Saturday, December 29, 2007

Last day on Stroggos for Quake2

***NEW!!!***

Level name:Last day on Stroggos

Author: Jan Harcarik and Michal Rendos

Release date: 9 June 1999

Size: 8 975 ko

Number of maps: 9


website: none


Story:

None but the title says it as a resumé...

Review :

This nighth maps unit is the first release from this small two peoples team. It provide a perfect balance between gameplay, puzzle and architecture.

Architecture is a really good mix between wonderfull design areas and hallways that never look the same. the building of important or central place makes it always some oustanding plots to visit from normal floor to the different hight. the 'over' use of beam and lazer can sometimes provide some visual or techincal frustration but that really depends from the kind of player you are.

Gameplay and the way it is display through the whole unit makes really the power of this release. You will never get bored and will most of the time think what's you should do to progress, from the incubator at start with you only pulse gun to the end makron fight. Visual is omnipresent and enhance this whole episode .

In conclusion: Another interesting release that is worth for you to reinstall you Q2 version if you never play this one before.



Playtime: 2 Hours

Rating: A B C D E (90%)



Note: for the one interested in the statistic releated with the release here are the details:

enemies ____objectives____ secrets_

Perfunctory Control

map 1 : Stoggos in Trouble_________33/33______ 1/1________ 0/1

map 2 : Deep Impertinence ________26/27_______ 1/1________ 0/1

map 3 : Bitter Fortune____________28/28_______0/0________ 0/1

map 4 : Pefunctory Control__________9/9________0/0________ 0/0

map 5 : End Is Near______________66/66_______5/5________ 2/3

map 6 : Endless Possibility_________54/54_______3/3________ 1/1

map 7 : Naveless Power___________25/25_______2/2_________1/1

map 8 : Day that you Fear_________14/14_______2/2_________0/0

map 9 : End of All Songs___________2/2________1/1_________0/0

Additional screenshots







Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Minimicus for Half-Life

***this review was previously available at Alejandro Mapping Center***


Level name: Minimicus

Author: Slayer A

Release date: 6 September 2003

Size: 3 229 ko

Number of maps: 4



website: here


download: At PlanetPhillip.com



Story:


The scientists at Black Mesa have invented a shrinking machine. They are shrinking Xen creatures in order to make them easier to control. Two shrunken Gonarchs have escaped and are breeding in the civilian community. The Marines have once again been called in to ‘contain’ the problem and eliminate any witnesses.



Review :


Minimicus is a quite recent release (september 2003) that came out for the first time in a HL sp release with an oversize world. Story is quite simple but original: Scientists have developed a new machine to shrink all Xen’s creatures. Unfortunately some mistakes where made so that some of them escaped. Mission is simple you need to destroy the shrinker in order to eliminate all traces of those experiments. But pay attention some grunts have also taken the portal! Design is correctly put together even if transition through rooms is not always made with a high cohesion. Challenge is omnipresent and alternates with some tricky puzzles, some ‘cutscenes’ and quite a good music. The ending is correctly taught and finished this pack in the way it should end.
In conclusion: An original starting idea that creates something unusual for the HL fans. Sadly the idea wasn’t pushed further and it was perhaps a little too fight oriented. Since it’s a short experience (half an hour) you should really test it.


Playtime: 30 Minutes




Rating: A B C D E (78%)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Between two Worlds for Half-Life

***this review was previously available at Alejandro Mapping Center***



Level name: Beween two worlds

Author: Andreas “Widowmaker” Bauer

Release date: 10 August 1999

Size: 3 534 ko

Number of maps: 9



website: None

download: At PlanetPhillip.com



Story:

You don't know much at the beginning. You can't remember anything from your previous life or how you came into this cage of glass in which you have been living several weeks and in which these scientists have made cruel experiments with you. But what you know is: you want to get out and pay it all back to them.

Review :


Between two Worlds is an old and perhaps forgotten release of the previous century. But this is not an excuse to avoid this one if you forgot it in the past. Even if the storyline is a little bit strange and confusing, the starting idea is quite original. You’re the result of a human experiment that was lead by some unscrupulous scientist who wanted to make a new entity between human and Xen race. Through your special power Xen has decided to help you becoming the universe’s Master (with the help of G-man) by making you free. So eliminate all grunts and scientist and succeed to finish this mission so that …you will see. Design is like the storyline sometimes well thought of and polished with some good ideas, sometimes not. The whole unit is quite cohesive with some good ‘cutscenes’ , but what was really, in my opinion, the highlight of this unit was the fact that Andreas used a 2D maze at the end of this pack. Even if it’s a short maze, I never thought that it was possible to do such a thing in HL.



Playtime: 1 Hour


Rating: A B C D E (74%)




Note : thanks to TenFour and Planet Phillip for screens and infos .

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

They Hunger (full) for Half-Life

***this review was previously available at Alejandro Mapping Center***


Level name: They Hunger

Author: Neil Manke

Release date: 27 March 2001

Size: 68 874 ko

Number of maps: 26

website: here


download: At PlanetPhillip.com

Story:

this impressive mod contains 3 different épisodes that were firsly published separatly there was no real storyline added to the full release only a sort of story came with the first and second episode...here it is

You're a writer who saw some success in the past but is now struggling to complete your latest work. Your publisher rents you a house in the country and you are on your way there to rest, write, and recoup. During the course of your drive the relaxing radio music is broken by a hurried announcement, "This is BMRF radio bringing you a special news report! Unknown atmospheric phenomena have been reported throughout the area. Meteorologists have been unable to identify the source of the strange electrical displays but we will keep you informed of any developements. We return you now to our regular programming".
"... ah, probably nothing", you think.

Review :
They Hunger is a must have add-on that integrate something new to HL: a scary horror sequel that could easily stand alone and is definitely part of the top 5 best private sp release for Half-Life. Nearly everything has been changed through the entire package (made with more than 50 maps) all new weapons (12) except the magnum, new models and especially Dogs, a new kind of ‘Frankenstein’ Ogre really powerful in close combats and Cows. Those new stuffs are spread around perfectly designed area such as a lost town somewhere (perhaps in Scotland), in first episode, a psychiatric research house where some ugly experiments take place, in the second one and in the last episode a mix between the destroyed psychiatric hospital and a ‘farm’ theme spread in the middle. The whole package being very well put together with some perfect puzzle and a really scary ambiance spread all over the place.

