NostalgiaVille

for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

15th July 2018

Half-Life 2 has been around for longer than 13 years, but many will agree that the game has still not lost its charm.

However, as Episode 1 and 2 came out, people switched their focus to the new environments and gameplay that were introduced.

NostalgiaVille seeks to balance out the scale by re-introducing the classic environments of Half-Life 2 in the modern day.

Play through 8 official entries and 1 bonus map in this special 2018 mapping challenge.

Basic Details
  • Title: NostalgiaVille
  • Filename: sdk-2013-sp-rtsl-sc18-nv-v1.1.7z
  • Size : 104MB
  • Author: Dolmo, Joey Simas, T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi, Derek Jones AKA Taz, TheVikingBoi, Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon, Sockman, Nikodem Nowak AKA WALLe PL, Clément Baticle AKA Klems
  • Date Released: 15 July 2018

Download Options

Download to your HDD [104MB]

Download the 1.1 patch to your HDD (only if you downloaded the 1.0 version) [3.01MB]

THIS VERSION CURRENTLY CAN NOT BE USED WITH GAUGE. SORRY

Manual Installation Instructions
  • Make sure you have the “Upcoming” branch of the Source SDK Base 2013 Singleplayer installed in Steam and run at least once. (Properties – Betas – select “upcoming” from the dropdown list).
  • Copy the “sdk-2013-sp-rtsl-sc18-nv” folder into your “SourceMods” folder.
  • Restart or start Steam.
  • RTSL.SC2018.NostalgiaVille should now be listed in your “Library” tab.

Reviewing

If you decide to use the Per-Map Opinion Images, please watch the video below and use this text file: sc18-nv-review-template.txt
Thank you.

Theme Details

In this challenge, you are given 2 months to create a level set in the early chapters of Half-Life 2 (think City 17 up to and including the Coast, however we find that the City and Canal sections in their pre-Uprising state are the least prominent within usual challenge entries). Don’t feel pressured to work for the whole 2 months, as that would mean a high risk of burning out, but consider the possibilities for the scope and scale of your entry.

A big focus of NostalgiaVille is, well, Nostalgia. The player should be reminded of the time when they first played Half-Life 2, and levels should, to some degree, feel familiar. So feel free to include HL2 Easter eggs, references, and maybe even altered segments of the original chapters in your entries. However, with time, technology and level design practices have improved.

We would like the early Half-Life 2 environments to be used and a level of familiarity in the level design to be kept, but gameplay can be either similar to the way it was in the original game or changed to add new concepts into the old environments, thus combining the new and old in your entry. Keep in mind that even if your map follows the same ideas from the environments in Half-Life 2, it should be polished and up-to-date with modern standards in other design aspects.

A good example of this is Jason Gimba’s Precinct 17, which is set in pre-Uprising City 17, Half-Life 2 but is detailed more similarly to an Episode 2 map, with more brushwork, props, higher lightmap density, particle effects and HDR. Undoubtedly, it is also structured better than old Half-Life 2 levels and mods, with clear distinction between action and calm moments, and there are plenty of techniques which manage how the player is led through the level and how they discover their surroundings.

Custom models, textures, music and other assets are very welcome, as long as they are integrated well into the environment.

Here is the challenge announcement page.

About This Special Challenge

This challenge is a joint challenge between RTSL and Niker107. He suggested the theme, wrote the description, the length of time and other aspects. Essentially, it’s his challenge but run through RTSL.

Deadline

The deadline for submission was 11pm UTC Sunday 24th June 2018

Entries

Listed as they are displayed in the mod itself:

  • Metro by Sockman
  • Cosmonaut By Dolmo
  • Lone by TheVikingBoi
  • Here Again by Derek Jones AKA Taz
  • Canal Escape by Joey Simas
  • Grigori by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon
  • Power Up by Nikodem Nowak AKA WALLe PL
  • Badwater 128 by T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi
  • Freeman and Bob by Clément Baticle AKA Klems (Bonus)

The order of the maps was generated via random.org

Winner and Points

Remember, the judges scoring is based on the final map submitted BEFORE the deadline. The actual released versions of maps and therefore the ones you played, may differ significantly from those initially submitted.

See below for the winners.

Judges
  • Niker107 – NostalgiaVille host, HL2 mapper, RTSL ville participant, Joint 2nd Place winner of The Hammer Cup 2016.
  • TanookiSuit – Experienced CS:GO mapper, member and staff on MapCore.org, 3rd Place winner of the MapCore 2017 level design competition.
  • 3kliksphilip – CS:GO / Source mapper, creator of many early Hammer tutorials, prominent CS:GO YouTuber.
  • Klems – HL2 and CS:GO mapper, 1st Place winner of The Hammer Cup 2017.
  • TheWhaleMan – Experienced 3D modeler, environment and texture artist, member of MapCore.org
Prizes

The top 3 entrants will win cash prizes as follows, all paid via PayPal:

  • First place: $300
  • Second place: $200
  • Third place: $100

In addition, I am also very pleased to announce that a Metrocop face mask will be very kindly supplied by Michelle Sleeper and you can actually watch them being made on the Making It Up Twitch channel. Go check it out. Shows are on Tuesday and Saturday.

The Face mask will be offered as an alternative to the cash prize for the winner. If the cash is chosen, then the face mask will be offered to the second place and so on. If the third place chooses the cash, Niker and Phillip will decide how to allocate the face mask.

Results

The winners are:
1st Place: Cosmonaut by Dolmo with 171 points!
2nd Place: Badwater 128 by T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi with 165 points!
3rd Place: Canal Escape by Joey Simas with 121.5 points!
4th Place: Metro by Sockman | HL2C with 74 points!

The full results can be seen in this Google Document

Niker:Congratulations to all the winners and, of course, to everyone who has managed to participate. The winners will be contacted soon by myself and/or Phillip. Thank you to all the judges who have spent their time playing and analyzing the maps to hopefully pick worthy winners.

The Whaleman
Badwater 128

Was very fun to play, even on my second play through. Scaling felt nice, and detailing was strong. Was nice to be rewarded for exploration, especially using some cheeky box boosts. The difficulty increased nicely. Always felt like I had just enough utility to handle every situation. Architecture was great, the whole brick hanger was very visually appealing. Really enjoyed this one overall. My only criticism would be the end fight feels like it could of been expanded upon. Fighting from a dinky wooden scaffolding works, but it feels like there could of been something more there.

Canal Escape

Had fun playing it. You did some clever things, I really enjoyed the windows in the beginning, not only illuminating the path but forshadowing the fight I’d have to take. Rewarding the player for exploration was great, the little shotgun room with the window jump was very good, loved it. On my first play through right before the helicopter fight I only had 8 health, this made the last fight frustrating. Consider giving the user some HP before the last fight that doesn’t require a skill jump into a hidden window. Sometimes the visual were a bit bland, but nothing that hurt it the overall experience, the lighting was fine maybe sometimes a bit dark in some places.

Cosmonaut

Just felt like I was running around doing nothing the whole time. On my second play through it dragged on, especially the last fight. I’d kill all the enemies within the wave, and be sat there twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next wave. Visually the map was strong, the whole crashed landing into the ocean was neet. Rewarding the player for exploration also great. However beyond the visuals there was a lot to be desired.

Grigori

Felt repetitive and anti climatic. Fighting the same enemy over and over again in generic rooms kinda got boring.

Here Again

Wasn’t much to the map over all, very short.

Lone

The level felt claustrophobic and cluttered, traversing even simple hallways became a chore. I also found myself with a excessive amount of utility to handle every situation, this made the level less fun to play.
Fullbright brought the level down quite a bit, but your detail felt weird at times. Right before the strider there is a red room, your objective is to reach the control panel by climbing on boxes.
However there is no door way to the catwalk, or railing, nothing. How would people get there regularly? These are things you must think about when detailing. Of course this is one example, but similar criticisms can be applied to the rest of the level.

Metro

More focus needs to be taken in the player experience and detailing

Power Up

I had to run this map like 4 times because it’s confusing. On my first play through I picked up the batteries instead of running over them, causing me to be unable to finish the level. One time the undercover cop got stuck in a roof??? The voice lines will play over each other if you do things to fast, and sometimes were just unclear on what to do. “See that big black building” but the building was the same size as all the other ones, and was more gray then anything else. Visually it needs work, you city feels boxy and and empty. I really didn’t enjoy myself. You were ambitious to try to do custom voice lines, which was nice to see the effort. I also enjoyed how you attempted a non linear progression, slowly unlocking different areas was neet, and you did some clever things you assist the player. The locks on the gates for instants where the player had to unlock one before the other was good. More time needs to be spent on the polish of the level.

Freeman and Bob

You did a great job at utilizing a friendly NPC to make what would of been a pretty average level into something special and memorable. I had a lot of fun playing this map on the first play through and the second. The visuals can get a bit bland and could be pushed further but never took anything away from the experience. To be honest that last criticism was a nitpick.. Good work overall.

Niker107
Badwater 128

Badwater was a really beautiful entry, and one that evoked just as much nostalgia as Cosmonaut, but on my second playthrough of it I realized that it has some serious problems with gameplay. There are no autosaves, the cover in the final boss fight is nearly non-existent, and some of the buttons / objects the player interacts with don’t seem to explain what we’re doing. Still my 2nd place pick.

Canal Escape

Canal Escape severly lacks visual fidelity in some sections of the entry while being normally detailed in others, which results in a lack of consistency. However, gameplay-wise it achieves most of what is required from a standard HL2 map.

Cosmonaut

Cosmonaut is overall an amazing entry that balances good visuals with nostalgic sensations and varied gameplay (I especially liked the puzzles and how the pipe puzzle is set up first before being used again). I practically have no complaints to make other than having to peashoot at metrocops too often and very poor timing in the boss fight; not sure how that turned out the way it did.

Grigori

Grigori didn’t do much for me. The entry could’ve been more fun if the author spent some time adding in extra mechanics into the map, like puzzles. The player mostly just had to shoot zombies while going through empty environments.

Here Again

Here Again suffered from being confusing and disjointed. It uses HL2-looking environments, but there isn’t really a story to the map, and I felt very lost at most times. The ending especially is extremely confusing and feels unfinished.

Lone

Lone was mostly a fun (if a bit cluttered) Ravenholm experience, however its scores were significantly lowered by very poor placement of cover for the player and overall lack of protection against the Combine; examples of this are the mounted turret segment and the final boss battle.

Metro

Metro was genuinely one of the more nostalgic entries of the competition and I really like the idea behind compressing the range of allowed HL2 chapters into a much shorter experience, but the entry was heavily underdetailed. The final boss battle also could’ve had more variety.

Power Up

Power Up was an ambitious but overly rushed entry. The first time I played, I did some things in the wrong order and ended up having overlapping voice lines (so I didn’t know what was actually going on) and then spent doing pretty much the whole of the map in the wrong order. And as many others have, I struggled with finding the ‘black building’ that the metrocop only mentions once, so a lot of this entry was spent in mild confusion. Having to be killed to finish the entry is also not a very wise level design choice in my opinion, especially when it’s so easy to just avoid the metrocops.

TanookiSuit3
Badwater 128

Brilliant looking level. Gameplay was very enjoyable. Only issue I really had was the lack of checkpoints. Died quite a few times and had to restart the whole map. Bit annoying but otherwise map looks great and the choice of music really helps.

Canal Escape

A really, really nice looking level with great lighting. The fighting sections were not too difficult which I liked. The RPG section was also quite fun.

Cosmonaut

This was one of my favorites that I played. I really don’t think I have any complaints. I think the area with the water was a bit confusing at first but I understood eventually. Lighting and detail was great, and the ending sequence was one of my favorite parts of any HL2 mod I’ve played before. A very well made mod.

