the altar under the Ankh will slide aside, revealing steps leading downward (floor triggers! What a novel concept!). The tunnel they lead to is interesting. Then it loads the second map when you go far enough.

[** An Irish Bull "is a ludicrous, incongruent or logically absurd statement, generally unrecognized as such by its author." (Thanks Wikipedia.) (For example: "God bless the Holy Trinity.") To answer my own question: I don't think I did.]

You might have missed my subtle intimation that there were a few too many Grunts, but let me explain my frustration as it applies here: I expected so much more from this map. From what I’ve seen of the architecture, the author is a talented individual with a good eye for detail and atmosphere. What gripes me is the fact that the gameplay is excruciating. It’s a Gruntfest (I dislike using that term, but there it is) up until the final tunnel. I was surprised by a couple of our Headcrab friends lurking in the pitch blackness, which is how things should have been in this map.

Summary? Painful to play, but it’s fun to look at.**

[** I vaguely recall making a Mariah Carey reference here before deleting it entirely. The idea goes back to Mariah being fun to look at, but painful to listen to. I just couldn't make the joke work, and now I just don't care enough to try.]

Rating? 1.5 out of 5, for the architecture.

[...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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#32: Faraon 2
« Reply #36 on: June 18, 2016, 04:49:00 PM »
Faraón 2

Map Title: Faraón 2 [Pharaoh 2]
Author: Odin
E-mail: [N/A]
Filename: faraon2.zip
Filesize: 819k
Number of maps: 1

[Note: See my review of Faraon1 for a lot of information on these maps, little of it useful.]

Abstract:
I was in a major chain drugstore the other day (it rhymes with "Meckerd’s"),** and nosing around the toy aisle (so I look at the toys, okay?), I saw a Britney Spears sticker book. Assumedly, it was a book filled with stickers of Ms. Spears. I never found out exactly, since all of the pages were stuck together. So there is truth in advertising after all. Cleanup in aisle 3.

[** It was Eckerd's. They sold out to CVS years ago. Tells you something about how old this review is, doesn't it? As if the idea of a Britney Spears sticker book for kids doesn't give you a hint.]

But I can’t stop to think about what I’m writing now -- I have Asia songs to listen to! Now! Sure as the sun will cross the sky, the lie is over! Enh, maybe not. Perhaps some Kayak instead. It’s a persicope life, indeed!**

[** I don't think I've bought more than five modern mainstream albums in the past 25 years. I'm not bragging, I'm just pointing out how how out of touch I am. Oh, and the references are to Asia's "Only Time Will Tell" (YouTube link.) and Dutch pop-prog band Kayak's album "Periscope Life." (YouTube link.)]

The Basics:
Lighting: Good.
Architecture: Wonderful.
Textures: Aligned.
R_speeds: hahahahahaha...*sob*...*sniff*...
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, no.
Gameplay: Like picking out your eyeball with a dirty thumbnail. Someone else’s dirty thumbnail.

Story? Make it to the third map, which is the next release. Sorry, it’s not my fault.

Onward!

Starts out shaky...literally. The r_speeds are a bit high (which is like saying "The Phantom Menace was a bit overhyped"). Two turrets and several Vorts greet you. Hooray.

"Ladies and gentlemen, step right up and ride the Vomit Rainbow! It’ll thrill you...it’ll chill you...it’ll make you toss your cookies in a multi-colored spray of magnificence! It costs nothing to ride, folks, but please make sure your stomach lining is securely fastened!"

I kid you not: there is some serious stuttering here. And it isn’t helped one bit by the ZILLIONS of Grunts swarming you in the pillared main hall. Let me backtrack: you start off in the tunnel from the previous map and make your way to a large (and impressive) pillared room. Grunts. Pain. Then you make your way to another tunnel, which has a ladder of sorts that goes up. The end, until the next map is released.

I am disappointed. From the screenshot included in the zip,** I could tell that this map looked great. And it did look incredible; crumbled tunnels, giant pillars, low light...very Egyptian mummy movie-themed. But I must take exception to the gameplay: Grunts, and plenty of them. I don’t know WHY they’re here, or how there came to be so many of them ("I’m David Attenborough. The Great Queen Grunt lays her eggs deep in the earth so they may hatch in relative safety..."), but they’re damn annoying. Quite in contrast to the lovely architecture and lighting, I must say. I’m going to go lay down now.

[** But not posted here.]

Summary? D-d-d-d-down-n-n-n-l-l-load-oad-oad-oad t-t-t-t-his-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s if-f-f-f y-y-y-you like-ike-ike ch-ch-ch-chopp-p-p-p-p-p-py game-ame-ame-ame-p-p-p-play.

Rating? 1 out of 5, for the architecture.

[...and so on and so on and so 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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#33: Castle Creep
« Reply #37 on: June 18, 2016, 05:12:15 PM »
Castle Creep

Map Title: Castle Creep
Author: David Lloyd
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: creep.exe
Filesize: 5,674k
Number of maps: 7

[Note: This file is an .exe which will extract to the dir of your choice. Use it wisely. There is also a walkthrough included, should you need it...]

[Note #2: This is a very weird install. Read the install notes carefully, so you don’t accidentally demolish a custom pak file (which I almost did). You may have to edit the creep.bat (in the "creep" folder) with "-console" in the appropriate places if you wish to cheat (it’s not cheating if you’re having fun), or if you’re like me and wish to zip through taking screenshots without worrying about health.]

[This runs counter to my one inviolate rule, instituted in the years since this mod was released: never EVER install a mod with an executable installer.]

Abstract:
Halloween is upon us once again, and I can say with great enthusiasm, "whoopty-crap." The reason? The people handing out candy are usually quite snotty when they see a 26 year-old with a bag saying "Trick or Treat, or something, man." So I’m not usually the "deck the halls with demons and crap" type. I did change my wallpaper to Elvira, in a little gesture of acknowledging what’s going on around me (I’m looking for a Reiko Kato** pic with a Thanksgiving theme, by the way), but it goes no farther than that. It’s a complete coincidence that this map is called "Castle Creep." Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to dress up like Pikachu and terrorize the neighborhood.

[** Reiko Kato was a cute big-breasted Japanese gravure model (it's funny how that works). She's LONG since retired, I believe. Elvira, however, keeps going.]

[Side note: did anyone see the "Hype" Halloween special on the WB Sunday night? How about the part where the Martha Stewart lookalike stuffs candy apples with Ex-Lax? Those bastards ripped me off! I thought of that Ex-Lax bit (in various forms of packaging) over thirteen years ago! Rotten bunch of jerks.]**

[** The WB was one of the garbage channels of the time. It was eventually replaced by the CW. "Hype" was a skit show in the vein of MadTV and the like. It didn't last long. Probably because karma smote them stone dead for ripping off my Ex-Lax in the candy idea. Serves 'em right.]