For the interested people I will now look a little closer to the three parts:

+ Episode 1: to go directly to the point, it is certainly the less interesting part from the entire package (it is still great compare to other releases). I never got the feeling to have a clear view when this mission took place, especially in the first part where there is a mix between ‘old vehicles’ (train, cars) and some helicopter or modern barney. At start you have a marvelous intro that will lead to an accident from there you need to find your way defeating zombies with the first weapon. Progression is quite obvious in a quite linear way and makes a good alternation between indoors (church, buildings and caverns) and outdoors (swamp and mountains). You will also notice that during the progression design increase and always add the little thing at the moment you thing that everything is the same. You have also a good mix between puzzles and some small events…that gonna lead you to the second episode.

+ Episode 2: Rest in peace is a lot better than the first one. The travel takes place in a lot of indoor place introducing a really impressive design dispatched all over the pack, there are nearly no blocked way so that you have a lot to explore adding to the gameplay a ‘real’ dimension. Puzzle are less obvious and ask you sometime to act with 2 or 3 thing to make it work, fights and traps are well set too. The entire scenario is really impressive making the progression always an eye candy when you reach new areas. Work on texturing and modeling is also a lot better introducing this time not only slightly but deeply modified models (dogs and ogres), also through voice acting (video tapes) the ambiance is really increasing in oppression. The minor bad point is due to the hugeness of the pack so that you will certainly walk for miles before you find next thing to do! (Doesn’t spoiled the gameplay at all)

+ Episode 3: Rude awakening after the big explosion you need to escape from the hospital and try to find the 2 evil guys (doctor and Police officer) to kill them. So another quest start at this time and gonna lead from a perfectly design hospital to some farms and house lost in the mountains (pay attention to the cow and the chicken) Design is quite repetitive and sometimes boring but keep you full of adrenaline through good trap and fights that will occurs leading through a train trap to the episode 2 after the crash. Design is one time more perfectly dressed but not really innovative since it used a lot of place already visited in chapter2. Puzzles aren’t really present in this last part (except at start) and will lead you to the escaping place where a helicopter is waiting for you. Now you are ready for the end fights…are you sure it’s the last one? You will see…

In conclusion: Another impressive realization from Neil and his team introducing a TOTALLY new experience, Every FPS fan should play this one. In my opinion even if it is a real conversion, I think Neil was a little hit by the success of USS darkstar and wanted to do something better, the only problem is that this package is a little too long especially regarding realization of first and last episode and when you want to make quality and quantity is sometime has some flaws. I had nothing to criticize regarding USS Darkstar but for this one it would have been better to make a full version taking away the repetitive part of the three episode and in place try to add some ambiance music (which was for some good reason not added). It’s still one of my favorites.


Playtime: 15 Hours




Rating: A B C D E (95%)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Coconut Monkey 2 : Dry Gulsh for Quake 2

***NEW!!!***


Level name: Coconut Monkey 2 : Dry Gulsh

Author: Neil Manke

Release date: 04 August 1998

Size: 7 052 ko

Number of maps: 2


website: here



Story:


After escaping the Island Paradise, Coconut Monkey found himself adrift in the ocean, his sole copy of Gravy Trader resting to the rear of his vessel. His supplies running low he was about to give up all hope when a blue light appeared in the water ahead of him. The light doubled in size within seconds, enveloping CM and his tiny craft. With a roar the light collapsed upon itself, taking CM with it.

Seconds later CM reappeared, intact, him and his craft floating down a canyon stream. Residual blue light rippled through the craft and before he could react, the boat vanished, plunging CM into the fast moving stream. His only chance is to locate his ship and hope that whatever power brought him to this hell hole will take him back. That is, if he can get past Pierre and his minions…

Review :


this is the second opus in Neil manke Coconut Monkey serie after Paradize Lost and before Saving Private Monkey. In my opinion this one i'm gonna review is the mostly impressive not simply by the mapping skill an general architecture (always great in neil manke's releases) but mostly through it's own content that really remind me (even if this one was published before), the official free add-on for Half_life called Wanted!. This one is full of surprise include new models sounds ambiance and a really well put together far-west mission.

Design is really great and perfectly feeting the far west theme from the gold my to the canyon passing by the saloon or the train... The General layout may look a little restricted to place where you just thing ' how was it possible to bring all the material in this canyon with a tiny entrance just to build the whole living place' and except this unrealistic touch attention is omnipresent even with perfect modeling...

Gameplay is mostly straight forward with some puzzle to solve and a bunch of secret to find on both maps...Challenging is present everywhere with taught combats, good enemy placement and a good disposition of ammo and health. There isn't really something special it's just a succession of elements that take place and make the whole add-on highly enjoyable.


In conclusion: Neil Manke is really one of my favorite author and this one isn't an exception perfect theme, texturing and modeling make it a real blast to play though... so get it !


Playtime: 1 Hours


Rating: A B C D E (91%)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Operation: Urth Majik for Quake 1

***this review was previously available at Alejandro Mapping Center***

Level name: Operation: Urth Majik

Author: OUM team

Date of release: 21 July 2001

Size: 10 200 Ko

Number of maps: 6



website: here (seems to be down or lost)

download: here

Story:

