Map Review of apprehension

by dunkelschwamm | June 5, 2022 | 6168 characters

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Apprehension is the name of this map from HeAdCrAb KILLA. Despite the festive name, Apprehension is what I would consider to be a very straight-forward walkthrough action walkthrough map with a typical Black Mesa style. Specifically, the map focuses on grand fire fights between players, ally soldiers, and various enemy factions. Within the map you find yourself fighting grunts, robogrunts, robogrunt gargantuas, and Race X as your primary foes. You face these with an MP5, a shotgun, a handgun, grenades, and later a 357, a rocket launcher, and if you play your cards right quite often you'll wield a shock roach.

The twist, I guess if you want to call it that, is that this map is also an escort mission. It's a really strange escort mission at that- you're given 3 scientists to defend, but only one is needed to open the door to the final area- after which he can be returned to safety as the players proceed to the big battle. The losable nature of the scientist gimmick is very underplayed, and we beat the map with one of the scientists at the bottom of an elevator. It super undermines the entirety of the gimmick, and I say: good. Escort missions suck, and this map undermines every aspect of an escort mission, so it just undermines a sucky gimmick. What we're left with is scientists working like a key and a moment for the map to act like there's something to defend in the end, while all of the annoying shit is almost* all cut out. (*I say almost because the scientists never behave and run into danger like cartoon lemmings). Overall, the scientists weren't an issue at all, which is the best thing I can say about an escort mission.

That said, the yellow cargo crate maze and the scientist navigation through it was no fun. The scientist gave up on following me tons of times at every corner.

The visuals are very serviceable. The early parts of the map are a fine surface Black Mesa area and lobby, as well as a pretty fun garage. There's a very detailed office early on that's utterly superfluous but fun to find. Everything after the players go down the freight elevator to the freight area is pretty fun, even the cargo crate mazes in part due to the color coordination. Everything is very competent, and even stylish at times, but it's just as often very vanilla feeling. The moments where the map grasps at its own personality are vague and subtle, and exist between the lines. But, they are there.

The action in the map is fine. Early on it mostly consists of moving from room to room clearing out squads of enemies, but over time turns far more into ambush scenarios with enemies dropping out of crates or teleporting in frequently. I really liked the garg fight about halfway through, mostly because it was very easy to cheese. Overall, the combat never really got too out of hand or imbalanced, and I felt most fire fights were tense with two players. The shock troopers were used to really good effect here, and of course it always helps to have a 357 to take em down fast. I also applaud the map for being a mostly populated with roughly humanoid-tier durability, but half-way through gives the players a rocket launcher and the map still feels decently designed around it and doesn't feel really broken by the weapon (sometimes broken by map design preventing gargs from reaching me, but not the rocket launcher itself).

Let's talk a little bit more about map design. So far, a lot of what I have to say about the map is pretty positive. As far as Black Mesa flavored losable maps go, I really do think very positively of Apprehension. But, for heavens' sake, buttons are unreadable and I think one of them needs to be pressed multiple times to open the freight elevator door. I was reporting this as a bug because I couldn't find what button to press to continue and my buddy and I were both certain we had tried pressing the button we later learned opens the door. We restarted the map, pressed the button, the door did not open, pressed it twice more, and the door opened. Also, these buttons are computer terminal textured blocks, and not all computer terminal textured blocks are buttons. You can only tell they're a button when you try using them and they make a button press sound. They also often influence a trigger that's not really in your view, so it's hard to tell what you've done or that you've done anything at all with the button. So, when you press a button and it doesn't open the door you're trying to open, and you understand everything I understand about buttons, why would I think I need to press it twice or thrice to open the door? It's a very small mistake in design that severely costs the map in playability and would have had me giving up on it before the best bits if not for my dedication to reviewing every map on this site.

If I had anything else particularly negative to complain about, I'd say that the ending feels rushed and it kinda just fritters out with enemies dripfed to us until some good guys show up, and the turrets at the end got me stuck in a way that unstuck wouldn't fix, but i think that's more of a turret problem than a problem with the map itself.

Overall, if you're looking for a map to play with friends make sure you understand the button issue going in or you might not even finish this out of confusion. If you run an action server, yeah sure throw it in there I'm sure if enough bodies throw themselves at it that button'll get pressed enough times.

Pros:

  • Some really fun fire fights
  • Escort missions minus almost all of the annoying shit about escort missions
  • Lots of player allies to make battles more dynamic
  • Gives players the big guns early
  • Good balance on resupply and enemy encounters

Cons:

  • Hidden buttons
  • After the scientists open the door the map slowly stops living up to the prior action
  • Ending felt a bit anticlimactic
  • Turrets at the end got me stuck
Score: 6 / 10
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