HEATSEEK.ZIP -- 1,871k
27 mar 1998
author: "EraserX". this level is another very large level, with plenty of play area and tasks to accomplish. the introductory F1 lays out the first goal well, and all subsequent F1s have the same informative and concise phrasing. the architecture in this level varies widely in size and function, but everything has been well-done thematically, and there are some individual areas that are simply wonderful; the tower above the water (in the outside area), the indoor pumping station (where the super shotgun is), and the swing-arm box are three of my favorites. ambient sounds and .wav clips have been used to good effect in this level, and the clips chosen are appropriate for the situation and area they're heard in. the flow is linear and the pacing is good, though too many monsters have been placed with their backs to you. the monster selection is good as well, but it's a bit on the easy side, especially considering how much ammo you've been given. some nitpicks: texedges were present on the red-key-door indicator brush, some texture misalignments were noted, and the running speed ran from very slow to a bit slow; very few places in this level ran smoothly for me. all in all, though, a good solid level that would have been a lot more fun to play if i'd had a faster processor.
HEAVYIND.ZIP -- 1,098k
15 jul 1998
author: Dennis Katsonis. this level begins with no clear origin point and a delayed (and somewhat uninformative) F1. the architecture through the bulk of the level is very large, with huge brush structures of support beams and lifts and gates and the like. ornamentation has been kept to a minimum, and the texturing adds some depth, but not a whole lot. the texture schemes chosen don't seem to mesh very well, giving the architecture and structures a haphazard thematic appearance. the flow is semi-linear, with lots of backtracking through empty areas required, and the pacing is a bit on the weak side. to be fair, however, this weakness is due to the huge playing areas more than anything else. the monster placement and selection is good for the weaponry and ammo you have at the time; if the running room had been (quite) a bit less, it would definitely have made for better combat. some slowing was noted, and it's possible to get stuck in a number of places. a good effort; a more cohesive theme and perhaps some smaller overall areas would have helped this one.
HEROIC.ZIP -- 2,054k
19 jun 1998
author: Marty Howe. this archive includes three levels, marty.bsp, marty2.bsp, and marty3.bsp. they're designed to be played in sequence, and have some of the most effective and interesting uses of specials i've seen thus far. let's get started, shall we?
the first level is titled "Heroic Bloodshed" and is your introduction to the world which the author has created. the origin is very good and the F1 is as well, though it overlaps the graphic and there are some misspellings noted. the exterior architecture is very large, with huge dropoffs to punish the unwary player, with the interior architecture being, more often than not, pretty claustrophobic. the architecture, both inside and out, is convincing and extremely well done -- the outside looks like the outside, with a Strogg outpost of some kind wedged into the bluffs surrounding it. supply crates and storage containers are scattered liberally about and contain all kinds of good stuff that rewards the exploring player (that'd be, well... me). the interior is chock-full of computer terminals as well as even more crates, boxes, and barrels. the lighting is downright gloomy outside; you can see well enough, but it's difficult to find the monsters before they find you. the interior is a bit lighter, but not by much; this adds to the feel of this level in a logical and thematic way. the flow is linear and the pacing is most brutally excellent -- just about every combat situation is a tough fight, and you're more than well-enough equipped (even i didn't run out of shells). health is a bit light, so be sure you know how to dodge. what most impressed me about this level were the specials, including the ambient sounds. sound has been used in abundance here; it's rare that it's totally quiet, and that's as it should be. best of all, the sounds used fit the situations they're used in perfectly. only one special that i really noticed here, but what a special it was -- when you ascend the first lift inside the building, and kill the first guard that faces you, the window behind him blows out (triggered by his death, i'd imagine) which gives a really cool "action movie" feel. very satisfying, especially if you kill him with the super shotgun. nitpicks: it's possible to get permanently stuck in three places in this level, and one door is completely black on one side.
