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

site designed by Mr_Hangman











Scuttle is the fifth map from Biohazard webmaster, Chronic. Being an experienced map reviewer, Chronic shows that he clearly knows how to use the tools, and that he obviously understands many of the key elements that make deathmatch levels fun to play. However Scuttle, like many maps soon shows the symptoms of something which has been put together without much real thought into the overall design.

From now on I'm not going to go into too much detail describing the specifics of the texturing, lighting etc. I'm not trying to say that these aren't important, but I find paragraphs about these elements fairly mundane to write and I'm sure the readers will feel the same way. Anyway I think I've gone off track long enough, so lets get on with the review.

Chronic has opted to use coloured lighting in a couple of areas. He executes this well and it helps to give the map a moody atmosphere. The streetlights in the main courtyard are a nice tough and thankfully you can't drown in them. One slight problem with the lighting is contrast. In most areas this is not a problem, but when entering the corridor with the teleporters there's a notable difference in contrast which could do to be more subtle.

The architecture is interesting to look at and non-intrusive on the gameplay. The texture sets used are well thought out and complement the lighting and the architecture.

Weapon placement is pretty good. Ammo is well spread out, greatly helping the flow and discourages camping. On such a level I don't think that the inclusion of the long jump module was necessary, however it is useful when trying to get out of the river in the sewer area (more on that in a minute).

Flow and connectivity aren't exactly brilliant, but they're not terrible either. Connectivity would be helped greatly if there was more than one way to get to the Black-Mesa style area. The ladder leading to the sewers sometimes takes a bit of messing around to get down and the river in the sewers is almost impossible to get out of without the long jump module or the gauss gun. R_speeds are kept low throughout the entire map, rarely going over 400. Despite these problems, Scuttle can still be quite good fun to play.

The main problem with the level is consistency. Having slightly varied themes isn't a problem, but these themes still have to match reasonably well. When I walk around this map it feels as though one or two of the areas (mainly the Black-Mesa style area) were thrown in simply to increase the size of the level and don't really fit well with the rest of the map.

I think that level designers would greatly benefit from concentrating on a single theme and planning there maps out more carefully before they start building. This problem could also be helped by playtesting early on, once the initial design has been laid out. By doing this, the author can see if there are any areas that seem out of place.

Despite these problems, Scuttle is a nice looking map that shows clear knowledge of the gameplay mechanics involved in making deathmatch levels. I hope that my advice will help him to improve on his mapping in his later releases.