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

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The Haunted Lab

Ghosts, monsters, and genetic experiments gone wrong. This description may sound intereasting to any horror movie fan. After seeing the name of this map at file planet (or something like that) I was immediatly drawn to the "Haunted" aspect of the map. I have to say that after I had finished it I felt slightly let down. Here's the full story:

When I first loaded this level I was quite pleased to see the use of rain and lightning effects, I feel it really set the mood of the map. This is good as when you start playing it does feel like you're in a horror movie. After walking inside I see an axe lying on the floor, I picked it up and SHOCK HORROR! custom weapon models. The axe acts as a crowbar replacement (obviously, it would seem stupid having an axe that fire rockets), there is also a remodelled shotgun, and later on in the map you can find a cool hornetgun replacement that fires flaming skulls. I read in the readme that the author mainly made this map to show off his new models. Unfortuantly this soon shows. I think I should point out my main problem with this level first. Whilst the map has a nice atmosphere, he really needs to take some time in future with the lighting. Through out the entire level the author uses the flickering lighting effect. If used in moderation this is a nice effect but in this map I have to say it nearly drove me to smashing my monitor up with my bare hands. Another thing that you will notice about this map is the addition of new monsters. It features a remodelled zombie, handcrab and something I'm not too sure about (its a rat, but I'm not sure what it replaces). These monsters add to the theme of genetic experiments (just look at the screenshots and you'll see what I mean). The architecture of this map is unfortuantly rather basic, I don't think this really took away much from the overall feel of the map, but I would have preferred to have seen something a little more intereasting. One of the high points of the map is the r_speeds. They generally stick around 200 which is brilliant. However in places they jump over 1000. I can't really think of a reason for this, as the maps are very small and the architecture quite basic.

Unfortuantly this episode is far too short (weighing in at a measly 4 bsps). If you rush through this map you can finish it in about 2 minutes. The author seems to have a habit of making objects break and monsters jump out of them at you. This is good at first, but soon gets very predictable. One thing I like about the haunted lab is weapon placement, I think the author gives you just the right amount of ammo, by the end of the map I hardly had any ammo left. At certain points in the map you see ghost scientists around the map. This is a nice effect and adds to the creepy feeling of the map. Another weakness of this map are the lack of sequences. The only noteable sequence is the ending, which is still nothing spectacular. The texturing is appropriate to the theme and works well to increase the atmosphere. The author has included one or two new sounds (like monster screams) which sound pretty weird, but don't really add much to the map itself. One thing which really bugged me about this level was the lack of puzzles. For me a good map needs balanced unpredictable combat and some good puzzles. A lack of puzzles will be refreshing for those who just want a quick satisfying fight, but unfortuantly this map fails to provide in this area either.

I think the author could have made much more of this map if he had spent more time on it and applyed himself more. He seems to have talent and I'm sure if he follows my advice he could pull off something spectacular. I think he may just have run out of ideas (or time) and decided to finish it sharply with an extremly overcliched ending (you wake up and realize it was just a dream, maybe not a cliche in terms of Half-Life maps but not exactly a brilliant ending).

Unfortuantly I can't really recommend this map to anyone, unless you've played everything and need to satisfy an addiction playing single player maps.