Quake never stops trying.
You mutter the words savagely as you pace the floor of the Emergency Command Bunker; the last bastion of what was Frater Research Base. Your base.
As the base commander, you saw Frater grow from a small storage depot in the middle of nowhere to a small storage depot playing host to some scientist types. However their "temporary" stay became permanent, as did the new wings and buildings. Interesting documents and reports began to fill your day, as well as the odd bit of excitement (and subsequent repairs).
Then that building was constructed. No, you were told, you could not be told what it held. No, you could not be allowed inside - what was inside was Alpha level clearance, not for the eyes of lowly Beta clearance wallahs. No, you couldn't talk to the staff there - they were always ferried in by robot drone from elsewhere; and the tracking systems wouldn't track them. Hell, you were ordered to keep all windows closed and blocked while construction was proceeding!
What was in there? You don't know. But whatever it is, Quake wants it, and wants it bad. You've some suspicions yourself - like illegal slipgate research - or maybe something to do with the strange behaviour of Doc Hattenschweiller's "patients".
Doctor Ernst "Hat" Hattenschweiller's research concerns - or concerned, you don't know if he's still alive - the removal of Quake's control devices from those captured by his forces. A fair bit of research involving Quake's other humanoid troops led up to Hat perfecting the process where the components could be removed without setting off the booby-traps incorporated into them. Sort of a cross between bomb disposal and brain surgery.
Hat reported two weeks back that his "patients" had begun to behave oddly; every night, they were chanting in some strange language, stopping abruptly exactly on the stroke of midnight. At first the "cured" patients didn't participate, but as the days wore on they began to chant as well.
Other little peculiarities began to crop up. Missing supplies, for one; odd power demands from various parts of the base, and especially from that building. The occasional escape as well, but as things went from peculiar to queer to worrying, patterns began to emerge. The supplies tended to disappear most often nearest that building. The escapes came more frequent, the escapees more violent, and were always found heading toward one building - that building. The Alpha clearance mystery building.
However, the final straw came from a completely different direction. Hat sent an emergency call - the patients had suddenly, and without warning, completely reverted to their original programming. And somehow they'd managed to get guns and were starting to overrun the facility.
Then the lights went out briefly, flared once, then settled down again. A flash of wrong coloured light from outside drew you to the window. It was that building, being struck by lightning coming down from a gangrenous, unearthly sky.
Then more emergency calls came in from all over the base: reports of intruders, attacks, pleas for assistance. You began deployment of your forces.
But now you hide in this reinforced cage of a room. All the news you're receiving is bad. The base is completely overrun; it's only a matter of time before they break down the doors and take you down as well...
As you pace, you begin to get angry. This is your base, damn it! And now you're hiding here, a fugitive on your own friggin' turf, just waiting to die? Screw that!
It takes a few minutes to send off a distress signal, and a message that you're going to do what you can towards recovering, or escaping, Frater Base. A further minute to plan your route to Hat's laboratory - where things seemed to begin - and one more to check and load your gun.
Quake never stops trying, you say to yourself, and neither will I.

Review:

Operation Urth Majik is part of the masterpiece realisation for Quake1. It introduces a lot of features into a new quake experience. This Add-on is based on a mission that is quite simple: make your way through several bases in order to reach the temple of Urth Majik, where the final battle will take place.
There is a lot of ‘external’ ideas: ik base, Zerstörer, Scourge of Armagon ,…this all together really fits this realisation like if they were selfmade.

All the maps are well balanced in realisation, gameplay, features and are ‘immersing’ the player into a progressing challenge. They all fit together too, except perhaps the fourth map (the eye of the storm) which is, through its texturing, a little bit out of the add-on (perhaps just a too sharp transition). Enemies have been modified not so much in weaponry but more in their look… beautiful but not as realistic (using ‘flashing’ blue clothes is quite a nonsense for an army). There is also presence of Nail turrets (not enough used) , laser drones( ‘toy’ design) and the classic mega enforcer.
According to the weapon features, they are coming from Zerstörer and Ik guns, design flows between average and really good and gives, in a lot of places, the ability to test them.
Finally you will find here and there ammo, health and armor suppliers, a lot of secret places (always useful) that give some good addition to the general release.

In conclusion, even if it first seems quite challenging to let some famous mappers join to do a big release, it shows us that with some rules and good communication can create a masterpiece.
Working together with their own favorite theme has proven to be a success.
Definitely part of the top 10 best quake1 releases and certainly worth to download!!!



Playtime: 3 hours




Rating: A B C D E (96 %)





note : picture where taken without permission from tenfourmaps feel free to contact me if you would like that i remove them

Friday, November 02, 2007

COS : The Final Objective for Quake 2

***NEW!!!***

Level name: Castle of Stroggos : The Final Objective

Author: Brian "Grinreaper" Griffith

Release date: 14 January 1999

Size: 8 239 ko

Number of maps: 6


website: here

Story:

