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"u" reviews

Vivisect Six V6.ZIP -- 1,337k
4 sep 1997
author: Zied Rieke. this level has been done in the military base style, and is very large. most of the level is under a certain level of water, but this does not slow game play significantly. the architecture runs toward the sprawling side, with gantries, overhead walkways, and huge supports giving this level a peculiarly immersive feel. the level is very "moody", thanks to judicious use of lighting, and is thematically excellent. the flow is non-linear and task-oriented – you're to press a certain number of buttons to open up the exit area. the author does not indicate how many buttons there are (with pop up messages) and it can be difficult to tell how close you are to completing the task at hand. also, many areas look very similar to one another, and, combined with the sheer size of this level, can lead to a bit of disorientation. the weapon selection was good, but the amount of ammo provided bordered on the obscene, and i never came remotely close to running out. a lot of fun, and technically excellent, but naggingly disorienting and somewhat tedious at times.

The Vigil VIGIL.ZIP -- 1,061k
10 aug 1997
author: Wright Bagwell. this level comes as a .pak file due to the QuakeC modifications it contains. it's been done in the medieval theme, and the concept is as fresh as it is fun to play -- instead of you searching out the monsters and exploring the level, they come to you as you attempt to defend your friend's tomb from desecration. at first, i have to admit that i didn't think this would be interesting, but after playing it a half dozen times, i found myself enjoying it more every time. the architecture has been done well; this level plays fast with no slowing from any angle. also, there is plenty of room in the play areas for moving around, and you'll need it. the monsters seem to appear at set intervals in some cases, but in others they enter after you kill a specific monster. there are two side areas to explore as well, both of which require keys. you'll want to enter these, though, because they give you the ammo you'll be needing. an interesting concept, masterfully executed, and highly recommended.

this level kicks ass

Village of Dread VILLAGE.ZIP
6 jan 1997
author: Steve Rescoe. this level... no, i can't call this one a 'level'. this EXPERIENCE begins outside the village, in what the author terms 'the forest'. i didn't think too much about it when i played it the first time, but that's exactly what it looks and feels like. the sheer stone walls, 'tree trunks', and gloomy lighting set the mood perfectly from the outset. the entrance to this level (with the teleport exit on the ceiling) is a great entry explanation... and it doesn't take a lot of brushes like a slipgate would. the canyon you travel through on your way to the village proper is well-built and utterly convincing. only one flaw in this area, however -- i got stuck between one of the 'tree trunks' and a rock outcropping (the one across from the niche where the second death knight lurks). the scrags in this section are in their element; in no other situation have the scrags seemed 'natural' in their surroundings. you enter the village by opening the main gate from the gatehouse, and i loved the design of the switch. the interior of the village is so authentically medieval in appearance that the mechanical / gear sound of the lift (to get the nailgun) is wildly anachronistic. the access gate switch mechanism (leading to the next major section) is also cleverly and memorably done. some of the traps in the village are a bit fierce. this area is one of the most effective and believeable uses of the Quake 3d engine i've seen thus far. the grenade launcher is placed in such a way that it is very difficult to see, but at least it's accessible, because, yes, there are zombies. monster placement and selection is superb and challenging; this author is another that knows how to get the most mileage out of his monsters, especially the ogres. the underwater areas are extensive, intense, and, like the rest of the level, utterly convincing. messages in this level are, in a word, perfect -- informative, appropriate, and descriptive. the endgame is a bit abrupt; there isn't the buildup of monsters towards the end that most other levels exhibit, and it was kind of a surprise to me that it was over this soon... until i checked the status bar and found that it read 30:46. secrets are marked well, if you know what to look for, but i still only found three of the five. the fish throw off the final monster count, but the author is good enough to tell you what the final counts should be (in the .txt file). lighting is, as usual, excellently placed and applied. this is the best gaming experience i've had in Quake (including the original levels). this is not a level -- this is a work of art. it does not get better than this, and if it did, i'd probably have a seizure. you must play this level.

