|The Castle Amber||
8 mar 1997
author: "Psycho". this level contains some absolutely great architecture, though the level can run a bit slow in places due to the complexity. the flow is great and pacing is excellent throughout. ammo is in pretty short supply in some places, in light of how much ammo it takes to kill some of the tougher monsters. secrets are generally unmarked (i found two of the three); in some cases, you'll be able to figure out a secret is near, as you can get to most every visible area in this level. the messages are informative (though they can be vague at times... i still don't understand the message by the gold key door) and are almost poetic in places. the theme is well-done and the level as a whole is immersive. the endgame is intense, with enough action to keep even me satisfied. it's tough the first time you encounter it, though, so stay sharp. this is truly an excellent level, and well-worth the download.
17 mar 1997
author: Steve Rescoe. starts with you outside a castle in a dark corner. your job is to clear out the monster infestation. this level is simply beautiful architecturally, both inside and out. proportions are believeable, the layout is as true to form as any castle i've ever seen (check out that armory!), and the lighting is top-notch. unfortunately, this architectural and thematic excellence must exact a price, and that price is playing speed. nowhere in this level (except in the smaller areas with no windows) did this level play smoothly. particularly horrifying were the approach to the castle (at the beginning) and the main hall/room with the throne. monster placement and selection are a bit on the heavy side -- especially at the end -- but you're provided with enough weaponry and ammo to do the job. secrets are subtle but easy enough to find, and definitely come in handy. all in all, a visually appealing level with some good combat, but the slowdown hampers the play significantly.
11 dec 1996
author: Mike Melzer. beautifully executed and built. the monster mix is just difficult enough without being ridiculous, and enough ammo is provided so that you rarely have to resort to the axe (unless, of course, you're a crappy shooter). i never found either of the two secrets, and i could NOT find a way to the gold key! i could see it just fine, though. if you're the author and you're reading this, could you mail me and tell me how to get the gold key? the only thing that seemed out of place in this level were the constantly-firing lasers over a hole in the floor on the 2nd level. thematically, spike shooters would have been better. no other complaints here, though. this one's worth a look.
|Cavern of Sin||
25 jan 1997
author: Mike Daugherty. i attempted to run this level three times. each time i tried, i got kicked to DOS with a page fault error, where it dumps a bunch of crap to the screen. for the record, and for the sake of completeness, here is the error message in it's entirety:
Page fault at eip=0001a532
eax=0203b914 ebx=15e40000 ecx=00000001 edx=0000e9ce esi=17e7b914 edi=00000000 ebp=01f88c54 esp=0011a900 cs=00a7 ds=00af es=00af fs=00cf gs=00cf ss=00af
Call frame traceback EIPs:
CHA-GH.ZIP -- 883k
11 may 1997
author: Tyler McNamee. there are two levels in this archive -- CGSTART (which is a skill-setting level) and CHA-GH, the main level. this level is a big one; most of the play areas are very large and unornamented. unfortunately, unornamented can often mean "bland", and this level is very plain through a large portion of the level. however, this level runs extremely smoothly throughout, including areas that have a number of monsters in them (there are 93 total on Hard). there are areas that exhibit slowdown, to be sure, but overall, the game experience is smooth and fast. the level is fairly linear, but you can explore quite a bit of it before a key is required. (the author has three buttons, helpfully labelled "1", "2", and "3", to let you know which order you're supposed to play this level in.) monster placement is fairly good, but since this level is so huge, they're easy enough to dispatch. secrets are all of the "hidden area" variety (i found all four). weapon placement and pacing have been done well, and there is plenty of ammo. in regards to theme... well, i didn't find one. some interesting ideas have been used (the "X"s on the floor of one area, for instance), but on the whole, this level could have used a theme and more variety in play areas and lighting. a good, strong effort with room for improvement.
