level reviews

 "q" reviews

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

Rail Gun Test RAIL.ZIP -- 5k
13 jan 1998
author: "The Walrus". one room open to the sky, one railgun with 30 slugs, and eight infantry lined up with their backs to you. guess what happens next. ;) kinda fun for a quick thrill... and to watch the gibs fly.
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Recon-Alpha RECON.ZIP -- 902k
4 apr 1998
author: "KNEEL". this level begins in an extremely bright, narrow mountain area. the F1 at the beginning is somewhat vague and terse, and the rest of the F1s during the course of the level are somewhat uninformative and relay very little plot. the architecture in this level is, for the most part, extremely vertical, with misaligned textures and cramped play areas the norm rather than the exception. the flow is linear and the pacing is erratic, with the player facing as many as five enemies in close quarters with nothing but the blaster. lighting is bright; there are very few shadows and only one area that could be considered dim. the monster placement seemed arbitrary, and some combat situations (i.e. climbing a ladder through a hole in the floor to be surrounded by three berserks) were simply ludicrous. running speeds were, like the pacing, erratic -- in roughly half the areas, the slowing made the level unplayable. this author has the basics of level design down; now all that's needed is some ambience and logical lighting.
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Red Penitentiary REDPEN.ZIP -- 950k
15 mar 1998
red penitentiary author: T. H. Johansen. this level begins with a very nicely-done F1 and an appropriate CD track. the architecture is clean and efficient, if somewhat bare, and all areas run acceptably smoothly. the playing areas vary widely in size and function, but they all manage to stick very well to the theme, and each area blends smoothly into the next. the flow is linear, but not annoyingly so; as you progress from one area to the next, you have small areas to explore that are part of the main areas. (be sure to go up the lift in the first hallway; i missed this one the first time through.) one thing i noticed that i liked in this level is that every button/computer terminal you activate tells you what it does (or did), taking some of the mystery out of what's going on. the control room (with the three terminals) where you shut the alarm off was particularly well-done. the ambient sounds, and voice files, have been used to accentuate the immersiveness, and the author has applied them appropriately. the pacing is good as well, though there are some areas that are severely underpopulated (the big courtyard with the elevator to the prison block, for instance), but for the most part monsters have been placed intelligently and challengingly. not too much colored lighting in this level; however, considering the author didn't have a GL card, and couldn't see the effects, what is there has been done nicely. all in all, a fun game and a good strong level. check this one out.

check out the author's home page as well.

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this level kicks ass

Retribution RETRIBUTION.ZIP -- 532k
4 apr 1998
author: Doug Magee. this archive contains two levels -- WC16G.BSP and PROC8.BSP, played in that order. the introductory F1 is clear and concise, and the remainder of the F1s through both levels are informative, if not mood-setting. the architecture throughout both of these fairly small levels runs toward the smaller end of the scale, with even the larger areas feeling cramped. structures are proportional, however, and the author has used textures very well, substituting texturing for brushes and still having enough implied detail to make these levels convincing. the first level has you entering some kind of small computing area, and in the second, you find your lost comrade and (surprise) are forced to put him out of his misery. the flow is linear, and the pacing is good, if a bit on the difficult side; due to the constricted play areas, maneuvering to avoid projectiles is a bit hard at times. the author has used specials very well, with the processing area in the second level being especially convincing. when you return to the first level, you can explore the second half; you're prevented from doing so at the outset by clip brushes. the endgame has two semi-stages, and the first half is much easier than the second; in fact, i was able to beat all of the "guards" with nothing but the blaster. (yes, it took some time, but it's possible. if they could have climbed that ramp, it would have been a whole different story.) the last two monsters are hard to beat as well, but it is possible if you move fast enough and pick the right one to attack first. some nitpicks: CD track 1 is specified (error message), "alright" is used in a pop-up when you blow open the first door (it's two words), and the beginning of the second level was a bit sudden for my taste. all in all, this will be a level that you either really like or you don't; technically, it's more than adequate, but i guess i just couldn't get into it.
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What The End Is For RISC1.ZIP -- 1,334k
16 apr 1998
what the end is for 1
what the end is for 2
author: Carson Utz. this level sports a very nicely done introductory F1, no CD track (a bonus in this level; more on that later), and a good origin point. the architecture in this huge level (both overall area and play areas) is simply marvelous. structures and play areas vary widely in size, and most areas have at least three different approach routes, which gives you more to watch out for; enemies can come from anywhere. the texturing in this level is just about perfect; no misalignments were noted, no odd texture clipping artifacts were to be found, every area has a distinctive theme and feel to it that the texture sets adhere to, and textures have been used very very well to add detail to otherwise plain brushes. play areas are logical and memorable, which makes getting lost difficult but not impossible. the flow is linear but appears to be semi-linear, with plenty of crossover backtracking making it seem this way. the 3d-ness of the level is simply remarkable; most areas are traversed numerous times at varying elevations, and the best part is if you're observant you can scout out future rooms through sets of force fields, bars, and grates. the author has used some ambient sounds as well, but only in the more obvious places such as on fans and the like. speaking of sounds, one thing i noticed about this level that i liked was that you could often hear monsters lurking around corners and in corridors (behind trap doors, mostly) and in rooms without seeing them, raising the tension level a bit. when you know there are monsters around, but you can't see them, it can get tense... especially when you go into a room with only one way out. and speaking of traps, this level sports more than a few of them. some are Quake2 specialized traps, while others are straight out of Doom2 -- remember the "dropping walls in corridors"? they're back with a vengeance, and pulled off well. for me, the best part about the traps were the lack of them in places you'd think they were; misdirection is cool. the pacing in this level is good, with monsters appearing in packs to wreak havoc on you, and the difficulty curve matches the weapons you receive. four secrets in this level, and all are hidden well, but all have clear indicators to their presence making it fun and rewarding to have found them. (and i actually found all four, too.) nitpicks: the running speed was erratic on my machine due to the size of the level and the number of monsters (124!), and the health/armor/ammo balance needs serious work: i ended the level with 43 armor, 72 shells, 162 bullets, 123 cells, 30 rockets, and 126 health... after killing everything. i also left (yes, i checked) 165 points of health lying around unused. great pop-up messages, excellent attention to theme and detail, fun secrets, plenty of combat, realistic goals, and good weapon/monster balance makes this one a level you'll definitely want to check out.
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this level kicks ass

Robie the Robot, v0.000095 ROBBIE1.ZIP -- 314k
27 jan 1998
author: Walter Sharrow. this level begins in a large outdoor area with an enormous building in the very center. the running speed throughout this level is extremely choppy. texture selection is adequate, for the most part, though there were some very odd choices for certain structures (such as lifts and buttons). the texture alignment leaves much to be desired, as does the lighting, which is all fullbright, as in this author's previous level. to be fair, the author does comment on the lighting situation in all of the text files, but a known flaw of this magnitude should normally have prevented the level from being released, in my opinion. nevertheless, the author appears to understand the basics of level design... now all we need is a basic level.
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"s" reviews