"Psssst............Marine........." The voices again....whispering, taunting. You flinch, as neural boosters flood your battered system and the automated bio-scan begins it's round of daily pain.
How long now?
How long...... Damn, It's the mind probe again.....won't these beasts leave anything untouched?
Your school........mother........the first contact........Black Tuesday, the day they blasted the crap out of the White house.... the day the President was eaten on national TV............the fightback......basic training....
THE CRASH................
"MOTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Sharp reality cuts in.......a retreating face.....Urgh, One of those hunched Medic things. It stinks of burnt flesh and fetid damp. Seem's the tests are done.....
Why are they keeping me alive? How did I get here?
"UUUhratah"
You know that call and so you avert your eyes. Feeding time at the zoo, the crunch and slurp of feeding Strogg fill your cramped and stale holding pen. Out there, beyond the forcefield and lasers the deamons recycle the essence of your comrades, small fights breaking out as grunts and gunners squabble over meagre drops of foul fluid...........a few days ago you actually saw one of the gunners mow down four of the grunts. No reason, he just seemed to snap and you had laughed and whooped as crimson sprayed the bulkheads. Then you had vomited as the remaining crew turned upon the fallen and began to gnaw on the remaining flesh...
A ship!
You are on a ship! "Marine.........hey......." The voices are back but ignore them, concentrate.........A ship. You remember planetfall upon Stroggos.........the fire fight.... screams and burning skin. A base, huge gates....Tanks.
Oh yeah, Tanks.....loads of the mothers. Huge stomping hydraulic feet, organic fright masks ripped from the bodys of the fallen. And then a ship........You were captured..... You are in a holding cell.....You may be mad.....
"Marine!"..........oh, go away voices..I'm thinking....
Out there the lights fade and pulse as the ship judders through hyperspace. We hit them bad. This ship could be one of the last assault craft, you've noticed the lack of supplys, the increasing tension amongst the bio-mechanical freaks and the failing consoles and sparking wires. "We you next eat".....you jump as one of the grunts leers through the forcefield. The rough English, remembered from a pre-Strogg life taunts you. The gutteral laughter drowns out the insistent beep from the corner.... Your field computer! Damn but the freaks left it in here...highlighting once again that It's the flesh they desire, not the technology..... You roll onto your side and cry out, faked pain drowning out the soft beep of updating orders:
"MISSION BRIEFING: (Soldier 59666-1)
"Updated Mission Brief: Get yourself free from that cell. The blueprints show a control panel just above your head in a duct. You have to find some way to deactivate the force fields from that switch!
"Your location is almost the dead-center of the ship. From our readings, you should be close to one of the secoundary cryogenics bays.
"Navigate the cryodecks, and find your way to the main weapons bays... from there you have to deactivate the ship's defense systems...blow the crap out of the two large anti-spacecraft guns found on that level,that should effectively fry the ship's entire grid of defensive guns. We can't get our ships close to that thing until you do.
"There is a massive impenetrable Steedium powered forcefield surrounding the ship. The generator powering the forcefield is on the main deck. Be warned that Strogg security will be highest there. You MUST deactivate the field before our attack on the ship can commence.
"After the field is deactivated, get your ass into an escape pod. Our strike will hit the ship 60 secounds after you lower the field..you wont have much time before the ship's hull collapses.
"Save the world, marine, we're counting on you!
"END BRIEFING"
Damn yes..........the ship. The huge ship flying earthward on a mission of destruction and assimilation. Now you remember..........you remember it all!!!!!
"Marine....up here....."
Upwards......above your head.........and now you can see him. Crouched and bleeding, another Human. Battered and bleeding but a human... And he's pointing to a panel........... Damn you're not mad!!!! You're not alone! You're a marine Goddamit and you've got a new mission...........
Carry it out...........

Review :

This sixth maps unit is the thirdand certainly last release from the author after Castle of Stroggos and COS2 : Stroggship. Even if I prefer the first one to the second this last part it has nothing to do with previous release in termes of conceptual grandness*

The final objective take place on the stroggship you left in COS 2.

Architecture is really impressive creating some unique area with the best lightings effect i have seen for a Q2 release. Travelling through those great areas is always a interesting surprise that increase with you progression, some place make look a little bit not enough polish or to repetitive but this is only showing up after passing through top notch places (the cannon area, the interconnectivity through the hard of the vessel, all those elevators,...). Choice of texture to create stuff needed also a lot of time and even if one time more it may not always look perfect, most of the time you could really see the time amount that have been put to create 'the best'.Even if all the experience is mostly indoor the spaceview is sometimes fantastic and let you without breath reaching is perfectness through the end cutscene.

The gameplay is laso well put together, it's not a simple escape mission it's an organized qwest to save the world from distroying piece after piece the whole ship inluding their leaders. Enemies placement is always a 'good' surpsise they are not simply awaiting you they are readdy to give their best resistance and this will even if the amount of eney isn't that high a quite intense battle. This is another explanation why it took so much time to be release and complete...

All in all a bunch of effort have been put in this one to be mostly perfect. I won't really complaining about minor issue regarding some not so great designed area, less textured places or the final (3) Makron boss fight. It's really a great work that really deserved proudness...

In conclusion: One of the best release out here every player should try...It's mostly perfect especially in relation with the conception of it.



Playtime: 2 Hours

Rating: A B C D E (97%)






* Mikko Sandt used a lot the reference to this unreal sp vision of mapping



Note: for the one interested in the statistic releated with the release here are the details:

enemies ____objectives____ secrets_

map 1 : Specimen containment______11/11______ 1/2________ 0/0

map 2 : Cold dissolution___________43/43_______ 1/1________ 0/5

map 3 : Poisoned Hopes___________47/48_______3/4________ 2/3

map 4 : The Final Objective________23/24_______1/2________ 0/1

map 5 : The Main deck____________23/23_______2/2________ 1/1

map 6 : The Makron Situation_______19/19_______0/0________ 1/1

Additional screenshots














Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mistake for Half-Life

***NEW!!!***



Level name: Mistake

Author: Body


Date of release: 28 October 2007

Size: 27 530 ko

Number of maps: 13



website: none

download: At plantphillip.com

Story : none


Review :


In this release you will try to travel to the exit of a kind of psychiatric hospital. The ambiance take some inspiration from classic movie but also from recent game like F.E.A.R.

Design is really creative not only focus on environment (textures) but also on HUD, menu, sound and models that have also been modified. The ambiance create through this whole release is immersive, the custom content and the way it was build together, makes it sometimes difficult to recognize it was build on the HL engine. Ambiance is visualy good but misses perhaps some more anyoing sound some content and especially the enemy models are a little disapointing but don't really alter the general pack

Gameplay is a mostly straight forward progression (enhance by flashlight if you find it) it's just a succession of small thinkings, key searchings and some minor combats with a knife. Everything is quite obvious and is more enjoyable through visual effects till the interesting ending.


In conlcusion: regarding the easy gameplay, the enjoyable experience and even if it's far aways to be perfect this one should be tested by all fans of nightmare games



Playtime: 30 min



Rating: A B C D E (74%)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Distraction for Quake 1

***NEW!!!***

Level name: Distraction


Author: Mikko Sandt

Date of release: 23 September 2007

Size: 1001 ko

Number of maps: 1



website: here

download:





Story : None


Author's Note :

My first Quake map. I’ve been playing Quake since 1996 and I always wanted to make a level. Well, better late than never, eh? I’ve been building mostly Duke3D maps for the past ten years (sad, isn’t it?) so Worldcraft was somewhat new to me. This may be one reason why the level is somewhat x-axis and blocky (not that that was my intention - it’s just something that happened subconsciously). Naturally, I had to learn the editor as I worked on the map. It’s not so bad - there’s a fair amount of details, the texture set is lovely and the gameplay was tested (by The Silent & Sielwolf) before release.

