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Review of Thermal
"It's got... ice. Lots and lots of... ice."
When i returned from my one-month leave of absense just weeks ago, i was quite surprised to see *three* back-to-back Hatecrimes releases. Being the lazy person that i am, i didn't care to download them until i was forced to in order to play on Onecall. I didn't know what to expect. Hatecrimes' first map, Hexwrench, wasn't exactly a stunning masterpiece, but it wasn't all that bad either. I was optimistic and hoped the new offering would deliver. Here's what i found...
When you first load Thermal, you'll be quite fascinated by the visuals. This is unlike anything you've ever seen (excluding Icestation8.) Basically, the map consists of a giant ring-shaped series of rooms. This design method is similar to Hexwrench, but i think Hatecrimes did a better job making each room unique this time. As you explore the map, you'll quickly discover that it's entirely covered in ice. All of it. Excluding some remote areas, the entire map is covered in ice and snow. Fortunately, this ice isn't slippery. (Oh God, i can only imagine what it would have been like...) While the layout may be sort of confusing because every room, every surface is texturally (hey, i invented a new word) identical, you should be able to find your way around, sooner or later. The water adds a nice visual touch, but don't worry, it's only ankle deep. (Except for a few spots)
In terms of gameplay, this map is a mixed bag. Choke points are few, a plus, but the multi-level madness can be a source of frustration both on the offensive and defensive side. HTs can be perticularly effective here. They can pick off alien structures on ledges and higher levels from below while the exterminators and commandos move in for the kill. Breeding can be a challenge too. Lack of good base locations can be the death of the spiders. However, if the team has some competent builders and defenders, a decent multi-level base design is possible. With so many twists and turns, you won't be seeing excessive spam too often, but some locations are prone to it, so watch out.
And then, there's the lighting... The absense of adequate darkness is another knife in the back for the spiders. The map is too bright. Maps should be bright in the human area, but not in 90% of the map. Only the areas lacking ice and snow seem to be nice and dark, and might provide the best base locations for the spiders.
Overall, the map is decent. It's not a total disaster. It scores big points in the originality department, but lighting problems, a repetitive look and a somewhat problematic layout prevent me from awarding Thermal a seal of approval. I must admit this map is better than Hexwrench, so Hatecrimes is definitely improving. I haven't had a chance to look at his other works, but when i do i'll be sure to review them or comment on them here. I can only hope they turned out better..
Gotta love the disco-flashlights... - Saig
We all know that IceStation8 kicks ass. Keep up the good work HoB. :) - Azekiel
HOB? - Cataclaw
HOB IS RAW SUX - Echon
Comment: It's all the same, throughout the entire map. Ice, snow, more ice, a little more snow and the occasional cement or metal texture. While the textures fit the theme quite well, it gets extremely repetitive and dull. The architecture is OK but the map is overall quite bright.
Comment: Judging by the convenient "maps" of the level scattered around, this layout consists of a giant circle, with multi-level circle-shaped rooms/areas with hallways linking them all together. Don't try to understand the maps, the layout is confusing enough as it is.
Comment: Creativity is this map's strong point. This is one of only two existing snow/ice maps in gloom. (The other being icestation8. Ick.)
Comment: I can honestly say this is *THE* best snow/ice based gloom map in existence, but that may not mean much, since the other candidate, well, we won't even mention. Overall this map suffers from a lot of problems, but it certainly is different -- and gloomers need a little dose of "different" every now and then.
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