Author Topic: HL2 Mod Mini-Reviews  (Read 84252 times)

Offline bobdog

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Re: HL2 Mod Mini-Reviews
« Reply #180 on: November 25, 2016, 04:45:49 PM »
Part 104: The Hammer Cup 16 – Challenge 3: BacktrackVille
BacktrackVille is the third challenge in The Hammer Cup series, and contains 12 entries, all with the idea that you will have to go back through a previous area due to a situation inside the map. The majority of maps were good to great, but my personal favorite was Sweep.

•   Collapse takes you into a mine, but after explosives go off, you’ll need to find your way out again. Barnacles, antlions and Combine thwart your exit. 3.25 out of 5
•   Delirium suffers from a lack of interaction. It sets up a creepy scenario, and then allows me to run right past all the zombies to the exit. Good playtesting would have caught this and had the author put some obstacles in your way to slow you down. 2.5 out of 5
•   Going Gnome backtracks on itself several times, building for an exciting finale where you must take out a Strider with Combine all around. 4 out of 5
•   Grey Forest is an ambitious level set in a complex like White Forest. Some new voice-acting sets this apart, as does the opportunity to have Gordon do some tasks to support the Resistance. I regret that the map is incomplete, which the author acknowledges, because it would have placed this map even higher. 4.25 out of 5
•   Home effectively plays with your head and offers a suspenseful horror experience. I think it may have multiple endings, but I had some issues in getting into one room, requiring noclip, so it’s hard to say. Tighten this up, and it could become an outstanding horror mod. 3.5 out of 5
•   Impasse Bypass backtracks several times in a nicely designed tunnel. Combine are our main threat, but you must also use your brains to get past different traps. 4.5 out of 5
•   Mobius plays with your mind through the use of mazes and has a new antagonist, but doesn’t truly capture the “backtracking” theme of the contest. 3.25 out of 5
•   Pilot is a Portal wannabe, but your actions in one map affect the next map. It’s quirky but not great. 3 out of 5
•   Raven Mansion is a haunted house, but its design is unfair to the player with overwhelming enemies and insufficient cover, ammo and health. Not to mention, you can fall out of the map right at the start. 2.75 out of 5
•   Retaliation is a lengthy Combine firefight once you hit your key objective, with probably six waves hitting you while you wait for a train. 4.25 out of 5
•   Singularity has you fight through crumbled city streets. The layout seems awfully familiar, but it’s not overly challenging. 3.75 out of 5
•   Sweep is one of the few maps requiring a swimming component. After going through several train tunnels, you reach a new comrade, who also offers completely new voice-acting. Finally, you take care of the Antlion King in a whole new way – one that I’m surprised hasn’t been used before. 5 out of 5

Overall, this Ville contest averages a 3.75 out of 5.

Offline bobdog

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Re: HL2 Mod Mini-Reviews
« Reply #181 on: December 02, 2016, 10:35:18 AM »
Part 105: The Hammer Cup 16 – Challenge 4: TrapVille
TrapVille is the fourth challenge in The Hammer Cup series, and contains 9 entries. The player could be the one setting a trap or caught in it. The maps in this group are still good, but maybe a little lower in quality than previous Hammer Cup challenges. My personal winner was Reshetka.

•   A Quick Drive Through actually features two traps, although the second is a little more insidious, requiring several challenging jumps under fire. This had a really nice flow. 4.25 out of 5
•   Set in a city block, Artificial Recharge uniquely allows you to play as either Gordon, helping the Resistance, or as a Combine soldier, trying to take the Rebels out. The author has done a good job in making both parts equal in challenge. 4.25 out of 5
•   Bridgehead has promise but no proper ending. Its setting in a small hillside village is delightful, but I never felt like I was in a trap. 3.75 out of 5
•   Compromised throws wave after wave at you in an enclosed street block, but it’s almost unfair in its delivery, with no chance to scavenge health and ammo between waves. 3 out of 5
•   Confineholm is not a bad little map, with some environmental puzzles to navigate, decent map design and layout, and some fun firefights. 3.5 out of 5
•   Lost Mines offers some great traps that made Ravenholm so memorable. One new one was a laundry machine hanging from a rope that you can start spinning around with the grav gun to take anything out. I found the challenge tough but fair. 4 out of 5
•   Reshetka has atmosphere in spades, with no weapons and you being trapped in what appears to be a missile silo. One proximity mine toward the end is very unfair, but overall, this was very cool. 4.75 out of 5
•   Mayan Mystery has very simple layout but too much difficulty in the traps. This one wasn’t very fun to play. 2.75 out of 5
•   Make the World Great Again looks to be a first-time map, with blocky layouts and minimal design. As a result, it too was not very fun to play. 2.25 out of 5

In all, this Ville contest averages a 3.5 out of 5.

Offline bobdog

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Re: HL2 Mod Mini-Reviews
« Reply #182 on: December 09, 2016, 07:11:18 AM »
Part 106: The Hammer Cup 16 – Challenge 5: AnyVilleVille
AnyVilleVille is the fifth and final challenge in The Hammer Cup series, and contains 10 entries. For this challenge, entrants could use ANY previous Ville theme, except one of the previous four from The Hammer Cup 2016. This was a very strong set of maps to end the challenge, but I chose Rest A Shore as my personal favorite.

