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Map Title: The Landing
I assume most of the people around UnrealSP.org have played The landing, but for those who donít Iíll give a small heads-up. The landing is one of Hellscragís first UTSP offerings, with only Tasharaís Cove preceding it. Itís a 3 map (unfinished) mappack revolving around an unnamed protagonist who crashlands on an alien planet after being shot down mercenary vessels.
Yes, itís that time again! Countless of unfortunates have swarmed Na Paliís surface to this day and now itís the turn of yet another guntoting maniac to blow all scum to oblivion and rescue the repressed natives. It would be hard to give Hellscrag points for originality plotwise but the clichť story is pulled of decently. Throughout the pack you will find a (albeit) small number of well-written messages that help evolve the bland and unimaginative story somewhat. What I liked most though is when Hellscrag uses the translator messages to make Nali speak to the player. Very clever use indeed!
The pack starts off with the player inside his crashed vessel, itís nighttime outside with a deserted house whose owner is away to make a map of the nearby caverns. Know what to do? So do I! The caverns are where most of the first map takes place. Architecturally it is pulled of pretty good and the caves look genuinely natural. Lighting is a little bland and texturing repetitive. Youíll have to trust on your automag skills because thatís about all you will be able to rely on in the gasbag-infested caverns. The main objective is to find a key to a gate that will allow you passage out of the caves. The key requires some jumping to get to but isnít hard to find otherwise. You basically have two choices in the first map. You can finish it quickly or you can explore, and Hellscrag always rewards explorers which makes it all the more worthwhile to stick around a little longer!
In the second map the player has emerged from the caves and stumbles upon a repressed seaside village. The gatekeeper tells you the leader of the oppressors wonít come out of hiding until all of his guards are dead, he then continues to open the gate for you, allowing you passage to the town. After defeating all the guards thereís an encounter with a rather tough Krall Elite. When youíve killed him a Nali will lead you to the dock where he has prepared a boat for you.
Nali villages are what Hellscrag does best and it shows. He even took the time to give the streets names and make all of the interiors accessible. The houses are very empty and undetailed though, mostly just one empty room with a few potted plants and maybe some ammo. Again, players who take time to explore and read translator messages are rewarded. If you donít, you might even miss out on the ASMD! Thereís also a little inside joke concerning a fanfic here, which is together with the legless krall from map 1 quite humorous! The town is a well-conceived location complete with a church overlooking it and a misty sea. Again though it suffers from somewhat bland lighting compared to todays standard. If Hellscrag ever feels obliged to finish the pack more contrast would be nice.
The player arrives by boat at the third and final map. The most conceptually grand (To use Hellscragís own terms) of the three, with a giant mercenary installation looming in the distance. Storywise itís the least interesting, apparently you are trying to find some kind of vessel there which will get you off the planet. Other than that you wonít find anything other than the standard << Access Denied >> messages. You could regard the third map as an intro, the player must find a way into the mercenary base. When you actually get to the entrance you will realize there is no fourth map. Itís a pity no such map was ever made but weíll have to live with it :) The map is effective the way it is, an intro to what shouldíve been the climax of the pack. Architecture is yet again pulled of decently, the lighting is yet again too bland and adventurous players will yet again be rewarded (a FlakCannon this time).
So itís time for us to reach a conclusion, no wait.. I forgot a few things on the list!
Hellscrag paid great attention to sound in all three maps and I also really like the choice of songs he made. StarSeek.umx is a track you wonít encounter much in other SP packs, which is a shame because it really is good and a perfect match for the first map. The second map uses a hardly ever used songsection from Spire.umx, and the third map uses the upbeat Neve.umx which fits greatly.
The gameplay only really gets tough at the third map where youíll have some close quarters combat with Mercenaries and ample space to move. The Kralls and Gasbags from the previous maps are not that hard, though health and armor is pretty scarce to compensate. All in all I found it too easy to complete but novice players should have some difficulty.
Now itís really time for the summary. Visuals are as expected pretty sub-par nowadays, but the architecture is decent even for todays standards. The story, while unimaginative, is achieved in an attractive fashion and even leaves room for a few jokes. Gameplay is on the easy side. Sound is definately good! Alltogether itís yet another stroll through the lands of Na Pali, but an enjoyable one at that!
So there you have it, quite a drop in the (even for the time) generous previous score and itís sound that saves the day! I would still agree with the former tagline though. A healthy choice for your harddrive!
I'd like to thank Frieza for giving this pack what I regard as a pretty generous review! I was never fully happy with the pack - map two was made in nine days - which is why I never got round to finishing it. If I were scoring it myself, I'd knock a few points off for architecture, sound, conceptual grandness and the story (since the pack happens to be unfinished).
Second Opinions - Willis
The original review, of a less finished release in which the third map was incomplete, based on the old review schema:
Here is a piece from the story:
Well the first level, you exit your ship after a small earthquake and explosions, (which are you crashing I assume). There is a small Nali hut, and a canyon trail, from there you read a Nali's diary and enter a archive of caves. There is alot of free exploration in this level, you could beat it quickly, but there are some other routes you can explore, and a few translator messages setting the scene. Combat mostly consists of gasbags, mantas, and tentacles. There is health and ammo spread threw out the level, but I felt it could have been more spread out. There is also a few puzzles, which I liked, then as you walk to the exit of the cave, a door closes behind you and the next level loads.
In the second level, you are set in a Nali town, where you first talk to a nali living outside the village who tell you that, the Krall have taken over the town. Scripted sequences and a good atmosphere set the scene, I thought the music, sounds, and the sky really helped set a dreary, moist atmosphere. After accomplishing what you must, a nali sends you off on a boat towards an island. I thought this map could have had a bit more detail, I thought the houses looked kind of plain.
Now we come to the third level, and my personal favourite (even tho it is not finished). This map has an awsome atmosphere, on the boat you approach a large mercenary structure, as the music comes it gives you a kind of happy feeling (don't ask me why..). The music and sounds set a wicked atmosphere, and with this structure looming above you the foreshadowing is amazing, you know you will get in there some how. The stroy of the island is indulged apon, you finding it used to be a dwelling for the Nali to dwell in peace, but now some creature or species has taken over (the merc's). I really liked this map, and it would have been better finished, all-though it wasn't, :\.
All in all, the map has simple, but atmospherical architecture, average lighting, and well chosen music, sounds, skies, and translator events, and textures, all-though I didn't really like some of the texturing in the caves, but thats my personal opinion on that texture set itself.
I think d/ling this set of maps would be a healthy choice for your hard drive :). I think you will enjoy it.