Grigori

Was hoping this level would be amazing as the concept of playing as Grigori sounded great. Sadly the execution was just not quite done as well as hoped. The level felt more like a button masher with endless zombie cycles.

Here Again

This level was enjoyable to play. The ending however was a bit confusing and quite sudden. The sewer area also felt a little bit maze-like. I enjoyed the physics gun aspect a lot however.

Lone

This level looks really nice and the nighttime theme is done very well. The map is a little bit too dark in some places however, and I was a little bit frustrated during the sections with grenade throwing combine, as it seemed a little bit too difficult all at once.

Metro

This level was quite fun to play and the lighting was done really well. My only complaint would be that I was sometimes confused on where to go, such as the part where you must jump off the building into the water.

Power Up

Level was quite enjoyable to play, and the voice actor did a great job. The voice acting also presented an interesting way of telling the player what to do. Sometimes I felt as though I didn’t know what I was doing however, and the ending confused me for a while, not knowing how to end the level.

3kliksphilip

Klems

You can read Klems full review here

Community Poll

Time for you to share your thoughts! Vote for your top 3 NostalgiaVille maps. Poll closes at the end of July 2018.
Freeman and Bob has not been included in this poll as it was a bonus entry.

What are your 3 Favourite maps from NostalgiaVille

  • Badwater 128 by T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi (26%, 32 Votes)
  • Power Up by Nikodem Nowak AKA WALLe PL (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Grigori by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Canal Escape by Joey Simas (4%, 5 Votes)
  • Here Again by Derek Jones AKA Taz (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Lone by TheVikingBoi (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Cosmonaut By Dolmo (47%, 58 Votes)
  • Metro by Sockman (16%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 123

Loading ... Loading ...

Voting closes 31st July 2018

Release Versions

0.9 – Judges’ and Entrants’ Version. First versions of maps. Version used to judge the entries.
1.0 – First public release. Badwater 128, Power Up, Here Again and Lone have been updated.
1.1 – THIS RELEASE. Updated the server and client dlls to the latest versions.

Credits

The RunThinkShootLive.Com introduction video was made by Jeff Muñoz (ThatoneJeff)” and he also significantly helped with logo design – thanks Jeff, you ROCK!

Caleb West (CW3D) created the extended remix of Brane Scan originally by Kelly Bailey from Half-Life 2

Steam Grid View Images

There are two custom gridview image included in this release.
They were the ones that had chapter images supplied by the entrant. That will be the new way of doing things from this point forward.
To use either of them, switch your Steam Library view to Gridview.
Right click on RTSL.SC2018.NostalgiaVille and chose “Set Custom Image”.
Click “browse” when a small windows appears and navigate to your SourceMods folder and the “sdk-2013-sp-rtsl-sc18-nv/steam-gridview-images/” folder and select the image of your choice.
You can of course, create your own image and use that.

General Entry Rules

PLEASE READ THEM SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY.

  • Download the Submission Template and use that to submit your entry. The only exception is if you intend to submit only a map with no custom content – in which case you can just send the map (bsp), the graph file (ain), your mapname_readme.txt, and optionally the map source (vmf).
  • End your map with a point_clientcommand firing this exact command: disconnect; startupmenu
  • Maximum three maps per mapper per entry.
  • The map must be original and not have been released publicly before.
  • The map must run in system with only Ep2 installed
  • By entering the competition you grant PlanetPhillip.Com and RunThinkShootLive.Com the right to release the map as part of the RTSL-SC2018-NostalgiaVille Mod.
  • Maps must not appear on ANY other website before the release and for one month after the release of the mod.
  • No assets from retail games other than HL2, HL2: Ep1, HL2: Ep2 and Lost Coast are allowed.
  • Other assets are allowed with written permission from their original authors, which MUST be included in the entry, preferably a link to a public page that shows permission has been granted, in addition, custom assets AND MUST BE ABLE TO BE USED IN MONETISED VIDEOS.
  • All files submitted MUST be in lowercase and any custom assets must have unique names, both folder AND files.
  • Entrants are requested to send their VMF files in with their entry. A section in the ReadMe.txt file will make it clear that they are for educational purposes ONLY and MUST NOT be used as the base for other levels without prior permission of the respective author.
  • Phillip’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into about it.
  • The map MUST have a proper name.
  • The map MUST have a proper filename: entryname_tlc18_c2.bsp
  • Submit a mapname_readme.txt with your entry. Even if it is just your name and your entry, although you should try to create a proper one.
  • If you do not receive a confirmation email without 24 hours of sending an entry, contact Phillip IMMEDIATELY.

In addition, any custom content must be able to be used in monetised playthrough videos posted on the internet.

Sponsorship

This challenge was not sponsored. If you are an individual or company and interested in sponsoring a challenge, please contact Phillip (runthinkshootlive@gmail.com) to discuss the options.

Panoramic Images

Comin Soon.

Videos

Coming Soon.

Playthrough Screenshots

Comin Soon.

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

14 recommendations, average score: 4.79 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.17 (what's that?)
Total Downloads
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Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 11 comment(s) with meta review data.

Installed:
Using Gauge: Users
Manually: 11 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 2 Hours, 39 Mins
Shortest: 1 Hours, 30 Mins by Klems
Longest: 3 Hours, 50 Mins by PlanetPhillip
Total Time Played: 29 Hours, 7 Mins
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35 Comments

  1. Anon_1677424

    Linux: You have to lowercase all files. Then it is playable. Badwater 128: The helicopters didnt attac me. The Bonus Level: I had no key to send my mate anywhere…

    1. That’s kind of silly… You know you can rebind keys right?

      1. Anon_1677493

        Yes i know, but in the options menu there was no menupoint “send xxx to” etc. Do you have a solution?

        1. The command you’re looking for is “Send/Recall Squad”, it should be in the options menu. Otherwise the console command is impulse 50, you can bind it yourself with “bind c “impulse 50″” for instance.

  2. per map opnions aren’t available for me.

    1. Try now, although I recommend using the review template anyway.

  3. Play It Now!

    Although, there are only a few maps that I consider it good, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t play it later. Plus, you should try it out if you’re really looking forward to see if you could get some HL2 nostalgia.

    Metro

    Before heading outside from the train station, I was already expecting that this map wasn’t going to be as detailed as the original Half-Life 2. There were many areas that felt either too big, empty, or flat. There was one part of the map where you have to jump from a building into a water section below to escape a metro cop, which doesn’t make any sense because it seemed very obvious that you would die from that fall.

    Enough with the criticism, I’ll now point out the pros in this entry. The atmosphere was decent and it was compressed so it feels that you went through the chapters of Point Insertion to the end of Water Hazard. The combat was okay, but I felt it wasn’t executed correctly (i.e. inaccurate enemy placement).

    Cosmonaut

    Loved the level of the detail placed into this entry. The design of each map feels just like Half-Life 2 with level transfers done correctly. From my HL2 experience, I think that this entry is supposed to be based from the sections Point Insertion to the beginning of Water Hazard. Combat and puzzles were also pretty fun, though it would be difficult, but better, to have lesser supplies (like health and ammo).

    Lone

    At first glance, I thought this entry would be at least okay, but it wasn’t as good as I expected when I got to the later levels. The design was mediocre with its textures and props that look unrealistic and locations that don’t make sense. The combat was unintentionally difficult since enemies have the upper advantage by being placed too close to the player. There was also a lot of problems that I had with the strider fight. While there is some cover I could use to avoid the strider’s attacks, it’s hard to avoid as the strider walks around and I needed to be very careful to get to a rocket supply crate as it’s placed in the middle of the area. While this is based on Ravenholm, I felt its design flaws didn’t really capture its atmosphere and more importantly, didn’t make me feel “nostalgic” at all.

    Here Again

    The atmosphere that was supposed to give me this feeling of nostalgia was decent in this entry. The design, meh. There were a few problems that I encountered it it and were distracting. Some examples include the voice line that repeats every time you get to the stairs. The weapon choices were also a poor choice because when I found a pistol in one of the rooms, I thought I had to use it to kill the metro cops. This is when I realize that I wasn’t supposed to do that, but instead find a crowbar on a table and use it to break the windows and exit the building. The biggest problem in this entry is the train that runs in the sewer. The train runs through the tunnel without any rail tracks and there were metro cops standing on the crates, chilling there as if they don’t care about the train at all.

    Canal Escape

    While it is not detailed as any other Half-Life 2 map, it’s not too bad. The area where you enter the canal was the major part that made me remember the water sections of Route Kanal. The part where you were about to fight the combine soldiers and hunter chopper was okay, though distracting at the same time. This entry was pretty good as it barely fitted with the theme of this competition.

    Grigori

    Another Ravenholm-based entry, but done better. The surprising thing about this entry was that I didn’t expect to use the “unused” Annabelle that Father Grigori used in Half-Life 2 (though it’s also weird because this weapon uses the shotgun view model instead). Unfortunately, this map suffers downsides from Lone, such as the use of lighting, terrain, and level of detail. Because of that, this entry at least needs to have some improvements.

    Power Up

    Pretty sure this is the only map that focuses on puzzles instead of combat. In my opinion, it was boring to run around trying to figure out what the metro cop had asked you to do. The area was also too big and felt empty. Though not a decent entry, it did had some nostalgic feeling to HL2, so I’ll say it’s okay.

    Badwater 128

    The combat and design was great and it was cool that the mapper decided to use the “gunship” hunter chopper from Lost Coast. However, the problem that the entry suffers from is its atmosphere, which takes the HL2 nostalgic feeling away due to its use of color correction.

    Freeman and Bob

    Even though this is supposed to be a Bonus entry, I thought it was still okay to do a short review on this. In response to Klems who made this map, kudos for you for making the recall squad concept more useful! This was something that could’ve been improved from the original Half-Life 2, and I was happy to see it come to use, especially for puzzles. Other than that, the design and combat was as good as usual.

  4. Play It Now!

    Finally, the greatest challenge yet of 2018 has arrived! My God, I almost ran out of things to review on this site and play in GMod. Let’s see what this challenge have for us.

    Metro
    It is bad

    A recreation of first five chapters of Half-Life 2. The levels are extremely empty; citizens barely have any dialogues and aimlessly wander around the subway station. I have a feeling that the creator got a little overambitious here, the level even barely connects to each other in a way that does not make any sense. I didn’t enjoy it much really, it was stale. Some transition is so weird, you survived an eight-story drop into the water, a random barricade in the street with a random ladder, and you somehow wind up and find a random airboat that is just there for no reason.

    I’m sorry, I cannot give you better rating.

    Cosmonaut
    It is great!

    An almost very faithful recreation of Half-Life 2’s early chapters. I appear to be some astronaut returning from the orbit. It would be very weird if he doesn’t know aliens have invaded Earth, assumed that he saw the Combine ships from outer space. The levels were well paced and makes sense. The exploration is well rewarded. Very good. My criticism are only the glowing items, I felt like it’s a little too hand holding. The plethora of ammo, batteries, and medkits too, I think. I even reached 100% armor before facing the first enemy. It also ends when it starts to be too drawn out, good work for that too!

    Lone
    It is okay

    Holy Jesus, a recreation of Ravenholm. The map started nice and detailed. The pacing was alright too. The presence of the Soldiers was unexpected and caught me by surprise. The autogun turret was absolute beast, too bad the distance between you and the Soldiers are too short to see it used effectively. However, the final battle dragged the score down. It ain’t fun dodging hopper mines while fighting a Strider. Heck, the said Strider even moves around so it can impale you with its feet. Also, was I supposed to have the Gravity Gun? There was a crate that has an SMG Grenade that I could not get it. Also, one more thing. The map failed to capture the sense of dread and horror like Ravenholm. It does not feel any scary.

