Skip to main content

Review: Tarmation 2 - A Rude Awakening

Almost like a dreamland

Project information

Tarmation 2 - A Rude Awakening
Paul "TAZ" Mader
Single Map

Main review

Tarmation 2 – A Rude Awakening is the second map released by TAZ, several months after the release of the first Tarmation. The story continues where the first Tarmation left off, but the maps aren’t connected, so you must start out with no weapons again. The first Tarmation ended with the player jumping down a hole, and now Tarmation 2 starts with the player waking up at the bottom of that hole. This was made for Unreal Singleplayer, just like the first map, but it does work in Unreal Tournament Oldskool as usual.

This second map by TAZ has visuals that are much more sound than his first release. The theme of the map varies from high tech to ancient to lava and several others. The architecture is put together fairly well. Connectivity issues seen in the first Tarmation are practically non-existent here. Details used create a unique atmosphere not seen in many maps past and present. A few basic shapes can be seen in several rooms however, and some of the hallways were lazy in the design. Most of the lifts and movers were cleverly designed, but a few of them were basic and plain. This longer singleplayer map has a grand scale to it that almost resembles the work of the (legendary?) mapper Chicoverde (made Shamu Quest, parts of Operation Na Pali).

The grand architecture

Tarmation 2 uses textures from many different sets, including DecayedS, GenEarth, Mine, NaliCast, Skaarj, SkyCity, and a few others (which just about names most of the big ones). Textures are used well in the sections where they are relevant, but the wide range of themes makes them rather extreme. The map might have been better off with a narrower selection of textures, but the unique atmosphere seems to work better than it should. Alignment problems weren’t too bad in the high tech areas, but were noticeable in the GenEarth segments.

Lighting in Tarmation 2 is set almost like a dream world. It accompanies the extreme themes well, but does tend to be too saturated at times. Oodles of light sources were used, and lens flares were set accordingly. A few spinning light effects don't have obvious light sources, but those don't stand out unless you actually look closely.

Sound effects are used much more in this release than the first Tarmation, which adds another improvement to the list for the mapper. Buzzing, humming, torch burning, wind, lava, and various tribal sounds can be heard in the appropriate themed sections. The sounds went great with the map, but unfortunately, the music drowns them out! There were three music tracks used, but two of them are action tracks (K_Vision and WarLord) and the other one is only used for the first 5 seconds of the map (utend). The map needed some more calm tracks and/or silence to make the sightseeing more enjoyable. Playing with constant action music almost makes you want to jump around frantically, looking for the baddies.

The fun factor of this map is doubtlessly there. Weapon and monster progression is well balanced, and there are copious scripted battles and even a few events (yay). There are enjoyable moments in this map that might stay in the memories of some people. The grand scale of the map doesn’t slow you down or make you walk for miles, unlike other maps that attempt the same thing. TAZ didn’t think everything completely through however, such as a boss battle that you can just flee from and avoid. An opening battle with a Skaarj was well done, but was a tad on the hard side. Fortunately, the skill levels make this battle (and others) much easier for the less experienced players. The ending was a bit sudden in Tarmation 2, and the last battle will be too easy for most.

A fire-lit cave

The weakest portion of this map is the story, although it is slightly better than the first Tarmation. A few translator messages are placed on various dead research team members halfway through the map, but what they say doesn’t explain much about the strange atmosphere and facility you are in. There isn’t much background information in this map at all, besides a few assumptions you can make as the player.

Technically speaking, the technical aspects of this map are technically sound (can that word be used three times?) BSP holes were minimal and could only be seen at certain directions. For a map of this scale, it is surprising that it isn’t riddled with hall of mirror effects and collision errors. This map might have a few framerate problems on slower machines, but with modern CPUs, it shouldn’t be a problem.


This longer singleplayer map is almost like a dreamland (or nightmare, depending on how you look at it). It is an improvement over the first Tarmation, and is well worth a play. TAZ improved his mapping ability dramatically in the 6-month period it took him to make this map. It’s very unfortunate this mapper didn’t move on to greater works for the Unreal community. Maybe he will make a sudden appearance someday… hopefully…

download links:* (Tarmation 1+2 together with bug fixes. Also allows continuous play but that isn't recommended as T2 is balanced around an inventory reset)

*Note that only the Unreal Archive uploads are checked to be the newest and most compatible/stable download link.

Build (33%)
  • Architecture
    Imagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.
  • Texturing
    Use of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.
  • Lighting
    Lighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).
  • Sound
    Use 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.
  • Technical Execution
    Technical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.
Cast (28%)
  • Conceptual Grandness
    Scale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.
  • Story Construction
    Backing story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.
  • Story Implementation
    Progression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.
  • Gameplay Awe
    Quality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.
  • Gameplay Balance
    Balance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.

Other reviews