level: beta labs pilot
click here to download the map
- cinematic presentation
- good action
- decent challenge
- a few scares
- too small/not enough going on
- no sense of location
- a cut-n-paste design
- not enough detail
RJR, who released the beta labs campaign maps 1-3 is back with a new addition that, while still far from perfect, is better than the previous three combined. gone from this map are the truly amateur errors of 1-3 such as flickering textures and improper triggers. the beta labs feel much more solid, real, and professional this time around. also present is a cinematic approach to the presentation of this map that is truly ambitious in nature. while this is a very cool element of the experience this pak has to offer, it is a bit overdone and could use some subtlety in its implementation. for example, when the title music cuts in it is so loud that it drown out everything else going on.
the limited action available is fun, and well paced. the challenge presented is more than adequate, and i'm going to go back and try it on skill 2 to see how it plays at that level. the cinematic theme is used well, and provides a nice visual trick or two, which add a decent scare factor to this map, something that was missing from 1-3. the map is much busier and more detailed this time as well. there are some cool "hell growth" effects, some sparks flying, and more realistic monster behavior. while there is much improvement, RJR still has some work to do. the beta lab still feels a bit empty, and rooms are similar enough to feel cookie-cutter at times. as i walked through the lab i kept wondering what the rooms were for, what purpose they served in the lab. why would there be a big empty room with nothing but a stairway and railing on one end and a door on the other end? for the lab to feel more alive i would expect to see rooms that have personality - for example an office, a computer (server) room, storage areas, and so on. the absence of barrels, crates, desks, computers, shelves and lockers from most of the map make the place feel lifeless and unrealistic.
it seems to me that RJR has the overall vision to know how to make a good gameplay experience. however, more patience, attention to detail, and creativity/professionalism in level design, flow, layout, and item/monster/health placement is required before his maps feel like something you could imagine belonging in a retail product. it should also offer more gameplay. this map can be finished off in about five minutes, which is a bit of a letdown. if someone bothers to download, install, boot up D3, and play your map - they deserve more than a few minutes of enjoyment.
the verdict is - i recommend this map as a download for most anyone eager for a decent D3 experience. the presentation alone makes it worth the effort, and there is some good gameplay within as well. i'm looking forward to RJR's future releases. if he can keep making progress there may be some great stuff coming from him in the future.