    Here Again
    It is bad

    Very bad communication of showing where the player should go. The door to the apartment does not even look like a door. Also, a whole chaos started when a random Rebel rushed into a town firing wildly. Then, there were three Policemen hunting me down so I thought it was a chase sequence. In the apartment, you were given no clue which window to break. Or even where the crowbar is. After falling a random scaffolding, you fight a lot of headcrabs. Of course, you have yet to acquire your suit. You cannot switch weapons and get a bright red screen every time they bite you. Then, I was fooled that the path towards the Barnacles is the way, I thought the mapper accidentally placed unbreakable planks there so I noclipped. I fell onto a train and I…..saw the whole map. Then, I found out that there was a crate hiding an entrance to the sewer. Thing is, it was so hidden you would not see it. The end was so abrupt and out of nowhere.

    Canal Escape
    It is good

    The map has done a good job at introducing the Lambda Cache, making exploration rewarding. A solid entry featuring Route Kanal. The introduction of the Sniper could use more work, the fall can reduce your HP by a quarter. And the water does not have reflection, it’s just plain brown. The fight with the Chopper could use some more armor and medkit. Because the AR2 Soldiers hurts A LOT.

    Grigori
    It is okay

    The map starts me off unexpectedly with the Annabelle, I never expect to use this. It was fun to use it, it’s like slower firing shotgun. Even though it’s a lever-action. The map gave the Gravity Gun but sadly there’s nothing much to throw at the zombies in certain areas, so I just used my shotguns until they ran low on ammo. The location of the SMG and Shotgun are not good, in my opinion. They were in a car that I couldn’t see, so picking them up was very abrupt. The map also suffers from flat terrain and nearly empty layout.

    Power Up
    It is okay

    The map started me off at…..Did I passed out on the street or what? The map also could use some more NPCs. The meeting with the undercover cop was good, the voice acting was OK. However, the voice lines really overlaps over each other if you put on the glasses too quickly. It’s not much of a good idea to guide the player using only voice, because some people can quickly forget it. I don’t know if throwing Poison Headcrabs in was a good idea. Also, after picking up both batteries he did not tell me what to do next. I got lost and noclipped to find a way, he said that to plug the batteries into the computer, but….how? There’s invisible wall that blocks the battery from getting in that building and the Policeman won’t leave. I could not finish the map.

    Badwater 128
    It is great!

    This one, however, seems to take the idea from Lost Coast rather than Half-Life 2 chapters. The whole map was a blast! The music also syncs well with the action too! Well done! The Hunter Chopper “skin” trick caught me by surprise too. A couple of criticisms though. It is possible to miss the Crowbar at the start and this map has absolutely no checkpoint. I had a chuckle from the ending message.

    Freeman and Bob
    It is WOW!

    Even though this was a bonus entry, I have to say “This is a stroke of genius!” The introduction of Bob was good and he even remotely helps you out too! (Unlike some escort NPCs in games) The map is very action paced and I like it. Because it’s Klems’ map, exploration is always rewarded. The squad command is used well here. The RPG turret and the chase scene are icing on the cake! Klems, good job!

    Conclusion

    I’d say the nostalgia, while not that high, is not that low either. I have picked Cosmonaut the winner, Blackwater 128 as second, and Canal Escape as third. Honorable mention goes to Freeman and Bob. BossVille is finishing next week, I am eager to play it too!

  5. zeberdee

    Had fun playing these maps, except 2 of them.

    1. Here again. When you drop down through the planks to where you get the suit, it seems to lock up and then crash out, but only after you get the suit. Not been able to get past this section at all.

    2. Power up. Jjust cannot seem to get into the room where the batteries go into the computer, window won’t break at all, even tried throwing bricks at the window, but they just bounce off. Ended up clipping in to finish the map.

  6. Doug P

    Re: Freeman and Bob, is it normal after Bob hides by the corner and says he’s going to stay here, that there’s nothing Freeman can do to move him? He verbally responds to “C” instructions but will not move, is permanently “stuck”? He has the machine gun that could launch the two grenades….

    1. Yes, this is the intended behavior. You’re meant to deal with the mounted gun yourself, Bob is too much of a pussy to do it.

      1. Please use the spoiler span class for this.

      2. 2JEL

        Stuck SPOILER: Still not figuring out what to do with the smg grenades

        1. Unq

          Don’t focus on those. You only get the machine gun later.

    2. Please use the spoiler span class for things like this.

  7. Play It Now!

    First time reviewing a Ville so here we go! I’ve played this at the moment when it got released and re-played again to remember the taste.

    Metro
    It is okay

    I’m impressed how you managed to put all first three HL2’s chapters together into one map only! The beginning was alright and lighting was well selected to picture City 17 environments-ambiance. What killed it was its surroundings with their open and empty spaces where you could see the end of the skybox. Filling with more one brush buildings could have made the job. The Canal’s pacing was sick to drive and move on. I liked! But again, seeing the whole empty skybox area from the rooftops killed the view.

    Overall, nice fast-pacing map picturing City 17 with good old HL2 driving-combat on the water, finishing with a classic “destroy that choppa”. Btw, I think two guns should have been enough to defeat it. Perpahs, when the helicopter drops the first bomb, could have destroyed a couple of those heavy-guns. Your call next!

    Cosmonaut
    It is WOW!

    Where do I even begin? Well, the huge amount level of details of course! I did really get the feeling playing Half-Life 2 vibes on this one. Crashed into a beach, totally lost and unknown. Stepped into a small part of the City and already got detected by the CP after a good-explore puzzle. All the levels had this simple yet an excellent detailed HL2’s arch environment – especially in those “steam tunnels”.

    It was very fun and enjoyable map to play where I could replay it many times and never get bored because I would find more areas and things I didn’t see before. The final combat was amazing and well-made for all skill levels of difficult. Great job on that system. Highly recommend it!

    PS: I hate you for making that easter but this won’t stop me from exploring.

    Lone
    It is okay

    I thought it was going to be a Ravenholm style map and it was-ish. I felt the entire map was a bit small to be placed in an area where it was clearly supposed to be huge with a background in the skybox. To make you feel you’re really close to Ravenholm. Combat was OK and fun to deal with the enemies at the beginning. However, I do think the Combine soldiers were a bit out of place in this situation. Everything started to happen so quickly and all of sudden, a Strider showed up. Pretty weird, right?

    All in all, I did enjoy this map and had some fun while playing it. A bit exaggerated with the number of enemies in the end, but the ammunition and medkits did the job so I could survive.

    Here Again
    It is bad

    At first, I thought it was going to be a nice map to explore and so on. I heard a citizen said to follow her but I was still searching the place and taking a look around. Then, a raid started out of nowhere and I was left behind with no suit or weapon to defend myself.

    I gave another shot, managed to follow the NPC and get all the way to the supplies guy with my suit. I got stuck on that section for a couple of minutes, then I discovered there was a way out in the sewers through a vent. I still got a bit lost and stuck on a place where I could go but I wasn’t supposed to go further than that. The ending was a bit “what the heck did just happen?” feeling. Like another user said above, bad communication between the level and the player; and very rushed. There were missing a few playerclips and playtesting to prevent all those issues to happen.

    PS: My game crashed two times while playing this map before and after the suit.

    Canal Escape
    It is good

    A good simple linear map to play. I liked the paced on this one with a variation of enemies area by area. Each level fits with the environment of the moment, I loved the close ending battle. It could have a bit more cover and timing to handle all those NPCs at once. Overall, was fun and challenging. I’d love to hear more from this author in the future.

    I left with a feeling of wanting to see and have more. It could have been great in many ways (details, lighting, differences of ambiances), but I still admire all this work done in a couple of months.

    Grigori
    It is okay

    An odd start I must say. I was quite curious how the map would play and didn’t get disappointed at all. The number of zombies maybe was a little too much at the beginning but since more weapons and ammo were delivered on the way, I was fine with it.

    However, I do feel the outside was a bit empty compared to indoors areas. Details were OK while walking on the rooftops and wood planks. It feels like playing in Ravenholm at the start, but I was losing all the vibe on the way and reverted it back playing like another normal zombie map.

    Power Up
    It is good

    I did really like this map as overall! A different map using a ‘decent’ voice acting’ to communicate and guide the player with current puzzles on the map. However, one of the sections the voice was a bit low and I couldn’t understand where to go or what to do but got myself out quickly.

    It was short and sweet. I was impressed by the level of details on the city, feels like you’re in City 17! Nicely done there. A bit of work could be done here and there tho. The ending was a little unexpected and I was actually running away from the CPs changing me. Perhaps making the player really surrounded and with nowhere to go would give a different perspective of an ending done better (imo).

    Badwater 128
    It is great!

    I really got disappointed when I saw pink/black texture issue on the map spawn. It felt a waste of potential going downhill but I didn’t let those reflections bug embarrass my first experience which was amazing!

    Awesome lighting with an amazing fast-paced combat. Everything was distributed in order on their proper time. The looks and soundscapes were enjoyable from the start to finish. I loved how you put those details in shape. Something was missing to make this map unique and bloody amazing. A bit hard to find my way up to the choppa, after finding the valve that you could turn it. Lastly, no checkpoint/autosave? Aw!

    Freeman and Bob
    It is WOW!

    What an incredible bonus map! Really enjoyable and excited to play with an NPC! I had my fun and ‘bro’ moments with Bob. Who needs Alyxs when you have Bob watching your back and doing all long work for you where you couldn’t reach, right? Everything in this map was well executed. I really have nothing to complain about this level. Huge props to the author, Klem! I must say, I love your way of work. ‘The Shadow Over Ravensmouth’ was a blast! Hats off to you.

  8. Roy
    Play It Now!

    I was expecting one or two good maps and not much else. I think that was more of the mood I was in and nothing really to do with anything important.

    Metro by Sockman
    It is okay

    Reader Digest Condensed version of Half-Life 2 in the style of Half-Life 1. Very straight line.

    Cosmonaut By Dolmo
    It is WOW!

    Favorite. Very Half-Life 2 like.
    Best line – “When this is over, I’m going to mate.” Not exact, but close enough.
    Tough boss finish. Puzzles get harder as you go, but none too hard.

    Lone by TheVikingBoi
    It is okay

    A little hard for me to get into. Nothing bad.

    Here Again by Derek Jones AKA Taz
    It is okay

    Same as above. A little hard for me to get going. I was lost most of the time.

    Canal Escape by Joey Simas
    It is good

    Things are picking back up now. I did enjoy the combat.

    Grigori by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon
    It is okay

    I was lost again. I did like using Annabelle.

    Power Up by Nikodem Nowak AKA WALLe PL
    It is okay

    Again I got lost. I must really suck at playing today.

    Badwater 128 by T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi
    It is great!

    Number two favorite.
    I did enjoy the combat and running around.

    Freeman and Bob by Clément Baticle AKA Klems (Bonus)
    It is great!

    Once again Freeman is the hero and everyone else hides. LOL.
    Very good use of a NPC. Most of the time they are more in the way than a help.

    Summary

    A good package of maps. I enjoyed it more than I expected and it lifted my mood.

  9. Play It Now!

    The long-awaited nostalgiaville is finally here with 9 new maps that are intended to make you feel nostalgic, but do they succeed? Let’s find out!

    Metro by Sockman
    It is great!

    I underestimated the quality of this map for it’s weak visuals, but i proved myself wrong while playing, what it lacks in detail it has in gameplay, having some nice scripted events and a great vehicle section. This map was the only one in this ville that made me feel nostalgia, having a well done depiction of the first half of Half Life 2.

