LiberationVille

for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Welcome to the second challenge from The Hammer Cup 2016, which has a Grand Prize of a NECA Gravity Gun, plus other prizes for second and third places.

This challenge contains 15 entries all with the idea of a “liberation” as the main theme.

Theme Details

Dictionary.com defines Liberate as

1. to set free, as from imprisonment or bondage.
2. to free (a nation or area) from control by a foreign or oppressive government.
3. to free (a group or individual) from social or economic constraints or discrimination, especially arising from traditional role expectations or bias.
4. to disengage; set free from combination, as a gas.
5. Slang. to steal or take over illegally: The soldiers liberated a consignment of cigarettes

That’s exactly what we want you to do! Build a map that allows the player to liberate something of your choosing. The “something” can be a person or people, an item, or anything else you can think of!

Pick any of the definitions above. We particularly like the fourth regarding the “COMBINation”.

Maybe the City 17 rebels are trapped and need your help. Maybe Alyx has been captured. Again.

Maybe you’re a car thief. Maybe you impulsively hoard garden gnomes. Maybe Barney has borrowed your crowbar one too many times.

The options are wide open, as long as you can liberate it!

As always, ask as many questions as you want, either via the comments here or privately if you prefer.

The map will be judged on how well it fits the theme AND bonus points for Design (layout, foreshadowing, secret areas, concept etc), Visuals (lighting, textures, etc), Sound (ambient sounds, voice acting, special effects etc), Gameplay (flow, exploration, 3 dimensions etc) and Misc (g-man sightings, humour, seriousness, scares etc)

Authors and Entries

This is the order within the mod.

Confusion by Flamdar
Lakeside by Marcu Alexandru AKA Melc311
Pain by Dan M.
Cemetery Valley by Joacim Rappu
Roxen Hole by Daniel Friend AKA Dannster.
Prison 16 by Sam Combs
Liberation Version 1 by Niker107
Vortessence by Ethosaur
Rebel Island by Gwydion Brain AKA Agameofsonces
Ancient Dust by Abdulhamid Cayirli AKA crowbar
Transfer by Bastion
Nova Nadeje by King Kolton9
Pigeonholm by UtharQ
A Hero Once More by Maarten Frooninckx AKA marnamai
MAMH by Jason Gimba AKA Maki

Winners and Points

Winner: A Hero Once More
Second: MAMH
Third Liberation Version 1

Full Points Allocation

Full point can be found on the public spreadsheet.

Confusion: 16
Lakeside: 21
Pain: 17
Cemetery Valley: 28
Roxenhole: 21
Prison 16: 24
Liberation Version 1: 49
Vortessence: 24
Rebel Island: 24
Ancient Dust: 36
Transfer: 27
Nova Nadeje: 22
Pigeonholm: 33
A Hero Once More: 75
MAMH: 67

Phillip Comments

Allow me to start by saying the following comments are my own and not the other judges.

Firstly, none of us agreed on the places – at least not completely. and I feel this was by far the hardest challenge to judge.

After I played MAMH, I messaged Jason and said I thought his level was the best single map I had ever played for any Half-Life game. The concept was just fantastic and its implementation was brilliant. Visually, it was just as good as anything Jason has ever released and the gameplay was top-notch too. It included a puzzle, some standard combat and a boss fight.

And I then I played A Hero Once More. Remember, I played the entries in a different order to you. Of course, you didn’t have to play them in the order of the mod, but most people do. I often play them in the order they are sent in.

Anyway, as I was saying. I then played a Hero Once More and was blown away. This is without doubt Valve quality and its pacing was just right. Visually it was great within the limits of a prison but there were story elements that MAMH didn’t have or at least NPC interaction, if you don’t count the Hunter. It was longer but that shouldn’t really be too important, although it’s hard not to take that into consideration.

For me, it came down to two different points: The theme concept: liberating a hunter and then fighting alongside it compared to liberating the player, which I felt was weaker than Jason concept. And the second point was replayability. I played both maps twice and although I marginally preferred Jason’s the first playthrough and I definitely enjoyed Maarten’s map more. There’s just more substance to it.

Of course, the concept is important, but there were other great concepts in other entries too.

The final points are close between first and second and I feel justified in awarding my places based on my thought process. My one hesitation was that replayability was never specifically listed as a judging requirement.

The last two points I would like to make is that firstly, I know the judges result doesn’t reflect the poll. I can only say that perhaps it was based on single playthroughs or the fact that many people don’t like Nova Prospekt maps.

Secondly, I am sitting here wondering what both Jason and Maarten are thinking when they read this. How would they vote. I take the role of judge seriously and although it’s only a mapping challenge on a little website and the prize is not a huge amount of money, I am very conscious of the time and effort each mapper puts in and being recognized for hard work is very important.

So, there. That’s it.

Thank you to everybody who entered and everybody who played, reviewed and voted.

Let’s hope for something as successful as this for the next challenge.

Menu Music

Brane Scan by Kelly Bailey from Half-Life 2

Video Credit

The RunThinkShootLive.Com intro video was made by ĜL1TCĦ³
Rob Martens for converting the introduction video to .bik format.

Custom Grid View Images

Fifteen grid view icons are included in this file. To use the included grid view icon, select “Grid view” in Steam (top right corner).
Right click on “LiberationVille – THC16” and select “Set Custom Image”.
Then browse to the SourceMods folder and then to THC16-LiberationVille/steam-gridview-icons folder and select the image. Then click “Set Image” and that’s it.
Of course, you can create your own custom image if you prefer.

Sponsor

This challenges is sponsored by Nodecraft – High Performance Game Servers.

You chance to vote for your favourites.

You may select up to 3 entries as your favourites.
This vote DOES NOT affect the points for The Hammer Cup 2016.

Basic Details
  • Title: LiberationVille
  • Filename: hl2-ep2-sp-mc-thc16-liberationville.7z
  • Size : 179MB
  • Author: Flamdar, Marcu Alexandru AKA Melc311, Dan M., Joacim Rappu, Daniel Friend AKA Dannster, Sam Combs, Niker107, Ethosaur, Gwydion Brain AKA Agameofsonces, Abdulhamid Cayirli AKA crowbar, Bastion, King Kolton9, UtharQ, Maarten Frooninckx AKA marnamai, Jason Gimba AKA Maki
  • Date Released: 19 march 2016

Download Options

Download to your HDD [179MB]
You can still use it with Gauge once you have downloaded it.

Manual Installation Instructions
  • Copy the THC16-LiberationVille folder into your …\Steam\SteamApps\sourcemods\ folder.
  • Restart or start Steam.
  • LiberationVille – THC16 should now be listed in your Library tab.

If you require more help, please visit the Technical Help page.

Screenshots

WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.
Each map has 5 screenshots.

1024 x 576

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
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1366 x 768

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1600 x 900

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Reader Recommendations
Avoid It!
Think Twice
Maybe
Play It Later
Play It Now!

19 recommendations, average score: 4.84 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.24 (what's that?)
Total Downloads
  • 3,920
    Overall
  • 1
    Today
  • 23
    Last 7 days
  • 149
    Last 30 days
  • 1,759
    365 days
Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 18 comment(s) with meta review data.

Installed:
Using Gauge: 0 Users
Manually: 17 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 3 Hours, 45 Mins
Shortest: 2 Hours by Combine007
Longest: 7 Hours by rikersbeard
Total Time Played: 67 Hours, 26 Mins
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    LiberationVille Review

    I started to receive entries a few days before the deadline and that was a little surprising as people normally wait until the last possible moment and on Monday morning came around i thought we would have about 7-10 entries but I woke up on Tuesday morning to lots of entries in my email box – which is fantastic. This is a record entry for one of my mapping challenges and I am so pleased.

    All reviews contain spoilers to some degree or other and in general I try to keep them to a minimum, but because this review is also feedback for the mapper, it is not possible to avoid spoilers this time.

    I highly recommend your playing all the maps before reading my review.

    I will be streaming my playthroughs, which will include commentary related to the design etc tomorrow (Sunday) and I will then split up the stream into map videos and embed them in each of the review sections.

    On to each of the maps.

    Confusion by Flamdar
    It is good

    The first impression of the map is one of emptiness and plainness. But don’t let this fool you, there is actually more to this than initially meets the eye. After a few moments, the main NPC undergoes a strange transformation and what seems a standard attack on a Combine facility turns into something a little more sinister. It’s actually a simple change but one that is fun to play.

    There seems to be two ways to play this map, avoid attacking the rebels and go straight to the tower and try to destroy it or attempt to turn it off via the three power points around the courtyard. That in itself gives replay value which is always nice.

    I felt the main concept fitted the theme very well but was different enough to give it a fresh feel – you are liberating the citizens from the Combine control.

    From a design and layout point of view, I felt more could have been done to make it look better. The rooms and areas felt a littel empty.

    Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

    So visually, this map didn’t score high for me. It is also possible to see rebels and Combine spawning, which is not good. Once the tower has been toppled, it is possible to climb on it and walk out of the map.

    On my second playthrough I seemed to turn off the signal and the rebels were my friends but the tower was still standing, so I think I might have broken a trigger or something.

    Overall, a fun map to play at least twice, which is always good. With a little more work, this could be a nice idea.

    Playtime: 18 minutes

    Lakeside by Marcu Alexandru AKA Melc311
    It is good

    I felt that this started a little too quickly. My natural feeling is that players should have a chance to look around before being attacked. I’m not saying that it should never happen but with the start location of this map it seemed a little harsh. There is on screen text, which identifies the player’s objective and I am okay with that. My initial impression was that the area behind and beyond the player could ahve been more detailed.

    I found the combat a challenge but well designed. There are a few different ways of approaching the areas. Once off the beach and into the buildings, I found the combat more fun. There were too many barrels and crates around and anybody who has ever seen me play will know that is a dangerous thing to do.

    Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

    However, there are plenty of invisible walls to stop players from getting out, whilst making it feel natural. That said, I did manage to get out of the map with one carefully placed barrel.

    There are some nice little areas that can be approached in a couple of different ways, but essentially you have to run and gun.

    I found the level well built, with at least two secret caches of ammo. The lighting was bright and the only aspect that stood out was the first area off the beach.

    All in all a good level that was fun to play. I have to admit that the “Liberation” was a little weak, all I seemed to do was stop the cannon. It also had a very familiar feel to it due to Lost Coast.

    Playtime: 15 minutes

    Pain by Dan M.
    It is okay

    This map annoyed me almost within the first minute. Not only can you see out of the map in the first area, but once you press the first buttons a bunch of zombies spawning right behind for no obvious reason. That really angered me. The button triggers the zombies the first time you press it and only open the “door” the second time. That’s simply bad design, which is a pity because this could have been much better.

    Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

    It’s set in a Ravenholm-style location and you only fight zombies and headcrabs – which is fine but the inclusion of the magnum is wasted. I found the combat quite boring as it was possible to simply go back and collect more grenades and you could effectively avoid any close combat.

    There is a nice touch with a car but I won’t say any more than that here.

    However, where this map did score well was in its interpretation of Liberation. The actual mechanics of that liberation are definitely broken but that is better seen in a video.

    Just before you get to the liberation you jump through a portal and arrive facing the wrong way, which is jolting.

    Visually it was fairly well done but I felt it needed more ambient sounds and even some music.

    It is let down by the combat.

    All in all an okay map but the ending doesn’t make up for it’s lack of quality combat.

    Playtime: 9 minutes

    Cemetery Valley by Joacim Rappu
    It is okay

    Initial impression was of a large box. Perhaps I start too high or maybe the mapper was rushed, but what I do know is that it doesn’t look very good. After exploring for a few minutes, I felt I understood what I was supposed to do but I didn’t. The author could have made that a little clearer. Once I got to the “meat” of the map I was hoping for some action but I was disappointed. Once you collect the “item”, the mapper seemed to have run out of ideas and the white fade adds nothing to the experience. The final appearance of Gman makes no sense to me.

    The ambient sounds are adequate but there’s little you can do in maps like this. The lack of combat, lack of clear player direction and vagueness of its connection to the theme of liberation has me feeling that this map just didn’t excite me. Before you say that the text at the beginning explains the liberation, I would argue that it’s very tenuous at best.

    At the time of writing, I have only played the map once. To be honest, I don’t feel more than one playthrough was needed.

    Playtime: 15 minutes.

    Roxen Hole by Daniel Friend AKA Dannster.
    It is okay

    My initial impression was again one of emptiness and blandness. The area is simply a town square with a police station in the middle. The red building with the rebel on the balcony is a nice touch but the entry into the building is almost farcical.

    The gameplay once inside is pretty frenetic and although the areas are very square there are enough doors to make it a little interesting.

    The fun comes after going down the ladder and the train area is definitely the highlight of the map. Much of the geometry for the whole map is way too square though and the central “walkway” is not much fun to play or to look at.

    I didn’t really feel that the “liberation” aspect was integrated into the map as I simply pressed some buttons and “liberated” the town.

    All in all, I felt the map was a strange collection of areas with nothing making sense.

    Playtime: 15 minutes

    Prison 16 by Sam Combs
    It is good

    It’s always nice to have a start where everything looks good and this does. You are allowed to find your own way forward and everything looks detailed and well-lit.

    The initial battle is hard enough to be challenging but nothing to scare you. The “button” is well done and makes it immediately clear what you are liberating.

    The following battle is fun but the flow is broken by too many mines. I would also say that it was a touch too easy.

    Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

    Sam left me waaay too many creates and barrels and I managed to see out of the map many times.

    The final battle was what should have been the second part of the second battle but as I mentioned those mines broke the flow.

    All in all a fun map to play that looked good and fitted the theme very well.

    Playtime: 12 minutes

    Liberation Version 1 by Niker107
    It is great!

    I admit to being confused at the beginning. I knew this was Niker107’s second entry and when the voice over said “first” I thought I had the wrong version – as in I had a testers version.

    As the map went on, I could see it was not the case at all.

    It’s a great idea I felt it was really just a gimmick. If the map had slowly increased in size and design through the process of the player choosing that would have been cool but once I got to the main area, it seemed like a way of just adding things without making the area properly designed.

    Yes, it was fun to have the narrator, very well voiced by Urby, but I didn’t particluarly enjoy it.

    Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

    I managed to break the order of things by getting to an area that I wasn’t supposed to and I ended up thinking I had broken something when in fact it was just REALLY hard. And that brings me onto me next point, the final battle took me gaes to complete and I must have died 20 times at least. I eventually managed to win without cheating but it was tough.

    All in all a very clever entry but it annoyed me more than pleased me.

    Playtime: 55 minutes

    Vortessence by Ethosaur
    It is okay

    Something definitely went wrong in my playthrough, but none of the other judges reported anything, so I will just assume it was a bug.

    Essentially, I couldn’t get past a forcefield to release the vortigaunts. After noclipping, everything seemed to work okay.

    Ovrall, I found the map a bit strange in the sense that the early section seemed tacked on to the second half. It’s always nice to have NPCs doing stuff but you really have to test it. For example, the section with the two standing turrets. I had already destroyed them before Barney came along, which made his actions a look a little strange.

    The final battle was definitely a let down and the friendly turrets did all the work. The basic idea was definitely good but too much of my time was spent getting to the main section. I think I would start very close to the prison section and let the player fight their way to the portal area.

    Playtime: 23 minutes

    Rebel Island by Gwydion Brain AKA Agameofsonces
    It is good

    Visually, this was really atmospheric. The initially encounter was easy enough to allow you to explore but fun enough to keep you aware. There is a really well done bridge section, although I would have probably made the bridge metal since it is under water.

    The gate puzzle was a little strange with the buttons on the trees and the cover dropping down revealing the switch. But here comes the maps big flaw.

    Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

    You can actually see the enemies before they drop. One my first playthrough I managed to kill nearly all of them before they had a chance to attack me. I have the feeling that this author is an accomplished mapper but perhaps not a single player mapper. He doesn’t have enough experience in making things feel really. As a map this was really well done but as a single player experience it was definitely lacking realism.

    The final battle is tough, but again because the mapper doesn’t have enough experience (at least I am guessing that!), it’s too easy for the player to hang back and not really get involved.

    All in all, a good entry but the gameplay issues stop it from being a contender. Actually. just while I remember, the inclusion of the Lambda symbols confused me. They are used within the game to highlight areas of interest for the player. I actually died a few times try to get to one of those symbols when there was nothing there.

    Playtime: 18 minutes

    Ancient Dust by Abdulhamid Cayirli AKA crowbar
    It is great!

    I’m not a big fan of tomb settings but this is very well done. There is a clue to some secrets near the beginning and the overall feel is good. I found the combat too “arena-based” though. It happens twice and it feels a little forced. The second time was an absolute nightmare for me.

    The main puzzle area is fun but just the once, as most areas like this are. I died a few times trying to make the jumps but it was just the right difficulty level.

    The final battle seems an after thought as the main fighting has already been done.

    I definitely felt this was a well-designed and planned level but not being a fan of jumping puzzles or arena areas it was never going to be my favourite but the attention to detail in all other areas compensated for it.

    Playtime: 35 minutes

    Tansfer by Bastion
    It is good

    This map starts with a voice over but unfortunately it’s very quiet, still it sets the scene. The author then introduces a completely useless driving section. I’m really not sure why this was added and besides seeing the Gman standing on a roof, it was a waste of time.

    The main action starts once you leave the jalopy behind and enter a building. This particular section is nicely done, although where the zombines came from after the headcrab cannister crashes through the roof, I have no idea. This eventually leads onto a toxic sludge puzzle area that was more fun to look at than play. Once through that we get to the really serious section where Combine are fighting headrabs. The whole area is a bit of a mess really and there is too much going on.

    Past this and a forcefiled blocks your path with a helicopter dropping more bombs than I could count. I have to believe that this was a mistake because there were way to many.

    Overall, there is still the feeling of blockiness and squareness. I would advise the author to make something smaller but more detailed and better planned.

    The two Gman sighting are a nice touch but there needs to be more attention to detail. The indoor areas are quite well done but the outdoor areas are just too big.

    The theme was good, but I don’t really see how I helped. It looked like the rebels were already on the train and were going to be transfered anyway.

    Playtime: 32 minutes

    Nova Nadeje by King Kolton9
    It is okay

    I felt this would have been an okay entry for EscapeVille, but I suppose that technically, liberating yourself is allowed. There was only really one area that was fun for me and that was just after the gate closed, although it’s possible to simply put a create in the way and it won’t close.

    Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

    I felt that many areas were quite dark, although the way forward to clear. I died one time at an electric fence that wasn’t sparking, which I felt was unfair. In addition, one door opened to nothing.

    Overall, I didn’t really enjoy the map and it probably could have been a little smaller but with more action. As it stands I felt I just went from one room to another.

    Playtime: 23 minutes

    Pigeonholm by UtharQ
    It is great!

    The first thing that strikes you about this map is the colouring. I suspect that some will love it and others hate it, I was fairly neutral about it. What is more interesting is the actual layout. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore and then get cornered in. I found the combat challenging to say the least and had to adjust my tactics a few times.

    Being such a high level some outer areas definitely look empty and plain but the actual playing area is well-detailed.

    The main cathedral space is beautifully made but the battle was too easy with all three hunters attacking at the same time. That being said it was still fun to play.

    The final liberation was a great idea and if you hadn’t already guessed it from the name, shame on you.

    All in all, a very much enjoyed this map and hope the author enters the remaining four 3 challenges.

    Playtime First: 36 minutes At the time of release, I have only played it once.

    A Hero Once More by Maarten Frooninckx AKA marnamai
    It is WOW!

    Just when you thought it was boring to go back to a prison BAM! this comes along. The layout was complex but clear enough to rarely get lost but getting lost can be fun too. I thought I managed to break the level by flipping the switch and jumping on the wrong side of the closing gate, but no, Maarten was one step ahead of me.

    The animations and scripting were spot on and the combat was cleverly deployed. New enemies were introduced at just the right time and in exactly the right place and way. The final battle was easy to understand and led to a satisfying conclusion. Not only one of the best entries for a *Ville competition ever but also one of the best single maps release ever.

    Playtime: 36 minutes

    MAMH by Jason Gimba AKA Maki
    It is WOW!

    WOW, just WOW.

    As with all Jason’s levels they look fantastic and play that way too, but this is special. Your task is made clear to you early on and if that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will! You have some great sections of puzzles and combat but once you liberate your objective, that’s when the real fun starts.

    I did find the Strider battle very challenging and died quite a few times, but that’s fine with me. I was a little confused after that for a while because I tried to jump in the water but that’s a no-no. Eventually, I understand why I can’t go in there and this is a highlight of the whole mod for.

    I better stop writing now because I have nothing else to say besides this map blew me away. Probably the best single map for any Half-Life game I have ever played. It has its very minor faults – I managed to find a couple of invisible walls, but you have to really go looking and the water that kills you is never really explained well, but compared to how good the rest was, I don’t care.

    If ever a map needs to be expanded into a full mod, this is it.

    Playtime: 36 minutes

    Final Thoughts

    As with all challenges, this contains some okay ones, some good ones, and some great ones. However, the two final maps are absolutely superb. The other judges and I are going to have a lot of trouble picking the three places.

    I expect the reviews to varying but I would be coompletely astonished if players don’t love a few of these maps.

    I honestly, think this is a classic Ville competition.

    Thanks to everybody for entering.

    1. Thank you Phillip. These challenges just exist because of you and it allows us to have more Half-Life, and it allows mappers to make more stuff without having to make big mods.
      Downloading right now, I’m really excited!

  2. I played all maps a little bit , and I gotta say that most of them look and play amazing , MAMH , Liberation Version 1 and Confusion had some of the grate ideas of liberation.

    1. Just played my map , and I realized that I sent a wrong version of the map , my bad 🙁 , I can’t say that it changed much , it had some ambient sounds and the grenade box was changed to some prop_physics that you can break the boards with . I’m not writing this so my map is changed to the correct version , I just want people to know that I haven’t forgot the ambient sound and all that,but the other bug still remain in it.

