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Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

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UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 17 Aug 2010, 15:27

Have fun guys. Now Zephon is slightly harder than RTNP. So shoot harder and don't give up!
WWW: What have you done then to the super Skaarj ambush in Map 10?
ImageImage

User avatar WhirlWindWabbit
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 17 Aug 2010, 15:38

I kicked out the stinger duo and changed the last wave a bit. I also changed the way pawns teleport into the chamber. I played it out yesterday on hard, and had no problems with 180 health and only 100 hitpoints of armor :) No belts.
"Sir, we're surrounded!"
"Good, we can attack in any direction."

User avatar Hyper
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 18 Aug 2010, 14:40

Is this release for Unreal also now? I'm a bit confused because when I see the review it is listed as UT-project, but in the news posting I also see an Unreal icon.

Will it work in Unreal (coop)?

User avatar ividyon
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 18 Aug 2010, 14:48

It's not. The news post also contained news for WhirlWindWabbit's 227 project, hence the Unreal icon. :)
UnrealSP.org webmaster & administrator

User avatar Hyper
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 18 Aug 2010, 15:13

Ok, thanks for the explanation.

User avatar NicolasEymerich
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 18 Aug 2010, 16:45

Encountered a bsp killzone right here
Image

Other than that, pretty good work until now. I'm playing on Medium and never had any major issue with health or armor... I even find it overabundant at times.
Let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.

User avatar WhirlWindWabbit
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 18 Aug 2010, 17:22

Wow, seriously? =/ What map is that, the screenshot is way too dark to see. I'm glad you're enjoying it though \o/
"Sir, we're surrounded!"

"Good, we can attack in any direction."

User avatar NicolasEymerich
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 18 Aug 2010, 17:36

It's the mining facility. Third floor of the main building IIRC.
Let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.

UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 18 Aug 2010, 17:53

Yep, near the elevator which leads to the roof of the Skaarj outpost (map 5). Weird, because in the older version I could easily pass through that spot.
ImageImage

User avatar WhirlWindWabbit
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 18 Aug 2010, 17:57

What the fuck? You're right, just tried it =/ No idea when that creeped in. Ah shit. Any other problems?
"Sir, we're surrounded!"

"Good, we can attack in any direction."

User avatar NicolasEymerich
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 18 Aug 2010, 18:52

I'm currently playing - map 10 or so...
When I'm finished I'll wirte down everything :)
Let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.

User avatar NicolasEymerich
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 19 Aug 2010, 02:25

Ok.
I have never really reviewed anything before so bear with me for any nonsense I might be writing.

[Balance]
I'm starting with this aspect as it's the feature I kept observing for the whole playthrough.
During my playthrough on Medium, up until map 5, I barely encountered any problem with ammo, armor or health. As stated before, they were quite overabundant instead, but given the fact I was playing conservatively, and extremely cautiously, due to the latent fear for the previous ride I made in Zephon 1.0, that overabundance might be quite right for the first-time player.
Then, I suddenly started to think I was back in the older Zephon. Map 6 is quite generous in terms of ammo (as is the pack in general, I admit - never really fell short of any, minigun excluded - but that deserves a part of its own, mind you :rolleyes: ) but until the armor in the cave under the Underground Mining Facility I was walking with almost no protection at all.
I repeat, I was playing conservative, saving at the edge of cheating my way out with a fair amount of health, so I think that part is quite heavy for the casual player. One bad encounter, and you're screwed for a long time.
From then on, the pack assumes the right pace. Mildly difficult if you're careful, with just the right amount of protection and health up until the last map.
Now, the Ship. Fighting throughout it was ok, but the final battle felt too comfortable. Too much health everywhere to feel really in danger.
Enemies - mainly, mechs - have become manageable finally.
Summing it up, it might be Medium, but sometimes it's an average between too easy and too difficult. 7/10

[Gameplay]
Let's see.
It's a lenghty pack, and of course managing to keep things interesting is a big, big deal. Maps are complex, sometimes even stretching distances a bit too far, with a fair amount of backtracking as often happens.
The fact is, as I dare to think, is that the pack as a whole, and not only balance itself, suffers from being planned and tested for coop.
The first thing that made me think of it is the almost total lack of scripted sequences, except in a few cases (map 1 and a few other examples, like in Krogaar). Map 1, under this aspect, was very promising, with the first skaarj encounter, the air raids and such, so I was a bit let down by the general "immobility" of the other maps.
Next, is the item and enemy placement. Once again, some maps made more sense than others. Sorry for Derdak, but his maps were the least successful - up with SkaarjShip part2. Many, many times I felt going from room to room as from a single "box" to another, with no link between them. It felt like a chain of subsequent encounters as in some RPGs. I know this might directly descend from the original action gameplay, but likewise, it's fairly difficult to keep a player interested if there isn't any twist or turn, or surprise, or change in the usual "open, flak, loot". Of course, this hasn't repeated everywhere and every time, but it's something that could have been used less often.
Item placement could have rewarded way more exploration, and that's - up to me - the main difference between a COOP work and a true SP experience. Exploration. Diverging from the imposed straight line and gaining prizes - could it be and armor or a sniping spot, it doesn't matter.
I tend to like the first map because, while offering quite the same base layout and plan of encounters, manages to offer more connection between parts. Foreshadowing, constance of theme, scripted events. Same for Part1 of the Skaarj Ship, where environments differ to renew the challenge (darkness, pits, arenas), and whereas I found the same constance of theme and the feeling of something bigger outside those bsp walls. Happens, fewer times, even in other maps, but it felt like some eyecandy, and that's all.
In summary, it gains a 6,5/10. A bit monotonous overall.

