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Map Title: Tarmation - The Tiradium Sublimation
Tarmation was a first release for the author, TAZ, in Ď99. Unfortunately, TAZ only ever released this map along with Tarmation 2. As stated in the readme file of Tarmation, you are part of a research team trapped in a subterranean vault on an ice planet. For reasons unstated, a large block of ice has you stuck on the planet and the heating systems are turned off. Your goal in this map is to turn them back on to melt the ice and escape. This map was made for Unreal SP, but works in the Oldskool mod for UT.
The stronger aspect of this map lies with the visuals, but much work could have been done to make them better. Architecturally speaking, this map does ok in certain sections, while in others it appears slapped together. Certain rooms have a slight ďwowĒ factor at first sight, but many faults can be found on further inspection. The main problem was in the connectivity of the different details. Seams are visible where many of the rooms and details connect. Detail is odd at times, giving this map a unique theme that can be both good and bad. Quite a bit of imagination went into the theme of this map, but certain details are left unexplained as to their presence.
Texturing is a definite downside in Tarmation. Alignment problems are noticeable everywhere, but most prominent in the starting area. Cliffs are always hard to align, but in this case, there didnít seem to be any attempt whatsoever. Textures were chosen nicely on some smaller details such as lava flows and crystals.
The lighting is seemingly experimental in Tarmation. Red and orange were the eminent colors used to accompany the lava and fire theme. The overall effect isnít bad, but colors were excessively saturated in certain areas. The map could have used some brighter zone lighting in a few sections, and certain floors and lifts were nearly black. Fog was used well in a few areas that gave an almost creepy effect (and hides the lack of detail in those same areas). The lighting does suit the theme overall.
Tarmation had enough action in store that it didnít come across as boring; however, it did lack certain elements of gameplay that make SP more enjoyable. One such element would be the lack of scripted battles and sequences. There are several parts in this map where you ride elevators down very long shafts. These elevators are so slow moving that you would at least expect something to jump out at you during your trip to keep you entertained. Some of these slow moving lifts almost tempt you to use the ďflyĒ command or speed up the game to get through them faster. Another element is the lack of translator messages to keep the story going. There really isnít much to read once you know your mission and get going. It would have been nice to find out what happened to the rest of the research team that was supposedly lost in this subterranean facility. There didnít seem to be any explanation as to who the real inhabitants of the facility are, either. These elements are often left out of first-time maps such as this. Having said that, there are a few fun moments in this map, including a battle with a lava Titan. There is plenty of unique scenery throughout Tarmation that keeps you occupied and willing to finish the map.
Ambient sounds were seldom used in this map. At many times, they were non-existent. Torches didnít give off noise, most of the fire pits didnít make any sound, and other such details that should make noise do not. The music stayed the same throughout the entire map. It would have been nice to hear a few action tracks.
This map seems to have been rushed in the finishing stages, since certain bugs such as BSP holes are noticeable in corners here and there. All mappers know that BSP holes can be a major problem, but they must be reflected in the technical execution score. The framerate was bad in a few detailed rooms. The other rushed portions of this map have already been mentioned, such as the visible seams and problems with connectivity between rooms and detail.
Tarmation deserves a glance for the uniqueness of its architecture. This map isnít technically sound, and many elements are lacking in the gameplay department; however, it will keep most players semi-entertained for a good 20 minutes. TAZ undoubtedly would have become a good mapper had he perfected his flaws and learned more about UnrealED. Tarmation shows that the creativity of this mapper is certainly there.
Second Opinions - zynthetic
The original review, based on the old review schema:
Tarmation is a single map based on progression. The object is melt a giant ice block by accomplishing a series of tasks. More or less, tarmation seems like an experiment rather than an actual level. There are several places that will cause even high end computers to stutter. The combination of high poly architecture and special lighting is a little too abundant.
Aside from the technical issues the map was pleasant. Combat was comfortable and evenly spread throughout the map in open areas. The weapon placement was a little too plentiful. Nearly a full arsenal is included in this one map. Gameplay was a plus. Tarmation isn't exactly linear, there's various paths you can take, but you are definitely given a sense of direction. The author states that this is his first map. With that in mind I can accept the flaws in Tarmation. Unfortunately Taz didn't release many maps for Unreal, there's definitely potential here.
Tarmation offers 10-15 minutes of gameplay; if you explore. It is extremely short for a one map release. For that I recommend getting both Tarmation and Tarmation2.
A short and experimental map. The author could have gone onto greater things.
I agree with zynthetic. Tarmation is a strange map but there are some great designs within it. Still, it's not really substantial enough to stand out as a great release.