Map Review of arctic-incident

by dunkelschwamm | June 5, 2022 | 4524 characters

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Arctic Incident is a Half-Life mod which this mapset aims to port to Sven Co-op. Does it do this faithfully? I don't know, as I haven't played the original. However, my understanding is that some maps were consolidated and the weapons have been changed. If that's the case, then this is a very solid port which made some good decisions, as both the maps and weapons work great.

The maps are arctic themed, and mostly revolve around a research base in the arctic mountains(?) which is being invaded by thematically appropriate Xen invaders. The theming works better than one might expect, in large part due to very competent execution. The invaders themselves look pretty good and their names are all dumb cold puns which I support fully. If I had no pretentions to professional ethics I'd let the rest of the review be cold puns. Ice to sleet you, Gordon! Maybe chill out and stop being so frigid.

The players don't get many weapons in these maps, but what they do get are balanced very well. You start with a handgun which isn't terrible, but lacks stopping power against medium to higher ranged enemies. So, you find a rifle which does have good stopping power, but doesn't always have spare ammo available. You also get grenades, but for the first half of the map I forgot I had them. Later, players also get an RPG, but it's very close to the end and it's clearly given to deal with a particular situation which immediately follows from it.

Gameplay is mostly linear, though the path of the map sometimes wraps back over on itself. There's a couple instances where the Sven Co-op inventory system is implemented for keys or an explosive to solve locked door situations. I'd hesitate to call more than two instances in this map a puzzle- and the one instance I'm thinking of just involves shooting an explosive to blow a door open or turning on a tractor to push a gate open. Really, this map is first and foremost an action map, and it does the action well. Each combat is fun, and I think that's largely helped by the custom weapons which emphasize precision shots. Every safe strategy I took felt like it made me a sitting duck and every risky strategy felt risky. The action was good.

The visuals of the maps are good most of the way through. It definitely feels like an arctic take on the Half-Life concept, but it's full of flourishes that I think elevate it. Enemies dig around in or emerge from snow, corpses are buried in powdery piles, and cracked ceiling in caves let light and loose snow drift in. That's not to mention the number of environments this map manages to pull off with such a limited theme- from frozen sewers tunnels to cave systems to crevasses to pipes suspended high over a cliff to research corridors- all contained in this medium-length mapset. Even the checkpoints are pretty reasonable.

That said, there are some spots with the ambition crosses into overdesign. Invisible brushes in the ceilings which prevent players from climbing as they wouldn't have been able to in the original mod don't prevent any map-breaking mischief, but do frustrate. Climbing crates, shelves, or rocks have resulted in wacky stucking the player in ways which unstuck cannot fix. There's also plenty of spots where I think the map just doesn't account for there being two players, such as coming up on enemies through a cramped tunnel, where sending one person ahead is really the most reasonable course of action.

I think, in the end, I was quite satisfied with the ending and felt it couldn't have ended at a better time. If you're looking for a good action map to play with a friend, Arctic Incident is perfect for you. If you're running a server, throw it on!


  • Looks beautiful, full of environmental details
  • Action is good, well paced, balanced
  • Good use of new scripted weapons
  • Fun new enemy models
  • Map feels like the exact right length for what it is and what it offers
  • Most of the setpieces are great


  • The key > box > explosive > back to where we got the key bit is a pretty contrived bit of gameplay that feels like truly pointless backtracking
  • Some parts of the map are brushed kinda wonky so I get stuck
  • The garg fight is kind of a flatline, I thought, almost felt obligatory
Score: 8.5 / 10
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