CDESPAIR.ZIP -- 699k
25 sep 1997
author: Sonya Roberts. this level has been done in a medieval style, and there are a number of new textures present. the new textures have been done very well, as they blend into the regular textures admirably, though i did find them a bit bright for my taste. you start in a four-way courtyard with what seems to be an obscene amount of ammo, but don't worry you'll need it. all of the weapons are present and easily available. while this normally means you're more than overpowered enough to overwhelm any opposition, the author has balanced this power by severely limiting the amount of ammo that you have for the big boys, and it works very well. the architecture in this level shows good attention to game play and spacing; play areas are comfortable in most places, with enough variation present so that you won't get bored. unfortunately, the overall structuring tends toward the perpendicular, as most areas were very squarish and somewhat blocky. the flow is linear and the pacing is good, and i found two secrets out of the five. overall, a good level that just didn't "feel" right to me...
author: Sonya Roberts. this level has been done in the base style, and it has been done well. the architecture and structuring is clean, consistent, and fast-running, with very little excess ornamentation; in addition, the detailing that is present is excellently done, mostly functional, and fitting with the overall theme. however, similar to this author's previous level, the structuring runs toward the blocky, though there is much more non-perpendicular construction present. the flow is semi-linear; keys are required, but you can roam most of the level before you need to use one. i never found the silver key, but it's not required to exit the level. the pacing and monster placement is very good as well, and the ammo load is tight. four secrets in this level, all well-marked, and i found all four. the monster mix is not base standard, and the first appearance of a non-base monster was slightly jarring. a good, strong, fun level.
11 dec 1996
author: Anders Gustafsson. now THIS is what it's all about, folks. no secrets marked in this level, but there were a couple of places (notably by the super shotgun) that could have been hidden better and qualified. the theme and architecture blended perfectly and the monster/weapons placement was superb. the level was kind of large for the number of monsters it contained, and since many of the areas were very tall, tossing in a handful of scrags here and there would have made this even more exciting to battle through. extensive water-ways (i love swimming!), excellent lighting and shading, and climbing around in the rafters was just too, too cool. however, this level does not have an exit; i've gotten mail from the author indicating that, for whatever reason, he did not include an exit. i've thought about this, and discussed it with Matt, and we agree that an exit, for a single-player level, is a necessity; i've since adjusted the rating to reflect this. this level still kicks ass, though.
11 dec 1996
author: Glenn Ancheta. intense ogre-killing action! a battle from the get-go; fighting your way out of a 'pit' with ogres raining grenades down on you is pretty exciting, especially when you have a chance. this level gives you the double-barrel and the grenade launcher right at the start, so if you can't beat this level, it's not the designer's fault for not giving you the tools to do it with. the nail gun is a little farther up the ramps, so you're equipped with everything but the big boys. this is more than fine, however, because you really shouldn't need them. plenty of extra ammo and lots of stuff to kill makes this level a good workout and a really good time. no mind-shattering puzzles or secrets -- just plain, good old-fashioned killing. i liked this one a lot.
COLONY.ZIP -- 400k
23 jun 1997
author: "Mark T". this level starts with the military-base theme. the base in this level has been done extremely well; it looks and feels like an abandoned base (complete with dim/flickering mood lighting) and it runs very smoothly throughout. it does not, however, lack detail. in addition, it's structures blend very well with the theme, and most importantly, they make sense. once you press a button in the base section, a pop-up message informs you that the mines have opened. this is the bulk of the level, and is where most of the action takes place. the architecture in the "mines" follows the basic style of the military section -- clean, fast-running, interesting, and believeable. the monsters are placed well for the most part, but in some areas i was able to dispatch them relatively easily. the lighting in the mines is gloomy and effective, but you're not stumbling around in the dark. flow is excellent; you're never in doubt about where you're supposed to go next, but the level has been laid out well enough to where you don't really notice unless you think about it. two secrets in this level; one unmarked but placed in a such a way that you will most likely open it anyway. very impressive for a debut from this author, and highly recommended.
