Deconstruction Zone Commentary

I’ve preserved the one written by Squonkamatic as he is by far the most thorough of all the critics/reviewers.


SinDM6 / Deconstruction Zone
by Squonkamatic

This is the second of the SiN demo DM levels, and one of the most controversial maps in the game. Controversial because people tend to either love it or hate it … I have managed to remain neutral. I think that the level has a lot going for it as a demonstration on how to make a deathmatch map, and its muted simplicity of design belies what is actually a pretty sophisticated game level.

One of the things that I really like about this level is the night time environment that was created to give the impression of breaking into an abandoned construction zone at night, a commonplace experience with miscreant urban teens from all over the world. Not only can you run around in the empty, half-finished rooms but there are very dangerous weapons lying around that you can blow each other’s heads off with. If the map has a shortcoming it is, like with SinCity, a decided lack of the common accouterments of a construction yard one would expect to see, like the cranes and bulldozers used to great effect in the single player game. Here all of the crap has been hauled away except for a few forlorn girders and forgotten crates, and this might indeed be one of the reasons why so many players I have polled dislike the map, a significant number even claiming it as the one they dislike most intensely. A bit more adornment would have created a more memorable location, rather than the generic room after room with the occasional stairway or ladder leading up [or down] to the next layer of rooms and hallways. It IS a bit plain, but I think it nicely sums up some of the droll, urban settings that makes SiN such a unique game in a field dominated by plodding sci fi mech warrior menaces, ruthless interstellar space zombies and ridiculous Japanese dancing games. Sindm6/Deconstruction Zone is remarkable in its seeming unremarkableness.

And right there is the main reason why it was such an excellent choice for inclusion in the demo. Sindm6 [along with SinCity] really set the stage for what players would encounter upon investing in the full retail version, and because this map was one of my first introductions to SiN’s world of cement textures, buzzing electrical shorts and pump shotgun blasts I will always feel a little partial towards it. The weapon and item placement in the map is actually impeccable, and a great lesson to young designers of not only how to balance out the placement of the heavy artillery, but even just how the weapons and items are placed in the context of the game’s architecture. Armor and health jars sit on crates, two of the “hi-tech” powerups are placed on a little catwalk rimming the building, and someone even thought enough to set up a shotgun in one of the corners leaning against the wall. This is probably the map from the demo that first drew my attention to the sophisticated way that SiN’s designers incorporated item placement into the environment of the game in a way that is totally unobtrusive. No Quake weapons spinning in place in some odd corner of a purple lit room — the weapons and items are placed deliberately in space in such a way that every game I have seen before seems almost, well, thoughtless. And you know, I like the weapon balance better in the demo version of SiNdm6, where the Plasma Rifle and Ion Cannon are missing. They just don’t seem to belong in a down-to-Earth level like this one, and I’d love to figure out the dmflags setting to eliminate them from full version games just to be a pest.

I tried to envision a “priority route” suggestion like I came up with for SinCity, but since Sindm6 is much larger and involves actual rooms and hallways that one needs to navigate, the best route — if there is such a thing — is really determined by where you spawn. That may sound obvious and stupid, but with this map it is true. Each room in the building has its own specific weapon or powerup feature, so the best suggestion is to look at the map as much as you can on your own and get a feel for which landmark hints at which item might be located relative to where you are at any given moment. Interestingly, the powerup items are all located outside and more or less at the compass points on the map; to the left of the front door there is an Adrenaline tube, and in the exact relative spot at the back of the map the U4 canister has been provided. And if you can get halfway up the ladder or hop out of one of the windows on the upper floor at the right spot, the Photonic Shield and Invisibility charge are also at opposite sides of the building. Timing these powerups and successfully navigating the weapons selection is the key to being pummeled like an oxen or possibly owning the map.

My priority SiN weapon is always the shotgun; I tend to shoot on the run without aiming with the mouse, so a wider spread of shot and a close-up impact of the buckshot is ideal for me. The main shotgun is placed in a room with a convincing “shorted out” light that illuminates its room unevenly and sporadically at that, and makes an ideal place to get one’s head together for a second in the darkness. Remember to run around behind the pile of crates and grab the 100 point helmet armor, and then scoot out the window and onto the ledge and just wait for some poor sucker to come for the shotgun. But if you go out into the hallway, to the left is a rectangular room that has two 20 point health vials, and full version players will also find the Ion Cannon (my least favorite of SiN’s weapons). If you hop out of those windows and do a 180 you will land facing the ‘front door’ of this Deconstructed building; the Adrenaline charge is to your left behind a pillar, and 100 bullets wait on the opposite side.