[Build]
Other than the aforementioned killzone, I haven't had any other relevant problems. A few minor HOMs, that's all, but given how far the engine has been stretched to build some areas, that's hardly half a point down in my review.
A solid 8,5/10. Nothing to say.

[Awe]
What has to be said?
"Most of Project Zephon's maps are, visually, absolutely stunning" - taken from the headline of Zephon's review. I'd dare to slightly differ my opinion, though.
Of course, that headline is a true fact. There's hardly a single room that hasn't got its fair share of detail and precise lighting to show its true best. As a picture, the whole pack stands out with true masterpieces of BSP - the final core above all, but there are many, many instances.
Unfortunately, though, not every map has the right "dress" (please allow me to use this term) for the atmosphere you'd expect from Zephon. Some of the maps were born with MP, and then converted for the pack - and it can be seen from a mile away. They lack - as mentioned above - feeling. Some of Derdak's maps were way too much technicolor for my tastes - I mean, they are pretty, but I hardly believe Skaarj dwelling in a green and orange environment without having a constant headache (but that's maybe why they happen to be so aggressive...).
Other maps use a way too high base lighting, where the right use of darkness could add a lot to the atmosphere. Others vary too much, and without a general purpose, between architectures, as if every room has a different author - not mentioning the fact that a room can be a rectangle, and as long it has a door it can work just fine.
The main problem, here, is the effort to look pretty at any cost, which can be impressive but also quite distracting. 7,5/10.

I didn't concentrate much on other aspects such as music, sounds, story... so my judgement can be summarized with a generic "not bad". :B

There are a few more nitpicks that I'd like to share:
1.
I felt the last battle a bit too generic. That z-axis arena is beautiful, but you really need to take more advantage of it. The Warlord doesn't seem to like the top floor at all, and hardly reached it during the whole fight, giving me enough time to calmly bomb him from above with rockets and flaks. Don't know if you put any teleport points up there but you definitely should check them...

2.
Sometimes, I noticed that the reasons for backtracking are a bit forced. I mean - map 3 plays around this thing to open three tunnels - that look the same, but each one needs a water pump, an engine of some sort, or other things. And we could get on this way for most maps...

3.
Why did you put the minigun? You never provided ammo for it, save for the times I found another minigun lying around. Furthermore, its ammo bar is overlapped by the ripper's...

Aaaaaand that's all. There you go :)
I hope I haven't been too harsh or else... it's a great piece of work and I really thank you for the time you dedicated for this... it's been a breeze in the course of a night, for me, but for you it's been years of work and caffeine (if I guess right :D ) ...
Let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.

User avatar WhirlWindWabbit
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 19 Aug 2010, 15:16

I appreciate you effort in taking the time to playing through the pack, and writing your opinion. So, thank you. Now to answer a few things you said:

[Balance]

This is the only reason I went ahead and tried to fix Zephon. The pack had its high as well as its low points from the time of the release, but I really felt the pack could offer a lot more if only had it been balanced for SP campaigns as well. So I'm glad you didn't find it too frustrating :) It means I did my job pretty well. Mind you please, that, as I stated before, Zephon is a big pack and a lot depends on the playing style of each individual. But, as I said, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

As for other things, Gameplay, Build and Awe, I made no changes to these aspects, unless they broke the gameplay (e.g. enemies with pumped up health for no reason etc.). I pretty much left them as they were, so don't expect much new on this front. I agree that a bit more exploration would be beneficial to a SP campaign, but a lot of that has to be built into the map itself to work properly, so there really is no point in stashing things into a random corner as it breaks the flow. I did add tons of things you can only find if you deviate a bit from the standard path none the less, and I added them all over the levels, but still they are not things that would really be hidden. By the way, did you find the Shield Belt near the end of level 4? Just before Nitro Mining? :)

Thank you for the kind words for my level, which I appreciate a lot :) And talking about that, I did try to build some exploration satisfaction into my level from the start, when I was still building it, so if you take your time you can find a damage amplifier and a power shield in my level, as well as a super health pack, but that one is not really hidden that much.

As much as the final battle was concerned, I just did my best to "ease up" the Warlord a bit, because he was way too aggressive before. He'd come straight to you and bombard you with rockets from a distance of like 3 feet, giving you no chance whatsoever to take shelter. Aside from that, I stopped the constant flood of the Green Skaarj. The problem was that these constantly re-spawning Skaarj should only be there on-line, but the filters weren't set up properly. Nobody noticed though as no one tested the pack out of COOP. That's one of the broken map scripting things I mentioned.

And about the minigun - check the ReadMe.txt ;)
"Sir, we're surrounded!"

"Good, we can attack in any direction."

UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 19 Aug 2010, 15:34

Nicolas, by reading "Ripper", are you using UT or U1 weapons?
ImageImage

User avatar NicolasEymerich
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Subject: Re: Project Zephon: Battle for Freedom 2.0 [RELEASED]

Post Posted: 19 Aug 2010, 15:44

UB: Unreal ones... I meant Razorjack, but I like Ripper way more :P

WWW: well kinda..., I did find the damage amp in part1 and the shieldbelt in map 4, but I had to cheat and see in UEd for the shieldbelt location in the lost skaarj ship - now that you told me -...

I should have made the premise that my review counts for the pack as a whole, and not only for your 2.0 ... I played Zephon when it came out, got frustrated and left it in half (at the merc ship), ... I knew, as you stated, that you did changes mainly to the balance...
Let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.

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