Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: Operation Nighthawk

Title: Operation: Nighthawk
Creator: reflex17
Release Date: 25/02/2014
Length: 5 Levels (+ 1 Secret level)
Level Format: Continuous
Story: New
Graphics: Original SoD
Sound: Original SoD
Special Features: None
Dos/SDL: Dos & SDL (requires original files)

Initial impressions: Straight off the slightly unconventional usage of the wall textures is noticeable. It gives the castle a truly underground feel, as if the player has walked into some kind of dark, secret, hidden bunker. The constant use of the sand + root texture reinforces this feel. The object placement and, at times, the placement of wall textures with decoration is unconventional as well - which is a good thing. It seems this mapper has his own style and his own sense for aesthetics, which is always a good thing for a mapper to have.

Gameplay: The game plays as your average SoD mapset. Slightly less action than some mods perhaps (low on ambushes), but it has more of an adventure feel - it truly feels as if you are exploring the place. Nice mix of standing guards and patrolling guards to keep things interesting.

Mapping: There is a lot of variation in the shape of rooms - combined with the wall use and the guard placement it keeps the game interesting. You never quite know what to expect: a long hallway, a tiny side area with ammo and health, etc. Every level is quite connected, which unfortunately also makes it easier to get lost. Overall I quite like the mapping for this mod, but I do see some room for improvement. While the slightly unconventional use of wall textures is a good thing, it is quite often done with the same wall textures. This makes a lot of the rooms look the same. After a while, it makes the level a bit bland. However, overall I'd say that the mapping in this is good. A pleasant surprise from a mapper with whom I was not familiar before.

Likes: The interesting use of wall textures is a big plus. I liked the variety in the shapes of rooms - too often we get long, 3-spaces wide hallways connected to rooms of 5x5. Not saying this is wrong per se, but it is when it is the only variation used. In that regard, you don't know what to expect when you open a door to a different room. I liked the consistency in style, though I wonder if this is something that might become a bit boring in a longer mod. On a final note, I loved the mixture of steel + brown stones in level 4.

Dislikes: While I did not mind the consistency in style, I did begin to find the wall textures bland. After a while it felt like one level constantly did a variation on the same theme. Another element that I wasn't fond of was the use of the night sky textures in all the levels after level 1. It took me out of the feel I got from the rest of the level: this hidden underground bunker, which at times felt as if they were still finishing up the place, or that it was a ruin. But the night sky took away the illusion of being underground. Which is unfortunate, because I really liked the atmosphere those levels created.

Ron's Score: 7/10
Difficulty: Medium
Best Levels: 4 & 5 
Worst Level: 1
Wrap-up: A good mapset for Spear of Destiny that shows potential. I was not familiar with the author of this mod, but I'm looking forward to other releases by this modder.

Where Can I get it?: You can download the mod HERE, or by clicking on the screen at the top of this post. Note that you will need your own copy of Spear of Destiny.
Disclaimer: All reviews are only my opinion when playing the mod and are not intended to discredit anyone or the hard work they have put into creating their mod.

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