Review:

I know 'virtually' the author for arround 10 years now, since my favorite game Duke Nukem. He has a marvellous site for this game and provide always good feedback for all the request i made, especially with beta-testing my map.

Back to the subject, Distraction is the first quake release by Mikko and it took quite a long time to be release. The main team is industrial/complex and feature all what a good map really need to be enjoyable.

Design is good, it even impressed me knowing that Mikko mostly used the duke nukem engine to create map and that worldcraft as a totally other appoach. The strucure of the map is really familiar to DN based map: it's quite limited in open space as a 'key to progress' gameplay and as a less gothic to medieval approach (not only regarding the theme but also in relation with the architecture). All in all the texturing, atmosphere and theme was pretty well handle to create a no linear map with a mix between outdoor and indoor, not limited to the main floor, using some on text messages to increase the ambiance and showing enough variety to make it not monotonous.

Gameplay was another suprise through mikko's approach but sadly I was disapoint with that. The gameplay was for me too much challenging (but this is always intended with Q1 releases), health and ammo was sparely provided with the progression but traps and ambush make it more a quest to survive that the kill to progress experience. All objective are easy to achive (except the quest for secret places) and is more a key or button switching progress ... the last place to fight like all good release is always linked to the apogee of a fighting quest and in this place you should be warned, it's gonna be a nightmare.

In Conclusion: I really like most of Mikko's releases and this one is not an exception through it's design and atmosphere, he ones time more succeed in create a excellent map.



Playtime: 30 minutes




Rating: A B C D E (79%)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Recon for Half-Life

***this review was previously available at Alejandro Mapping Center***


Level name: Recon

Author: Michael Sisk

Date of release: 8 November 1999

Size: 3 348 Ko

Number of maps: 9


website: none

download: At Planetphillip.com

Story:

This level picks up after Aggregate Pain. If you played that level, you know that you escaped in a jet. Anyway, as you are flying back to your base, you receive new orders to head back to an adjacent part of the base. You are to find a satellite that the enemy has constructed and then destroy it. As you'll soon find out, your flying skills are a little rusty; you end up crashing the jet and your bio-hazard suit is fried to a crisp. Don't worry though, you'll find a new one soon.

Review:

Recon is the third release of Michael Sisk. It’s really much better than sepulcher and an improvement from Aggregate pain which was already a good experience. This time, Michael gives us an entire mission to complete from a plane crash to an end battle on Xen. Even if there are some problems (R_speed, enable to save at the end of the train station, missing some cut scenes), It is really well designed, providing ambushes (not a so onbeatable as previous release) and secret places in a really fluid mission pack. Progression is obvious but increases in difficulty as you get closer to the end. It also somehow follows the original game but never with the feeling of playing a bad copy. End battle on Xen is honestly challenging.

In conclusion: With some more added cutscenes and less relation with the original game, this realization could have been a top classic…It’s still a more than enjoyable mission.



Playtime:
1 hour



Rating: A B C D E (80 %)



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Instinct for Half-Life

***NEW!!!***

Level name: Instinct

Author: Richard Martin

Date of release: 19 July 2007

Size: 10 548 ko

Number of maps: 10



website: none

download: here



Story (taken from Planetphillip):

“Otherwise… well… I can offer you a battle you have no chance of winning…..rather an anticlimax, after what you’ve just survived…”

Take the job. All that you had to do was just take the job. But, no. You decided that your pride was more sacred than your safety. And thanks to a teleport malfunction you are back right where you started… four kilometers underground in the darkest corner of the Black Mesa Research Facility.

When you regain your conciousness, sirens and screams are all you hear as you wake up to the reality of utter chaos and destruction. Corpses lie mangled in pools of their own blood.

Hallways and staircases are sealed - collapsed by airstrikes. To top it all off, most of the inhabitants of Xen have used their natural instinct to migrate here since the destruction of their home planet, and rifts in space time continue to throw Xen creatures into the bowels of Black Mesa.

Now your trapped in an alien-infested hole in the ground with only one objective - reach the surface alive. Unfortunately, that may not be as easy as it sounds, because the military has decided that rather than kill every witness individually, they are going to simply seal off all of the exits…..and then set off a thermal nuclear weapon.

Now its a race against the clock as you fight your was through infested alien nesting grounds and military blockades while constantly trying to reach the surface and get out of here alive. Hopefully you make it to the surface soon, because in about 12 hours, the entire facility will be reduced to radioactive dust.

“No regrets, Mr. Freeman.”


Review :


This episode to age to be release like the effort it was put in sadly the other decided on one day to release it fully playable with any major bugs but missing a strong ending and perhaps also some cutscenes or oriented mission by on text message.

Design is mostly above average, with a good attention to texturing and layout even if some place on low computer may be the cause of slow down most of maps are well interconnected and cleverly build together (there are sometime different way to progress), the possibility to find some 'secret places' if you sneak arround is also something i really like in all custom releases. What only give me some frustration what the huge amount of boxes from all kind used everywhere sometimes in unpossible place to store them but apart from this, attention to a good mix with puzzles and combats also enhance to whole episode.
Gameplay is quite staight forward with a good progress in think you will encounter while you progress (like in the original game) becoming harder the way you move through the 10 maps after each taught combats you will have some time to breath or the think for enjoyable small puzzles. Combats are well balanced and can be tight in some places but they never are unbeatable, progression is easy to handle and won't make you loose lots of time some good suprise awaits se at the end, that was perhaps the major disapointment being little abrupt and unpolished.
In conlcusion: a lot of time and effort have been put in this one and even if it's clearly unfinished it was a great enjoyement playing this one. If you look to another black mesa style mission this one is certainly for you .



Playtime: 1 hour 30


Rating: A B C D E (82%)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Improving contents

Thanks to Mikko Sandt I will add a integrate feature of Blogger called Labels (it's still work in progress) this will make people able to directly go to a special theme (in my case Game associated with map or mod).
For the one who are not familiar with it at the bottom of each review will appear a label (Quake2, Half-Life,...) by simply clicking on it you will see all review associated with the game.