The Basics:
Lighting: On the dark side in places, but okay overall. There is one section...but I talk about that later on.
Architecture: Ranges from so-so to pretty good.
Textures: Some misalignments, but okay elsewhere.
R_speeds: Some extremely minor slowdown in places; usually fine.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, new textures, new splash page graphic. (whatever)
Gameplay: A soupçon of Grunts 'n' Aliens.**

[** I'm not sure if I was just being sarcastic, or if I actually did not understand what "soupçon" means. I like to imagine it's the former, but I have the depressing feeling that it's the latter.]

Story? At least it has that. You’re an assassin sent to kill Edward Marsden, an Evil Crime Boss™. He’s been tampering in God’s domain, reaping a harvest of genetic mutants, not to mention blind indifference, greed and apathy. [gratuitous Fish reference]** He has his own mercenary force because, hey, who doesn’t? He’s also holed up in an ancient, crumbling castle, which can only be a money pit, since renovations are not cheap at all. It’s more than a paper loss, my friend. Anyway [gratuitous Gabriel-era Genesis reference],*** your job is to kill him and run like hell for the helicopter that’s supposed to pick you up. Sound easy? We’ll see...

[** Reference: "Internal Exile" by Fish. (YouTube link.)]

[*** Reference: "Anyway" by Genesis. (YouTube link.)]

Onward!

First off, conserve your ammo. You don’t have a lot of it, so be careful. So anyway, you start out in the main hall of the castle. Two flights of stairs on either side go up. I suggest looking around first. You’re going to LOVE the wallpaper...

It’s obvious that this castle is falling apart: abandoned rooms, overturned furniture, chunks of masonry everywhere. When you get to the stone-walled (dungeon?) area, this becomes more apparent. Also, watch your step in certain dark rooms. You never know when the floor might be "odd." I got a little stuck in the second map when I got to that console with the eight buttons (you’ll know it when you see it); according to the walkthrough, it opens a door in *another level*...talk about weird. So now you have to go back to the FIRST map...my back aches with delight. I’m sorry to have to spoil that part for you; but I don’t equate searching around cluelessly with fun. Refer to the walkthrough in such cases, because chances are, the answer is not something that will come to mind easily, if at all. At no time will you think, "I’m supposed to go back to the first map? Now why didn’t I think of that before?" It will be more along the lines of, "Now, how the hell was I supposed to know to go back to the first map??" In other words, the answer isn’t always obvious.**

[** I mention a walkthrough, but I don't know if one still exists.]

Anyway, the architecture ranges from "kind of bland" to "pretty good"; the lighting is usually on the dark side, but with side trips into the amusingly bad. For example, the maintenance tunnels with the Vorts in the third map: the lights represented a wide array from that charming visible spectrum we call "colored light," but worse. Question: when is it appropriate to mix magenta light with green light? Answer: never! If you aren’t nauseated by the sight, then I envy you. I’d like to mention the wallpaper again: it’s mind-boggling. You’ll see.

One small problem I encountered: at the point where I ran over a mine (or whatever) which exploded, triggering a cutscene (it’s in the third map past the cells with the Vorts), the level change failed. Luckily, I had quicksaved earlier so I just reloaded. It worked fine the second go-through. Otherwise, I encountered few problems.

These maps are usually on the "spacious" side, meaning, you might get a call from the ASPCA about running your mouse’s little feet off. It’s pure running-from-one-side-of-the-room-to-the-other action! What makes it all worthwhile are the last two maps: a bulldozer ride and fighting two Gargs! Hooray! (that wasn’t meant to be sarcastic)** The cutscene introducing the Gargs is quite good, as is the tail-end spectator sequence (just hang on after the fade-out, you’ll see). One other standout scene occurred about halfway through; it takes place in a cage above toxic waste...superb.

[** But it was anyway.]

So you might enjoy yourself, you might not. It’s all a matter of taste, I suppose. But try it out anyway, since there are some great parts to be had here.

Summary? A little uneven, but the good parts make up for the dodgy bits.

Rating? 3.5 out of 5.

[...making train sounds...]
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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#34: Retaliation
« Reply #38 on: June 18, 2016, 05:32:40 PM »
Retaliation

[Yes, note the green. It's an Opposing Force mod.]

Map Title: Retaliation
Author: Barry A. Bollinger
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: retaliation.zip
Filesize: 6,211k
Number of maps: 17

[Note: The author makes a note that you should play this in software mode; I’ve played in both software and OpenGL modes, and I concur with his suggestion. It just looks better, due to some graphical "dropping out" in GL mode. Also of note: it seems my computer, in addition to hating anything OpenGL, also finds software mode distasteful as well. What a bummer, man.]**

[** All of this OpenGL/Software Mode talk is just incomprehensible to me now.]

Quote (to get us ready for the new Monkey Island game):**
Guybrush: Did I say "cannibal"? I--I meant to say, uh...cannonball! I want to be a cannonball! BOOM!
Lemonhead: You’re not quite stable, are you?***

[** Escape from Monkey Island (the fourth game), apparently.]

[*** I wonder now if there was more than a handful of people who gave a rat's fuzzy fundament as to whether or not there was a new Monkey Island game coming out. I should've just cut the quote entirely.]

Abstract:
Things are looking up. Okay, let me qualify that: despite the conflict in the Middle East ("They do not believe in Allah! KILL THEM!"), times are *potentially* good. It all depends on which way the wind blows, for we are coming to the moment of truth. How’s that? Well, we are at the brink of electing either a Republican or Democrat into the White House. And that moment’s significance will be measured by the quality of the new Schwarzenegger movie coming out soon. Run that by me again, you say? Well, lemme ‘splain. Fact: during the 1980’s, we had Reagan and the elder Bush in office. Fact: during the 1980’s, we also had a seriously large amount of Schwarzenegger films. Fact: most of these were pretty damn good (if you like that sort of thing, which I do). Conclusion? Republican Presidents = good Schwarzenegger movies. Let me expound further. Fact: for eight years in the 1990’s, we had a Democrat for President (I’ll let you make your own genitalia jokes here). Fact: during the 1990’s, we were besieged by a horde of really, really bad Schwarzenegger films. For example, Last Action Hero, Jingle All the Way, Eraser, Batman and Robin, and End of Days, for cryin’ out loud! (okay, I will admit that True Lies was pretty good**) Conclusion? Democrats are the scum of the Earth (or not; I admit, I need to work on this conclusion a bit more). So for the love of all that is good and decent and heavily armed, we HAVE to vote Republican! I can’t stand another Eraser! Do it for your children! Or not! Just vote for someone!

[** I based my statement entirely upon Jamie Lee Curtis and Tia Carrere. My opinion has not changed.]

[This message brought to you by the Council for Seeing Adam Sandler Placed In A Small Airtight Container And Strapped To The Nose Of A Minuteman Rocket And Fired At Jim Carrey. Thank you.]**

[** At the time, I was of the opinion that Adam Sandler was the epitome of bad comedy. I've since softened my stance; compared to the current crop of slapnads churning out "comedy" these days, Sandler was a goddamn genius.]

