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Reviews: 6th Febuary 2005 [Reviewed by Tronyn]
Game - QUAKE
Map - terra: Terra [6 map pack]
by - CZG
Download - terra.zip
Overall Verdict - 6 oldschool/doom influenced maps.
Map01: Schumann Resonance
This is a small, well-done level where everything is well-planned and tidily executed (that statement applies to every single map in this pack, so I'll leave it out of the other 5 reviews). What you've got here thematically is an E1M1 type level, with slime, using mostly regular id textures, but a few modified ones to keep things interesting. Particularly, slime grates reminiscent of Doom are a cool touch. Maybe some neon green slime as in Doom would have also been cool (not sure if that would work at all in the Quake palette though, in fact, probably not). You're fighting almost exclusively grunts, with the occasional rottweiler and enforcer. The layout is also doom inspired, a theme that runs throughout the entire pack. Features like monsters in "bunkers," and small horizontal tunnels are used well to convey this effect. The "Mounted Slipgate" feature is also used from E4m1. The architecture, lighting and texturing screams quality with the subtlety of a jet engine. Everything is well planned and flawless.
Map02: Dead On Arrival
Another base map, this one a little bit more vertical, a bit reminiscent of some Scourge of Armagon base maps but still very Doom-like, particularly in the finale area, which is a large, long-ish horizontal outdoor base section with slime. Grunts remain Quake's mainstay, but he'll also be throwing a few more enforces at you in this one. You can pick up a few more weapons, but no double shotgun yet and no grenade launcher (unless you happen to find a particular secret area). There is one particularly awesome area, which is just like Doom's E1M3 where you go down a dark corridor, and then light comes on in a secret closet and a demon comes out (in this map in Quake it's a fiend, a fairly close equivalent). Gameplay remains a fun challenge, I find it hard to believe the maps weren't playtested at least a bit, since it's possible to die but it never gets frustrating.
Map03: Shotgun Experiment 1
This is a medieval complex outdoors, actually probably the smallest map in the pack but it uses its space extremely well. There are a couple very sizable fights downstairs on ground level in this map, which are great fun. You're going to run into trouble if you don't get the fiends and ogres infighting! You get the double shotgun and the grenade launcher in this level, and gameplay becomes harder accordingly. Very atmospheric, everything drenched in gray and brown and lit by some dull "sunlight" (or whatever remotely approximates the sun in Quakeworld). Zombies are well used, Ogres can get nasty but fiends are probably the most dangerous. A lot like E1m2 or E2m2 in theme, this brooding, murky hell hole will keep you entertained and on your toes besides.
Map04: Latent 3/4 Quarter
My favorite map out of the pack. This (ahem, among other things) shows that CZG has a really excellent grasp of what made Quake. It's my opinion that there's a real Lovecraft influence here. Although the theme is ostensibly based on E1M3 and E1M4 (like Ceremonial Circles was) and uses their textures, it is really set up as a sinister, slime-dripping city of monolithic, ancient stone blocks (as in the Call of Chthulhu). Fighting shamblers in this level was particularly appropriate given their origin. There's also a really awesome exploding/falling floor, as well as an evil finale (perhaps not as hard, but certainly more *evil* than that of the previous map. Scrags are used a lot, and the occasional well-placed Vore keeps things interesting. Knights and Hellknights are the mainstay of Quake's forces here, though like the previous map there are some good Ogre placements. The layout is the most vertical of any of the maps in the pack (though the next map has as many stories, they aren't as intertwined and interconnected as here). This is also probably the largest and most challenging level in the pack. What a sinister, swampy, dripping set of evil ruins this is.
Map05: Shotgun Experiment 2
Though this pack is kind of based on The Dimension of the Doomed, which goes base/castle/grotto/gloom keep/runic, where you'd expect to find a "Gloom Keep" map you're instead treated to this dark and twisted Elder World level. This could be seen as a "Gloom Keep" equivalent, but that depends on the argument that "Gloom Keep" is an elder world map (I personally don't think that). In any case, what this map does do is emulate the vague, foreboding evil (as well as lighting and textures) of maps like e4m2 and e4m3. It's underground, in a huge cavern where the bottom is made out of lava. Doom elements come into full play. Walls of fire behind "masks" of spikes, monsters in cages and secret closets full of monsters definitely tip one off to the Doom influence. There's an interesting and, keeping to the precedent set by previous maps in the pack, rather brutal finale involving a horde of teleporting monsters (you get to hear their "awake" noises before hand, heh, kind of intimidating) and Chthon himself with another collapsing floor.
Map06: Torture Department
Though every map in this pack outdoes the level it is based on in terms of overall build quality, I have to admit that the lighting here isn't as cool as that in E1M6: The Door to Chthon. However, that's a small issue given that this is another great, well-planned little delight. Gameplay gets brutal as you blast your way through tons of knights in a Runic setting, complete with a really *awesome* trap, and attention to detail in the fighting, gameplay and routes that's hardly seen. As you quest after two keys, you'll have to avoid lava, zombies, and at some points entire hordes of fiends. Though I wasn't as visually impressed by this map as I was by the two preceding it, it remains good-looking throughout and a fitting blast to end the pack.
This is a tribute to the best aspects of Quake and Doom, and every map is of a quality rarely seen in Quake. Though they are all small or at most medium, you'll get a lot of playtime out of the pack as a whole, and even more if you're interested in hunting for the many cool secrets. Quake's bestiary is used in innovative and well-thought out ways, each level being its own challenge with the fourth being the most difficult. Various influences within Quake and Doom, and perhaps one influence *on* Quake are well represented here, with tons of cool touches and some good special effects. In short, it's hard not to be impressed by this pack. It's another masterpiece by one of the masters of Quake, and we should be grateful to him for creating it.
Overall Score: 18.5/20