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Reviews: 21st December 2002: Review No. 1

Game - CUBE
Maps - sm02: Speedmap 2 (5 maps)
by - Aardappel/Piglet/Pushplay/Sirlivealot/Spentron
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Overall Verdict - A collection of 5 fun speed maps.


"Speed maps" are maps built in a limited amount of time. In the case of this pack the time allowed was 100 minutes. The theme of this pack is countryside/outdoor landscapes single player maps. Overall, the pack stands as a nice collection of levels. It is clear that the cube engine and the deliberate simplicity of mapping for Cube (as intended by Aardappel) suits the speed-mapping format very well; these maps are often as good as "normal" Cube SP maps that have been released so far. I really hope and wish these speedmapping sessions continue and many more SP maps are made for us all to enjoy.

Map 1 - sm02_aard
A nice solid SP level from Aardappel to start this speed map pack off. Aardappel is an experienced Mapper in both Quake 1 and now Cube, and his familiarity with his own engine has allowed him to put together a decent looking map in this limited time. Gameplay is also a very clear statement of intent; lots of monsters attacking from all directions, usually at the same time, very DOOM-like, and now very CUBE-like too! :) Gameplay starts off fairly relaxed, but steadily escalates, with increasing number of monsters (all the cube monsters are used in this map) attacking the player as the map progresses. Armor is in plentiful supply which is definitely handy, but possibly makes the map slightly too easy. Eventually the final area, packed with monsters (and a very useful Quad, if you can reach it without dying) is reached, and the map is finished (119 enemies). I found this map good fun, but slightly repetitive in gameplay terms (little variation in gameplay throughout the map).

Map 2 - sm02_piglet
A simple layout forms the basis for this quick map, which is distinguished by a novel storyline. Architecture is nothing spectacular but does the job well enough. There are, however two ways too complete this map, one is killing all the monsters as per normal. The other is too collect "Farmer Bobs" (see the readme) carrots and take them back to the shed (you have to leave one monster alive to complete the map this way), the faster you do this the better your performance. This twist on gameplay makes a refreshing change and turns playing into a speed-based race against the clock. It also increases the replay value of the map, seeing how fast you can collect all the carrots.

Gameplay is nicely balanced for a speed-map, there is good supplies of ammo and health, but a big number of monsters to challenge the player; Sliths, Ratamahattas and Bauuls are placed well, making the map more challenging than some other Cube SP maps. Overall, good stuff, especially for a Speed-Map.

Map 3 - sm02_pushplay: why i shouldn't be allowed to map
Pushplay is obviously a quick mapper. With 4 different sections to his level, (linked by teleporters) this level is larger than many regular Cube SP maps, the 4 zones are: 1) grassy field and river with mainly ogros which takes you through a house to 2) an area filled with wooden columns and a big wooden house (more ogros and rhinos) which leads to 3) a long brick maze packed with knights and bauuls at the end of which you are teleported to 4) a swamp-like area packed with Goblins. The different zones give good variety to the map and cause varying gameplay due to their different architecture and design. This variety is the maps main strength.

Gameplay is probably most fun in zones 1 and 2, these are quite challenging (which is a good thing!), mainly due to their being little health available; make sure you pick up the brown armor right at the start of the map. Zone 3 is too long and lacks variation, its just rocket-launching one monster after another, it should either have been half as long or have more variety in the structure of the maze. Zone 4 is a good finish with lots of tricky goblins, i found the extra rockets i had accumulated from the maze helped me a lot in picking them off from a distance. Overall, a good variety of architecture and gameplay styles packed into one speed-map.

Map 4 - sm02_sirlivealot:Escaping a countryside Jail
The neatest and most compact of the maps in this pack, and probably the one with the most detailing in the landscape and architecture. Starting off inside Jail Cell (where the bars magically disappear to let you escape!), the player exits his main prison block, before exploring around in the outside fields, and finding the trigger to "escape" (and end) the map. I thought the landscape was somehow the most polished of all the maps, of special note here were the cool, tall trees (right screenshot, above), and the nicely detailed jailblock with its stone furniture.

Gameplay could have been more challenging, an over-generous supply of ammo, armor and health makes this map slightly too easy, and this coupled with the ability to exit the map without even having to kill all the monsters makes the map less of a trial than it could and should of been. Still, good architecture and looks, and fun for a quick blast.

Map 5 - sm02_spentron
I believe i am correct in saying this map was made very quickly, in something like 12 (!) minutes, as spentron arrived to the session a bit late. Considering how little time it was made in, its small size is understandable. This version is the revised version with proper lighting. Its basically a large field with a hill in the middle and only has 11 monsters. With the armor and health at the top of the hill, this map should present little challenge for most cube players. If there were no health and ammo available at all in this map, the level might provide a nice little challenge, but as it currently stands its just too easy.

Overall Scores:

sm02_aard: 14/20
sm02_piglet: 15/20
sm02_pushplay: 16/20
sm02_sirlivealot: 14/20
sm02_spentron: 9/20

Overall speedmap 2 pack: 15/20