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Reviews: 18th November 2002; Review 1 (please scroll down for more reviews today)
Game - CUBE
Map - shadow: shadowlands
by - Bill Spencer
Download - on this webpage: shadowland.zip
Overall Verdict - A huge, challenging level featuring great gameplay.
When i was playing this map, and now having completed it, i was reminded of one other map and one other game. The map was Stalingrad 2215 by Pushplay, like that level this map has often basic architecture and texture usage, but its fun relentless gameplay and imaginative scope redeems it. The game I was reminded of was DOOM, no surprise of course as CUBE itself is unashamedly based on Doom, still this map in particular reminded of me of some of those old DOOM levels. Maybe its the big open spaces with multiple monsters attacking at once, maybe its the gang ambushes and attacks, maybe its the alien almost abstract level design and atmosphere, probably its all of these things
As already mentioned, architecture is somewhat basic, at various points there are gaps between the floor and walls, and weird visual effects/bugs as the huge open areas do strange things to the cube engine. These problems seem more prevalent near the start of the map, once past the huge open field like area near the beginning, the architecture gets much more imaginative and better. Various textures are used, but its the imagination and scope which are truly admirable. There are some great views from high towers of strange alien lands and some nice tight twisting corridors. I particularly liked the large water area where you are attached by a host of goblins (a real battle with the water cleverly used to slow down the player movement and increase the challenge) and the red climb through the rock near the end, filled with goblins, leading to the final battles.
Gameplay here is slightly inconsistent, near the start its pretty basic, but like the architecture, its gets significantly better the further you go through the level. Enemies are well placed to ambush the player, jumping down behind you from ledges to surprise you, or attacking in ambushes and gangs, sometimes from above and below. Good Enemy placement (and correct choice of monsters) like this makes fun gameplay, and this is added to my a nicely balanced supply (not too much, not too little) of health and ammo which increases tension very well. After battling through a tough area full of monsters its nice to pick up the health and ammo placed as a reward and breath a sigh of relief.
The author has even implemented a clever "code" save system, no doubt aware of the size of this map, although now of course we have the savegame feature implemented in CUBE anyway, which is a relief, as you *will* die many times in this map, again reminding me of Stalingrad.
There are a number of tough fights in big rooms full of Sliths, Bauuls and Ratamahatta, where you are ambushed by many monsters and these are mixed in with tight little battles with ogros and goblins and rhinos in small twisty corridors and rooms.
In the end though its the imagination and obvious enthusiasm for CUBE displayed in this map that stuck with me the most. This is simply a great CUBE SP level, and a good reminder that *gameplay*, not graphics is what makes a video or computer game truly enjoyable.
Overall Score: 18/20
Reviews: 18th November 2002; Review 2 [2 mini-reviews]
Game - CUBE
Maps - mmpart3: Monster Machine Part 3 and tictac: Tictac
both by - Bill Spencer
Downloads - on this webpage: mmpart3.zip, tictac is included in shadowland.zip.
Overall Verdict - 2 small maps which need to be expanded upon and developed more.
Screenshots (from left to right); mmpart3, tictac.
MINI REVIEW: MMPART3
This is a small level, which as the author himself states on his webpage, is *going* to be part of a bigger series of maps. Hence this is fun for a quick blast, but nothing more in terms of gameplay depth. The level basically consists of 2 largish rooms, both packed with enemies, but also packed with lots of ammo, armor and health which makes the gameplay fairly straightforward.
In the second room, I liked the columns with enemies placed on top of them, this makes fighting more strategic and challenging for player. When you clear all the monsters and hit the teleporter you are simply taken to a "to be continued" room, not a particularly fulfilling ending. Good fun with Quad in the first room, but too much ammo, armor, health (and indeed the Quad itself) makes it too easy overall.
Overall Score: 10/20
MINI REVIEW: TICTAC
A *novelty* level although most players are (unfortunately) likely to find it simply annoying. This is not a map as such, just a series of 9 open areas, all linked by teleporters with no walls or architecture, so you are simply left floating in the middle of the pretty blue sky, on a transparent floor.
As all the areas are the same there is little guidance as to which area you are in, so playing simply becomes a matter of randomly walking through teleporters and killing monsters until all are dead.
With only 17 monsters this wont take long but its an unfulfilling experience anyway.
Overall Score: 6/20