Every so often there are maps created by up and coming authors that are exemplary cases for the notion of “first maps” or those first few maps a level designer makes to stumble about the engine, figuring out what’s right and wrong. Dark Nebula (sc_darknebula) happens to be one of these.
As has been underscored the map certainly does not warrant a critical review, as it’s more of an introductory attempt on the part of the author, but it’s certainly something beginning level designers should follow in terms of the combinations of gameplay and visual design. The mapper makes a clear attempt to brush the interiors with enough detail that you’re not passing through rooms that summarily look like boring cubes. It has an “Anomalous Materials Lab” feel to it, which should certainly be noticed upon entry, since the starting zone is exactly like the beginning of that part of Half-Life. The architecture does not bleed professionalism but it distinguishes itself from the bulk of Sven Co-op maps by making a serious attempt to surpass the shabby, lazily designed cubes and mundane spaces that have unaesthetic detailing, which are unfortunately all too common in Sven Co-op mapping.
The gameplay, again, is nothing exceptional but it’s balanced enough to be entertaining for a handful of players. For comparison, a great portion of Sven Co-op maps are given abhorrent monster placements, lazily so. Not to mention that it seems like many of them are never tested; there are so many monsters in certain spaces in a map that it’s basically impossible to pass through without serious augmentations (*cough* XP mods).
It’s worth hosting on a server, especially given that a lot of the crazy maps are played more often than not.