this level kicks ass

Vision of Hatred VISION.ZIP
21 jan 1997
author: Darin McNeil. this level is extremely difficult in the beginning as you are plunged into a significant body of water and must fight your way through a number of fish. since they're big enough to block the only way out of the water (once you kill 'em) for a little while, you'll probably end up taking water damage no matter what you do. this level plays hard all the way through due to a notable lack of health. the architecture is functional, if a bit plain, but follows the theme well. in addition, the lighting is also done well, giving this level a definite and distinctive setting. in and of itself, the level would be unremarkable if not for the addition of the 'cut scenes' -- a series of tableaux that give this level a depth of plot and a feel that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve otherwise. the best part of it is the author has included an embedded .zip file with the .qc files necessary to create cut scenes of your own, along with instructions on how it works. very nicely done. the addition of relevant cut scenes to single-player levels promises to give them a fullness of plot not seen in Quake since the Rangers began releasing their films, and i, for one, am looking forward to how they will be used. i'm also patiently waiting for some coding genius to create a 'cut scene editor' or front end, because while i'd love to use cut scenes in any level i create, i don't know the first thing about QuakeC...

this level kicks ass

The Fate for Walhalla WALHALLA.ZIP -- 1,128k
17 sep 1997
author: Tobias Reichert. this level has been done in a variety of styles, none of which seem to work together very well. running speed at the start, and throughout the first playing area, is very slow. the architecture and structuring is disjointed and somewhat erratic; there are some areas and structures that are well done, but they don't necessarily blend into the whole. item and monster placement is seemingly random, so it's difficult to determine if this level has any discernible pacing. the flow is extremely linear. the author has clearly shown his ability to create and use most of the specials available; now all that's needed is a coherent theme.

The Warehouse WAREHAUS.ZIP -- 814k
10 aug 1997
author: Warren Marshall. this level has been done in the base theme, and has been done extremely well. the architecture and texturing adhere to the theme most excellently, as this level looks, feels, and plays like a cluttered storage area. the detailing is second to none, and the best part of the detailing is that it doesn't slow the game appreciably. there are a pair of areas that exhibit some slowing, however. the flow is semi-linear; you need to press a couple of strategically-located buttons to progress past certain points, but you're allowed to roam pretty freely until then. the monster selection and placement are excellent -- being ambushed and cornered by grunts and enforcers is difficult to pull off, but the author manages to do it in this level. since it's a storage area, i expected a lot of boxes and crates to jump and climb on, and in this i certainly wasn't disappointed. the author has also used the scaling function very well to seemingly create new textures for the wide variety of box sizes and shapes found in this level. i did, however, note a texture misalignment on one box. the secrets are well marked (i found all three) and they contain useful (but not necessary) items. this is easily Warren's best work yet, and i wouldn't have been surprised to find this in regular Quake. well done.

this level kicks ass

The Warpgate WARPGATE.ZIP -- 762k
10 aug 1997
author: "Ozric". this level has been done in the medieval style. the architecture throughout this level is solid, consistent, well-made, and utterly believeable; proportions are good and play areas are comfortably -- but not excessively -- large. the flow is linear, but the author has crafted the level well enough that it doesn't really seem like it. pacing is good as well; you're not under constant attack, but when you are attacked, the monsters have been selected and placed well enough that it seems they're working together. i did note some slowdown around the large water area, but that's the only place in this level where it slows -- the rest runs smoothly. the structures are beautiful and, in places, intricate, and there is a great variety of detail and lighting. there are two secrets, of which i found one. plenty of boxes of nails lying around in this level, but i couldn't find the nailgun. all in all, a most excellent level, and highly recommended.

this level kicks ass

Water Torture WATERTOR.ZIP -- 268k
10 aug 1997
author: Benjamin S. Clower. this level is very linear, and is rather large and surprisingly empty. there are a significant amount of water pillars (hence the name) but they don't seem to contribute to the theme of the level. the level is linear, i suppose, but i found it difficult at times to decipher where i was to go next. there is little cross-connectivity, however. there are some interesting areas and uses of architecture, but the monster selection and placement seems a little haphazard... due, no doubt, to the lack of a coherent theme. the author has clearly mastered the basics of level design, and, once the author chooses a theme (and, perhaps, shrinks the sizes of the play areas a bit), the next level will most likely be a winner.

