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more "p" reviews

Prey2 PREY2.ZIP -- 639k
24 jun 1997
author: "marty". this level has been done in the military-base style. the architecture and lighting have been done extremely well for this theme -- it looks and feels like you're in a base of some kind. the attention to detail and textural touches -- such as the lights on the edges of some of the ramps -- add a measure of depth and realism to this base setting. unfortunately, i noticed quite a few texture misalignments throughout this level; in addition, the chair that was tipped over (at the beginning of the level) was untextured on it's underside -- i could see right through it. the running speed through this level, as in this author's previous works, is smooth and fast, even during combat. the flow is linear and the pacing (monster placement in particular) was good. weapons provided are military-base standard (super shotgun and nailgun), making the combat sequences challenging and exciting. a good level, but (sadly) not up to par with the author's best. nevertheless, it does kick ass, and is a good game.

this level kicks ass

25 jan 1997
author: Anders Gustavsson. hmm. looks like when Anders uploaded this one, it overwrote the previous archive titled "Prison". at the start, there are two "walkmonster in wall" error messages. this is a sprawling level with plenty of room to move. a little light on the monsters and heavy on the powerups for a single-player level, though. this level does have a definite linearity to it, so it's not just a thinly-disguised deathmatch level... though due to the open spaces and quick running speed, it'd probably work great for dmatch, too. the architecture in this one is noteworthy for the "mill", complete with paddle wheel and gearing under the control tower -- very convincingly done. monsters (only 19) are placed in spots that make them too easy to kill. all in all, this would probably make a better deathmatch level than a pure single-player level, but for single play it's not bad at all.

My Home & Prison PRISON.ZIP
4 jan 1997
author: Swen Klemund. this archive contains two levels, My Home (SWEN) and Prison (SWEN1).

SWEN.BSP is titled appropriately -- this is a house. thankfully, the author has decided against including furniture in this level, which would have cluttered it up completely, as this level has extremely tight dimensions. you are equipped with every weapon but the regular nailgun and lightning gun, but there isn't a whole lot of ammo for the bigger weapons. the monster selection in this level is a bit erratic and the gold key door is unmarked. the lighting has been done well. the exit signs, however, are badly misaligned. an interesting level, but not as riveting as some.

SWEN1.BSP has been constructed and designed more along the lines of a Quake level. the lighting is well-done, but there are visible seams in the architecture in many places; most notably are the seams in the walls on the circular stairs. the monster mix varies from excitingly challenging to utterly ridiculous in places... three shamblers, with a pair of fiends? at once?! this level also exhibits a significant amount of BrushGlut and a single instance of TexBeGone (the gold key door). the gold key itself is hidden in a secret area. the underwater areas (and there were quite a bit of them) were fun to play in, though i was a bit hesitant at first to jump into (what looked like) damage slime. ammo is in pretty short supply in this level. more armor would have been nice, too. a message displays when the gold key door is opened (something about swen2.bsp) but it's gone too quickly to really read when you're not expecting it. as with the previous level, exit sign alignment is a real problem. i found two of the three secrets, but only killed 87 of the 116 monsters. true, there were fish in this level, but i don't think there were 29 of them. all in all, a not-unpleasant playing experience, but not one i'd recommend.


23 feb 1997
author: Dario Casali. starts in a 'cargo ship' setting. you get the super shotgun, super nailgun, grenade launcher, rocket launcher, armor, and plenty of ammo for each right at the start, with no strings attached... then it gets interesting. brilliant architecture and lighting throughout; it's hard to believe that a place like this doesn't actually exist. the monster mix and placement in this level is fierce and challenging in the extreme, making this one of the toughest (if not the toughest) levels i've ever played. save often. as stated in the text file (which i read after playing through the level), there is no health and very little ammo available -- you only get the ammo dropped by slain monsters. basically, it's a race against attrition to escape, and if you have a "let's just kick ass and take names" style of play (as i do), you'll definitely have a very hard time beating this level (as i did). Prodigy1 rewards the careful player. attention to theme and story is first-rate. i enjoyed this level immensely.

