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Map Information

Map Title: Hexephet
Map Author: Grayson Edge
Reviewed By: Hellscrag
Review Score: 82%

Main Review

The scene: a Skaarj outpost on the surface of an alien planet. You were captured by the Skaarj after attempting to escape from Star 861 (the author's previous map). Now, as your Skaarj death chamber charges up, you are given a last chance for freedom as the control panel explodes on an unfortunate Skaarj and the unit shuts down.

So commences Hexephet, a two map pack by Grayson Edge, who went on to be one of the designers who worked at Legend Entertainment on Unreal 2. And as you would expect from a mapper who landed such a job, the levels in Hexephet ooze professionalism.

Hexephet
The exterior of the Hexephet outpost

The first map, Hexephet itself, takes place on the surface of the planet (the Nali planet? it's not stated) in a network of dramatically and attractively designed canyons and valleys. Said natural structures are true to the form of Unreal and just as if not more impressive. The Skaarj outpost is dotted around this area, consisting of various bunkers and standalone structures; several times you will go inside and underground, and there are one or two areas you needn't explore at all but would be advised to for the coolness and the supplies. Grand designs exist throughout this map and there is great foreshadowing in the vicinity of the control tower and underground base below it.

The lighting is every bit as good as the original Unreal maps, from the natural daytime to the artificial lighting indoors and from lamp posts. The lighting illuminates outside the standard Unreal natural textures, which are applied and scaled well, and indoors a heavy Skaarj-textured theme which is reminiscent of the MotherShip but generally much more effective (in part due to the more interesting lighting). One thing I liked, in the underground cave section, was the use of patches of pale coloured lighting to break up the rock textures. Both indoors and outdoors, the levels are thick with ambient sound and this really adds to the atmosphere. Edge also makes use of the sound pitch property to create sinister effects - standard practice today, but very original when this map was made. There is no music, but it really isn't needed because of the amount of sound.

One flaw that was pointed out in the Nali City review is that on the larger outdoor structures, particularly the entrance to the second level, the Skaarj textures are confusingly scaled. This is true... although I didn't really notice until I read the review. Overall, I find the texturing of this map very pleasing, with barely a misalignment to be seen.

The second map, The Fission Smelter, takes place in the gargantuan Skaarj facility you entered at the end of the previous level. The level literally seems to go on forever - but the heavy Skaarj textured theme is highly detailed throughout and has ample variety whilst adhering to the original theme. Part of this variety is due to the willing use of coloured lighting (even some fog) - and it normally looks pretty damned good, although one or two areas, such as one room with gas jets and red and yellow lighting - don't quite hit the spot. On the whole, the lighting is excellent, and all sourced for good realism. And, like in Hexephet, ambient sounds are thickly included and compensate for the absence of music.

Hexephet
Another shot of the exterior

The gameplay of the pack as a whole is on a sensible curve from start to finish. Out in Hexephet, you fight several Brutes of differing varieties, with a few Skaarj of pretty much all types included for good measure. It doesn't start off insultingly easy, instead it supplies you with a bunch of weapons fairly early on along with a few nastier bad guys, although you will have to look around to find all these tools. Later on, in the Fission Smelter, the combat intensifies, with more Skaarj to fight (but still sufficient ammo to keep you going - there's nothing more annoying than a map with no ammo). At the end, you have to fight a couple of "lords" - not especially challenging, but an ending of sorts. To add to the atmosphere of the levels, the storyline is presented typically through translator messages, but it's about the combat. A few Mercenary interlopers stashed in hidden corners are a clever touch, but although many of the pack's combats are cleverly staged, there's not a huge amount in the way of scripted sequences or progression of the pack's basic story.

Summary

Overall, looks and sounds great, and plays well.

BUILD (50%) CAST (50%)
Architecture 9 Conceptual Grandness 9
Texturing 9 Story Construction 6
Lighting 8 Story Implementation 6
Sound 9 Gameplay Awe 7
Technical Execution 10 Gameplay Balance 9

Total Score:
82%

Second Opinions

Based on original schema score of 9:

Hexephet is a classic map by any standards. Theres not much I can say about it that is really different then the initial review. This map by Grayson Edge is probably one of my all time favorite custom sp maps. The skaarj atmoshpere is on par with the Skaarj Mothership, thats something that can't be said for the majority of sps out there. Grayson's masterpiece is an inspiration, one of the oldskool classics that still holds it's own today. The map isn't perfect, but the errors and bugs are minor, if you can call them bugs. I liked Hexephet for many reasons, mainly because it felt "complete". Although I hoped for a spectacular ending, the ending was in the same style as the begining and the rest of the pack, the theme is constant in all aspects. Gameplay, Flow, Funfactor, fighting, all of it remained on the same pace from start to finish.
There was never area that stood out among the rest of the pack to shock you, the whole package was consistant and well made, which is why it is still at the top of the list and one of personal favorites. By playing this, it is obvious why Egde is working on Unreal 2.
Mr. Prophet's Score: 8.

Downloads

Download hexephet.zip (4.1MB) from FileFront
Download hexephet.zip (4.1MB) from FilePlanet
Download hexephet.zip (4.1MB) from AtomicGamer
Download hexephet.zip (4.1MB) from OldUnreal

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