I will also try to add in the review (this will be more usefull for WW2 sp map corner a link in each review to other reviewed map from the same author.

Sorry for the lack of update this is mainly due to actual professionnal life and i hope it will slow down in the future.

Any questions or comments are welcome ;)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Premonition of Angron for Quake 2

***NEW!!!***


Level name: Premonition of Angron

Author: Jonas N.P. Lindstrom

Release date: 14 January 1999

Size: 4 282 ko

Number of maps: 4




website: none


download: At Gamers.org



Story:

Warlord Angron has now gained power and command, this potent enemy to our civilisation has located his powerbase in an ancient retrofitted installation situated in a remote area of the planet Stroggos. In an early operation our Senior Commander JC was killed in action, Central Inteligence belive that Angron is planning to extract the information in Commander JC's head and use it to cripple our future operations.


Review :

This four maps unit is the second release from the author after Angron Installation. His first attempt that was short in gameplay and quite repetitive in design (especially regarding hallways) was a first good experience for whitch i just hope to come across a sequel.

Premonition of Angron was certainly what i was waiting for: Design is this time above average to even impressive in some part, the theme (Secret base) is well respected over the 4 maps with a good storyline and clear objectives. The is a whole of thing to explore (include interesting secrets area) in a huge complex base.

Architecture is well use and makes classic squared place mostly forgotten... linking through all those master place is not an addition of simply hallways (even if in the sewer part and the cave they are present) but makes a mostly prefect transition through all main places. Attention to detail though the sewer organisation or storing rooms (I really like the ammo on those palet box) make it's a not boring experience. All maps are well linked in a nonlinear way so that there is no oriented qwest at start (you need to collect and activate things but not in a certain order).

Gameplay is well balance between fights, traps and general objectives; the complex has really a filling of being huge and it's not always evident to find the correct short path to 'the next thing to do'. Even if sometimes you may think you're lost, the general progression in an enjoyable environment makes it not boring, Challenge is omnipresent and if you look for powerfull weapons you better check for secret places (all the ones i found where put in a constructive way arround the complex). The way you travel through place and kipping in mind not accessible place will make this release for some of us a real pain to complete but it's defenetly worth finishing it.


In conclusion: The second attempt from Jonas to make a Quake unit is impressive. It contains mostly original textures and doesn't real come with something unique but the way the complex was build and the whole interconnectivity through theme and gameplay make it really an enjoyable episode to play through. Pay attention not to be lost for age in this military base!




Playtime: 2 Hours




Rating: A B C D E (86%)



Note: for the one interested in the statistic releated with the release here are the details:



enemies ____objectives____ secrets_



map 1 : The Outer Compound______89/98______ 1/1________ 1/4



map 2 : The Power Instalation______62/62_______ 1/1________ 2/4



map 3 : The Inner Compound______64/64_______ 2/2________ 2/3



map 4 : The Palace of Angron ______70/71 _______1/1________ 0/2

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Amari Aliquid for Q2

***NEW!!!***


Level name: Amari Aliquid

Author: Shaun [Kona] Ross & John 'Metlslime' Fitzgibbons

Date of release: 21 October 2001

Size: 2 386 ko

Number of maps: 6


website: here

download: At author's page

alternative download:



Description:

Amari Aliquid is a waste themed level but with a fresh look with all new textures by Metlslime, as seen in Oblivion. Your mission is to raid the Strogg fortress and fight your way into the basement of the complex where you'll battle the cloned second Makron.


Story:

Having defeated Makron in his evil palace, you escaped in a pod as his home fell to rubble. Unfortunately, your pod wasn't too effective. No wonder Strogg are losing the war. You end up being pulled into the Strogg planets atmosphere and crash to the ground. Even more unfortunate is that Makron isn't dead. The Strogg medics have built a new Makron clone already, and was activated as soon as the original Makron was destroyed. The new Makron has downloaded a recent copy of its predecessors brain, so this time he'll recognize you. Typically, you have landed in the same vicinity as the new one rests, while Medics finish up the job. But this time it will not be so hard, as with it being such a rush the base is not properly guarded. Also with it being such a well kept secret, the Strogg were forced to build it in a small waste factory where the humans would not bother looking! Back on Earth no one will know about this second Makron, so it's up to you to either kill him yourself, or (preferably) find a bigger pod to steal! As you approach a back entrance, you just know there will be no pod waiting for you here - just a pissed off Makron....

Review :

I'm back with a marvelous nearly perfect release from one of the best and most prolific mapper according Quake series (I & II). All release from the author are so well crafted using most of the time a lot of cutom content that it create so great moment of gaming that it becomes memorable.

Amari Aliquid is not an exception with the helpfull collaboration of Metlslime, Kona put together a 6 maps pack episode well handled with tons of new textures, an immersing gameplay and a wonderfull architecture.

The action take place like the origial game with a same 'revisited' story, you will so through you progression, from the wasted sewer to the upper level collect all dataCD to destroy the satelitte and after difeat the Boss.

Design is really great, use of color for every themed map in association with new texture create always a stand alone ambiance architecture altenate huge 'high sky' realisation with complex indoor building in a well balance travel from indoor to outdoor. Every new place will look like a new intesting surpise while travelling through all levels well connected to make it huge but without falling into a 'lost maze' quest. You will encounter while you travelling all the things that makes this game so enjoyable : lot's of secrets places, small action puzzles from elevator to gates with computer access, some voice acting, travelling plane arround all those things being put together really create the best experience.

Gameplay is from the same bottle as design: Travelling is non linear and interconnect al map well together, fight are increasing with progression and so do also the way you recieve weapons and ammo. Challenging is perfectly balance to make it challenging but not frustrating, enemies (more than 300 for the whole unit) are well placed and in sufficient number in relation with the place you will meet them. Objectives are comprehensive and not that difficult to achive. Making the whole episode a really enjoyable experience

In conclusion: One more time I feel to have the right decision to replay (or simply play) several release that came out arround 5 to 10 years ago for the second opus into the Quake gaming history. This one through the fact it was nearly perfectly put together is another prove that Q2 is a must have game for every FPS fan and that a lot of release (from the over 400 releases available through the net) are well worth to give it a try even if the graphic quality has more evoluate till then. So if you want a enjoyable experience into a well balance gameplay crafter with beautifull cutsom architecutre using custom use of color and textures this one is highly recommanded.


