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Reviews: 13th Feburary 2004 [Reviewed by Tronyn]
Game - QUAKE
Map - rpgsmse: Quake Condensed.
by - RPG
Download - rpgsmse.zip
Overall Verdict - neat and interesting pack consisting of 5 small speedmaps.
RPG has revised four of his speedmaps and added a fifth to create the very aptly titled "Quake Condensed." With a small level in each of id's themes, and a great take on id's end.bsp to cap it off, this is a well-worthwhile mini-pack. Often speedmaps aren't up to the quality of a normal level, but I played some of these maps in their original form and RPG sure knows how to crank out quality quickly.
The more serious problem is the lack of size and scale, but this is solved here not be making one level out of multiple speedmaps or adding new sections and revising old ones, but rather by stringing five small maps together. It won't divert you as long as a normal map would, but it is a great short burst of stylish Quake action.
Architecture, though thematically varied from level to level, keeps to a quality somewhere between modern, highly refined maps and id maps. A good analogy is that it is about the same quality as the Hipnotic mission pack: not a ridiculous amount of detail, but rather with aesthetic appeal being created by a smaller amount of solid, well-placed brushes.
Most of the maps are semi-symmetrical, but since they're so small this isn't really annoying (heh, in most of the maps you can shoot enemies on one side of the map from a window in the other!). Overall, I'd say these maps are great examples of what can be done in a short time, since all areas have a similar amount of detail and it is sufficient to create atmosphere.
The first map, using the idbase theme, is perhaps a little bland, but subsequent maps deliver consistent quality. It's pretty easy, but then again base maps usually are. The second map, which is medieval, is a good Castle of the Damned themed map, taking place on pretty much one small barbican, and making nice use of its limited floorspace. Gameplay isn't too hard, but satisfying enough. Good stuff.
The next map which has a Runic style, is called "Jesus Wept", is really nice, particularly the end of it which features an aesthetic crucifixion and a nod to the end of e2m6. Aesthetic appeal in this map is better than either previous level, with nice dark lighting and surprisingly well-put together brushes. Gameplay also gets a bit tougher, probably because of the more claustrophobic setting.
The final regular map is themed like the Elder World, and does a great job capturing the dark atmosphere and evil weirdness of that episode. It's too bad more people haven't capitalized on this theme. Shoving zombies in the player's face before giving them the grenade launcher was a good idea, though there's a secret that can help you to deal with that. The map uses some sort of weird invisible force field trick (perhaps the non-custom progs.dat equivalent to statues that come to life?) that allows for some knights you see to come attack you later. This small, episode 4 map is overall not as challenging as the episode 3 style map, but is an elegant little piece in its own right.
The pack then ends with a very weird but very cool take on end.bsp. It's sort of like "Imagine what Shub-Niggurath's pit would be like if it was set amongst Stonehenge and floating in space?" Simple but cool-looking rockwork winds around Shub-Niggurath's colossal island set with Shamblers and Vores, just like the original. The stone ruins have obviously been duplicated here and there, but look great and add a lot to the map. A stylish ending to a stylish pack.
Overall Score: 14.5/20