|Mines & Mayhem||
25 dec 1996
author: Ed Cope. this is another file that uses the .pak extension, rather than .bsp, and the .txt file included with the archive gives clear instructions on the installation and execution of this file. the attention to detail and theme in this surprisingly-small level is exquisite. the level is somewhat underpopulated, though the addition of the "Bazooka Babe" (in a small cameo) makes it more of a fight than it would otherwise have been; the tension is very high due to this, because you never really know when the next one's gonna pop up. some brilliant architecture -- this level really is a mine, and is visually appealing. however, the download price (over 3/4 of a meg) and installation procedure is a bit high for the total game experience received. regardless, this level is wonderful; i just wish the author had given me more... something. combat? square footage? flow? interesting architectural quirks? secrets? probably most, if not all, of the above. this level earns (and deserves) a high technical ranking, but TLKA? nope.
23 dec 1996
author: Denis Moeller. true to it's name, this level is small. what it may lack in size, it more than makes up for in architectural detailing and small-scale but intense gameplay. i never would have believed 15 monsters, 2 boxes of shells, and 2 medkits could be this much fun to play. lighting, theme, and layout are all top-notch. the two-stage laser emplacements are very well done, but i didn't much care for the 'skill jump' over the slime; it seemed somewhat out of place. nevertheless, this level would be a good one for level designers to study as an exercise in just about all the necessary basics of excellent level design. less is definitely more.
23 dec 1996
author: Marc Roussel. starts with a bang in a good-sized and crowded courtyard. architecture is clean and well-done, but the texturing and structures are a bit inconsitent -- no central theme is evident. the lighting is good, pacing is somewhat erratic, and weapons and ammo are in abundance, leading me to believe this is one of those 'thinly-disguised' deathmatch levels. the progression is extremely non-linear; finding the exit is non-intuitive, to say the least. some pretty good combat, but overall, not quite what a single-player level should look, feel, or play like. nice for a diversion, though.
18 mar 1997
author: Neil Manke. starts off with you locked in a cell; all you have to do is kill the guard to escape. like his previous works, this level contains a number of puzzles and traps (some of which are lethal), but unlike the others, these puzzles aren't nearly as difficult to solve. unfortunately, the brush that's used throughout to indicate a trigger (a bright dagger) doesn't always appear in the areas where it's supposed to... namely, the one that's required to get out of the sewer system after you obtain the silver key. i had to consult the hints .txt file included to get through a couple of areas, actually, because i couldn't see the trigger. that aside, this level shows most excellent attention to theme and detail -- for all intents and purposes, this is a monastery, complete with dormitory, bell tower (very well done), and kitchen. this level is fairly intricate, with most areas having more than one access route. lots of stuff to jump on (which i like -- i found the first secret by jumping through a window instead of opening the secret door like i was supposed to). the item placement -- weapons and ammo -- and pacing was nearly perfect... i don't know that you needed the rocket launcher or perforator in this level, but then i never do. i could have wished for a box of shells or nails near the end, where i had to shoot a dagger button to open up a grating (by the zombies), because i had run out by that point and i hate wasting rockets. architecture and lighting are done extremely well, and no slowdown was found. (i did get the RAM icon when i was underwater after the zombie part, though.) this isn't a really huge level, but it's so complex it'll take you a good half hour to play through... and in my opinion, it's time well-spent. a really fun and engrossing game.
MORBID_1.ZIP -- 595k
26 aug 1997
author: Daniel Vogt. whoa. Doom2 flashback! this level makes extensive use of converted Doom2 textures, and it appears that some portions of this level were modeled after map02. there, however, the similarity ends. this level has been done in the base theme, for the most part (there are some stone areas), and the architecture varies from tight, cramped areas to medium-sized arenas. combat is fast and furious, and the monsters end up inyourface quite a lot of the time. the author has used teleporting monster traps to great advantage here, but it's never outrageous or stupid; you always seem to have just enough time to think before they're all over you. (one exception was the room with the spawn in it, but i hate spawn anyway.) many areas of this level were strongly reminiscent of Doom and Doom2 styling in how the traps were activated and what happened when they were, but the author has taken advantage of the three-dimensionality of Quake. some of the monster groupings were a bit odd (grunts and knights, for instance), but on the whole, this level is fast, fun, and definitely challenging -- try fighting waist-deep in water, for instance. a good level, and well-worth the download.