The Basics:
Lighting: Good.
Architecture: Wide open spaces. My kind of surroundings.
Textures: Aligned.
R_speeds: No serious slowdown as far as I could detect, although some places may chug slightly.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: yes, an Osprey/no, I don’t think so/yes, some sounds.
Gameplay: Aliens, Black Ops, and Grunts (no, NO "oh my!" Shut up!)

Story? You’re about where Dark Operations left off: your chopper’s just bit the dust, courtesy of those Black Ops guys. Your mission, should you choose to smear yourself in Neapolitan ice cream and sing Bertie Higgins songs (remember him? That "Key Largo" song? Forget it),** is to fight those dirty somanumbatches that are laying siege to the fargin’ Santego military base and make it to the Comm Center to call in reinforcements to kill all of those iceholes (sorry, I’m having flashbacks to Johnny Dangerously for some reason).***

[** Bertie Higgins. "Key Largo." (YouTube link.)]

[*** "It's Fargin' War!"]

Onward!

Wide open spaces. That’s right...spacious places (!) with plenty of elbow room. That’s what I’m talkin’ about, man. Or woman. Or whatever you are. The point is, claustrophobics will enjoy themselves silly. On the other hand, agoraphobics will get the heebie-jeebies (which is another set of circumstances altogether). Hey, didn’t they open for the Bee Gees once? No matter.

Anyway, your basic mission here is to survive. Easier said than done, when you factor in such things as tanks, breaking catwalks, and a zillion Black Ops guys. But be soothed by my prose: there is plenty of health. Ammo is also not a problem, thankfully. One other thing: when you get to an area where you need a certain type of weapon and/or ammo, it’s right there...or in a previous room. None of this toting five rockets around for six maps, looking for something to waste them on. But sometimes there are places where all the health in the world won’t -- actually, that’s not true; if you *did* have all of the health in the world, you’d survive. Let me clarify: even if you’re at 100% health, being shot by a tank is pretty fatal. Get me? Good. Don’t get shot by the tank.

As for the maps -- besides my unseemly devotion to breathing space -- they are not overly detailed, but they look good. I am glad of the former, since any great detail would slow them down considerably. Going through the maps, you might be somewhat reminded of the original OpFor levels; but they’re different enough that you won’t think "ripoff." A few areas I quite liked: the Marine boot camp, complete with drill instructor and obstacle courses (like revisiting OpFor’s boot camp, sorta); the bridge in the first map, with the jet flying overhead; in the second map, the infirmary; the outdoor map with the Garg and the black building...a lot of good stuff here.

In addition to being ammo and weapon friendly, these maps also feature the soldier’s best friend: best friends. (no, I’m okay, I just need to lay down) What I mean is, you will find yourself with friendly AI -- friendly *gun-toting* AI -- quite often. This is a definite plus, since those Black Ops guys and their Marine buddies tend to be a little antisocial. And there are a lot of them. One word of caution: Barney, Otis and the scientists are there to *help* you. Don’t shoot them.

And now for the problems: very few. Aside from the aforementioned need to be in software mode, I only came across one small bug that the author says he is aware of: in one map, you will come across an ammo box with SAW ammo. You cannot get the ammo, even by jumping in (which will get you stuck). Just clip in and get it. Besides that, I see no real problems. However, if you play in OpenGL, you will see things you aren’t supposed to see, like jets waiting for you to activate a trigger so they may fly overhead. Fair warning. Also, you may not experience this, but since my computer hates me and my kind, it has discovered that the best way to tick me off is to crash in the middle of some of these maps. Again, it may be isolated to just me and my megalomaniacal silicon fiend.

Among the gameplay pluses, these two things come to mind: 1) NO Xen. Woo-hoo! 2) You don’t have to fight that Geneworm thing to win. Even better.

Side note: did you know that Snarks will attack the Gonome? It’s true. They’re also not that much good underwater. And does anyone else feel funny carrying around the Shockroach? It just feels dirty, somehow. I may have some psychological issues here.

In short, I had a lot of fun with this release.

Summary? Download it. Play it in software mode. Enjoy.

Rating? 4.9 out of 5

[...next...next...next...]
« Last Edit: June 24, 2016, 11:00:21 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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#35: The Hill [The Second Review]
« Reply #39 on: June 18, 2016, 05:46:17 PM »
The Hill
[the second review]

[This was the second posted version of the review. I explain what all this means in the Preface and the Abstract. As such, the original review doesn't need to be reposted.]

Map Title: The Hill
Author: Ben Cousins
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: thehill.zip
Filesize: 1,398k
Number of maps: 4
Download: [N/A]
Score: 2.3/5

Preface: After receiving an e-mail from Ben Cousins himself a few months ago -- in which he called me "honest"** -- I decided to have a look at what I written and holy CRAP I really ripped him a new one. So I replayed the maps again and took a good, hard look at the whole picture. So my re-estimation is this: they’re nowhere nearly as bad as I originally put across. I have no idea what kind of foul mood I was in when I wrote the original review, but I do apologize to Ben...so to make it up, I’m revising the whole review.

[** I believe this is code for "asshole." I do not disagree.]

[Extraordinarily Out-Of-Date Note: The readme states that the mod he’s working on needs a coder. Thought I’d mention that, even though the website given in the text file is defunct...and no, I am not telling you what it means. Buy a dictionary.]

Abstract:
This is the third version of this review, as I felt my first two versions were far too harsh. Quote: "After f!#king around in the third map with a nasty headache, I made my decision: I would take my own life." I give you the NEW revision: calmness prevailed, and I can now offer you this review, in the spirit of brotherly love and all kinds of other shit they keep talking about on Oprah. It still isn’t pretty, but at least I don’t call the author a "genetic mistake" in this version.

The Basics:
Lighting: It has lights.
Architecture: Some nice places, but some brush errors exist (see below).
Textures: Okay.
R_speeds: A little high in the third map, extremely so in the fourth.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, no.
Gameplay: Grunts. A couple of aliens near the end.

Story?
Apparently you’ve taken the job with the G-Man, and for your first assignment, you must infiltrate a military base and stop those bastiches** from tampering in God’s domain,*** i.e., screwing around with Xen life forms to rule the world, etc. Oh, and they need a coder.

[** Reference: The Lobo comics, I think.]

[*** Reference: MST3K.]

Onward!

The author obviously spent some time on these, your surroundings. Since I was informed that this release was a first effort, I am actually impressed; I like the general atmosphere of the maps; the first map in particular has a not-so-typical approach to a starting point, as well as a good vibe about the maps in general. I can’t really explain it.