  3. HEY!!! I just played my map and there is a BIG glitch. Antlion workers, the ones which shoot poison, they die in 1 hit and they don’t attack! That can’t be my fault, when I start the map in Episode 2 it works as intended. I noticed this problem before in some other Ville, but I didnt think about it because it wasnt really important for that map.
    Anyone have an idea why this happens???
    Maybe only I have this problem? Phillip doesn’t say anything about it.

    1. Unq

      Yes this happened to me as well, gone in 1 hit.

    2. marnamai

      this is happening because the mod lacks a skill.cgf file, antlion workers won’t spit and they do not have a health value set

      1. well that should be fixed easily no?

        1. A blessing in disguise, given how the Antlion Worker’s spit sometimes causes the screen to flash white for all damage thereafter?

          Probably something we should look into fixing though. I looked into this when MisterAddy posed the question a few months back and it seemed like you could edit one of the script files to disable the flash entirely, but I’m not sure if that’s a valid solution.

          1. blessing? And isnt the screen supposed to flash whie when you get hit by the poison? Can’t Phillip just put the skill.cfg from Episode 2 into the mod folder and everything is fixed?

            1. It is. But it gets “stuck” sometimes. So every time you get hit afterward, from [i]anything[/i], the screen will flash white. It even persists between levels. It’s a very annoying bug in the game.

  4. just completed all maps. I really don’t understand Phillip’s taste. Some of the maps he loved I found awful, really, I don’t get it. It’s like I played a completely different mod. Anyway, review coming soon…

    1. the word “awful” is too exxagerated btw, I dont know why I said that.

  5. Personal Favourite

    WOW. JUST WOW. This is just amazing. I never thought that a Mapping Challenge for HL2 in 2016 could be so good, let alone have 15 entries! So, let’s start off with…

    Confusion
    It is good

    This entry is mostly OK, and very amateur-like. The mapping is very boxy and there is a lot of combat, so if you like that, then this is for you.

    However, I never thought I would rate a map PIL for its concept. In this entry, due to a Combine Transmitter, the citizens turn against you, which is pretty clever for a HL2 map.

    Overall, this map is very fun, despite its mediocre mapping.

    Lakeside
    It is great!

    This map is a really good one. Visually, it was much better than the first entry.

    Also, this map also has a lot of combat, which seems to be a characteristic of this Ville.

    Apart from that, there’s not a lot to say. It’s a great, typical and fun HL2 map. Other than that, I can’t really say that it’s one of my favorites from this competition.

    Pain
    It is okay

    This was an OK map. This map is set in Ravenholm. Like Phillip, I could see beyond the map from the first area, which was annoying.

    The visuals are nice, however they could have been better. The combat was fine, and very Ravenholm-like, which is a good thing.

    However, the fast zombies from the first area of the game were really annoying. Overall, this is a decent entry, but not really as fun or as good as the previous ones.

    Cemetery Valley
    It is okay

    Honestly, when I first played this map, I was just confused and lost. You’re supposed to ring some bells to open a certain door, however the way you do that is not presented so clearly.

    For those wondering, the “bells” are the lamps. THE LAMPS!!! You don’t know how much time it took me to find that out. Apart from that, the visuals are OK, however I really liked the ambient sounds here. There is no combat, so I was really disappointed.

    Roxen Hole
    It is good

    From the moment the map loaded, I thought that this would be like the last map; boxy and bland. When it comes to the mapping, I was mostly right, but not for the rest.

    The concept is great, however there’s no feeling of liberation. The combat is great and varied, and the same can be said for the layout.

    The mines area is a lot of fun too. Overall, this is a really nice map, despite its issues. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it.

    Prison 16
    It is great!

    This was a great map. The visuals are much better this time, and the same can be said for the combat.

    The concept is the typical prison setting, which I find really neat and it also matches to the liberation feeling. The only major problem I have with this entry is that it’s way too short. You can beat it in about 8-10 mins.

    Apart from that though, this was a great map.

    Liberation Version 1
    It is WOW!

    WOW. This map is just genius. It’s one of those voice-over-like maps, kinda like The Stanley Parable and Portal, where there’s a narrative guiding you throught the whole thing.

    If you like these maps, then this is for you. The combat is great, the mapping is smart as f**k and the whole map is very inspiring.

    This is definitely one of my favorite maps from this competition.

    Vortessence
    It is good

    This map is very typical to be honest. Another prison-like map, except that here, you need to save Vortigaunts instead of rebels.

    The mapping is mostly OK. It’s not too boxy, but not the best either. The combat is nice; it consists of mostly Combine soldiers, which is very fitting, since this is a prison after all.

    Overall, this is a really nice map, but definitely not the best.

    Rebel Island
    It is good

    There’s not a lot to say about this map, however one thing that stood out for me was the great atmosphere. I like island-styled levels, and this is a great one.

    The combat is really balanced and the mapping is very well done. The biggest issue of this map is that when you get hurt, this white layer pops up.

    This is present only on this map (I think), but it’s SO ANNOYING. It shouldn’t be there! The other issue I had with this map is that it was short. Despite these issues though, this map is great.

    Ancient Dust
    It is WOW!

    If you’ve played this map, then this may be a shock to you. This map is NOT for everyone. If you don’t like the ancient temple-theme (traps, levers and such), then you’ll probably not like this map.

    However, I loved this map. It was original, creative and fun. I also love the ancient temple theme, mainly because I grew up with Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones.

    Like I said, some people may not like this map, but I love it.

    Transfer
    It is good

    This map was an overall nice one. The combat has a lot of variety and the layout is pretty well done. However, there was no reason to have the driving section at the start.

    Also, while the mapping is good too, it had a very boxy-like feeling, which I didn’t really like. The final battle at the end is really cool, however the area should have been bigger, since the helicopter just dropped bombs on the same spot in my playthrough. Overall, this is a pretty cool entry.

    Nova Nadeje
    It is okay

    This map was simply OK. The mapping was overall nice, however there a few boxy areas here and there. I also noticed the door that Phillip did too (what’s up with that, btw?).

    The combat was nice, however it was way too easy. I also like the classic escape-from-a-jail theme. The visuals aren’t as appealing as the rest of the other maps though.

    Overall, this is just a fine map. Not one of the best, but still.

    Pigeonholm
    It is good

    Another decent map. The first thing that’s worth noticing is the coloring. It really adds to the map, however if your PC isn’t so good, then you’ll probably have framerate issues.

    Apart from that, the combat is nice, however it was very annoying some times. The environment is pretty cool and the mapping is really well done.

    Overall, this is a great map, like the others.

    A Hero Once More
    It is WOW!

    WOW. This was an amazing entry! The mapping was superb, the combat was great and varied and it was overall fun.

    I love Odessa Cubbage and it’s nice seeing him in this entry. Another thing that’s great is that there is a lot of gameplay for a single HL2:Ep2 map.

    There are cutscenes, music and a lot of areas. Definitely one of my favorites from this competition!

    And finally…

    MAMH
    It is WOW!

    Again, WOW. This is amazing! I never thought I would give 4 PF ratings on 1 single competition! Like every other map by Jason, this is fantastic.

    The combat is great and varied, the visuals are like they’re from Valve themselves and the mapping is superb. The relationship with the Hunter is pretty cute and it reminds me of DOG from the original episodes.

    Overall, you should not miss this entry!

    1. if you grew up with Tomb Raider, I hope the “secret” sound in this map gave you a nostalgia moment 🙂

  6. I recorded my first playthrough for this Ville and will post it later as a comment when I uploaded it.

    Btw can we please stop using Urby as a voice actor? I mean, he is definitly a good voice actor, but when so many maps have his voice it gets annoying 😉

    Confusion by Flamdar
    It is okay

    What drags this entry down the most are the visuals and the level design, because they are extremely dull and also it’s a bit annoying to navigate around the map, especially inside the buildings. When you watch my playthrough you will see I was extremely confused, because you can complete the map without doing the objective. The map also doesn’t guide you to the objective at all, especially because all doors look the same. I was so confused at the end that I just completed it.

    Still. The theme was implemented really well, although not consistent, or I didn’t understand it.
    At the start of the map something happens to the rebels, but in the second part of the map that is gone completely for some reason, even though you did nothing. But I really like it at first, because it gives you a bad feeling. It’s like you have to do something ugly to “liberate” these people.

    The combat section wasn’t great, but it was fun, although a bit tedious. It was a bit annoying that we don’t get a long range weapon, at least the pistol would be nice to snipe the combine on the roof. The main combat area could also use more cover. Also I don’t like how the combine shield is a solid wall, which it isn’t in the main game, you should be able to shoot through. Yes, the mapper wanted you to do the objective and then shoot the barrel or something like that, but he should use something else, not combine shields.

    Because of how the theme got implemented (although not consistent) and fun combat most of the time, I will give this map a 3/5.

    Lakeside by Marcu Alexandru AKA Melc311
    It is good

    I like this map. The start is a bit overwhelming with multiple combine who use AR2 rifles and mounted guns, but other than that the combat was well designed. Visually some areas looked a bit dull, but overall it was good enough to be called “a good looking map”. Ambience and atmossphere was also nice. The map reminded me a lot of HL2: Lost Coast, and it works for the same reasons.

    Fighting your way all the way up really feels like you are accomplishing something, and you can always feel and see how much progress you made. Unfortunately the “Liberation” theme didn’t really exist in the map, but that doesn’t take away from the experience.

    Pain by Dan M.
    It is okay

    It was hard to decide between “It’s okay” and “It’s good”. On one hand the map was fun and I really love how the “liberation” theme was implemented, but it wasn’t perfect and it felt rough.
    The combat sections don’t have depth and aren’t challenging, but again, they are fun. Visually it is okay, it has a nice atmosphere, but the geometry is too simple. Also there are places where you can look out of the map which isn’t good.

    The theme would be implemented even better, if the map started with you and father Grigori together, then something bad happens to him which you witness. Then you have to fight your way through the map to save him, but realize it’s too late, so you do what you have to do. Still, well made.

    Cemetery Valley by Joacim Rappu
    It is good

    The main area of this map looks impressive and is a nice hub area for the player to explore. It is clear from the start what you are supposed to do. Other areas of the map looked a bit dull though, but that didn’t take away from the experience. Good use of lighting and sounds gave this map a unique atmossphere. Was this map inspired by Dark Souls? The two bells (of awakening), the graveyard setting? It also reminded me of the game Painkiller.

    Maybe the map could use a bit combat, maybe some zombies? But I guess no combat is better than filler combat, and badly designed combat could hurt the atmossphere, so it’s not a problem for me. Some areas felt rough and made movement a bit annoying. Also you will see in my video that I didn’t understand that the lamps are supposed to be the bells, aren’t there real bell models you could use? I guess you really wanted the player to ring the bells with the gravity gun instead of a button or shooting it with a weapon, and that’s why you used these lamps, so that’s fine too.

    The final part was interesting. That one dream sequence was a bit weird and felt pointless though, but it fit the map, because everything about it feels weird and you don’t know what’s happening. The reward for finishing the map was dissapointing though, you put the thing on that platform and you get a little cutscene. There could be done more here.

    Roxen Hole by Daniel Friend AKA Dannster.
    It is bad

    It was hard to choose a rating for this map. It has some cool elements, but overall it feels too rough, the mine area has zero player guidance, and the main combat section of the map is really bad. That dragged it down too much to give it “It’s okay”. Still, it had it’s fun moments.
    Starting outside, going to a “police station”, then to a mine gave this map an adventure feeling. You visit a lot of different places, although it also feels a bit unrealistic. Why is there that weird mine under a police station? And the police station looks nothing like a police station really.

    The map also has some bugs. The main combat secton was bad, because first it was way too dark, second it was really dull from a level design perspective, and third why does a big chunk of combine soliders all come from behind you. That could be really punishing and frustrating, but at the same time you can abuse that by spamming explosives. You will see in my video what I mean.

    Prison 16 by Sam Combs
    It is good

    The only real problem of this map is that it’s too short. The combat is really solid most of the time. The areas you fight in are well designed. The visuals were a bit too blocky though, not dull, but it doesn’t look great. I mean I like how much stuff is lieing around without obstructing the movement of the player, but the geometry itself was too simple. There is not much to say about this map, it was really solid.

    Liberation Version 1 by Niker107
    It is okay

    This map falls completely flat on it’s face at the last combat section. It is poorly designed and doesn’t fit what the map was trying to do before that. I don’t know how to feel about it. It tried too hard to be like “The Stanley Parable”, the similarities were obvious in my opinion, but it wasn’t that bad. It worked at first, because the map does with the Half-Life mapping community what The Stanley Parable does with the whole games industry in general, but “Run Think Shoot” by Nicole Brauer did this much better and more subtle.

    Also the first decision of this map was a bit pointless and felt like a gimmick, it fits to what the map is trying to do, but it should be a bit more fleshed out. I love how the map starts though, I love that ugly brush with the button textures. If the map didn’t have the horrible combat section at the end I would give it “It’s good”, but because of that I will just give it “It’s okay”.

    The problem with that combat section is mainly that you get attacked from EXTREME distances even though your only long range weapon is the AR2, but the distance is even too long for that weapon and you don’t have much ammo for it. And too many enemies have AR2 rifles which makes it really punishing. Also I didn’t understand what I’m supposed to do and what I did to complete the map. Apparently you just have to kill everyone, but I’m not sure. In the introduction to this review I said that it’s gets a bit annoying that so many maps have Urby as a voice actor, but he fit this map really well, his voice and talking style.

    Vortessence by Ethosaur
    It is okay

    This map almost would get a “It’s bad”, but I thought that would be too harsh. The map is long, it has somewhat different enviroment and the combat is solid most of the time. It has too many problems though. The visuals are dull most of the time, it has lots of bugs and the player guidance is zero. At the end I didn’t know if the map is broken or do I just don’t find the way I’m supposed to go?

    Rebel Island by Gwydion Brain AKA Agameofsonces
    It is bad

    I don’t want to give this map “It’s bad”, but I have to. Visually it has a unique look and very surreal. But other than that, there is not much to like about this map. The music at the start is completely out of place. The final combat section is really weird. All these combine soldiers appear, but you can just snipe them from a distance, they don’t move, they can’t really hit you. The shotgun soldiers just stand there and look at you. If you had no Magnum, you probably have to fight them from a closer distance, but I don’t want to imagine how that would turn out, because there is almost zero cover and there are like 7 combine soliders and 2 hunters which is crazy. Also the area where you fight the hunters has really weird terrain which makes it annoying to move around. I mean I could just also snipe them from a distance, but I just decided not to do that.

    If you watch my video you will see that I didn’t understand what the buttons are supposed to do, and I didn’t use them at all and still completed the map. Something is wrong there apparently.
    You will also see how 2 combine shotgun soldiers come out of nowhere and destroy me. I think I took the wrong path, or otherwise this would be ridiculous as hell. I’m also not a fan of the ending.

    Transfer by Bastion
    It is good

    I playtested this map. The version I playtested was “It’s Okay” at best, for this version the mapper improved lots of things. The map still has problems and there are a few unneccessary sections, but overall it gets a “It’s Good!” rating, because of the consistent quality, the good pacing, the length and the variety.

    The final battle is too easy, but still feels like a climax, it does it’s job. It was way worse in the previous version. One problem with the map is that while some areas have interesting geometry, others are really dull. But again, overall it was fun, even though I played it for the second time.
    My video shows what areas I didn’t like that much I think.

    Nova Nadeje by King Kolton9
    It is bad

    Most moments in this map are okay, but it has some bad moments which makes it a bad map overall for me. First of all the ending was completely abrupt and I don’t remember what exactly was the Liberation part. The ending was so abrupt that it felt broken.
    Visually it was really dull and waaaaaaaaaay too dark. One area has tons of lamps, but the room is still in complete darkness. The combat was dull most of the time too.
    I mean, if I could give it a rating between “It’s Bad” and “It’s Okay”, I would give this map that rating.

    Pigeonholm by UtharQ
    It is okay

    This map… this map felt like a map made by the maker of “The Closure”, I think Leon was his name. It is full of random stuff that doesn’t make any sense. The lighting is unrealistic and looks bad. The performance is TERRIBLE, at some points I had 40 fps, even though I normally have around 300 fps. Right at the start the map throws million combine soldiers at you with weird cover and you have bad weapons while they have AR2 and shotgun and a mounted gun I think.

    The more I played this map the more I felt lost and confused. It has good aspects though, that’s why I don’t give it a “It’s Bad”. When you climb to the top you can see the whole map which is a cool moment. It is long and it feels like a lot of effort went into it. But most combat section are extremely frustrating and dull. Later you have to fight like 5 eilte soldiers at the same time, all of them have AR2 rifles and a hunter comes too. At least it had a fun idea for the “Liberation” theme.

    A Hero Once More by Maarten Frooninckx AKA marnamai
    It is good

    While playing this map I thought it’s bad. I really had not a lot of fun with it. Then I watched my playthrough and thought “wait a minute … why didn’t I like it anyway?” and I don’t know. I replayed it and I think it’s good. The problem of the map is that it looks exactly like Nova Prospekt, worse in some aspects, and some areas feel a bit rough, it has no own ideas. But overall it has good pacing, good level design although a bit unneccessarily complicated and you have some side characters which are cool.

    MAMH by Jason Gimba AKA Maki
    It is good

    In my opinion this is Jason Gimba’s worst map. Visually it’s good, but not as good as his others. It uses a lot of gameplay elements from his other maps. Well, actually most of his maps have similarities. A lot of his maps have a mounted gun and you have to take cover behind cars, some have snipers and most of his maps end with a battle against a gunship or strider you have to fight with a rocket launcher. That is not bad by itself, but for this map it felt like I’m playing a map by someone else who tried to imitate Jason Gimba’s work. It has one unique element though.

    The hunter in this map was really cool. Sometimes I even forgot that it’s a hunter and somehow thought it’s DOG. While he didn’t contribute much from a gameplay perspective, this is one of the best implementations of the “Liberation” theme of this challenge, maybe the best. That alone doesn’t make this map great though.

    I didn’t like the combat, it was okay most of the time, but not great. I also didn’t like the final battle. It was confusing, but after I realized what’s going on it was extremely easy. You just shoot the Strider until it destroys the rocket crate, then you wait until the hunter and strider do their thing, and you win. This could easily be made more interesting, I first though the Strider destroys the crate so you have to move and find a new crate somewhere else, but no. I guess he ran out of time or something.

    Ancient Dust by Abdulhamid Cayirli AKA crowbar

    I don’t want to say that much about my own map. I think it will be really hard for me to reach this quality again for the next challenges. For the duration of the challenge I had complete freetime, my exams were over and university just started this week again, so I could completely focus on the map, and it hopefully shows.

    I don’t know why, but for some reason I really wanted to make a map in a tomb-like setting, like Tomb Raider, and I also took some ideas from the underground areas from Serious Sam 3 (even though those areas are really bad in that game). The biggest challenge for this setting was the amount of textures in the game. I was extremely limited and had to use the same textures multiple times, I hope it doesn’t get bland. I also like this setting, because it allows me to go wild with decorations on the walls and stuff.

    I already had all sections of this map in my head right from the start and I was really happy that I could implement all of them as I hoped, well, except one area. At the end of the antlion fight, the big one, an antlion guard should smash the wall and it should be like the next, final phase of that fight, but for some reason it didn’t worked. The AI of the guard was completely weird, it couldn’t move around really and did stupid things and I have no idea why. So, I decided to remove it and just use some normal antlions.

    This setting also allowed me to use antlions as enemies, which I like because there are not many custom maps where you fight antlions. But I didn’t want them to be the only enemy in the map, so I also thought about how to implement the combine into it and I think it makes sense. I also experimented a lot with music, but the ambient_generic entity is weird. I couldn’t fade out music for example, which is a bug according to the Valve developer wiki. When you set the volume of an ambient_generic to zero, it doesn’t continue playing, it pauses, which is not what I wanted.

    Anyway, I hope you like the map.

    1. FadeOut does work, but you have to give it an integer for how long it takes to fade out as the optional argument. FadeOut will cause the track to start playing if it isn’t, but you’ll notice that in a lot of maps (including my own), before it immediately fades out. The way I look at it – it’s kind of like the Gears of War end-of-battle fanfare. 🙂

      FadeIn works too, but I don’t quite remember how.

      FadeOut is the best approach to getting rid of music when you’re done with it.

      1. FadeOut works??? Wow… I guess I should ask in the contest announcement post, but I thought it doesnt because it says so in the Valve developer wiki, I thought what is said there is fact xD

        Btw I want to say that I wrote “This is your worst map”, but thats not a negative really, if THIS is your worst map (from all I played), then you are a damn good mapper 🙂

        1. While the VDC is generally accurate, there are definitely instances where it’s not. I’ve chased my own tail when information was completely wrong. For example, the Hunter-Chopper had an input for firing rockets. The wiki insisted, this is how it fired them at the end of Black Mesa East. No one apparently bothered to vet that claim, because that’s not how it worked at all. The input does nothing. The missiles were faked using npc_launchers.

          Ambient_generic is an old and gnarly entity, so it’s entirely possible that it doesn’t work in some branches or games. But as far as HL2 goes, FadeOut works just fine. To be fair, VDC only says that FadeIn doesn’t work – it has nothing to say about FadeOut’s functionality.

          1. I just realized you also made “Truss”, that was your worst map, not this one 😛
            In my review for WinnersVille I also said that I didnt understand Camp 43 or what it was called.
            I replayed the map and saw what I missed and the map turned out to be really cool. But I think its not my fault that I didnt know how to progress. The handle is in a dark corner, I didnt even realize that its a handle and that I can put it into the generator.

    2. Just gotta say I liked the theme of your map, Crowbar.

      You did well with the textures, considering you were keeping to vanilla, and it didn’t ever feel too “bland” – it was as advanced as it could get with half life 2 textures in a deep sandy tomb.

