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


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 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


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


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


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.


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


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


"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?
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" 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 wont have much time before the ship's hull collapses.
"Save the world, marine, we're counting on you!
Damn yes..........the ship. The huge ship flying earthward on a mission of destruction and assimilation. Now 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