13 dec 1996
author: "TexGamer". some very nice architecture in this level. structures here and there were excellent, particularly the 'rafters' section where the ogres were (along with about five full backpacks of scattered ammo). lots of visible seams between brushes, however. the level overall was far too dark to be enjoyable; gloomy is one thing, but near-blackness is yet another... especially when a key-entry door is buried in this darkness. i don't think i would have known it was there if i hadn't run into it accidentally. required items (the aforementioned gold key, for instance) should NEVER be put in 'secret' areas, no matter how easy the area is to find. plus, if it's that easy to find, should it really be marked as a secret? some of the lighting effects were interesting and really well done (the flashing entrance to the underwater tunnel, for one). overall, this level could probably have used some very strong and very thorough beta-testing before release; most of the blemishes would have been found and corrected.
22 feb 1997
author: "Dennis". a short level with some pretty good action, though the plethora of weapons makes it a bit easy. you'll get some serious slowdown after exiting the second teleporter. you also have to shoot a button to reveal "the secret exit", which i never found... i suppose it's a really good secret.
29 mar 1997
author: Swen Klemund. if the title of this level doesn't sound familiar, the file name should already have given it away... yep, this is a strikingly well-done conversion of Doom 2 map 04 to Quake. the monster mix is a bit on the heavy side (chaingunners in packs were bad enough, but at least they'd shoot each other; enforcers don't), and the key progression was kind of odd (since Doom 2 used three keys and Quake's only got two), but everything else has been wonderfully done. from the textures and the size, to the teleporter and the water pit, this is how The Focus should have looked and played in the first place. (if the folks running the Doom TC are reading this, you'd best get this level and get Swen on the project, if he isn't already.) a great job, and much fun. (note: the only reason this level didn't get the TLKA is because it wasn't an original design... yes, it's that good.)
DOOM2_07.ZIP -- 143k
27 apr 1997
author: Swen Klemund. yep, it's a Quake conversion of map07, but this time, instead of mancubi and baby spiders, it's ogres and vore. the same layout, dimensions, and textures as the original. might be fun in deathmatch, too, but without the BFG, i wonder how much different it'll be. fun, but (as much as i hate to say it) i've seen it before.
|Tricks and Traps||
DOOM2_08.ZIP -- 565k
27 apr 1997
author: Swen Klemund. another Doom2 conversion, this time of map08. unlike the previous two conversions, however, this level suffers from extreme slowdown, especially in the starting area... with eight door entities facing all eight directions, that's hardly surprising. what was surprising, though, were the RAM warnings and "packet overflow" messages. some entertaining substitutions, but all in all, this one looks and plays pretty much like it's predecessor.
2 mar 1997
author: Jacob Fike. this level comes with the "rain" QuakeC modification in an embedded .zip file. while it doesn't need to be played with the rain patch (i didn't), a number of error messages scroll up the screen if you don't. at the beginning, the player is nearly surrounded by sky, which means you can clearly see the "sky spawn spot" all around. this level runs very choppily throughout. the weapons have been done well for both placement and selection, but the ammo's kinda sparse; i had to axe my way through the last monster, which wasn't a pleasant experience. this level is a good start, but some of the mechanics (most notably playing speed) need work.
13 dec 1996
author: Steve Rescoe. this .zip contains two levels -- DRAKOPF.BSP and DRAKOPF2.BSP. they are designed to be played in order, and they work very well together. Drakopf starts quietly enough in an empty room, and the author gives you the super shotgun and a couple boxes of shells right away. for some reason, this type of largesse by an author always makes me a bit nervous; why does he think i'm going to need them so soon? this level is a large, gloomy (read: dimly-lit and moody; visibility is poor, but you can still see) outdoor area with more of Rescoe's excellent lighting. this time, it's torches on the ends of banisters. one bad thing about the first level -- i hate having to shoot or axe open a required door. the action is fast and furious but not overwhelming... unless you're stupid or overly-aggressive, in which case the monster mix should finish you off quite nicely and quickly. he sure likes knights (both types) in this level, but considering the close quarters of quite a bit of this level, they are an effective choice. two secrets in this level (neither of which i found) and only fourteen monsters, but you'd swear it was more.
