BeyondUnreal Reviews: Flag Pack 2

The Flag Pack 2004 was a breath of fresh air for the Unreal Tournament 2004 Capture the Flag community. Upon release, it was apparent that some of the maps in that pack would make their way into competetive circles and become online favorites. That has certainly come to pass.

Therefore, it is the prism of those high expectations through which we view Flag Pack 2. Several of the BeyondUnreal staff members have contributed comments on each map based on online and offline play. Already a couple of these have emerged as favorites at our own weekly FragBU event.

Without jumping to conclusions, go on and start the download now and read on...


hal: A DM to CTF version of Enigmabyte's DM-Ages. This small map has excellent flow and good weapon placement. The use of good movement will give you plenty of routes in and out of the flag base. One of the only gripes you can make about it is the fact that it uses the now very familiar Albatross textures and meshes.

Because the setting is one we've seen before, it's only natural that you might overlook the craftsmanship of the level. Don't. The author has done a great job with this one.

Raffi_B: This is a truly great conversion by Nuky. The central area is open enough without lending itself to camping, and the indoor areas have complex networks of rooms and corridors to make for a very tight and fast-paced CTF map. With any more than 10 players or so, it might become too crowded to be able to take advantage of the intricate base designs. The flag location and item placement are both good, forcing teams use the entire map in order to win.

Dark Pulse: A nice medium sized map dripping with atmosphere. Solid framerates throughout. Bots play quite well, even dodging up the ramps to quickly access the flag. 6 is a bit low for a minimum playercount though - 8-12 suits this map more. Plenty of hidden nooks and crannies to hide in. Bonus points for being able to shoot through the wooden meshes. It is mostly made with the Albatross set, which might turn some of you off, but give this one a chance. It's well-laid out, well-balanced, and it had a lot of thought put into it. Play it a couple of times before you dismiss it - you may find you just might like it.

Renegade Retard: A very good map. It flows nicely, has a simple but effective layout, and does a great job of combining the best of outdoor and indoor maps. There's plenty of paths to take, including two primary paths for the flag carrier to take through the middle. There's plenty of little hiding spaces for camper and sniper alike without giving an unbalanced advantage. The location of both the 100 shield and the amp in the middle of the map will lead to some very intense battles to control the middle of the map. IMO, this is the best map in the pack.


hal: A remake of CliffyB's Unreal Tournament CTF classic - Gauntlet, though this is no simple import. The map has been reworked from the ground up to expand on the look of the original and to take into account the increased maneuverability of the UTx series.

Being that Gaunlet isn't a new map, the same old gripes about level balance will apply to this version. Blue has the natural "higher ground" advantage and the Flak Cannon is much closer to its base (and many more). If you can get past this fact and don't mind switching sides on occasion, this is a terrificly fun map that brings back memories of the senior Tournament the same way that Teddie's great remakes did for Unreal Tournament 2004.

Raffi_B: Alkazex's conversion of this classic UT99 map is the best one out there. The same great gameplay is still present, and the visuals are good without being overdone. The lighting is one of the map's best attributes. Alkazex made excellent use of blue coronas and bright low-radius lights in order to give awesome contrast to the map. Blocking volumes and careful static-mesh use abound in this map, making for an overall excellent gameplay experience.

Dark Pulse: What can I say? It's Gauntlet from the original Unreal Tournament, right down to the (very nicely remixed) music. There are a few changes here and there - notably, the 100 Armor is missing from the flagrooms, but otherwise it's nearly just as you remember it, sans rippers and the like, of course. The level is well done architecturally and the play is just as I remember it. The max limit might be too low though - It can fit 12 comfortably I think. For those of you who didn't like the original Gauntlet, this won't convert you, but for those of you who did, it should be like an old friend's come home. Welcome back, Gauntlet - it's good to see you again.


hal: A fairly linear CTF map, in the spirit of DaviDM's CTF-Ranel. Unfortunately, unlike David's map, Grizzled doesn't offer much in the way of cover or route crossover. Much of the map is made up of large wide open rooms... a mistake in my opinion.

It's hard to believe that this is from the same author of Anfractuous2, the excellent winding map from the first Flag Pack. That map was just filled with routes and crossovers, whereas Grizzled just seems a bit flat.