    Cosmonaut By Dolmo
    It is WOW!

    The best map in my opnion, the areas where highly detailed and well designed, the interactions with the citizens were a nice touch, mainly with that starving woman and the watermelon, the gameplay was incredible and had a great pacing, having a little bit of everything, with some good puzzles that weren’t hard enough for you to get stuck or easy enough to not require thinking, the combat was fun and well balanced with a great end fight. Overall a incredible map that leaves nothing to be desired.

    Lone by TheVikingBoi
    It is good

    This map had great visual effects with a eery atmosphere, the gameplay was fun for most of the map, but the boss fight at the end was terrible, you had way to little space and health pick ups available for a fight with high damaging enemies.

    Here Again by Derek Jones AKA Taz
    It is dire!

    It took 2 playthroughs and a VNN’s livestream for me to figure out what i had to do, the map has a confusing layout and does a terrible job at telling the player where to go and what to do, the gameplay consists of killing a couple of headcrabs and walking a little bit, it wouldn’t be so bad if it was straight foward.

    Canal Escape by Joey Simas
    It is good

    It had some good puzzles and fun combat. Other than that, i don’t have much to say.

    Grigori by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon
    It is bad

    This map had way to many enemies in small spaces, i ran most of the time and killed a max of 2-3 zombies in the entire map, making this one not that fun.

    Power Up by Nikodem Nowak AKA WALLe PL
    It is good

    The most unique map in my opnion, having no combat, this map revolves around exploration and it’s done well, the areas had some nice details and the npc animations were pretty impressing, the voice acting was well done, but quite fast which made it a little bit confusing, and the ending was unexpected and a bit funny, the only issue i had was that when i picked up the glasses before he stoped talking, both dialogue would overlap each other, other than that, a fun and interesting map.

    Badwater 128 by T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi
    It is good

    Badwater had a good start and consistent gameplay, with fun and challenging combat and a nice boss fight at the end with some choppers.

    Freeman and Bob by Clément Baticle AKA Klems (Bonus)
    It is WOW!

    This map goes along with Cosmonaut in quality, having good visuals, great level design and combat, and even a likeable ally that isn’t Alyx! While still being a helping hand in combat, Bob can even help you with puzzles and has a great personality for a 1 map character.

    Conclusion

    NostalgiaVille is great as a regular mappack but not so much as a nostalgia one, most of the maps did a good job at recreating a part of Half Life 2, but only a single one of them made me feel genuine nostalgia, but i still highly recommend playing this ville, almost all of the maps have a great level of quality put into them and you can feel it, waiting a month for it was worth it. Let’s hope this level of quality continues onward to future Villes.

  10. Maximum two maps per mapper per entry.

    That rules out Cosmonaut and Lone as they had 3 each.

    Other maps, such as Badwater 128 while very good, are no where near the theme of NostalgiaVille.. so in this humble potatos opinion “Metro” is the clear winner

    1. Thanks for the mini-heart attack!

      The announcement page, linked to in the main post, says “three maps”, so the mistake is mine for simply copying the standard rules into this post.

  11. Play It Now!

    Well, here we are. Been a long time lurker, and with a new profile, now I feel it’s finally time to post a review.

    NostalgiaVille has been waited on for quite a time, and the theme is generally interesting, especially considering the prevalence of Outland-themed levels. Classic City 17 and it’s urban environments are some of my favorites, so let’s see what this pack has to offer.

    Metro
    It is okay

    My first views of this map are of a train and some weirdly lit chairs. Suffice it to say, I did not have high hopes for this one upon seeing this. However, it did turn out a bit better.

    Gameplay itself is okay, with the Airboat section being my favorite. Aesthetics and detail are certainly lacking though, with blocky buildings and square-ish natural terrain. In some places it works, and in others, less so. Not the best, but overall a fairly solid entry.

    Cosmonaut
    It is WOW!

    The longest entry in the contest, and one that definitely sticks to the intended goal, invoking the first few levels up to the start of Water Hazard. Quality is high all the way through, and secrets and exploration are abound. A great entry, with only a slight few problems, one of which being a big one.

    Firstly, the minor issue is with the final map, where you waves of enemies come far too slowly, leading you to wait. (Also, magnum ammo with no magnum, along with little incentive to use weapons other than the turrets? Why?)

    And the big one, this kinda breaks the entry rules. As the third rule states: “Maximum two maps per mapper, per entry.” This entry has three. So yeah, despite the excellent quality, I don’t think this can win.

    Lone
    It is good

    Another longer entry, and like with Cosmonaut, it possesses three maps. which I believe automatically disqualifies it. I’ll review regardless.

    It’s a Ravenholm-styled map, and it certainly feels like one, although the lack of traps concerns me, at least we have plenty of ammo for the Gravity Gun, and a contraption or two to give it a bit of the feel. More interesting is the second half of the entry, featuring a heavy dose of Combine and their distinctive architecture. I’ve never really seen the two used together, and it’s a fresh, although less nostalgic take on Ravenholm.

    The use of an Autogun turret is interesting, although it sometimes lacks the power or particles i’d expect, plus it’s surprisingly inaccurate.

    I honestly feel the strider fight at the end was a touch tacked on, and the ending afterwards makes no sense to me, but regardless, it’s a solid entry.

    Here Again
    It is bad

    My first experience with this map was not good. At all.

    Not heading inside the building when the Rebels come in can cause you to become stuck, the section afterwards with the headcrabs and the drop somehow caused my game to crash.

    Even if I disregarded that, there’s still a definite lack of guidance on where to go, alongside ways to break the map and a sudden ending leads this map to not be good whatsoever.

    It’s not unplayable, but I definitely recommend steering clear of it.

    Canal Escape
    It is good

    A Route Kanal inspired level, it’s somewhat lacking on the visual/lighting side of things, but was overall enjoyable.

    Not too much to say on this one, other than I think the beginning could’ve used a little work in the direction you’ve gotta go, and thank you author for not having a stupidly long helicopter fight, though I think there could’ve been a little more on the supplies/cover front.

    Grigori
    It is bad

    Our second Ravenholm-esque entry, and assuredly the weaker of the two. While the use of Annabelle is neat, the weapon itself is terrible, especially with the amount of zombies thrown your way.

    Next is the lack of Ravenholm stuff in general. It feels more like a generic zombie map with random lights. No traps, no gravity gun usage, and a definite lack of signposting leads to a not really nostalgic or pleasant experience in general, especially with the abrupt ending.

    Power Up
    It is okay

    It’s… certainly unique, to say the least. Voice acting can often be bad, but it was okay here. Some voice overlap in the beginning, but okay, though they can be quiet at points. No real combat, not much in terms of puzzling, and an ending that kinda goes against what you’d expect to happen.

    Not really a fan, honestly, but it’s better than some others in here.

    Badwater 128
    It is great!

    Badwater’s an interesting one, taking place in a section akin to one of the many stops you had to do within Water Hazard (Visuals remind me of the barn, especially).

    Visuals were excellent, gameplay was pretty good (although I did miss that one button to deactivate the forcefield for a bit), and the Helicopter gunships threw me off for a bit, and were an interesting touch.

    Also, Amnestics? Is Freeman working for the SCP Foundation now? SCP in a Half-Life setting would certainly be interesting, though the call to “Nostalgia” seemed a little forced. All in all, an excellent, albeit fairly short map.

    BONUS: Freeman & Bob
    It is WOW!

    If Klems wasn’t judging, and this wasn’t a bonus entry, I think this would probably be the winner, especially considering the possible disqualifying of Cosmonaut.

    It’s an excellent entry, and uses the heavily underused Squad mechanics to great effect, creating a useful ally that isn’t named Alyx. The rocket turret was fun to use, and Bob can seemingly fire that thing like a machine gun, which was enjoyable to watch.

    Excellent entry, even if it doesn’t count for the contest itself.

    HEADER:

    Winner

    Considering i’m really unsure of Cosmonaut/Lone for the issues I spoke of, i’m likely going to go with Badwater.

    Good visuals, nice choice of section to use (Water Hazard’s one of my favorite levels), decent gameplay, and a nice twist with the final fight. Generally, this was a pretty decent Ville. Not the best, but some definite standouts here.

  12. Really disappointing Ville. Even though the authors had way more time than for normal villes, the entries can’t compete with most normal villes at all. I’m not saying that all entries are bad, but none really stood out except the bonus entry maybe (although also not nearly at the usual quality of this author). And the thing is, since this is nostalgiaVille where people “remake” sections from the original game (sometimes blatantly copy pasted) you are playing worse versions of things you already experienced. And the irony in all that is that that is the complete OPPOSITE of what nostalgia is. Nostalgia is when you have fond memories of something, but usually that thing is way better in your memory than it actually is. There are games that know that and make use of that. Shovel Knight for example looks and feels like a classic platformer, but in reality it looks way better, performs much smoother and controls much more precise (and the music has more depth and detail).

    A shame that this is the Ville where 3kliksphillip is one of the judges and not for some of the really good Villes. I hope it doesn’t deter him from the other stuff.

    1. I have to agree with you. I personally doesn’t like Metro that much, unlike VNN, it doesn’t click my switches that much.

  13. Unq
    Play It Later

    Overall this was an enjoyable pack. I was hoping for a spectacular one given the interesting theme and the 2 months allotted, but still happy with the entries overall. Hopefully the criticisms below can help the authors improve their work in the future, and I hope they all continue to enter future mapping challenges.

    Metro by Sockman

    A solid entry here. The opening areas are a little too on-the-nose in terms of nostalgia – they felt like direct remakes rather than ‘inspired by’ the early parts of HL2. I rather liked the progression of the map, though again it kind of felt like the first few chapters of Half-Life 2 just condensed into 15 minutes.

    The ending area would be a great start for a BossVille map. I think if it were a little more interactive and dynamic (like the chopper starts to shoot out some of your mounted guns, or starts to destroy the roof of the corridor you’re in) it could be a nice finale.

    Cosmonaut By Dolmo

    This was an awesome set of maps. When Niker shared his description of NostalgiaVille, this is the kind of map I was hoping people would make. The opening view was great, and slowly making my way up the coast into the town did really bring back feelings from playing the game for the first time. I think it was a great design choice to keep a focus in this pack of maps – that is, the author didn’t throw in the kitchen sink in a 20-minute experience. Thankfully zombies are totally absent, and you’re up against only the lower level Combine enemies until the finale. Speaking of the finale, I thought it was a great setpiece and I like the standoff approach to a finale battle.

    My main complaint is that Cosmonaut was too easy! The use of batteries and supply boxes to help lead the player is a good decision, but I rarely dropped below 90 health due to all the supplies scattered all over the place.

    Lone by TheVikingBoi

    A fair attempt at a Ravenholm-themed map here, although I think the final battle kind of ruins the mood and feel that the author set up leading up to that point. In general this is themed like Ravenholm but fails to evoke the same feeling. Yes, your enemies here are zombies and headcrabs until the last areas, but the architecture and layout are not interesting and there aren’t really any other way to approach encounters other than head-on since the maps are mainly linear.

    Here Again by Derek Jones AKA Taz

    There are so many things wrong with this map I don’t know where to start. If there are weapons and enemies, you must must must give the player the HEV suit BEFORE combat. There isn’t even a way to change weapons without it unlike in HL1, not to mention see your health (or run).

    And then there’s the blocked off passage with the poison zombie and some barnacles. This is terrible because A) it looks like you should be able to fit either underneath the boards blocking the door, and definitely over if you stack a couple crates – but both ways are clipped off, and B) the moment the zombie sees you it starts walking toward you and the barnacles are between you both – and as I’m sure a lot of players found out, if a poison zombie touches a barnacle the game crashes.

