Map Review of assault-on-black-mesa-2

by dunkelschwamm | August 7, 2022 | 5663 characters

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Assault on Black Mesa 2 is a confusingly named two-part slog of a walkthrough series wherein players wade through snarks, turrets, snipers, and grunts while forced most of the time to rely on equipment which does the job half-well. Shoot at great distances with a pistol and some uzis, or drop down on huge clusters of enemies without any crowd-control weapons on-hand. Eventually the map gives you weapons, though sometimes those weapons become dilemmas when checkpoints open a ways past their pickup. Do I return to battle faster to aid my comrade, or do I restock? It would be easier with more people, but the pittance of HEV and ammo for important weapons would make it a frustrating slog.

Let's slow down for a second and explain the map a bit. Players begin next to a truck and ammo chests which fill over time. This truck, over time, will open into two different teleports, the second of which will lead to more (the checkpoints). The checkpoints are far enough apart that it's quite a trek between them, which is fine on its own, but traversing the map is a bit of a chore, often full of harmful falls, and hides weapons and pickups in the dead center between checkpoints necessitating full travel to be fully armed. If you don't take this extra time and make the map more of a boring affair, you need to approach combat situations with more boilerplate weapons. Great.

Most of the map's scenarios put the players against a lot of fairly accurate hitscan enemies at long ranges so the players' pistols are the only really useful weapons for a while. I'd say this is probably my favorite bits of the map, where the players crawl across the landscape picking away at grunts and turrets from vantage points. It's slow and tedious, but most of the rest of the map is being forced into confrontations without cover against globs of respawning enemies, necessitating endless respawns and an inability for the arena to dynamically change because advancing means standing in the middle of respawning enemies. This is why Half-Life didn't just drop enemies in on the players repeatedly out of thin air- it strangles the dynamics of an arena when a player has to treat a general direction as being ambiguously unexpectedly life-ending to stand near until the battle is over so they can track of the spawner is still randomly shitting enemies. Such battles became the norm more and more as the map progressed, and it made the map much more tedious and frustrating as a result. Just, really not a fan.

That's not to mention that the map has a lot of sudden annoying bits- raining snarks on the player from out of nowhere, forcing the players to ride a wall-less elevator up into a chamber where they are surrounded on all sides by grunts, forcing players to wait at the end of a long underwater corridor while being eaten by no fewer than four ichthyosaurs. There's a bit where we got a rocket launcher and we're supposed to shoot at a crack in the wall, only the crack is barely visible against the gamut of scorch marks left from the preceding battle. My teammate ventured a rocket shot at the blast door at the end of the hall and just happened to explode the rocket close enough to the cracked wall to reveal progress.

To the map's credit, it plays with line-of-sight in the early parts in really interesting ways, and creates a lot of large environments with varying degrees of success. Much like the gameplay, the visuals degrade as we move into the second map- the second map ends on a pretty horrendous airstrip. But between we have some fun looking (but not fun playing :D) platforming craggy caves, there's a bridge we climb up on from a canyon, a great lab with a baby garg in a tube which sets up the boss in the terrible looking airplane at the end.

Throughout there are also some very fun secrets! I encourage players to look for them- there's at least one big secret area in each map, they're both worth checking out.

Overall I think this is a mostly frustrating map with some really decent qualities about it, and its annoying follow-up map. I don't want to say you could just stop after the first map and call it a day, but, like, if I had I don't think I would have missed much. If you want to try this out for a lot of action, give it a go with a friend, or even better with a few. I think this would do gangbusters on an active action server. Definitely add it to the rotation there.


  • There are checkpoints!
  • Players occasionally get their hands on a decent arsenal
  • Lots of variety of environments throughout, even if it was all "Black Mesa Complex" type stuff. One bit reminded me of offices in Deus Ex.
  • Genuinely impressive layout in the first turret canyon in how it plays with line-of-sight
  • Some neat setpieces
  • Quite some impressive scale


  • Half of every combat situation is very annoyingly set up
  • Checkpoints are far apart and skip vital equipment
  • Enemies just spawn over and over again, making combat static and boring, and confusing, and aggravating, especially when it turns out the respawning enemies are the trigger to the next area
  • Quality of brushwork and design seems to deteriorate over time
  • Some of the most annoying platforming I've played in Sven Co-op
  • Fuck the ichthyosaur segment. If I had to think of the most annoying way to force players to interact with ichthyosaurs, it'd be a lot like that.
Score: 5.9 / 10
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