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Reviews: 27th December 2002
Game - QUAKE
Maps - q1tm2: Quake TurtleMap 2 (4 maps)
by - czg/hrimfaxi/lev/pushplay
Download - q1tm2.zip
Overall Verdict - A decent set of smallish maps, with varying themes and contrasting gameplay.
These 4 maps are the (SP) results of the second Quake 1 turtlemap competition, organised by Scampie. Turtlemaps are maps made in 1 week or less.
Map 1 - q1tm2_czg
Czg is the author of many classic Q1SP maps over the past few years, the best of which is generally thought to be the 3 map pack Insomnia. Recently he made a series of maps (the "terra series") which although classified as "beta" maps were nonetheless made available for download. These maps showed him experimenting with a different style of gameplay, the DOOM-like approach of group ambushes and hordes of enemies attacking at once. This turtlemap continues that gameplay style, and does indeed remind the player of those early Doom 1 and Doom 2 maps, with its basic, blocky architecture and plain texturing.
A simplistic base-like setting is the chosen map layout, at the start of the map czg reminds us how darkness is so effective in quake maps at creating atmosphere and tension. After that play progresses into more well-lit, outdoor areas which are simply textured and blocky, rectangular and plain; understandable as this is a turtlemap. Quirks include messages devoid of vowels, (once you work this out they are quite easy to understand) and nasty dark areas full of fiends.
Gameplay, as already mentioned, is surely good for people who like group ambushes of 15 grunts or 10 enforcers. Probably the nastiest part is a fiend ambush early on which can be tricky. After that play is relatively straightforward. I confess that after consideration and on balance i am not a fan of this horde/group ambush style of gameplay. It is too simplistic and repetitive and feels like a step backwards rather than an evolution forwards. No doubt, the author purposefully aims for the Doom-like atmosphere and gameplay, but to me there needs to be more variety in the enemies used, instead of 15 grunts, how about 5 grunts 2 fiends and 2 vores? The challenge needs to be higher, the gameplay more exciting.
There is another fiend ambush later but this is nullified by a too-generous quad and mega health (one of these rather than both would have been better). Fighting progresses to the final ambush and two shamblers. Overall an enjoyable map, but too easy and slightly repetitive gameplay undermines some of its appeal.
Map 2 - q1tm2_hrimfaxi
This is a nicely presented and decently built map, notable for being largely set outdoors, amongst rocky natural landscapes and caves, pool of water and so-on, making it a relative rarity amongst quake maps.
This natural terrain is for the most part well done and imaginative, brush work is solid enough although slightly messy in some places, the large, tall tower could have used more detailing, (and so could other parts of the map) but this was no-doubt mostly due to time constraints. Notable points in terms of the architecture and map layout include a decently designed stone bridge section, and the aforementioned tower, which is imaginative and well put-together overall.
Gameplay is well-implemented in general. There is a pleasing and consistent vertical dimension to the map; ogres lurk on rocky outcrops or bridges to attack from above, scrags harass from the sky. And of course there is the aforementioned tower, the player ascends vertically through a series of close encounters with hell-knights and ogres, lack of room-to-move and cover makes these combats quite tricky. Within the tower there is an relatively simple secret to find which helps makes the map considerably easier. A fine choice of monster-type: 2 vores at the very top of the tower, makes a good challenge on the way to the blue key.
The final battle is set across the stone bridge area (left screenshot, above) and again provides a decent challenge, although, as throughout the map, generous health supplies makes it maybe *slightly* too easy. Furthermore the final ambush on the high ledge can be picked off form afar by clever use of the RL. Still, spawning shamblers are always fun and this is a reasonably climatic ending. A fine turtlemap highlighted by good, solid gameplay.
Map 3 - q1tm2_lev:
This map layout is small, consisting of one large central stone arena, with various stone walkways and staircases built over a central water area, which resides at the bottom of the map. Detailing is non-existent and the texturing could be nicer too. The light colors of white and green do not look their best in the slightly bland/bright lighting scheme.
Gameplay too, is slightly over-simplistic, and perhaps would have benefited from more thought, which would have resulted in a more strategic, measured and varied gameplay experience. Instead what we have are hordes of monster packed into this small map, with mega-health placed at various points, as a reward for surviving the waves of monsters thrown at the player. These waves of monsters cause the "packet overflow" error to occur at some points in the map.
Without the RL this map probably wouldn't be possible to complete. At the end Ammo proved itself to be quite well judged as i was down to my final few rockets and shotgun shells to face the final 4-shambler strong final ambush, which was quite a tricky finish. In summary, the map lacks depth and variety in its presentation and gameplay, but its fun for a quick blast, which is probably all the author intended this level too be.
Map 4 - q1tm2_pushplay:
A traditional idbase setting for Pushplay's first Quake SP map. Its a smallish size, but the brushwork is good for a turtlemap. There is a pleasing variety of detailing in the various base rooms and hallways, such as piping, grilles and arched designs. This bodes well for future Pushplay Quake maps. Lighting also, is good for a first map, with a good balance between dark corners and well-lit set-pieces creating a decent atmosphere and sense of immersion. There could, perhaps, be more sense of consistency in the layout, it felt a bit random and haphazard.
Enemies spawn in frequently throughout the map, and their are a couple of nasty fiend spawns at key points in the map as it progresses. Enemies are varied; rottweilers, grunts, enforcers, ogres, fiends and vores all make an appearance. Overall monster-placement is also decent, with some tricky placement of Ogres and Vores on High ledges, cautious playing is recommended. Ammo and health are well-balanced and add to the sense of tension, involvement and enjoyment in the gameplay of this level.
After clearing out the insides of the base, a final climax is faced by a number of enemies spawning in in waves: rottweilers, fiends, shambler and finally a vore. I found my ammo very low near the end, and the "secret" grenade launcher should definitely be grabbed to help deal with this final set-piece.
This climax is slightly undermined by the fact you can simply exit the level without killing all monsters, always a flaw in map design in my opinion.
However, it would be churlish to criticize someones first quake SP map too strongly; i hope more Quake maps will follow from Pushplay, he has an eye for detailing in his map build and a decent feel for challenging gameplay as well.