Map Review of area-zero

Map review of Area Zero

by GrandmasterJ | June 12, 2022 | 3980 characters

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Area Zero is a simple Black Mesa themed walkthrough map from 17 years ago at the time this was written. I didn't expect much from it and so I was surprised at some of the tricks it pulled on me, like hitting us with baby headcrabs out of nowhere. Overall the map did look blocky and rough but there were some features that showed real promise.

Players start out with no weapons and no medkits. I died a lot on this series, there is no ammo and there is no health in the first map. Players find a wrench in spawn area and fight through some minor enemies and then a shock trooper. We pick up a shotgun around the same time.

Players go up an elevator and through more combat with a weird green alien room. Players have already passed by a patch of xen fungus at this point. The level is rough, blocky, and simple, but its done with intent. There is environmental storytelling, there are inaccessible rooms players can look inside for a fun diorama of Black Mesa, and there are fun environmental sequences like things exploding. The map feels like it was done by a very promising new mapper. Sometimes these explosions kill players, this is negated by the spawn point updating at exactly the same moment. This is balanced out by the new spawn point not having a wrench or mp5 (players get right before hitting the checkpoint). Remember how I said this map lacks ammo? My teammate ran out of ammo after we respawned from the checkpoint, he had no wrench so he had to suicide to get ammo and keep fighting. The lack of supplies is ridiculous.

After more fighting in Black Mesa corridors there is a teleporter, stepping though it will change the map to the next one, Xen. Xen starts players off once again with absolutely nothing. There is a nearby shotgun with no spare ammo in sight. There is also a big walkway in front of players and a tentacle will come up and eat a guy before disappearing forever, it exists just to show off. At the end of the path is a teleporter, be careful because you will be telefragged at the exit if somebody comes in behind you. This map has no updating spawn points and there is a teleporter I got pasted in at the end and I had to walk all the way back.

After the teleporter is a path up to a gauss cannon and the first time we see ammo in this map set. There are also a lot of alien grunts which can be pretty difficult with just two people, those grunts throw so many snarks. After this is a short trip to the mp5, and some underbarrel grenades, the map is generous now. Through another teleporter are some grenades and a voltigore. Past that is the level end.

The map could have looked way better, there were nice details but everything was simple and blocky, the hallways in Xen were perfectly smooth despite the walls looking like fungus. Still, there was effort put into the environment, that was very clear with the parts of Xen showing up in Black Mesa and the offices players can't access. The combat is geared to be unforgiving, without any armor we lose health fast and without a medkit we can't get health back. Even surviving long isn't ideal because of the lack of ammo, respawning is the best resupply. I don't mind difficulty, but all combined these design choices feel a little like trolling the player. I really enjoyed the map set, it shows real promise even if it is still rough around the edges.


  • There was a good updated spawn point in the first map
  • some nice details like the side rooms and creeping Xen invasion
  • the second map gave me lots of underbarrel grenades


  • the map architecture came off as more rough than simple
  • no ammo
  • second spawn has no wrench, forcing a resupply by suicide
  • telefragging teleports
Score: 5 / 10
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