level reviews

 "d" reviews

All of the levels reviewed on this page can be found here.

Slipgate '98.1 E1M1Q2A.ZIP -- 699k
13 jan 1998
author: Erich "Master Fett" Heintz. this map is a remake (i doubt it's a straight conversion) of E1M1 from Quake, and it has been done well, for the most part. architecture is proportional and accurate, and the texture selection and placement is true to the original. this level is much, much darker than the original, however, and this lends a certain amount of atmosphere to the level that wasn't present in the original... many areas are downright gloomy, and this adds a sinister aura that's surprisingly fun to play through. colored lighting has been used as well, but it's been applied in a way that is somewhat jarring; primary colors have been used in areas and they are very noticeable, and many lights don't have a visible source. a very good mission statement greets the player upon entering the level; unfortunately, "slipgate" contains a typo. weapon and monster balance is a bit on the extreme side; the player gets the railgun much sooner than i would have expected, and this makes this level a lot easier than it has any right to be. overall, a good effort that shows this author is capable of quality work. i'll be looking forward to an original release.
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Energy Processing Plant ENERGY.ZIP -- 286k
27 mar 1998
author: Ryan Corey. this map begins with an F1 that overflows the graphic area and no clear origin point. the flow in this very short map is linear and the pacing is adequate, with the architecture running the range from small play areas to some that are fairly large. there is a case of slowing once you exit the elevator. some technical flaws were noted, specifically texture misalignments, texture mismatches, and some extremely thin brushes. the endgame, such as it is, consists of killing a pair of gladiators and perhaps four or five gunners through a small doorway; it was difficult to tell how many monsters there were because the last room was very dark. some monster placements seemed arbitrary as well; the fish in the pseudo-pond in the courtyard is a case in point. a decent learning level.
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Untitled EQ2_SP1.ZIP -- 460k
13 jan 1998
author: Erik Robson. this level has an interesting, straightforward introductory F1, and the level starts out quietly enough with the player in what appears to be a neglected room of some kind. what struck me most about this level is how difficult it is on the "hard" setting (i had to use "god" to make it through) -- in one sequence, you're faced with five flyers, three gunners, and two infantry... and you're given the regular shotgun, the machine gun, and little room to maneuver. the strategic placement of the monsters seems to be designed to give the player grief more than to give the player a challenge. the architecture runs toward the smaller end of the scale as well, and with the way the monsters are selected and placed (two iron maidens, two soldiers, and a medic in a room the size of a large lift), this combination does not make for an enjoyable experience. the endgame architecture was interesting, with its use of multi-level play, but i could have wished the author had resisted the temptation to throw in every single monster in the game, barring Makron and the big flyer. a good level that demonstrates a lot of potential.
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Untitled (eq2_sp2) EQ2_SP2.ZIP -- 517k
18 jun 1998
author: Erik Robson. this level begins with a decent origin point and a good F1. the architecture through this level is surprisingly plain, though the somewhat-complex accent structures do much to alleviate this feeling. in addition, the textures have been used well to give the feeling of depth and solidity. the author has used lighting well here to create shadows and shadowed effects, which isn't something that's seen very often any more, and is all the more appreciated because of it. the author has also used decor (such as doors and door structures) consistently throughout the level, giving it a "real" feel. the pop-ups are also excellent, adding to the depth. the flow is linear but the pacing is erratic; odd monster combinations and weapon/monster balance make some combat situations far too easy and others far too difficult. some texture truncations were noted, and the elevators/lifts were oddly silent. nitpicks: no major effects when power core destroyed (alarms, lights, etc); and buttons had flashing textures on all five sides. a solid level, if a bit uninspiring.
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Escape ESCAPE.ZIP -- 234k
13 jan 1998
author: Benjamin Meyer. this level starts in what appears to be a largely-deserted storage area (with plenty o' crates to jump on; whee!), but the action starts right away. no F1 greets you in this level. you're not given too many weapons (chaingun with default load and shotgun tucked away behind some tough monsters) at first, so you get to fight a gladiator, a gunner, three infantry, and a flyer. i like a challenge, but... on the first open door, i encountered a repetitive error called "Think_Delay with no activator"; anyone know what this means? not debilitating, just annoying. the architecture has been done adequately, with some curious monster/architecture combinations -- the one that strikes me as memorable was the cluttered, narrow hallway where you're cornered by a grenade-tossing gunner. with no room to dodge, death is a virtual certainty. some curious texture choices as well; in one area, a computer side texture was used as a door. overall, too much ordnance, too many monsters, too much architectural complexity, and no logical progression. the basics are there, to be sure, and now all this author has to do is put them together in a more balanced way.
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Quake2: The Exodus EXODUSBV01.ZIP -- 8,574k
16 Aug 1998
Author: J. Pranger. This enormous archive contains a whole lot of files, including a pak file, a bunch of .pcx files, sounds, and models. Thankfully, the author has included the directory structure in the zip so installation is a snap. (You'll probably want to use your own autoexec and config files, though.) The text file indicates that it contains four new levels, but I wasn't able to play them all.

"The Mothership" is the first level in this pak, and features incredibly large, plain, and boxy architecture. It has no introductory F1 and no origin point, though F1s appear later and all contain misspellings (as do the pop-ups) and overlap the graphic. Many texture truncations were noted, along with a mish-mash of colored lighting that was both overly bright and overly harsh and jarring. The flow is extremely linear and the pacing is light; you'll face mostly blaster guards here (though one would think that a mothership would have a tougher security force). The goals are clear and unambiguous, and the ease of completing them is at odds with the logic of being on a "mothership" -- the computer core looks like a chunk of wall and takes one blaster shot to destroy, for instance. The control room itself is too small and too empty to be convincing.

From there you enter "The Crash" (good name for a level... heh). It has a good transition from the previous level, but has some illogical physics in the opening scene. The architecture is adequate, with some severe brush seams making their appearance and more of the big, blocky construction seen in the previous level. The earthquake specials are frequent and numerous here, making me wonder about the tectonic stability of this planet... No door slots are in evidence and switches slide in their housings with no slots or grooves. This short level ends very abruptly as well.

"Mylevel 2" (the name could have been changed, I do believe) is the third and final level I was able to play. Another good transition and more F1 action as in the previous two levels. This level has a very Hexen-like feel with the texturing, with interesting stone and wood patterns throughout, and the architecture, though blocky like the rest of the other two levels, somehow makes more sense with this type of texturing. There's a new skin for the insane model along with some new sounds, and it looks and sounds pretty good; the problem is, the insane makes the same exact pain and dying sounds, and it's wildly out of place with the sounds that have been changed. The structuring through this level is extremely repetitive -- all the doors look the same, all the corridors look the same, and most of the doors that don't open don't tell you why. After I went into the barracks-like room (after the "eight red phone booth things" room), the level locked my system completely, including the keyboard; I had to hit the reset button to reboot. This is not acceptable, and thus, this pak earns no rating. Download it and play it at your own risk; it's not recommended here.

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"f" reviews