level name: day hard: parts 1, 2, and 3
level author: carlo piscicelli
download map 1: dayhard.zip 2.26MB
download map 2: dayhardpart2.zip 4.3MB
download map 3: dayhardpart3.zip 7.55MB
part 1 3DGE rating: 95
part 2 3DGE rating: 87
part 3 3DGE rating: 98
3D Gamers Edge Gold Award Winner!
- incredibly inventive use of the source/hl2 engine
- great layout
- excellent challenge
- great puzzles
- excellent pacing
- excellent item placement
- buggy if you go off course
- some misalignments
- map endings are awkward
- not 100% solid or professional
i chose to review these maps all together as they continue a story throughout and really are best if experienced together and in order. day hard, parts 1, 2, and 3 comprise a fantastic gameplay experience for half life 2. you will need a bit of patience, and a willingness to accept some of the rough edges in these maps if you want to make it to the end - but it is well worth every second of the time spent. the maps follow the adventures of gordon freeman's brother: morgan freeman. morgan must not have lived up to the same standards as his more famous brother, as you begin the first level in his filthy, run-down apartment. the guy has a closet full of gasoline, crates, and a shovel. kind of creepy. whatever his situation, morgan is about to face a challenge as difficult as any his brother ever did, and it is up to the player to make sure it is seen through until the end.
venturing forth from your apartment into the first level you will quickly see that carlo has chosen to go beyond what is ready to use in the hl2 palette. i will not go into any specific detail so as not to ruin any of the surprises within these maps, but suffice it to say that you will see new and creative uses for the source engine, the physics engine, and the half life 2 tool set. this first map is a puzzle of trying to find the proper way ahead. you must make your way out of the apartment building, which is being infiltrated by combine soldiers and civil protection. at times it seems impossible to advance, but there is always a way although it may not be obvious. this map forces you to think your way ahead as much as it makes you use your weaponry. the challenge is high, and the action is sparse, but well paced. it is a great feeling to finally make your way through to the end.
once out of the apartment, you meet an old friend and make your way through a city swarming with combine and a strider or two. the level is much more action-oriented than the previous one, and most of the puzzle solving aspects are missing. however, the map is solid, the action is very fast-paced and fun, and there are a few surprises to make the experience feel fresh and innovative. best of all is the non-linear gameplay provided. you can make your way through this level almost any way you see fit to. not matter what your approach, it all works smoothly and the overall experience is the same. once you find a tactical approach that will get you through the city, and past the "boss", it is time to try and find a way to the airport in level 3.
this level is amazing. the combination of strategy-based action, pure puzzles, and run and gun action is absolutely wonderful. it is a cinematic experience that makes exceptionally good use of half life 2. the jokes are rather crude, yet they somehow manage to work and stay funny. it is difficult to give this level the praise it deserves without spoiling any of the surprises, or ruining the fun. there are so many great moments to enjoy, and each of them is distictly different. the puzzles are both action-based and logical in nature. they are difficult enough to make you stop and think, and perhaps even grow a bit frustrated. at one point i needed to get away from the map for an hour, just so i could approach it again with a fresh perspective. yet, i managed to solve each puzzle, and it was very rewarding to finally figure out each aspect of this multifaceted level. and hearing grigori compliment me after a few of them brought a smile to my face. this level is fantastic in many different ways, and i implore you to download these maps and experience it for yourself.
my complaints about these levels are hard to express. the reason being that i had so much fun playing them, i am so impressed with the creative and intelligent way in which carlos presented them, and it was so rewarding to make it through to the end, that it is easy to overlook their flaws because i loved the overall experience so much. however, it is my job to be a critic, so here goes. carlos took a very ambitious approach to these levels, making them of very epic scope and therefore very difficult to execute flawlessly. at times his methods of keeping the player on track are very crude and forceful. the maps try to feel open, non-linear, and free. however, total freedom is impossible and carlos will at times beat you back with a cudgel if you venture outside the chosen path. also present in these levels are some misalignments, which, luckily, are only mildly distracting. i had problems at the ends of all three maps. map 2 would load properly on its own, and i had to do it manually, same with map 3, and when map 3 ends the screen goes black and stays that way until you hit [ESC]. finally, as can be expected with an amateur attempt that is extremely ambitious, at times the presentation is a bit patch-work and feels unpolished.
the final verdict here is that this is a set of levels that should not be missed. be prepared to overlook some flaws, some crudeness, and some sledgehammer design tactics. if you can do so, you will find a treasure trove of high quality gameplay within these three maps. carlos, i sincerely thank you for taking you time to create this free adventure for the half life 2 single player fans of the world. i only wish you had included you email address in the readme files so that i could thank you via email. to everyone else out there: if you have read this far - wait no more! go click those download links, set aside a few hours, and get ready for a lot of fun!