level reviews

 "e" reviews

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

Fatal Opportunity FATALOP.ZIP -- 376k
3 feb 1998
fatal opportunity author: YooShin Yang. this level starts out with you in a cell of some kind, wondering how to get out. unlike Incarceration, you're released due to some kind of power failure -- but the guards here are a bit more numerous and powerful. lucky they left that shotgun sitting nearby, eh? the F1s in this level are, as usual, well-written, informative, timely, and they advance the plot admirably. the addition of pop-up messages (some humorous; loved the one at the end... heh) immerses the player like no other add-on level has to date. the flow is linear, and the pacing is absolutely superb -- hard is indeed hard, and, unlike this author's first Q2 level, it is not nearly impossible to beat. in fact, it is one of the better balanced levels i've played. the architecture is top-notch, with most play areas running toward the small side. the detail is exquisite without being brush-heavy, and i only noticed slowdown in one area. i loved the skylights as well, and am surprised at how much atmosphere they add, especially when they're layered (like in the screen shot) between floors. the weapons and ammo provided are more than adequate to do the job, though if you're a sloppy shooter, the ammo will get tight. the monsters are placed intelligently and grouped logically to play to their strengths without being insanely difficult to beat. the endgame features what's rapidly becoming YooShin's trademark (the earthquake), and it works well here. one secret, and i did find it, and it did come in handy. all in all, the finest SPQ2 level i've yet played. you must play this level.
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this level kicks ass

Waste Pumping Station FIN1B4.ZIP -- 1,094k
7 may 1998
waste pumping station author: Richard Farrelly. this level begins with a terse F1, an invalid CD track, and a good, clear origin. the architecture in this one runs toward the larger end of the scale, and is excellent in both proportions and texture application. play areas do vary in size, but most are pretty big, and this makes for some good maneuverability. the texturing and architecture adhere closely to the theme and, in fact, i didn't spot a single technical flaw anywhere in this level. colored lighting has been used very smoothly, with light sources present to provide the light and coloring chosen to accentuate the atmosphere. the flow is linear, with a bit of backtracking required, and the pacing is excellent... it's in monster placement and combat situations where this level shines. only 60 are present on Hard, but these are easily the toughest 60 enemies i've had to fight. they're grouped intelligently and effectively, with combinations seemingly supporting one another. there are some exceptions, of course; in a couple of instances, berserkers were placed in front of machinegun soldiers and gunners... but even in these cases, one berserker would usually avoid getting shot to get up in your face. monsters drop appropriate items, but on the third time through the level i noticed that nearly every monster that can drop something does, which leads to a surfeit of ammo by the end. no worries, though; you'll need it. health is placed somewhat sparingly, adding to the challenge. there are four secrets in this level, and i managed to find all of them -- and the fourth secret is very nicely done. nitpicks: the hyperblaster is kind of overkill in this level, one keyed door is unmarked, and some monsters don't shoot when they first see you for some reason. nevertheless, a well-built, enjoyable, and challenging game.
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this level kicks ass

The Flooded Halls FLOOD.ZIP -- 83k
15 feb 1998
authors: Daniel Warsén and Fredrik Holmar. this level is very square and extremely linear, with seemingly-arbitrary monster placement, very little decoration, and not enough health. this was a nice "test" exercise, but as a level...
<no rating>

Forces of Evil I FOE1.ZIP -- 630k
16 Aug 1998
 Author: Chris Spain. This level begins with a good origin point and a nicely done introductory F1. The architecture throughout this level varies widely in size and is very well put together, with enough detailing to keep it from being boring... and without adversely affecting running speeds. The structuring and texture detailing work well together, and all of the play areas adhere to the theme. The lighting has been applied with a deft and somewhat subtle touch, giving areas a "natural" look, and adding to the depth of areas. Specials have been used in abundance, yet all of them contribute to the mood and feel of the level; from the laser cutter to the stereo to the tank to (the coolest of all) the guards shooting the insane marines, everything fits and works together to add to the whole. The flow is linear, with some side areas and alternate routes, and the pacing is excellent. You nearly always have the weapons you need, if not the weapons you want, and there's enough ammo to go around. The endgame is a bit abrupt, however, and the next level doesn't yet exist (forcing a drop to the console with an error message). Nitpicks: monsters drop inappropriate items; the jeep special often caused the starboard monster to get crushed against the corner; and getting into the building at the end (with the laundry room in the basement) was a bit less than intuitive. All in all, a nicely-done level, and one worth checking out.
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this level kicks ass