the second level, "The Arsenal", has excellent continuity from the first. the F1 is terse, however. the architecture is much more indoor-oriented in this one; in fact, the majority of the level takes place indoors. nevertheless, there are some fairly large areas in here, yet they all run smoothly. the architecture in here is most excellently done; the author's eye for detail, and ability to cram a lot of stuff in one area without it slowing, makes every non-hallway area both a feast to the eyes as well as a combat challenge -- after all, more stuff to look at is more stuff to trip over when you're trying to dodge. lighting is somewhat dark, but has been done well, giving the player the feel of trying to get around without attracting too much attention. the flow is again linear and the pacing is excellent -- monsters are obviously tougher, and there are more of them, yet you never really find yourself fighting more than two or three at a time. still, their placement and selection makes them much more effective than they have any right to be. lots more specials in this one; in fact, some of them are complex enough to be called "scripting actions". case in point: the failed Brain experiment. i laughed so hard the first time i saw it that the other two in the room killed me while i was laughing. :) lots of equipment in here, but, for the first time, having boxes of ammo and the BFG placed in a level actually made some sense. after you get the BFG, the monster toughness increases rather dramatically, as if the author is tempting you to use it. (don't; you'll need it later.) once you launch the missiles, it's back to where you came from. (i have to mention that i simply loved the room in the second screenshot; without the rocket launcher, i was able to get to every single horizontal surface in that room. i was ostensibly looking for secret items...) nitpicks: it's possible to get permanently stuck in two places in this level (three, if you count getting the red armor secret before pressing the button on that balcony). another great level, and my favorite of the three. back to the first level after this one -- you go through the other door behind the tall wall and hop on the train to take you to the next level.
the third and final level, "Aftermath", has you traipsing around in an area where it probably isn't really wise to be. the missiles you launched have landed here, and man, is this station a MESS. not only is the train wrecked (beautiful transition), but the entire station is in shambles. bits and pieces of walls and ceilings are scattered about, sparks are flying everywhere, huge chunks of floor are missing (exposing conduits), and dead monsters are sprawled in front of the stations where they were working before the missiles hit. the architecture is absolutely wonderful; this is the most "realistic" damaged area i've ever seen. i can't even begin to describe the depth of the damage, really; you just have to see it. with the occasional earthquake thrown in for attitude, this base really feels like it's going to collapse at any moment, and you tread carefully through it wondering if shooting the wrong thing or jumping on the wrong area will kill you. the flow is linear and the pacing is, again, excellent; many fewer monsters in this one, but since the blast killed all the weak ones, only the toughest ones are left... and they're pretty pissed off. the logic challenge to open the broken door was fun, and for the first time it was easy for me to figure out; this author's puzzles have confused and frustrated me in the past. (i got this one! heh.) the endgame was a bit less challenging than i would have expected, though. nitpicks: it's possible to get permanently stuck in this level in two places, and the dark textures used for the pit bottoms looked really flat; maybe a darker hole with no lighting going to the bottom would have been better.
enough of this, though. this one is definitely a keeper, and is highly recommended. get it now.
HHOPE.ZIP -- 623k
27 jan 1998
author: John E. Schuch. this level starts out with a bang, with a ship coming through the bay door and slamming into the wall. the F1 is well done, though i'm at a loss to figure out exactly where the player comes from to get into this level. architecture has been done very well, with a very "satellite base" feel to it -- areas wind around each other well, most play areas are fairly small, and there are places where you have to crouch to get around. colored lighting has been implemented smoothly as well, with adjacent areas blending into one another and most light having a visible source. monster and weapon selection has been balanced, and you're provided with enough ammo and firepower to escape this base. goals are clear and the level is linear, so you should have no problem finding your way around or figuring out what to do. some areas were a bit easier than i would have expected, however. one secret in this level, and i managed to find it; keep your eyes open and you'll find it. the earthquake special has been used to good effect in this level as emphasis; none of them last long enough to be annoying. one thing i found odd is that there are three separate tasks you must complete to escape this level, yet the "goal" indicator reads "0/0"; also, the ship entering the station at the beginning of the level has a little problem -- i'll leave it to the player to figure out what it is. despite these few flaws, this level has been extremely well done, and is another that comes recommended.