      I liked the touch you added with the fog, it really helped the atmopshere, you’d adjusted it perfectly.

      The antlion workers didn’t work properly in this modpack, as has been pointed out before, but I think that was okay for me. I was playing on hard and barely scraping by, if the workers worked it’d be almost impossible.

      You could perhaps have played a little bit more with the geometry. It’s a time-consuming thing, and I understand that, but it can really add more depth. I’m just talking some non-collisionary func_detail’s on the moving platforms, for example, to roughen up the edges, or other walls to give them a deeper feel.

      Also, I want more death traps! Rolling balls of death! Rooms that get crushed you gotta escape from quickly! I loved the jumping puzzle, it took a bit thinking and it was excellent in contrast to the rest of the challenge maps.

      Nice entry all-around, Crowbar.

      1. thank you so much! And those are nice ideas! I don’t know why I didn’t think of them!

    3. “Btw can we please stop using Urby as a voice actor? I mean, he is definitly a good voice actor, but when so many maps have his voice it gets annoying”

      Two maps… literally the first time ever in a Ville competition. 😛

      1. maybe it was just a unlucky coincidence, I think I heard your voice in some other mod playthroughs and stuff from older mods where you also were involved, so it could be that it just looked like you are in a lot of mods. I wasn’t 100% serious btw, maybe 99% 😉

  7. Play It Now!

    SPOILERS
    Only had time to play some of these, so I chose what seemed to be the top 2. I was not disappointed:

    A Hero Once More
    It is WOW!

    What a great map – looks like it came right out of Half-Life 2! What stood out was the scripted sequencing and choreography – great stuff.

    I enjoyed the gameplay though I was slightly annoyed at the constant barrage of antlions (shows how much Freeman would’ve been stuffed if he hadn’t got those pherapods).

    Mapping looked right in Nova Prospekt though I noticed many similarities on the surface that looked just like the area that Gordon Freeman enters from.

    I liked the link to the HL2 storyline at the end, with the depot blowing up (and therefore all of Nova Prospekt). I was secretly hoping for it!

    MAMH
    It is WOW!

    Full mod please? Heh. (Not even kidding.)
    This was a beautiful map that introduced new gameplay elements (*cough*pet hunter*cough*) and reintroduced others (APC with wheel chocks) and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Everything from the lighting to the texturing and map design is superb. Pesky rollermines are back and I liked the way that you went from small to big enemies – rollermines + turrets, CPs (what were the CPs doing here though?), soldiers to a strider.

    I felt surprisingly attached to my hunter ‘pet’ even though I still think its first glimpse at the start of the map (dangling from a dropship) looked hilariously silly. Watching its flechettes finally grace the combine felt good after all this time… and it bringing the airboat out for me after the battle was awesome.

    Speaking of which, the strider battle was nice and I enjoyed having to chase it down the road before I could fight it. Nice bridge destruction mechanic for the battle – striders look so vicious when they’re crouching low and stamping across a river.

    All in all I think this needs a follow-up map… or 10. What could be beyond that tunnel?

  8. Maybe?
    Confusion
    It is good

    The map had an interesting concept, especially given the theme. Liberate a group of rebels who have been taken over by a combine transmitter, then destroy said transmitter.

    This map is combat-centric, with one small puzzle inbetween. I would have liked to see door props so I wasn’t trying to find what doors open, and it took me a minute to figure out that the combine would be coming endlessly in the last section. While the ending was abrupt, there weren’t any other problems with the flow, besides its short length.

    Rating: It’s good.

    Lakeside
    It is okay

    Combat-wise, this map was loaded. Challange varied; some areas were intense, some extemely easy. The map really didn’t give any clues where to go and just felt like I was going from room-to-room, area-to-area. I did like the fact that we were given natural cover around the coast.

    Rating: It’s okay.

    Pain
    It is okay

    This map is pretty similar to ravenholm. You’re alone, fighting for your life against zombies, and using explosives and traps to keep yourself alive. Grigori’s even in it.

    That said, there were a few things I didn’t like. It didn’t feel as scary to ravenholm, and there were only two things that made me jump (The fast zombies behind you after you open the gate, and a scripting error where Grigori popped up from his position of laying down.) One of the traps flat out felt like a potshot (It killed me and gave no warning), probably due to me having no hesitation to enter an area, like ravenholm. If the author had time, that area would probably be have been better if he introduced the trap BEFORE you enter the killzone, and then let some zombies flood the area. I wish the ending didn’t need the on-screen text, and it would have been made more powerful if Grigori was following us from the begining. I do, however, understand that there were time constraints.

    Rating: It’s okay.

    Cemetery Valley
    It is okay

    This was a puzzle map. Immediately after spawning the map, I charged forward. I then proceeded to fall off the tower. Some form of barrier would have been appreciated, even though that was my fault, because the stairs down were a bit narrow. Also, some lighting hints would have been nice. The sawblade puzzle wasn’t immediately obvious; I would suggest increasing the height of the rubble. Also, the bell did not strike me as a bell as I am used to seeing it in other maps as a lamp. It did not click immediately that I needed to ring the bell to open the door, and although I had grabbed the skeleton’s head and spine, I had no idea what to do with them. The boxes by the main tower were a dead giveaway, and a clever trick to get the player to climb back up. However, they were immersion-breaking, as the player should feel that they “figured it out,” not that the map makers wanted them to do that.

    Rating: It’s okay.

    Roxen Hole
    It is good

    I don’t have much commentary on this. There was a large amount of exploring and a nice combat/puzzle ratio. Why I’d want to break in is beyond me, and why that reble was looking out isn’t answered. Lighting seemed fine. Vortal combat is starting to become over used in mods in my opinion.

    Rating: It’s good.

    Prison 16
    It is okay

    This map was rather short. It’s a run an gun-map, and it didn’t really look like a prison to me. However, this map did what it set out to do well, although my playthrough took me less than 5 minutes.

    Rating: It’s okay.

    Liberation Version 1
    It is WOW!

    This map was great. It is remincient of “The Beginner’s Guide.” I’m sure the other mapmapkers (As much as I am hesitant to call myself that after my entry (See below)) identify with this map. I know I do. “Oh, that scripted event didn’t do what I wanted it to do at al…Shit.” It also shows how a map and its contents can spiral out of control, and end up like nothing we intended. Sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worst. The combat was a little too repetitive towards the end, and I wish the player had triggered the scripted event that sent the cage flying, rather than the narrator. My comment for Vortal Combat still stands, although I almost didn’t hear it over the gunfire.

    A crossbow would have been nice for the final battle. Beyond that, I have no major complaints.

    Rating: It’s wow!

    Vortessence
    It is good

    I’ll start off by saying that I liked this map. It didn’t wow me, but it was definately one of the better ones. Barney is immediately introduced to us in the beginning, and I like that we have someone to tag along. However, he’s not as responsive as I’d like to see him. There’s definately the feel of “This is an AI” when you’re around him, although the scripted event where Barney throws a turret did give me a chuckle. Combat here was well-paced and well-balanced, although the “boss battle” could have been tougher. Yet again, we have Vortal Combat during a boss battle.

    Rating: It’s good.

    Rebel Island
    It is okay

    This map had a cool concept. Combat was too hard (Fighting hunters without a gravity gun is simply unfair) and the constant flashes annoy me. You can’t step even the slightest bit into the water without taking constant damage, which is annoying when you have hunters charging you. It felt like a flat out assault, and the puzzles were too easy or short.

    Also, Vortal Combat makes its return. Again.

    Rating: It’s okay.

    Ancient Dust
    It is good

    This map is more puzzle-based than combat based. You’re in an area that’s overrun by Antlions, but the combine have also planted their feet. It would have been nice to see some of the combine fighting the Antlions, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s a curious map as it’s interesting that a Xen crystal in an Indiana-Jones sort-of tomb is our MacGuffin here. Although there were supposedly secrets I didn’t find, this map had a nice length of playtime and was mixed. I am fond of the fact that the main mechanic for health was the grubs. While the player didn’t have a gravity gun and physics props for the hunter fight, I didn’t mind as much as the last map because there were plenty of leftover grenades that I didn’t have much use for.

    Rating: It’s good.

    Transfer
    It is great!

    This map was a mixed bag. On the one hand, I like the concept and the combat was great. On the other, you are SEVERELY punished if you screw up in the canal. It seemed like there wasn’t any health ’till the boss battle, which I walked into with one health remaining. The beginning of the map was the most fun for me; I liked that we actually get to use the car and that we’re not just thrown into combat. In addition, there’s some forshadowing. Like the last map from this author, we get some custom voice acting. The people in the train are holding onto non-existant bars, but this is a minor quibble. Everything else makes up for it.

    Rating: It’s great.

    Nova Nadeje (My map)
    It is dire!

    This map is just BAD. It’s the worst map in the pack. It’s too dark, the combat isn’t engaging, the puzzles were too simple and only served to break up the non-existant combat, and the ending was abrupt. Now, I’m not making excuses. No, my map is bad. I admit that. But I’d at the very least like to be given a chance to explain how in the absolute hell this happened.

    The over-darkness.

    Originally, the map was brighter. Still dark, but definately brighter. There’s one particularly good spot to point this out. Not sure if I’m allowed to do this, please correct me if I’m not, but here’s a direct comparison between a dev build a mere 18 HOURS before I sent the map in, and the map in the competition:
    THC map
    My Dev map

    How did this happen? Well, I was going to have a custom skybox that was actually a few sewn together. The skybox would be emitting no light; instead, a light entity placed between the skybox and window would be handling it. HOWEVER, I ended up not having enough time (This will be a reoccuring theme. Think smaller, kids!) and because I was nervous, replaced the concrete filler texture with the skybox texture and deleted my light entity… Forgetting that the light_environment wasn’t as bright as I needed.

    Oh, and for the area where you’re ambushed by the combine? Yeah, that was brighter, too. And prettier; the walls were dressed in the shadows of the gate’s grill. And the reason why that’s not there is the same reason that the ropes for the rappeling combine aren’t there: Constant errors. I was having constant problems with scripting: One compile something would work fine, the next compile with ZERO changes would break it. My compiles in the last two days were taking oddly long amounts of time (30-40+ minutes longer than expected on the last day). Turns out, my installation had gone corrupt. I know this because, after I redownloaded Half Life 2, Episode 1, Episode 2, and the 2013 SDK, I’ve continued working on the map. I intend to release it as a standalone as I had originally imagined it, and everything is working fine.

    Even if I didn’t have a corrupt installation, this would have been BAD. I had thought far too large than I could possibly do in 19 days. I’ve done quite a bit of mapping, but I’ve never released anything and never really bothered to keep time on how much I could do in 20 days. There’s plenty of ideas that were partially cut in the final hours of “working” on this:

    There was SUPPOSED to be a briefing explaining WHY you were in Nova Prospekt (But, as I said, anything that gave me the slightest bit of trouble or wasn’t completely fleshed out within a few hours before the deadline were cut)

    The cell was supposed to have a hole in the wall that let you see a little bit outside (Forshadowing for the planned climax)

    The original puzzle was supposed to make sense.

    You were originally supposed to have to turn off a combine forcefield right after you exited the cell and walked into the security station.

    There was supposed to be a combine gunner during the second fight

    The door into nowhere was originally meant to be locked.

    There were to be hints all over the map of other rebels that escaped or made attempts (I accidentally left one example in, during my rush to purge: The dead rebel girl that you grab the 357 from)

    The ambush was to be bigger and foreshadow the upcoming battle

    The Soldiers were to rappel through ropes, rather than magic

    And that’s just what was partially there and cut! The sad thing is, however, that the map STILL would have been bad. There was too little combat, too few puzzles and the lighting in some areas was non-existant. There was, however, going to be more, like:

    The sewers were meant to be a laybrinth and chock-full of enemies

    The sewers were to lead cliffside, where the climax would be a fight between you and TONS of combine soldiers and the gunship, followed by you escaping by boat.

    Areas were meant to…Y’know, have props and detail.

    The map was to be longer, and take place from dusk-dawn.

    There’s a whole lot more that I’m adding on, to follow my original plans. I can stand being criticized, I can stand coming in last place (To be honest, I half expected it). I can NOT stand providing a bad experience without some form of retribution on my part, which is why I want to continue the map and release it any way I can.

    This was nowhere near my first map, but it was my first competition and my first time mapping under a deadline. I dissappointed myself. But, if I had to give some advice to anyone that would want to learn from my mistake:

    Take what you THINK you can do in 18, not 19 days, and then do less. Focus on quality over quantity. And don’t fret over lighting; fret over playability and pace. Oh, and relax. You’ll make stupid mistakes (Like ladders that break space and time) if you don’t.

    Rating: Avoid it.

    Pigeonholm
    It is okay

    This map was lackluster, but cheeky. The only thing I really have to say about it is that it was okay for the most part, but there are places like few flights of stairs that could have had some work. Also, playerclips in key areas would have made this map more enjoyable.

    My rating: It’s okay.

    A Hero Once More
    It is great!

    This map is a lot like my map, except it’s fun, engaging, detailed and… Well, okay, it’s not like my map at all.

    In all seriousness, my only complaints with this one are:

    I couldn’t figure out where to go after assimilating the body.

    It’s too bright for Nova Prospekt

    My rating: It’s great.

    MAMH
    It is okay

    Man, I expected better from Jason. The pacing felt like dragging your feet, the pet hunter felt a little like a gimmick and a deus ex machina, and at first it felt a little bit too similar to his last map (Opening up right next to an area where you’re using cars for cover, the area it’s in is a mini chasm, there’s a mine field, and the exit is through a tunnel). The boss fight felt a little bit like a pushover, too. It was pretty.

    1. in Ancient Dust, you can see Combine and Antlion fighting. At earlier parts of the map you only see hints of their fights with corpses, but at the final fight, after you kill the hunters, then antlions come and start attacking the combine soliders, allowing you to escape. 🙂

    2. Thanks for playing and reviewing Transfer, In regards to the issue with item crates, there are another 9 crates following the canal before the end boss, Although they were placed in areas where you would really have to look for them if you needed resupply.
      Still, I will look to rectify this in the future.

  9. Play It Now!

    I was excited to see this one get released more than ever, not only because of my personal involvement with a couple of the entries but also because of the record number of fifteen maps to play through. Having powered through this over the course of the day, I am now writing this up at midnight, drained and completely satisfied. I was going to do a play through of this mod, but my voice is still cracking and I am constantly coughing thanks to this bug, so I wouldn’t ask you to endure that. Instead, here is my review:

    Confusion
    It is bad

    The first thing that struck me was the very basic architecture and layout, as well as some very unusual texturing choices. That said, I do like the overall idea of suddenly finding yourself in a very hostile situation. It might have been better with a little more narrative from the citizens with regards to what they were feeling. Even just manic screaming or something, to let the player know that something is awry before they get attacked. Sadly, the rest of the execution was a little hamfisted and it simmered down to base level gameplay, run-aroundy-pushy-button

    Lakeside
    It is good

    I loved the environment in this one, assaulting the beach to take out the cannon. It seemed to remind me of the Lost Coast map in a lot of ways. While the combat throughout was interesting enough, it didn’t really go beyond combine infantry, meaning there wasn’t a lot of changing of tactics in order to get through. I lot of the time I could camp the corners and get by without taking a hit at all. I’m also not sure where the liberation came into this… I didn’t so much liberate the enemy’s weaponry as I just kinda blew it up. Pretty average overall, which is a shame because the design of the level had me excited at the start 😛

    Pain
    It is okay

    Head for the penis! Sorry. I’m a 29 year old man child and I just saw a big ol’ penis building when I looked through the combine reconnaissance device. So we’re definitely in Ravenholm and the gameplay definitely reflects that. However this has the same issue as Lakeside in that I never needed to adapt my play style. The author established that there is at least a small combine presence in the area, but did not use any Zombine at all? I think that would have changed the pace in some of the more dull moments where I was just killing greater and greater numbers of normal zombies. The one trap that required me to run for my life was a nice twist, but it was the only instance where anything changed. There is also a large number of invisible walls and areas that just ended in skybox. Ravenholm always rewarded players who wanted to explore, but an invisible wall is like smacking a player in the face.

    Cemetery Valley
    It is great!

    This was a very interesting change of pace. It’s a pretty simple puzzle style of area, not unlike the kind of things you would see in an elder scrolls game. The environment is very abstract and video gamey, but for the kind of map it is, it works. I would say that this is one of the more eery maps I’ve ever played, overshadowing a lot of the so called “Horror” mods I’ve had to endure. It’s not too dark and there are no jump scares, it’s just unsettling and I kinda love that. One issue with this map meant that I needed to cheat to get the crowbar in order to get through a breakable wall. I believe I was meant to use a saw blade that was embedded in the stone, but when I grabbed it the model passed through the wall and I couldn’t get it back… All in all, I actually really liked this one.

    Roxen Hole
    It is okay

    This one was Ok, but the environments and the gameplay were a little basic. Again, a lot of run-aroundey-pushy-buttons but some nice combat sections as well. There were a lot of stairs though… and these sections in particular were the worst in terms of detailing. Just a massive set of stairs in a wide open room. Two of them in fact. I did think there would be a little more stealth at the start, but after I went in through the intruder’s entrance (nice little door in the back of the building with a big button that just kinda opened it) I was immediately spotted by a camera that raised the alarm and… did nothing else. The metrocops were still just kinda standing around. Overall, this wasn’t great.

    Prison 16
    It is good

    This one was very short, but sweet. Breaking into Prison 16 with my two lady friends at my back. I loved the citizen yelling once I pushed the emergency button, and seeing them fleeing on the upper levels and engaging the combine in the courtyard. Again, this was just a case of fighting combine soldiers and nothing else, but the hopper mines helped keep things a little more interested. Not to mention that hoppers basically transform the Gravity Gun into a grenade launcher, and who doesn’t love a grenade launcher!? Yeah, this was was great and nicely detailed but very very short.

    Liberation Version 1
    It is great!

    I will admit that I knew pretty much exactly what to expect going into this one, being somewhat involved with it’s development and seeing it played through at multiple stages. Having said that, I still very much enjoyed it. The first few areas with the dev textures were a little silly, especially being able to complete the map by saying you liked it. Hopefully everyone will go with the BURN option, otherwise they might get the wrong idea and call it a day on this entry. The final battle was pretty cool, but I had two issues. For one, the hunters were a little restricted, being placed on one level of the arena. In addition, the distant targets were a ball ache to take out as my AR2 ammo was limited and I had to resort to sniping at pixels with the pistol. Other than that, I loved the humour and it was a lot of fun working with the script and seeing the development process.

    Vortessence
    It is good

    Some really nice scripting in this one. I love Barney’s method for dealing with turrets. The environments were nice and varied, if a little basic in places. The one issue I found was that things appeared to be laid out in the wrong order. I would often find a solution to a puzzle, before actually finding the puzzle, and ultimately unlocked a door that I never knew WAS locked… It’s just a case of giving the player a choice of ways to go, without them actually knowing that one path is blocked up ahead. A better solution would be to simply show the player that one path is blocked from the get go, but I don’t know. On top of that, the defence part at the end was completely without challenge. The combine only came from one door, meaning I could concentrate my turrets and explosives in one direction. I think only one of the combine elites made it through the forcefield, but he barely counts as he was quite dead, sailing through the air in a cloud of shrapnel

    Rebel Island
    It is bad

    I didn’t have a clue what I was looking at to start off with. Another crazy abstract layout, set on an island surrounded by… a steel girder plantation I guess? They seemed to be growing well. I hated the gameplay in this one however. The combat was simply unfair in some cases, dropping enemies directly in front and behind me with SMGs or worse, shotguns. The final arena was also unforgiving, with the hunters able to pass through the trees as though they weren’t there! Then, halfway into the fight, the area filled with combine soldiers and I got my balls rocked. Second attempt, I waited for the hunters to spawn… and then walked away. I left the arena because I wasn’t sealed in, and picked off all the enemies from a distance before being told the island was liberated. I dunno. I did not enjoy this one at all. Sorry.

    Ancient Dust
    It is great!

    Holy Tomb Raider, Batman! …wait what? When I saw the thumbnail for this map I thought “Urgh! Not a jumping puzzle… “ but I will admit that while there WAS a bit of jumping, this was a Hell of a lot of fun. Before I even heard the classic Tomb Raider “You found a secret” jingle, I was already thinking back to my teen years playing the old games on my PSOne, so this was a massive nostalgia trip for me, then when I heard that one sound effect it really hit it home. I absolutely loved this one. The environments are a little basic here and there, but they’re clever. I would have been nice to see a little more in the way of traps, but I can understand that might put a few players off. Another instance of me gritting my teeth and expecting something horrible was the arena fight. “Four hunters!?” I said to myself, face screwed up in disgust. BUT, man that was fun. I was completely laid down with shotgun ammo with more to spare lying about the place so this turned into a mad dashing deathmatch fight, transforming me into a sprinting, leaping, double barrel blasting hurricane of a man. I absolutely LOVED this.

    Transfer
    It is good

    I don’t quite understand why the brief vehicle section is getting so much grief. Freeman’s outpost isn’t right on the front line, he needs to head out, grab some gear and then proceed onto the station. I don’t get the issue. I really liked this one, and it was fun to see the combine locked into battle with the zombies as well. I could use this to my advantage, picking off whoever I needed to in order to proceed while leaving the rest to battle it out. Having said that, the fight with the hunter chopper was a little straight forward and not very engaging. I loved everything else though, like making my way throught he trenches filled with goo. I even tried my hand at gravity gun spool sniping and had myself a little giggle as I watched my enormous wooden projectile landing on unsuspecting zombies way off in the distance. 😀

    Nova Nadeja
    It is good

    A very nice take on Nova Prospekt style environments, but with no form of narrative so I’m not sure what I was liberating? Myself I guess. In the first few sections of this entry I was curious as to why the author hadn’t just called it Nova Kaboom: Hurray for Kaboom. There were a lot of explosions and… I won’t lie. Explosions are pretty God damn fun. Things start to calm down as you progress and there a lot of areas where the combine engage you from a distance which is always nice to see. Then there was a section where they just kept repelling down through a hole directly into my stream of gunfire… not smart, but bloody funny. Sadly, this entry just kind of ended out of the blue, so I can only assume I escaped.

