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Reviews: 14th January 2005 [Reviewed by Tronyn]
Game - QUAKE
Map - dkt1000: 1000 Brush Quake SP pack[5 maps]
by - Jago, Zwiffle, HrimFaxi, Headthump and Blitz
Download - dkt1000.zip
Overall Verdict - 5 varied maps done using the DKTe3 .wad, (DKT Norway).
Above Left screen shows the start map
-Jago [Above Right screen]
This map looked promising, with some interesting indoor designs, however, with fewer than 30 monsters on normal it is simply too short to provide a satisfying Q1SP experience. Understandably, all of the authors were working within a 100 brush limit, but Zwiffle's (for example) managed to have a comparable level of detail and still be roughly 3 or 4 times the size of this level, while two others were far larger than either.
The gameplay was straightforward - run around shooting stuff - but I can't help but think that more mileage could have been obtained from even this limited size (unlocking closets or monsters teleporting in, for example). The usage of grunts was welcome for some variety in enemies. For what it's worth, the visual design was well done, with a good variety of features - lights inset, banners, windows - keeping things interesting, while the lighting avoiding looking amateurish throughout the map - that is to say, it was satisfactory. It's worth playing, particularly in the context of this pack, but I can't rate it any higher than 10/20 due to its length.
-Zwiffle [Above Left screen]
Here's a map that will provide a pleasant diversion. I actually found this map to be the hardest in the pack, I actually died several times while playing on normal. However, it was not frustrating hard, more like "act carelessly and you will pay dearly" hard. At one point I did knock down a shambler with my axe, with about 30 health. There's a good mix of mid-level monsters - ogres, fiends, vores and hellknights - and backtracking and teleporting are used to make the most out of the layout. Visually, the map isn't stunning, being basically a horizontal indoor dungeon, but there's a sufficient amount of detail and the lighting is really well done, so the map looks good. My favourite spot was the gold key room - a cold, dark cellar full of snow with some nice high-contrast lighting (bright skylight and murky gloom). There's a really cool finale too, original (and strange) stuff. All in all, a well thought out level with logical progression, good visuals and better gameplay. 16/20 for being well-made, even if it is (relatively) short.
-Headthump [Above Right screen]
Headthump's entry has the quality of being the most evil map in the pack - skulls are piled high and giant demons adorn the walls. Texturing and lighting are both rather haphazard: that is to say, I thought that a more consistant theme would've improved the level, as would the lighting being better sourced (look at the difference between this and Zwiffle's map for example: I don't just prefer the lighting in the latter because it is gloomy, but because light in that map always comes from a source - the sky, lava, torches etc.) Build quality was quite good throughout, some nice outdoor areas, the largest in the pack with the exception of Frostbite.
I noticed that one area was a large canal/river, crossed by multiple bridges and featuring several towers - a motif repeated from Headthump's last map, Aradiat. There's also a sunken boat, which is a nice touch, and some interesting decorations indoors. Gameplay's fairly tough but there's nothing ridiculous, but then again nothing particularly original either. The ending of the map takes place in a sort of mini-fort, a cool idea but more climatic gameplay would have been nice.
One thing that bothered me however was the choice of a water texture - it looked too bright blue and cartoony to really fit with the dreary norway texture set. I think the best way to assess both this map's strengths and weaknesses is to say that it is very Hexen II-like. That means that there are interesting and innovative set designs, but many areas, particularly generic indoor rooms and hallways, lack sufficient detail and the theme is a bit haphazard. Never the less, it is a good play from start to finish and manages to be of a very decent length given the 100 brush limitation (having outdoor areas is always a bonus too). 14/20
-Blitz [Above Left screen]
This level goes right ahead and tries to create a village-like environment. There are some good details such as piles of snow (or the closest approximation to that you could have in Quake), furniture and even a sword. Build quality is quite good, though the illusion of being in a city isn't carried off too well considering that the layout is basically several multi-storied atriums with hallways connecting them (which would work in any theme, whereas, if there were actually houses, docks, halls, etc, then that would be more convincing). Visuals are usually good, with a good job on lighting, though texturing seems like it could have been a little more coherent. Gameplay is good except for this one spot where you take a "leap of faith." Not sure what was on the author's mind there. Certainly the hell room with all the bad guys was cool, providing a challenge but not a frustrating one. Perhaps monster choice would have worked a little better if there were more enemies of a lower caliber, as opposed to fewer, more powerful ones. The map has the space for it, anyway. Overall, good visuals but strange (and not in an entirely good way) gameplay. 14/20.
-HrimFaxi [Above Right screen]
This level is easily the best in the pack, and could stand on its own as an excellent Q1SP map. Obviously, this is just my opinion, and I have a bias towards setpiece-based levels, but I was mightily impressed by this map. A vertical castle set in a huge canyon, with logical vertical progression as you find your way to the top. The architecture is excellent throughout, from the impressive rock-work to the finale in a huge domed tower. Lighting is suitable - the bright winter sun outside, while things are a bit gloomier within.
Gameplay was well balanced, getting steadily more and more challenging (I died once on normal) but never unreasonable. The map uses basically the same enemies as all the other ones in the pack, but the combat feels a bit more original because there are some different situations - scrags out in the huge open airspaces, combat with vores from quite far away, and of course, good old arena combat at the end. This is probably going to seem like too high of a score for a 100brush map, but there have been regular Q1SP releases that are smaller, and this is a better designed level than 90% of the Q1SPs out there. Except for a tiny irrelevant build error that I noticed, there isn't anything I'd change about this level. 18/20.