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

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Multiplayer maps aren't exactly famous for their storylines (sometimes I think the same is true of a lot of SP maps). But Yak Fighter has gone to the trouble of creating a back story for his creation. Heres the blockquote:

"After Gordon defeated Nihilanth, the door for colonization of Xen
was thrown open. Earth soldiers used the teleportation technology gained from
the Black Mesa Research Facility to warp into Xen and secure sections of it.
Bases were built in the conquered territory, but they were under the constant
threat of counter-attack by the native Xen.
You were sent to a communications outpost near the front lines,
along with a large group of civilian and military workers. As the fighting raged
on, the outpost grew increasingly closer to the advancing Xen army. After
heavy fighting, the Xen army cut off the outpost from any ground resupply, and
any ships coming in were destroyed. The outpost was too difficult for the Xen
to take, so instead they were going to starve the humans out.
Once the base was cut off, supplies began to run low. A few of the
soldiers stole the only way out, the cargo ship, and escaped, leaving the
rest, including you, to die. As the supplies dwindled, fighting soon erupted
between the humans.
The Earth forces soon began a counter-attack of their own, and tried
to relieve the outpost and save those left. But as the battle between Earth and
Xen raged around them, the survivors in the outpost continued their slaughter..."

So basically this map is a military base on Xen. When you load it up this is not so obvious. The sky texture suggests that it's set in Xen, but I have to say that playing Torque does not really feel like you are in a real military base. More on that later. One of the best things about this level is the r_speeds, which are generally around 200, rarely creeping over 400. This is quite an achievement as it is quite a big level with several wide open areas. The lighting in this map is quite well done and is helped by the use of shadows in some areas. I think the lighting could have been a bit more intereasting though. One of the highlights of Torque is the connectivity. Just about every area of the map has several exits and you rarely ever meet a dead end.

This may be the authors debut map, but despite this the architecture is very good. Its nothing earth shattering, but its a welcome break from the square worlds we usually see from beginner mappers. Before I mentioned that playing this map doesn't really feel like you are in a real military base. This is mainly down to the texturing. The author mostly uses the concrete textures, which in most maps is fine, but Torque is supposed to be themed and the texturing doesn't make this seem very believable. The author has also added some ambient sounds which make the base sound like it is under attack, this is quite a nice touch.

Weapon placement is very good, you are never low on ammo and the major weapons (like the RPG and the gauss) are placed in more open areas so players going for them are putting themselves at risk. Another good move by the author in terms of weapon placement was his decision not to include all of the weapons. The weapons he left out are the hornetgun, snarks and the egon. These are in my opinion the most unskilled weapons in HL and keeping them out was a great idea.

Overall Torque is a very well designed map, but is let down by repetetive texturing. The author obviously knows what he is doing and if he concentrates on improving the feel of his maps he will become very successful. This is definaly worth a look and should be a blast to play. VeNgEaNcE