Map Review of black-mesa-arena

by dunkelschwamm | March 20, 2023 | 4964 characters

Sorry, we couldn't find any images attached to this page.

Black Mesa Arena is a two-map set for Sven Co-op wherein players battle through multiple arenas using lots of weaponry against lots of enemies. Is it any good?

The first map is often a bit spartan in appearance, taking a brutalist minimalist approach to a lot of the arenas. Players are given all of the boilerplate weaponry early on, and face huge onslaughts of enemies. At first it seemed possibly overbearing, but through cunning and grit just two players managed to survive pretty well through a lot of these encounters. Every enemy in Santa's bag is featured, and sometimes they infight. There are lots of Xen military in this first map, often accompanied by plenty of Alien Controllers. Early on there is access to an RPG, and the once explosives become more readily available the map really turns into a slaughtermap. By the end you're encouraged to use an egon gun as much as possible. There's a great balance of power trip and tension.

This first map is helped immensely by a checkpoint system, which creates a portal every two arenas. There are quite a few arenas, and many of them sprawl out, so it helps. The map is also helped with all of the tons of pickups and goodies, from HEV to ammo, scattered around. There are lots of breakable crates full of goodies and wall chargers. The map wants the player to be equipped for these tons of enemies, and it's appreciated that it accommodates. There are even sped up respawn times for items. The HEV comes in handy with one arena that takes place in a refrigerated system which constantly deals environmental damage. I didn't like this gimmick, and ran passed the arena to the exit.

The second map is, I would say, far prettier and spacious. There's a lot of scale, and some more natural (if alien) environments. The scale looks great but is to some of the detriment of gameplay when this map only has one mid-level checkpoint with loooooots of walking inbetween (and a longjump module only after the checkpoint is unlocked) The indoor laboratory stuff also looks a lot better, with some interesting textures and lighting. That's not to say the first map is ugly, it just didn't take as good advantage of its visuals as the second map did.

The second map goes full slaughter-map, equipping the players with the egon, rpg, and a sniper right off the bat (soon a hivehand, then SAW and longjump as well). Tons of enemies appear at once, with the map culminating in a battle with a gargantua, two Tors, and a kingpin with an ungodly amount of health in a Quake 3 style arena complete with jump-pads. There's a lot more overpowered bullet-sponge enemies in this second map, which isn't super appreciated, but we've definitely experienced worse in some zombie hunt maps. Of note was a sewer full of high-health gonomes who threatened to gang-up on us and devour our corpses on our deaths to fully regain our health. We kited them from atop the tall descent into their den.

There's a lot of visual gags referencing portal for some reason. I think they work pretty good, though, and a lot of the environments in this map look fine. Some, especially in the second map, look really good. In the first there's some arenas with really flat lighting and plain textures that look like a bad N64 game. Overall, though, nothing bad enough to be distracting and the good stuff was noteworthy.

It's worth mentioning that things change a lot, too. We go from laboratories to warehouses to freezers to alien worlds to zombie graveyards. By the end things get pretty surreal, with jump pads and healing pools and barbed wire ladders which damage the player (why?????????). The map is a pretty steady escalation into chaos, and I think it's fitting for the steady escalation in violence and mayhem which brings us there.

Overall, Black Mesa Arena is a really fun action experience that I don't hesitate to recommend to all. My teammate and I often lament that there's not more maps that throw lots of enemies at well equipped players, and this map does that exceedingly well.


  • Each arena is a definite escalation and new idea which changes things up.
  • Some really nice visuals in some areas
  • Great balls-to-the-wall action
  • Well equipped players are happy players- especially love the crate drops
  • Good checkpoint system, in particular in the first map
  • Good use of lots of Sven Co-op's entity list


  • Bad checkpoint in the second map. We really should have gotten the longjump earlier
  • Some gross encounters in the second map, especially with the gonomes
  • Weird necessary damage environments, like the freezer and the barbed wire ladder
  • Some dumb fall pits that cause frustrating deaths in the second map
Score: 8.3 / 10
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License