    Pigeonholm
    It is good

    This one is really really strange. The layout is a little all over the place and there is plenty of varied and action packed combat sections. The problem is, the map is so open that it becomes far too easy to get lost. I walked around in circles for far too long while trying to find the stairs to get me up to the church roof, the last time I passed them I almost didn’t attempt to climb them because they looked far too steep, but it worked. After that, I saved four citizens who were promptly taken out by the combine hunters and elites that flooded the place. I say flooded… but the elites were the only real problem The hunters all kinda hung around the entrance ways and were quite easy to deal with… Good news though, when I found that those citizens were not who I was there to liberate at all! That ending though… Jesus.

    A Hero Once More
    It is WOW!

    It’s nice to see Cubbage being portrayed as more than a bumbling idiot. This map makes him seem like a bad ass! The scripting is very well done and I was grinning like an idiot when I got out of my cell. The rest of the map was beautifully put together with the combat being perfectly suited to the environment, Combine and antlions, with some zombies and headcrabs thrown in for good measure. I would pay for this if it was extended into multiple maps and the player was Adrian Shepherd *guffaw*. I absolutely loved this one and it would gotten my vote to win… if it weren’t for…

    MAMH
    It is WOW!

    What can I even say about this to do it justice and not spoil it? Nothing. This needs to be played, not read. All I can really say is that I came away from this with some weird and conflicting emotions. Once you befriend a particular NPC is such a marvelously crafted way, it can be troubling to go right back to killing them the next time you see one. This was an absolute treat to play through and I loved every second. Everything you do in this map makes you feel smart, and when you can’t solve a problem, your new friend will, which makes you feel loved… This was totally unexpected and I’m not sure how I can even wrap this up…

    Oh yeah. Play this mod immediately!

  10. Here is my first playthrough of LiberationVille, if anyone is interested:

  11. “Here it comes!”- Barney Calhoun.

  12. Play It Now!

    Wow! I was waiting for it, oh yeah!

    This Ville was so awesome!

    Lets get started.

    Confusion by Flamdar
    It is good

    I love the idea of the this Liberation, but the mapping is not so good. I truly think that author made great job, and I sure that he will make some amazing things!

    Lakeside by Marcu Alexandru AKA Melc311
    It is great!

    This entry made me smile. No, seriously, I love the design, everything looks good. There are some places where we can see map holes, but, all in all, it is so well-done! The environment is amazing. By the way, reminded me Lost Coast.

    Pain by Dan M.
    It is okay

    Well, I need only 15 seconds to detect some hole in textures. The atmosphere is a bit boring, no music, no spooky sounds and etc. Level design is good, I hope author will note his little mistakes in the future.

    Cemetery Valley by Joacim Rappu
    It is good

    I expected some action, but without it this entry still is good. The environment is great, as for me, I was waiting for some “2spooky4me” moments, but there weren`t, and I`m not disappointed.

    Roxen Hole by Daniel Friend AKA Dannster
    It is good

    Mapping is too “squared”. Still, the idea is amazing, also I loved the costum music, which author put in this entry. Nice!

    Prison 16 by Sam Combs
    It is good

    Start was good, but I found that area, where player is moving, is turning into a corridor, smaller and smaller. There is no secret, that entry is well-made, just needs more details.

    Liberation Version 1 by Niker107
    It is great!

    As for me, its the first time author speaks with player and making his work at player`s eyes. Idea is great, combat, environment are at the high level. The ending is superb!

    Vortessence by Ethosaur
    It is great!

    Idea of the entry is perfect! Costum animations looks great. Level design, gameplay are pretty nice. “Here it comes!” – Barney Calhoun

    Rebel Island by Gwydion Brain AKA Agameofsonces
    It is good

    There are some things that player mustn`t see, such as rapelling combines for example. Atmosphere is great, however, we can`t even make one step into the water. Final fight was too hard in my opinion. Level design looks a bit weird.

    Ancient Dust by Abdulhamid Cayirli AKA crowbar
    It is great!

    Tomb Rider! Excellent entry, such environment and details, loved it. Nothing to say!

    Transfer by Bastion
    It is great!

    Everything looks good, even great, even costum voice. But, as for me, I found that level design is a bit simple. Some areas look too big, and enemies stand still like rocks. All in all, great entry, idea is good!

    Nova Nadeje by King Kolton9
    It is okay

    Well, I found many mapping holes, texture missings. Combat everywhere is the same, sometimes it is boring. Idea is good, but how author made is`nt good. I hope author will increase his skills…

    Pigeonholm by UtharQ
    It is good

    When I started this entry, I couldn`t stop but laughing at the name of the entry. I thought we gonna liberate pigeons….. Wait, what, we actually liberate pigeons?! Level design is a bit weird, it`s like everything is bigger than usual. This ending, geeeez.

    A Hero Once More by Maarten Frooninckx AKA marnamai
    It is WOW!

    “Odessa rocks!” – my first thoughts at the start. It`s so rare to see in entries/mods Cubbage is actually do something. Costum animations are perfect. Battles, level design are great. Idea is perfect. This entry totally must be one of the winners!

    MAMH by Jason Gimba AKA Maki
    It is WOW!

    YEAH!!! Oh, so…. Yes, when I just loaded this entry I had two things in my mind: 1)Author – Jason Gimba, 2) What MAMH means? I was expecting everything, but not THIS! Gosh, it`s so awesome, idea of this Liberation is so unexpected and thrilling. Level design is perfect as usual.

  13. Play It Now!

    Another fine Ville! So many entries, and all of them actually-playable, none that were so broken they couldn’t be launched or gotten through. That said, some entries really do shine, while others are definitely on the lower end of production. The inclusion of not one but TWO Urby-voiced roles was a pleasant surprise 😀

    Confusion
    It is okay

    um, yeah, that’s about right. didn’t get out of the building, no health available near enough with all the shooting. Too many enemies and nowhere to hide or escape, though I know there were boxes in the truck below I couldn’t even get out of the hall to reach them. not sure why the ‘fake doorknobs’ on the hotel doors, since they don’t open anyway? play time about 5 minutes. * Went back to it later, played another 5 or so short minutes. While the animations were interesting, many of them didn’t work right for opening the door, and after finding a way to not die going across the street, the rest of the map became apparent. I think while the idea was clever, the execution of it was kind of poor. I’d rather have had some way of telling that I’d done the right thing, perhaps in the form of the rebels cheering or some kind of alert from the Combine that their beacon was broken. Map was plain, boxy, though not terrible.

    Lakeside
    It is good

    Another didn’t complete(* at first) due to overwhelming enemy placement. While the setting was quite nice, this was another exercise in futile fighting. With enemies on several sides, the player has no choices and winds up gunned down much too early. I may go back to this one and try again, but with the existing enemies, I’m just a bit frustrated to bother on the first run through the mod. play time about 5 minutes. Went back again after finishing the rest. The combat was still pretty hard the whole time. I think part of the problem with that is that whenever you find a new weapon it gets picked up and used as your primary – so on finding a grenade I was stuck with it suddenly instead of being able to shoot at the Combine as I’m running around the shore. Aside from the shaky start, it was a solid map, though I’m not entirely sure it fit adequately with the theme so much. Total play time around 10 minutes tops. Quick map, mostly fighting.

    Pain
    It is good

    An excellent zombie killing romp, a bit sad in its ‘liberation’, but quite fun. Though the area could have used a little more blockage to not see the edge of the map, that’s easily ignored. I didn’t see the click button for the barrier at first, and the sudden appearance of zombies behind me in an already empty room was a little odd – should have been given some warning, another door opening to let them out or something. But setting a huge group of zombies on fire with a punted oxygen tank = awesome. Play time about 15 minutes, so far the only one I’ve used the save button on.

    Cemetery Valley
    It is okay

    Not a bad map, a bit bland. Odd puzzles, I wasn’t sure whether I needed to do the bells in a certain order, but it turned out okay anyway. Ghostly gman’s teeth were weirdly solid/darkly visible heh. I was worried I’d have to use the saw blade for combat, but left it behind, thankfully no combat involved. Play time about 10 minutes.

    Roxen Hole
    It is good

    Some good fights in this one, with adequate cover and ammo/health around to help. The start section was quite plain but the underground areas were at least reasonably cool looking if nonsensical. The ‘turret hallway’ that was done in another map somewhere, not quite as annoying this time around. The final area was confusing – some form of blocking your way back so you didn’t get turned around and ‘escape’ the wrong way would have been best. Overall a decent map, with good fights. Play time about 15 minutes.

    Prison 16
    It is good

    Well done mapping, and pretty tight well crafted fights. I am always using the grabbity gun to throw stuff even when given weapons… because it’s so satisfying to just throw bricks at combine soldiers… 😀 Short, only about a 5 minute map, but stuck to the theme perfectly, and had just enough interesting bits.

    Liberation Version 1
    It is great!

    This was hilarious and quite fun to play. Though I did have to resort to god mode because by the time the Hunters appeared I had 2 hp. Hearing a well-known poster (urby! you’d make a good Wheatley!) was a lot of fun! I missed a couple lines of dialog while the combine were coming out to fight, because the music/fx overtook the sound. This goes down as an excellent map overall, with or without commentary. Not quite enough health in the final venue, but I suspect if I’d played a little more cautiously that wouldn’t have been an issue. Fun take on the ‘artist drawing the artist drawing’ scenario. play time around 25 minutes and yes obviously I tried both ‘endings’ at the start!

    Vortessence
    It is okay

    Obviously broken scripting, unfortunately means that this map is pretty poor overall. I didn’t know where to look for the vorts, for one thing – no showing us where they’re headed or even what to expect when we get there? The maps themselves were quite pretty, well designed. But the guards didn’t open the vort chambers, Barney was both inside his cell and jogging around with me (at one point he literally stepped through the locked door and asked for my help in getting out again) and nothing triggered any behavior that said he would be able to help me unlock doors. I’ll check back on this one, to see what was broken.

    Rebel Island
    It is good

    Pretty but nonsensical location, the mapping was good except for all the crap on the ground that made it hard to navigate due to sliding or tripping on bottles, boxes, or junk. The fights were pretty brutal, and falling repeatedly into the water with no chance of climbing out was sort of poor. Play time around 15 minutes, but some of that was restarting and dying a few times.

    Ancient Dust
    It is great!

    I really wanted to like this one all the way through, unfortunately that didn’t happen. That doesn’t mean it’s in any way a bad map, because I think some of this is just me.
    Pros: very nice looking maps and lighting, visually it was extremely appealing. Good music. I can tell a lot of effort went into this map from planning through execution.
    Cons: There was only the faintest hint at ‘liberation’ in the sense that ‘stealing’ is ‘liberating’ something. The fighting was stupidly hard, and the hunter battle was highly reminiscent of the small cramped-quarters battle in the Fear 3 game which featured bullet-sponge armor suit enemies.

    The in-betweens: The puzzles were… well, I suppose if I could have figured any of them out, innovative and clever. As they were though, they’re also a lot like how I feel many PETI maps wind up: instead of making me feel clever for seeing ‘that thing’ that allows me to understand a puzzle, I feel like a total idiot for *not* being able to do so, and wind up noclipping through it. Between the use of constant death and unclear puzzle pieces, and what seemed to be twitch reflex jumping, the game play was… rough. There was a lot of ammo and a lot of health, but even then I had to god mode through the final battle because everything piled on top of everything else. Oh look yet more antlions for no apparent reason. So… yah while the map looked quite pretty, the game play on this was too much and the puzzles were… well, baffling to me. If the puzzles had some kind of clues or hints that aren’t obvious (like a dusty piece of artwork to show how the leaping map should look, etc) that would improve the overall feel. I think as far as making maps is concerned, Crowbar, you’re very, very good – but need direction and playtesting to make maps *really* well. Talent’s there, but focus isn’t. play time around 20 minutes but with a good amount of that either frustrated or on god-mode.

    Transfer
    It is great!

    All around an excellent map. The fighting was pretty tough toward the end, but the venue was well made. I could see this being part of a larger mod but with that in mind escort missions are usually those that most folks hate. The lighting and location crafting was just fine, varied environments were all pretty fun to work with. Exploration was possible, though limited, and rewarded ‘going the right way’. The lineup of prisoners were all standing around in their train cars, could maybe have been a little more interactive than ‘holding a subway loop’. Play time around 15 minutes, all in all well paced.

    Nova
    It is okay

    Mostly lifted map segments from Nova Prospekt, so a bit unoriginal there. The goal of escape wasn’t really matching with the theme of “liberation” unfortunately. I would have hoped to bring the gnome with me all the way, but we got separated. If there had been an actual goal of bringing him along, I would have felt it fit the theme better. I opened one door and saw the Great Void, though not game breaking it was pretty weird to have a door that led nowhere actaually be openable. Fighting was pretty stock headcrabs, zombies, and combine kind of to be expected of the location. Oh yeah and turrets, also seemingly the same turrets we’d fought in those same areas of Nova Prospekt. All in all, a bit uninspiring. Play time around 8 minutes. That it just *ended* was a little weird.

    Pigeonholm
    It is okay

    Very abrupt fight, and much too difficult since there’s only the dropped health from enemies nearby. Gun emplacement was truly unfair there. Again this is the kind of fight that has too many enemies in different directions, spawning on top of one another quickly enough that all I did was die and that made my 5 minute foray into this map too frustrating to continue. The lighting values on the map were a little weird too, with very little to draw the player’s eye toward any given location. Confusing area with highly improbable set pieces (stairs and construction bits, and all manner of walls and stairwells leading just about nowhere). Releasing the pigeons however was a very cute end. Play time about 15 minutes many reloads after dying.

    A Hero Once More
    It is great!

    Wow, now in great contrast to the prior Nova Prospekt map, this one used the semi-familiar halls and rooms to a terrific advantage. I’m not positive I went the right way the whole time, but maybe we were supposed to get split up twice? An excellent use of both Cubbage and Gman, and a silly nod to Star Wars (at least imo…)(which I noticed was also present in the next map) The fighting was quite intense but never overwhelming, though having the antlions not fighting FOR you in Nova Prospekt was a little weird. Good inclusion of a puzzle, and the ending was quite solid. Play time around 15 minutes.

    MAMH
    It is WOW!

    Was ADORABLE. Good fighting, excellent prop based puzzles. No spoilers, but …. this is such a winner. I was really hoping that our little friend would be okay, so glad that he made it through. All around, though, the mapping was very clean and interactive, with scripted events happening perfectly. Very short, though that’s to be expected from a Ville. Play time around 10 minutes and loved every second.

    Overall, to me there are 4 above-and-beyond great looking and playing maps. MAMH, Hero Once More, Ancient Dust, and Transfer. It really makes me want some of you guys to collaborate on things in the future, honestly.

    1. Thanks for playing Transfer
      I honestly had no idea why the citizens were stuck in the train bar pose though as I never scripted them to do that, I could not fix it and it completely broke the scripted sequences I had created for it. Safe to say I punched my monitor a few times when it would just not sort itself out.

    2. Unq

      Good, thorough reviews!

      Which references to Star Wars? I didn’t notice them.

      1. Zekiran

        The “this conversation was boring anyway” *shoots the controls* 🙂

  14. A Hero Once More gets my vote, just impressive from the get go
    MAMH comes close visually I just wish it was longer

  15. Play It Now!

    This is my first time writing a review on this site. I’ve been looking forward to the release of this Ville and blimey this one has 15 maps. I hope the next Ville has even more. Onto the reviews.

    Confusion by Flamdar
    It is good

    This map appears to be quite simple at first. There hasn’t been much detail put into the environment. However for what it lacks in detail it makes up for in gameplay. The citizens are enslaved (in more ways than one) by the Combine and it is up to the player to liberate the citizens from the Combine’s control. The layout of the map is decent enough. There’s a lot of empty space however and similar looking rooms with single enemies. I would have preferred that this had been avoided since it makes the gameplay in certain sections too easy. Overall it’s a good map, I’d play it again.

    Lakeside by Marcu Alexandru AKA Melc311
    It is good

    Lakeside appears (at least to my eyes) to be inspired by Lost Coast. The map looks pretty nice, it’s definitely not basic by any stretch of the imagination. It was a little on the short side however, and the gameplay for the most part was very much run and gun with few environmental puzzles to break up the action. I enjoyed the beach section at the beginning and stair/cliffside bit. There really wasn’t much here in the theme of liberation however. You stop the cannon at the end but you don’t really liberate much.

    Pain by Dan M.
    It is okay

    This is an interesting one. As soon as I started this map I was already noticing problems. I could see out map. The combat honestly wasn’t very exciting and the atmosphere was kind of dull. I felt like I was playing a section of Ravenholm from the Half-Life 2 Beta or something. Perhaps Dan just didn’t have enough time on his hands to polish the map. However, the part with the car was great and honestly gave me a bit of a fright. I also liked the ending scene with Father Grigori. I felt it was a nice touch.

    Cemetery Valley by Joacim Rappu
    It is okay

    I really wanted to like this map more than I did. However the gameplay let it down for me. You’re supposed to ring two bells to unlock a tomb. The bells were lamps for some reason, which kind of confused me until I remembered the message at the start of the map and rung the bell on top of the church. In the catacomb area you’re supposed to find an item to throw at the bell but I didn’t even find it until I had revisited the building three times. And then it was super frustrating trying to hit and ring the bell. There are no visual cues, everything sort of blends in so you’re just clicking on everything trying to get something to happen. After all of this though the map does get a bit better but you’re pretty much done by then. I also feel a touch of fog would have helped improve the atmosphere of the map. The theme of liberation is there however so kudos for doing that well.

    Daniel Friend AKA Dannster.
    It is bad

    The first thing you notice about this map is how bland everything looks. It honestly looks like an original Half-Life map (very blocky). The gameplay in the police station is alright but once you’re in the mines it kind of sucks. Nothing seems to make sense or happen for any logical reason. It picks up a bit at the end but not enough to save the map unfortunately. It really feels to me like the mapper ran out of time and was too ambitious with this map. In terms of the theme I’m not even really sure what I was liberating to be quite honest.

    Prison 16 by Sam Combs
    It is good

    This map is well detailed but very short. It follows a more classic theme of liberation in the form of liberating a prison. The final battle was okay, there were maybe too many mines in my opinion. Other than that this map was enjoyable enough to play.

    Liberation Version 1 by Niker107
    It is great!

    This map is kind of a weird one. It reminds me a lot of the Stanley Parable. The narration was decent enough. I enjoyed the first half of the map. I thought the part when the HDR/bloom went crazy it gave me a bit of a laugh although I think that is more of a mappers in-joke that most non-mappers might not get. I also noticed there was a part where I was taking my time and the narrator did a nervous cough to let me know he was bored. I liked the moving terminal bit but the combat section was not very well balanced. There were Combine on top of some shipping containers a distance away and the lack of a crossbow made them difficult to kill. I enjoyed the ending as well. It was quite humourous the way he liberated the man in the cage.

    Vortessence by Ethosaur
    It is good

    This map seemed to change in quality a lot. Some sections were well detailed while others were not. I liked the part where Barney knocked the turrets over for you and I felt the idea of liberating the Vortigaunts was kinda cool. I don’t know if this was just me but I couldn’t figure out a way to get the Vortigaunts in the cell block released. So we only ended up saving around three of them. I also found a small supply of items in the ceiling somewhere so that was nifty. The final battle was pretty easy though. I felt that if I hadn’t killed any Combine the turrets still would have taken care of them for me. Overall a decent map.

    Rebel Island by Gwydion Brain AKA Agameofsonces
    It is good

    This map was visually quite nice. I liked the atmosphere and the metal trusses in the sea. The fog could’ve been tweaked however since it looked kind of odd. The music seemed to play at the weirdest times and interrupt other music that was playing. The gameplay was okay, the only real issue I had with it was enemies spawning in on my head. It follows the theme as you are liberating the island of Combine. I enjoyed it overall, mainly for the visuals though.

    Ancient Dust by Abdulhamid Cayirli AKA crowbar
    It is great!

    This map was surprisingly quite good. The first part of the map gave me the impression it would kind of suck. However once I got to the puzzles it became really fun. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones film. Which caused me to feel a little disappointed when a boulder didn’t chase me at the end. I enjoyed the platforming puzzle up until the final part because I kept getting stuck on the protruding pillars that had been lowered or I’d just screw up because it is difficult to time. Overall enjoyable but slightly frustrating. In terms of the theme I guess I was liberating the temple of its treasure?

    Tansfer by Bastion
    It is good

    Upon starting this map I had low expectations after the driving section. However the map picked itself up and became quite enjoyable to play after that. I liked the end part with the helicopter and the train. I thought it was kinda funny how the passengers were cheering me on. I don’t really get the liberation theme in this map though. It honestly felt like I was the one standing in the way of liberation by most likely delaying the train with my resistance antics. Overall I liked it I just wish the author had cut the driving section and turned his attention towards polishing the rest of the map a little more.

    Nova Nadeje by King Kolton9
    It is okay

    I don’t know if it was intentional or not but this map was way too dark. There was also some door I opened which was broken and didn’t lead anywhere. It just showed the outside of the map. There was also some ladder that hadn’t been placed correctly and was sort of just floating in mid air. The map also ended really abruptly. It felt like I was walking somewhere then I was suddenly thrown into the main menu. The gameplay was also pretty hit and miss as well. In terms of the theme I suppose you’re liberating yourself from prison? Regardless, good effort, probably needed a little more polish.

    Pigeonholm by UtharQ
    It is great!