Okay...with the buildup done, here are the maps explained:

Starting out, you’re in a narrow alley inundated with water. You have to get inside the small offices, while evading the sentry turret. Once you’re inside (hint: it involves breaking boxes and whaling on the wall behind them for the better part of a month), you’re invited to wander around, get the HEV, pick up some weapons, and figure out a minor switch puzzle. Next, you make it the roof and a maintenance hatch, dropping into some water. You dive to the bottom (and swim to the top to see where they have gone...but you know, those ripples never come back)* and find another tunnel to swim through, Eventually coming out in a watery trench behind a sandbag wall and barbed wire. The idea is to hop on the wall and make it onto the ramp or whatever. That’s what I did anyway. Drop down a hole and...map change.
[* Gratuitous pre-80’s Genesis reference]**

[** Specifically: "Ripples." (YouTube link.)]

This map has you running a veritable gauntlet: a kind of sandbag maze is set up with tripod turrets in little towers at each turn. At the far end of the run is a covered area full of Grunts shooting at you. In the trench beyond some barbed wire (in front of the covered area) are a bunch of Grunts; in the sandbagged area are a few Grunts. The method here is to stay crouched, shoot the Grunts and the turrets, ostensibly to make your way to the trench to shoot more Grunts. Watch out for those grenades.

In the trench are grenades and a tunnel you must dig yourself with the crowbar...a stylish way to travel, I must admit. It leads to the covered area, where you can throw grenades or your own filth at the Grunts therein. After the ordeal**, there’s a hole in the ground that leads to the next map.
[** Yet another gratuitous pre-80’s Genesis reference. You’re welcome.]**

[** One of my favorite Genesis songs, "After The Ordeal." (YouTube link.)]

This is where a problem occurs however, as dropping into a hole is supposed to change maps. Unfortunately, it doesn’t trigger; you’ll have to load the next map (thetower.bsp) manually and noclip out of the void.

Here’s my suggestion for getting through: after dropping into the hole with the boxes in the second map, go to the console and type "map thetower"...you might want to enable cheats and notarget mode first, as well as noclip, as you will spawn outside the waterway; move the mouse to the right, and a section of sky will appear...move towards that, putting you in the waterway area. The tunnels you were supposed to spawn in are too tight to stand up in, so you will have to noclip above a catwalk in the waterway and then disable noclipping. The reason for notarget (or even god mode) is that a Grunt will be firing a heavy machine gun at you as soon as he spots you.

You might even want to turn on god mode until you’re safe from not only that Grunt, but the others in this area as well. Then you can turn off god mode and make your way through the level, if that’s your thing. One final note about this map: when you finally make your way to a corridor with a lone Grunt, DO NOT shoot him. If you do, you can’t get to the final map. Wait for him to open the two doors at the end of the corridor. Then he’ll run to the final door, turn, and kick you (if you’re standing close to him). Then you can shoot him (or make sweet, sweet love to him, if you swing that way), and go on to map four. You hope...the changelevel didn’t work, so I had to manually change to "thetower2".

With all that said, this map, while the most trying map in this pack, is still nice to look at.

To get into the fourth map at the right place, you need to once again enable a couple of cheats (noclip and impulse 101, to get your stuff). Spin the mouse to the right, and you should see a structure. Now, angle for the back of the structure...clip inside to a short corridor with a dead Grunt in front of a blood-smeared door. Face the door. Turn around, disable noclipping, and proceed as normally.

NOTE: You may or may not experience the same problems I did; but keep in mind that I’ve played these maps under every stinkin’ patch since 1.0.1.6, and the same problems occurred every time.

As for this last map, it looks good...but the framerates are so high on a low-end processor that you might be better off just sticking your finger down your throat. However, it does have some nice visuals, as well as a nice view from the very top. At the end, it fades to black. Hang around a while and you’re back. So I did what any red-blooded American male would do: I jumped off the helicopter pad that marked the end. I ended up *under* the entire structure. I walked around, took a screenshot, wondered if I was out of Pepcid, the usual.

So can I recommend these maps? Yes...the first two are fun and the third is a pain, but the fourth is okay. If you can ignore the difficulties, you’ll like them.

Summary? It’s not Half-Bad! (Get it? Half-*Bad*...Half-*Life*? Get it? Oh, bite me!)

Rating? 2.3 out of 5.

[Taking a fresh look at the mod helped quite a bit. I hope the guy felt better about the whole thing.]
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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#36: The Evil World
« Reply #40 on: June 20, 2016, 10:57:06 PM »
The Evil World

Map Title: The Evil World
Author: Martin Schultz
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: castle.zip
Filesize: 1,774k
Number of maps: 4

[Note: There IS no note! You are merely imagining a note!]

Abstract:
[DELETED. This Abstract was embarrassing. Some of the others were bad, but this one was just absolute shit. So I'm not reprinting it here. I apologize, but some things I just don't want to deal with right now. It took a few swipes at Al Gore, insulted a few others, and worst of all, it wasn't funny. However, I will keep one remark at the very end. And I will explain why afterwards.]

Another reason not to let old people out amongst the general public. First driving, now voting. Yeesh.**

[** This remark led to an irked e-mail from a certain "Bobs," who informed me that not only was he old, he also enjoyed driving his Subaru SUV. I didn't respond in the nicest manner (I believe I provided the definition of "just kidding") but he didn't take it so badly and ended up becoming a friend of the Hangar, and even gave the Foxhole its name, I believe. Yes, I am a butthole...but it didn't turn out so badly this time.]

The Basics:
Lighting: Present.
Architecture: Castle-y.
Textures: Castle-y as well.
R_speeds: Good.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, no.
Gameplay: Like Doom, or Quake. Crowbars up!**

[** Reference: Home Alone. Duh.]

Story? Your first day of work isn’t too bad. Okay, so a laser blows up and throws you and a bunch of Black Mesa employees into a different dimension, but at least you didn’t have to listen to Kathie Lee Gifford’s new CD.** You’re captured and thrown into a cell, which is also a little disconcerting. They forget to lock the door one day, so you slip out, grab your buddy Barney, and pick up some conveniently-placed weapons.

[** I guess what she considers "music" is okay to some people, but I can't stand it.]

Onward!

Oh, man...flashbacks to Doom-style kill ‘em quick action! There is no deep thought required here...and that’s a good thing (to quote Thomas Aquinas).** You have weapons, ammo, aliens, and Barney to help you. What more could one ask for?

[** That was a joke. I was actually quoting John the Baptist.]

Oh, okay, you might me one of those "I think every map should have a plot and it’s no fun to have a lot of action with no storyline and I think I stapled my face to my ass again because I’m an overeducated idiot with no marketable skills and I repulse members of the opposite sex due to my chronic flatulence so I’m no prize let me tell you but I’ll still condescend with big words and no sense of humor at all whenever something irritates me much like this huge ass rash that my face is currently stapled to," but rest assured all of you will die terrible, violent deaths and I pray that day is soon.

