level reviews

 "h" reviews

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

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome IAO.ZIP -- 1,541k
19 jun 1998
improvise, adapt, overcome shot 1
improvise, adapt, overcome shot 2
author: Wiebo de Wit. this archive contains two levels, iao1.bsp and iao2.bsp. they're designed to be played in a linear fashion with no backtracking.

the first level, "Distribution Central", begins with an adequate origin and an excellent F1, despite the misspelling/typo. the first thing that strikes you (as it struck me) is both how huge and how beautiful the hangar is (see the top shot). despite the size of this thing, which dwarfs the player, it runs very smoothly and quickly from any angle. the architecture throughout this level has been most excellently done; details are kept to a minimum, which gives the detailed structures that do appear that much more effectiveness. what impressed me were the small touches that provided a bit of continuity through the level; case in point, those excellent little lighted computer terminals. the size, shape, proportion, and light applied to them make them look convincing and "real". the fact that they're used in numerous places only adds to the immersiveness; it's often-overlooked details like this that can make or break a level. the flow is linear and the pacing is tough. though you're never really wanting for a weapon, the monsters have been selected and placed with an eye to their strengths, so they're tougher than they might otherwise be. specials have been used well; the best one so far was the combination tank commander/exploding wall one.

"The Slime Pump" is the second level of this pair. the continuity is good, and the F1 is informative without being too specific. this level is larger than the previous, with play areas being generally large with plenty of running room. the structures in this level are mostly piping, but the author has done a very good job varying the sizes and styles, giving the impression that this is truly a functional area. running speeds are smooth throughout. the flow is semi-linear, and the pacing is nice and tough without being overwhelming. the secrets in this level are hidden, but not overly so, and are fun to find; i especially enjoyed the backpack one. the monsters here drop appropriate items when killed. the endgame was a bit tougher than i expected, probably because i was looking for some kind of switch to open the hatch. nitpick: it's possible to get permanently stuck in this level.

all in all, a fine addition to your Quake2 level collection (i'm keeping it for sure) and recommended.

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this level kicks ass

Ice Castle ICELAND.ZIP -- 90k
15 apr 1998
author: "Killer 4000". this level is, as you might guess, a single open structure with four stairways made out of what appears to be ice. the texturing adheres very well to the theme, but all the bright white and blue textures, used in such frequency and at the light levels present, nearly caused me to go blind. guess i've got the gamma up too high... flow is semi-linear, with with player being required to press unmarked buttons to progress. pacing is good, if a bit on the heavy side; with most of the monsters being able to see you at any given time, you're pretty much under constant fire. an interesting concept, to be sure.
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Leftovers... IKSPQ1.ZIP -- 597k
20 jun 1998
leftovers shot author: Iikka Keränen. this level begins with a nice origin point and a good F1. the architecture through this level is fairly basic and doesn't sport a lot of detailing structures. the author has used textures wisely, though, to add both depth and thematic continuity, and the result is a good showcase of minimalist design. the running speeds in every area of this level are correspondingly smooth. the flow is linear and the pacing is superb, with a relatively-low amount of monsters giving you a run for your money due to their intelligent placement and usage. they also drop appropriate items when killed. it's in the thematic structures and such that this level really shines. it's obvious the author likes aircraft; in fact, there are no fewer than four of them in here, two of which have been modeled by the author himself. between the usages of specials and the popups (i loved the "tease" scene when your assigned ship leaves without you), the immersion is very nearly total, and the level, though plain, exhibits excellent level and thematic design. the only nitpick i have is that this level is pretty small overall and fairly short. check it out, if you haven't already.
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this level kicks ass

Incarceration INCARC.ZIP -- 1,027k
27 jan 1998
incarceration author: Greg 'Manx' Barr. this level starts out beautifully, with your location and the F1 meshing perfectly. the manner in which you get out of the first area fits in logically with the theme as well as the situation, and the result of your escape (sounds and monster reaction) is most excellent. the architecture throughout this level has been done excellently, with doors and connecting areas sharing similar structures and texturing. play areas vary in size from constrictive to medium-sized; there are no truly large areas in this level. the use of detailing structures in this level is top-notch; the wheel that you turn to get below, the field generator, and the coolant room (with the red structures and the water) made sense and were proportioned and textured well. colored lighting has been used smoothly, with adjacent areas blending, and there were some uses of colored lighting i've not seen before -- for instance, the green glow as the field generator opened up (and the way it faded when you shut it down) was perfectly done. the placement and progression of weapons, ammo, and health has been done very well, though the ammo load is kinda tight -- be prepared to switch weapons often as you run out of ammo for one or the other. monster placement was good, but some of the groupings were a bit odd, and a few of the placements seemed arbitrary (i.e. no logical explanation for the monsters being where they were). in addition, some monsters had problems with the architecture, making them easier to kill than they should have been, and there is one area in the level where it is possible to get permanently stuck (requiring "noclip" to get out). the endgame, though it sticks to the theme very well, was unsatisfying, and i played the level four more times before i figured out that that's the way it was supposed to be. aside from the ending and the minor technical issues, this is definitely one of the best add-on levels i've played. highly recommended.
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this level kicks ass