    Beyond that, I found the path for the player to be obscure at best. How on earth were we supposed to know to smash out that one particular window that looks just like all the others instead of heading back out to the streets which had just started seeing some action when you went inside? I did and found death waiting for me since I was stuck with the crowbar and no HEV. Plus, after you find the HEV and some weapons, the grate you need to open to progress was hidden under a crate. Why? This is not a good way to lead the player through the map at all. And then the map ends suddenly as you start to crawl into a passage. This map needed more careful design and a ton of playtesting.

    Canal Escape by Joey Simas

    I really had a so-so reaction to this one. It’s reminiscent of Route Kanal – to an extent. You never really get the tight claustrophobic feel that you do in parts of the original HL2 chapter. The visuals were a little rough too: the water didn’t look right (no transparency, no reflections) and some of the texturing was poor. I feel this was a good start on an entry but needed a lot of work and polishing.

    Grigori by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon

    I wasn’t impressed by this entry unfortunately. It rubbed me the wrong way right off the bat with the non-standard shotgun bound to slot 6 for some reason. Plus it wouldn’t reload at all. So, it was whack-a-zombie time with the crowbar. Unfortunately whether it was whacking or shooting there isn’t anything interesting in this Ravenholm-themed map. The zombies are in bunches and they just sit there waiting for you to stumble upon them. If you’re going to use all zombies, please come up with a hook or some interesting situation to put them in.

    As is, this map is bog standard and a letdown. I did like the vertical progression you needed to make to progress, but there was no payoff as you just dropped back down into another area with zombies, and the map ends somehow when you press a button. Why? And I never did get the gravity gun in this map.

    Power Up by Nikodem Nowak AKA WALLe PL

    Interesting approach to this map – no combat, relatively simple ‘puzzles’ (directed by a voice over radio), and a decently made City 17 area. But that’s really the only thing going for it. Unfortunately the jumps you’re required to make can be difficult (especially if your trash bin falls over) and ultimately it’s just an exercise in frustration because of the ending.

    Ugh. The ending. The most frustrating, unintuitive ending to a map I’ve ever seen. Even cutting to black immediately would have been better – as it stands, you troll the player into running away from the cops indefinitely with no feedback or indication that you’re “supposed” to die. Awful decision.

    Badwater 128 by T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi

    As much as I like Water Hazard, which this map was reminiscent of, I am of two minds on this map. Things were going fine the first time I played until I fell off the ledge out front of the final building, where an instant death trigger was waiting. That’s when I found out there were no autosaves in the map.

    Other than that, this map was chock full of combat, most of which was decent until the overdone finale. Why is there a ladder even there if you’re not able to use it? Why is there little to no cover from the TWO choppers you face? Add the constant (and in one case, doubled up – I swear there were 2 instances of the same track playing simultaneously just slightly out of sync) music and the annoyance factor was really high for this map.

    Freeman and Bob by Clement Baticle AKA Klems (Bonus)

    Another superb map from Klems, of course the winner of last year’s Cup. Reminiscent of Route Kanal but with a nice twist, you’re only armed with a crowbar for about 80% of the map. But your buddy Bob is along for the ride with you as well, and the interaction required (you often get separated and have to figure out how to proceed) is cleverly handled.

    I really like the intertwined design of the map and the clever paths that you take to reunite with Bob along the way. In all, a great way to top off NostalgiaVille.

    1. I’d note with Metro that the helicopter actually can take out the roof with it’s mines. Didn’t realize it until it was nearly dead, but it can do such a thing.

  14. Play It Now!

    This ville was fairly disappointing. It seems the authors decided to use the increased time to build more quantity over quality. There isn’t that many entries, but there are comparatively lots of maps. This means the mod is quite long.

    With that being said, I still think this is a good ville and you should definitely try it! There are some great entries in this one that are definitely worth your time.
    You can see my blind playthrough of NostalgiaVille here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H60j4mFobBo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECQrWC4CHYM

    Metro by Sockman
    It is good

    This is an ambitious map and it tried to do lots of things. It’s almost like a proto-HL2. You get the first 4 chapters of HL2 all condensed into one giant map. For that reason I think this is a cool entry. It’s very varied, which is great. You get some exposition and cool vistas, you run from metrocops on rooftops, walk your way through underground tunnels, use an airboat and drive over combines, and you even fight a helicopter at the end!

    However, I think the map tried to do too much, and ultimately failed in most of the sequences. The gameplay is not very engaging, is very simple and feel recycled from HL2, rather than as an homage to it. This map would’ve benefited a lot from being less ambitious. Make less stuff, but put more time into the stuff you make. I’m not saying the map should’ve been shorter, but maybe try to do less environments, and get more gameplay out of each areas.

    Related to that, the map is waaay too big. The map could’ve easily been halved in size without changing the experience. It really shows in the beginning. The trainstation is huge, but is completely empty. It feels very bare and is a chore to walk through. The apartment section has an area with a bunch of citizen looking over the streets, but that area isn’t necessary to progress, you can simply walk through and never notice it. This would’ve easily been fixed by blocking the main corridor with props or metrocops, like in HL2. Try to put more thoughts into your maps. When you’re building stuff, every spaces should have a purpose. As a level designer, you have a budget. You should ask yourself, “Am I using too much space in this area for the amount of gameplay it has?”. This is why backtracking is so valuable: you put more gameplay in for the same budget.

    The bossfight against the helicopter suffer from the same problem. Why is there so many mounted guns when the player only require two? Why is there a giant field below the helicopter that the player will never walk through? The helicopter drops bombs on the roof which then breaks, which is cool. But it never had any repercussions on the actual battle, so it was ultimately pointless.

    Cosmonaut By Dolmo
    It is great!

    This entry is my favorite of the ville. It was definitely a great set of maps. It’s very varied like Metro, but does a much better job at it. Most of the fights and puzzles are engaging and interesting to play through. It’s not super pretty, but it’s detailed enough to sell it. It’s fairly long, but it’s never boring. This is a good example of an author managing its time well. No areas feels like filler or like it was made in a rush. An all around good experience.

    It’s not perfect, of course. It was mostly a good experience, but not a “great” one. It’s not very memorable, it felt very HL2-like. This point is arguable since it could be attributed to the theme itself. It could even be seen as a positive. I tend to prefer maps and mods that try to be different than the base game. But of course this is just me, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Some further points/nitpicks:

    While locking doors behind the player is necessary, there are better ways of doing it. You can simply add a drop down, which is much more elegant.

    The puzzle where you destroy a bunch of wooden boards to drop down a bridge has very weird signalling. What is up with these weird wood beams? They look like crap, have awful texture alignment, and doesn’t make any sense. Who would build something like that? My advice is to use the wooden boards props (props_debris/wood_board**) whenever you need the player to break something. The player is conditioned to see those and break them throughout HL2.

    The bossfight has awful pacing. It felt like I was waiting for something to happen during most of it. I can appreciate pacing and moments of respite, but these should be done on a macro scale, not micro scale. Put a puzzle/exploration sequence before a bossfight/fight sequence, not during one. The player should always have something to do, but here there is nothing to do. You just wait for the next enemy to spawn in, and that’s just boring.

    The story itself is great. You’re a cosmonaut falling to earth after a long time in space and realize the place has been overrun by an alien force! That’s cool as hell. But it felt more like a gimmick than anything else. It’s cool at first, then it’s never brought up again. You could remove the intro and the experience would’ve been the exact same. I would’ve liked stuff involving rocket science or physics. Maybe the bossfight could have involved running fuel and oxidizer through pipes to burn a strider with a rocket engine? Maybe the map could’ve had physic puzzles in zero gravity? Or maybe the ending is about the player going back to space? That would’ve made the map much more memorable in my opinion, and turned the map from a “It’s Great” into a “It’s WOW!”.

    Lone by TheVikingBoi
    It is okay

    I think the author has a good enough grasp on detailing and lighting. While it’s not perfect, it looks alright and the lighting is moody. Some stuff looks a bit janky, like those catwalks that are 10 inches thick, or texture stretching for no good reasons. Whenever you’re building stuff, try to see if that would make sense in real life. How thick are objects in real life? Does this area needs extra support? Etc.

    My biggest complaint with this map is the gameplay. It’s just awful. It’s insanely hard and extremely repetitive. Fight zombies, fight combines, repeat. There is waay too many enemies in most areas. When you add a ton of zombies to a room, it’s not challenging, it’s just boring. It feels like the author is trying to kill me, rather than challenge me. This is not how you should build your combat encounters. One advice for you: play your map in hard. If you can’t finish it without dying, then something is wrong with your map. Playtest your maps. If your playtesters dies more than 2 or 3 times, then something is wrong. If they die in the same area over and over, something is wrong with this area.

    I could go on and on about the combats in this map. The area where you defend against a bunch of combines coming from behind a forcefield is super hard, and I managed to pass it only by cheesing the AI. The mounted gun is useless. There is way too many combines with shotgun and AR2. Use those sparingly as they can be very unfair. And if that wasn’t enough, you spawn an insta-killing headcrab canister at the end? “lol you died, try again”. At this point I got very frustrated with the map and activated god mode. Most players will do the same (if they don’t quit playing right away).

    And the bossfight… A strider, with mounted guns, mines scattered everywhere, and shotgun/ar2 guys running around? Are you serious? Players shouldn’t have to learn your map by heart to be able to finish it, they should be able to go through it in one go with a little effort. Die and retry doesn’t fit HL2.

    Definitely playtest your map (playtesting it yourself does NOT count), and get bad players if you can. Definitely play on hard and see if you have issues then.

    Here Again by Derek Jones AKA Taz
    It is bad

    Very weird entry. Not a lot happens in it and most of it is questionable at best. The player signalling is very bad throughout the map. The first door you go through looks just like any other door. It open automatically for no reasons. You then have to go through a window? It’s not shown clearly that you need to do so, nor does it make any sense. You then pick up weapons with no HEV suit and fight a bunch of headcrabs. Again it doesn’t make much sense. There is a crowbar that I missed completely. You then pick up your suit and go through a vent on the floor (which again, is not obvious at all). You go into an underground, fight a few zombies, go into a dead end, see a bunch of rebels, two combines spawn in, one is bugged, the end.

    None of that make any sense. It has almost no gameplay in it. The detailing is good enough, but honestly, I just don’t see the point of that map. I don’t even get to fight stuff for more than a few seconds. There is no challenge nor puzzles, it’s bugged for most of the way through, and it ends super abruptly.

    Try to make something that has a bit more sense and substance to it. You seem to understand detailing well enough, but the level design itself is simply nonexistent. Try to make an engaging combat sequence. Just go in hammer, build a room, add some covers and catwalks, give some weapons to the player, spawn a bunch of combines in, and just make something that is fun to play.

    In one of the room in the underground, there’s a ton of bricks laying around on top of each other. Just, don’t do that, please. As a level designer you have an entity budget that you can’t go over. You just used 50% of that budget by putting a ton of bricks here. And for what? It doesn’t even serve any gameplay reason. Most players won’t even notice it. One of the room in the underground is also a dead end with a bunch of cars and fast zombies. Again, it doesn’t serve any gameplay reason. It’s just here. Try to avoid that kind of stuff.

    Canal Escape by Joey Simas
    It is good

    This entry is pretty good. It feels varied enough, you get to fight metrocops, kill a sniper, do some puzzles, even take down a chopper. Maybe the fight against the chopper was a bit too hard, but I think that was just me playing like a dumbass. Most of the fights had enough covers, it didn’t felt too easy or too hard.

