Black Sun
Mission Type:
Post Date:
Rhys Copeland
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Level Review
Overall Score:
Date Reviewed:
80 / 100
77 / 100
85 / 100
76 / 100
First Impressions
For those who have not heard of this level, this is the sequel to Mt. Kurek (not the same author by the way). I'm guessing that after destroying the clone facility, you followed Sate Prestage back to an imperial base. Unfortunately, the author makes no reference as to why Kyle must steal some datatapes, which leaves some loose-ends open at the end of the level. I also wish that a little more detail could have been provided. As it is, the level felt a little too vague with various objects thrown about without a purpose. None of this hurts the levels score, but it did make the level feel vacant.
Review Screenshot 1
Review Screenshot 2
Design / Visuals
It's a shame that the author couldn't stay consistent with his use of architectural detail. At times it was really impressive. The opening scenes left me with a good impression. Cliffs and ledges jutted out of the ground, giving the level a natural feel to it. Just prior to entering the base, the author used his talents again and created a stunning scene where Kyle is on top of a cliff and down below is river cutting through the rock. The terrain looked and felt so natural, that it actually caught my breath for a second upon viewing it for the first time. You can imagine then, that once I actually entered the base I would be treated with more architectural wonders. I was wrong. Most of the Imperial base, consists of cubed rooms and 900 hallways. Maybe I should have guessed it after viewing the hangars in the first couple scenes. Both of them were boxy, and boring. Aside from the few TIE fighters hanging around there didn't seem to be much detail. So I maybe I should have guessed what was coming, but I didn't. Anyway, it turns out that the base is pretty much a longer version of the hangers: Boxy architecture, boring rooms, and an apparent lack of detail. If there was one area done well it would have to be the cantina; although, I wouldn't recommend staying in there too long if you have a history of epilepsy. Texturing was average. I couldn't find any texturing errors, which is always a plus, but I did find a lot of scenes that repeatedly used the same textures over and over again. Now, in the exterior parts I can condone this because it is difficult to vary the textures without making the level look ugly. However, the DF engine has several imperial textures that could have been used but weren't. Most of the base consisted of one texture, which needless to say, left me wishing for some variety. The high-security areas were well done and used that cool black texture with yellow strips running through it, but we need to see more of this type of variety.
Dynamics / Interactivity
Enemy Placement was average to good. The beginning parts of the level lacked enemies, which gave the level an, almost, tense feeling to it. Around the time I reached the hangar areas, was the time that the enemies started to appear. One thing I really liked was how the author spread out the enemies. I never counted more then six in an area, which made each fight challenging, but not impossible. Also, the author smart enough not to mix aliens with imperials. Although there are Grans and Gamorreans outside and in the cantina, there are only imperials in the base- something that other authors tend to overlook. Item Placement was good but needs to be spread out a bit more. Most of the shields and health packs were crammed into the first half of the level. This created an imbalance as far as the levels gameplay is concerned. While I understand the reason behind this- it creates more of a challenge since the ending scenes are usually the toughest- I don't see it as a good thing necessarily. I'd rather have the shields and health packs spread out consistently throughout the level, since it doesn't require backtracking through half the level if your health gets low. Another good dynamic feature was the enhancements. New BM's and FME's add to the lacking detail and over-use of textures. Sate Prestage makes another entrance and looks just as good as he did when Kyle last saw him in "Mt. Kurek". New VOC's, coupled with standard DF ones, bring out the feel of an Imperial base (although that alarm was really grating my nerves at the end). Finally there are some new VUE's of the Crow flying to and away from Kyle. All of these enhancements really help boost some of the other areas that would have been severely lacking without them.
Playing Experience / Atmosphere
The author did a good job in creating an atmosphere early on in the level. After watching, the Crow leave, you walk down a set of stairs and come across about a dozen dead bodies. For me, this helped give the level an underlying tone of fear. The external scenes had good use of lighting and shadowing, which accented that tone of fear. It's a shame that the author couldn't continue this into the Imperial base. Once you find a way into the base, the atmosphere changes from one of tension to one of boredom. Again, the lack of detail was a big contributor to this boredom. As far as the setup of the level is concerned, I have no problems. Unfortunately, the realism of the level does cause me to raise a couple questions. Most of them are could have been fixed had the plot been more detailed. For example, What's with all of those dead bodies? Was there some type of revolt on the planet? Why is there a Y-wing in an Imperial hangar? Did the rebels try to assault the planet and fail? If the author had taken time to write a better plot, I doubt that many of these questions would be up here. Mechanically there were a few problems. Although at no point did the game crash on me, there were, however, other bugs that are almost as serious. Aside from the infamous HOM there was a part in the Imperial base where I got stuck in the wall and had to use the teleport cheat in order to get out. I think that the walls weren't joined properly, which explains how I "fell" into it. While trying to secure the Mortar Gun I got a nasty HOM that caused me to actually walk through the walls of the game. There is a similar HOM during the fight with Sate Prestage. The only difference is that the HOM happens to Sate, which means that he can walk, or fly, through the walls of the game. This is perhaps the most annoying of the bugs, since you can't beat the game unless you defeat Prestage. Now, the level was beta tested, so I don't know if this is just my computer, or what.
Review Screenshot 3
Review Screenshot 4
Final Thoughts
It is a fun level that needs more detail and a better plot. When I last talked to the author (which was months ago) there was going to be a part three to this series. I don't know if this is still true, but I hope that it is. The author has shown a talent for making levels, but he needs to be more consistent with the design. I suggest that you try this level. It may not be as good as "Mt. Kurek", but it's still a fun level nonetheless.
77 / 100
85 / 100
76 / 100