Here we go. Eisenblatt is one of the less conspicuous of the retail version deathmatch levels in Sin, but I think one of the most successful. While not as flashy as Spry or gritty like Railroad, Eisenblatt is a level that more hearkens back to the days of good old multiplayer Quakeworld. with the emphasis behind the map design being the creation of a no frills combat theater that plays fast and doesn't rely upon cheap gimmicks to make it work. And on that note it has actually been a difficult map to come up with a review on because, frankly, it doesn't really have any features that stand out in the mind. It's kind of an uninspiring level, but there is no way to deny that it works very well.
The level is essentially divided into two large open-sky rooms with twisting ramps, catwalks, staircases and platforms that create a meshwork of avenues, all spread over a delightfully grass textured floor. That's actually one of the things that caught my eye first about map; the look of the grass textured floors juxtaposed against glossy steel textured walls -- its just an odd combination, highlighted by how Sin's surface files create different sounds when you walk across them. It actually sounds like you are shuffling through the rough, and the grass extends beyond the room arenas and into the hallways that interconnect the open sky segments.
The idea behind the gameplay is, quite simply, to run up and down the stairs and ramps like a fool, grab the items and weapons and try to blow your opponents to Kingdom Come [wherever THAT is]. Get used to jumping from level to level and you evade enemy fire. Learn just which cubbyholes on the floor contain which items and health jars; health jar placement is actually the key to this map rather than weapon placement, mostly because the majority of the powerful weapons provided (Rocket Launcher, Chaingun, and Plasma Rife) are all located in places that will be well traveled during the course of the game -- you cannot help but come across them at some point. Only the tricky Ion Cannon is located in an "out of the way" spot, perched on a ledge overlooking a junction of hallways and staircases that connect the open sky arena zones.
This is actually the level that got me to appreciate what a capable weapon Sin's Plasma Rifle is. Lying on a platform at the far side of one of the open sky arenas, the joy of lobbing blobs of plasma across the rooms and watching them splash against players scurrying around on the grassy floor was a moment of revelation -- I had been unable to control the weapon before playing Eisenblatt, and in fact while the Rocket Launcher may be more centrally located, the Plasma Weapon and Chaingun are the key weapons in the level, and one is placed in each of the open sky arenas. Learn how to get to them quickly from wherever you start.
Armor placement is also a clutch factor in the map -- as with most Sin DM levels, only one of each armor item [leg, chest and helmet] is included in the map. The leg and helmet items are more or less obviously placed on catwalks and platforms in the two open sky arenas, but the chest armor item is placed on the landing of the stairway that eventually leads up to the Ion Cannon, and unless you spawn over it you may need to look around a bit before you become familiar with its exact place. And you're gonna need to find it every time or you won't stand a chance.
This in fact plays right into how the map recalls Quakeworld in my warped, sick mind. This map just does not encourage the strategic, thought process oriented play in the maps that I prefer (such as Sin's Gluttony and Q2DM5/The Pits, which might be my alltime favorite game level .... maybe). The point is to just run around and try to blow your opponents up, and for that reason Eisenblatt really plays better with 6 or more people in the game. You need a lot of targets to justify all of the running around. That's also why the map may not be as popular with the GameRanger-hosting crowd, where you are usually lucky to find 2 or 3 players. Eisenblatt is not a good choice for a 1 on 1 experience.
Powerup usage in the map is limited to Bio Shield and Invisibility, both placed in nicely lit nooks in the hallways connecting the arenas, and the Adrenaline, lying on a platform at the top of a staircase opposite the Plasma Rifle. As usual, learn how to time their respawns. Find the darkened corners when you are cloaked, learn how to fly through the air over the catwalks in the arenas and toss plasma blobs left and right, and use the shield as a method to help survive a run for a more powerful weapon, renewing armor and grabbing the health jars. The U4 Mutagen item is not included in the level, which is too bad because it's my favorite of the Sin powerups. But this also helps to root the map in a more traditional Quake-like type of environment. The map is about running and shooting.
One of the few gimmicks incorporated into the map are the charming teleporters that allow projectiles to go flying through them and emerge at the destination point, smacking into anything that happens to be standing at the other end. Use this feature as a way to deal with pesky tail gaiters that may be a little too eager to follow you like a dog -- hop into the teleport, turn around and send a rocket flying into the vortex to greet them as they leap forward. The teleports also link the two arenas so familiarize yourself with which one will lead where and use that as a manner to instantly get yourself to what you need, and for God's sake don't linger on the platforms in front of the teleports or you are gonna get sucker fragged by someone.
Let's keep this one short and sign off with the acknowledgement that I really don't know what to say about this map, except that I like it. There aren't the mind boggling design features of Spry to burble on about nor the suicide inducing futility of Spool; it's just a basic, functional deathmatch map that happens to have turned up for Sin as opposed to some other game, so in that sense there isn't much to say except, well, it rocks.
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