this level kicks ass

Ebony Shrine PRODIGY2.ZIP
18 mar 1997
author: Dario Casali. this level comes as a .pak file, with a batch file included to run it, and is easily installed. you start in a courtyard outside the Ebony Shrine itself, and... yow, is this a mess. before i start the hammering here, though, i must say that this level is superb in the detailing and the overall architecture; this is one of the most believeable and structurally-immersive levels i've played. proportions, texturing, and lighting are realistically and convincingly done. near-constant GreyFlash as soon as you start the level makes it difficult to kill even the opening monsters (a pair of dogs and a pair of enforcers). lots of entity flicker as well -- the boxes of ammo kept blinking in and out of view. once you get inside, the GreyFlash goes away (at least for now), but this level runs extremely choppy in nearly all areas. this makes what would normally be a difficult level (acknowledged by the author in the .txt file) into one of near-impossibility. the flow is very linear, and the pacing is a near non-stop battle from the time you jump down the hole into the slime to the exit. the spikeshooters in the upper hallway were exceptionally brutal; with no way around them, and no armor i could find, you're going to take a 60-75% health beating no matter what you do... unless you fly. once you get inside, the GreyFlash actually worsens, to a point i've not yet seen in a level... it's actually an extremely beautiful area, but it's hard to tell what it looks like through the grey. i gave it my standard 15 tries, and i couldn't get past the first shambler, so i had to resort to god mode to get through it. if you've got a PPro 200 with a buttload of RAM and 3d acceleration, and a taste for pain, you'll probably enjoy this level. i, however, don't have either of the above.

errata: i neglected to mention the presence of a .bat file in the archive, P2.BAT, which completely alleviates the GreyFlash problem. unfortunately, running the batch file simply serves to increase the load on the CPU... so while you can now see everything, the game runs proportionately slower. (sorry for overlooking this, Dario. doh!)

Sombre Citadel PRODIGY4.ZIP -- 1,069k
6 apr 1997
author: Dario Casali. this is the latest level by Dario, and it is absolutely stunning. the architecture is complex and believable, and large enough to make maneuvering easy... yet this level runs extremely smoothly throughout. the monster mix is tough but playable, and due to their placement and the architecture, each combat situation is challenging. ammo is given somewhat sparingly, so aim well. secrets in this level are marked, but very subtly, and i only found two of three. one problem i had with this level -- there is an area where you are required to swim through some lava, and the pentagram (which i assume is available due to the pop up message the first time you approach the lava) is hidden in a secret... that i wasn't able to find. i was forced to resort to god mode to get through that area. ::sigh:: a secret level is included, and while it's not really all that hard to find, it is incredibly hard to beat. (no, i haven't done it yet; i keep running out of ammo.) i love the pop up messages you get when you find the teleporter to this level. the music that plays while you're in there is really cool (is that Prodigy, Dario?). all in all, a most excellent game, and one that i enjoyed immensely.

this level kicks ass

Prodigy Special Edition PRODIGY_SE.ZIP -- 4,478k
10 aug 1997
author: Dario Casali. this archive contains a .pak file which has six levels in it: the start map, four regular maps, and a secret level. four of the maps have been previously released, and one has been reworked for this release. all the maps are wonderfully designed and constructed; the architecture is believeable and convincing, lighting has been done excellently, and textures have been selected and placed with an eye towards thematic consistency. the flow in all these levels is semi-linear; you can wander around for a while, but there is one way to get through them, making them ideal for single play. enough weapons and ammo have been provided throughout -- in some cases, just barely -- and the difficulty settings have been masterfully implemented so that Hard is really hard. the detail in these levels is sometimes on the heavy side, causing a significant speed hit in various areas, but the areas are so well built you almost don't mind.

the Start map is used to select which level you wish to explore. none of the levels depend on any other, so it doesn't matter which order you go in. it does seem easier if you play them "in order", such as it were. there is one secret in this level leading to Nightmare difficulty.

Arrival has been reviewed previously, and is basically unchanged; if there were any differences, i wasn't able to find them.

Ebony Shrine has been reviewed previously, and has undergone some changes. these changes aren't visible to the user other than the fact that this level runs much smoother and faster than it used to. it's still kind of choppy on my p133, but it's playable now where it wasn't before. the monster mix is still brutal, though. :)

Venom is the new level in this .pak. it is easily the most intricate level in this archive; most areas in the level are visible and accessible from two or more places, and this means you're under fire for quite a long time at the beginning. the architecture is convincingly detailed, which does mean some slowing in places, and the author has adhered to the theme well. flow is semi-linear, with much more wandering around than is the norm; you can jump and climb to a wide variety of places. combat is frequent, and, as with the other Prodigy levels, is brutal on Hard. survivable, though, but probably not the first time through. a fun level that i enjoyed playing once i slaughtered my way to some breathing room.

