Abandon all hope ye who playeth this map pack for its quality ensures that each playthrough is a torture. A nearly forgotten group calling itself Electro Software Inc shows us the way single player packs should never be done, the effect of their efforts, Final Worlds: The Earth Fights Back sinks to the depths unknown to other ill-designed maps. Brace yourselves, dear players, for this is the worst of the worst.
Usually, I am very grateful even for typical newbie maps, for they, even with their flaws, provide decent entertainment and show us the potential of mappers that made them. I remember the day Final Worlds was released, it was July 15, 2001. I saw the size of that thing (100 MB packed) and was like: "w00t, what a huge pack! Surely, it must be good!". But, I got busy with other matters and the pack lay forgotten, archived on one of my CDs, waiting for the moment when I unearth it. Last year, this moment happened and I was... horrified with what I saw. I couldn't even finish the pack, it was so bugged! I then asked an individual going by the name of myth to fix solely these critical errors so that the pack has been given a form that could be played from start to finish... and reviewed appropriately.
First, the build. If you think Shadows of Na Pali and Apocalypse Threat by Crescent Moon Software are the most simple and unambitious constructs in existence -- think again. Boring corridors with hardly any decorations, flat terrain, square entrances to caves, caves looking more like tunnels made with laser (they are this regular), nightmarish texture alignment (multiple cases of textures being tiled incorrectly), zoning/BSP problems here and there... The architecture, besides the outskirts of the planet Aleeba is tragic. The aforementioned area is little above tragic. The underwater base doesn't seem to be underwater at all. The areas that have torches, have them hovering above ground unattached to any kind of walls. Levitating torches... how does that sound? Items or too large enemies are visible through walls or halfway sunken into floors. There are some medkits floating on water also. Textures every now and then ripped off from either Deus Ex or Half-Life, especially in the Hong Kong level and afterwards.
Second, the sounds. Music is just shamelessly ripped off from Deus Ex, save 3 exceptions which are barely noticeable. Ambience is practically zero, save some alarm sounds. The training map's doors are silent. Voice acting is horrible enough to scare little children just by playing the protagonist's commander's lines. And, the mentioned lines loop mercilessly until you exit the map they play in or move out of hearing range.
Gameplay. The usual running and shooting around formula is spoiled by several factors. For once, the enemies have insanely large collision hulls. This causes problems when trying to navigate past an enemy corpse, sometimes even when you destroy a corpse, some leftover is still blocking you from proceeding. Horribly easy to become trapped in 8a1b for example. Once or twice you'll come across an invisible and invincible enemy that you'll have to run away from. Is it funny or tragic that you get hacked by something that doesn't even exist? Some enemies don't react at first, you need to touch them or shoot them. The frozen tentacles have a funny bug - if you shoot one, it'll fall down and come alive (unless the damage is fatal) and while lying on the ground, it'll try shooting at you, and fail miserably at that. Some enemies show up in most peculiar places, e.g. what is a manta doing in an underwater base? How did it get there?
Another aspect of the gameplay is a selection of new weapons. Well, not only are they hard to aim (totally inacurrate, can cause severe headache during training especially), but their ammo icons in the HUD are missing for at least two of them. They do look nice, but other than good looks, they are useless.
Gameplay balance is a term totally alien to Electro Software. Some levels have an abundance of ammo and healing items, whereas others lack these painfully and in these levels (namely 4a2b, 5a2b and 8a1b) you are left with a Dispersion Pistol against a horde of ridiculously overpowered opponents.
Storyline is practically nonexistent. The mod came without any kind of documentation revealing it and during play we only find out that we're called David and our mission is to shut down the power in some space base. Afterwards we're thrown into a teleporter taking us to another planet, and then earth, and then someplace else. No translator messages, no translator given to begin with, all messages show up in the console instead (trigger messages), but are scarce and to top it off, full of typos and errors.
You'll also be shocked by the way some levels end. Some end in obvious dead ends, others end when you enter a teleporter. Most of teleporters are Stargate ripoffs.
This. Is. Hell. Horrific construction, horrific gameplay, music ripped off from Deus Ex, teleporters are mocking the Stargate franchise, storyline is practically nonexistent. I'm surprised I actually played this through. I've seen maps that are "so bad it's good", I've seen others that are "so bad it's plain bad", but nothing, absolutely nothing comes close to this map pack. It's so bad it's ultimate bad. Had it been a single map, I'd probably award it 10% score bonus for ending the torture, but since I had to play through 18 maps... just see below for final score.
*Note that only the Unreal Archive uploads are checked to be the newest and most compatible/stable download link.
ArchitectureImagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.1
TexturingUse of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.1
LightingLighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).1
SoundUse of ambient sounds and event sounds to give the level atmosphere, and the quality of any custom sounds. Appropriate use of music and silence to complement the atmosphere.0
Technical ExecutionTechnical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.0
Conceptual GrandnessScale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.1
Story ConstructionBacking story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.1
Story ImplementationProgression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.0
Gameplay AweQuality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.0
Gameplay BalanceBalance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.0