Author(s) : Trisk
Game : Serious Sam : The First Encounter
Type : Single Player/Cooperative
When one sets out to make a map that is different to Egypt, a swamp with an underground ruin is not the first thing that comes to mind, but here it is. Marsh Wastes is one of several maps that have been created by author Trisk of The Dark Island fame. This map, however, is one of his earlier works.
The first thing I noticed is that there is no background music. Instead, the author, opted to use a couple of ambient sound effects to fill the aural soundscape. It is a good idea in theory, but they are used very sparsely and most of the time, they are barely audible compared to the sounds of battle.
Speaking of sparse, that also describes the combat in this level. Most of the fights on the swamp areas consists of Kleers spawning, often several of them in the same place. Another odd choice the author made with this map is that it starts the player off with a Double Shotgun and not the Single Shotgun, and that the Single Shotgun is a pickup near the beginning. It honestly should have been the other way around as it made the fights at the beginning quite trivial. Before you go underground, you are given a Tommygun, followed by a swarm of Harpies to fight. The problem with this is that the hole to drop into the underground area opens up as soon as you get the Tommygun, making the harpy fight easily skipped. The fights in the underground section are a little bit more varied, dropping you in a room with a few Reptiloids followed by a couple of Arachnoids. This is then followed by a giant lava pit with an invisible bridge running over that is marked by floating torches, which is a pretty nice concept.
With regards to looks, the level is a mixed bag despite there being not much to it. Often short maps look either really good, or really ugly all around. The geometry of the marsh area is pretty low-fidelity full of triangle shaped hills, the fog is very thick, making tracking enemies pretty difficult while wading through the marshes. Most of the terrain of the marsh areas is also set to full-dark, and there are a couple of odd-looking lamp posts within. They provide a surprising amount of sprawl in the form of items scattered about. The architecture of the underground areas and of the ruined buildings on the marsh areas looks significantly better, doing a good job of delivering a ruined look. The underground section have a couple of slides that provides a shortcut through the level. However, it does not do enough with the underlying level geometry to make it really stand out.
There is no plot or netricsa message associated with this level, but there is a readme file included that contains an informally written info about the author, the map description and the credits. Other information pertaining to this level is written formally. The map has support for co-operative mode, and the Serious difficulty level appears to be designed for this very purpose.
Honestly, this map is very short and not very good, being one of the early mapping efforts of the author. The combat is sparse and the layout is pretty basic. On the other hand, it takes an average of 15 minutes to complete. So if you have that much time to kill, you can definitely do worse than load this map up in single player. I do not personally see anyone playing through this map in co-operative mode, since its implementation is better than it has any right to be. Still, it is a pretty decent level, and I would recommend that you play through it once, though you definitely would want set the difficulty to Hard or higher.
Overall Score : 62.5% Fair
Download : [Link]