As you enter the building there are rooms on your left and right where full version players will be rewarded by the Pulse Rifle (to the left) and the Chaingun (to the right), as well as two 5 point health vials in each room and either 20 shotgun shells or two racks of plasma energy depending upon which way you go. Or, the adjoining hallways (equipped with two racks of plasma ammo or 20 rockets, respectively) both lead to stairwells leading down to the lowest level, which is where the fun really begins. Believe it or not, the basement and roof areas tend to be the “hot spots” in this map … the reason why the basement is so popular is that the only rocket launcher included in the map sits on a pile of disused sheet metal, as well as a 50 point adrenaline tube and 100 point chest armor waiting on the crates in the middle of the room. There is even a great little seldom used camping spot on top of the crates in one of the corners, where shadows and a lone crate standing high provide ample cover for at least a few sucker frags per match.

Now if you instead choose to grab the rocket launcher and clamber up the ladder leading up to the “back lot” (or hop up the pile of crates — what’s in those, anyway?) you will find the oh-so important canister of U4 sitting kind of stupidly on the ground … I would have thought they could have found a better place to put it, but whatever. Grab it, and with a good running leap you can easily send yourself flying in through one of the upper windows and shred some terrified, unsuspecting player scrounging for health vials or, if you do it right, propel yourself right up onto the roof and put and end to anyone trying to snipe from the upper walls. And speaking of sniping, the mapmaker has constructed a very convincing little scaffolding that is adjacent to the U4 canister; you can either climb up the tall ladder to the roof (where a 100 point leg armor item lies out in the open) or, climb up the other ladder to the middle platform where SiN’s incredible sniper rifle has been placed. Extra ammo is provided on the top platform, so hop back down and shimmy up the longer ladder (I like how you have to jump out and run around to the other side, making one tres vulnerable while they deploy the sniper rifle) and you’ll be supplied with adequate fodder for some serious head popping.

As I said before, the roof is the second big hot spot after the basement … not that there is anything too remarkable up there other than the leg armor and 20 rockets. I think that players just have an affinity for climbing “up”” and getting to the top of whatever there is to climb. But the roof is certainly open and flat and wide and long; time to brush up on your strafing skills as you go mano a mano, skipping across the surface and tossing rockets at each other … remember to aim for the ground and let splash damage do the work that accuracy might not be able for you. The one other area to keep in mind is the section with the room that has the unfinished roof — there is a 50 point adrenaline vial smack dab in the middle as well as 100 bullets and the under appreciated Machine Gun. Grab it and jump through the open wall and onto the stairs to get to the lower room with the pulse rifle or the upper hallway, where the second shotgun is perched so marvelously up in the corner. But if you are really clever you’ll hop through the window and onto the little catwalk rimming the building and go get yourself the invisibility charge. Then its off to find a nice dark corner with the shotgun and teach your opponents the meaning of the word pain.

As far as specific tactics for this map, my personal favorite is to stock up on the rockets and grab the Adrenaline Charge and use either the Rocket Launcher [in demo games] or the Grenade Thrower [in full version games] and hop around the map like a flying squirrel and toss explosive charges in through the windows at anyone stupid or unfortunate enough to be in the relevant room when I happen to be kangaroo hopping on by. Again I stress the idea of doing things that are unexpected — nobody ever expects a sniper attack in this map, for instance, because there really aren’t any traditionally ideal sniping points provided. But conversely, exploit people’s tendencies to be predictable. Nothing gives me greater glee than baiting someone into giving chase and pursuing me down the corridors and up the stairs and into a room and they round the corner to get me and POW! a blast of buckshot and they are wet messy toast. This is a great map to suckerpunch players like that because the armor placement is so sparse and deliberate: only one item of each armor variety is provided and they are several rooms and floors apart. Exploit the probability that players are engaging you without first seeking out full protection. This really is a map that makes one travel the real estate and may be a contributing factor as to why some players loose their patience with it. I personally think that it is a fine effort and a great introduction to the world of SiN.

SQ 032501

You can find Squonkamatic’s Mac SiN website with custom level packs and other goodies at