Map Review of access-point

by dunkelschwamm | January 16, 2022 | 4993 characters

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Access Point is a singleplayer mod that I have never played by (the, I'm presuming, mysterious) Dr Orange. Access Point for Sven Co-op is a port of that singleplayer mod by mikk. And boy, what a port it is.

Access Point is a fast-paced singleplayer map which acts as a vertical slice of all of the action in the first half-dozen-or-so chapters of Half-Life. There are headcrabs, houndeyes, barnacles, vortigaunts, and grunts battled through fast and satisfying mini-battles throughout the exploration of the locale. Said locale is one of those Black Mesa industrial areas, fit with lots of functional hallways, storage rooms, interesting storage moving mechanisms to behold from suspended walkways, ventilation shafts, and lots of concrete. The action whizzes past so fast that by the time you get to the end your adrenaline will have far from fallen off.

As a Sven Co-op port the map certainly works, the inclusion of a Heavy Weapons grunt near the end works as a fantastic end boss, the inclusion of thoughtfully placed checkpoints for survival mode, and the working difficulty settings which change how many enemies we faced throughout are all fantastic additions which work marvelously. Really, mikk did a fantastic job of making all of this work as well as it does.

At the same time, I feel the map is very short and very easy. It was to the map's benefit that it was short, in that my friend and I decided to replay the map immediately on hard mode after our initial medium playthrough. Just the two of us wiped the floor with the map without much difficulty. Aside from initial recklessness in my first playthrough bringing me to 11 health early on, I never found myself near death. Battles with the grunts created tense situations thanks to masterfully designed arenas allowing each of their grenades to force the player to scramble, but near the end I was bunny-hopping around blasting enemies in the face without much regard for my own life and I barely suffered for it. Halfway through my hard playthrough I was regularly commenting to my comrade that I had yet to take any damage -at all! It's very fun to power-trip over the enemies in Half-Life, but it also feels as though this map could not hold any kind of difficulty -even in hard mode- if you play with more than a single player. In that sense, I guess I could scold mikk for not adjusting the map for Co-op balance, but we had a great time anyway and if the goal were just to add Co-op functionality to an existing mod without rebalancing things then the mikk has already gone above and beyond with this port. It just bears to acknowledge that this experience's spice is very watered down for how it plays in Co-op.

The map itself holds great examples of many of the best feelings of early Half-Life: Pushing a crate to solve a very simple jumping puzzle. Shooting a vortigaunt from down a hallway. Leading a friendly scientist down a simple hallway to use them as a human keycard. Chasing grunts down hallways and narrowly avoiding their Bomberman-like grenade tactics. Crawling through vents to get the drop on unsuspecting soldiers plotting to kill you. Finding weapon stashes and better guns. Seeing a rocket launcher through a door window which you cannot ever get and we noclipped to try to get it and there's no way to get it WHY IS THAT EVEN THERE? What the Hell, guys?

The map is at least as well brushed as the original Half-Life and includes a multitude of variations on the brutalist themes just subtle enough to feel believable within the shared space and just different enough to feel like recognizable landmarks. The design of the level throughout is superb and keeps the players moving forward. There's never a lull or dull moment, and we never really got lost except for when we were trying to find out how to get that GODDAMN ROCKET LAUNCHER. The environment really sells itself and it's a testament to how Half-Life's environments on the Goldsrc engine can still really shine to this day.

Overall, if you're looking for a quick map to play with a friend give it a go. If you're looking for one to play with a bunch of friends, this one may be over in the blink of an eye. If you run a server with lots of fast-paced action experiences this'd do great on the rotation, but it'll be over fast.

Pros:

  • Fast-paced gameplay
  • Great environments and clear direction
  • A lot of love poured into this port, you can tell
  • Really solid experience from beginning to end
  • Lots of variety in challenges throughout

Cons:

  • Maybe too easy? Certainly fun, but maybe too easy
  • What's up with that rocket launcher, huh? Sending us on a wild goose chase.
  • It's over in the blink of an eye, but that may not be so bad
Score: 9.5 / 10
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