    In the room with the water puzzle, you can break the crates and get stuck. In general, just don’t do stacking puzzles, they simply aren’t fun (at least it was crates and not barrels). Some of the areas could use a bit more detailing, especially the lighting in the underground section which felt a bit flat and too bright/white. An underground section should feel dark, but for some reason it seems brighter than the surface. Try to use colored spotlights to cast visually interesting shadows. Use darker tones and textures, use contrast to emphasize some areas. There are props that you can use for those pipes, right now they look a bit weird.

    Please, do not use func_breakable when you expect the player to break something. Use the wooden boards props instead (props_debris/wood_board**). Weirdest part is, you used those boards somewhere, then breakable in another place? With the same texture? Just a weird design decision. I’ve seen some players get stuck on the “puzzle” where you have to shoot at some stuff to reveal a ladder. I did not get stuck myself, but this is one side effect of using func_breakable.

    I don’t have much more to say about this entry. You seem to know your way around the editor, it’s just a shame that it wasn’t used for more. Try to be a bit more ambitious next time, try to think of more interesting locations or set pieces.

    Grigori by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon
    It is okay

    Not a very good entry, I’m afraid. It doesn’t try to do much, and what it does it does very poorly. The whole gameplay of this map consist of shooting zombies. That’s it. It doesn’t try to do anything more than that. There is no puzzles. You might find a couple of goodies by exploring a bit, which is always nice, but it just feels pointless.

    Even the shooting itself is bad. You can use an annabelle, which is a buggy weapon not meant for the player, so of course it feels bad to use. There is no nodegraph, so the zombie won’t even try to chase you. At no point you feel threatened or challenged.

    The environment lighting looked super weird. What is up with that bright blue moonlight? Moonlight isn’t blue, it’s white. Most of the map felt a bit under-detailed, but it wasn’t a deal breaker by any means. Lighting was good enough.

    As for my advice? Please, try to make something other than horror and zombies. Shooting zombies is simply not fun at all. Do something else.

    Power Up by Nikodem Nowak AKA WALLe PL
    It is bad

    This was a cool idea, but executed extremely poorly. Most of the custom voice lines were unintelligible and kept playing over each others. Gameplay was almost nonexistent, and consisted mostly of stacking puzzles. All of that can be explained by the author only having 3 days to work on his entry, but this is no excuse at all.

    The ending was very poorly handled. It’s obvious that players will try to avoid the metrocops rushing him. This is why you playtest your maps.

    The amount of detailing in the map itself was good enough, if not a bit under-detailed, and the lighting was alright. This isn’t bad for 3 days of work.

    Badwater 128 by T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi
    It is great!

    There are lot of secrets laying around the map. I’ve seen players go to places I wouldn’t even think of and find stuff here, which is super cool. This map looks gorgeous. I’m not a fan of the color correction which is waaay overdone, but it looks great either way. The atmosphere, colors, lighting, sky, everything just looks marvelous and blends together in perfect harmony.

    Now for the bad part: the gameplay is extremely boring, and is simply not interesting enough. You fight metrocops. You shoot an helicopter with a RPG. The map ends. That’s it. There is no puzzles. There is no enemies other than metrocops. You press buttons and shoot barrels at some point. Nothing else. It simply isn’t engaging enough. While there were lots of varied maps in this contest, this one is everything but varied, and is proof that looks doesn’t make a map.

    Even small, dark areas that the player will drive through in seconds are over detailed with props and decals. In my opinion this is not a positive. You’re simply wasting your time, detailing stuff that nobody will notice, when you should instead be focusing on the gameplay. This can seem a bit unfair to criticize a map for having TOO MUCH details, but the thing is, you have to manage your time and make the best, all-around fun map you possibly can. The fact is, this map is not very fun to play. Now feel free to completely ignore what I just said if you intend to be an environment artist. But if you aim for level designer instead, I think you should focus on the gameplay a little bit more.

    Summary

    My favorite entry is Cosmonaut by far, followed by Badwater 128. It’s hard to choose between Metro and Canal Escape, but I ultimately think Canal Escape was the best out of those two.
    An all around okay ville. Not the best one, and a bit disappointing for the amount of time the authors had, but still worth your time in my opinion.

    1. Nice reference to the Blast Pit remake. I’m glad someone remembered that map.

    2. I forgot to mention that Badwater 128 doesn’t have autosaves. That’s bad. Really bad. Always add autosaves to your level or I’m gonna get very angry.

  15. Phillip says Play It!

    Like others, I was a little disappointed with the maps entered in this challenge. The problem is that when you have almost 3 times the usual time it’s hard not to have higher expectations. It’s always been clear to me that the length of a challenge is no guarantee of the quality of maps.

    The theme was a solid one but in some cases was over-interpreted to feel like a recreation.

    After I started writing these reviews, I decided to add what I call “Nostalgia Rating” and I used the following scale: Weak, Mild, Moderate, Strong, Goosebumps. I’m not exactly sure how I would define each grade or whether higher is better.

    Anyway, below are the reviews and they do contain SPOILERS. Considered yourselves warned.

    I have embedded my playthrough videos under each section.

    Metro by Sockman
    It is okay

    I feel that the author has sacrificed quality over quantity here. It seems to be an effort to simply recreate familiar sections of the game rather than re-imagining the atmosphere and style. Too many areas were empty and bland, and that relates to my earlier criticism of quantity over quality. I didn’t dislike any particular section but I didn’t particularly enjoy any one either.

    Little things annoyed me, the the door with the crowbar attached that opened inwards once the wooden planks had been broken.

    I have written that the Nostalgia rating is strong but that’s more a measure of strength rather than quality. It’s hard not to see HL2’s influence in the map but it didn’t make me want to replay the game.

    In conclusion, I would have prefer half the playtime and twice the polish.

    NOSTALGIA RATING: Strong
    PLAYTIME: 16 minutes

    Cosmonaut By Dolmo
    It is great!

    It’s clear from the moment you begin this to the end that Dolmo put a lot of work into this.

    It feels very reminiscent of the original Half-Life 2. It follows similar design philosphy and has lots of atmoispheric details.

    I enjoyed almost all of it and feel it had a beginning, a middle and an end. There were two elements that I noticed. Firstly, there were too many metrocops and manhacks. Of course, that’s all the player should really be able to see considering the theme’s guidelines and I don’t really have a solution, except to say that perhaps it was too long. The second is related to the soundscapes and music. Too often the ending was abrupt. I don’t know the reason for this but perhaps it’s to do with my taking too long to play each section.

    One area that stands out for me was the lighting. Not only did it look good in each section, but the transitions between two areas always felt very natural.

    All in all, this was a great map and I enjoyed playing it.

    NOSTALGIA RATING: Strong
    PLAYTIME: 43 minutes

    Lone by TheVikingBoi
    It is bad

    From the first moment, the colours, the darkness and atmosphere had me feeling negative towards this entry. It felt like a Ravenholm setting but without the fear and emotion. At no point did I feel nostalgic. I could go on and on about this and that, but suffice to say I didn’t enjoy it.

    The level changes were strangely placed and one time, going backwards from one level to another I had to rebuild the cubemaps (see the video).

    The most annoying thing was the headcrab cannister that seem to be aimed at me, which if it was, was just silly.

    In summary, I felt that this was an over-saturated, poorly designed enty.

    NOSTALGIA RATING: Weak
    PLAYTIME: 27 minutes

    Here Again by Derek Jones AKA Taz
    It is okay

    When the map begins, the first impression is one of emptiness. I suppsoe it’s hard to make cities look busy but perhaps half the battle is the size. If you have wide streets then you are almost certainyl going to need something down the mddile. The same for a town square. The player’s line of site must be broken, while still giving them the feeling of a large space.

    Anyway, onto the map. I felt a little lost at times. Yes, the woman says follow me but then as soon as she goes through that weird door, everything interesting starts happening outside. I don’t want to watch battles, I want to be part of them. Not getting the suit earlier was also an issue because you can get multiple weapons, but you can’t switch between then.

    There were certain sections that might have had the feel for Half-Lfie 2 but overall I felt this was another case of too alrge a map and not enough planning and detail.

    The ending is also very abrupt and it’s too easy to see or get out of the map.

    All in all, a slightly disappointing map with glimpses of potential.

    NOSTALGIA RATING: Mild
    PLAYTIME: 16 minutes

    Canal Escape by Joey Simas
    It is good

    Gameplaywise, this is my favourite map so far (I am playing in the chapter order), plenty of areas were too bland, plenty of areas had way too many crates and I didn’t really get a Half-Life 2 vibe, but what I did get was a neatly planned area, with the potential for back-tracking and exploring. I think I might have preferred a slightly darker setting with some more spotlights and some toxic goo. One thing would have been more areas where the enemy is not seen or attacks me until I can’t easily go back, and I know that contradicts what I said in my video about the dropping doors, and also what I just said about back-tracking but you might know what I am like in that regard.

    Anyway, overall, I did enjoy this but sadly it would need to be more atmospheric.

    NOSTALGIA RATING: Strong
    PLAYTIME: 26 minutes

    Grigori by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon
    It is okay

    Ravenholm seems to be both an easy theme and a hard one. Easy because the style can be copied but hard because getting the layout and atmosphere just right is more difficult than it looks.

    Limiting yourself to a few enemies causes more issues as the gameplay needs to be really well planned. Putting lots of enemies in spaces just doesn’t work.

    I honestly didn’t feel that any enemy placement was “clever” and in the case of the 3 Zombines, downright bad.

    The lighting of the first room made me feel excited but then it just got dark outside.

    To sum up, I would say that parts were potentially interesting but the map could have been half the size and twice the fun.

    NOSTALGIA RATING: Moderate
    PLAYTIME: 17 minutes

    Power Up by Nikodem Nowak AKA WALLe PL
    It is bad

    What was the author thinking? Beside the outline of meeting an undercover Metrocop, what aspect of the map did WALLe PL think was nostalgic? Not only that but what did he think was fun to play? I am sitting here, mouth open in frustration at the ending. Seriously, it only ends when I die? I mean I ran around for about 10 minutes thinking something would happen.

    I don’t want to sound horrible, but this could be an example of how not to make a map.

    To sum up – I HATED IT! But seriously, it felt empty and bland with the gameplay not being thought out enough.

    NOSTALGIA RATING: Weak
    PLAYTIME: 20 minutes

    Badwater 128 by T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi
    It is WOW!

    Here is my problem, up until this entry, this was by fair the most enjoyable to play but perhaps because of the colour override or the gameplay style it never really made me feel that nostalgic. Adding the text at the end, was tacky in my less than humble opinion and a cheap attempt to side step the issue.

    The actual map was incredibly well made and a lot of fun to play. In some regards, it was too beautiful because I paused too often to admire the view.

    There is plenty of exploring to be had, which is fairly rewarded and the concept behind the map is clear.

    My only criticism of the gameplay is that as is often the case with some maps, the enemies attack too early and the player can sit back and pick them off at will. Only once or twice did I feel rushed.

    To summarise, this is a beautiful level and I would not hesitate to make it my winner if it weren’t for the theme.

    NOSTALGIA RATING: Moderate
    PLAYTIME: 23 minutes

    Freeman and Bob by Clément Baticle AKA Klems (Bonus)
    It is WOW!

    Well, this was another fine release from Klems. His attention to detail, both in gameplay and visual design is admirable. A good example is the rocket firing section where the soldier throws grenades at you which you must throw back. It’s such a clever idea as the player never needs to worry about finding grenades etc.

    The overall story, in the sense of feeling that you are part of something greater is well told, with Bob, your sidekick, perhaps a reference to The Simpsons’ Sideshow Bob?, being useful and at times fun. Everything that I needed to do was made clear to me and any confusion I had would be down to me.

