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"o" reviews

Pathway to Hell P2HELL.ZIP -- 342k
10 aug 1997
author: Sam Allen. this level starts off in a small entry courtyard with no outside walls, which not only clearly shows the sky spawn all the way around, but allows you to walk into the sky as if it were solid. this level also runs very slowly in the beginning area, but i couldn't see why it would. a short burst of combat at the beginning leads you to a one-time-only lowering bookcase that drops you into a lake of lava... unless you're positioned to hit one of the poles that's rising up. (it took me four tries.) the level progresses in a very linear fashion to the end. the architecture, on the whole, isn't bad, but this author needs to work on theme and flow a bit more, i think. plenty of potential here.

Pagan PAGAN.ZIP -- 160k
25 sep 1997
author: Fredrik Martinsson. this is a big, squarish level with no real flow to it. the monsters seemed placed in likely places in a series of unremarkable rooms and corridors. the pacing, therefore, was more than somewhat predictable. the ramped stairway in the middle, which was nicely done, was the only non-square structure in the level.

The Pagan Temple v2 PAGAN3.ZIP
27 dec 1996
author: Mike Melzer. a pair of very large open rooms comprise the bulk of this level. extremely non-linear but well populated. suffers from GreyFlash in the main room. plenty of weapons and ammo, and it looks and plays like a deathmatch level stocked with monsters. there are a couple of stylistic issues i had a problem with -- i shouldn't normally have to jump repeatedly to ascend stairs, and teleports should be marked with that distinctive 'swimming starry field' texture so i know where they are. a decent combat exercise, but if you're looking for single-player continuity, look elsewhere.

Pandemonium PANDEM01.ZIP -- 644k
13 apr 1997
author: Richard Dale Carlson. this level starts off in a octagonal courtyard, and the action starts as soon as you enter. you'll find yourself running around madly through most of the level, because you simply don't have any place to stop and catch your breath (until you've killed everything in an area). architecture runs from the merely quirky to the bizarre (the water cube with the metal railings); seeing a fish pop it's head out of the water above your head is a trifle disconcerting. this level runs pretty slowly in places, and is outrageously and insanely difficult until you've mapped out a plan of attack after dying for the tenth straight time. this level is also non-linear; in addition, i found the gold key, but i never found the door it went to, so i don't know if this level has an exit or not. if you're in the mood for some chaotic fighting and running, download this immediately, as this level is aptly named.

Darkness Diabolical PB1.ZIP
25 jan 1997
author: Wright Bagwell. wow. the architecture in this level is functionally and visually remarkable -- no cluttered surfaces, no slowdown, and everything makes sense. the lighting and texture selection are both done to perfection for this level. the monster mix is hard; i thought it was ridiculous at first, but after playing it a few times, i discovered that it's actually extremely balanced and beatable. enough weapons are provided (in easy to find locations) for you to do the job, but ammo and health are in pretty short supply, so choose your battlefields wisely. many areas are fun to play through and are notable for their clean design. the "sewer" area in particular was very well done, with an excellent mix of lighting and (mostly) darkness. there is also a significant amount of cross-traffic connectivity in this level, which leads me to believe that not only is it fun to play in single-player, but that it would probably rock with 8+ (due to it's size) players. the secrets are hidden, or off the beaten path, but are by no means undiscoverable; in fact, the pentagram secret is in plain sight, if you know where to look, and is concealed in such a manner that you feel very clever indeed to have found it. the flow is linear with plenty of room to explore between required keys. one nitpick: the exit isn't marked, and i was annoyed the first time i stepped through accidentally... but that just gave me the excuse (as if i needed one) to play it again... and again... and again. stop wasting time reading this and get this level.

this level kicks ass

The Soul Grinder PB2.ZIP -- 1,027k
13 apr 1997
beta author: Wright Bagwell. this level sports mainly huge, sprawling architecture (great for fighting in), but the author has wisely declined to insert gobs of ornamentation, resulting in acceptable playing speeds throughout. lack of gratuitous ornamentation doesn't mean this level is bare, though; far from it. the textures have been used wisely to produce a thematic environment that is, while not totally immersive, compelling and consistent. the monster population is a bit thin for this size of level, but the monster selection is good, and you'll be glad he's given you plenty of room to fight in because you'll need it. the weapons are introduced somewhat gradually, and there is plenty of ammo around most of the time. in some key spots, however, i worried that i was going to run out, heightening the tension of the combat in those spots. four secrets are to be found in this level, but i only found one, so i gather that they're marked very subtly. the level is linear, but not extremely so, and provides enough cross-connectivity and looping to make me believe it'd be good for deathmatch for a large number of players. a fun level, and highly recommended.

