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Reviews: 23rd December 2002: Review No. 2

Game - CUBE
Maps - sm04: Speedmap 4 (5 maps)
by - Drakker/Piglet/Pushplay/Sirlivealot/Verbal
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Overall Verdict - Decent collection of 5 speed maps, and an interesting theme, makes for a good package of Cube SP action.


"Speed maps" are maps built in a limited amount of time (eg 100 minutes), and the theme of this particular pack is "Alien Homeworld" single player maps.

Map 1 - sm04_drakker
This is the first SP map i have reviewed by this author to my knowledge, i hope he is enjoying it enough to make many more Cube maps :). Architecture is nice at the start of this map, there is a cool little pool and a cool hanging vine coming down from the rock-face, after that its a big plain, with a metallic building on one side of the large, open area. There are only 13 monsters so this map does not take very long to finish and is too easy to provide any real challenge. My tip to the author for his next map: fill your maps with a lot more monsters and don't be afraid too make the gameplay too hard.

Map 2 - sm04_piglet
Piglet's level for this speedmap pack is decently built, there is some nice blue light fittings on the buildings and a good, reddish "mars-like" atmosphere to the map; but overall the architecture is basic rather than spectacular. Gameplay is well-balanced and provides a good challenge. There is not much ammo around and in particular the rockets you pick up early in the map should be used sparingly. The level starts off with a nasty fight in the outside courtyard against a group of angry goblins and bauuls, before the player moves inside, facing off against some knights and 4 sliths, i am starting to realize sliths are harder and better monsters than i initially thought!

Progression continues through triggers opening up side rooms, and typically reasonably well-balanced (good challenge) piglet style gameplay. After a *lot* of hellpigs and a final showdown (ammo may be exhausted at this point, good for practice at punching!) the final teleporter is reached. Overall a good solid SP speedmap.

Map 3 - sm04_pushplay: Aliens are people too.
Pushplay has once again produced another fine looking speedmap. Its pretty big too and features some nice trees and pools of water, good details like these help to give a map a sense of place and atmosphere, and increase the players sense of immersion in the map. Gameplay matches the imaginative and well-built architecture - there is a healthy amount (104 total monsters) and variety of enemies to face. The main flaw here is too much ammo and health, i felt both of these should have been cut back a bit, the amounts provided were slightly over-generous and overall i felt it made the map slightly to easy (i played on skill 7). Apart form this small issue of judgement, a fine speedmap and the most successful at creating an "alien homeworld" atmosphere of all the maps in this pack, in my opinion.

Map 4 - sm04_sirlivealot:
Once again, a nice looking map from sirlivealot, he demonstrates a good eye and skill for detailing in his architecture and map design, and also a good use of varying and decent-looking textures. It a relatively small map, but then again it is a speed-map. There are 3 main areas, firstly a goblin-infested brick village, then a little checker-board textured house, finally a "garden" of sorts with a Quad at the finish. Gameplay, is pretty strightforward, a larger number of monsters, for example more sliths, rhinos and Ratamahattas, would have provided a better level of challenge. The lack of real challenge is magnified by the Quad at the end, which is really a luxury that does not need to be included when you only have a total of 20 monsters in a map.

Map 5 - sm04_Verbal: Alien Cataclysm
This is verbal's first Cube speedmap and its a good effort overall. Architecture is somewhat basic but that's understandable as its Verbal's first SP speed-map; a series of various-colored rooms and hallways inside some kind of alien base. Gameplay is better, in-fact its one of the best playing maps in this pack. It would have been even better if the monsters were all facing the player (instead some of them are facing the walls), this was simply a mistake by Verbal which he has already explained. If he wants to re-release this map with the monsters facing the correct directions i would be happy to update this review.

Even with this problem, gameplay is still good. A good number of enemies (around 120 in total?) provides a decent challenge. The full mix of Cube monsters make their appearance here and are often well placed to cause trouble to the player. Two other small flaws: You can fall down into the final room without first clearing the "teleporter" room, and then you are stuck in the final room, with no way out. Also, the final room, although a reasonable challenge, has perhaps *too* much health/armor/quads in it; perhaps better would be just one type of these (i.e. lots of health) rather than all three different types, or not so many of each type (i.e. 1 armor or 1 quad instead of 3 armors and 3 quads).

However, I don't want to be too negative, this map demonstrated very good future potential in SP mapping for Verbal, i hope he makes more Cube SP maps.

Overall Scores:

sm04_drakker: 10/20
sm04_piglet: 15/20
sm04_pushplay: 17/20
sm04_sirlivealot: 14/20
sm04_verbal: 15/20

Overall speedmap 4 pack: 15/20