    Visually and gameplay wise this map was very peculiar. I can see some people not liking this map but I loved it. I loved the checkerboard tiles, the whole climbing a mountain feel I got travelling through the town and the view of the town from the cathedral felt super rewarding and awesome. The ending was awesome as well. I won’t spoil it but I thought it was fantastic way to fit the liberation theme into the map.

    A Hero Once More by Maarten Frooninckx AKA marnamai
    It is WOW!

    Man, this guy must’ve had some time on his hands. Everything about this map was great. Good length, had a sort of story to it, scripted sequences and it looked like I was actually playing an authentic Half-Life 2 map. The only criticism I have is that I found myself getting a little lost at times but that might just be me. Also, I would say that it is a little uncreative in terms of style. It is essentially Nova Prospekt. I would have liked to see something a little different but oh well, the execution of this map is fantastic.

    MAMH by Jason Gimba AKA Maki
    It is WOW!

    Oh my, it looks like we saved the best for last. I don’t want to go too much into why this map is so good. It’s just one of those things you need to experience yourself honestly. I love the ideas in this map and how they are implemented. It is just SO good. I honestly was not expecting to play something like this but I’m glad I did.

  16. asterixer

    worked under linux so far. at the map “”Vortessence” i had to noclip one time to pass an energy shield after barney joined me.

  17. Thanks for having me in the contest! Due to time constraints and a lot of bugs on my map (Vortessence) I had to rush it a bit towards the end sadly, I had plans for way more (even a small Xen scene where the vorts escape to) But didnt have time.

    Anyway thanks for featuring my map in this mapping competition! I think it was rewarding enough just being able to make a map and finish it for the contest.

    Looking forward to the next challange, hope it has to do with something scary, I enjoy making scary maps.

  18. asterixer

    Played Nova Nadeje where it was not clear : does this map crash or is this just the end?
    At one Place i had an open door with just white light. The rest was not bad…Maybe this problems where just under Linux? I dont know.

    1. Zekiran

      The map definitely just ends, and definitely has a weird door to the Great Void. It isn’t just in linux.

  19. I have posted the results and my comments in the main post.

    I am going to copy my comments here as well.

    Allow me to start by saying the following comments are my own and not the other judges.

    Firstly, none of us agreed on the places – at least not completely. and I feel this was by far the hardest challenge to judge.

    After I played MAMH, I messaged Jason and said I thought his level was the best single map I had ever played for any Half-Life game. The concept was just fantastic and its implementation was brilliant. Visually, it was just as good as anything Jason has ever released and the gameplay was top-notch too. It included a puzzle, some standard combat and a boss fight.

    And I then I played A Hero Once More. Remember, I played the entries in a different order to you. Of course, you didn’t have to play them in the order of the mod, but most people do. I often play them in the order they are sent in.

    Anyway, as I was saying. I then played a Hero Once More and was blown away. This is without doubt Valve quality and its pacing was just right. Visually it was great within the limits of a prison but there were story elements that MAMH didn’t have or at least NPC interaction, if you don’t count the Hunter. It was longer but that shouldn’t really be too important, although it’s hard not to take that into consideration.

    For me, it came down to two different points: The theme concept: liberating a hunter and then fighting alongside it compared to liberating the player, which I felt was weaker than Jason concept. And the second point was replayability. I played both maps twice and although I marginally preferred Jason’s the first playthrough and I definitely enjoyed Maarten’s map more. There’s just more substance to it.

    Of course, the concept is important, but there were other great concepts in other entries too.

    The final points are close between first and second and I feel justified in awarding my places based on my thought process. My one hesitation was that replayability was never specifically listed as a judging requirement.

    The last two points I would like to make is that firstly, I know the judges result doesn’t reflect the poll. I can only say that perhaps it was based on single playthroughs or the fact that many people don’t like Nova Prospekt maps.

    Secondly, I am sitting here wondering what both Jason and Maarten are thinking when they read this. How would they vote. I take the role of judge seriously and although it’s only a mapping challenge on a little website and the prize is not a huge amount of money, I am very conscious of the time and effort each mapper puts in and being recognized for hard work is very important.

    So, there. That’s it.

    Thank you to everybody who entered and everybody who played, reviewed and voted.

    Let’s hope for something as successful as this for the next challenge.

    1. I can’t be too worked up about it because, technically, the same thing happened to Abyss in Chasmville.

      But, like Bastion and Marnamai below, some of the individual points baffle me. Particularly when you try to compare them against ChasmVille.

  20. I’m a bit Taken back back that Coast was considered better than Transfer in points when it comes to my maps.

  21. after participating on all five challenges, I might make a full mod out of my 5 maps, with a small story which connects them and obviously also rework and remake areas.
    I already have some ideas how to remake my first map “Mega Structure” completely from scratch with the same ideas but much better.

    Then I will have made my first full Half-Life 2 mod 🙂

    The nice thing is that because of these challenges all of the maps will be very different and I will gather tons of feedback, so later in the full mod the player will have lots of variety, length and maps that were playtested by a lot of people.

    I think this is a great idea to be honest, others could do that too 🙂
    A mod like that might also be good for a portfolio if you have one.

    1. Zekiran

      I think you absolutely should do that. It’s been very clear from your entries that you have a LOT of skill with mapping. Stringing together a story with the maps shouldn’t be terribly difficult, but be careful how that’s done, because lots of actually-released games wind up with a series of disparate levels that seemingly have nothing to do with one another, and you’re left wondering what just happened. 😉

      1. sure! I don’t plan to make seperate levels btw, I want to have a single world like in the main game, so I will also make “connection” levels from each area to the next and I already have some ideas what a good order of levels might be. Obviously depends on what I make for the next challenges.

        And thanks! 😀

    2. Sounds interesting Crowbar. I’d definitely play it!

    3. remember when I said this?

      It’s happening.

  22. Unq

    The public spreadsheet needs to be carefully double-checked. In the Total Points sheet, UtharQ is only listed as having 12 points but his total for LiberationVille is 33. There could be other errors, I haven’t checked it all.

    1. marnamai

      I don’t mean the be ungrateful for winning, but yea, I think it should be checked, I am kinda confused by some of the scoring, I am absolutely baffled how low the gameplay score on my map is compared to some other entries …

      If the score is correct, I would love to hear from the judges what was bad and how to improve upon it.

      Now that I’m done making a complete ass out of myself, I’d like to take the oppertunity to thank all of the people who gave me feedback and ideas while watching my stream during the development of ahom. The end result would have been nowhere as good without them.

    2. Unq

      Just to follow up – I double-checked everything and only found one small error. The scores for Prison 16 by Sam Combs were slightly off, although the total of 24 points was accurate. This fix has been made.

  23. Play It Now!

    What a great contest! So many entries to choose from. I had a lot of fun playing them all.

    I am not going to do a review of each map, but my top 3 are:

    # 1 – MAMH – although it was a relatively short entry, the quality was superb and the plot twist with the Hunter was terrific.

    # 2 – A Hero Once More – a really nice map in an interesting prison setting. Lots of well-structured action.

    #3 – Liberation Version 1 – I loved the cheeky sense of humour in this map.

    There were too many good maps to mention them all but these 3 were in my opinion the best. I am really looking forward to the next contest.

  24. Play It Now!

    It was a joy to play through all the entries for LiberationVille. Sorry i’m late to review it but it took me a long time to write it all up!

    Confusion
    It is okay

    Even though this map has underdeveloped boxy rooms, the storyline idea does not disappoint. The idea of the citizens turning against you was what made this map and I really enjoyed freeing them and then teaming up to fight the combine at the end. A lot of maps don’t bother with a storyline plot like this and it is for this reason I rated it a mid tier map. (Rankings below) However with the exception of vent crawling, it lacked a lot of HL2 mod features and this map could have been made slightly longer with a few puzzles here and there. As I said before, the rooms seemed under developed and boxy and could have maybe had more props in them to make the map more believable. Otherwise this map had a good storyline that was well thought out and executed.

    Lakeside
    It is okay

    Lakeside looks great as a map and really captures the fishing boat feel from Half Life 2 lost coast. The warehouses look great and iconic when walking along the beach. Well, when I say walking, I actually mean running for your life as that is what I had to do to doge the two soldiers at the machine guns. There were so many enemies at the start I get the impression that they were put there just to make the map longer. I think making the map longer with little space is a great thing but some other sections could have been stretched out a bit more. It took me about 5 minutes to leave the beach area and it just seemed long and tiresome having to retreat back to the boat. The storyline was good but not ground breaking. The visuals defiantly made this map a mid tier map.

    Pain
    It is bad

    This map was really short and though the primary map looked decent, it was missing parts outside the playable area. The fights were not really challenging and there was nothing much in place to stop the player racing through it. With that being said, it did include saw blades and explodeable tanks which is always going to make a map different from using only guns. The Storyline was thin but the map made it clear what you had to achieve. One more point of note was the car that came towards you was hilarious and caught me off guard. I guess it helped stop the player racing through the level. All the map maker need to do is add more things like this and extend the map and maybe then it could be a mid tier map.

    Cemetery Valley
    It is bad

    The map has a good atmosphere to it with the sound and the 4 buildings but the surrounding is too boxy. The rest of the aesthetics were ok but my problem with this map is lack of direction. Despite getting told at the start to ring the bell, I had no idea where the bell was and even when I was in the Church tower, I thought the bell was a light as that is what the prop is. I was walking around for a long time getting board and frustrated and even when I rung the bell, nothing happened. The part with Gman was confusing as were most of the other parts of the map. I do however like the fact it was a horror type map and I think the map maker could make a really good horror map if they had a lot more time. Sadly this map finished bottom of my map rankings (See below) but I liked the fact it was not just another shooter and instead horror themed.

    Roxen Hole
    It is okay

    This map is a decent map in the middle tier because it may lack a bit of detail here and there but it has many Half Life 2 elements and it is longer than a lot of the other maps I had played up to this point. This is good. I had puzzles and fights and unlike the last map, it had clear objectives on screen at all times which was a nice feature. This is the highest ranked map I had played up to this point because of all there was to do. However the town at the start could have been more detailed as it seems very empty. Also the console behind the turrets for opening the vent shaft was not obvious on how to get there but that might just be my stupidity. This map was well thought out and with slightly more detail, could be great.

    Prison 19
    It is bad

    This map is very short with not a lot of content. It looked decent but lacked a proper story line. I get the fact that you were trying to break citizens out of prison but there is nothing to tell you that. I never got into the map and when I was growing a feel for the surroundings, it was over. This map needs a storyline and some Half Life 2 elements (Physics puzzles and what not) to be a good map. Sadly I ranked this map 14th on my rankings but it wasn’t because there was a lot of bad stuff. It was because there was a lack of good stuff.

    Liberation Version 1
    It is good

    Liberation Version 1 was one of the hardest maps for me to complete based on the enemies at the end. The map made good use of space and threw in a variety of features. Otherwise it looked ok and the battle at the end seemed hard. (But that might just be my rubbish skills) This map made it to number 5 in my ranking and is a top tier map only based on the comical aspects. When I first played it, I knew it would be a favourite for being different and funny. I think the button for saying “the game was good” should have still led to something but that is just a small problem and isn’t Hugh seen as the contest only lasted 19 days.

    Vortessence
    It is good

    I really enjoyed this map and although it was short, it had HL2 elements which made it seem longer and a good storyline. The aesthetics were alright as a few of the rooms could of been a bit more detailed. There was a glitch on the map were Barney did not open the door and go to the console so I was stuck for a bit but I reloaded a save and then it worked. I think it was a problem with the engine as appose to the map so I will let that pass. All this map needs to be a top tier map is more detail and maybe something clear telling you to get into the teleporter at the end.

    Rebel Island
    It is bad

    Rebel Island started off looking good but it had very little content and the fight at the end was boring and there was very little room for mobility. I kept getting caught on stuff while trying to retreat. I really liked the bridge coming out of the water and the overall setting but I think the color of the fog should match the color of the skybox and not be white. My advice would be make the map longer with less enemies at the final battle part.

    Ancient Dust
    It is WOW!

    This map was a joy to play as it contained unique puzzles and was set in a completely different setting than your average Half Life 2 map. It had a good variety of enemies from the antlions to the combine and each area was well balanced giving the player enough utility. It had a good pace so you were never in one place to long but the map itself wasn’t as short as some of the other maps. At times, the lighting seems too dark making the enemies hard to see but otherwise it was mostly fine. The inclusion of secrets was also a nice touch giving the map even more depth. Because of its unique puzzles, balanced combat and generally good design, this map has come 2nd in my rankings.

    Transfer
    It is great!

    Transfer was a top tier map with great aesthetics and many Half Life 2 Elements. I especially liked the trip over the toxic waste and the use of props. It had a clear storyline and as a whole the map didn’t drag on. The toxic waste part could be shorter as I felt I had outstayed my visit so to speak, but that might have just been my experience. The courtyard where the combine are slaying the zombies seemed giant and boxy. Otherwise I really enjoyed the map.

    Nova Nadeje
    It is bad

    The lighting on this map made it too dark so it was impossible to see enemies. There was no story line and the fights were uninspired. I liked the setting for it but it seemed to end way too quickly. A proper boss fight at the end may have saved it. I would recommend getting a story and lighting the place up a bit. It’s great that there was some vent crawling in it but it needs some fun physics puzzles to keep the player interested. Also as it’s probably been said, A door opens to the void near the beginning!

    Pigeonholm
    It is great!

    The setting for this map was so cool with the red sky and the church and all the buildings around it. I got into this map quickly which is what you want with these maps. The combat in this map was fun and the aesthetics were superb. One point of notice is that the stairs to the top of the church were the citizens were being held captive were not clear. I had no idea they were there until a thorough search. There were also too many head crabs annoying the living daylights out of me. I think if this map was to be top 3 (Both in the official and my rankings) It needs more game play elements for example physics puzzles and vent crawling instead of just walking. The setting and the combat combined puts this map into 4th place on my rankings.

    A Hero Once More
    It is WOW!

    This is a very highly produced map that felt like a typical Half Life 2 mod and was up to a standard like other maps made in twice the time it took for this one. The setting and aesthetics were phenomenal and the story was good. It felt somewhat cliché however and a bit unoriginal. That however was countered by Odessa Cubage breaking you out! I feel your two new friends should have played more of a roll in the map. In terms of game play, it contained many of the Half Life 2 Elements that I keep going on about in my reviews. There was a point when I had no idea where to go and ended up back where I left my friends fighting the ant lions. Moving to the boss fight at the end, this map did the boss fight right. You had 1 ship to concentrate on and an RPG. It would have been good to engage with your friends at the end but the mini cut scene was sufficient. The detail and balance of this map puts it in 3rd Place on my rankings!

    MAMH
    It is WOW!

    Well, what can I say? This story was so good. To have a hunter be your friend was such a good idea. The way the whole map panned out was perfect. The combat was balanced and fun and there was enough items there to keep you going. On the side of that, the map looked so good. The forest setting with a snowy hill behind it made it feel so warm. So many good ideas were incorporated into this map for example the boat being towed by your hunter and the bridge falling. The map seems small but that does not matter. It is fully used and certainly not too short. It should have been better if the air boat ride was longer but otherwise, I hope this gets made into a full mod! This sits at the very top of my rankings.

    My Rankings

    Top Tier Maps

    1 MAMH by Jason Gimba AKA Maki
    2 Ancient Dust by Abdulhamid Cayirli AKA crowbar
    3 A Hero Once More by Maarten Frooninckx AKA marnamai
    4 Pigeonholm by UtharQ
    5 Liberation Version 1 by Niker10
    6 Transfer by Bastion

    Mid Tier Maps

    7 Vortessence by Ethosaur
    8 Roxen Hole by Daniel Friend aka Dannster
    9 Lakeside by Marcu Alexandru AKA Melc311
    10 Confusion by Flamdar

    Lower Tier Maps

    11 Pain by Dan M
    12 Rebel Island by Gwydion Brain AKA Agameofsonces
    13 Nova Nadeje by King Kolton9
    14 Prison 16 by Sam Combs
    15 Cemetery Valley by Joacim Rappu

    1. I look forward to checking out the rest of your video walkthrough!

  25. Personal Favourite

    Exceptional number of entries and many of high quality from most every standpoint, so with this amount of good gameplay its going to get one of the two top ratings from me.

    Depends on your priorities, I chose Transfer as the winner despite some so so graphics because it included very well designed action with two of my favorite enemies, a heli dropping exploding bombs and a distant sniper that takes some work to get near. Close behind was Altero Once More and Mamh, then Raven hole and Liberation Version 1 (liked the humor). Then many 7/10’s. Fantastic!

    Only two or three that I had problems with. Cemetary Valley was very interesting but too vague as to how to proceed, not just the ‘bells that weren’t’ but the ending. A clear case of the designer knowing the concept and what he wanted to accomplish, therefore thinking its something a player will think of, but its not. Prison 16 was OK, I rated 6/10. Ancient Dust was the only one out of 15 that I hated. It was a great map most of the way through, i had it as a 7/10 or possibly a bit more, then it self destructed with the over the top grand finale approach. Perhaps in a bizarre way desiring player dislike…. Thankfully most makers got the message long ago about how not to do an ending battle, but still maybe 2-5% of maps remain being done this way. I can’t wait until its zero%. Gave this map a 3/10.

    1. so what exactly is the reason you don’t like Ancient Dust? Is the final battle too difficult?

      1. Hard to define. It would be incorrect to describe it that way, after all there were 14 other enjoyable maps. Difficulty is not the issue itself.

        Perhaps the question what was the author trying to emote by doing it this way (it accomplished anger with me, and I’m sure I’m not alone by any means)? Another way perhaps is “spawn ’til you drop” or keep going until you die. The odd map appears like this from time to time, but thankfully its rare.

        1. that doesn’t mean anything.
          Was it too difficult or not? Was it unfair? Was it unbalanced? Is it a big difficulty spike?
          What the Author wanted to achieve is to create a challenging final battle. I don’t understand what you mean with emotions, it’s combat.

          Problem with Half-Life 2 is that you can’t really scale the difficulty of your map, because the three difficulty settings just change some values. But if a map is just hard, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, maybe it’s not for you then, but that doesn’t make it bad as a map.

          And if you want to talk about emotions: The point of a challenging final battle is to give the player the feeling of success, the feeling of overcoming a huge obstacle, being the winner, beating the developer if you want. The final battle requires the player to show all his abilities, good movement, good shooting, good resource management, prioritizing the right enemies and so on.

          Now either you don’t want to put effort into the fight, so this feeling won’t come to you and you will be angry that you have to put effort into this to complete the map, or the fight is just so difficult for you that it’s impossible to overcome it, so it gets frustrating.

          It’s not your fault, but it’s also not the fault of the mapper really, well, the fault of the mapper would be that he didn’t scale it for different difficulties, but that is hard to do with Half-Life 2 as I said.
          The map is not “casual” if you want, which it isn’t supposed to be, but apparently it has to be so you don’t get bad ratings from the mass. That is how the game industry works, don’t ever let there be a chance for players to get frustrated, no matter how easy or dull you have to make your game, otherwise you won’t make enough money. But there is a group of people who doesn’t want that and for those people there are games like Dark Souls. If one of those “casual” players would play Dark Souls, they would say “what the hell is this game? Who made this crap”, but they are just not the target audience. Same with this map.

          But if your point is that the final battle is UNFAIR, that’s a whole different thing, but considering that the final battle is possible to beat without taking any damage on the hardest difficult in THEORY, I don’t think it is unfair.

          And just for the protocol:
          – casual is not a bad thing.
          – I don’t think you are wrong, I just want to understand what you mean
          – if something is designed to be challenging, but you don’t like that, then you aren’t the target audience

  26. Sam Combs

    I feel like I must be missing something massive workflow-wise if folks are able to make maps three to five times as long as mine at a much higher quality in the same amount of time.

    I also seem to be stuck at the point where there’s just not much for people to say about my levels, and I’m not sure how to improve. Too short, unrealistic architecture, unclear objectives, uninteresting encounters, poorly paced, no “wow” moments.

    I haven’t had a chance to play the other entries, hopefully that will make my shortcomings clearer.

    1. That’s the benefit of these villes, give mappers like myself a random theme to centre development of a level around, it forces us to utilise our skills to create a enjoyable experience on a theme that is alien to most of us. That random nature of the themes is also great to inspire new levels, and the deadlines motivate us to complete them quickly with realistic goals.

    2. Zekiran

      Definitely play the others, and play other Villes. I think mainly it’ll be a matter of practice practice practice. learning all the tricks comes only after a lot of maps, obviously, but you know how to use the tools already, so refinement is the key!

      I think we need a “hey help me do X thing” page, honestly, so that folks can get specific feedback without giving away too much of their maps in the process.

    3. my advice is always just play lots of different games, ask yourself why something you have fun with is good

    4. Yours was an interesting entry, Sam. It never did anything badly. The whole thing was really well built, lit and planned. I felt the mines slowed the flow a little but the actual liberation sequence was great. I felt the architecture was very realistic, you had very clear objectives and it had a clear end. But as you say, it was fairly short and had no WOW moments.

      The problem is that it was up against some absolutely fantastic maps. So in many ways you didn’t do anything wrong, you just need to step up your game and go all out. Once you play the mod, I think you will see how great some of the other entries were.

  27. I am so sad about Rebel Island. It is an absolutely astonishing map atmospherically and visually, but the gameplay problems all just bog it down so heavily. It is really a shame, because it had such immense potential. It would have won 10/10 if the objective were atmosphere, but the gameplay drags it way down to a 3/10 or 4/10.

    I’d really love to encourage the author to keep making more, he just has to be mindful of the gameplay as well.

  28. Play It Now!

    I replayed all maps, watched Phillip’s stream and got a different view on some maps. Now I realized why “A Hero Once More” won the contest. I don’t know why I felt the way I felt about some maps.
    Probably one of the reasons was that I played all maps one after the other without a pause, and maps like “A Hero Once More” came very late. Also “Prospekt” made me hate Nova Prospekt, that probably also hurt “A.H.O.M.” a bit. Actually I think the level design of “A.H.O.M.” is fantastic. The problem is just that a lot of places look a bit too similar, there are no landmarks, so it makes it a bit hard to orientate AT FIRST, I didn’t take my time with the map the first time though. There is a lot of stuff I can learn from this map.

