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[ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 23 Dec 2016, 19:24
by UB_
Map Information:

Map Title: Enslaved
Map Author: Kaka
Reviewer: UBerserker
Review Score: 70%
Tagline: Enslaved's build quality is magnificent.

Main Review:

If you've noticed the @utgame's twitter account recently, you might have spotted that I've finally played the updated version of Enslaved by Kaka. Enslaved was originally a submission for the's 8th Anniversary Speedmapping Contest and ultimately ranked 4th, with me giving it a 5 due to how (mostly) buggy the release was. Kaka eventually promised an improved re-release afterwards. Some years later and there we are with it finally out, as a test for a possible The Chosen One release with Kaka recently promising again that it will still see the light the day.

To be honest, I'm not sure how much has actually changed between the contest version and the newer one, aside the fact that usable weapon turrets have been added.

Enslaved's build quality is magnificent. It is easily one of the best visually crafted works ever made for Unreal Engine 1. The sky island terrain is perfect; at first you don't think about it that much but once you proceed through the early parts of the map, you realize how enormous the sky island actually is, and how many locations are there. You even go underground. It's incredible how this was possible to make in such an old engine, without any sort of very noticeable bugs. There isn't one part of the level that looks dull, every spot is good for a screenshot; the indoor parts fare quite well, the underground cave in particular needs a mention for being as impressive as the outdoor parts. Everything is fantastic.

Lighting is fine. Most of the outdoor section appears to have a steady monotone light all over it but this is mostly due to engine limitations. The skybox is very colorful and the use of surrounding fog managed to give the sky island background sheets a believable 3D effect to them. Lighting is also what made the already mentioned underground cave exceptional.
The grass texture looks sort of weird (probably any replacement would have fared the same, anyway) and the rock texture that's used for every mountain brush looks ugly up-close in various parts of the map.

Not everything is that perfect though - prepare to see a lot of disappearing trees if you look at them from a certain angle (this is sadly an UT mesh bug) and you might also spot a lava brush sheet from the underground cave popping out of the sky island terrain. Common are also invisible walls that can cause gameplay problems (one forces you to ghost to pick the GES BioRifle, another happens right in a valley with several Skaarj Troopers causing hilarious results), due to the engine not behaving that well with the map's visual complexity. There are also various HOM bugs that hurt the visuals in certain spots of the level, especially near the main Nali village.

There aren't killer BSP holes but one of these invisible walls (one at the end of a lift ride) force you to ghost through, which isn't nice. Another part where you are forced to ghost through is when you have to access the last part of the level throughout the village, as doors remain closed even when you should have unlocked them; this isn't related to geometry issues but just trigger-type actors, mistakes that can be easily fixed and shouldn't have been in the first place anyway.

The gameplay is, actually to my surprise, fun and good. Back when I played the original Enslaved I clearly remember it to be one of the worst points about the level because Kaka did all of it in one day. Not almost the case anymore here. It starts very rough, at least on Unreal difficulty, but it gets soft quickly when ammo starts to be plentiful; some of the weapon/ammo placement is like straight out of a multiplayer map.
New additions to Enslaved are turrets. They're based on the Infiltration ones supposedly, as they work exactly like the ones found in Na Pali Haven: Redux. They also have the same bugs, including the very annoying one that permanently breaks your weapon inventory. Here they come with good-looking unique meshes and act like enhanced versions of the primary fires of Stinger and Flak Cannon. When used, they leave you extremely vulnerable and if you're facing a Skaarj while using a Stinger turret, consider run away because the Skaarj will likely kill you first. The Flak Cannon turrets are much more useful and they'll be essential to kill some big creatures, including the boss themselves that should not pose any problem. You will find enough health and armor mid-level onward.

However, there's one gameplay feature that is almost capable of killing the game experience. I'm talking about those brainwashed Nali that suddenly pop up in certain spots of the map (very few spots, at least) and start summoning Skaarj Warriors, one after one, without stopping. Leave them and they'll fill the map of Skaarj that will cause the framerate to drop down and to make those areas they are in literally inaccessible because you can't fight that many Skaarj spawned. Some of these Nali battles are optional but there are some that are mandatory and unless you know where they are going to spawn, chances are 100% likely you won't be fast enough to stop them before they summon an army. You have to learn their spawning spots and the timing of their appearance in order to bring them down before nothing bad happens. It's painful how this happens in such a professional-looking level and you have to cheat to go through some of its parts. This is what stops Enslaved from being a monster of a single player map. I would have let things pass if it wasn't for the Nali summoners. And these were apparently in the old version of Enslaved, how these Nali went past the thinking-out-of-the-box gameplay testing? Another bug with these Nali is that after they are dead, the teleport sounds keep playing on their spot.