Okay, besides my dealings with the general Internet public (die die die), I think these maps are highly enjoyable. [YES, I *DID* ENJOY THESE MAPS. DON’T E-MAIL ME ASKING IF I *ACTUALLY* ENJOYED THESE MAPS.] What puzzles exist are minor, so they don’t interrupt the flow of the action. There are also a couple of button-pushing dandruff-displacers,** but you’ll figure them out, unless you voted for Al Gore. If so, then the question you should be asking yourself right now is this: how will this game affect my children, and how can I get the Government to censor it? Also, how can I have a tree surgically implanted in my ass, so that I may enjoy nature at all times? So many questions, so little brains.

[THAT WAS SATIRE. I WAS NOT SERIOUS. AT LEAST AS FAR AS YOU KNOW.]

[** That is, "head-scratchers." I'm the cleverest dirtbag ever.]

The architecture, as evidenced by the castle textures, is blocky and gothic. Appropriate for a castle, I’d say. Also appropriate for Al Gore’s thick, blocky skull, but...okay, that’s the LAST political statement (in this review).** I promise. Anyway, it kind of reminded me, for some reason, of the first Blackmarsh levels in Hexen II. Not overtly, but subtly. Again, appropriate since they’re both Quake-engine games. One small note: the stone wall texture is a bit flat-looking; it’s a little Wolf3D-ish, if you see what I mean. It’s okay, it’s just a little weird.

[** I regret the overt political references; I usually don't involve myself in anything so contentious as a rule. Religion and politics are my least favorite subjects, anyway.]

Lighting is there. No problems. The author states that a known bug is that the ending sequence will not work. I question this, as it worked fine for me. Perhaps I am the idiot savant of Half-Life maps, where things that don’t work for me work for others, and vice versa. I also have no trouble programming VCRs and hooking up my own stereo. Hmmm. I suppose he means that the end returns after the fade-out.

One final note: while speeding through for screenshots (on no_target, natch), I saw the damndest thing: a Bullsquid actually killing another Bullsquid. Why? Who knows? There was no reason for it to happen, but it did. This is kind of like in Doom when you’d get two of the same monster (i.e., Demon or Baron) to fight each other. That was extremely rare, and only happened when they used a close attack on each other (such as if you ran between two Barons and they missed you, but got each other)...pretty neat.

Summary? Fun, if you like blasting the living crap out of everything (which I do).

Rating? 3.5 out of 5.

[Gaaaaah. No more political crap!]
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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#37: The Ropes, aka kman100
« Reply #41 on: June 21, 2016, 10:53:52 AM »
The Ropes

Map Title: The Ropes
Author: Kevin Norton
E-mail: [N/A]
Filename: kman100.zip
Filesize: 2,283k
Number of maps: 5

[Note: Plays fine under v1.1.0.1...]

Abstract:
[DELETED. It was a tortured, painful mess that was only trying to say something that Douglas Adams put much more succinctly than I ever could: "[The World Wide Web is] the only thing I know of whose shortened form — www — takes three times longer to say than what it's short for."]

The Basics:
Lighting: Nice.
Architecture: Massive objects performing some function. Impressive.
Textures: Pretty good.
R_speeds: Bearable.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, new textures.
Gameplay: Almost as good as whapping Tipper Gore in the face -- hard -- with a rolled-up newspaper. The Sunday edition.**

[** That was a joke. I bear no ill intent towards anyone who could have me waterboarded.]

Story? As Gordon "I Think We’re Alone Now" Freeman, you’re holed up in a concrete bunker along with a few scientists and Barneys. It’s not what you think you sick perverts, but don’t forget to bring some wine and a few candles anyway. This is shortly after the resonance cascade (please don’t ask me what that means, I am not a physicist), and your biggest concerns are the military and the power. Oh, and the zillions of aliens just waiting to make you into Freeman Stroganoff. And wouldn’t you know it, you need to do something to the power grid. Otherwise, you and the NPCs would just sit there staring at each other. And we all know how thrilling that is.

Onward!

For one thing, this map pack is a little buggy. The author knows this. I know this. But know this as well: it’s pretty damn good, despite the problems. As he states in the text file, this was a learning experience for him. My advice for when you get stuck is this: read the text file. Read all of it. Hell, read the copyright section too.

Anyway, let me preface the maps with this: each map has at least one puzzle. Some maps have several. Some puzzles are a little tough, and some puzzles are a little easy. He’s a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, and she’s a little bit country. Whatever that means.**

[** It means that, once again, I drag out some moldy old reference to a song (as sung by Donnie and Marie Osmond) that was just as stupid then as it is now.]

Okay, the first map: impressive architecture. It’s on the hugely grand side, but that’s what I like. Big, open places with monolithic machinery. Of course, in real life I’m a little agoraphobic,** but that’s beside the point. I liked the crane area quite a bit...oh, and pay attention to the sign on the crane.

[** Agoraphobia is "an abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas, sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks." (thanks, Dictionary.com) While I like open areas (where I live, it's nothing but wide open spaces), I say I'm agoraphobic in the sense of I'm not a fan of crowds.]

Next, for those of you are into the whole linear experience thing, the second map: nice. It isn’t too terribly difficult in terms of puzzles, but you have to remember some of your basic science courses to figure out the fuse thing. So it goes without saying that in the science classes in high school, I was too busy burning stuff with the Bunsen burners (spiders flash in a cool way); so I needed the hints. I reiterate: if you get stuck, refer to the text file.

The third map is the real puzzler. You’ll need to somehow get into the ducts and then go into a room and pass a giant fan and then destroy some computers and...well, you’ll see.

The fourth map is the buggiest, but also the shortest. A couple of hints: one, don’t touch the gate by the canal...go get Barney first; two, the water (or something...it’s green, whatever it is) in the canal itself *disappears* when it reaches the top. It’s there, but you just can’t see it. Kind of like the reasons behind why Pia Zadora is famous.** And remember: save often, because some things might not work the first time (like that dullard Barney).

[** Still one of life's great mysteries.]

The last map is the simplest; it requires you to fight Grunts and make your way to an elevator. This map also features a nifty freight elevator, complete with bulldozer. And the ending is a weird-angled view of the crane in the first map. The author’s aware of this as well.

In terms of monster placement and difficulty, I’d say that the monsters in the first several maps are meant as more of a distraction than as a bunch of things you must eradicate as part of a burning desire to see things dead. As the last map is essentially you fighting Grunts, that is the change in focus.

Summary? If a little uneven, a pretty good set of maps. You’ll enjoy them. Or not. I really don’t know what people like anymore...but I liked them.

Rating? 3.5 out of 5.

[...yawn...]
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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#38: The Xeno Project
« Reply #42 on: June 21, 2016, 11:09:38 AM »
The Xeno Project

Map Title: The Xeno Project
Author: Loki’s Missions (Mr. White)
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: lmtxp.exe
Filesize: 5,462k
Number of maps: 15

[Note: Played with v1.1.0.1, much to my chagrin. Yes, Valve has whizzed it right down their leg. But these maps seem to work fine. Any weirdness (besides mine) is noted at the end of this review.]