There is, however, an interesting overhead route that involves a lift jump that will allow the flag carrier to traverse a pipe suspended over the action below. Too bad it's just not enough to pull this one through.

Raffi_B: To be honest, this one was a slight letdown from my expectations. The layout of the map just felt far too open and linear. Only the most skilled flag runners could possibly make it across the map without being sniped. Apart from the gameplay, I had a few visual gripes with this map. The architecture, texturing, and lighting were all very bland. While one could argue that Scourgem took a "gameplay > graphics" approach to the map, that doesn't explain how his own CTF-Anfractuous2 had a perfect balance of gameplay and visuals while players are just left disapointed in this one. Lighting and texturing can be improved without affecting gameplay at all, so I really just think this map felt a tad unfinished.

Dark Pulse: Scourgem said, in the level intro, "Less talk. More CTF. GO!" Unfortunately, that's how I feel about this map: It should go - and be gone. The theme, while consistent, is a very overused one - abandoned warehouse type stuff. The map says it's for 8-12 players - but yet the center is so large and so open it could probably fit more easily. Definitely 16, perhaps 18 or 20. The map also suffers from what I call "Dwarf Syndrome" - it feels like you're amazingly small inside this thing. I liken it to all of the maps in similar vein from UT99 and UT200x which would take place in, say, a Bathroom and you were incredibly tiny. These maps never were my cup of tea, and that's helping this one's score suffer, unfortunately. Finally, small nitpick of mine - it has no Music. Those of you who play with it off will hardly care, but I always feel like a map is "incomplete" if there's no music for it. Otherwise, the map is well done, but the nags, the theme, and the feel I have with it don't let me think highly of it.


hal: Two open multi-tiered bases bookending an interesting center area featuring a bridge. There are plenty of creative ways to get from end to end in this map and the bases provide some cover for a flag carrier without evoking visions of a whack-a-mole match.

I like the fact that the author chose to place the flag in a "pit" in the center of the base, as once you clear the doors, you're going to be hard to catch considering the plethora of routes that are available in the center via lifts and creative jumping.

Raffi_B: A nice idea, but executed in a less-than-perfect manner. One major problem with this map is the base structure, made up of just one large room with several entrances. The flag itself is in a pit below right next to a large wall, making it very easy to defend the flag with the flak cannon or rocket launcher. The outdoor area is much better, having plenty of alternate routes and a surprisingly high amount of cover from rocks and trees.

Dark Pulse: Boksha did a nice job on the intro in "selling" the locale to the player - that is, making it believable and not just "lol leet warehouse go kill ppl." Things like that rank pretty highly with me. And you know what? The map ain't that bad either. Excellent Terrain work, with deco meshes and the like used to add to the level, rather then be the focus. Nice, solid romps with lots of ways to get into the flagrooms and several ways out, even the scenic, upper route - which will reward you with some UDamage if you take it. Nice little nests for Snipers, too. It kind of plays like a Mini Bridge of Fate - the center is where all the cutoffs occur, but once you get inside the base area there's lots of choices for the attack. All in all a very solid, fine addition, and one I look forward to playing a lot.

Renegade Retard: The only thing I'm going to mention about this map is the weapon and ammo placement. It seems to be too spread out. I made a "bee-line" run from one side of the map to the other, but didn't come across a weapon until I nearly got to the other base. Also, the flag room is quite large for there to be only a bio rifle and a link gun IMO. A lightning gun is not too far away, but it requires you to leave your post and opens the door for the enemy to have a free run to the base.


hal: This map is more or less Hourence's DM-Rankin, rotated and mirrored. The basic pickup placement and the map is not altered in any drastic way other than as previously mentioned.

Though, wisely, some of the routes have been sealed, there still are too many unnecessary passageways and the tight center choke-point will be a problem. This is still Rankin and it is still fun to frag in, but it just doesn't stand up as well as great DM to CTF conversions such as Grendelkeep, and even Ages in this very pack.

Raffi_B: A good DM map, and a sub-par CTF map. Apart from the now infamous bugs in the center area, the map just feels like it was made in 30 minutes. I would check it out for novelty value, but other than that there's not much else the map has to give.