First Offensive FOFF.ZIP -- 1,008k
27 mar 1998
author: "Dirk Diggler". the F1 at the beginning, like the F1s throughout the level, overlaps the graphic, and no CD track has been specified. the messages given don't advance any particular plot, and, like the rest of the level's architecture and texturing, reflect a variety of themes. this variety does little to give the player a sense of place, and this level has little immersiveness due to this. the flow is linear throughout this level and the pacing is adequate, if a bit on the heavy side (112 total monsters on Hard). don't worry about weapons and ammo, though -- you're given everything but the BFG, and the amount of ammo you get... let's just say i had max amounts of just about everything when i left, including a quad i never used. the architecture, on the whole, is good, with running speeds acceptable through most of the level and plenty of room to run and gun. some areas slow horribly, however, making play very difficult. some areaportal HOM was noted as well as a significant amount of brush flicker, and the presence of profanity and a timed jump "if you don't make it you die" puzzle detracted from the experience. a good, large, somewhat fun level that could have used some serious beta testing before release.
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Levelance5 FREDDRETQ2_1.ZIP -- 584k
15 jan 1998
author: Phillip T. Wheeler. this level starts out with you on a high outdoors structure, and you work your way down through the tunnels to the main base. the architecture is strikingly plain at the beginning and through most of the first 20% of the level, but it becomes increasingly more detailed and complex as the level progresses. no F1 in this level. the application of colored lighting was good when it was done well, though in some places it seemed a bit arbitrary (i'm thinking of the five-colored staircase here). the monster placement was interesting throughout, but this level definitely needed more ammo, and some of the monster placement combinations were more than odd. in addition, some of the tactical scenarios were a bit on the overwhelming side; being surrounded on three sides (and three vertical levels) by instant-hit shooting monsters usually isn't my idea of a good time. the linearity of this level was very good -- you're never in doubt about where to go next -- but the lack of a plot makes this one long, pointless monster kill-fest. fun at times, and this level was definitely adequately executed, but i'm hoping this author's next level will demonstrate more of the thematic skill i noticed in various places.
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<First Strike FRSTSTRK.ZIP -- 966k
15 mar 1998
first strike author: Scott McNutt. this level represents this author's first attempt at Quake2 editing, and what an attempt it is. (in case you weren't aware of it, this level was the winning entry in Gateway's level editing contest; check out his .plan file entry announcing the results.) your entry point is explained with architecture, and it's done excellently. the architecture in this level is simply superb, offering a wide variety of sizes in playing areas as well as detailing and texturing that is, thus far, unsurpassed. ambient sounds have been used masterfully, lending a depth to these areas that architecture, texturing, and lighting alone could not accomplish. for the record, this is the first user level i've played that i'd recommend you turn the CD track off for the full effect. texturing has also been done extremely well, lending detail to simple brushes that gives you the impression of actually being there. lighting, both colored and otherwise, has been used proficiently, blending well and not having any garish or untoward color schemes. most lighting has a visible source, and the lighting that doesn't has been applied so well that you don't wonder about it. the flow is semi-linear, with plenty of "non-essential" areas to poke around in. these areas offer even more thematic excellence; one area in particular held a a broken light and some abandoned crates, and the mood lighting (combined with ambient sounds) made even this tiny area feel like a real place. remarkable. just about all the weapons are available in the course of this level; though you don't really need them, it's always nice to have them. plenty of ammo, too... so much so that it's unlikely you'll run out. monster placement and selection have been done well -- monsters patrol certain areas, lurk in others, and always enjoy some sort of tactical advantage. fortunately, these advantages are never overwhelming, but they're annoying enough so that you realize the care the author used in placing them. one thing i did like about this level is the plethora of small items (armor shards and the small health boosts) scattered liberally about; it was kind of like a fun easter-egg hunt or something trying to pick up every single thing around. (for that reason, i'm of the opinion that the big armors and many of the health packs could have been eliminated.) the theme is carried off well throughout, and is consistent; at the end, the exit is at the top of the lift that breaks when you first enter, which gives a great continuity to the game. some nitpicks, though: the beginning had a bunch of "missing texture" error messages (looks like the .map file had the slash pointing the wrong way on the directory pointer), but the yellow forcefields (using the default missing texture) still looked pretty cool; i found some HOM on one of the blue tightrope-laser assemblies; "accessible" is misspelled in one of the F1s; and the monsters sometimes dropped items that didn't mesh with their capabilities (gunners dropped rockets and gladiators produced cells). lots of twisty passages and elegantly constructed areas in this absolutely huge level make for excellent playing speed throughout, and i highly recommend getting this level. congratulations on your win, Scott -- i'm glad to say that this level definitely earned it.

check out the author's home page as well.

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this level kicks ass

"g" reviews