Abstract:
I just realized something: I have a really old mouse pad. I mean, it’s not the first mouse pad ever made (which went perfectly with the first steam-powered mouse), but it’s up there. Let me describe it: the pad is about 10 inches x 8 inches, with the upper 6.5 inches being a dark blue; the lower 2.5 inches are white. The thickness is about one-quarter inch. The underside is black neoprene, and is crumbling around the edges slightly. I turn it sideways, so that the keyboard will actually work WITH the mouse, instead of against it. The top is polished to a high gloss; it’s about the smoothness of glass by now. Here’s the kicker: the white portion bears the logo of PCWeek, with the slogan "Gets To The Core." The upper blue half, in white letters, proclaims "WINDOWS 3.0 WORKS FOR THE CORE." I think it may be time for a new mouse pad. I’m not buying one with Darth Maul, since I’ve already decided that the most money I’m sending to George Lucas until next year is the price of Escape From Monkey Island.

[Oddly enough, I still have that mouse pad. I'm not using it (I've been using the Func Surface 1030 pad for years now), but it's in a box somewhere. I never throw anything away...]

The Basics:
Lighting: Good.
Architecture: Well done.
Textures: Aligned.
R_speeds: Bearable.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, new sounds and title graphic.
Gameplay: Fairly tough, but survivable.

Story? It starts off where Half-Life left off. After accepting the G-Man’s [damned if you do, damned if you don’t] offer of employment, you’re teleported onto a train that’s inbound to the Xeno Project, which is a project designed to terraform Xen. So far, they’ve achieved a breathable atmosphere, earth gravity, and twelve Subaru factories. So your job is to...um...oh! Show up and do teleportation experiments. Lucky you. So what happens? Here come those rascals, the Military! Your goal (everyone needs a goal) is to wield various types of weaponry, kill the bad guys as messily as possible, and somehow escape back to Earth.

Onward!

Everyone I’ve talked to about these maps maintain that while they’re pretty good, the difficulty is a bit much. So I’ve decided to go the honest route and play through sans God mode; I’ve always admired lost causes (examples: "All American Girl,"** "Millennium,"*** Ray Wilson as Phil Collins' replacement in Genesis,**** etc.), so here was my chance to die instantly over and over again! What fun!

[** "All-American Girl" was Margaret Cho's sitcom back in the mid-1990's. The crap she went through to become more "marketable" to the Great Unwashed Masses nearly killed her, and then was cancelled anyway.]

[*** "Millennium" was the Lance Henriksen series that was cancelled before the actual millennium came to pass. They tied up the loose ends (more or less) in an X-Files episode sometime after Y2K. It was a show with many gruesome tendencies, but I liked it.]

[**** Ray Wilson (of Stiltskin, etc.) was the last singer for Genesis. While I thought he did a great job, Tony and Mike soon called it a day. Ray still has Genesis songs in his solo set, and Steve Hackett even snagged him for some work.]

Okay, we all know how great this release is -- we’d be fooling ourselves if we say we’d never heard of it. Some of you may not have heard of it, but I’m assuming that you are...um, in the majority. Relatively speaking, at least. For instance, my step-uncle’s never heard of it. So I really need to refocus these statements. Anyway, in the spirit of doing something a little different, I’ll tell you where I died! (Or *almost* died, at any rate.) Doesn’t that sound like great gooey gobs of fun, boys and girls? Hello? Ah...bite me, you little maggots.

#1: I didn’t die in the first map, but I realized that the train had no windows, and a Bullsquid was spitting at me. It only took off 10% health when I went to look at him, so no biggie.

#2: No real danger in the second map; you could try to get wedged in the doorway of the elevator (where’s the Jethro Tull muzak?)** as it passes various projecting objects, but that’s another set of rules altogether.

[** One of the most unpleasant moments of my life was when I heard Jethro Tull on the Muzak station in a grocery store. I didn't realize they had Muzak'd it at first, because it was "Teacher"...still, a bad moment for Tull fans everywhere.]

#3: The third map. There are many exciting ways to die here. I stood by Barney in the test chamber. Splat. Trying again, I walked up to him and then turned and ran back to the ladder. I lost most of my HEV power and 13% health when the same explosion occurred. I really need to lay off the Schlotzsky’s. I went back into the test chamber control room. I killed a Grunt, and then got fragged by his buddy. The second try worked.

#4: Came close in the fourth map. Surrounded by Vorts in water. Then, as I went up the ramp, I was zapped by a couple of teleporting Vorts. Now below 50% health, I crawled through a tunnel, killed two Headcrabs, killed a Vort in the distance, and realized I had about 8 rounds left. And what do I spy in the sky? A Xen Master! Hooray! I’m glad I had the Hornet Gun. I was really, really careful. Except later when I charged the Alien Grunt with the shotgun.

#5: Never in the fifth map. Although to be fair, I knew what to expect. Watch out for a crumbling cliff and a lot of Grunts. There’s plenty of health.

#6: Oh, the sixth map is a toughie. You got Grunts, you got a Grunt with a turret, and you got a tank. You also got bad grammar if you use “got” like I am. Your fortune says, "Never go head-to-head with tank. Lucky numbers 3-5-13-20-25-50-5-4-4."**

[** Random numbers. They mean nothing.]

[...as far as you know.]

#7: Eighth map: I walk up to tripod-mounted rocket launcher to kill a similarly-equipped Grunt across the way. He gets me first. Splat. Reload. Fight Assassins and more Grunts in the motor pool below. Live through that.

#9: Ninth map. Cool exploding bridge. Rocket in distance. Grunts fighting Garg across damaged bridge. Crossbow. Way out is water. Icthy in water. Wonder if short, direct sentences with no subject-verb agreement is sign of madness. Disregard. No die here. Sorrow want kill bad thing. Die bad thing die.

#10: Next map. Oh, geez...Tentacles. Three of them. It reminds me of a line from Better Off Dead, the greatest movie ever made (besides An Evening With Kitten):**
 
Monique: He keeps putting his testicles all over me.
Lane: Excuse me?
Monique: You know, like octopus? Testicles?
Lane: Ohhhh. *Tentacles*. N-T. Big difference.

[** No, I don't think Better Off Dead is the greatest movie ever made. Not that I ever thought that at all. The greatest movie ever made, of course, is Vincent Price's Comedy Of Terrors. I may have mentioned it previously. An Evening With Kitten, by the way, is little more than a showcase vehicle for stripper/pornstar Kitten Natividad, back before she got old and fat. (Although the fat thing didn't stop her from doing porn.) Anyway, no further comment on that.]

So what do you do to reward the player after they successfully pass three tentacles? That’s right, three Xen Masters and an Alien Grunt. I’m starting to feel unloved at this point.

