Blizzard Map Mods: Aiur Chef, Left 2 Die, StarJeweled review

SC:L Reviews: Blizzard Maps

Written by Genopath

Beta Blizzard Mods

On January 25th, players from all regions were able to test the beta versions of three of the four official Blizzard custom maps announced at BlizzCon. These maps demonstrate the improvements made to the Galaxy Editor by Blizzard engineers and exhibit some of the polished experiences that can be created with it. This editorial will discuss the positive and negative gameplay aspects of each of these maps in their current design stage. In addition, it will explain some popular strategies and tactics discovered the SC: Legacy Strategy Staff and also explain some of the implications each map has on level design.

They had been released a while back, but if anyone has not already seen them, this is an in depth explanation of all fo them.

Best selling Terran Zerg Protoss Starcraft 2 Guide

Aiur Chef

Aiur Chef
Category: Collection/Cooking

Mode: Free For All
Players: Up to 8

Gameplay

Aiur Chef is a map where each player controls one Zealot skilled in the arts of cooking and killing. The inspiration for this particular parody seem to have stemmed from the popular Food Network shows, Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, as well as previously unused fruit models available in the editor. The Blizzard iteration of this game consists of three short rounds. Players must gather preset combinations of ingredients from around the map to complete recipes. Once all the necessary ingredients have been obtained for a particular recipe, players only need to return to the kitchen, located in the middle of the map, to complete the dish. They earn various amounts of points and additional rewards, which depend on the recipe completed. The player with the most points at the end of the three rounds, wins.

The map begins with a short introduction cinematic, in which the Chairman welcomes the players and the theme ingredient is revealed. At the start of each round, the player automatically has control of their aspiring Protoss chef. Each chef is identifiable by their unique individual color. Each round of Aiur Chef features a theme ingredient and three succulent recipes that play upon its unique flavor. Before players can master these themed dishes, they will first need to scout across the map and collect a variety of ingredients (including the theme ingredient). Each recipe has its own set of required ingredients, listed in the recipe menu in the upper-left of your screen, which can be picked up off the ground or acquired by killing specific creatures. Since inventory space is limited, players shouldn't get too greedy when loading up on ingredients. Thus, it is essential to focus on collecting ingredients for one recipe at a time.

Above the standard user interface options is a set of six boxes arranged horizontally, which represents the player's current collection of ingredients and special items; it’s important to note that your inventory can only hold six items at any given time. There are a few abilities that the Zealot chef can learn by completing certain recipes:

Blind

 

Blinds and slows the movement speed of the targeted zealot chef.

Blink

 

Teleports the zealot chef to a nearby target location. Ability can only be used once every 3 seconds.

Dash

 

Greatly increases the speed of the zealot chef when used.

Psi Blast

 

Does damage and knocks back all surrounding enemies. Also stuns them for a very short time.

Enrage

 

The zealot chef does 25% more damage and moves faster for 12 seconds.

Barrier

 

Creates a psionic barrier at the targeted area.

Hallucination

 

Creates 3 hostile zerglings that cannot use active abilities, cannot deal damage, and die more easily. Hallucinated zerglings last 30 seconds before they disappear.

Influence

 

Influence a nearby zealot chef into attacking the nearest creature.

Graviton Prison

 

Makes the target unit float in the air, disabling its abilities and causing damage over time.

Musk

 

Forces all beasts near the affected target to attack it.

 

Gameplay Analysis

Positive Aspects

The map has in-game transmissions, which will generally improve the experience of new players. It’s also a fun parody of Western culture that combines awesome cooking shows with virtual StarCraft styled competition.

Negative Aspects

A single instance of the map can be played by up to eight players at a time, but sadly it feels restrictive and devoid of real strategic depth, especially since there is no team mode implemented. It seems like there is much more potential for this map than is initially offered. For example, by introducing complex recipes that would require more ingredients than one player could carry or by adding more fighting dimensions a team mode could work beyond simply summing the team members’ scores.

The briefing cinematic cannot be skipped. Players should have an option to skip the opening cinematic as well as subsequent briefings by consensus.
The gameplay elements are very limited. Players get to choose from three recipes and can either concentrate on working on the recipe that provides more points or the ones where players can earn abilities or items to harass other players. The game is set to Free For All (FFA); the general rule in a FFA states that players should focus on empowering themselves rather than specifically focusing on disrupting an opponent. A map such as this with few, simplistic, gameplay elements can become repetitive and boring quickly.

The gameplay elements are very limited. Players get to choose from three recipes and can either concentrate on working on the recipe that provides more points or the ones where players can earn abilities or items to harass other players. The game is set to Free For All (FFA); the general rule in a FFA states that players should focus on empowering themselves rather than specifically focusing on disrupting an opponent. A map such as this with few, simplistic, gameplay elements can become repetitive and boring quickly.

The hero Zealot each player receives has more hit points and shields than a normal Zealot. In addition there are a lot of power-ups around the map that can quickly restore them; consequently, strategies focusing on killing enemy Zealots are far less attractive.

Strategy & Tactics

In this map time is of the essence. Before deciding which ingredients you will start collecting, look at their positions on the minimap and ensure you start from bottom to top, left to right or vice versa in order to complete the recipe in the shortest possible time.

Each round your inventory resets, but abilities you earned in previous rounds carryover. Thus, it is advisable to complete the second recipe at least once, because it provides the best power-up reward available via the completion of a recipe.

There are three recipes to choose from and each with different reward. Players should keep in mind there are diminishing returns each time a player completes a receipe. To maximize score, you should attempt to at least make the third dish twice and the second one once. The order is up to you to decide. However, it is adviceable to get the ability recipe first as it might speed the gathering process of the following receipes.

While it is generally very hard to lose your Zealot, because of the increased toughness of the environmental creeps, it becomes much easier. It is in this round that aggressive spells and abilities matter the most.

Level Design Review

The map has some nice aesthetic elements. The User Interface (UI) has been modified to have more kitchen-like feeling. The terrain and doodad placement is also visually appealing.

The in-game models are done wonderfully and are noticeable from the very beginning of the match. Each Protoss chef has a chef's hat on their head and holds in each hand one of a variety of different psionic cooking tools, such as a frying pan, a whisk or a spatula. Many of the different ingredients are not typical StarCraft models, and were added for the mod. These include various vegetables, animals, as well as some of the ingredients that appear after butchering a creep or StarCraft II unit, such as a High Templar. While some of the custom animals don't have the same graphic style as the StarCraft II units we're familiar with, they are still clearly identifiable and there was no visual confusion in their addition into the map.

There seems to be Not Yet Implemented (NYI) features on this map regarding weapons. This mechanic will start some time after the initial briefing. It is set to display a dialog screen asking each player to choose a weapon.

  • Knife: +25% Psi Blade Damage
  • Spoon: +25% Life
  • Whisk: +25% Energy

This seems like an interesting dynamic, which players might see when the map is officially released post beta. Extra damage might make aggressive strategies more viable or even speed-up the overall ingredient gathering process. The extra life seems like it would best benefit players in tight situations in the last round.

In Closing

This map has virtually no potential link to the lore. In fact it doesn't have a potential link to anything except competitive cooking shows. Regardless, it is still an amusing tongue-in-cheek StarCraft experience. It is well worth checking out, for the beautiful models and unique, if not compelling, gameplay.

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