Exterior Infiltration INFIL.ZIP -- 1,153k
16 apr 1998
author: Marty Howe. this archive contains two levels. the origin point in the first one is a dramatic one, and you enter the level with a bang. the introductory F1 gives the setting and the plot very well. the architecture in this level is simply excellent with top notch detailing and texturing. structures are logical and proportional, with play areas running the full range from claustrophobic to sprawling, and running speeds remaining consistently smooth. detailing has been done very well, with wall and floor structures being used to give this level a cluttered, used look. the author has used ambient sounds well, and, along with the dim, sporadic lighting, gives this level a gloomy, brooding feel. the flow is linear and the pacing is good and hard, with many architectural areas giving the monsters a definite advantage in combat situations. the monsters drop relevant items when killed, and you'll need them because placed ammo is scarce... almost as scarce as health, but not by much. taking an aggressive stance in this level is a good way to get killed, and quickly. two things that prevented me from enjoying this level -- one is being able to get permanently stuck in two places, and the other is the author's use of clipping brushes to prevent the player from accessing an area. this wouldn't have been so annoying if it wasn't so noticeable. the endgame for the first level is very challenging due to the player's inability to easily get back to the last walkway -- maneuverability is thus restricted, transforming a somewhat mundane combat situation into a nail-biter. the second level begins where the first leaves off, and the transition is smooth and logical. the primary objective in the F1 overlaps the graphic, however. the architecture in this level is even more complex than that of the first level, yet the running speeds remain high in most places; this level does sport some serious slowing in areas. the lighting is the same gloomy, moody lighting seen in the first level, and is arguably the best use of theme lighting i've yet seen. ambient sounds have been deftly applied in this level as well. the laser trap had visible clues but i had difficulty understanding the logic... and i've never been a fan of instant-death traps anyway. the endgame in this level would have been challenging had the boss monster not gotten stuck in a solid (and i got an error message to that effect when he appeared); as it was, i simply stood there and watched him drown in slime. kinda fun to watch, but it would have been more fun to have had to fight him. these levels are clearly a good example of technical excellence, but from the trapped monster to the clip brushes to the instant-death trap, i'm just not able to give this one a TLKA.
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InfoKill INFOKILL.ZIP -- 673k
11 may 1998
author: Jack Davis. this level starts off with a good F1, a clear origin point, and a relevant wav clip. no CD track has been specified. the architecture in this level is very clean and well-designed; play areas are relatively free of detail that hampers the player's mobility. some interesting structures are present in this level, relating to the plot and the theme; i especially enjoyed the rotating transmitter things, as well as the tank gun turret (though it rotated a bit quickly for my taste). texturing has been applied both thematically and well, with areas blending smoothly into one another. no textural discrepancies (misalignments, odd texture applications, and the like) were noted. most areas are outdoors, so the lighting is a bit on the "even" side -- there aren't many shadowed or dark areas, and the lighting level is, on the whole, high. pop up messages and subsequent F1s increase the immersiveness of this level. the flow is linear and the pacing is outrageous; nearly every area is a pitched battle of some type (and the first room down the elevator, with the tall ledges that require a jump to climb, was annoying), though for the most part the battles are fun. the chaingun transmitter pit orgy was a lot of fun, i have to admit. you won't lack for weapons and ammo; just about everything's in here, and monsters drop stuff when they die... though some items aren't relevant to the monster. this level rocks pretty hard, right up until you get to the last door. there, you receive an invulnerability (placed in the doorway) and you'd best use it. this is where i lost interest in this level. when the invulnerability is required for survival, and a brute-force approach is the only way to win, the level quickly degenerates into an arcade-style shoot-em-up... and i've never been a fan of those. this is an excellent level with a great theme and plot, but the outrageous endgame ruined it for me.
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Insane Idiits INSANE.ZIP -- 522k
11 may 1998
author: Jesper Danielsen. this level begins with a terse F1, a good origin point, and no CD track. this level's architecture is mostly blocky areas and accents, though there are a number of non-perpendicular details (pipes, one corridor). texturing has been done adequately, with some misalingments noted; i'm just not sure of the theme the author was going for. the introductory F1 implies that it's a prison of some kind, but there are no followup F1s, and the architecture doesn't reflect a holding area of any kind. in fact, this level contains examples from just about every theme (water areas, base textures, storage crates, mine piping and lighting) without blending them into a cohesive whole. the flow is linear and the pacing is extremely light, and you're given more than enough weaponry and ammo to clear this place out. the tasks required of you are odd, though; most involve pushing buttons to blow holes in walls (and the logic of this escapes me), and one memorable non-ladder ladder (by the exit) took me a while to figure out. guess i'm getting spoiled with the "ladder special"... all in all, a good, if not memorable, attempt; with a theme and some beta-testing, this author might produce a formidable level.
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Infiltrate :: Subjugate :: Eliminate ISE.ZIP -- 792k
15 feb 1998
infiltrate/subjugate/eliminate author: Matt Sefton. this level is Matt's first foray into Quake2 editing, and it's a good one. you start in a small storage area of some kind with a locked door behind you, explaining how you got there. the F1 is informative, and introduces the plot nicely. in addition, there are three goals in this level, and all are logical and well spaced. the flow is linear, with some side areas to explore, and the pacing has been done very well if a bit on the challenging side. the weapon and ammo placement is good as well, though many times i wished for a weapon that was just a bit more powerful than the one i had. ammo is given somewhat sparingly, but that just means you have to use all the weapons at your disposal. just about all the weapons are here, with the exception of the rocket launcher and BFG, which made this level a bit easier than it had a right to be; more grenades and shotgun shells would have been enough, i think. health is placed very sparingly on hard, so caution is the word of the day. architecture has been done well with some exceptions -- i got hung up on some of the detailing, and the little divots in the main courtyard require the player to crouch when it doesn't look like you should have to. running speeds were adequate throughout with a couple of exceptions, the mine cover area being the worst offender. other nitpicks included the gladiator in the lower area (it's easy enough to kill him without firing a single shot) and the elevator that leads to that area was annoying; it didn't wait long enough after activation, and when you come back up, one of the guards would nearly always run on the top, preventing getting off until the elevator had smashed him against the ceiling. a button-operated elevator might have been better. otherwise, this is an impressive debut from Matt, and i'll be looking forward to more.

check out the author's home page for more of his work.

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this level kicks ass

"j" reviews