    In some regards though, it didn’t remind me of Half-Life 2 because it was too good. I know that sounds strange and perhaps I have played too many mods and maps but there is a certain charm in Half-Life 2 that is lost when maps are too good. perhaps you think I am an idiot and you might be right.

    In conclusion, this is a fantastic map that is limited purely by the theme rather than the ability of the mapper.

    NOSTALGIA RATING: Moderate
    PLAYTIME: 35 minutes

    Summary

    I am truly glad I am not judging this challenge. Obviously, at least to me, Freeman and Bob is the best map but it’s a bonus map, so that doesn’t count. Next is Badwater 128 which although shorter is still tremendous, but perhaps it was the lighting or perhaps the design it only left me moderately feeling nostalgic. In some ways, Canal Escape left me feel like I wanted to play Half-Life 2 again but lacking in other areas.

    Did I enjoy playing the mod? Yes, but I felt too many were larger than they should have been and I suspect that mappers got a little over-ambitious with the extra time and instead of keeping things small and polished, they went for bigger and emptier. Who knows, perhaps the mappers can tell me.

    I would like to thank Niker107 for suggesting the idea and taking charge of the judging selection and scoring details. I would like to thank the judges for taking the time to play the maps. I would like to thank the entrants for taking the time to build something for us to play. I would like to thank you, the reader, for using and supporting my site.

  16. Play It Later

    While most entries here are good, and I had fun with them, they didn’t really feel nostalgic. It’s like some mappers confused this competition with HalfLife2Ville or something; it just didn’t feel right sometimes. Despite this, I enjoyed playing through most entries.

    Metro
    It is good

    I liked this map because it felt like a recap or highlight reel of the first chapters of HL2, and I really liked that. I will say though that the mapping is very basic and blocky. Some areas, especially in the beginning, were really empty, and that’s not a good thing. The combat was enjoyable and I also liked the fact that the whole thing felt like a journey. The nostalgia factor was spot on – except in the beginning IMO – so that’s a plus.

    Cosmonaut
    It is great!

    Wow, this map was great. The atmosphere is excellent, the mapping is superb, the nostalgia factor is there, it has everything. The final stand is also really well done, which for me is rare, since I haven’t seen many good examples of it. The combat felt perfectly balanced, with not too many or too few enemies at once. Also, its concept is really smart. Half-Life 2 is a 14-year old game and people still manage to find out new things to do or new storylines to exploit. That’s damn impressive.

    Alone
    It is good

    This map is based off of Ravenholm, and it definitely looks like it. The mapping in general is pretty good, but sometimes it feels claustrophobic – especially with that last strider battle. The lighting was OK, sometimes it was a bit bizarre. The enemies are zombies (obviously) and strangely Combines, which is weird since you never see any in the original Ravenholm section. Overall, this entry is mostly good.

    Here Again
    It is okay

    At first I thought that the map was gonna be great, but turns out I think it’s just okay. First of all, do NOT include multiple weapons when you do not give the player an HEV suit. It just ends up being annoying and unnecessary. The mapping was okay; maybe a bit empty in the beginning. The lighting and the layout were decent, but to be honest, I didn’t really feel ‘nostalgic’ at all. It didn’t really give me that vibe. Also, the ending could use some work…

    Canal Escape
    It is okay

    Another OK map. This time, the map is based on the airboat levels of the game,
    and it definitely shows. The combat was enjoyable for the most part, but sometimes I felt like the enemies were way too far to shoot normally without pixel-precision aiming. As far as mapping goes, although it was basic, it was fun to play. The end battle could use some work, but hey, the destructible building was a nice touch!

    Grigori
    It is bad

    Yeah, I didn’t like this one. I think the mapping was bad and you could see it when some map sections are ripped straight from the original game (or at least I think so) and that the edges of some buildings were not present, resulting in “levitating” buildings. I think it was interesting that you could use the Annabelle in the game, since I’ve seen no mods do that, so congrats for that at least. The ending was abrupt, and it didn’t feel very nostalgic for me.

    Power Up
    It is bad

    I’m sorry, what happened here? What’s the point of this “entry”? I guess it’s cool that you’re helping an undercover cop, but… that’s it? The whole map feels empty and uninspired, there is NO combat – except if you think hitting 2 headcrabs with a brick is called ‘combat’ – and I can’t see anything nostalgic about it. The ending is one of the worst I’ve ever seen in a mod, it feels lazy and rushed. I really didn’t like this one.

    Badwater 128
    It is great!

    Before saying anything, I have to say I had a problem with the textures. Many of them seemed to be missing/corrupted (pink-black checkerboard). Despite this issue however, this map was great! The combat was great, the mapping and the lighting were superb and the layout was quite nostalgic. I liked the chopper battle at the end, however I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. I’m not really sure that the color correction really helps the player feel ‘nostalgic’. I didn’t mind that though.

    And last but not least…

    Freeman and Bob
    It is WOW!

    Well, I have no words. I could play a whole mod out of this! Everything here is great! I enjoyed the combat, the puzzles, the interactions with Bob, I loved everything! The mapping and the texturing is incredible and it definitely felt quite nostalgic, since Bob can be compared to Alyx. I loved this new mechanic and I hope to see more of it sometime in the future!

  17. Hec
    Play It Now!

    Well, all I can say is something like: “what a BLAST of nostalgia” was playing some of these entries!

    I can say in general terms this challenge left me a great taste after playing it.

    First 3 entries are good to play, but all in all, the winner “Cosmonaut” entry is really outstanding and totally deserves the first position. That entry had the perfect pace which is usually relatable to the HL2 first well-done mods. And the opening scene was just awesome as well as the ending.

    Both ravenholm maps were OK though I felt they could have been less predictable if they had had a better enemy location and maybe some CMB combat. I am also glad the guy which used the Gas-can puzzle in the past challenge, this time heard the feedback given and place the gas was so much easier than the first time.

    The entry called “Here Again” had a cool concept of the nostalgic city combat in HL2 but was just badly implemented. I clearly could see some evident map limits and glitches. And also was very easy to get confused prior to the sewers section and the ending came sooner than expected with that screen fading black without even ending the combat against the CMB. Maybe the author had some trouble with the triggers.

    “Badwater 128” also had a great concept, but the pink-black checkered texture glitch almost ruins the whole aesthetic experience of the map. I hope the author could fix it and release it properly without the glitch.

    And yeah! Finally, the other great reason to play this challenge is “Freeman and Bob” I just loved this one!!!! I loved every single aspect of it! The concept was great! Nostalgia was also present every time in that canal-sewer system and the final battle was just mind blowing!! Also, the use of Bob as side-kick was well implemented once you catch how to use properly the “C” key. And I absolutely loved how Bob as a character was presented and used in the whole entry! So I also would love to see some more Bob and Freeman adventure! sometime in the near future if the author is willing to do so. And I hope he considers it because his whole concept was great and a tremendous success. It was a shame that just entered as a bonus entry because obviously, he would have perfectly won the challenge!

    So go on and have some nostalgic blast while you play this challenge!

  18. Play It Later
    Metro by Sockman
    It is bad

    Not a promising start to the map pack. What we essentially have here is a condensed version of City 17 and the three chapters Point Insertion, Route Canal and Water Hazard. However, the architecture is incredibly flat and the city feels especially lifeless. The internal spaces feel far too empty and the outdoor areas are just a little too boxy to be natural.

    Cosmonaut By Dolmo
    It is good

    First of all, the opening area is very attractive, but this could just be in contrast to Metro. At first I thought I was being clever, exploring the different nooks and crannies of the city to find the batteries. However, it wasn’t long after the action kicked off that I realised it was all for nothing. There are some nice combat pieces and environmental puzzles. My main complaint with Cosmonaut is that it is far too generous and as such any sense of challenge quickly evaporates. Finally, the whole thing rounds up with an incredibly slow turret section which did little to improve it.

    Lone by TheVikingBoi
    It is dire!

    I started out with low expectations of this map and I regret to say that it only got worst. There was a lot of physics clutter and I found it quite frustrating just to get around. In addition to this, the physics based puzzles felt a little clumsy. The basket for the cinder blocks kept tipping up and so on. I also managed to punt an essential physics prop out of the map and had to restart. This shouldn’t be possible, or should trigger a fail state if it does.

    The map seriously hit a downward spiral when I reached the turret section which simply did everything wrong. The space between the turret and the combine shields was far too short meaning you had to try and take them out before they passed through, trapping the loot they drop on the opposite side. The weapon itself was inaccurate and way too slow to fire so I actually just stuck to taking cover at the rear and using my own weapons. To top it off, the first time I got through it I was killed by a headcrab canister!

    After that there was the strider battle, which again, struck all the wrong chords. There was too much going on with the soldiers, hoppers and the strider and the space itself was far too restricted and lacked any real cover.

    Here Again by Derek Jones AKA Taz
    It is okay

    This is a map that severely suffers from a lack of direction. The “plaza” type area at the start was pretty nice to look at, but my first three attempts I started getting shot after a random amount of time. On my fourth attempt I was led to door by a random woman… Okay?

    Then there was the issue that I acquired a couple of weapons and was engaged in combat before I got the HEV suit. This meant I had no way to switch back to my pistol after getting the crowbar and had no idea what my HP was. A mapping sin in my book. What’s more, due to the lack of any direction I ended up accidentally escaping the map, thinking I was doing the right thing. I know Valve maps let you escape by stacking items, but in this case I genuinely thought it was what I was meant to be doing, because I had to do it on the opposite side of the room to reach a lambda cache.

    After finding the correct path, the map just kind of ended… I guess.

    Canal Escape by Joey Simas
    It is good

    To start off, this map looked a little bland, but then I found an awesome citizen. Not only a skilled ventriloquist who spoke without moving his lips, but also nailing a Barney Calhoun impersonation. Very impressive!

    This is another map that struggles when it comes to directing the player. There were a number of instances where I thought there was a more long winded puzzle to take care of, but I got over most obstacles by stacking crates which where numerous. One thing I will say though, is the one section where stacking IS the correct way to progress, the crates are breakable! So you have a finite resource and can get stuck if you are an idiot, or an asshole like me who tests such theories. 😀

    Grigori by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon
    It is okay

    “All zombies and no gravity gun makes Ravenholm a dull slog.” – Urby 2018

    I assume that we are actually playing as Grigori, given that we have Annabelle. The issue here is that there are other weapons available to you and you have an HEV suit… so the need to include Annabelle is a little moot to begin with. I understand the need to include a clunky, semi-integrated weapon for the lore perspective, but clunky is clunky.

    The mapping itself is a little basic, boxy rooms filled with zombies idly waiting for you to show up which is exactly what Ravenholm was not. There are even hordes of zombies staring at walls when you approach, which is just lazy mapping! Once again, I wasn’t sure what my goal was, but I flipped a switch and the map ended… so I guess I had to flip a switch to end the map.

    Power Up by Nikodem Nowak AKA WALLe PL
    It is good

    This would have gotten a much higher rating if it weren’t for a couple of glaring issues. Firstly, the setting is completely flat and lifeless both in terms of the architecture and the NPCs. Some moments stuck out, like the cop blocking the alleyway with his baton, but a lot of them were just standing around. Also, Jake is an asshole. I followed him into the room, he talked over three other people who were all just him… and he kept shoving me around! Stop it, Jake!

    I like the idea that we have no weapons throughout and we have to use the cinderblocks to do pretty much everything, but the ending was bit of a let down. I gave the cops the run around for a looong time, only to eventually get myself trapped and that’s when I learned it was the only way to end the map… Shame.

    Badwater 128 by T.B. Maloney AKA Papa Rabbi
    It is great!

