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Map Title: The Crash
The Crash is a very early map pack by the infamous David "DavidM" Münnich. In later years, DavidM would go on to be unabashedly critical of efforts much greater than this, therefore it's most interesting to delve back into the archives and be reminded that DavidM was also, once, an UnrealEd "n00b".
In fact, The Crash is a long way below the standard of many more recent mappers' first efforts, which is interesting, as this wasn't even DavidM's first release. The Readme accompanying the two maps gives quite an extensive list of DavidM's prior releases. Still, back when The Crash was made, there wasn't nearly so great a level of assistance and critique available from what was then a virginal community, so perhaps this slower learning curve can be forgiven.
The story? There really isn't one. You begin the first map in your crashed space ship and meet some Nali. You proceed to a Skaarj base and are given a Skaarj costume by another Nali, allowing you to pass through the base unnoticed, at least until you cause a large explosion...
The two maps that constitute The Crash are very short and pretty basic in design. Both maps, including the terrain, are built almost exclusively out of basic editor primitives. Texturing is largely logical, although the Skaarj base makes extensive use of PlayerShp textures (which really only belong on Terran space ships and facilities). Alignment is basically acceptable, but abslutely no boundaries are pushed here, and there is no real attempt to cover up the basic nature of the architecture (for example, there is very little use of trim). There are occasional incongruities, such as a stone switch in a Nali structure activating a large flight of poorly textured, heavy metal stairs that appear from nowhere, and a pair of huge wooden gates that guard nothing more than a small pool.
Lighting is basic, being far too bright and uniform in the terrain areas, and completely unsourced in the few Nali interiors. Lighting in the Skaarj base is better done, using a variety of colours (including purple and green, which DavidM would later decry as "ghey"), but although light fittings are present the lighting doesn't make much of an effort to correlate to these sources. Sound is disappointing, with sounds only emanating from specific sources such as waterfalls and computers, with there being no "ambience" such as the distant rumble of wind that we have all come to expect. A couple of stock Unreal music tracks are put to use.
Where The Crash is probably most successful is in its gameplay innovations, which consist primarily of the use of a Skaarj player class in the second map, with friendly Skaarj on patrol and a couple of human enemies. At a key point the player causes a disturbance that makes the Skaarj turn on him, giving rise to the map pack's biggest fight against an army of SkaarjTroopers.
The big SkaarjTrooper fight is, in fact, the main thing The Crash has to offer in combat terms. Prior to that, a lot of the player's time is spent wandering around unchallenged, creating a very lopsided gameplay model. After the main fight, combat tails off again as the player makes their escape by means of a journey through the base's underworks, leading ultimately to a rather cheeky ending that will either likely entertain or annoy the player.
Nowadays, The Crash is little more than a minor curiosity that allows one to observe how DavidM developed as a mapper.
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