Map Review of half-life:echoes

Map review of Echoes

by GrandmasterJ | April 21, 2023 | 4696 characters

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Buckle up for a long cinematic adventure, we have a highly praised Half-Life mod converted for Sven Co-op and it has been lovingly ported. This mod has some great production and we start off strong with a cutscene and voiceover that all players can see! Cutscenes often leave players out but that doesn't happen here and that indicates the quality level of pretty much the whole map series.

I can see right in the first cutscene that the creator of the mod remade the test chamber from Half-Life but with their own twist, plenty of details and some new texture. It sort of looks like a graphical upgrade. The next maps mirror the combatless intro from the original game as we wander around Black Mesa and talking with NPCs fixing a bunch of problems. Everything looks gorgeous and there are lots of details. Later in the map when stuff hits the spinning thing the emergency lights come on and give the map incredible mood lighting. There are volumetric lights casting good looking shadows and lots of sprites to make certain lights pop. The map also has a strong motif of green light indicating the way forward.

There are some enormous areas with so much detail I am in awe that the engine can handle it. There were two specific areas that I saw some stuff flickering in the distance, my teammate hypothesized that func_details were popping in and out of existence.

The gameplay itself is a little too slow and plodding. We get an intro map and then two maps of walking around, then we get a map where we go through the level with no weapon. It's a really good looking sequence, we see a garg throw some things around, but it just goes on a bit too long. When I finally grabbed the crowbar the map set got immensely better. I think if two maps were dropped from the beginning then the series would be improved.

The map is tweaked a lot to support cooperative play. We get frequent spawn updates that teleport all players to the next area, this happened near constantly. This is great, the map can get a bit convoluted so all players popping into existence right where they need to be was a real time saver. More maps should do this. While weapons don't usually appear in these spawn points they are still scattered around, we would lose a weapon to a spawn update only to find a new source for it right after. All anxiety about running around and collecting weapons was gone with the knowledge that we would probably find another one around the next corner.

It wasn't until the last four maps that the combat picked up and actually gave us a challenge suitable for multiple people. The enemies are laid on thick in some areas but its nothing really crazy until the end. The visuals pick up too, there is one part with a great shot of the military rolling over a bridge with ospreys flying overhead. The final fight has the sky thick with those weird alien ships. I remember at one point turning to my teammate and saying "this map finally got interesting".

This is a really good conversion. The visuals are top notch, it actually feels like an upgraded Black Mesa which is a goal I feel many maps shoot for and fall far, far short of. The cutscenes work perfectly, there is a lot of voiceover, and the lighting and details all bring this series to life. I didn't even mention the many many custom models added in, lots of fun gore piles that remind me of Doom. The pacing and combat could have used some work, it took too long for stuff to happen and for us to get a weapon. Then the combat was mediocre until the end. But the greatest thing about this map is the amazing and very frequent spawn updates plus the plethora of weapon drops in the maps. This is a long map series and I think this cut down on a ton of time walking back to the front and trying to recollect an armory. Give this map set a try, but only if you have like three hours to kill.


  • the map set is gorgeous with great lighting and details
  • good cutscenes that actually work for all players, really fun in-game visual sequences
  • spawn points update very frequently
  • weapons are scattered around the map so we don't have to waste time recollecting lost weapons
  • lots of new and nice custom models
  • lots of good voiceover and other good sound design


  • The beginning of the map drags
  • the combat is kind of dull until the end
  • the map is really long and there are not enough well executed ideas to fill it all out
Score: 8 / 10
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