|Quake Combat School||
COMBAT.ZIP -- 818k
27 apr 1997
author: "Ace". there are two levels in this archive; they were the levels used in the SPQ Challenge. (yes, i know i should have reviewed them before this... i kept forgetting.) there is no theme, per se -- they're a combat/training school scenario, comprised of six rounds. four of the rounds are in the first .bsp. all of the areas run extremely well, and are fun to play. the architecture and lighting are perfect for these types of levels; they're done so well, in fact, that you have to really think about them to realize this fact. enough weapons and ammo have been provided in order for you to test your skill in these combat situations. definite attention has been paid to flow and pacing, and it works extremely well. i still play these from time to time (on Nightmare... heh) and they're a lot of fun for a quick SPQ fix. highly recommended.
|The Comm Center||
COMMCTR.ZIP -- 1,024k
25 sep 1997
author: Rick Troppman. this huge level has been done most excellently in the base style. the architecture is simply majestic through most areas, but this size (combined with transparent water VISing) contributes to a serious amount of slowing in some areas; the endgame is particularly slow. the structures in this level are convincing and interesting, and the detailing is impressive in both style and texturing. monsters are placed well and in some serious quantities, making combat both fun and long-lasting. however, the combat isn't continuous; you do have some time to take a breather, which is a good thing. plenty of ammo has been placed, and the weapons you get are the weapons you need. some areas were very strongly reminiscent of E1M1 and E2M1. five secrets in this level, all clearly marked, and i found all five. the flow is semi-linear, and due to the size of the level, you'll do some running around; luckily, since each area is fairly distinctive, it's not as disorienting as it could be. the endgame is challenging, but not impossible, and the level as a whole is definitely fun.
4 sep 1997
author: Fred Hite, Jr. this map starts off in a small anteroom with an interesting over/under stairwell combination. it has been done in a metal theme with plenty of base textures, and the author has blended these textures well to create the feel of a dark, grimy base. and dark it certainly is; many areas are pitch black, but despite this, navigating the level isn't too difficult. the level runs surprisingly slowly through many areas, especially at the very beginning and when you reach the upper half of the silver-key area. the architecture is adequate for the purpose, and there is structural detail with little unnecessary ornamentation. it is possible to become permanently stuck in this level; if the lighting had been a little higher in the affected area, this may not have been an issue. there was one secret in this level and i could see where it was (light shining under a door) but i was unable to activate it. the pacing is good and the flow is linear, though the monster population seemed a bit light to me... and the selection of monsters didn't follow any theme i know of.
CON1.ZIP -- 222k
11 may 1997
author: Conrad Johnson. 12 monsters, three main areas, both nailguns, and a quad damage pretty much sums this one up. some interesting ideas and concepts in such a short level (i enjoyed the intro area; good proportions and an interesting light fixture), but it's more of a beginning to a level than a complete level. a good start.
|Level by Tony Hillman||
COOL1.ZIP -- 407k
6 apr 1997
author: Tony Hillman. a huge level with no clear linearity or theme that i could find, a scattering of monsters, plenty of weapons, significant slowdown and GreyFlash everywhere, and (if you can believe it) Shub just plopped down in the middle of this huge hallway.
|Trouble Down T'Pit||
COOPMINE.ZIP -- 830k
26 aug 1997
author: Tom Cleghorn. this level, as you might have guessed from the filename, has been designed for cooperative play. it has been done in the "base" style overall, and you're exploring a small underground mining installation. this level is well-constructed and fast-playing overall with the exception of the area that you enter as you emerge from the first teleport; since the first main area consists of one long hallway (more or less), slowdown is inevitable. structures have been built intelligently and the texturing has been done with an eye to theme. the monster placement, as you might expect, is thick, especially in rather small areas... but then, this is designed for two players. it certainly makes combat exciting, though. the author has not skimped on the thematic detailing, either; the mining carts and the lift adjacent to themare marvelously done. i do have a couple of objections about this level, though: i don't particularly like killer traps (though the author has at least warned you with the same type of markings when they're near) and i really don't like being baited into a killer trap that contains a fake powerup. it is a hard level to beat, though; between the plethora of monsters and the killer traps, it took me four tries. but they were fun tries. check this one out.
