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Review: Tarmation - The Tiradium Sublimation

Tarmation deserves a glance for the uniqueness of its architecture

Project information

Tarmation - The Tiradium Sublimation
Paul "TAZ" Mader
Single Map

Main review

Tarmation was a first release for the author, TAZ, in ‘99. 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 “wow” 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.

A very hot hallway

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 didn’t 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 isn’t 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 didn’t 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 “fly” 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 isn’t 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 didn’t 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.

The holiness above

Ambient sounds were seldom used in this map. At many times, they were non-existent. Torches didn’t give off noise, most of the fire pits didn’t 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 isn’t 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.

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 (20%)
  • 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 (16%)
  • 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.
Below average