PATROL.ZIP -- 266k
16 jul 1998
author: Michaël Schoonbrood. this level begins with an adequate origin point and a strong F1, which introduces the plot well. the first action sequence is fairly annoying (i don't like taking damage i have no way of preventing), but it works admirably in adding tension to what would otherwise be fairly easy combat situations. the architecture throughout this level runs toward the small end of the scale, keeping running speeds up, yet the structures are very perpendicular and blocky-seeming for the most part. textures have been used well to add depth to the structures, and lighting is both effective and logical. the flow is linear, with some side areas to explore, and the pacing is good. you'll get weapons right when you need them (sometimes long before, in the case of the chaingun), and the monster selection and placement is, on the whole, good, if a bit predictable at times. some odd monster placements were noted; the mutant, in particular, was very out of place. nitpicks: texedge was noted in a couple of places, as well as some misspellings in the F1s. a pretty basic layout, straightforward plot and theme, and solid combat makes this an interesting first effort, and the potential shown here has me looking forward to this author's next release.
PHARM1.ZIP -- 1,756k
20 jun 1998
author: "Kneel". there are four levels in this archive, and they are designed to be played in a linear fashion with a bit of back-and-forth between levels.
"Pharm" is the first level, and it has an adequate origin and good F1, with some misspellings noted. the architecture in this level runs toward the smaller end of the scale; though vertical area is good, horizontal maneuvering area is sometimes a bit claustrophobic. the structures have been done well, if a bit on the plain side, and textures have been used in some places to add depth. the flow is linear and the pacing is good and a bit on the challenging side; the author has elected to restrict weapons to increase the combat difficulty (which i, personally, enjoy as long as it doesn't get out of hand.) some monster placements were done to the disadvantage of the monster, making them very easy to dispatch. interesting uses of colored lights were noted, and many areas were saturated with it. oddly enough, it seemed to fit. monsters drop items when killed, and some are unrelated. the centerpiece of this level is the two-level, somewhat-cluttered "hub" room; there are multiple exits leading from it, giving the player a clear sense of where to go and what to do. a red key is required to get to one of these doors.
the second level, "Kattle," begins with a good transition and a decent F1. the design of this level is similar to the first with its use of colored lighting and depth-adding texturing. again, the flow is linear and the pacing is akin to the first. you do receive some more powerful weapons, however, making some combat situations easier than they should have been. i loved the message on the quad secret as well. once you get the red key, you return to the first level and enter the third.
"Produce" is the third level, and the continuity from the first level is good, as is the F1. the entry room had a couple of window problems (as in "i was able to jump out the windows and walk around on the sky" kind of problems). the architecture here is getting a bit more detailed, with detailing textures being used to enhance the brush work, and the overall play areas are smaller and lower-ceilinged. lots of flat-black structures in this level, spoiling the thematic flow. also, the security lasers in the hallways have gaps between the emitter structure and the laser origin point, which was odd. from here, the player returns to the second level and continues to the fourth (the "showdown" level).
"Pharmer" is bascially an endgame level. it is much smaller in size and simpler in construction than any of the previous levels, and has some oddities such as the "sky lift". you're packing some serious ammo and hardware here, and it's all given to you in one big lump (bfg, cells, power armor). the endgame itself ties into the story line and is interesting, but too too easy to play through... with two quads and three invulnerabilities, i could fight a gang of mini-bosses and emerge unscathed.
nevertheless, an interesting unit to have played through. the author has clearly demonstrated the basics of architecture and design; i'll be looking forward to his/her next work.
PIPEDRM.ZIP -- 796k
14 may 1998
author: Sean Soucy. this map opens with a decent origin, a terse F1, and a good CD track. i liked the humorous pop-up at the beginning. architecture in this map runs toward the very very large end of the scale; play areas and structures are massive, with little detail, and this lack of structural detail keeps the running speed high through most of the level. textures have been used well to add a bit of detail, but the structures themselves don't really require a whole lot, and the resulting balance has been pulled off nicely. the flow is linear, with some backtracking required, and the pacing is good if a bit on the light side. with areas this huge, it often takes a whole lot of monsters to "defend" adequately, and, though the monster population is numerically on the light side, the author has made the most out of the monsters that have been placed. combinations are odd at times (machine gun guards with a gladiator, for instance), but effective nonetheless, and the dearth of health lends some tension to each combat encounter. nitpicks: the bright brushes for the button cover in the first room look odd sticking out of the floor underwater; some serious HOM was noted in the third pumping room; the bone-crushing fall out of the pipe into the outdoor area wasn't very much fun; and brush bits stick out of the outdoor pipes at the top. a good level, but kind of big and empty for my taste.