#11: In the next map, more military hi-jinks occur as you must kill an Apache (the helicopter, not the people who have been insulted past their capacity for taking insults), kill a Grunt in a watch tower, kill more Grunts, and kill another Grunt almost out of sight who’s lobbing grenades at you. It’s my favorite thing in the world. Oh, wait. I was thinking of a Chick Fil’A sandwich.**

[** I used to love Chick Fil'A until I developed a nasty reaction to MSG. Then I found out the hard way that the stupid fuckers were cramming my beloved sandwich with MSG. Not only in the batter, but in the chicken itself. God damn them all.]

#12: That pit (with ladder) that goes to the fuel switch (in the map with the rocket). The damn ladder doesn’t extend too far, and getting out of the pit is a bugaboo. Splat. Splat. Splat. Success! Oops! Crap. Splat! I wonder if these places are OHSHA-compliant?

#13: There is NO thirteenth thing!

I reiterate: since I’ve played these maps a few times, I know what to expect by now; if I was going through for the first time, I probably would have impaled my head on a meathook by now. As it stands, this is a fairly good set of maps, albeit a mite tough.

Some weird notes (I suspect these are the result of the sheer repulsive stupidity of the v1.1.0.1 patch):
In the second map (as you’re stepping off the train), I noticed that an Icthy was actually floating in midair. Apparently, he climbed up the platform (perhaps just by finding traction against the brush)...he did this a couple of times. Also, when returning to the control room to turn on the power to the teleporter (third map), I went into the room...and spun around a couple of times, completely involuntarily. It happened on each side of the room; perhaps caused by the revolving things outside? It was weird, but non-threatening. Anyone see that episode of the X-Files where those kids stepped into the vortex? It was kind of like that. Not that I watch the X-Files religiously, or once had a VPO filed against me by Gillian Anderson, or anything like that.

Summary? Nicely done; a bit difficult. As an added flavor, there is actual humor used in the initial maps (the argument between the scientists, the non-working vending machines, etc). A good go.

Rating? 4.5 out of 5.

[...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.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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#39: The Xeno Project 2
« Reply #43 on: June 21, 2016, 11:19:52 AM »
The Xeno Project 2

Map Title: The Xeno Project 2
Author: Loki’s Missions (Mr. White)
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: lmtxp2.exe
Filesize: 5,872k
Number of maps: 14

[Note: Played in v.1.1.0.1, much to my sheer displeasure. But these maps seemed to run fine, regardless.]

[Note #2: MS Word’s spelling and grammar check feature is a load of crap.]

Abstract:
[DELETED. A huge wall of text voicing my dislike of the Charlie's Angels movie. Who gives a shit, anyway?]

The Basics:
Lighting: Good.
Architecture: Well done.
Textures: Aligned.
R_speeds: Bearable.
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, new sounds and main title graphic.
Gameplay: Fairly difficult.

Story? As we rejoin the redoubtable Gordon "Sunshine In My Pants" Freeman, he is stuck in a prison cell. After escaping from Xen in a rocket, he was captured by the G-Man and zillions of soldiers in their magic spaceship (kind of like a Magic Bus, but without having to listen to Pete Townsend).** You must escape, or it’s going to be a really boring experience.

[** The Who. "Magic Bus." You know it already, so no YouTube link this time.]

Onward!

Continuing my idea from the first part (you did read the first part *first*, didn’t you?), I’m going to completely disregard the whole "good architecture-lighting-voice acting" thing and just tell you where I died. Because it’s a given that this is a high quality release, and everyone including their hot first cousins** have played it. Because in addition to being a great bunch of maps, it’s also a tad difficult. Myself, I slightly prefer the first episode to this one. Why? I can’t tell you. It’s like asking why someone prefers a slice of pizza to an almost indetectably smaller slice of pizza. But I temper my statement of preference by saying that there are parts of this episode that I prefer to the first. Let me try to confuse what I mean…enh, never mind. So on we die!

[** Not that I'm implying anything personal by saying this, but isn't it the most cruel thing ever that first cousins are always hot? Or that one aunt who...never mind. Let's just say that it's a tough burden to bear when your entire family stops talking to you just because you accidentally sodomized your mom's sister at your grandpa's funeral.]

#1: In the first map, the cellblock area. Of course, I didn’t have the HEV suit, so I didn’t know how bad off I was when I faced an Alien Grunt. One hornet sting and beeeeeeeeeeep. *sigh* Reload. I got through the second time, but *damn*.

#2: After defeating the Garg and the horde of baby Headcrabs (hate those things), there’s an elevator (or "lift", to our friends in foreign lands). At the top of the shaft are two Barnacles. So...what next? Walk over and push the button. Wouldn’t it be a real mess if the platform broke? Hold that thought and look for the ladder as it does, 'cos it’s a really long drop. It’s tricky...it took me several tries.

Special Bulletin: since I’ve played these maps several times before, I usually know what’s coming next. In other words, this whole "I’ll tell you where I died because I’m different and strange" concept has just been invalidated by the fact that I didn’t die that often in these maps. Mainly because I was very careful. For the guy (or gal) loading these maps for the first time, though, death is sometimes unavoidable. I bring this up now, because there are several instances of combat wherein you might be, in the words of the military, "rendered non-viable". That said, I’d have to admit that the second episode gets *slightly* easier as you go on, oddly. I think I might also have a problem focusing on the subject sometimes.

[My tendency to place punctuation outside of quotes is really starting to piss me off. I keep having to stop myself from correcting the text...]

So here’s a section of notes I like to call: The Cool, the Funny, and the Weird. Also, the Annoying.

Cool Note: Try to shoot the G-Man with the ship’s laser – you’ll know it when you get to that part – and watch the results. Neat.

Funny Note: The scientists’ obsession with Xena.

Weird Notes: The Xen ship is extremely symmetrical.

Annoying Notes: The fan shaft with the respawning Xen Masters...very frustrating; the extremely low gravity of the Xen ship, along with the sheer numbers of Vorts and Alien Grunts; those baby Headcrabs drive me right up the !!@#~$!! wall!; and, of course...the ending. If you can bear the very, very end without slapping yourself so hard that an eyeball pops out and rolls under the desk with the dust bunnies, then you deserve some sort of medal.

Summary? Nicely done; not as difficult as the first episode, but it isn’t easy, either.

Rating? 4.3 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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#40: Timeline
« Reply #44 on: June 21, 2016, 11:36:13 AM »
Timeline

Map Title: Timeline
Author: Ross Martin
E-mail: [N/A]
Homepage: [N/A]
Filename: timeline.zip
Filesize: 9,335k
Number of maps: 30 (!)

[Note: plays very well, despite the fact that v1.1.0.1 is the very stench of Satan’s flatulence.]

Abstract:
[DELETED. Another embarrassing one. It went from the joy of shooting Nazis to becoming the official boob rotater of the stars...and then to combining both activities. Reading these things brings to mind a chihuahua humping someone's leg. Dial it the fuck BACK, man.]