•   Castle Siege has a nice progression up a mountain side as you take out Combine from afar, use secret passages across a bridge, face down several waves of Hunters, and ultimately beat a Gunship. This was very well done. 4.5 out of 5
•   Dark Life is a play on the first Dark Souls game and I got about the same distance in this mod. It does seem to track with that game as closely as possible, but it’s still not my preferred cup of tea. 3.75 out of 5
•   Dimension C is a CrossoverVille entry for Chess. You must show some skill in applying chess moves to open gates, and then you get stuck in a bizarre battle with living chess pieces! 4 out of 5
•   Ebullition Discontent is a CrossbowVille map with great multi-level firefights and only the crossbow available for use. In the second map, you take on StriderBusters and Hunters. I liked this one. 4.75 out of 5
•   Necrophobia is a surprisingly decent set of maps with a horror influence. It had a real Left4Dead vibe as you gather items to imprison a bad spirit. 4 out of 5
•   Osmotr is an homage to the Metro series, including a creepy railway that you have to rush out to open a gate, and an enemy encampment on the tracks. The atmosphere is really spot-on. 4.25 out of 5
•   Rest a Shore is a ChaseVille entry and you are certainly running through most of the map. Great layout and enemy placement make this challenging but not impossible. The finale is a great battle against a Gunship. 5 out of 5
•   Reversed is a RunThinkShootLiveVille map that does a really good job of diverse gameplay. 4.5 out of 5
•   Tea Party might have been an Assassin’s Creed homage, as its simplistic design sort of gives that vibe. 2.75 out of 5
•   The basic design of The Last Commute seems to reinterpret the original Half Life with Gordon in a new city and job. 2.7 out of 5

In all, this Ville contest gets a 4 out of 5. Thank you to PlanetPhillip for fostering a great variety of more than 50 new single-play maps as generated by this challenge. Hopefully we can see this again in 2017.

Offline bobdog

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Re: HL2 Mod Mini-Reviews
« Reply #183 on: January 27, 2017, 07:35:06 AM »
Part 107: HalloweenVilleThree Contest
Will these contest entries from HalloweenVilleThree scare you? Maybe….

•   Ominous Presence is set in some locked rooms, but never really brings the scares. 2.5 out of 5
•   There’s No One Around and You is very short but uses an effective atmosphere in a dimly lit forest, with someone following you that can’t be stopped. 4.5 out of 5
•   Shadow Walker is legitimately scary, with an entity that can follow you, even into locked rooms. 4.25 out of 5
•   Wendigo also piles on the atmosphere, since you have no light source and must work at several tasks to replenish your battery. The map presents some really effective jump-scares because you’re always expecting something to happens, but when it doesn’t, your mind doesn’t settle back down. Add in a really challenging swimming situation at the end, and you’ve got a great coda to some eerie gameplay. 4.75 out of 5
•   Crawlspace is very clever, taking the perspective of an Antlion grub crawling around Resistance headquarters. However, it isn’t scary, so that knocks the score down for this contest. 3 out of 5

Overall, this Contest scores a 3.75 out of 5, and I chose Wendigo as my favorite entry.

Offline bobdog

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Re: HL2 Mod Mini-Reviews
« Reply #184 on: February 02, 2017, 11:38:15 PM »
Part 108: Singled Out
Here’s a round-up of recent releases over the past few months.

Waterworks is a simplistic detour through some sewers. The author does offer some multi-level firefights that require you to use cover efficiently, but then also offers a sniper’s nest over a large level. Nothing much good or bad about this map. 3 out of 5

Necrophobia Prequel is a long rambling trek through dark corridors, after first entering a haunted house. The finale tosses tons of zombies at you. This was a prequel to a map included in the final Hammer Cup challenge. 3.25 out of 5

Dysnomitude is very much a Miigga map. You’ll encounter lots of creative puzzles that get you into a large octagonal hall, where several waves of enemies attack you. Upon defeating them, you open a door to more puzzles, leading you back to the hall, etc. The final battle is a doozy in a funky limbo world. 4.5 out of 5

Aerial Harrassment spikes toward the difficult end of the spectrum, especially the final map against a Strider and Copter. Fortunately, the author put some thought into the layout and design for the car. 3.75 out of 5

Absolution features a series of firefight vignettes against the background of the narrator’s story of loss. It’s a decent map but doesn’t make much sense overall. 3.25 out of 5

Fast Detect bills itself as an “experimental story set in the HL2 universe.” It’s absolutely huge at 7GB, and does feature lots of updated graphics and large levels. Unfortunately, it lacks in gameplay, any sort of story at all, and fair situations. I quit the mod probably a quarter through, after getting fed up with areas that I had to noclip past, or Godmode because of the overall extreme difficulty. The final straw was when I entered a train station depot, some flying drone was zapping me with electric and fire attacks, I had to try to scoot under three trip mines, and about 8 Combine were shooting at me as I was unable to get through the trip mines in time.