The sounds haven't improved much from the original Enslaved. Music doesn't add much until the last part of the map and most of the time you hear just wind or nothing at all.

The story is pretty subtle and the translator messages are minimal. You have to escape the place and that's about it, there aren't any sort of plot twists that keep the story interesting. The map is quite long and there's a lot of exploration.


A fantastic looking-map with a lot of locations to explore but brought down by geometry bugs and huge gameplay issues; despite them, the rest of the gameplay is very enjoyable.

BUILD (50%)
Architecture 10
Texturing 10
Lighting 9
Sound 6
Technical Execution 5

CAST (50%)
Conceptual Grandness 10
Story Construction 6
Story Implementation 3
Gameplay Awe 7
Gameplay Balance 4

Total Score: 70%

Download links:
Enslaved - moddb

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 24 Dec 2016, 02:32
by Mister_Prophet
Kaka is a fantastic level designer, and this levels shows how someone with imagination can think outside the box when making levels for this old game. Good review also UB :tup:

Got some flaws, sure, but trying to do anything with this old girl that goes beyond what we saw in 98 always will drum up some glitchy stuff. God...that turret though.

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 26 Dec 2016, 20:07
by Sat42
Good review UB!

I'll have to try this new version, even though it sounds like it could definitely benefit from another "patch".

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 27 Dec 2016, 22:41
by Preki
Will it run on U227? I'd rather not play this map in UT.

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 28 Dec 2016, 00:05
by UB_
Preki wrote:Will it run on U227? I'd rather not play this map in UT.

It's purely made for UT, not U1. There are zero issues about playing the map on it.

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 28 Dec 2016, 08:42
by medor

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 28 Dec 2016, 17:21
by UB_
...which are still made for UT purely only. Links in order are the old contest version, the current one and an unofficial MH (?) conversion.

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 29 Dec 2016, 12:50
by Preki
Okay, played it for a short while, cause I don't have much time these days. Build quality - if it weren't for these pesky BSP errors, amazing. The fact sky islands is my favourite theme in Unreal (and games in general) helps greatly. But I really don't like grass texture used here, vanilla Unreal textures would do better IMHO. The custom tree meshes are slowing the game down but I'm not really sure if it's because of my computer setup or UEngine itself. And lastly - there should have been a TriggeredDeath actor at the bottom of the map so carcasses and pawns would be destroyed permanently (not as in CloudZone, that is!), because as far as I know, some pawns do not take fall damage. It's a little thing, but it should be there.

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 29 Dec 2016, 13:52
by medor
UBerserker wrote:...which are still made for UT purely only. Links in order are the old contest version, the current one and an unofficial MH (?) conversion.

for UT the MH one
you can launch the sp one with UT but it crash under d3d9

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 07 Jan 2017, 22:44
by Preki
I checked something with these brainwashed Nali. They have a variable that defines maximum Skaarj summoned by them. It's set between 1 and 4, but the actor still produces a whole army of Skaarj you can't fight off. At first I thought this has something to do with other actors (counters, triggers, special events etc.), but this is definitely a bug within brainwashed Nali actor's script.

As of the playthrough, I avoided taking any conspicuously placed items, made it through the tower guarded by Krall and Brutes (the fight at the top of the tower was particularly hard - three Troopers, two with Stingers, in a cramped space!). After activating the teleporter I decided to use it, maybe it will take me into some new area... Guess what! I got teleported in the very front of aformentioned Skaarj army, which ganged upon me immediately. This is the closest thing to the so-called "Terry trap" I've seen in an Unreal map (though I realize it's not intentional!). And for those who don't know - Terry traps are usually poorly made troll maps/mappacks for Doom, usually involving player being sent to a room filled with monsters (often dumb custom-made ones) with no chance of escape or winning.

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 07 Jan 2017, 23:15
by UB_
I don't remember the teleport order, was that before the first boss battle? I usually had every bad Nali killed by that point.

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 08 Jan 2017, 00:12
by Preki
At the very beginning, right after going through the gate guarded by Brutes there's an open space. This is where the whole "Skaarj army bug" happens. Then there is a bad Nali next to graveyard with Stinger and tarydium shards, but this one somehow didn't cause any problems. Maybe because I managed to take him out immediately with the Stinger turret.

Re: [ut] Custom Map Review: "Enslaved" by Kaka

Posted: 12 Mar 2017, 19:43
by Kaka
Great review UB! I tried - and I failed. My next Unreal map, if I decide to make one - will surely be made using UE4, it's to damn hard for me to do anything above U1 standards (gameplay wise) on old engine ( not a coder :( ).


There's even a MH version \o/ WOW - Is it any good lol??