Map Review of sector-e

Map review of Sector E

by dunkelschwamm | April 16, 2022 | 3711 characters

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Sector E is a large walkthrough series of maps by prolific Sven Co-op mapper Keen. It follows the Black Mesa theme, though does interesting things with it throughout. Each map is decently lengthy and packed full of action.

That's first thing I want to talk about: the action. I feel like Sector E manages multi-faction monster battles better than any other Sven map I've played up to this point. Sector E manages battles cinematically, while still making them feel natural and dropping the player into the middle of massive firefights while giving them the tools to navigate said firefights as they see fit. It really reminds me of some of the best parts of Half-Life, where everything is going to absolute shit and the player is flying by the seat of their pants throwing every single tool from their Batman utility belt in the hopes of finding something to solve the myriad of issues cropping up all around. It's a great energy that I've never seen other maps pull off so consistently without becoming overwhelming or frustrating. It's everything Half-Life said it would be in the gaming magazines, and with incredible consistency without being exhausting. It's an incredible tightrope act.

I think a big contribution to these massive battles feeling good is the way Keen handles ammo and armor here- he puts it everywhere. Batteries, ammunition, explosives, and snark nests can be found in big heaps all over the map. It's even stashed in naturalistic locations most of the time so it doesn't feel too distracting. It's actually really satisfying to walk through areas after killing the enemies and picking up ammo from tons of pickup entities. You're given many powerful weapons, but most situations make using an explosive all willy-nilly a suicide note.

The Black Mesa theme is not one I care for most of the time. However, Keen manages to put a very interesting spin on it here with some really effective and thoughtful lighting, fun environments that are packed full of details, and lots of really small good ideas that add up to a larger whole. The lighting is colorful and moody and dark, and it reminds me at times of moodier old FPS games like Doom 64 or Unreal Tournament. Comparisons aside, I think it cuts a unique feel for itself and manages to make the majority of the setpiece areas maintain their own identity. It feels like one of those mapsets where most of the tricks the engine is capable of are given a chance to shine bright, and I respect that. I won't really knock points for this- my buddy asked if there's any complaint I would make about the map. I guess I think the Black Mesa theme just generally holds it back from being more interesting than just a very interesting version of a Black Mesa environment, but man, it does it SO well.

I won't get into too many of the actual details. It's a really fantastic series with fun setpieces, a few simple and stress-free puzzles, and great action. It's broken into three maps, each of very reasonable length, so if you ever need to play in bursts it has you covered. I recommend playing it with a friend or adding it to your server. It's a really fantastic series.


  • Incredible action
  • Really clever and fresh take on the Black Mesa setting
  • I really enjoy the final bit
  • Excellent length
  • Brushwork, details, and special effects are premium
  • Tons of weapons and battles which make the weapons feel justified


Score: 9.5 / 10
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