Playtime: 2 Hours


Rating: A B C D E (96%)





Note: for the one interested in the statistic releated with the release here are the details:

enemies ____objectives____ secrets______

map 1 : Amari Aliquid _____119/123______ 1/1________ 0/2

map 2 : Lower Palace ______63/64_______ 3/3________ 2/6

map 3 : Upper Palace ______62/65_______ 2/2________ 0/7

map 4 : Outer courts ______60/61 _______1/1_________ 0/5

map 5 : Inner Chamber_____ 8/8 ________1/1_________ 0/0

map 6 : Final Showdown____ 2/2________ 2/2_________ 0/1


not really good in finding secrets


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Problems

I'm actually having problems to update all my pages due to technical issue both with IE 5,6,7 and Opera I switch to Firefox which make run the update correctly sadly for the other web browser i will need to switch to Firefox

Update will come soon

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Cage for Half-Life 2

***NEW!!!***

Level name: The Cage

Author: Bill Adams

Date of release: 26 March 2007

Size: 2 711 ko

Number of maps: 1



website: here


download: here



Story:

None, it's a simple industrial plant that you need to travel through and it's designed with puzzle in mind.


Review :



This Power plant was created with puzzle in mind which doesn't mean that design or fight are forgotten in this release.

Design is quite interesting in a simple way. Use of texture is well done and the general design is not too squary... you progress in a not linear way in order to solve several puzzle (on text message) to make you progress further. Environment isn't repetitive from indoor to other including a sewer part.It's neat but not being excellent especially regarding the outskirt.

Gameplay is the interesting part of this map it's just a succession of small puzzles (jumping, activating,moving,...) that will canalized your progression some fight will take place but even if your not an experience player they will be easy to survive. The gameplay is in my opinion well balance and only lack some good music triggering a little bit more challenge according fights.



In conclusion : a not so old map that shines one more time from the guildhall community, it's puzzle oriented not perfectly designed but shurly enjoyable for a really small part of you gaming life



Playtime: 20 minutes



Rating: A B C D E (71%)

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Heist for Half-Life 2

***NEW!!!***


Level name: The Heist

Author: Josh Black

Date of release: 06 March 2007

Size: 3 605 ko

Number of maps: 1



website: here


download: here




Story:

Inspired by the Hero's Journey, The Heist puts the player in the shoes of a Resistance commando on a mission to steal a weapon prototype from the Combine. Gameplay features include sneaking past enemy guards and hurling boxcars at an enemy strider.


Review :

Here is was the author's tell us about the way he wanted to created this level : "I set The Heist in an urban environment at night to enhance the stealth aspects of the mission. I want the player to feel that he or she is actually sneaking through heavily patrolled streets and breaking into an enemy compound, and I do that by filling the environment with things he or she would expect in that situation - bright streetlights, sounds of patrolling helicopters, grimy backalleys, etc."

Design perfectly fits the objective of Josh, the ambiance is moody and not really exiting just after you was teleported and start you mission, you don't know what's next, but ontext message provide will guide you and make you, firstly, sneak arround and beware of an hypothetic attack.

The squale, the look at relaism, the ambiance is omnipresent . The way the author jungle with the ambiance from a quite start to a rush and push ending make this map a real well put together realisation and event if the author tell us in the readme that this was a beta that need some improve it's defenetly look professional. The only issue, but perhaps it's only accodring with my spec it was slowing a little to much...

Gameplay even if a little too challenging in the second part (the author tells that this was a major part to be modified for the last update) really handle in a particular way your 'player identity' through the whole unit mixing with a perfect surronding ambiance the sneaking part with the more fight through part, reaching it's paroxism through the helicopter escape and the 'boss fight' I didn't really manage to succeed and just decided to escape.




In conclusion: This is for me another more than interesting realisation that shows the number of talented people that got graduate from the guildhall. It's short, not perfect but certainly will let you a good enjoyable moment of gaming.



Playtime: 30 minutes

Rating: A B C D E (78%)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Omega research facility for DOOM3

***NEW!!!***


Level name: Omega research facility

Author: Danny 'Ice Weasel' Robinson

Date of release: 19 juin 2007


Size: 53 987 ko

Number of maps: 2



website: here

download: here

Story:

Right before the disastrous invasion of the UAC's Mars outpost, priority cargo was shipped directly from Delta Level 2 to the former medical research and testing center, the Omega Research Facility on Earth. It contained a live specimen that the research teams had brought back from their expedition into the realm that was beyond the teleporter. The creature was dubbed "revenant" by the scientists, chiefly because the only description of it is a reanimated skeleton that seems to have somehow been brought back from the dead. Study of the creature has been difficult, and several staff have been injured. The experiment is extremely aggressive and seems to attack on sight. UAC HQ has recieved a distress call from the facility in the early hours of the evening. There is a code red, the experiment is loose. Last reports say the facility is under lockdown and the situation is under control, but those reports were over an hour ago. You have been assigned to go to the facility and evaluate the situation. Containment is vital.

Review :

This is not the first release from the author that is more focused on MP releases but it's a defenetly massive and interesting release. The story isn't quite original but at least is one of the most efficent used in DOOM3 mapping.

Design is from above average to brilliant with a lot of interconnection through the whole facility in all axis directions (meant you travel allways forward but take also elevators -up and down- and seems to travel through a huge well interconnected facility). Used of custom textures always increase the interest while you progress all architecture and design seems quite fluid and doesn't increase (or dicrease) in catching your attention till the end. the only minor draw is that in several place you can walk through walls and end in the other side of the map (clipping error) that should have been avoided by a correct beta testing...

Gameplay is fairly balanced but increase in difficulty (less health, more enemies) in the second part which will lead to several thaught combats. Progression is streight forward and won't provide any (except a juming one) puzzle. PDA's info and happening will keep you busy through you progression but both with no real immersion through a strong storyline, this could be perhaps a little disapointment in balance with all the rest. It could also be notice that codding has been apply to give some enemies more power, and that you can try to solve several access to 'secret places' (not that evident).