|Corporal Punishment II||
CORP2.ZIP -- 609k
4 sep 1997
author: Gyro Gearloose. this level comes as a .pak file, and has been done in the military base style. unlike most of the base levels out there, this one contains nothing but custom textures, designed by the author, and they have been very well done. the level is intricate and the flow is very non-linear; you are allowed a near-total range of movement, and this level definitely rewards the explorer. most play areas run towards the smaller end of the scale, but the level does not feel claustrophobic or constricted. there are also a number of areas where precision movement is necessary. pacing is done well, with just enough ammo provided between placed boxes and dropped packs for you to do the job. you'll definitely want to shoot straight, however, because this level, like its predecessor, uses a new, lethal strain of grunt the corporal in it. unlike the corporals in this author's previous work, these bad boys seem to be smarter and shoot just a bit straighter, and they're a lot more persistent. they also have a much greater awareness of your vertical position in relation to their own; they shoot up and down with little hesitation and quite a bit of accuracy. one unpleasant ability they also possess is they are able to shoot down while jumping over your head, making this level the most "deathmatch-like" single-player level i've ever seen. the nailgun-toting corporal is especially nasty, as is the one armed with the rocket launcher. you will know fear, so shoot straight, soldier. no secrets in this level, and the layout does take some time to become accustomed to, but you'll definitely enjoy this level, and when you finally do beat it (if you do), you'll really feel like you've accomplished something. highly recommended.
CORPORAL.ZIP -- 1096k
13 apr 1997
author: Gyro Gearloose. you know, i was wondering what Gyro was up to... i knew he was making a texture .wad, but i hadn't realized it would take so long. now i know. this level comes as a .pak file, and sports all-new textures along with some of the most brutal (yet oddly equitable) fighting i've encountered in an add-on level yet. first to the level... the architecture is varied in size, from medium-sized open areas to tight corridors, and there is plenty of room to move around (which is good; you'll need it). one thing i saw that was pretty cool was the "blast room" (i don't know what else to call it) -- you press a button on the wall outside, the interior turns bright white, and everything inside gets gibbed (including you if you're stupid enough to test it... like i did). also of note was the grenade-lobber hallway; you've got to see it to believe it. the flow is semi-linear; you've got three buttons to push to get out of the first area, and you can do them in the order you like. the monster mix in this level appears to be monotonous and simple -- Gyro has used nothing but grunts through this whole level. easy, right? wrong. part of the .pak file is new AI for the grunts -- they not only move faster and jump around, but they can be armed with any weapon. wait until the first grunt with a regular nailgun gets locked on to you. save often. one complaint here -- i would surely have appreciated being able to tell what a grunt was armed with by sight instead of sound (different colors on the skin, perhaps? something)... as it was, getting a rocket in the face because i couldn't tell what he was packing kinda sucked. oh, and the grunts are fairly suicidal as well; don't count on a rocket-launcher-toting grunt to back off before he fires. i was very impressed by the AI of these grunts, even though they killed me more times than i'd care to admit (they're lethal in packs, lemme tell ya, because they don't seem to fight amongst one another). most of the grunt variations are also tougher, so you just can't drop 'em with a super shotgun in the face any more. the textures through this level were also done well. there were a couple i didn't care for (the purple circle with the cross in it and the bright blue animated button), but on the whole they looked good. check this level out.
note: in the .txt file, Gyro challenges anyone to beat this on Nightmare. if you do it, feel free to send a copy of the demo to me... i'd love to see it.