    This felt authentic right from the start. The visuals were absolutely stunning and I love to see temporary resistance outposts. Also, the path on which you take the airboat was strewn with debris that didn’t actually hinder progression, which is exactly how detailing should be! There are some large open spaces in the map, but the flow of enemies and clever lighting means that you are rarely stuck as to where to go. The combat inside is a really fun sequence, though I did have an issue where two metrocops didn’t fully load in? I’ve seen this occur before but no idea what causes it.

    However, what prevents me from giving this map a WOW was the very last encounter. The hunter chopper fight was terrible. Very little room to maneuver and very little in the way of cover, so I mosly just tanked the incoming fire towards the end.

    Freeman and Bob by Clément Baticle AKA Klems (Bonus)
    It is WOW!

    While not officially part of the entries, Freeman and Bob is, without a doubt, the star of the show. I love Bob and I think he feels the same way. Incredible combat and some amazing scripted events throughout. Not only a blast to play through but a joy to experience. Well done.

    Summary

    While few of the entries blew me away, I still enjoyed playing through this between dealing with the kids on my attempt at a “lazy” Sunday… But the issue I have with this pack is in the initial prompt. I honestly did not feel a pang of nostalgia throughout, which I guess is a bad mark against everyone who entered, but I guess I’m not terribly nostalgic towards Half-Life because I’ve never stopped playing it!

    I feel nostalgia when I hear a track from a Sega Megadrive game I used to play, or when I fire up a game like Duke Nukem 3D that I only do once in a blue moon. I just think that it’s not an easy feeling to force onto a player, especially among the Half-Life community.

  19. jeo
    Play It Now!
    Metro
    It is okay

    This entry was actually not that bad, I think it tried to fit in Water Hazard and Point Insertion and it didn’t do that bad. aside from the basic mapping, lack of detail, this entry is okay.
    If the user that made this entry is new to mapping, then this is an amazing start.

    Cosmonaut
    It is great!

    At the start of the level, my frame rate was DYING due to my amazing super computer handling games very well, but overall this was a good entry, I enjoyed it but some places killed my fps, but hey if you don’t have a bad computer like I do, go ahead and play it I recommend you to.

    Lone
    It is bad

    “What?” That’s what I said when I beat this entry.
    You start off in what looks to be Ravenholm but there’s barely if none soundscapes which drive me insane sometimes, there were mines everywhere, soldiers everywhere, and even a strider which at that point I got bored and decided to turn on god mode cause I couldn’t kill the strider with 50 soldiers in front and behind me.

    Here Again
    It is okay

    The beginning of the level shows some potential, but it’s rather lost when some random person comes up to you and calls you in some apartment block that look’s not pleasant.
    That’s how the level goes, right? anyway you go upstairs where some “Rebels” are and you pick up a crowbar and a pistol, but you can’t change which weapon you want to use due to you not having the HEV suit I was lost in the apartments after 3 minutes of looking around and replaying the map, you had to break a window hop down just to see head crabs spawn in and crash your game. That was an amazing experience.

    Canal Escape
    It is good

    This one wasn’t really that bad.
    It gave you a simple path to head to along with that African-American male sounding like Barney. which made me smirk a bit but the level itself wasn't too hard, there were a couple cops around the corner overall, decent map.

    Grigori

    I actually didn’t play this map yet, so I have nothing to say for it…

    Power Up
    It is okay

    This one wasn’t really that bad, when I was in the room with Jake, he kept speaking quietly which made me turn the volume up just to hear a Cop talk just to blast my speakers out. Overall, it was fairly decent, simple concept, along with Freeman d y i n g

    Badwater 128
    It is great!

    I really liked this entry, but it looked like a dark CINEMATIC MOVIE as well as killing my frames but it was really good, it felt like it could’ve been in Water Hazard in HL2.
    Please play this btw.

    Bonus: Freeman and Bob
    It is WOW!

    Possibly one of the best Half-Life maps I’ve ever played, with the fitting dialogue with Bob, and the puzzles with him really felt like a Half-Life map. If you wanna play a good map play this one and you’ll not regret it.

  20. Play It Now!
    Metro
    It is good

    Loved that lighting effect right at the start!! But this leads onto some rather huge and bland areas before seeing yet more of this outdoors… Very drab here and that ladder is a bit silly and surely something the Combine would have noticed? Ha!

    Yeah, this is all kinda boring and when I reached the top I wasn’t sure where to go at first before eventually taking a leap! Familiar puzzle before finally getting a weapon!! The following tunnel scenes are actually a little crude but also enjoyable. Those manhacks always deserve to be blown up! Loving the canal areas and that chimney falling etc/etc. Superb stuff!!

    The end battle is oddly quite easy – even with my old man reactions! But I like the idea here. Perhaps some resistance fighters up there with me would have made it a bit more “realistic”?

    Overall, this feels like two maps merged together and I wonder what those initial scenes where for, nostalgic perhaps!?! Ha! As it is, it’s only worth playing from when you get the crowbar and then I enjoyed the map from here onwards which had a nice oldskool and of course familiar feel to it.

    Cosmonaut
    It is WOW!

    Again, loving the start here and the setting is quite excellent and a little atmosphere added by the guard going about his duties, nice touch. The puzzles are simple but there’s a little pick-up in the dumpster which was a neat bonus to find. Liking the attention to detail inside but then it leads out to a boring street…

    It’s a mixed bag for me this, it’s open and incredibly dull but at the same time there’s quite some attention to detail: like those guards in the alley and of course the hint of the tv being thrown out the window – but the switch was kinda obscure. Lowering the bridge is class and overall, I really enjoyed this entire part of the map.

    The second part starts off okay and the girl is funny but the guards burst in from where exactly… Nice but made no sense unless they locked the door and powered it up before attacking? Hmm still, the familiar generator puzzle worked well.

    Loving the outdoor area with the barrels, shame it’s so dark. But these places are so eerie too and it continues on – those damn Manhacks! Nice surprise. Liking the sewer places with barrels once more – superb!! The water scenes where to be expected but weren’t anything too special. Same with the train but I actually liked this – especially when above the track!! That barrel was perfectly placed. Love it.

    The Rain Man in me solved the 3-door puzzle straight away – that never normally happens so I’m happy. The entire outdoor scene that follows is superb!! Those armoured trucks later are perhaps a little too much, not sure but it took many attempts. Being lead through and to the boat was cruel because it teases you into thinking that the game hasn’t ended…

    Overall, I really loved this. Absolutely fantastic!!

    Lone
    It is good

    Creepy horror theme… never too sure about these as they’re often far too dark to try and feel fake with their so-called scary atmosphere. I liked the zombie banging on the window but it loses some of its appeal when outside. I enjoyed hopping my way up onto the shed and the parts afterwards dropping exploding barrels onto the zombies was nice. I enjoyed this whole part but it did feel a little lacking. Perhaps more baddies?

    Part two starts off with a bang and the spider zombie was a surprise. The horror theme kinda ends here and I was glad because it didn’t work. But I’m sure there’s a bug here as there might have been two rather than one? I hear the second sound when walking into this area… unless it’s just a bug with the sound effect? The next parts are good and staged quite well but I didn’t really enjoy the end of level battle. Not sure why but it felt awkward to me.

    The third part kicks off well and that soldier appeared from nowhere! Gotta love that fire scene but I could have done with a crossbow. I figured the area afterwards was going to allow in some beast so I positioned the car accordingly, alas nothing emerged. So I blocked the gate with it… which shuts behind you to chop the car in half lol. The parts that follow are really well designed and interesting and once I powered the shutter I was again thinking that the crossbow would have been nice.

    Did enjoy the lame Strider battle… Poor ending to a good map that has lots of neat twists on old ideas.

    Here Again
    It is okay

    Yup, here again, but a little dazed and confused before stumbling upon that door by sheer luck. I guess I needed a guide as an invisible female tells me to lead the way? Anyhow… not sure where I’ve been lead to but there is a crowbar/gun/G-Man! Eventually, I find a window to break (doh) and drop down into what I was hoping would be something interesting – but it all breaks and there are lots of headcrabs!

    Some fella has my suit! Heading down scares the Cr$P!! Outta me as a woman appears from nowhere just at the place of the zombie. I almost shot her but I guess she’s the mysterious voice I heard near the start?

    There’s a weird zombie room nearby and I could climb over those cars… Combine arrives and it ends! Seems like there’s a few nice ideas and twists here but nothing much more. Feels incomplete and I wanted more from this.

    Canal Escape
    It is good

    Love how I could watch the Combine through the window, scenes like this make the “world” feel more than simply me playing through the eyes of Gordon. Liking the basic puzzle to get the Grav Gun/Crossbar. Pushed the box to sneak up on the daft guards and killing the other guards outside felt so fake. But I was running low on ammo now.

    SNIPER!! Pretty lame scene tbh and what followed to find the wheel was too. But I enjoyed the outdoor area afterwards, nicely done. The gunship parts are superb, even if I made a run for it and some of the soldiers failed to know where I was. Enjoyed this simple map.

    Grigori
    It is okay

    The zombies started to bore after the first few are clubbed with my crowbar… The GravGun and all those paint pots worked well though 🙂 Didn’t get the point of the outdoor part which felt stupidly dark and with a fence block those bad guys off from me! Perhaps I missed something? The next area was also quite odd but fun picking off the zombies and there are even weapons!

    Climbing the rooftops and using the beams was fun, if too short! I heard a crash but no idea where that came from… nor the point of the resistance supplies – empty? The leads to more zombies…

    Feels unfinished but with some neat/old ideas that weren’t fully exploited.

    Power Up
    It is bad

    Weird. Lead through to collect the specs, take a couple of knocks and then the guard shows me a vent… the next guard tells me to move along and I never am able to pass this area? Picking up the can was the usual and never have I wanted a shotgun more!

    Of course, I use the convenient boxes to hope over the fence and a brick to smash to lock but by now I’m tiring of hopping around this sparse place… Oh! Something to do – brick a couple of spiders and smash another lock… Collected the power cell and noticed the guard walking away. What a frustrating fence jump but I then had to repair a PC lol

    Yeah, the explosion triggers two more guards that chase and kill you…

    Note: I was never able to hear any voices during this (and possibly other maps) because the archive (sorry Phillip) never decompress its WAV files – on my Mac. No matter what program I use. Not just this particular Ville but oddly anything that contains WAVs within the sound folder. Everything else unpacks fine, I just never get to hear any extra sampled recordings.

    Badwater 128
    It is WOW!

    Ohhh loving the start which is very atmospheric with lovely tones. Gorgeous outside, lovely day and some neat travelling on offer right before we’re lead out to the main structure. I thought this place was superbly designed if underpopulated. Blowing the generator is a nostalgic genius!

    What follows is great fun and well-designed too. The barrel down the stairs!! Superb.

    Great mini-battles here and I loved the shutter going down right before my eyes also. Didn’t know what else to do …annnnd then I saw the valve. Doh! The gunship… lol this made me jump!! Nice battle at the end with a good structure and TWO gunships!

    An awesome map.

    Freeman And Bob
    It is great!

    Crude but worked well to get the crowbar but I love the secret knock lol. Would have been nice to have been given a weapon… and that zombie area was a little clumsy I found. But the puzzles using Bob were superb. I thought I wouldn’t like it after the soldiers appeared as a quick run-through various screens always frustrate me but this was great and well balanced too.

    Finally – weapons!

    Great battle. Didn’t realise I needed to use his grenades at first. Spent a few lives looking for a hidden SMG that might have been discarded… Great battle at the end but Bob was a little useless at times but it all worked really well in the end. A superb map!!

    1. I recorded a quick video for fun. I think I’ll do more for HL2 maps/mods.
      https://youtu.be/ziUicXvtync Hope you guys like it. Pls excuses my poor gaming skills!! 😉

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