    I also rated MAMH higher, because I thought I was waay too harsh. The problem here was probably that I knew it’s Jason’s map, so I had higher expectations from the start and wasn’t really satisfied, but compared to the general quality of maps, it easily deserves “IT’S GREAT”.

    This is the second time now after ChasmVille that I change my review. This just shows me that I’m doing something wrong. I shouldn’t rush through the mod, I don’t do that because I want to finish quickly, but because I want to see what the other entries look like, I’m simply excited. Because of that the next time I play a Ville I will make pauses, I will replay the whole thing after a day, and THEN write a review. Of course all of this isn’t a problem for people who don’t overthink and overanalyze everything like me.
    And I’m changing the reviews, because “credit where credit is due”, I have to show my respect to maps like “A.H.O.M.” and “MAHM”.

    ————————————————————-

    It is okay

    Confusion by Flamdar
    ————————————————————-

    ————————————————————-

    It is good

    Lakeside by Marcu Alexandru AKA Melc311
    ————————————————————-

    ————————————————————-

    It is okay

    Pain by Dan M.
    ————————————————————-

    ————————————————————-

    It is good

    Cemetery Valley by Joacim Rappu
    ————————————————————-

    ————————————————————-

    It is bad

    Roxen Hole by Daniel Friend AKA Dannster.
    ————————————————————-

    ————————————————————-

    It is good

    Prison 16 by Sam Combs
    ————————————————————-

    ————————————————————-

    It is good

    Liberation Version 1 by Niker107
    ————————————————————-

    ————————————————————-

    It is okay

    Vortessence by Ethosaur
    ————————————————————-

    ————————————————————-

    It is bad

    Rebel Island by Gwydion Brain AKA Agameofsonces
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    It is good

    Transfer by Bastion
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    It is bad

    Nova Nadeje by King Kolton9
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    It is good

    Pigeonholm by UtharQ
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    It is WOW!

    A Hero Once More by Maarten Frooninckx AKA marnamai
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    It is great!

    MAMH by Jason Gimba AKA Maki
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    1. AHOM is a real testament to the amazing talent in our community that comes from people with genuine passion for the game and their craft, rather than those looking to make a quick buck.

  29. Play It Now!
    Confusion
    It is okay

    This map has a good idea, but flawed execution. The Combine have built a device that turns the rebels against you. Fights against rebels are always tough, thanks to their high accuracy and damage output, and this is no exception. There are way too many of them. When I played this map, I seem to have glitched it in various ways, with friendly rebels arriving and undoing the spell prematurely, as well as a wayward Combine grenade tipping over the tower before I even lowered the bulletproof forcefields. The exit door opened before it was supposed to. Aside from this, the author strangely decided to outfit every door with a custom door handle, which breaks the game’s visual language. You’ll find yourself waking up to every door to see if it can be opened.

    The map lives up to its name in more ways than one. I’ll give it that. It’s hard to know what to make of this map. It’s already pretty small. I guess the author just needs to work on scripting and safeguarding against unintended problems.

    Lakeside
    It is good

    A straightforward, visually appealing map where you have to shut down one of the Combine shell launchers a la Lost Coast. I agree with Phillip that the level starts too quickly. You are mere seconds in when the music starts and AR2 soldiers charge at you. The odds are stifling at the start, with not one but two mounted gunners. I wound up sniping these guys with a Pistol because there was no point in getting any closer. All the while listening to an alarm that just wouldn’t stop.

    I didn’t really get a sense of liberating anything in this map. The player never sees the stakes. But it is a solid, competently made release. Just lacks that spark, similar in many ways to Prison 16 later on. Perhaps if you started off in a bombed-out rebel outpost, it would make a lot of difference.

    Pain
    It is good

    A short and simple trip through Ravenholm to put someone out of their misery. Starts off in a really strange way with wood boards that you must use Grenades to break because you have no Crowbar. You get the Crowbar moments after destroying these boards. I have no idea what this adds to the level.

    There is a nasty backspawn at the first button, but other than that, you basically move forward using sawblades and a variety of other physics props against Zombies hordes. Not bad for trying to create sawblade combos. The car trap caught me by surprise, but it seems like an inevitable death the first time through. The scene at the end is unintentionally hilarious though and that’s honestly why I’m giving it an It’s Good.

    Cemetery Valley
    It is bad

    A weird map with lots of communication issues, Cemetery Valley takes place in an eerie and isolated cemetery. And it is genuinely eerie – you spend the entire map thinking that something is going to get you. Any moment now. And you never really know where it’s going either. These are good traits for a horror map. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t really go anywhere.

    The idea here is to ring the bells. The “bells” are actually light fixtures. And you can ring them only by punting them with the Gravity Gun. As you might expect, this took way too long to figure out. No one is going to think that these light fixtures are bells. The author should have made a physbox model that better resembles a bell and stands out in the darkness.

    So, one bell is up in the bell tower as you might expect. The other one, inexplicably, is in an underground tomb. And it’s awful. It’s sitting in darkness where you can’t see it, blocked by a pile of rubble you clearly should be able to jump over, but can’t, and even through you can tug the bell and get it to swing this way, remember, it won’t ring unless you punt it. Argh!

    What you’re supposed to do is shine your flashlight into one of the many identical crevices and use your Gravity Gun to break a section of wall that, aside from a thin crack, looks like every other section of wall down here. And then to make matters worse, there’s a really irritating water puzzle where you have to jump out of the water into ducts, twice, and the game just can’t do that well. Why even have this part at all?

    The rest of the map is pretty nonsensical and the payoff is more confusing than rewarding. It has atmosphere going for it, but that’s about it.

    Roxen Hole
    It is okay

    Is the objective of this map the complete opposite of Lakeside? 🙂

    A rather disjointed map that takes you into a police station and an elaborate network of underground mines apparently located beneath it for some reason. You’re led around by objective text on the screen at all times, which is a shame. A level should speak for itself. Some areas are quite repetitive and copy-paste. The custom music felt very out-of-place. I wonder if the ending was a reference to the old Wivenhoe mod.

    Visually, it’s a very plain and boxy map. The whole thing is uniformly average, I’d say. It’s hard to single out any one thing for improvement.

    Like I said, the extensive mines don’t make sense, but I felt they could have been explained with Combine architecture rather than literal mines. I don’t think it would be unusual for the Combine to have a giant base underneath a completely nondescript building on the surface. Plus, it would continue that theme of infiltrating an enemy space.

    Prison 16
    It is great!

    Short, but sweet. I really enjoyed this little map – I just wish there was more of it! It ends just as it was beginning to get good. Your goal is to liberate Prison 16 with a full arsenal of weapons and a couple rebel friends. Some fun skirmishes with the Combine here in large rooms with plenty of routes. One amusing quirk is the ability to press the “liberation” button multiple times. “Get… the hell… out of here” already! 😀

    But after fighting through a cellblock and a courtyard, the map ends unceremoniously. It’s too bad. Everything else about it was great. I’m not sure why folks are singling out the Hopper Mines in this one – like Urby said, they turn the Gravity Gun into a grenade launcher.

    Speaking of Urby…

    Liberation Version 1
    It is good

    “Imagine that the citizen in front of you is my map.”

    A very charming entry with a wonderful voiceover by Urby, this Stanley Parable-influenced map has a number of moments that truly made me laugh out loud. Niker has a knock for humor in his maps and it shows here. So, why only “It’s Good?” That final battle. It’s the most brutal battle in the entire map pack and it feels completely out-of-place with the casual nature of the rest of the map. Too little health, too many enemies, enemies too distant to hit accurately – it literally came down to ~20 HP against two Hunters. On Normal.

    Vortessence
    It is okay

    I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one. It’s a refreshing interpretation of the canal interior style with the multitude of skylights and airy soundscape. But I totally lost track of what our objective was, and Barney is quite glitchy. The final battle is a joke, with Combine single filing into a room with three Vortigaunts, Barney, two turrets and myself. Yeah, let’s just say it didn’t end so well for them.

    Rebel Island
    It is bad

    This one was strange. It put a lot of effort into creating a bizarre, surreal setting, but then squanders it with tedious, in-your-face combat. To say nothing of the fog. There are only a few skyboxes that can naturally support fading into the distance, and this wasn’t one of them. I get what the author was going for, but the overall effect is just ugly.

    Your greatest threat may not be the Combine, however, but the tiny physics props that scoot you off the narrow walkways and into the leech-infested water. These should be flagged as Debris! Taking 30 damage from a soda can is not cool!

    As others have pointed out, some of the enemies are floating up in the sky too.

    Ancient Dust
    It is great!

    And now for something completely different. Ancient Dust has you entering a temple of some kind to… uh… “liberate” some treasure.

    Everything flows pretty smoothly. I did have issues with the first puzzle because it honestly didn’t seem jumpable, but none of the other puzzles were too difficult. The map is a huge improvement over the author’s previous entry in ChasmVille. I feel its main fault is that it might actually go on too long, especially in the one giant battle with the crazy number of enemies. But it’s just a chaotic, mindless battle – not an especially difficult one.

    Transfer
    It is okay

    I didn’t care much for this one. I feel the author would really benefit from making smaller, more polished maps. Like his ChasmVille entry, this one feels long just for the sake of being long. Padded, even, with a very long section of Sandtraps prop walking, a tedious Hunter-Chopper battle, and some surprisingly tough combat with inconvenient health placement.

    During the helicopter battle, there’s a long ladder which leads to a door. No cover. I had to climb up there during the battle to see if that’s where I was supposed to go. Locked. And here’s some helicopter fire to the face for your effort. Very annoying. And of course, once you destroy the helicopter, that door is magically unlocked for no reason at all. I loathe that.

    The displacements also need work. The jutting cliffs and leaning trees just look weird. I don’t really get the criticism over the driving section itself, but it doesn’t add anything to the map and the time spent making that huge section you drive by in seconds could have been spent making the rest of the map better. Anyhow, if displacements are going to continue being part of this mapper’s repertoire, it would be worth practicing them between comps until the author can zero in on a process that works for him.

    Nova Nadeje
    It is okay

    This map takes place in the bowels of a Nova Prospekt-style prison. Between the suffocating darkness and the sounds, Nadeje feels like a particularly bleak interpretation of the prison. You don’t want to be here.

    Construction was on the sloppy side. Floating props, a door that opens to a hall-of-mirrors effect, a messed up occluder or area portal in a doorway, a pipe that crosses right in front of all the light fixtures… which are lit but don’t cast light… weird things like that.

    I didn’t like how the climactic battle locks you in the moment you enter it. There was another bit where a red valve, which was used earlier to escape your cell (who knows what those explosive barrels were doing time for!), and the same valve later on does nothing.

    Pigeonholm
    It is good

    If you could somehow condense The Citizen into a single map, and remove all the talking bits, the end result would probably be similar to Pigeonholm. It has its own distinct visual style and likes to bum rush the player with Combine Soldiers, sometimes upwards of 6-7 Elites at a time! It also like to hit you with Fast Headcrabs. Constantly. It’s like the map is terrified of ever leaving you alone. It whittles you down.

    One thing I failed to do was pick up the Crowbar and Gravity Gun at the start. You can imagine how this influenced the rest of the level. I see no point to having them placed the way they are – if the player can pick them up in the first couple seconds, just give them the weapons from the start!

    While it’s awesome that the author apparently wrote and played the custom music, I find it interesting that the level is completely silent otherwise, which doesn’t do the visual presentation justice. The payoff is quite… interesting, though. 🙂

    A Hero Once More
    It is great!

    I’m usually a big fan of Marnamai’s maps, but this one took a while to grow on me. We are reunited with the illustrious Colonel Odessa Cubbage inside Nova Prospekt, who helps us escape. We’re also at the point in Half-Life 2’s timeline where the prison has been overrun by Antlions and the Combine are fighting a losing battle against them.

    In the first half of the level, I was very apprehensive about where to go. The level has a lot of extraneous catwalks and rooms and I struggled to keep Odessa and the other rebel with me until I lost track of them in a battle. This didn’t feel right. Were they supposed to keep up with me? Should I reload? I wasn’t sure. But after some wandering, which involved going along what felt like an unintended direction, I circled around to the control room and opened a gate for them. This was the intent… but it didn’t feel “right.” That feeling basically marred the first half of the level for me.

    But the second half is a treat. We split up again moments later, with a conversation this time so there’s no mystery here, and this is where the level starts to come together. A fun electric puzzle followed by a chaotic outdoor battle that keeps you on your toes and unfolds in a very organic way. I liked how the Gunship was used as window dressing, focused more on the Antlion outbreak than me. Eventually, we meet up with Odessa and the other rebel on an escape ship and what follows is very cool.

    But I couldn’t help but wish we had started closer to the midway point of the level. The lingering thought that I had done something wrong and broke the map made the first half awkward.

  30. Play It Later

    Vortessense

    It is good

    At the beginning the design is very simple and conditional, but it gets better as we advance: variety of areas is good and interesting architecture will eventually appear.

    Really nice touches are included in the map: Barney who drops the turrets, ability to lure the enemy under the Barnacle’s tongue.

    Some bugs were encountered: Barney was doing ventriloquism when talking, vortigaunts got stuck in the small corridor and blocked it, forcing reload of saved game.

    The area with teleporter at the end could have been more interesting if it was bigger, had few floors of catwalks to run around and few entry points for the enemies.

    3.7/5
    Playtime: 23 minutes

    Ancient Dust

    It is good

    Ancient buildings with traps are an interesting idea, but repetitive texturing and simple geometries give uneasy feeling and make it look like Half-Life 1 level converted to Episode Two with minimal changes.

    A lot of health, energy and ammo are given, so battles are about running around and gathering them when needed. There won’t be anything that would feel like a tough challenge to overcome.

    The puzzles about guessing the right switch to use and platforming sections provide nice breaks from fights and never break the flow of the level because there won’t be a single time where we stop in confusion, not knowing what to do next.

    If you want to just relax and breeze through something not too hard, then this map will be useful.

    3.6/5
    Playtime: 23 minutes

    Nova Nadeje

    It is okay

    Some corridors and rooms in Nova Prospekt style with minimum detail. Nothing special and nothing memorable. Besides having only grenades at the beginning, which is good and original. But there’s also some wall of white light that looks like a rendering error behind one of the doors. And doorway that makes things disappear when you look through it. And ladder made of cramps which is rotated making them magically hang in the air (wrong ladder mesh used?) And the door which is supposed to close and lock behind the player but isn’t properly tested so player have high chances to retreat because there are enemies, and then be forced to either cheat or reload a saved game.

    3/5
    Playtime: 15 minutes

    Transfer

    It is okay

    Freeman is sent to redirect the train that holds captured people to resistance base, so gets out of his outpost and rides the car through unrealistic terrain with repetitive textures.

    The author clearly has potential (and understanding of Valve style, too, judging by warning message on the wall which is a hint what to do), but not enough either experience or time or both to properly decorate the area of such size.

    Encounters with the Combine are done well, and throwing stuff at zombies with gravity in the toxic liquid around is a good idea – gives a new interesting task to be careful not to throw away all things you can use to cross the place.

    3.4/5
    Playtime: 30 minutes

    A Hero Once More

    It is WOW!

    Excellent level of Valve quality which takes place during Gordon’s attack on Nova Prospekt. Familiar architectural elements are used to give sense of location. Familiar character will be met and familiar event will be seen from different point of view.

    The combat is fresh. We don’t have the pheropods, but Combine and antlions tend to be occupied with killing each other which acts in our favor.

    Add new creative scripted scenes and a traditional puzzle involving power socket and plug – the result is an absolute must play level that’s as enjoyable as the original game.

    The forcefield that turns on when your companions enter the doorway gives a false impression that you can go with them if you go earlier, but if you try, there’s an invisible wall. This could have been avoided by making you press a switch for them, switch that only turns the forcefield off for few seconds due to security reasons. An imperfection which is forgivable due to limited time given to develop the map.

    5/5
    Playtime: 33 minutes

    Prison 16

    It is good

    While being well detailed, the design can’t provide sense of the location. Just some buildings, some rooms, some corridors. What this place was before the Combine took over? There’s no environmental storytelling to answer this question.

    No interesting events and puzzles, freeing everyone from the prison is just one press of a button and short length prevent this map from being as great as previous prison themed one.

    4.4/5
    Playtime: 10 minutes

    Liberation Version 1

    It is good

    This map has a funny story about mapper and tester, you play as the latter.

    When the actual playing area appears it suffers from unimmersive environment. In addition to that, enemies shoot from far away, and no adequate weapon for proper counterattack is given, and not enough health and energy too.

    3.9/5
    Playtime: 17 minutes

    Pain

    It is good

    Another map from someone who didn’t have enough experience and/or time. At least this time the author is aware of that: simple design is hidden behind darkness of Ravenholm.

    There are some interesting events. Beginning has working spyglass which shows where we need to go. Later there will be unexpected original trap.

    Unfortunately, it suffers from bugs. It’s possible to see that there’s nothing behind door at the beginning and behind the church. The trap that is supposed to squish zombies fails to do so. Entering the church involves teleportation due to poor planning, and the priest inside isn’t properly animated.

    3.7/5
    Playtime: 8 minutes

    Lakeside

    It is great!

    Well done industrial area at the shore. Enemy and cover placement is very good and provides excellent grounds for throwing grenades back, and sometimes using explosive barrels and crowbar.

    Destructible cover and secret area which requires a tricky jump are very nice touches.

    While having solid design and combat, it also feels like Freeman’s average workday when not much happens – you just get to your target and complete the mission. This is why it is not as enjoyable as A Hero Once More, but still worth playing.

    4.6/5
    Playtime: 14 minutes

    MAMH

    It is good

    At the beginning it looks like a Valve quality level, with believable area of well thought out design. But very quickly initial excitement disappears when we discover that passage under the bridge is blocked by an invisible wall with absolutely no reason. And in the end of the map there will be a trigger that kills the player when there’s nothing around that can instantly drop the health to zero. These inappropriate movement restrictions break the immersion.

    Ideas behind the level are original and very good. It is worth playing to see them, but it is also easy to miss scripted scenes because you would think that you’re supposed to do something and will be searching for it instead of watching.

    4.1/5
    Playtime: 29 minutes

    Rebel Island

    It is good

    Interesting and original fortress on water is spoiled by poorly used fog that doesn’t match color of the sky, making everything look unrealistic, and short draw distance which makes everything disappear and reappear when you look around.

    When it comes to combat, there’s not much space to maneuver, and you’ll be forced to attack enemies while standing on one spot that’s well protected from their fire.

    3.8/5
    Playtime: 10 minutes

    Roxen Hole

    It is bad

    Monotonous buildings with overly bright lighting. Long stairwells with very simple geometry. Gameplay about overcoming enemies then pressing some button to open the next door. At least there’s a crate with infinite grenades – by using nothing but its contents in the battle you will manage to prevent yourself from being completely bored with this level.

    2.4/5
    Playtime: 17 minutes

    Pigeonholm

    It is great!

    Excellent level design with very creative original architecture and verticality. Church has nice buildup because first we see it from the outside then have to enter it through the roof. New music is a nice touch.

    Unfortunately, not quite enough time was spent designing it. There are almost no ambient sounds, there are some rubble piles which can be climbed so the author had to resort to invisible walls, and one tunnel that ends with black wall. When looking around, it’s possible to see that the roofs are flat and empty. The geometry ends abruptly – some houses, and then completely nothing behind them.

    4.8/5
    Playtime: 38 minutes

    Cemetery Valley

    It is bad

    The mountains around the valley seem to be unrealistically rectangular. Two buildings are open, we reach a dead end in each of them. What to do? Turns out, the lamps on the ceilings portray bells. Remember the bell in Hexen 1? It attracted attention and made you want to ring it. As opposed to these things which are easy to miss.

    The church has nice puzzle about getting to the roof.

    In the crypt, there is part where the game’s “jump out of water” move doesn’t work, so you will have to put box under yourself, which is hard. Annoying obstacle that shouldn’t have been there.

    Also crypt has a cave-in that can be climbed and invisible wall above it. You are making a wall anyway, so make it visible! Put two more boulders on top of that cave-in and it will start to look realistic.

    All that to enter a simple staircase with boring flat walls around it, then rectangular room with flat walls and the staff. What to do with it isn’t clear. Bringing it outside leads to unnecessary teleportation to corridor with very bright white walls. I hoped the map finally ends here, but it didn’t. What else to do? Maybe bring the staff back to starting area? Yes, it has an altar there to place it on. At least that was intuitive. Finally, this wandering in annoying darkness is over.

    2.2/5
    Playtime: 22 minutes

    Confusion

    It is bad

    Interesting idea that’s spoiled by lack of proper design – whole map is nothing but a simple blockout.

    Also it’s possible to destroy the transmitter by walking towards it, without pressing the four buttons around. Looks like a bug.

    1.6/5
    Playtime: 11 minutes

    1. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from MAMH… well, there are many things… but one recurring thing that stands out is that some players are more than willing to run headlong into leech-infested water. Me? It’s like, panic! Leave! Turn around right now! The floor is lava! But others, if you present a little bit of shoreline, even if there isn’t any obvious item there, will suck up the damage and go charging right out there.

      This is not to suggest that it is wrong, it’s just something that has surprised me.

      And it was a miscalculation on my part because I didn’t place the leeches until near the end, and only then realized how they aren’t terribly damaging at all. Despite being supplemented by a secondary hurt trigger, the player’s ability to bunny hop kind of negates that. I did have to rely on a big hurt trigger to get the job done and I’m not happy about that. And the collision over the bridge there was an oversight. It wasn’t supposed to go down that far.

      You might ask, why not make the water deeper? Well, when the Hunter showdown is held together by duct tape, it’s not really something you want to mess with at the eleventh hour. In the end, there were too many dependencies converging on that one space.

