Updated: 6th December 2015
First off, I'd like to thank philtron/skraeling for getting into singleplayer mapping. Multiplayer is fun and all, but I personally prefer marathon's campaigns. This includes the originals and the fan-made.
I'll start with the difficulty. I think philtron did a great job on this. I was actually a little surprised, though, since I honestly wasn't expecting such a challenging... experience. The difficulty steadily increases throughout the first two levels (at the time of writing this scenario only has 2 maps), but I feel that at some points having only a pistol with some grenades made defeating the enemies a little irritating. By this I mostly mean when you get ambushed by 4-8(+) enemies at once, or when the player encounters the major trooper in the hallway. Anyway. Great job overall, it was difficult (for me at least) in a fun way.
Next I'd like to mention the new shapes file and what exactly it does. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed pretty much every monster had been at least moderately modified, which offered a nice, refreshing experience. I was very surprised the first time I encountered the major trooper; a flame thrower AND a furious hail of fighter bolts?? Awesome. Invisible hunters have also been added; really neat. Most noticeable was the change in speed. Pretty much every monster could run around as fast as the player could, which I thought was a great touch. Definitely made things a lot more interesting. Philtron also took the liberty of reusing the sound files from the lava ticks for the s'pht compilers. I really liked that. It made the compilers a lot creepier!
Moving on to the texturing, shading, architecture and general aesthetics. I was a little disappointed here. A lot of the textures felt a little overused, making it hard to see where I was going, especially since most of the map was essentially a maze. Now I'm a huge fan of mazes and labyrinths, so I gave a big plus for that anyway. I felt like philtron really rushed this crucial part of mapping; a lot of textures were unaligned and it just generally felt sloppy. Good usage of the legendary water wells/fountains! At least they weren't overused and misplaced. However. I ADORED the shading. The first map had me hooked right away when all I could see were some flickering lights and a BOB staring at a terminal. I really liked the shades, it did a good job of hiding the misaligned textures and gave off a great, spooky atmosphere! I mean really, props to philtron for this. I only noticed one location where the lighting seemed a bit awkward, but otherwise, well done! Probably the one of my favourite things about this scenario so far. Now the architecture wasn't god-like, in fact, it was no where near Ryoko's maps, but to be honest it was good enough. It didn't really influence any of the combat which was a shame, but the new shapes file made up for that. Not to mention the fact that I do not expect to see any astounding landscapes when running around inside a maze. The terminals were nice, I liked the fact that there were so many of them. They really did a good job of making me feel like I was at Tau Ceti. The colour choice of the text was iffy sometimes, but overall satisfying. I did however miss the AIs; they were always a core component of the marathon series. Where's the poetic, sarcastic, mad and yet hilarious AI we all know and love? It's possible that the player, which seems to just be an ordinary security officer, encounters an AI later on.
Just some random notes:
-Some of the ambushes were unfair and very foreseeable. Decreasing the amount of ambushers would be a good first step.
-I hope to see some more weapons! I really liked the new pistol.
-I honestly couldn't really notice any difference with the new fusion pistol. (aka. fusion cannon)
-The terminal pictures do not work. They don't show up. Fix this!
Anyway. All in all it was a very fun experience; very unique. The issues were minor, but they got very annoying very quickly. I think if you were to fix a couple things it'd improve gameplay dramatically. I hope to see some more height variations in the coming maps!
Thank you for these maps, philtron, and please don't stop until you've finished this fun little scenario! :)
I'd rate this scenario 5/5 stars if you fixed the unaligned textures and made it prettier in general.