|The Mortal Environment||
29 mar 1997
author: Marc Roussel. this level confused me, as it seems like it's trying to be all things to all people. starts off with you on a slipgate pad (with some misaligned textures on the base) with the lightning gun in front of you. it then proceeds to an area reminiscent of E1M3 (the over-the-water area), just better lit. after getting the silver key to open a grating to access the next area, you're plunged into an E2-looking section, and then... well, you get the idea. the level is pretty linear, but it's too lightly populated for it's size. in addition, the weapons provided (you'll have enough ammo) are the super shotgun, the grenade launcher, and the lightning gun. the perforator is available, if you're persistent and you don't mind falling in lava the first five times you try to get it. the endgame is a huge area populated by a couple of shamblers, but don't worry; you get another lightning gun (in case you missed the first one) and enough cells to do what needs to be done. the presence of a super shotgun with two boxes of ammo right by the exit, and the overall design of this level, leads me to believe that this is another thinly-disguised deathmatch level.
MUNGO.ZIP -- 1,322k
4 sep 1997
author: Bryan L. this level has been done in the military base style, using a particular theme a power plant that has been extremely well done. the architecture and texturing is mostly convincing (the huge red symbol on the wall in the slime room being the only exception) and is immersive in the extreme. some texture misalignments were noted, however. the detailing present in this level is subtle, yet effective, adding to the overall feel. the size of playing areas runs all over the scale, and this level contains one of the largest indoor areas i've ever seen. unfortunately, there is a price to be paid for this size (especially considering the entire area is underwater) and that price is speed. thankfully, the speed hit is only really noticeable from a few angles outside the room, and no real combat takes place in the slow areas. flow is semi-linear, and you're able to roam for quite some time before needing a key. it can take some time to get your bearings, though, because semi-linear and large levels can be disorienting until you become accustomed to the layout. the author has used the "specials" exceptionally well in this level; they are part of the theme and part of the level, and blend in seamlessly. surprisingly, the author did not make use of many pop-up messages to advance the theme in this level, and they certainly would have come in handy to help me identify various areas and their functions. nevertheless, this level is a good example of the successful application of theme in a level, and is a lot of fun to play.
22 feb 1997
author: Neil Haupt. you start down a hallway of what appears to be a large single-room dwelling, complete with fireplace and furnishings. thankfully, these furnishings don't clutter up the interior. this room contains a deathtrap, which i don't particularly care for; at least the message was humorous, though. this level is architecturally functional, though some areas, especially the endgame, ran rather erratically. the lighting and theme are both carried off well with the exception of the dopefish; i'm not entirely sure how that fits in... plenty of water, too -- the first real water area seems more cramped and claustrophobic than the norm due to the extremely limited "airspace", which was a great effect. the endgame, though interesting at first, quickly grows tiresome; you're more than adequately armed and you spend most your time on the top catwalk waiting for the next set of victims to appear. i loved the "swinging doors" leading to the exit. a good, solid level.
23 dec 1996
author: Steve Rescoe. yes, folks, the author of Drakopf and Liquid Despair 2 has done it again. unfortunately, a serious case of TexBeGone and BrushGlut right at the very beginning lower the rating for this level. the architecture for this level is marvelous; it's exactly how a museum would look, if it were situated in hell and populated by demons. some really interesting 'artwork' on the walls (loved the 'if Warhol was alive he'd have done Quake like this' canvas). getting the silver key in this level is an exercise in observation or persistence -- it's hidden in plain sight. took me almost 15 minutes to find it the first time through, but after i had found it, i wondered how i could have missed it. one of the secrets in this level is the 'transparent wall' type, which i personally could live without. quite a lot of very good and very intense combat in this one; having close quarters in most places makes for an exciting ride. loved the library. the attention to detail and theme in this level is simply unparalleled; at no time did i ever lose the suspension of disbelief so critical to this type of level. a very complicated, very involved level. the stone dragon is far too cool for mere words, and this level is practically worth the download for that feature alone. advice to even the most hard-core gamer: SAVE OFTEN. trust me. the endgame is a stone bitch to beat, but it can be done. overall, the most demanding level i have played. highly recommended. Steve, don't you know how to make crappy levels? just wondering...