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Map Title: Zombie Dawn
EZkeel's Zombie Dawn is quite possibly one of the shortest maps in Unreal Single Player history. A casual player could probably romp through it in ten minutes. Brief as it may be, it is also among the most unique of its kind. True to form, EZkeel breaks away from expectations and provides the player with something "different".
Zombie Dawn is, as the title makes clear, a map about taking on the undead. Starting in a graveyard in front of a large church, the player is quickly informed by the log entries of dead people that forces of occult nature are bringing the dead back to life. The only way to stop this army of darkness (heh) is to get into the church and read a holy passage that will ultimately send the zombie horde back to hell. Mixing religion with SP elements is something EZkeel does often, but unlike more notorious attempts the concept fits well with the B-Movie camp he has going on here. The story is different and it is a welcoming refreshment from the norm.
Because the map is so short, EZkeel utilizes very little custom content for obvious reasons. You use standard Unreal inventory (with a custom made inventory item with icon) and if playing through UT's Oldskool you’ll have the luxury of the chainsaw, a rare find in SP. For guns you’ll nab an enforcer, an all powerful rifle for clearing any zombie area from a distance, a vastly unecessary flak cannon, and a minigun. EZkeel wisely keeps the weapon load to a minimum, and ammo is pretty limited for the majority of the map. Despite this attempt to balance the combat, Zombie Dawn is a pretty easy map. The inclusion of the chainsaw alone makes short work of any enemy in the hands of even the most casually adept UT player. It is possible to beat the entire map with just the chainsaw, and if you want to achieve the maximum challenge then that's the way to play it.
The zombies themselves leave a lot to be desired. Using the brute monster from Unreal, EZkeel gave them new sound fx for zombie grunts, reduced fatness, skins that look like stock gib textures, and a new projectile. Besides their normal punching melee attacks, the projectiles they shoot (from their "flesh" guns I guess) are short range gib chunks that cause damage similar to slith acid. They only really provide a risk when there are lots of them and even then their dismal projectile attacks significantly reduce their threat level. From a distance you’ll have no problems as long as you have ammo. If you want to give it a go with the chainsaw then you’ll be fine as long as you are quick on your toes. Besides the zombies, you fight some other critters from Unreal; a misfit array of pupae, flies, and the occasional devil fish attack you in certain areas. And that is your opposition.
Ironically, the level design is probably some of EZkeel's best. It gets the job done without falling below average or rising to the occasion. The Church and graveyard are probably the most interesting bits. Lighting is run of the mill but better than it often is in other, larger EZkeel packs. All other build aspects are average.
Overall, it's a fun map for a quick download. It's far from memorable…but then again it's rare to find a zombie themed SP experience. The ending is a bit brief and there is no real closure, let alone a decent final fight to round it all off.
Second Opinions - zynthetic
The original review, based on the old review schema:
There are two different versions of Zombie Dawn. One for Unreal and one for Unreal Tournament. Both essentially are the same. The only difference is the UT version has devilfish in the sewers and it includes the chainsaw. Personally I prefer the UT version since the inclusion of the chainsaw with this particular map reminds me of the Evil Dead series.
Zombie Dawn begins around midnight set in a graveyard of all places. Lightning and thunder occasionally break the silence and drive away the shadows for seconds at a time.
There is a heavy influence of B-movie quality horror in this map. The most abundant creature you'll have to dispatch are zombies (modified brutes). Supposedly the undead have been resurrected by someone tampering with the occult. It's your benefit to find a way to send them back to their restful state in order to escape.
I found this to be a nice change of pace. Your still caught in the large plot of escaping from something but the author managed to use that in a creative and relatively new (in Unreal) way. Aside from your basic goal accomplishment this map would be nothing more than ordinary if it were not for the plot and modified brute/zombies. There are occasional messages that arouse suspicion about what happened but only enough to be adequate to develop the story. There are no errors with the design of the map. In some places the structures are simplistic and overall the technique doesn't go beyond average but it does get the message across that you are in a graveyard. The lighting is really makes this map though. It really sets the mood and makes you believe you're in a bad horror movie. I was somewhat disappointed with the ending. According to the last message I was expecting a spectacular scripted scene to take place.
Overall Zombie Dawn is a pretty decent map. In a way it relates to the b-movie genre. You'll probably play this map as you'd watch a bad horror move, not because it's extremely good but because it's fun. Anyone who's seen any Evil Dead movie will understand. Zombie Dawn does a great job of taking the b-movie horror genre and converting it to unreal single player, there's no arguing that.
Downloads - Unreal Version
Download sp-zombiedawn_unreal.zip (2.3MB) from OldUnreal
Downloads - UT Version
Download ZombieDawn.zip (3.1MB) from OldUnreal