Waterworks WATRWRKS.ZIP -- 810k
17 sep 1997
author: Erik Robson. this level's theme is that of a large water-processing area, and this theme has been done extremely well, with huge overhead pipes, many areas either completely or partially submerged, and somewhat-gloomy lighting. architecture has been done well – i loved the stairways – and the structures fit the theme very well. good use of pop up messages and specials in this level. the flow is semi-linear and the pacing is good, but the monster selection and placement is a bit odd at times. the level runs smoothly through most areas despite the fact that much of the architecture is on the large side. the texture choices were good for the most part, but some oddities were noted. a good, playable level.

Well of Lost Souls WELL.ZIP
8 mar 1997
author: Michael Reed. one thing i noticed right away with this level is it's very easy to beat quickly -- my best time is 4 seconds. maybe the outside wall should have been a bit taller... this level, like this author's previous work (Scorn, reviewed here), contains a number of traps, most of which are lethal. it does run slowly in places, but nothing unmanageable or prolonged. i loved the initials/sig in this level -- very subtle and pretty cool. some serious entity flicker in the next-to-last room, but with all the moving brushes and entities (which was extremely good but strongly reminiscent of the "Get Smart" introduction... am i dating myself with that reference?) that's hardly surprising. i loved the monster and message that appeared after all the stuff stopped moving, too; not often have i laughed quite that much in a Quake level. great stuff. the architecture and lighting in this level was well-done throughout, and obvious attention has been paid to both theme and flow. another excellent level.

this level kicks ass

27 dec 1996
author: Marc Roussel. too many places to get permanently stuck in this level (many of the doors do not open from the inside) ruin any fun this level might have contained. an abundance of weapons, relatively few monsters, and the non-linearity of play leads me to believe that this is simply a deathmatch level masquerading as a single-player level. much of the architecture, however, is remarkably well done; this level might be worth downloading to examine the structures if you're interested in building a single-player level.
Valley of the Wind
& The Red Room
WIND.ZIP -- 2,093k
10 aug 1997
author: Steve Wilson. this archive is a .pak file which contains the two levels.

Valley of the Wind begins as a base-style level, but changes to a more "natural" outdoors-type setting roughly in the middle. the base part has been done well, if a bit plainly in places, and the monster selection and placement is effective. good use has been made of the cut scene code (first seen in Vision of Hatred) to advance the plot... and i have to admit, i had to kill the hostage to see what would happen. :) once you get up the elevator, you enter an outdoors area (in the mountains, it would appear), and about two thirds of the way through the blue rock, i experienced some horrendous slowdown which did not let up until after i had cleared the ogre courtyard. this is a good, strong level, but it could have used a few more elevation changes, as most of the play area seemed kind of flat to me... and, of course, the speed issue needs to be taken care of.

The Red Room centers around, you guessed it, a red room. the beginning ran awfully slowly, and i think that was due to the amount of architecture that was visible out the window. a killer trap is present in this level as well, but the good part is you don't have to be stupid like i did; if you shoot a button, the silver key comes out for you. this level is linear, i think, but it didn't seem that way; i often had difficulty trying to figure out where to go next. the monster population is much more intense in this level than in the previous, and strangely, this level didn't seem much like a continuation of Valley of the Winds. running speeds were acceptable throughout, except for the beginning, and the flow and pacing were good. the architecture in this level tended towards the twisty and cramped unlike the running room given you in the previous level. all in all, this is a strong pair of levels that needed just a bit more work on the details.

The Wishing Well WISHWELL.ZIP -- 557k
4 may 1997
author: Tom Cleghorn. this archive comes with a number of files, including a .bsp, a progs.dat, an .mdl, and seven .wav files. thankfully, it's easy enough to install; all the directory names are included for easy installation. this level is on the small side, and the architecture is very regular. by that, i mean that most areas are built very square and are of equal size. texturing and lighting have been done well, though monster placement (due to the style of architecture) is fairly regular as well. you're given everything but the rocket launcher in this level, and enough ammo so you don't have to worry about running out. the endgame is interesting, but given that the author gives you the quad shortly before you encounter the endgame monster, it is far too easy to kill it; i only saw it once, to wake it up, and a barrage of quadded grenades killed it pretty quickly.

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