level name: minerva: metastasis
author: adam foster
email: minerva AT hylobatidae (NOSPAM) DOT org
download map: metastasis-1.zip 13.6MB
3DGE rating: 92
3D Gamers Edge Gold Award Winner!
- superior presentation
- excellent use of music
- great challenge
- frantic action
- excellent item placement
- realistic architecture
- very short
- one-dimensional gameplay
minerva: metastasis is an extremely well produced little map, which adam foster informs us is the start of a larger adventure. the player is deposited on the shore of a tiny island that is infested with combine sympathizers. at the prompting of an invisible commander, you are guided around the surface of the island, and eventually down into the depths of the combine stronghold beneath the surface.
while metastasis doesn't offer very much gameplay (it can be completed in about 10-15 minutes), that which you are given is of high quality. under fire from the second you gain control, this level is a frantic gun-fight to the finish. make a bad choice or two and you're six feet under and restarting from the last save. it is this high-adrenaline atmosphere that defines the gameplay, putting unrelenting pressure on the player to stay sharp, move fast, gather every health and ammo cache you can find, and hope to stay alive until you can exit. music (some of it new) is cued in at frequent intervals, providing an added layer of tension and drama to this very slick and well-produced adventure. keeping the challenge high is an unrelenting onslaught of enemies; and health, ammo, and items that are distributed deftly. stated succinctly: metastasis provides kick-ass action in a challenging environment.
this high quality action takes place on an island that is very nicely designed. the outdoor environments are very well crafted, and avoid looking blocky and out-dated (ala quake4). the architecture on display is on par with that found in the retail game. structures and locations are realistic, detailed, and believable - but not especially stylish or artistic. the overall layout of the structures on the island is fantastic. this place plays and feels real.
as for complaints, i have few. foremost is the one-dimensional gameplay on display. this is a run-n-gun map. nothing wrong with that, but half life offers more. the physics engine isn't utilized, there are no puzzles of any kind, and the entire level can be completed with your brain turned off. that isn't always a bad thing - but i would expect this style of gameplay in D3 or Q2 or Q4, not HL2. additionally, the map is very short. note that this is supposed to be the first episode of a series of maps. perhaps when it is complete the overall gameplay experience will be longer and more fulfilling, eliminating both of these minor gripes. my final nag is that the tone of your unseen "guide" is very condescending, wordy, and arrogant. yeah, it is a choice of the designer to give that kind of character to your guide, but i found it annoying to be called "my little bastard" by some telepathic guy who uses words like "whilst".
that aside, what adam foster has created for us is an exceptional map that rivals the quality of the design of the retail product. this is well worth the download and will provide even the most discriminating HL2 players with an experience to be enjoyed - and a desire to see what comes next.
great work, adam. thanks for this awesome map, and i look forward to your next creation.