Entrance to Cherokee Base
by Josh Stern
Site score 34%
Every so often I come back to my faltering marathon through UnrealSP's reviewed custom maps, which I have been doing in increasing order of score. At last count I was at The Skyfalls
, which scored 34%, so now I'm continuing with another single map that achieved the same score on the site. This one, however, I've never played before. Please forgive the lack of original screenshots, but I no longer have any Unreal-related web hosting and I don't have a photobucket or imageshack account.
So, to the map. My main impression is that, with a bit more time, care and attention, this could really have been something special. You wouldn't have thought it, from the cramped, primitive tunnels and caves that open the level, but even then there are signs that this is more than just any newbie map - although the caves are constructed from editor primitives, they are rotated in interesting ways, and different areas are linked together by a lava stream that creates a few interesting layered views, giving the sense that there is more to these caves than you can see.
Then, suddenly, you break out into a truly massive outdoor area. The fact that it is basically one big subtracted cube is compensated for by the introduction of some large artificial structures of an interesting shape and great scale. If only it wasn't zonelit, it could be so much more impressive than it already is.
The mapper creates interesting gameplay by making the player climb down a series of broken structures into a large pit outside the base full of broken pipes and pools. After that, a trip through the sewage system takes the player to the map's most interesting area, a series of plant rooms. Again, editor primitives are used, but they are configured in interesting ways, with interesting angles, and have a good sense of scale. The plant rooms allow the player to access a generator that is keeping the base doors locked. Returning to the outdoor area, the player can now use the security tower to activate a lift that provides access to a road system leading to the main entrance to the base, at which the map ends.
This is all good stuff, done with a degree of imaginative flair and conceptual grandness unusual in a first time map. However, to me the job feels unfinished. I like my maps to have ambient sounds, for starters, and lighting should be used to create highlights and shadows and generally add atmosphere. Here, it is mostly uniform white lighting that serves only to illuminate the area. The combat is sparse and the supplies of ammo and health are over-generous. There is very little in the way of story.
It's a shame, as in the hands of a more experienced mapper the concept here could have been used to develop a map that would rival Hexephet
at the very least. Even now, it's not too much of a reach to imagine this map being reduxxed into the introductory map to a great pack set in and around the Cherokee base. But, some 13 years after the event, that's obviously never going to happen!
Next time: The Tower of Zi' Ki'