The Basics:
Lighting: Pretty good. Some dark places, some light (I feel a Rush song coming on).**
Architecture: Pretty impressive!
Textures: Nicely done.
R_speeds: Bearable, only spiking slightly when there are a lot of Grunts around you (it happens more often than you might think).
New Models/Skins/Etc.: No, no, some new gfx.
Gameplay: Interesting.

[** Uh...yeah. Now I remember. Rush's "Double Agent." (YouTube link.) "The difference between darkness and light."]

Story? You work for that mysterious guy carrying the even more mysterious briefcase. What the hell is in it? His insurance papers? Commemorative Elvis plates? A piece of the One True Cross? Long Dong Silver's left testicle? Whatever, he needs your help. It seems that a bunch of renegade Marines (oh...renegade Marines. Hmmm...that’s interesting. I think) have kidnapped a couple of scientists who have been working on time travel. And now, they’re tampering in God’s domain, as evidenced by a bunch of Nazi flags all over the place. Your mission is to screw them up completely, even if it means going into various eras and chiseling "Gordo wuz here" into every single piece of statuary you can find. That ought to give historians (those rattin’ frattin’...)** something to think about. You’ll start out at Black Mesa (or, the "Woolworth-Black Mesa building", according to a very reliable source whose name rhymes with "Vnitro"...wait, that *is* his name. Never mind!), where you will be introduced to the little man who lives in Mulder’s pants.*** Wait. No. Never mind.

[** I'm not sure what I had against historians.]

[*** Huh?]

Onward!

Ah, this was a weird find. Don’t think for a moment that I flit from map site to map site looking for maps to review...so just get that thought out of your head right now. So it falls to me once again to tell you what I think. But this time, it’s gonna cost you. That’s right, you sniveling reprobates! You’re about to witness the wrath of -- hold on a moment, I was just handed this note -- breaking news! Huh. "Hangar 16 reviewer Silver Sorrow assigned to review the map 'Map' for his next review. 'Let the punishment fit the crime,' says webmaster." Crap. Well, it’s too late to say I’m sorry now, so all I can say is, I hope you all die slowly and painfully. Not really, but it got your attention, didn’t it?

[It's normal to be this depressed, right?]

So what’s the deal here? The deal is, guy in the sky,** that you might very well enjoy yourself to little quivering pieces with these maps. Yes, 30 maps of time-traveling goodness! Or you might hate it, much in the way that Ginger Baker hated Jack Bruce right before Cream broke up.*** Regardless, there’s probably something for everyone here.

[** I think I was quoting MST3K. No, I can't make any sense out of it either, not in this context.]

[*** Again, another timely and relevant reference. Cream broke up six years before I was born, by the way.]

Let’s start with the maps, shall we? Now, I have stated previously that I like wide open maps with a lot of room to move around in. These maps deliver admirably -- in most cases -- but are sparsely populated. And that’s where the problem lies for me like a slightly unwilling woman: the actual combat is largely confined to infrequent, yet extremely violent, encounters. And when they do occur, you’ll need to have a quicksave ready. F7, F7, F7. It’s not that the combats are impossible, but it is a little disconcerting when faced by hordes of Grunts. Like I said, the maps are largely deserted...odd for a Nazi project, since in every movie I’ve seen, these places are usually *crawling* with Nazis, much like roaches on a gut wagon. You could wander around for a while without seeing anyone, and then come to an area with a zillion Grunts, several of which are armed with contact grenades. This, I think, can be largely attributed to the fact that the only NPCs in Half-Life are scientists, Barneys, the G-Man, and those guys in orange jumpsuits (who don’t really do anything)...so the author is limited in just whom he can populate these levels with (I’m only guessing here, but it seems plausible). It’d still be neat to see Nazi scientists, and then shoot them. Otherwise, the maps are fairly impressive, architecturally speaking. The maps are usually on the small side, but some of them have HUGE open spaces.

Continuing, I’d like to mention the concept behind this release: fun! From a central hub in one map, you get to travel to three different periods of human history (the entire story is not confined to this concept; there’s more beyond this): Egyptian, Roman, and the Civil War (wherein, to quote Dave Barry, "A Nation Pokes Itself In The Eyeball"**). You also get to see a vision of a horrifying alternate future in which the Nazis bomb New York (so...this is a bad thing?), take over the U.S., and require every American citizen to speak in a comical German accent. One cautionary note: when finishing an era and hopping into the portal that marked the end, I’d return to the time machine and most of the time I’d take damage as I fell off the platform onto the electrified rail. Once, I even fell off the platform completely into the pit below. Ouch. So take care when stepping into the teleporters.

[** A chapter title from Dave Barry Slept Here.]

But back to the maps: architecturally,** my favorite era was the Roman. Not really, I just said that because I took three years of Latin, and -- even though the only Latin I remember are the dirty words I looked up on my own -- I really don’t want my Latin teacher finding out where I live and beating the living crap out of me. She could do it, too.*** Anyway, these maps are largely confined to wandering around and trying to figure out the solutions to certain problems (you on planet earth might call them "puzzles"), most of which are not really difficult at all. I did have a problem with the first map in the Civil War era, in which I couldn’t figure out how to get into that damned locked shed. Thanks to a solution from THAG-MAN, you are now reading this review. So you have him to blame. But it was so obvious, I wondered if I’ve been trying too hard. Oh well.

[** Now, I'd probably write "design-wise" instead.]

[*** Unless she's currently dead.]

The rest of the maps beyond the time portal deal with fixing the timelines, with a cool ending...no, I’m not telling you what it is! I might as well kick you in the face and take your money as tell you the ending! Come to think of it, that’s probably not a bad idea. Just hold still...

As for enemies, the only aliens I encountered are in Egypt and Rome; otherwise it’s just Grunts. Oh, and during a short trip to Xen, which also features the mother of all ladder climbs. In a purely unpremeditated random note, I’d like to point out that the Nazi jet/spacecraft was really cool, even though I didn’t get to shoot the pilot.

Finally, here’s the most horrifying thing about this release: quotes from Judas Priest, Motorhead and Iron Maiden! Oh NOOoooo!** Okay, I admit it: I’m a musical snob.*** I agonize far too much over being able to play naturally in 9/8, and have toyed with building a shrine to Marillion,**** the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Tower of Babel (but I’m getting a better contractor). But who am I to judge? I used to buy Carcass and Deicide CDs by the truckload!*****

[** I was joking. I have nothing against those bands.]

[*** I still am.]

[**** Now that I think about it, Marillion has never dabbled extensively in odd time signatures. Strange, for a prog band.]

[***** That's just stupid.]

Summary? Grand, impressive architecture set in sparsely-populated maps. Exceedingly difficult gameplay. There are a few places where you might experience new highs in frustration, but essentially it’s good for a long, mostly enjoyable gaming experience.

Rating? 4.2 out of 5.

[How this was rated lower than some other mods is beyond me.]
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.

 

everything