In conlusion: This interesting release does suffer from minor issues (clipping bugs, missing storyline, puzzles, use of a custom enemy as main objective), in the other end the impressive layout and design and the quite good balanced gameplay make it a real enjoyable episode that will perhaps disappoint several people by the abrupt, but original, ending. Another recommanded release that is well worth the download.



Playtime: 1 hour 15 min




Rating: A B C D E (84%)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mr Deathwish Part 2 for Half-life 2

***NEW!!!***


Level name: Mr Deathwish Part 2

Author: Aro Aarponen

Date of release: 07 March 2007

Size: 13 923 ko

Number of maps: 4



website: here

download: here

Story:

None describe by the author but like in Part 1 after waking up in you home you will need to go to a secret base near a cost to kill another mad scientist that makes experiments...

Review :


After playing one year ago the first release of Aro called Part 1 (info available from www.planetphillip.com) and since I like it a lot a really was waiting for part 2 and to be honest I was a little disapointed.


Design, Like In his first release is really from above avearge quality. Attention to detail, without overusing them, is really well done to make something enjoyable from outdoor to cave featuring,this time, some well made voice acting. It sadly looks defenetly to short especially in comparaison with the First release.


Also the fact to reuse the first part (House of Mister Deathwish) could have use a more suitable transition like for example a teleport or a secret sewer with both or even a small cutscene showing Mr Deathwish going for his journey and not simply put you without any message on the secret coast.

Gameplay is not as much complicated as the first but also provide puzzle that not always seems obvious but this time I had more chance to find an easy way to pass through. It was one time morewell thaught and honestly enjoyable. Regarding fights and combats there are easy to pass thorugh or simply (in some part) could be avoided... Last part is more a typical combine reinforcement gameplay enjoyable but not more. It is important to note that in the srarting lighting tower is you go up by foot and not using the lift you 'friend' could not open you the path to the next level...


In conclusion: This is for me another really enjoyable release from Aro but I was defenitly looking for something more accomplished and polished regarding his first release. I just hope there will be a part3 and that this time the expirience will be less linear and longer (like in the part 1)


Playtime: 30 minutes


Rating: A B C D E (74%)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Reclamation for Half-life 2

***NEW!!!***


Level name: Reclamation

Author: Mike Pankratz

Date of release: 13 July 2006

Size: 5 268 ko

Number of maps: 1



website: here



download: here

Story:
there is no story behind but it could be easily put together : Dog as just been capture by the combine forces and seems to be hold in a manufactury. The way is to find him back and to save him.

Review :

One time more passing through The Guildhall at SMU made me find another interesting short but sweet release This time you will travel trough an industrial complex in a fight and puzzle mix to find and deliver Dog.

Design is well put together in a slithly above average architecture and design. The action is mostly indoor. The layout is made, in my opinion, in a little repetitive texturing but it fits well to the industrial theme.

Progression is obvious in a linear way but mostly oriented as a maze through lot's of upper floor. ambush especially manhacks (this gave me a new idea of gaming using the gravity gun to catch them and trow them on combine...quite efficiant) that will give you a lot of challenge increasing till the final central command where you will need to battle against combine to save Dog. The whole progression is well mixed with some puzzle (pillars gettting down, this one was certainly influenced by some Duke Nukem experience) and console activating button. Everything seems obvious but makes it really enjoyable.

In conclusion: Another good dig out of grave release from The Guildhall at SMU . The author who did other intesting stuff especially for Call of Duty comes this time with well action packed mission that really diserve you attention. Get it as soon as possible and you will be happy with it



Playtime: 20 minutes


Rating: A B C D E (77%)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Breakdown 2 for Half-Life

***this review was previously available at Alejandro Mapping Center***

Level name: Breakdown 2 : Afterward

Author: Pavel Koten

Date of release: 27 July 2003

Size: 15 950 Ko

Number of maps: ?


website: http://www.hl-breakdown.wz.cz/pages/story_en.html

download: http://www.filecloud.com/files/file.php?user_file_id=145873

Story:

... That day should be the beginning of great celebrations, because the mankind created machine for transfering a biological material. But the scientists at Black Mesa didn´t count with surfeit of transport nucleus, and the whole transfer can sprain out of control. Something like this has happened during the main test, which was initiated by Gordon Freeman. Thanks to the great energy, that was produced by transporter, the secondary leaky nucleus was started. It´s handling has taken off experienced team of scientists, including Dr. Jonathan Wood. It is hard to say where was the error, but the weird monsters started to appear all over the complex, and they slaughtered every human existence. Some dashers tried to escape, the others self-murdered and the rest with panic fear has hidden in the darkest corners of the facility. Rescue should appear quickly, but what followed can be described only as "erasing the clues". Government simply didn´t want any evidences about the situation, that happened in the New Mexico. But one thing was clear - there won´t be any help from outside. Jonathan like the only survivor of the team began rescuing his own life, but after many fights and pitfalls he was captured by an army forces. Now he is awaking in the unknown part of the complex, and his only friend is fear, that herds him forward...

Review:

Breakdown 2 is the sequel to Pavel Koten’s first release. For this one Pavel keeps his way of making a challenging experience but with some sweetie innovations. Design is well put together (even if some parts are a little too repetitive) and takes place in another research center after an accident.

Even if some external help is provided here and there the challenge is omnipresent (If you are not an experienced player I recommend to play it on easy skill) especially for the first part. General design is above average and well put together with small puzzles (which are most of the time evident) but you may encounter in places some r-speed problems due to an overuse of entities.
Enemies are more alien oriented in the first part and later more grunts oriented. Finally with some cool innovations (some book left that you need to read during your travel, an entertaining sports car ride…you will certainly enjoy this realisation.

In conclusion: Certainly better than his first release, this one left me with a good feeling, worth for at least two hours of gaming


Playtime: 2 hours




Rating: A B C D E (84 %)

note : picture where taken without permission from the author's site where you can look to some more of them