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.