this level kicks ass

The Place of Belonging PLACEBO.ZIP
27 dec 1996
author: Martin Hryniewiecki. a small, extremely-crowded level with a plethora of nooks and crannies to explore. this level sports the most secrets (five, of which i found three) i've ever seen in an add-on level. the action is intense due to the cramped quarters, but somehow i wasn't annoyed by this, as i usually am... it seems that too many authors substitute tiny rooms with no escape for good planning and careful monster placement, which is definitely not the case here. some excellent and BRUTAL traps. there are some places where the traps are instantly fatal, however, and i don't know if i care for 'killer' traps, as it's always been too easy for a level author to kill players with architecture. the messages are well-timed and appropriate. after you've crossed the bridge and pressed the button (when you play this, you'll know what i mean) SAVE OFTEN. the traps in the next section are well-marked and among the most brutal i have ever encountered. i'm definitely not ashamed to admit that i probably couldn't complete this level all the way through on "Hard" without saving. getting the gold key was difficult; i had to use 'fly' from the console to press the button to obtain it. it wasn't gettable by normal means, and if it was, i'd like to know how it was done. the endgame, following the difficulty of the rest of this level, was brutal but possible. if you're in the mood for a challenging, unforgiving, and extremely satisfying (when you beat it) level, pick this one up. heck, pick this one up anyway -- it's that good.

this level kicks ass

Call a Plumber PLUMBER.ZIP
6 jan 1997
author: Gyro Gearloose. this archive contains a lot of files (nine in all), but installation is simple as the author has included detailed and simple instructions. the architecture in this level is utterly realistic and a tad claustrophobic, and the detailing is unobtrusive and excellent -- i especially liked the caged-light hanging light fixtures. two areas that i was particularly impressed with were the caverns (broken-ground fighting is hard) and the 'stairway' leading down into the water. it's a very complex and tightly-wound level -- it's easy to get disoriented while wandering, but the good thing is you don't really ever get 'lost'. the monster selection and placement (including the new monsters included) is uniformly excellent and persistently challenging, yet at no point did i ever think 'gimme a BREAK' as often happens in small, overpopulated levels. four well-hidden secrets; i didn't figure out how to get any of them the first time out, but that just gives me a reason to play this one again. the annoying thing about the secrets is that they're all in plain sight -- the challenge is getting to them. lighting is, as usual, extremely well done, and the messages are informative, appropriate, and humorous, which is a nice change of pace. overall, brilliantly-made and executed; i would have liked to see the .mdl, .dat, and .bsp files compiled into a .pak file for easier installation, but that's just a nitpick. get this level.

this level kicks ass

18 mar 1997
author: "PME". this is another level that sports a huge title in the status bar, making sure i can't figure out how many secrets (if any) are in this level. contains some interesting architecture and use of moving platforms (the cage itself was pretty cool), but there isn't a clear theme that i could find. the lighting has been done competently. enough weapons are provided, but ammo's in pretty short supply considering the strength and quantity of monsters. way too many shamblers in this level for my taste. the underwater area (after you fall out of the cage) is pretty interesting, though, and there is definitely plenty of combat.

Polygon Base
POLYGON2.ZIP -- 766k
29 mar 1997

26 aug 1997
author: Rick Lipsey. the .bsp file included in this archive is named polygon7 instead of polygon2. this is a base-style level, and it is very large... only Suicide Staccato matches this one in size for the base-level theme. it is extremely well-constructed; architecture, lighting, and attention to detail have been done well. due to it's size and complexity, there are many areas to explore that are off the beaten path. great pacing, but the flow can be confusing; since the level is fairly non-linear, you can explore for quite some time before you need either of the keys. play areas are varied in construction, and the cumulative effect is of a base that has been added on to by various people (with various agendas) over a period of time. areas are generally consistent within themselves, and they fit into the overall feel of the level well, but areas that are adjacent to one another sometimes have very little in common with one another. this is a good effect, but it can be disorienting. two secrets in this one, both of which i found. no noticeable slowdown, either, which was pleasantly surprising... when i play levels with large areas, i always expect slowdown. getting both the keys, and finishing the level, is sort of anticlimactic, though; by the time you get that far, you've pretty much cleared the level. there are some hidden surprises, though, so pay attention and you'll get the most enjoyment out of this map. i know i did.

this level kicks ass

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