Dark Pulse: Well, come on, everybody's played Rankin at least once by now. This map is mostly unchanged; a few weapons have been moved/removed to balance things a little, but as a result flow suffers some. The UDamage hall is where the two bases meet, the Udamage is on the bottom while a 100 Shield is on top. This is going to make controlling the center of this map crucial at high-level play, since nobody is more then 5-10 seconds away from this thing at all times. Other then the closure of one or two other paths, this is mostly the Rankin you know - you can probably pick it up in five minutes. However, it feels almost... unfinished. It's all there, mostly, but yet it feels like it could have been more.


hal: A small winding map with the look of Orbital2. The interesting flag rooms are counterbalanced by an overmeshed center area with far too many walkways. Those unlucky enough to fall to the bottom of the center room will find a seemingly unfinished (read: very plain) route with barely enough room to scoot through without conking your virtual head on the ramps above.

Two 100as in this map seem like overkill, though you may find that is more fun collecting them than it is hunting down the flag carrier in this map that is just littered with hiding places. The pipes and ledges above yield more hiding spaces than you can shake a stick at.

A great idea marred by a subpar center room and far too many hidey-holes.

Raffi_B: This map could be good in theory, but as it stands now it seems very unfinished. I would imagine that the map would be quite enjoyable if there were less unecessary meshes cluttering up the pathways. The flag location also left a little to be desired. Defenders can grab a shock rifle (conveniently located 5 feet from the flag) and face in pretty much one direction without risking an attack from behind. Apart from gameplay, however, I think the visuals on this map could also use a lot of work. Pitch black lighting in some places, a lack of overall polish, a lack of trim and decent texturing on some platforms, and bland lighting and texturing in the center area all give the map a very unfinished feel.

Dark Pulse: Unfortunately, the author here breaks the fourth wall in his description. The rest of the level, sadly, is similarly disjointed. This level varies between tight, cramped hallways, loaded with goodies within easy reach nearby to long, empty (Literally completely empty) halls just a short translocation or two from the flag. This leaves the bottom feeling useless and pointless to go through, while the upper levels are loaded with goodies. In addition, there's some rooms in this level that just shouldn't be there - one room has four health vials, in a simple square layout, with a static mesh on one side of the wall. That's it. The room has no other obvious uses, save for a catwalk outside with some ammo on it. That's just bad layout. Snipers will most definitely love this map, there's several tiers where you can easily see the flag from in the flagroom, so Mr. Flag Runner, you're in for a real nasty surprise. All in all though, I won't bet on seeing this one get much regular weapon play - sniper servers might and probably will flock to it, as might Instagibbers, but the layout is completely shot as far as Normal Weapons are concerned - and that, sadly, is the target audience.

Renegade Retard: This map could have been great map, but is overcome by a few flaws. The center area strange - it's a difficult maze of pathways for a flag carrier to navigate, but it's a sniper's dream. Just about the entire area can be covered by a good sniper. One fatal slip of the flag carrier, and he's pretty much a fish in a barrel.

While hiding spots are good in CTF, the flag room has way too many of them. These flagrooms remind me of mouse traps in that they are very easy to get into, but very hard to exit. A player can enter the flag room running on top of the pipes and drop down to the flag before he's even seen; however, with the shock so close to the flag, the static meshes that "grab" you, and the lack of cover when you leave make it a tough task to leave.


Raffi_B: A lack of polish and an overall unfinished feel struck me while playing through these maps. If it were up to me, I would have given the mappers another month or two to revise their maps before releasing the pack. It seems like the team released this for the sake of releasing it, and didn't really strive to produce professional-quality maps like in the first pack

Dark Pulse: In the end, Flagpack 2 is a bit of a mixup. It's got some maps that really deserve a look, and it's got some that shouldn't even belong in this thing at all. The end result is a pack that feels a bit rushed and hurried; rather then slowly roasted to goodness and perfection, it was quickly fried to get it out on your plate. Perhaps if three more months were invested in these things, it'd be a far better end product, but sadly, they didn't go this route.

hal: FlagPack 2 doesn't quite live up to the high expectations set by the original, but this is still a download that is well worth your bandwidth. I agree with the others that this pack feels a bit rushed. There are parts of several maps that just don't feel quite finished from an editing standpoint. Others, like Zittarion, could have used a bit more playtesting. Bottom line, though, is if you're a CTF fan, this is a map pack that belongs in your folder.