VeNgEaNcE's House Of Horrors
single player and deathmatch level reviews for half-life

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Alpha is the debut map by SuperCrazy and like many debuts it has some good features. But unfortuantly, like many debuts, it has its many faults.

Lighting is a fairly standard, but slighly uninspiring affair. For a first map its a pretty good effort, however there are several badly lit areas, either being way too light, or too dark, which as we know can lead to camping spots, but more on that later. With a large portion of this map being set outside, its nice to see the authors good use of shadows. This makes many of the outdoor areas appear more natural, however this is one of the reasons for some areas being too dark. Texturing is fairly well done for a first map and is pulled off sensibly. However its not very nice to look at. The outsides of all the buildings use the same concrete texture making them look very boring and ugly. The author says that he has taken care of misaligned textures during the making of the map, and it shows, I couldn't see any misaligned textures when I looked around. Architecture is like in many first maps, rather basic. Most of the buildings are rather square, with the odd curve or two. The map would benefit a great deal with a more detailed approach to the architecture, as most areas are pretty bare. The only thing that keeps most of the indoor areas from being empty is the addition of crates and barrels. The use of spiral staircases is a nice touch and spices the map up a bit, however one of these staircases is a bit took steep for my liking. A lift or a ladder would have fitted better in this area, as the staircase appears to have been squashed up. In one area, the author has added a glass tube with a laser running through it. Again this spices up the visuals, but only very slightly.

The author appears to have grasped how to use the tools, and his map is fairly well built for a beginner. However like most new mappers, the author falls down from not understanding well enough what makes a good deathmatch map. The connectivity is unfortuantly fairly bad. Most areas only have one or two exits (which includings doubling back on yourself). The outdoor area acts as a central hub, connecting the main areas of the map, but once you get inside, it feels like you are being led around on a leesh. There are many dead ends in this map, and just adding more entrances where these appear could have greatly helped the connectivity. The authors use of ladders help the player get around and boosts the connectivity of some areas. Ammo is placed generously all over the map, and you are not likely to be running short. The weapons are also fairly well spread out. There are quite a few health and energy pickups to be found, which greatly helps in the middle of a fight. Some of the weapons (such as snarks) are quite hard to reach and require climbling crates and some tricky jumping. The RPG is guarded by a laser grid which toggles on and off every 30 seconds. This is a good idea, but blocks off the area and slows down the flow. Also there is quite a bit of RPG ammo placed in this area, again encouraging camping. The long jump module is needed to get the egon. The author has decide to emit the gauss and the hornetgun. Leaving out weapons is becoming a popular move made by mappers these days, however I feel he should have kept the gauss in the place of the egon. I think that placing a turret in one of the rooms was unneccessary and again creates opportunites for camping. However it is possible to eliminate the person using the turret as they are made vunerable by an exit to their rear. Like I have mentioned several times throughout this review, the author has unfortuantly created several camping spots. One of these is a gap behind a stairwell, where you could easily hide undetected whilst picking off passers by. One fairly dark area containing a health charger and crossbow ammo is a campers paradise, but for the rest of us it becomes a nightmare. The appearance of these spots is one of the factors that slows down the flow of the map considerably. Also some of the corridors are a bit cramped and slow down the player slightly. R_speeds range from between 200 and slighly over 600 in areas. So in most areas the action should not suffer much slow down. However considering the lack of complexity in the map, the r_speeds could have been made much lower with a bit of careful tweaking.

Overall, this is a fairly good first attempt at mapping, and clearly the author has put quite a bit of effort into making it. However like many new mappers, the author lacks an understanding of what makes a good deathmatch map. If the author takes what I have said on board and keeps practising he should be able to produce some pretty good maps. Unfortuanly for the players though, I can't really recommend this map, unless you have played everything else to death.