The mod is more open than most HL2 mods, and that is appealing, but it also lacks structure so that you know what you’re supposed to do. In the first map, you really do have to scour the map to find all your weapons and gear, and that was somewhat interesting, but the map design was lacking in uniqueness, even as the graphics and lighting looked pretty good. I had flashbacks to playing G-String, which was another sprawling set of interconnected maps, but at least the story of G-String was interesting. 2 out of 5

Offline bobdog

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Re: HL2 Mod Mini-Reviews
« Reply #185 on: February 17, 2017, 11:30:17 AM »
Part 109: HardVille Contest
The intention of the HardVille contest, courtesy of our friend PlanetPhillip, was to create maps that were really hard – not necessarily by throwing thousands of enemies at you, but just in difficult gameplay and challenging scenarios. For the most part, these maps succeeded.
•   City 7 – between destroyed buildings that are difficult to quickly navigate, to timed runs to avoid exposure to enemy weapons, to challenging layers of enemies, this map definitely offered some “hard” situations. 4 out of 5
•   Complex tosses troops, snipers and more at you, but the flow always makes sense, and you can sometimes avoid some of these situations. 4.75 out of 5
•   Core Province – even though it’s not quite fully dressed up, this map offers a pretty structure with a unique look and feel. You’ll face lots of Combine troops, but I never really felt that this was a super challenge. 3.75 out of 5
•   Heat Death provides something unique, offering an Arctic environment where every second spent away from heated buildings zaps your health. Add lots of difficult Combine emplacements, and we’ve got a party! 4.5 out of 5
•   Bothersome Flies is overly simplistic in layout and Combine locations, and never really stretches you as a player. 2.75 out of 5

Overall, this Contest scores a 4 out of 5, and I chose Complex as my favorite entry.

Offline bobdog

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Re: HL2 Mod Mini-Reviews
« Reply #186 on: June 02, 2017, 11:21:32 AM »
Part 110: Singled Out Again
It’s nice to see a few new maps for HL2 still appearing here and there.

Aurora Reinstated features 3 maps that supposedly has you as Adrian Shepard in the arctic base where Judith Mossman was transmitting in Episode 2, but I never got that feel, and nothing in the mod alluded to that scene. The maps are not too challenging, but likewise, there isn’t much to complain about. The level design is decent but doesn’t feature any stand-out scenes. 3.25 out of 5

Wilson Chronicles - BETA has probably been rolling around for 10 years – originally planned as a HL1 mod, it then transferred to the Source engine, and has been plugging along ever since. Well, imagine my surprise to get on Steam and see a Beta offered as a free download!

The mod returns us to Black Mesa, with an overly extended road trip in your Mustang to BM headquarters. At this point, we don’t really need a 10-minute sequence where you wake up, search for some keys in your house before you can leave, get in your car and then take a road trip that doesn’t show anything of interest – simply have the car rolling into the parking lot with the Black Mesa sign overhead, and call it good. That whole scenario probably took the team a year to work on but didn't show anything to foreshadow what was next, so it was essentially worthless.

Anyway, once you enter Black Mesa, all heck breaks loose and you have to escape somehow. You’ll find all the expected HL1 foes, including houndeyes, vortigaunts, bullsquids, alien grunts and even controllers – as well as tons of special ops forces (but no ninja ladies, sadly). The battles and enemies are as challenging as ever.

Layout and level design is what you would expect from Black Mesa, including labs, trams, ladders, etc. And the whole thing ends with a “To Be Continued”, so I guess maybe they’ll work on it some more. Overall, I think they’ve done a nice job, but it seems to be lacking quite a bit of content for 10 years’ worth of work. 4 out of 5

Mega City One is the compilation of several Ville entries from mapper Crowbar, intended to have a theme geared towards a large mega structure like you’ve seen in the Judge Dredd movie. But … it all falls really flat toward that unified theme.

The first map is supposed to be an Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider feel, and I hated it the first time I played it in a Ville contest, let alone the second. The difficulty curve is off the charts and too hard to make jumps and survive with no health. So I moved on.

The second map was a haunted house theme, which had mediocre level design but was extremely challenging with all the zombie foes. But at least I finished this section, which brought me to a really nice city block level. This one excels in pacing, layout, enemy diversity, and challenge, so it alone is worth the “price” of admission. And it does offer something akin to the Judge Dredd structure that he fights through in the movie.

We leave the city streets and then enter a huge skyscraper with an empty center and layers of levels stretching up maybe a hundred floors. Each level is essentially an arena that you have to navigate some side rooms to open up the next set of stairs to the level above. Extremely challenging, but I finally encountered a game bug at probably one of the final challenges.

Overall, Mega City One does not mesh together as a concept for half of the maps. I honestly was hoping the whole map would have been like Dredd, with tight dirty corridors, some shots across the center of the hall, and painstakingly moving up level by level, so this disappoints in that regard. 3 out of 5