      There are a couple other collision snafus I’ve noticed in video plays. Dolmo came across the fact that the truck doesn’t block bullets (I misinterpreted the Invisible texture completely) and Roboserg ran into some rocks that had no collision (probably because they were drag-copied from a nearby fern that had no collision).

      1. Unq

        Maybe just have a power plant next to the water with huge power cables electrifying the entire lake/river. At least that would kill Phillip instantly when he inevitably jumps into the water.

  31. so somehow just after I discuss with someone else why he didn’t like the final battle of Ancient Dust, two new reviews come up and both address that the map isn’t really challenging which confuses me (especially because they play on medium, and did you play with fixed skill.cfg?), not that I want so much that the map is difficult, but that was what I got from all other people before that, especially Phillip 🙂

    And maybe it’s really because on medium the fight gets really easy because of all the supplies, but why is it that it’s not that hard on medium, but very hard on hard? One theory by me is that suit armor absorbs way more damage on easy and medium and there is plenty of suit armor in the final battle which I put there because I only test the level on hard, but that would be kinda weird. But maybe that is the reason, I just found out that on difficulty enemies actually do DOUBLE damage (for Episodes), so what probably happened is that the final battle has extremely weird balancing, I’ll have to keep an eye out for that.

    Next time I’ll balance maps for medium I guess.

    1. Zekiran

      Generally balance for Medium because that’s what people should be expected to play their first time around. I did find that while the other more minor battles were quite well done, the final Dust battle was… overwhelming. Suddenly ramped up with basically everything being thrown in at once. Yes, the Antlions start fighting with the Combine, that much I’m glad I knew they would start fighting one another. But if you pick off too many of one of those enemy types, they’ll basically descend on you the moment they’re able.

      I think some form of interaction to block them off, or encourage the player into a specific direction once the fight is ‘over’ (read: once they’ve blown through most of the ammo supplies or their health) would benefit that fight.

      The issue I had with it too though is that it’s basically an extremely confined area with precious little in the way of cover, and at minimum 3 entrances being used by enemies at any given time. I’m never going to be a fan of the multiple-onslaught-location type of fights, because without a clear exit strategy available, all I can do is shoot and pray. I’m not that style of player, I’m a sniper by nature and thus would prefer to find a spot and pick off enemies until I’m comfortable with their numbers, and then dive in as needed for closer quarters fighting to finish it all off. Since there’s no ‘finishing’ that off, it becomes frustrating very quickly.

      I’m sure that there are people that find the end battle thrilling or quite fun, but overwhelming numbers of enemies, dwindling supplies, and basically no cover because of multiple access locations, meant I didn’t have much fun with it.

      1. interesting. Again this shows me that I still make maps for myself and not for everyone else, that is a mistake.

        After all the feedback for my two maps, I now understand why Valve is so crazy with their playtesting and why Half-Life 2 is so perfect.

        1. Mednes

          I just want to point out, you making maps which aren’t made for everyone isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It’s always good to have niche products! Most maps are made balanced, some are made for mostly long range, and some are made to be a mayhem! I loved this map of yours and was my personal favourite within the series – perhaps less to do with the actual map quality and more to do with how refreshing the change of setting was! But it all flowed really really nicely for me, I even liked the fight everyone seems to have trouble with, I found the area ideal to take potshots at hunters, and the soldiers made enough noise before they came out of the entrance so I could prepare to pick them off, and when I couldn’t I had plenty of supply to replenish.

          I’ve played on hard without skillcfg so the toxic antlion things were a oneshot. Probably for the better 😀

          It’s not to say you shouldn’t take notes tho! But because something could be made more neutral doesn’t mean it’s strictly better. You’d get more points in the competition most likely but then I might prefer the other mods over yours for example.

          1. good to know that, but Zekiran is right, I could keep the fight as it is now, but also offer a sniping position which would give you more cover and distance, but at the same time the danger of getting trapped. But thanks for reminding me that some people enjoyed it! 😀

            1. Mednes

              No trouble, keep improving ^^

    2. (In reply to Crowbar above):

      I didn’t play with a fixed skill.cfg. I played it on the day of release and sat on my own reviews until the judges weighed in first.

      Hard does cause enemies to do 2x damage in Episodic (1.5x otherwise). But it also causes the player’s weapons to only deal 75% of normal damage. Hence, it takes that much more time to kill them. Time in which the player can easily get shot.

      Once the player runs out of suit energy, it’s all downhill from there in tight encounters like this one because enemy fire, especially from Combine Solders and Hunters, will pack a wallop. People complained about the Hunter battle in Avenue Odessa with three of them, which was scaled back to two in the mod version. You have, what? Three or four in an even smaller space? In your battle, getting hit at some point is almost unavoidable. Enemies are approaching from multiple vectors at once and it’s a very close-quarters battle. The saving grace is the fact that you have that alarm which signals a lull and an opportunity to run around and resupply.

      1. oh that is also a good point, that because you need longer to kill stuff there is also more time to take damage, but that makes me wonder if the difference between medium and hard isn’t way too high?
        Shouldn’t medium be easy and medium should be 1.5 dmg from enemies and 1.0 dmg to enemies.

        Wait a minute, we can change the difficult values by ourself with point_clientcommand or point_servercommand, maybe that would be helpful too, but I’m not sure that people would like that (but I don’t expect them to really notice it, just want to make sure everyone has a good experience)

        1. Zekiran

          I’m pretty sure you can adjust the values yourself, but yeah that means you’d want to do it for all 3 difficulty levels, and that probably takes more time than you’d want to fuss with overall – particularly not for a Ville, but certainly worth investing in for a full mod.

          And yes the difference between medium and hard has always been a pretty strong one, as far as I can tell. Heck, I’ve never been able to get through more than a few levels of HL1 on hard! HL2’s hard isn’t quite as unforgiving, but it’s certainly not a walk in the park.

          1. one thing is for sure: I learned waaay more than I expected from this map and the feedback

          2. My personal opinion is that when it comes to Villes, err on the side of making things too easy rather than too difficult. Let the player feel good about themselves. It’s rare for “It’s too easy” to come up as a complaint compared to “It’s way too hard and I couldn’t complete it.”

            I have the crude difficulty gauging metric where I should be able to clear my level on Normal no problem. I should be able to clear it on Hard if I’m playing carefully and conservatively, but I may die anywhere from 1-3 times doing so. Easy is sort of a non-issue. I don’t bother with it much anymore. Trying to balance for Easy is going to make Hard that much harder (and maybe even impossible), so I’m relying on trickle-down economics here.

  32. Play It Now!

    This is a vary late review as I’ve been very busy the last month with school and personal problems . This is a review of my top 5 favorite maps from liberationville. I’m going from number 5 to number 1.

    It is good

    Lakeside

    Tho plane , the visuals are pretty decent , first bad problem with the map is the intro it’s too fast , the player doesn’t have time at all to accommodate with the map being placed in the middle of the fight . The combine turrets form the wrecked vessels were a nice touch but vary hard to deal with as there as no cover \ grenades so I had to find a “dead spot” where they didn’t see , so I can shoot them. Not not many bad to things to say about this map , as I really enoyed it.

    It is good

    Ancient Dust

    Map is very good gameplay and visual wise , but … I not the right kind of guy for this map , I don’t enjoy tombs \ temples as much as real world , but I can’t rate a map by my preference of real places . Puzzles were fun , gameplay tho kinda hard it’s enjoyable , maybe the manhacks were added so you move from one spot , it’s hard fighting combine soldiers and mannhacks at the same time . The ending could have been more “rewarding” after everything you’ve done in the temple .

    It is great!

    Liberation Version 1

    I am a sucker for narrators in maps , as they give you felling you are playing with a friend or a level designer that tries to help you . That said the transition from complete narrative to combat is way to abrupt for my taste but at least it was solid . Urby’s voice makes this map that much grater as he’s a very good narrator.

    It is great!

    MAMH

    The idea of the map is grate and cute , visuals are top notch as always in Jason’s work and the combat just on my taste , that being said this wouldn’t be as much of a review if I wasn’t critical . Jason and Maarten are some of the only experienced level designer that still make maps for Half-Life 2 and I don’t wanna the quality of their maps to go down . Sorry to say Jason but your maps are kinda repetitive , crouching behind cars from a sniper \ turret done in : Forest Train , High Wire and Avenue Odessa ; boss battle at the end : Forest Train , High Wire and Avenue Odessa , almost all your maps have some backtrack with a mounted turret , and some other little stuff that
    repeat . Ok , I know I’m harsh for gamplay parts that are really well done , but most of latest maps of Jason’s are kinda the same to me , if I wouldn’t have played any other map of his , I would enjoyed this a LOT more . The only reason I’m this harsh on your map Jason in that I don’t want your work to stale as I’m a huge fan of your work , I want something really different , that will blow everyone out of the water , maybe continue the little love story with the Hunter , or bring back the selfish Odessa , I just want something innovative from you , no hate only <3 for you .

    It is WOW!

    I feel discouraged to make maps by Marn's skill and dedication , watching him work tought me a lot about mapping , and I've grateful of time in which he showed me some useful tricks in Hammer . This guy spent about 150 hr on this map in only 19 days , respect right here , the map is humongous as it can be compared to Valve length in level. I don't wanna flatter Maarten too much so I'm gonna move to the parts of the map that I didn't really like ,from my perspective the manhacks from the begging serve no purpose as they only chiped away my health . The map's path isn't highlighted that grate which makes the player explore around which is a grate thing , but they can also be frustrated from all the searching and exit the map , Valve's methode is always the best so you shouldn't really deviate too much from it . I've seen a lot of people that say that the combat it's just like Nova Prospekt from Half-Life 2 , but I mean is that really a bad thing , bringing something new to the table is hard and It's best as how it is.

    Pain – My map

    My map , well I'm glad people like the thing I've spent most of my time on : detailing and texturing , as some people know I'm still getting used with hammer and It's really nice to see positive feedback when getting started with something , on the other hand the thing I've spent least time on the combat brought my map bad reviews and it's the lack of atmosphere and place . Somehow I was stuck with a map with no combat and gameplay in the last few days of the contest so I had to add a few gates and zombies \ encounters which I know that they weren't good looked upon , but I can't blame they I dislike them as well. The church teleporting backwards was intentional as I though I would make Grigori stand up and get down again as the got confused of the teleport , I MAKE LEVELS , a Youtuber pressed E on Grigori , this made me laugh as I thought the text on the screen shouldn't be more explicit .The things that destroyed my map the most were the lack of sound and the grenades from the begging but they were added so I can finish the play test the level faster , tho I have to admit the original idea had grenades in it for escaping but this is a mistake that I made when I was sending the map , I send a scrpting testing version , I was offered to send the correct version , but I refused as I could have stuff after the deadline. I really want to say more about my map but It was really short and I don't have anything more to talk about it.

    1. I think the thing is that if you look at my output, I’ve done a ton of the maps in the span of just the last year. I was literally updating my web site this morning and realized this. So, I think that when you have these time constraints and back-to-back-to-back competitions where you want to do well, there is a tendency to err on the side of stuff that was proven to work in the past.

      Next map, theme permitting, will be different. It has to be. Because my muse is not satisfied either.

  33. Unq
    Play It Now!

    And I thought ChasmVille had a great turnout. New record set with this challenge, thanks to each and every entrant – I know from experience that creating a map isn’t an easy task, especially with a time limit. This really was a great competition, and was honestly a pleasure and a challenge to judge. Might be worth noting that I played these maps out of order and without knowing who the authors were while judging.

    Confusion

    This was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I liked the twist with the concussion blast where the rebels turn against you, it mixes up the combat a bit when you have to fight them as well as the Combine. But there were some odd design choices like the solid forcefield and sudden end in the dark hallway. The forcefield breaks the expectation that has been set up in all the HL2 games and tons of mods, that you can shoot through it – but for this one you can’t. I exited the building after hitting all 3 switches and for a long time I thought I was in the middle of a nifty 3-way battle and figured I’d just wait it out. But only after time did I realize that not only would the battle not end (seemingly infinite Combine spawns) but that the rebels were back on my side suddenly. It makes sense when I think about it, after shutting down the mind control tower – but it was not obvious as I was playing it. And what’s the connection to liberation? Freeing the citizens from the mind control?

    Lakeside

    I found this one to be pretty frustrating initially due to the intensity of the opening area. Between the mounted guns and the rush of soldiers, it took me tons of tries even on medium to survive. I liked the coastal town design, a bit reminiscent of Lost Coast but on a smaller scale – though I was disappointed by how little of it we got to explore given the opening vista looking up at it. Overall I did like the combat, although it was mostly the soldiers simply charging you head-on which was a waste. I really liked the confined area with the fence between the player and the soldiers, it allowed for some more tactics in the combat and it was nice that your cover (the wood boards on the fence) were merely temporary. A disappointing ending as well, just a grenade in the hole. And where was the liberation? I felt this map missed the point of the challenge.

    Pain

    Interesting take on the liberation idea that you only “get” at the very end. And I generally like Ravenholm-themed maps well enough, but for me this map was killed by the little things. A telescope at the start is a nice way to convey the goal, but it’d have been even better to spot Gregori in one of the windows or something. Zombie combat is fine, but there’s two major problems with the first sections of the map. Instant zombie spawns behind you is cheap, there’s no way to sugar coat this. Be more creative if you want to surprise the player. The other problem is the infinite grenade box. With the exception of the spawned zombies, you can wipe out the entire street’s worth of zombies by spamming grenades from the window where you start. I don’t mean to totally rag on this map, but the car trap in the last street felt unfair as well – traps are great, especially in Ravenholm – but this one was not obvious and gives the player very little chance unless he/she knows it’s coming. And what was with the teleport at the end into the church? Why not connect the map in such a way where you didn’t need a teleport? Phillip’s stream illustrates the bugs with Gregori better than I can explain.

    Cemetery Valley

    I liked the atmosphere in this one, and the twist on the idea of liberation. But unfortunately there’s no payoff for all the tension built with the soundscapes and the creepy feel of the map. As with some others, it took me quite some time before I realized the lamps were supposed to be the ‘bells’ that were referred to, it simply didn’t occur to me. I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed there was no combat, but I didn’t hold it against the map. It did, however, feel like a map where zombies by the dozen would suddenly be appearing. The architecture was a bit blocky (particularly the surrounding landscape) but I really liked the mood and sound in this map.

    Roxenhole

    Unfortunately the first impressions of this map were negative. The town has very boxy and basic architecture, and the persistent mission goals on the top of the screen kind of feels like you’re being led around by the nose. Once you’re in the station and descending to the mine, my impression improved quite a bit. The combat was decent, although the underground areas kind of lacked believability with the odd stairway areas and the obvious find-the-button to open the crawlspace puzzle. Another map where you don’t liberate anything – you press the button and it simply says Operation: Liberation. Again, not really in keeping with the theme of the challenge.

    Prison 16

    A nice “liberate the prisoners” map here. It has decent combat, but it’s way too easy – I think it’s a mistake to give the player such a huge arsenal of weapons at the start, especially for a smaller map like this. You even start with the AR2, crossbow, magnum, and 2 contact grenades for the machine gun. Plus once you make your way out to the yard, there are tons of hopper mines that you can toss as bombs using the grav gun. My advice in a map this size is to only focus on a couple of weapons – but make sure ammo is plentiful so as to not frustrate the player. It limits options perhaps but opens up more interesting combat situations that the player can’t just blaze through as is the case in this map. The actual liberation of the prisoners was easy by design, and I liked how you continued fighting your way out, while seeing the former prisoners run parallel to you. I think this map could have used a little more exploration, perhaps a slightly less linear layout would have been more interesting. Overall this was competently designed, but in the end was very straightforward and not challenging in the least.

    Liberation V1

    I loved the concept of this map and for the most part the execution. I think as a mapper the approach taken with ‘breaking the fourth wall’ and mimicking the creative process were dear to my heart and didn’t just seem a gimmick. Sometimes we mappers really do think along these lines. And the timing of the HEV suit was literally within 2 seconds of me complaining out loud about not having a suit. The narration is well done, and I swear Urby is purely channeling Wheatley in a couple of spots – and to an American ear even the accents sounded very similar. So overall I was a fan of the humor and cleverness of this map, but as others have mentioned there are some issues with the final battle. I think it would have been a solid challenge while not being over the top – if the soldiers on the top of the containers in the distance were not there, or if I had a crossbow and a couple bolts. Beyond that, I thought this map was well designed and the humor was just right. I even love how the narrator is cut off at the very end mid-thought. And the headcrab in the crate was pure inspired (evil) genius.

    Vortessence

    I quite liked this map’s design. The visuals are a little basic in parts but I liked the overall flow, a nice mixture of small puzzles and combat, capped off by the defense sequence at the end. I personally didn’t encounter any major bugs – although I did notice that in order to free Barney, you have to break the boards on the doorway, removing them with the grav gun did not work. Once I broke them while they sat on the ground, I could open the door and Barney then opened the forcefield for me. I expected the defense sequence to be more intense or longer, especially since you are given a couple of turrets to use, so that was disappointing. Overall this map was decent, but unfortunately doesn’t really have any ‘wow’ moments or leave a lasting impression.

    Rebel Island

    Yeah, I wanted to like this map. The setting is interesting and unique and the components of the map are nice – but as a whole it kind of falls apart. The first problem is the way fog makes distant things look solid gray in the Source engine, it always looks awful to me. Perhaps it’s the skybox that has high contrast with the gray things in the distance, I don’t know, but it’s distracting and ugly. And of course it’s been mentioned that you can see all the soldiers up high waiting to rappel in (although what is the actual explanation for where they are supposed to be rappelling from?). But even if the enemies didn’t rappel in from above, I think the layout of this map would generally lead to lame combat anyway. It’s almost totally linear, with sections connected by narrow walkways – which leads to the old problem of enemies charging at you in a straight line with little opportunity to flank or attack you from above or below. And if you don’t take care of the soldiers up above before running into the final area, the ambush is just ridiculous. Yes, you can see 2 hunters there – but I think there are 8 soldiers that rope down at the same time. So overall the setting was cool and interesting but the experience was mediocre at best.

    Ancient Dust

    I always think these Ville challenges are perfect places for mappers to experiment a bit, with gameplay or other aspects like new settings and new puzzles. This map is a nice example, it’s a sort of Egyptian-themed puzzle map reminiscent of Tomb Raider style games. I’m not a Tomb Raider fan but I did like this map quite a bit. The map in general includes intense combat sequences instead of just puzzles, and also requires some nimble movement as well. The first jump puzzle with the sliding platforms was pretty difficult even for a seasoned player – I was pretty convinced after a bunch of tries that the jump wasn’t makable and that I was missing something else in the area to progress. So I was stuck there for quite a bit, but I found the large platform room with spikes much easier to navigate. So other than jumping, the main puzzles are button hunts – and I could have sworn I saw a nearly identical water puzzle in one of Kasperg’s puzzle maps. The end battle I found to be intense but reasonable given the goodies you’re supplied with, although I can definitely understand the complaints about it being over the top. I found the hunter part to be a little absurd in such a tight area, and the addition of the 3 elites at the very end was pointless. Overall a good map with a setting quite different than typical HL2 maps, although it could be better balanced both for combat and movement (jumping) skill.

    Transfer

    Pretty decent map here as well. I agree with the other comments that the vehicle section isn’t really necessary – for a challenge of this length I think your time is better spent focusing on something smaller and polishing. There were some odd quirks in this map, like the sitting zombies jumping up instantly if you hit them with the crowbar, and mounting the ladders to descend was wonky. We all know the ladder problems in Source but these had something blocking the top which made me fall several times. I liked the gameplay overall, and the chopper battle – although suddenly unlocking the door up on the balcony when the chopper is defeated is a bit silly – at least have a real reason for this, like a citizen waiting until it’s safe to open the door or something. The liberation aspect was also nicely done, with rerouting the train full of prisoners. Having all of them in the same odd pose was strange and should have been handled differently – perhaps some sitting down. The high mountainous walls surrounding the valley you play in are blocky and kind of ugly – this is a perfect example of what could have been improved using the time that was otherwise spent on the vehicle section that you whiz by in 15 seconds.

    Nova Nadeje

    Set in a prison, this map had potential but in general has too many problems to recommend. As everyone has mentioned, it is oh so very dark in many places. There are even light bulbs that are clearly on but casting no light. I’m certainly not saying that the map should be bright all over, but keep the pitch black areas to specific small spots that have a reason to be so dark. The gameplay was also a bit disappointing, not even including the deadly fence with no warning and the door that opens to the sun. You’re up against Combine and a few zombies and a trap or two, but the placement of the infinite weapon crates is poorly thought out; you can clear much of the map by backtracking to the grenade crate, and you can clear out all the fast zombies in the dark without leaving the ledge at the end with the shotgun ammo crate. The main challenge is the large open room with the soldiers on the upper level and ones that rappel in behind you. Again, the darkness of this area kind of sinks the experience. I also don’t get the liberation aspect except escaping. Were you supposed to take the gnome?

    Pigeonholm

    The first thing that strikes you about this map (beyond the name) is the look. I really like the apocalyptic look with the reddish/orange sky – although overall it might be *too* reddish/orange – I think some contrasting lights or textures for key areas would have gone a long way toward leading the player. That said, I do really like the general constant ascent flow of the map, with your key goal being the church tower. Although the final climb to the tower involved strangely steep stairways blocked with crates which was an odd decision. I liked Pigeonholm overall (especially the ‘liberation’ at the end), and the combat was challenging and mostly fair. I think the final gauntlet run was a little over the top with the blaring music and the ton of Combine elites that are suddenly in your way. It never seems like there’s a break in this map, it feels like every single area has enemies in it, and there are way too many fast headcrabs for my taste. However, you’re well rewarded for exploring and there are many nooks and crannies to find.

