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Classic Map Review: 7th April 2003; Review 1 [scroll down for review 2]
Game - QUAKE
Map - ne_sp04: The Emptiness Without
by - Necros
CoagulaContest.zip [contest version]
ne_sp04.zip [stand alone version]
Overall Verdict - A highly original level, saturated with Atmosphere, and also featuring hard gameplay.
A brilliantly imaginative map by Necros, this was originally released as part of the Coagula Contest. Its basically a complex metal/stone structure floating in space, linked by a series of moving platforms and lifts. In this respect, with its grey texture theme and stone and metal detailing, its actually somewhat similar to "Soulstice", although the link may not at first be obvious. In addition to these feature this map also features a series of "gravity rings" (basically teleporters) that must be activated by pushing a series of buttons as you progress through the map. These gravity rings then provide the route to the final showdown.
Texturing and brushwork are both very good. Its a hugely atmospheric map, with a consistent grey/white theme, which is well implemented throughout the level. There are lots of imaginative structures, complex lifts and intricate metal girders and beams, often bent into interesting shapes and forms. There are also some good metallic/creaky sounds as the various platforms lifts and cages are activated and used.
The platforms floating in the void, on which might be resting some Armor, only to reveal a nasty ambush, or another floating platform which holds 3 vores, provide a tense, brutal style of gameplay well suited to Quake. I personally would like to see this "isolated platform" style of gameplay (again similar to Soulstice) explored more in Q1SP - its challenging, tense and exciting, mainly due to the limited space the player has to maneuver. It really tests the skills of the player: you cant simply run down a corridor or around a corner to escape.
The map is hard, and will be most enjoyed by the experience quake 1 player, although skill settings are provided for and should be effective. Progression through the map can be tricky, in that its not always clear what has to be done next, or what direction should be taken. Whilst I personally enjoyed uncovering the route to the end by exploration, (which is something that does not occur enough in Q1SP maps in my opinion) there are a couple of unclear moments and novice players may become frustrated by this. To alleviate this concern and also to fine tune the map slightly, Necros later released a stand alone version of the map, with clearer messages and clues to provide guidance through the map. I actually prefer the original [contest version], it provides a greater sense of mystery and resulting atmosphere and exploration. Both versions are available for download above.
Overall Score: 19/20
Classic Map Review; Review 2
Game - QUAKE
Maps - ne_sp06: Once upon Atrocity
both by - Necros
Downloads - ne_sp06.zip
Overall Verdict - A Large Scale map inspired by the "Insomnia" pak.
A large map, both the architecture and the gameplay is on a big scale. Drawing inspiration from czg07c (the last map of the Insomnia episode), this map features excellent grayish stone texture with red blood waterfalls,pools and rivers, and a complementary blood red skybox. All this red, grey texturing is added to by some darkish green/metallic detailing and stonework.
The map is big, but the clever layout progression features a circuitous route which sees your revisit the main open area on a number of occasions. The architecture is notable for, as previously mentioned its large, grand scale and also for the excellent texturing which creates a real sense of atmosphere.
There are also a full complement of very good custom monsters provided for your fragging pleasure; the grey/black stonework is complemented by new black skins for some of the fiends and shamblers, which seem to take less damage to kill as well. There are also fireball throwing shamblers with new skins, and two excellent modified hellknights. The first Hellknight has a fireball, the second is a tough *Arch* Hellknight, with a shield, lighting attack, and upgraded fireball attack. These arch hellknights are really tough and personally i would like to have seen more of these.
Gameplay is tough, with all the tougher medieval monsters being used, lots of the modified shamblers mentioned above (and normal shamblers), as well as fiends, Hellknights are the main enemy. There are also a smaller number of scrags, ogres and vores used. This array of enemies is balanced by a generous supply of ammo (especially nails and Rockets), as well as a number of Armors and Mega Healths. The final battle is against a custom dragon, but this is made considerably easier by a pentagram of protection, i don't think this should have been provided, it makes the ending *slightly* too easy in my opinion. Also ammo lasts longer and the lighting gun has been made more accurate. I thought in general the gameplay was well balanced, if anything it could have been slightly harder, maybe less rockets or more Hellknights/Arch Hellknights.
Its still a tough battle though, and a fitting challenge for a great map, its good to see Insomnia getting some quality competition like this in the huge, epic map category of Q1SP maps ;).
Overall Score: 18/20