Drakopf 2 starts by a 'moat' of sorts, and here the author gives us the head of some beast (a dragon?) to look at and be impressed by. and it's pretty impressive. as i jumped over the moat, though, i sadly caught a significant amount of GreyFlash on the left-hand side of the screen. it came out to about 20% of FOV. brilliantly crafted both thematically and architecturally; this author has no problem implementing a theme and carrying it through completely. the structures and hallways and passageways and balconies and windows and spiral stairs and ramps were first-rate. this would have been my second five-star level if not for that GreyFlash, but in any case, both these levels are mighty fun. Rescoe is another author that i'll be on the lookout for in future.
21 jan 1997
author: Mark Wheeler. lots of stuff in this archive -- 35 files in 4 directories; pkunzip -d (or just use WinZip) will do the trick. this archive contains it's own config.cfg file, which i found mildly irritating, as i had to go to the trouble of copying my config file over it. the architecture in this level runs the gamut from claustrophobic to tall and narrow to... well, just about every type of cluttered architecture is present. interesting, though, especially with all the next textures (some of which are very nicely done) and monsters. speaking of monsters, this level is solely populated by new monsters -- manga, bazooka, blarg, snakeman, and drone. oh, and let's not forget the cameo by bob dole (which, i must admit, was pretty funny). unfortunately, the dynamics of the new monsters weren't taken into consideration when placing them, because this level is almost impossibly difficult. taking on four manga babes and the bazooka girl in a dark, cramped, and cluttered area ain't my idea of a good time. the title of the level, as seen on the status bar, completely overlaps everything on the bottom row. not many purely technical errors (other than that), but this map is easily the most frustrating one i have ever played. i'm looking forward to more effective (and more playable) uses of these monsters, especially the drone.
|Drastic Lodge (Vanilla)||
17 mar 1997
author: Mark 'Fubar' Wheeler. as the title indicates, this is a lodge-type setting, which has been very well done in regards to theme -- everything i'd think would be in a lodge (never having been to a real one myself) is in here. the monster mix is really light for this size of level, though. flow is adequate, though there really isn't a clear "linearity" to this level. has a bunch of new textures, some of which are rather well done and some of which appear to have been borrowed from Doom 2. there are numerous brush seams evident in this level, however. this level might be fun for deathmatch, but for single-player only, it lacked something.
a "full" version of this level, with a slew of new monsters and weapons, is also available; since it's a four meg download, though, i was interested in reviewing the playing areas before i played against the new monsters. personally, i don't think having new monsters and weapons in this level would alter the basic flow and architecture very much, and the gameplay itself, though changed with the new monsters, would remain largely unaltered.
|The Downward Spiral||
1 jan 1997
author: Stan C. some spectacular architecture in this level, including the rope bridge with the hole in it, the whirlpool, and the stalactites. the whirlpool's a great concept, but i got stuck in it numerous times at one of the brush junctures. being trapped and killed by a scrag because i can't move or fight back is not one of my favorite pastimes. parts of this level are visually stunning, and i was most impressed with the stalactites. there is one really brutal trap in this level, but you can see it if you keep your eyes open. the endgame is slightly predictable. it took me a very long time to find a weapon other than the shotgun in this level; they're there, but they're placed in somewhat hard to find places. this level is very large, with some enormous areas, but since the author has resisted the siren song of heavy detail, the entire level runs very smoothly, without the wide variances in frame rate that i've experienced in too many other levels. all in all, a good level, but that critical 'tension' just wasn't in this one... and while it's technically superior to most of the levels i've played, it is rather static.
DXMF.ZIP -- 747k
12 jul 1997
author: Zied Rieke. this level has been done in the "military base" style. the architecture throughout this level has been done extremely convincingly and adheres well to the theme. there are some "natural" areas, and they also have been done well. the monster mix is pretty much base standard with a smattering of fiends and shamblers. pacing and flow is good, but the level is a bit non-linear; since it is a bit complex, it is somewhat easy to become disoriented. the weapon placement and pacing is good; you never want for a weapon or ammunition. the first major courtyard does exhibit a significant amount of slowing, making it difficult to play through; this is due to the amount of detail the author has included. in addition, the level slows in odd places (i.e., there doesn't seem to be enough detail in view to justify the speed hit). overall, a level worth playing, but something felt like it was missing...
note: if you're curious as to what Dextromethorphan really is (like i was), check out this Dextromethorphan FAQ. you know, it's times like this that i really love the internet...