    A Hero Once More

    I have to admit, I’m not really a huge Nova Prospekt fan. I recognize how well designed it is, and it’s fairly fun to play through in HL2, but I have more fondness for most of the other chapters in the game. A Hero Once More really reminded me how good Nova Prospekt was, and is really a gem of a map. The opening script is great, and the map unexpectedly keeps getting better. You progress through the inside of the prison, to the hectic outside, to the nice gunship finale on the escape boat. It’s challenging but fair. I did run into one gamebreaking issue – on my first playthrough, one of my pals got killed in the cafeteria area (not Cubbage, the other guy) and I could not progress past the gate when you jump down after going around the long way. Cubbage went to his spot and I could hit the switch, but then nothing happened because the guy that actually opens the gate was dead – in this case there needs to be a clear ‘mission failed’ message, or some other way to bypass the gate because at that point I was just stuck and I honestly didn’t know why until I restarted the map and realized I needed both of them alive to progress. But that was my only complaint – otherwise the map is nicely designed, the combat flows nicely and ramps up toward the finale, and looks great in the process. A deserving winner.

    MAMH

    Here we have a great looking map with a perfect intro setting up the liberation you need to accomplish. The hunter being carried by the dropship looks a little wonky, but it’s kind of in line with the light humorous tone of the map. I have to admit it took me way to long to notice the chocks that you need to move to make it across the bridge, I kept searching for other ways around or past the forcefield. Overall I wished the combat after that point were a bit harder – but I did really like the mixture of combat and minor puzzles to progress. The lighting is good both indoors and out and the hunter sequence that you see from the window above is well done and cements in your head that it’s the hunter that you must liberate (though I wish it were more than a button press to accomplish this). After that, this map really shines as your new buddy helps you through the rest (one time I played it even took down the strider after the rocket crate was destroyed). The airboat sequence brought a smile to my face – these light touches of humor are great in maps like this. Cap it off with the ending reveal of the title acronym and you have a nice, tight, polished and – above all – fun experience.

    1. Unq

      Quick update to my comments on A Hero Once More after talking to marnamai: Apparently when I had the problem with proceeding through the gate, the citizen wasn’t really dead. Marnamai confirmed that he set the citizen and Odessa to not take any damage so they can’t die – he must have been stuck somewhere instead. It simply didn’t occur to me that he might just have been stuck. Regardless, I didn’t hold it against the map – and glad to hear that it wasn’t an oversight by the author. 🙂

  34. Personal Favourite
    Confusion
    It is good

    I give this a solid four out of five for clever game play.

    I did kill some before I managed to liberate the remaining.

    Combat was nice but I found this mod strangely familiar!

    Lakeside
    It is okay

    Familiar territory and reminiscent of ‘Lost Coast’, more so after I ‘noclipped’ a high climb and completed the game! Three out of five because I dislike high box and barrel stacking.

    Pain
    It is okay

    Not a bad little slice of zombie mayhem, with quick sprints back to the grenade box easing combat!

    The liberation aspect of this map was a little harsh, but then this target slid on the floor in a possessed manner so it was justified.

    Four out of five and a nod for that unexpected car! Painting zombies could be an idea for a mod!

    Cemetery
    It is good

    Nice and creepy with some unpleasant sounds to keep you focused. A sharp left turn is suggested as you start!

    There is a nice maze to negotiate before the bell tower is reached, but no bell! The bell is a light, a light-bell? The second lightbell, or bellight is in the crypt, which took me an age to finally figure out!

    The final artefact is a predator’s trophy, then so whiteout weirdness and the end. Hello G-man! Four out of five on the second play through.

    Roxen Hole
    It is good

    Such a bright and almost Half Life mod; so bland and detail deficient! But once in the police station the action becomes frenetic!

    I love combine killing and there is so much to do here. Then you enter a mineshaft and it gets a little strange, then the combat heats up again and you’re fighting to survive!

    Until you hit that consol! Another four out of five for combat and a couple of minor puzzles and fun!

    Prison 16
    It is great!

    A good-looking map and fun to play; freeing prisoners and trying to keep my two comrades alive until the end!

    Well one survived. Lots of combine to kill before friends arrive and your jobs done!

    A short map but full of action and I reckon a five out of five for a perfect short map!

    Liberation Version 1
    It is great!

    In the guise of ‘The Stanley parable’ this is an extremely interesting take on a map with the author building it as you become his play-tester!

    The voice acting is so polished and naturally calming it almost hides the increasing difficulty of this map. Adding effects as you play is the genius of this map and I give it a five out of five.

    But the combat levels become so hard later; two hunters when I’m almost dead on my feet with a red five flashing in the bottom left corner of my screen! That soothing voice lulled me into false security! So it’s a nine out of ten for trickiness and who was liberated?

    This would make a fantastic mod idea.

    Vortessence
    It is okay

    A Slice of vanilla HL2 action, nicely made and a joy to play. Lots of combine to kill and even Barney for company. I first met with the ghost Barney who walks through a door making it impossible to open. I reloaded from a save point; it pays to do this in mods! This time I got to the door and freed him.

    I was trapped by a combine force-fielded door, which I found I could go through later. Maybe it was finding the secret pumpkin!

    Final battle I forgot the turrets so it was more Rambo style, but I prevailed!

    Nice map so it gets a 4/5. A gentle actioner with simple puzzles.

    Rebel Island
    It is WOW!

    5/5 for this interesting slice of pure HL2 action with some mild puzzle elements.

    The white out backgrounds leant eeriness to this keep outta the water setting. Towards the end the action becomes frenetic and challenging, you can hang back but the shots reach you and the ammo is down there!

    I went Rambo, grabbed the ammo and hit them all head on, even the hunters!

    I even won first time! Fade to black, nice, breath…

    Ancient Dust
    It is WOW!

    I thought ‘Rebel Island’ was tough. This tomb raider slice is very nice to start with and very puzzle like. I had to noclip the first bridge jump. After eight or more tries my ire threatened to spoil my fun; I just could not get my timing right.

    The room of spikes; now this was very Croft! What a great puzzle with some nifty little jumps and the odd few red screens!

    I noticed the combat becoming tougher as the ammo supplies increased and then that last big open room. It was like I’d dropped in on a combine convention, running and shooting because my life did depended on it. A quartet of hunters was not the musical type and their singing was not up to much! I survived my first run then… more combine and now antlions!

    I spied an exit before anything worse turned up, liberated the gem, fired off some parting shots and ran into the light.

    How great it would be if that light spat you out of the door in “Nova Nadeje”!

    This gets a perfect 5/5 with a gold star for sheer action and a nod to old-school Lara Croft!

    Transfer
    It is okay

    Old school map with a devilish stepping-stone puzzle with added zombie hazard! Took a splashing run in the end. Combine were handled with relative ease but the sniper got me a few times. Everytime I forget you can throw those bombs back at that combine chopper!

    Epic fight at the end but glad to liberate a trainload of comrades!

    4/5 for old school fun.

    Nova Nadeje
    It is bad

    Back to a certain prison environment, oh hum… Not a good start! It was okay even with the strange shadowing and the luminous door to nowhere!

    Combat was too simple, especially after my training on the previous maps. It ended with a sudden jump back to the menu screen. Oh hum. 2.5 outta 5. Not terrible but just about okay…

    I got hurt by the sparking electric fence.

    Pigeonholm.
    It is WOW!

    Nice ambient atmosphere somewhere in Eastern Europe, colour grading nice, if a bit gloomy. The crazy trolley car is a surprise like all the little nooks and alleyways. Now the combat starts to build as we head up all the way to a dome tower with an odd board across it.

    Prisoners below a rope climb, missed it first time, acts as a ladder! (Always press your activate key to latch on to save those embarrassing drops!)

    Ah the sound of hunters!
    Now I’m stuck, ah the mod’s broke! No, I’m missing something?
    Back up top via a trip to the chapel for more ammo and a nasty surprise!
    Ah I guess it’s in the name after all!
    Why do the combine hide their stairways?
    What a nice end…
    Game was choppy at first, framerate issues, but cleared. 5/5 for an excellent combat and exploration map. Like the climbing design and views; just wish I’d looked in the right direction the first time!

    A Hero Once More.
    It is WOW!

    Nova Prospekt again, oh hum de da! Wait a minute; this is getting interesting! It is very professional looking and the action seems to flow naturally and the antlions are not over used. Very nice.
    One complaint, I was dumped by my cohorts in the prison, behind a forcefield and I could not progress! I ended up back at the beginning! Heading back I found the side door had been opened by a zombine!
    Lots to do and discover and a trip back to the electrified water puzzle as I headed into more trouble. Antlions kept me moving until I discovered not a rocket launcher to fight the helicopter but a tunnel to a boat. Ending poor I thought, but then I landed on the boat and had to help them fight! It had an epic ending to a real well construct mod, which seemed so much longer than its forty minutes. Epic 5/5, gold star and magic pumpkin!

    MAMH
    It is great!

    First play through was confusing and annoying, from the stupidly hard entrance guns to a hunter that was wrong and did not work! (Mod Distrust Syndrome MDS!)
    It suddenly clicked and I replayed later.

    Map is well polished but surprisingly simple on the second play through, especially since I had discovered those APC tyre chocks on my second run! Some combat followed and I was watching an incensed hunter being imprisoned.

    Never dreamed he would be my liberation target! (Major confusion on the first run!)

    Final Thoughts

    An epic collection of maps of varying qualities, but all offer something to smile about and there is always interest for the player. MAMH would get a wow but it seemed so short the third time i played it. it deserves a wow for the idea though!

    Thanks for two weeks of HL2 fun!

    1. Just a couple of things.

      – Thanks for the long review.

      – I edited the layout because you seemed to have misapplied the tags. I think I’ll make an instruction video tomorrow because many people have made similar mistake to you.

      – Are you sure 7 hours is correct? I understand people guess, but I prefer under-estimates than over.

      – I’m a little confused by your per-map opinion of Transfer. You say 4/5 in your text but only gave it an “It’s Okay” image. Would you like me to change that?

      1. The seven hours was a result of stopping, starting and restarting on such a large number of mods played on and off over many days. And I can be quite slow if I am trying to achieve something like a jump or area clearance, or just looking around using the console commands.

        With “Transfer” my written rating fresh after I played the map was 4/5, so would you please change the heading banner to “It’s Good”.
        Multiple reviews are challenging!

  35. Anon_1435899

    mausoleum door wouldn’t open in Cemetery Village. Never did figure out why.

    1. You have to ring the “bells” by punting them with the Gravity Gun. The bells are the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling at the top of the bell tower and at the end of that long hallway in the crypt.

      It’s not very clear.

  36. Hec
    Play It Now!

    Overall a great competition, and as far as I know is the largest in the competitions story, so definitely you’ll get entertained in this one. The quality ranges between some average maps up to some immediate classic ones, as the last 2 entries.

    So lets see each by each.

    Confusion
    It is good

    Its good combat, but i really didn’t feel the “liberation” concept clear enough. it was more like that antena beam which actually posses the rebels minds to turn em against you. So I guess by destroying the antena you liberate the rebels from its cmb influence. But I didn’t felt it 100% in a total line with the competition spirit.

    Lakeside
    It is okay

    I couldn’t remember what I liberate in this entry, so it was another definitely weak liberation theme entry. I remember the map was nice but quite predictable and linear.

    Pain
    It is okay

    It focused just way too much into the zombie topic. it was not zombieville, it was liberationville and the liberte concept was just far away from this entry -I now you had to liberate Grigori from his misery but that just feels as a cheap argument, sorry-, I remember the end came quite too sudden and very plain.

    Cemetery Valley
    It is good

    Again, this fit perfectly in some of the halloweenville competitions here in RTSL, not quite much in this one. So I absolutely didn’t feel i liberate something at all! nevertheless the environment was very spooky and I liked that also the mapping was nicely done. That gman ending was just too weird and abstract.

    Roxen Hole
    It is okay

    I remembered CSS maps in the begging of this one. Apart from that, the whole concept felt bland and away from the liberation topic. I felt combat was scarce and killing lots of fast hedcrabs is not precisely my cup of tea.

    Prison 16
    It is okay

    Linear and predictable as hell. Also the main topic was away from the liberation one. Here I just felt that I escaped, making an upraise in a prison is not always the same as liberate something inside the prison.

    Liberation Version 1
    It is great!

    Great voice acting, and great arena combat style at the end too. I liked battling the hunters. The liberation concept was in there but focused around some very dark humor aura. The whole concept was planed in a very smart way though.

    Vortessence
    It is okay

    It was OK, and the idea of liberate slave vorties was good enough and quite neat. I didn’t like the final battle at the end was just too much cramped and ended sooner and easier than I expected.

    Rebel Island
    It is great!

    Nice map but ended too quick. Also i never felt the liberation concept strong enough in there. just some interesting combat in a nice petrol-platform scenario.

    Ancient Dust
    It is good

    This I felt it, like a nice “Indiana Jones” adventure scenario. Though I absolutely hated puzzles in here. And also never felt the liberation topic was in sync with this competition. Nice but i really felt it way too much focused into the puzzles rather than the liberation theme.

    Transfer
    It is great!

    The liberation topic was nicely applied in here, and the combat was always fun and intense enough I just loved the Helicopter final battle and I did feel like I liberate or contribute to liberate something.

    Nova Nadeje
    It is bad

    Quite simple enough, just away from the liberation concept. and the whole combat was boring an predictable, just escape it’s out from this supposed competition concept.

    Pigeonholm.
    It is WOW!

    I absolutely loved this. And if it wasn’t for the great and glorious MAMH I would have voted for this map straight away! I loved this so much for the mapping structure, just a narrow but modern town that goes upwards till you reach the big church at the end. Also liberate the pigeons it was a beautiful scene. The CMB architecture and the eastern European human architecture were nicely balanced in this beautiful realistic map.

    A Hero Once More
    It is WOW!

    This was just stunning and felt like valve quality. also without MAMH this could have perfectly win with no hesitation, but I felt it’s gonna be a very closed competition between the last 2 entries. The prison combat was nicely done and the ending was just beautifully planed I loved that gunship combat at the end and the perfect synchronized pace with the npc’s involved.

    MAMH
    It is WOW!

    THIS WAS JUST MIND BLOWING!!!!! I loved when modders took real HL2 universe elements and twist’em into some terrific realistic ones. In here the implications of having a benevolent Hunter are just amazing, and I don’t know why some more modders hadn’t tried with this concept before.

    The mapping was beautiful and the liberation concept was lovely done in here. As in the beginning we see our loved hunter is captured by the CMB and then they put him in captivity, so you have to liberate him. Just great adaptation of the concept.

    Also the whole ending scene is great I felt the Hunter was adorable and had some great protective and good-heart feelings toward us. Some similar to the ones showed by Alyx’s Dog. That battle against the Strider where our nice boy took part was also great!

    I hope to play alongside him in some other maps or even a mod! That would be really cool.

    I voted for this one as the worthy winner :_)

    IN CONCLUSION

    It was a great competition, though I felt many entries never really applied OK the liberation concept.

    1. I’ll actually tell you why you haven’t seen MAMH’s idea before – it’s not as straightforward as it looks.

      With almost every other NPC in the game, you can use an ai_relationship to change how they feel about the player. So if you want to make a friendly Zombie, you just tell it to Like the player. The thing is, if you do this to a Hunter, you crash the game. And that puzzled me for a long time. In fact, you can find an Interlopers post from someone else almost 10 years ago asking about the same issue. I’m not the first to consider this idea, or the first to get stymied by this problem.

      It wasn’t until I gained more experience and became familiar with ai_script_conditions that I figured out another way to do it. It’s actually similar to how the Stalkers worked in Miter. I don’t think a lot of people know about ai_script_conditions, but it worked here to create a rudimentary “follow the player” system.

      It still has a lot of issues and is quite limited, so I don’t know how much further I can really take this idea, but I did want to get it out there to see what people thought of it. MAMH definitely had the potential to be something wholly unique and I’ve kicked around the idea of making a campaign out of it before, so this map was something of a test run to see how feasible it would be and what other issues I could run into.

  37. I’d say nearly every one of the maps in LiberationVille was good if not great — a few of which were surprisingly awesome. I’m of course talking about the winning maps, which are in my opinion ranked exactly as they each should be:

    1. A Hero Once More
    2. MAMH
    3. Liberation Version 1

    I think #4 should be Pigeonholm, if there was a fourth place prize.

    In any case, fantastic work to everyone for their submissions in this Ville. I will surely return to play these maps again.

  38. Play It Now!

    A fantastic range of good and great maps with only a couple I personally didn’t care for. I really enjoyed this ville 🙂

    It is good

    Confusion

    Very cheap and cheerful with poor AI baddies that somehow got brainwashed and turn on you. Pretty lame but entertaining. I enjoyed the systematic corridor action. It’s fun. End scene is great. Just lots of simple and enjoyable gun love to be had here with this map.

    It is great!

    Lakeside

    This is absolutely BRILLIANT. What a gorgeous map with some amazing action scenes and lots of ammo and health too! I really did enjoy playing this and found only one problem which really did frustrate the heck outta me – it isn’t big enough!!! Yes, I wanted this map to go on and on – its that good!!! But it’s also over with far too quickly and I’m a slow player lol. Brilliant map, if far too small.

    It is okay

    Pain

    Interesting little map but far too dark. Interesting idea with the car, I liked this! Shame the Priest was near dead and I had to put him out of his misery. What a terrible idea for an ending…

    It is dire!

    Cemetery Valley

    I rang the bell but nothing seemed to happen… I then spent far too long trying to figure out how to ring the other bell. Well, lamp. Shame I didn’t like this map because I loved the look of it from the start and figured this was going to be a great Zombie killing fest. But no.

    It is good

    Roxen Hole

    Quite an amateur design but one that works well and I liked its little intricate designs. I found that the lighting was quite poor and could have been better in those overly dark areas but overall this was a good map and fun to play.

    It is good

    Prison 16

    Short map but really nice well-balanced action. Loved the map itself and I would have liked to climb up to where those other prisoners were! Short and simple map – great fun.

    It is great!

    Liberation Version 1

    Well that was fun! I think the creator shown a great sense of humor and implemented ideas rather well. I’m not so sure of the later battle scenes once Hunters appear but everything leading up to this was entertaining and really well done!!

    It is okay

    Vortessence

    A basic map which is pretty good to play. I thought the shotgun would have been the preferred choice for the most parts. Seems to be bugged later on and I needed to noclip in order to rescue my man and then all seemed fine again. Sadly, after this it all goes a little boring if I’m honest. Average map.

    It is okay

    Rebel Island

    I had framerate issues with this one and I was kind tired of the junk lying around, especially when it go under my feet. Okay, hardly an issue but it was obscure mapping design. However, I did have some fun with this one and expected it to go on for longer. The battles were a little weird and I could hide away in the distance to pick off my targets. I noticed some bugs but generally liked the map even if the soldiers just seemed to stand there doing nothing but waiting for a fight… Overkill with the hunters at the end, I thought. But it was all laid out rather strange. Fun to be had the once.

    It is okay

    Ancient Dust

    An interesting map with some nice puzzles and tricks up its sleeves. I thought the design was pretty cool and I’m so glad those Antlions weren’t constantly respawning throughout the map, though that room was a good battle. I did wonder what I was missing before the hole in the wall… It’s worth playing once, I enjoyed it.

    It is okay

    Transfer

    I really liked the map type, with the car drive and how everything throughout which felt pretty believable. But I felt it didn’t really go anywhere and lack substance – remove the long winded acid crossing along plus end battle and there’s little else left. Shame really because what is there, was good. Although the room with resistance in was a good idea, this too failed to go anywhere – they could have followed? I’d love to see work on this map continue because it has potential.

    It is okay

    Nova Nadine

    Odd from the start with that valve, but whatever breaks me outta jail to play lob the grenade with the soldier. I noticed a few silly bugs or design flaws (elec fence should have sparked? Plus the lighting is poor in many places!! I even got locked out of the action behind that metal security door so I couldn’t then fight the combine). I replayed and enjoyed that moment only to get suckered by the guys which drop in from the roof – nice touch! There was some good unclose action throughout and I like this map. Get more lights and it’s not bad at all. Another I’d like to see improved.

    It is great!

    Pigeonholm

    I found the lights rather off-putting here. Although the area looked great (if a little OTT!) some of the play area seemed far to dark to be within in such a well-lit environment. Just odd. Anyhow, the action is killer from the start and needs a stealthier approach and then those darn headcrabs lol excellent! Glad to see lots of ammo and health knocking about, I needed it! Is it just me or are the combine tough nutters in this map! Wow. I did enjoy how this map was put together, didn’t feel like HL2 much of the time! Oh I should mention that slo-mo!! Nice!! Liberating the pigeons was fun!

    It is WOW!

    A Hero Once More

    I knew this was going to be a great map once I saw the English guy creeping up – brilliant! There were one or two issues with the map’s design which was lacking, but overall this is an awesome map. It’s challenging without being frustrating and it comes with a great feeling of realism as other parts of the environment kick in elsewhere. It’s not often I love a map with antlions because they’re often annoyingly respawning all the time – and that becomes tiresome but here it has the right balance. Sure, they’re all over the show at the end but this works. Actually, I’d like an alternative map without any antlions at the end, so I don’t need to rush through and can take my time in those gorgeous open spaces to battle against the combine! That might be cool? Overall, I’ve nothing much to complain about if I’m honest. I just love love love this map!

    It is WOW!

    MAMH

    I had serious reservations about this map initially, I simply did not like the start and found it all rather pointless. Once outside, I loved the setting and eagerly began playing. Limited weapons had me worried and I admit I didn’t quite get how to cross the bridge, at first (I had a slow brain day!). The gate afterwards was annoying but comically so, and afterwards we have a belting range of battles to enjoy. The Hunter parts are AMAZING and perhaps I shouldn’t go into this further, just in case I spoil it for people? But what a great idea – I wish more maps utilised creatures in this alternative way. Another fantastic map in this Ville!!!

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