Sombre Citadel has been reviewed previously, and is basically unchanged with one notable exception -- the popup message by the lava is much more clear as to its meaning (thanks, Dario!). this level is my favorite of the four, by the way; smooth running speeds, linear gameplay, and great attention to theme and detail make this one stand out, in my mind.

Endurance was part of the previous release of Sombre Citadel, and is unchanged as far as i can tell. what's also unchanged is that i can't survive it on Hard. still rocking good fun, especially when you want to test your skills.

all in all, this is an excellent compilation of a series of excellent levels, and is highly recommended. i'll be looking forward to seeing what Dario produces for Half-Life as well.

this level kicks ass

Palace of Shadows PS.ZIP
27 dec 1996
author: Darren Stabler. a fortress-type level, and you start on the outside. when you enter the first teleport, you wind up on the shelf immediately above it, and from here you get some serious GreyFlash (35% FOV), TexBeGone, and, on directly below you (overlooking the bridge), TexSmear. this level is paced very deliberately and most of the monsters start with their backs to you when you enter their area; this makes it a much easier level than it has a right to be. the lighting is adequate, though, for being called Palace Of Shadows, it's pretty darned bright. i only found one of the two secrets. with some work on the lighting and the various views, this could be a great level.

The Pump Station PUMPSTAT.ZIP
8 feb 1997
author: Fraggler.Heat (Dan Janis). 1 "walkmonster in wall" and 6 "bonus item fell out of level" messages greet you upon loading this level. this level looks remarkably like a deathmatch level at the very beginning (i.e., no monsters and lots of ammo), but the monsters soon appear. the architecture is great to move around in -- very spacious -- if you have a freewheeling style of play, as i do, and is functionally accurate. however, once i got into the water (of which there is a significant amount in this level; it is a pumping station, after all), i began to see a lot of GreyFlash in many areas visible from the water... as much as 60% FOV in places. the barrier that blocks your passage (with the perforator behind it) is easily circumvented by hopping up on the railing and jumping to the next section; i only discovered that i could lower this barrier much later. some great attention to theme in this level, but the lack of an exit (at least, one that i could find) and the technical flaws (the GreyFlash and significant slowdown in many areas) really destroys the mood. pity.

i don't normally do this, but the author has mailed me and asked me to tell you, "The author was unable to fully VIS this level; please contact him if you'd like to donate the computer time."

Reconstruction PURG3.ZIP -- 868k
26 aug 1997
author: Bryan Pillow. this level begins as a "base-themed" level and contains a very smooth transition to the medieval theme. the base section is built very well, though it does run a bit slowly through the first long hallway. the trap is easily avoided, and i liked the way you can turn the trap to your advantage. architecture and lighting is extremely well done throughout this level, though the detail is a little on the light side. flow and pacing, in addition, have been well done; you're never really wanting for a weapon, and there is plenty of ammo. the placement and selection of monsters is both consistent with the theme as well as plenty of fun to blast your way through. don't get confident, though; the monsters have been placed in a such a way that their positioning more than makes up for their apparent lack of numbers. one thing i didn't particularly care for was the way out of the room with the grating in the floor; i prefer my buttons to be much more clearly marked. i found three of four secrets, and of the three, two were marked. combine a clean, functional design with intelligent monster placement and attention to theme and you're in for a good game... like this level.

this level kicks ass

Enter Purgatory PURGATOR.ZIP -- 731k
24 jun 1997
author: Bryan Pillow. this archive comes with two levels, one of which is the skill-setting level. i liked the way the skill settings were set up, but i couldn't find an entrance to Nightmare difficulty. (note that if you choose the skillset level first, you get two extra boxes of shells and a couple of grenades from the ogre. these do come in handy.) the level proper is a primer in clean design. the level, overall, is one of the tallest levels i've yet seen. tall levels (high ceilings) like this tend to look sparse and bare, but the author has dealt with this by making some very interesting architectural choices. in the first section, you have to climb a slanting beam to get up on some steps, and i found that structure to be remarkable in both it's simplicity and challenge. the second area has one of the largest -- if not the largest -- indoor areas i've seen, yet it runs quickly and smoothly. the fighting is very good through most of the level, though one of the situations you're dropped in (right after getting the gold key) seemed a bit abrupt. weapons are placed well and provided when you need them. secrets are marked but a bit hard to find sometimes; i found two of four. ammo is tight through most of this level, though, so be accurate. also, some of the monster choices and placements were a bit "off" to me, especially at the bottom of the tall stairs through the silver-key door. all in all, though, this level is challenging (took me four tries to get through it), nice to look at, thematically well done, and smooth-running. a great first effort; can't wait for more.