|City of the Undead||
17 mar 1997
author: James Garrett. this level sports some basic, functional architecure in most places with little ornamentation. the playing areas tend toward the large size, with plenty of room for maneuvering. the monster mix is a bit light considering the size of the areas that they have to defend, and it's far too easy, in most places, to dispatch them with little or no difficulty or danger to the player. weapons and ammo have been placed with an eye towards pacing, which is good... however, the overall pacing and flow of this level is a bit slow. many entities (especially torches) have been placed where you are able to see them through walls, and many button brushes have misaligned textures. the large outdoor area ran surprisingly slowly, considering the lack of ornamentation, and i was able to detect entity flicker from many angles. no clear linearity was evident in this level -- you're forced to backtrack through empty areas far too often. in addition, some unlikely physics were present (i.e. doors sliding open into thin air). messages on the buttons that opened remote doors would have been extremely helpful. this is another level where the author demonstrates his ability to create playable levels; now all that's needed is more attention to the details.
11 dec 1996
author: Jim Lowell. a very roomy and surprisingly thinly-populated level. well-built and well-lit, this level is a good introductory workout, even on 'hard' difficulty. the 'jump lifts' were way too cool; i found myself going back through them a couple of times after i'd killed everything just for the fun of it. the monster mix is admittedly a bit light, but for feel and overall flow, this level ranks with the best. getting the perforator is an exercise in patience and jumping skill, too... especially since i hate lava so much. highly recommended.
11 dec 1996
author: Glenn Ancheta. this level starts with a bang, but you've got plenty of ammo and maneuvering room, so unless you're a really really bad shot, you ain't gonna die. this level is extremely linear, very straightforward, and really short... kind of like hopscotch with monsters. some technical problems were evidenced with the teleporters -- more than once i found i had to back up once inside the actual teleport field in order for it to work, especially when i ran at it. the architecture was very plain (resembling the other level i've played by this author, The Climb); unfortunately, the very plainness that made the other level really fun to play makes this one, well, a tad drab and tedious.
11 dec 1996
author: Gyro Gearloose. all i can say about this one is WOW. keep your eye on future stuff from this author, folks, because Gyro has a definite feel for the single-player level. the opening courtyard is plain enough, but i'm not sure if that's to lull the player into relaxing or what, because the rest of this spectacular level is one long ride. from the gated super shotgun platform (which has some excellent lighting effects) to the crucible itself, the architecture and design in this masterpiece are beyond compare. plenty of room for running and gunning, with strategically-placed cramped spots you pretty much have to brute-force your way out of. monsters are plentiful and well-placed, so that the action ceases only long enough for you to catch your breath. there were a few places i began to worry about my health and ammo, but it always seemed like there was JUST ENOUGH right around the next corner. fantastic play, a constant challenge, and some cleverly-placed secrets make this one a "must have" level. Gyro, my hat's off to you. i'm going to go play it again right now, as a matter of fact...
|Quakers Last Crusade?||
22 feb 1997
author: Simon Brown. this level sports some surprisingly drab architecture, and it's most noticeably on one horizontal plane. the monster mix is bizarre, and the level has no clearly-identifiable theme. in addition, there is a puzzle (with a leap to differing squares over a lava pit) that is sure to confuse many and irritate -- or even offend -- the rest. this level could have been made in Doom or Doom 2, come to think of it (and after reading the text file, i find that it actually has). many visible seams throughout. the text file also indicates that this is an unfinished level, so there may be room for improvement. as it stands, though...
|Quakers Last Crusade?||
2 mar 1997
author: Simon Brown. not much changed from the previous version, so the previous review stays the same as well.
Daredevil's Descent and
CRYO.ZIP -- 1,499k
23 jun 1997
author: Dan Koppel. there are actually two levels in this archive -- CRYO1.BSP (Daredevil's Descent) and CRYO2.BSP (Cryogenic Crypt). both are designed to work together, and both require that you have Scourge of Armagon and run these levels from that pack. (note that if you don't, all that will happen is that quite a few error messages will scroll up the screen when you begin; the levels are still playable).