|The Piranah Pool||
PIRANAH.ZIP -- 68k
15 feb 1998
authors: Daniel Warsén and Fredrik Holmar. this is another very bland level (no ornamentation, very square and plain wall surfaces) that is very linear. there is an F1, but there is no plot per se and no CD track has been specified. this level is brighter than most and the lighting has been applied very evenly, washing out the colored lighting. the monster placement is on the sparse side, except for the endgame, where many powerful monsters are crammed into a small space with only one way in. (can you say "bounce grenades"?) again, these authors have shown that they have the technical aspects of editing down pat -- now all that's needed is a theme and some detailing, along with some texture variety. this is, however, a lot of level for 68k.
|Pyro Map 1-3||
PM1-3.ZIP -- 3,015k
16 apr 1998
author: Dean Scott. all three of the levels in this archive have a very large number (over 50%) of missing textures. the levels themselves are playable, but without a complete level, i can't review these. i will say the third level of the three looks pretty good, though...
note: as of 1 may 1998, i've downloaded this archive three times, and the problem remains unfixed.
|Points of Iron||
POINTS.ZIP -- 1,015k
20 jun 1998
author: Ben Glover. this level begins with a good origin and a good F1. the architecture in this level is very nicely done, with areas looking and feeling like real places due to proportion and size and traffic flow. each main area (connected by hallways and corridors) has a unique style that enables the player to be easily oriented; it's hard to get lost in this level. unfortunately, having all of these big, open areas means this level runs choppily through most parts, and nearly unplayable in others. this is unfortunate, as the level has a large monster population, and the erratic running speeds means combat is much more difficult than it should be. in fact, the combat would be difficult even without the speed hit; monsters have been placed in great quantities and in positions that emphasize their strengths. the lighting has been done extremely well, as has the texturing; the stairway over the slime (which is instant death if you fall off, because there is no way out) is one of the best, "deep-textured" areas i've seen. the flow is semi-linear (with some backtracking necessary) and the pacing, as stated before, is tough. you're given the weapons you need, and plenty of ammo, but for whatever reason i couldn't figure out how to get to the machine gun. the monsters drop items, with some being unrelated, and some stretching credibility a bit -- a blaster guard dropping a quad? the only other problem i had was the locked door; it opened after i killed the two gunners on the lowering platform... i think. i'm still not sure what i did to open that door, or how it related to the door itself. a beautiful and pretty fun level, if you've got the hardware to run it. unfortunately, i don't.
|Prisoners of War||
POW.ZIP -- 436k
15 mar 1998
author: Costas Paraskevaides. this starts with you in a small outside area facing a small tunnel and the railgun. no F1 greets you, nor is there an F1 anywhere in this level, though there are some pop-up messages. this level is extremely linear and very dark; in more than a few places, it is so dark as to prevent seeing where it is you're supposed to go. the lighting alternates between being very very bright (the prison cell area) to very very dark (just about everywhere else), with few light sources visible. pacing is erratic as well; in some areas you're confronted with a horde of monsters while other areas are strangely empty (the catwalk area in particular). nitpicks: unmarked keyed door (though in all fairness there might have been a marker there, but it was too dark to tell), no theme or F1s, profanity in pop-up messages, difficult to enter map name (only two periods, not three, at the console), and no logical progression in monster strengths and weapon balance. the author clearly understands the basics of level design; i'll be looking forward to a more coherent and balanced release.
|The Outer Defences||
PSH01.ZIP -- 318k
13 jan 1998
author: Tom (PShLortZ) Alphin III. this level has a good intro F1, but the title is too long for the top box; the limit there appears to be 28 characters. the architecture looks good and flows well, and demonstrates a wide variety of theme, from indoor to outdoor areas. there are a number of areas where the player gets hung up on the structures (case in point -- the cool "drawbridge"'s lip is too high, forcing the player to jump to get on it), and in one case (the swinging door) the player is unintentionally damaged by it. colored lighting has been done well, blending into the feel of the level smoothly. monster and weapon placement has been scaled well and follows a logical progression, and the endgame is fun to play and interesting to view, if a bit on the small side. in fact, most of this level runs toward the smaller end of the scale, with the exception of the outdoor area. all in all, a good effort, and an interesting level.