HIDEOUT.ZIP -- 280k
15 jan 1998
author: YooShin Yang. this level greets you with a well-done F1. the architecture in this level has been done very impressively, with plenty of detail to add depth and realism. the areas in this level run towards the smaller end of the scale, however, making maneuvering through it a bit difficult at times. colored lighting has been applied adequately, if a bit strongly in places, and the blending/color combinations occasionally seemed odd. the flow and pacing of this level were superb; the flow is linear without being annoying, and the pacing... well, if you're as bloodthirsty as i am, you're going to love this level. the monsters are tough and placed well (to their advantage), making many areas very very difficult to beat, while still remaining beatable. one area i really had difficulty with was the green laser room, and, when you play this level, you'll understand why. i could have wished for more ammunition, too. the author has used some specials very well -- the earthquake that blows open the wall in the little courtyard is simply perfect, as is the battle that follows. secrets are hidden rather well, and i only found one of three. another recommended level; all i could hope for would be more running room and maybe some non-essential areas to explore. great job.
HOMERS7.ZIP -- 303k
15 mar 1998
author: Dave Waters. the beginning F1 has a message in the top box that's too long, and the F1 itself is terse and somewhat uninformative. this level doesn't have a plot to speak of but it does have a consistent theme that it does adhere to. the architecture is good and the lighting is adequate, though the prison is a bit on the bright side... and one required key is tucked into the back of a cell, which makes little sense thematically. there isn't a lot of "3d-ness" in this level; most of the architecture tends to stay on one plane and there aren't many areas that are directly over or under one another. the flow is linear, though you're given (in my opinion) way too much ammo -- in fact, directly behind the red key door you're given an insane amount of ammo and hardware. the keyed doors (unmarked) are a bit odd, as well; when you run into them with the key, there is a slight delay between this action and the opening of the door. in addition, you're still given the "you need the key" message, even though you're using the key at the time. pacing is good, if a bit deliberate, and about halfway into the level i was getting "open door kill monsters" flashbacks. this level has most of the elements needed for a TLKA; now all this author has to do is put them together and add a plot.
|Mike's House Special Edition||
HOUSESE.ZIP -- 372k
16 jul 1998
author: Michael Bujold. this level, as the title would indicate, is a reproduction of a house. the architecture is fairly accurate, though the proportions are seriously off; if the proportions were real, your player would be about nine feet tall. the flow is semi-linear -- you're free to explore at will, for the most part -- and the pacing is erratic. some specials have been used, and the running speed is choppy in most of the outdoor areas. an interesting exercise.
|Heavy Weapons Facility||
HWF.ZIP -- 1,645k
7 may 1998
author: Brett Wilcock. this archive contains four levels (intuitively named missile1.bsp through missile3.bsp) and a lot of textures, which the author has archived with the directory structure intact for easier installation. it's not a unit, as the levels seem to have been designed to play consecutively. the architecture through all four levels is adequate, with much of the architecture being very blocky (i.e., most angles are perpendicular). texture application has been done somewhat haphazardly; there are plenty of odd texture transitions between areas, quite a few misalignments, and a significant number of truncations, making for an unsettling overall look. that being said, the theme is somewhat unclear, though the F1s (with misspellings noted) don't do much to clear this up; they're mostly terse and refer to areas and objects that are difficult to identify. lighting is on the dark side, with some areas going into pitch blackness, making navigation difficult if not impossible. the flow is semi-linear, i think; it was hard to tell if i was going the right way at any given moment, and even more difficult to determine where i was, so i did a lot of wandering around between goals. none of the levels have an explanatory origin point, which is odd because of the four levels, an author-designed level preceded three of them... a copy and paste would have been origin enough here. running speed is erratic throughout -- some areas run very very smoothly, while most of them run slower than is playable. pacing is erratic as well; combat situations, in particular, are either way too easy or ludicrously hard. the author has demonstrated a knowledge of level design basics; a theme, attention to texturing and lighting, and a bit of work on pacing would probably result in some quality work.