this level kicks ass

The Great Pyramid of Seth PYRAMID.ZIP
11 jan 1997
author: Ted Stahl. four 'not a field', one 'walkmonster in wall', and eight 'bonus item fell out of level' errors greet you when you start this map. you start outside a huge pyramid, with four smaller pyramids in the corners of an enormous courtyard and a gaggle of zombies waiting for you to run up and kill them. there are visible seams in numerous places. most of this level ran very chunkily, and a 40% FOV GreyFlash (after exiting one of the two ground-level teleporters) was not unexpected. i won't even mention that it's easy to get stuck completely outside the map, either, or that the sky-seam shows markedly in many places. i got the 'RAM' icon in the rocket launcher room as well... which marks the first time i've ever seen it in an indoor situation. nice new graphics, though the backs of the pharaoh's heads looked bizarre. shooting a zombie with the rocket launcher from half a mile away in the dark was cool, though; watching the light-sourcing projectile work it's way across the expanse was fascinating, in a way. the silver and gold keys are required, but you are able to get them in consecutive areas, which kind of takes the challenge out of getting them in the first place. the endgame is ludicrous due to your horrible tactical positioning; unfortunately, there is no alternate route.

27 dec 1996
author: Dean Scott. nice unobtrusive © at the beginning of the level, which is very well done and i think the best implementation of copyright notification that i've seen. heavily influenced by e1m5 in the texturing department. has a really nice underwater cavern area, but GreyFlash spoiled it for me. a large, airy level with plenty of room to move, but the monster population was somewhat light for a level this size. plenty of weaponry to do the job, though. ammo's a bit scarce at times, so make your shots count. a workable level that could be greatly improved by the addition of strategically-placed monsters as well as some work on the swimming area. this is the first level i've seen that fairly cried out 'potential!'

A Smash of Three PYRO2.ZIP
8 feb 1997
author: Dean Scott. this level is pretty brush-heavy, though it doesn't really look like it. some great structures are here, and the lighting is done uniformly excellently throughout. some new textures are present in this level, and the ones i noticed (box side, slime) fit into the game perfectly. the level is architecturally superb; most, if not all, of the areas have memorable and unique items, yet none of the trim detracts from gameplay, as is often the case. in a level this size (larger than average), i could have wished for a bit more combat (only 28 monsters), but the lack of fighting did create some tension in places... and allowed me to gape at how wonderfully this level has been constructed. with a little more attention to actual combat, this level would have been much more fun to play.

The Awakening PYRO4.ZIP -- 839k
13 apr 1997
author: Dean Scott. this level is another large, sprawling level, and unfortunately displays significant slowdown in the first courtyard area. the rest of the level runs acceptably smoothly, however. the flow is linear, but a lot of seemingly-unnecessary backtracking through largely-empty areas was required. monster placement and pacing tended toward the "clear one area and lots of quiet until the next encounter" variety (which i like), but often the combat, when it occurred was either far too easy (you can range on some monsters from distances that seem unlikely, or shoot at them where they are unable to shoot back) or tedious -- blowing your way through nearly a dozen ogres in a wide hallway with the super shotgun is strongly reminiscent of chopping wood. i did note some brush seams in places, and the introductory slipgate had some misaligned textures. the endgame has been done well, and is extremely challenging (especially on Hard) due to the close quarters involved. all in all, a good level, but a bit too large for good single play excitement. a deathmatch game with a lot of people would be interesting, however.

19 jan 1997
author: D. North. you want claustrophobic and dimly-lit levels? here you go. moving and fighting through this level was difficult much of the time due to the numerous outcroppings and support beams and struts. it has a definite theme, however, and this theme was done very well. unfortunately, brush seams were clearly visible in a number of places, and the flow was somewhat erratic; not linear in the customary sense, anyway. the endgame is a bit ludicrous, and is a symptom of the 'shambler-in-a-closet' school of monster placement. this is a level that could have used some thorough beta testing.

this level is not available on cdrom.com, but can be gotten from the mecca.

"q" reviews