Map Review of sector-e

Map review of Sector E

by GrandmasterJ | April 16, 2022 | 5306 characters

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To be perfectly honest when I saw Sector E I groaned, it was yet another Black Mesa themed map. But right on map start it had a different quality about it. I've played a few of this author's, Keen's, other maps and he definitely has a habit of stuffing many details into his maps, Sector E is no exception.

Sector E drops players into Black Mesa with a very vague and uninspired storyline, you are part of a military force going into Black Mesa and extracting Gordon Freeman for some reason. The other military forces do not know about your mission so you're going to have to fight them too, except sometimes there are HEV guys that teleport in and talk to players who are friendly. The setting in this map reminds me of the Sven Co-op pseudo setting where some maps will have a story about the 'Sven Co-op team' taking down threats.

The best part about this map is how well players are supplied. There were many supply dumps just sitting there on the ground. I actually had to ask my teammate if he noticed piles of ammo spawning in areas after we clear them out, it turns out he just ran in and took all the ammo before I got there so I only saw the literal piles of ammo on the ground after I had to go through the respawn walk of shame. Despite my teammate getting the jump on me in terms of supplies I never felt pressed for ammunition in this map. Not to mention players get access to a huge range of weapons so players have many options to dispatch enemies with.

Combat is done with mini waves of enemies spawning in when players enter a room. I don't know if its set to spawn the next wave in on a timer or if it goes when the first wave is dead but enemies came in at a regular pace and we tore through them. The combat was hard and I did die quite a few times, but it was satisfying and rewarding. Shotgun blasts and underbarrel grenades did a lot of work and the enemies entered at such a rate that I never felt overwhelmed. Even when I did get cornered I would tank the hits with my full HEV and surgically shotgun my way free. The combat encounters are very well laid out.

While the map itself was very non-linear and got a little mazey at times there were frequent shortcuts and teleporters appearing to ease players' travel back to the front line. There are also a lot of nooks and crannies in this map, so its easy to get lost. My teammate and I were lost many times but when we would stumble onto the way to go and it would become very apparent that we were going the right path. There were many times where we went the right way but we never took a peek around a corner and I now wonder if we missed anything. The map is full of secrets, we found about three freaky flowers or so. Not sure what they do, there is no tracker anywhere. I enjoy secrets, but if they don't immediately reward the player or have some way to keep track of our secret progress then I don't see why the secrets are there in the first place.

I really liked how the objectives and story were given to the player via text at certain points. Objectives were also marked with big shining sprites. There was also some voice acting in this map which is rare and very nice. While we did get lost the big shining sprite over the objectives kept us moving, we might not have always known what we were doing, but when we got there it was hard not to progress. The map did get mazey and confusing at times but the objectives were made to be hard to miss so it worked out well in the end.

There are some fun scripted sequences where Gordon Freeman makes an appearance. You try to help him when you find out… well, no spoilers. It's pretty fun that the map has a story that doesn't just fall by the wayside and is soon forgotten. This map sticks with it and escalates how serious it is about telling a story about pursuing Freeman. I found the whole thing very fun, even if it was wacky.

I really enjoyed this map. It's a nice looking, detailed trip to Black Mesa. It has a kind of strange feeling like this is alternate reality Black Mesa due to the friendly teleporting HEV guys. The combat was paced well and overall well thought out. The weapons and supplies were great for fighting off the many enemies that come in at once, plus there was plenty of HEV. I enjoyed the scripted sequences and the production value put into the story, as silly as it is I think it came together really well. This is a very fun map and I recommend it.

Pros:

  • The map looks great
  • The map has good direction and story and nice scripted sequences to go along with them
  • combat was well paced
  • players were well supplied
  • plentiful shortcuts
  • great details, great secrets, great production value overall

Cons:

  • the secrets are nice but without a reward or a tracker its hard to tell how close I am to max completion
  • If secrets are all or nothing, then I collected all those secrets for nothing
  • we're still in Black Mesa, which I guess just personally bothers me (I did not lower the score for this)
  • The map layout was a touch confusing
Score: 9 / 10
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