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Under the Radar 02: Maps and Mods You Might Have Missed This Summer

Modding & Development Source

Under the Radar is a series of articles on LambdaGeneration featuring maps and mods in the Valve Community that you might have missed.

Okay, so the last Under the Radar article was approximately forever ago, but work with me here! Under the Radar is back to bring you some obscure, under-appreciated or just downright weird maps and mods…

Under the Radar 02: Maps and Mods You Might Have Missed This Summer

A Minuted Millions

Portal 2 | Download at ModDB

This may be the most bizarre mod I’ve ever played. The author describes it as “a experimental Portal 2 modification with simple game mechanics and a focus on exploration”. It would be easy to compare
A Minuted Millions to The Stanley Parable, but to do so would be unfair to them both.

You wake up in a motel room to find that you really need to go and buy a drink. Unfortunately on your way to the vending machine you discover a row of buttons, each of which seems to weirdly alter your bedroom. With puzzle solving skill and a high tolerance for insanity, you must try to make sense of your impossible surroundings to make it to that refreshing, ice cold beverage.

This mod creates a paradoxical funhouse that defies logic thanks to Portal 2′s “world portal” feature, which allows a door or corridor to lead somewhere completely different at the press of a button. The utter madness of this mod put me off at first but after some perseverance I was won over. There are so many different ideas on show that it’s hard to know what to expect next. Comedy in the mod ranges from video game references, to toilet humor, to what I think was a parody of Dear Esther. Under the wacky and confusing exterior are a few interesting and challenging puzzles. Admittedly most of them rely on buttons and boxes, but all the elements combine to make a mod which compels you to continue. By the time you reach the mod’s end, you begin to understand its twisted rules and know the routes through its non-Euclidean spaces by heart.

One of the mod's less conventional areas...

One of the mod’s less conventional areas…

It’s hard to explain more about this mod other than by telling you to try it for yourself. A couple of issues to note are that the mod doesn’t have its own folder, so will clutter up your Portal 2 directory and must be launched through the console. In my experience the mod was also seriously buggy so be sure to save often.


Overflow

Half-Life 2: Episode Two | Download at ModDB

under-the-radar-02-2

Created for Interlopers.net’s “The Forgotten Journey” competition, Marnamai has released his entry on ModDB and it is outstanding in its own right. Blending together Episode One’s fiery orange backdrops with Half-Life 2′s canals makes for some impressive settings. A sign of successful environmental design is that it makes you believe that there is a real world beyond the confines of your linear path. This map excels at that; the city feels alive and I couldn’t wait to find out what what around the next corner. While there is no story as such, there are a lot of exciting action set-pieces with Zombies, the Combine and the Resistance all making an appearance. The brief chance to use a certain weapon (which some may have been waiting years for) makes the map worth a download on its own.

I can’t wait to try out the other entries to this competition!


Year Long Alarm

Half-Life 2: Episode Two | Download at PlanetPhillip

Of a similar style to Overflow, Year Long Alarm is a concise but enjoyable pair of maps forming an adventure in Episode 2’s wilderness. The mod was created a couple of years ago by Chuck Wilson, whose portfolio includes professional work for games like Titanfall, but has only seen public exposure in the past couple of months.

The standout feature of this mod is its intricate layout and design; the first map centers around a large open mineshaft which allows the player to see areas they are going to reach later and gives an effective feeling of progression through the cavernous, underground environments. You will eventually be rewarded with seeing the surface, where good visuals compliment some strategic battles.

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Year Long Alarm might not be the most unique mod ever, but good level design and clever puzzles mean it is easily worth your time.


Left 2 Test

Portal 2 | Download from the Steam Workshop

under-the-radar-02-4

Left 2 Test has a bit of everything you’d want from a Portal map-pack. First and foremost, several ingenious puzzles are featured which are challenging but not unfair, requiring you to think ahead to plan your course of action. (I’ll admit to being stumped for a long time in a couple of places.) Having been created in Hammer rather than the Puzzle Maker, the maps begin in a dilapidated Aperture before the events of Portal 2 and feature a refreshing mix of test chambers and “behind the scenes” locations. Surprisingly the maps also employ flashbacks which, as well as providing a simple story to the proceedings, are a convenient way to introduce some different types of puzzles.

I did find one of the chamber solutions to be unnecessarily fiddly, but that doesn’t distract from what is a fun set of puzzles overall. Three parts of Left 2 Test are currently released on the Steam Workshop, hopefully with more to follow.


If you’ve enjoyed playing these mods or have suggestions for some you’d like to see featured next time, let us know in the comments or email us at [email protected].

Around the International Community

gb flag ValveTime.net – A Minuted Millions Review

gb flag Custom Gamer - Year Long Alarm by Chuck Wilson – Half-Life 2 single player

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