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Reviews: 17th January 2005 [Reviewed by Tronyn]
Game - QUAKE
Map - SM40 map pack [2 maps]
by - Zwiffle, Mike Woodham
Download - sm40contest.zip
Overall Verdict - 2 atmospheric maps.
ZweiSm40: The Box Factory
This is a very interesting and atmospheric Quake level, titled, in a sort of sarcastic way, "The Box Factory." You'll find yourself in a sprawling underground warehouse/complex that's anything but boxy, all basically because of a missing elevator. There's a lot of space in the level, not all of it exploited to the full, which coupled with the gloomy lighting (even in the outdoor spots) is great for creating atmosphere. Pipes, crates, machinery and multiple lighting styles (pulsating, strobe, etc) are all utilized to create a moody and functional-seeming environment. Textures are good, successfully portraying cold contrete and metal.
You'll be set against a lot of fiends and ogres in this map. A lot of ammunition is present, but not so much health. The map is a challenge, 100 monsters on normal, but nothing that seems too excessive. An interesting combat situation involves having to kill several grunts and enforcers on a ledge in order to advance out of a locked room; they are essentially all shooting at you and you're in a pit. Most of the gameplay's more conventional, but that was a cool bit. The rocket supply is fairly low, so you'll need to be picking up the dead Ogre's backpacks, which comes in handy. Having to preserve rockets and decide when to use them adds an interesting element to the gameplay.
Some of the sections don't look that great (an outdoor area that's basically a tall hallway for example), and the layout can get kind of confusing, but by the end of the map you realize that the layout work is impeccable. The map is most successful in its open, dark underground areas - the cramped spots aren't too good, the outdoor areas merely passable. The ending teleporter looked cool, seems like people are finding more and more original ways to do slipgates these days. All in all, an enjoyable creep through an atmospheric facility, well done.
This is made out of the same sections as sm40zwei, so the theme is quite similar. There are however, a couple of major differences. First, there is no sky in the map, it is all set in underground caverns, and there's a light fog that contributes much to the atmosphere. There are several areas recognizably the same as those in sm40zwei, however, they are obviously put together in a different way. While the layout in that map is more impressive than the one in this (more interconnective, particularly), the areas in this level are, on the whole, much more spacious and the layout works well enough, indeed one area where it bests its competitor is in having recognizable progression from one area to the next... rather than just a series of hallways, it's "Area A, Area B" etc which are all very distinct. This is accomplished by the setpieces often feature a transition from cavern/rock to base structure, and several look really good. In any case, though the layout isn't as interconnective, progression and the routes are done slightly better than in sm40zwei.
This map is certainly hard. You'll often be surprised at what occurs suddenly, such as an ambush by a large flock of scrags (that took me down to 1 health), or in a particularly extreme example, the arrival of several bloodthirsty shamblers! You'll probably die several times in the map, I did. Having such sudden, intense moments keeps things interesting, from the more straightforward "kill the grunts and enforces" type base setup, and there's always a way to survive and win a fight.
Some nice touches were added, an animated texture for powering up some elevators, some kind of machine containing the gold key, and so forth. Despite sm40zwei's emphasis on functional architecture and machinery, this feels like more of a functional base. A couple areas common to both levels were gameplay challenges in each! The terrain/cavern work throughout is particularly well done, even average base rooms have complex, vaulting rock ceilings. Actually, the fog, curvy cavern walls and base structures reminded me vaguely of some level in Doom 3. To summarize, this is overall a really great map, and shows Mike Woodham doing what he does - making composite maps out of map pieces - and at the top of his game. The fog usage is good, the terrain is great, and with the tough but fun gameplay there's never a dull moment. There've been a lot of Q1SPs released lately, and this is one of the better ones.
ZweiSm40: Overall Score: 17/20
FMB_Sm40: Overall Score: 17.5/20