Daredevil's Descent is, overall, a pretty cramped level; the play spaces are generally narrow (hallways especially). however, there are so many playing areas, the total level is on the large side -- great if you're an explorer. the level is task-oriented as well; you must clear out four separate areas before you are allowed access to the exit. each of these four areas has a distinct feel and flavor, but all four work together well; none are jarring or feel out of place. the architecture is wonderful, too -- all play areas run smoothly and quickly, and they look great on top of it. the author has used textures from the Scourge pack effectively, and the result is a good-looking and great-playing level. monster mix and placement is on the heavy side, but you're given more than enough ammo and weaponry to deal with it... but you get nothing bigger than a grenade launcher. for this author's first single-player level release, this level is impressive. i would say "i can't wait for the next one", but thankfully, i didn't have to wait very long:
Cryogenic Crypt continues the "looks and plays great" tradition so recently established by Daredevil's Descent. this level has a more obvious theme than the prior level, and again, the author makes very good use of the Scourge textures and specials to create an immersive, satisfying level. the architecture in this one is incredibly well done. the play areas are larger than the previous level, making it more comfortable to fight in. the author has upped the ante, however, by putting tougher monsters throughout... so you'll definitely need the space. this is another level that is screenshot-worthy; the bridge area, with the two ogres in cages, was stunning in it's clean design and structure. there are puzzles galore in this one, with plenty of buttons to push for those that like to trigger stuff they can't see. heh. pop-up messages let you know what you've done. the only gripe i could possibly have about this level is because it's so complex, it's very easy to become disoriented... but hey, that just gives me a reason to play it longer. this archive is definitely worth the download -- get it now.
note: the only reason these didn't get five stars, in case you were wondering (because they definitely deserve it) is because they require you to own a commercial product to get the full benefit out of them. if these were commercial levels -- and they're commercial quality, don't get me wrong -- they'd have gotten 5. just so you know.
|The Black Crypt||
5 feb 1997
author: Richard Carlson. a very gloomy and moody level; the theme is set immediately when you enter this level. visibility is low, but the lights have been placed well, so you never really feel like you're stumbling along in the dark. monster selection and placement is excellent -- with the exception of the grunts, enforcers, and dogs, which seemed wildly out of place in this dungeonesque setting. enough weapons are provided, and they seem to appear at just the right moment; it's clear this author understands weapon pacing. no fancy puzzles or traps in this one -- just figuring out where you should go next is puzzle enough. the play is somewhat linear, though it took me so long to find the silver key that i was surprised to get the gold key so quickly thereafter. this level is fun to grind your way through, and though it can be mildly slow-paced in places, it's worth the download.
17 mar 1997
author: Dan Edwards. this level is a crypt, and a convincing one at that -- low ceilings, fairly dark, with coffins behind tomb doors that are openable with buttons. nice lowering staircase, too. very light monster population (13 on Hard), and i couldn't find a way out of the first area down the stairs. a good start for a level, but not really a "whole" level per se.
11 dec 1996
author: "Viper". (note to all future level authors: PLEASE name the .txt file with the same name as the .bsp! thanks!) there aren't monsters in your face at the start, and the entrance room is one of the finest i've yet seen. gorgeous architecture, but not because it's a technical wonderland... all of the structures in this level are accurate and have such 'realistic' dimensions it's really difficult to believe that this place doesn't exist except in a Quake game. 'jumpable' ledges and supports make for better games, as far as i'm concerned; if a place looks like i should be able to get to it, well, i should be ABLE to GET to it. the 'lobby' is, to my mind, the most impressive and well-executed room in this level (and i got to jump on the support beams! whee!). the endgame is kind of predictable (sadly so), but this is otherwise a good, solid level that i thoroughly enjoyed.
and Viper? i loved the messages. nice work.