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Reviews: 1st November 05, review 1
Game - QUAKE
Map - masque: the Masque of the Red Death
by - Tronyn
Download - masque.zip
Overall Verdict: An atmospheric trail of medieval carnage.
some literary background:
Edgar Allen poe's "the masque of the red death" gives this map its title and its inspiration.
One of poe's most famous short works, the story tells of a plague which kills the population, poe's own thoughts were probably based on the horrific and tragic medieval bubonic plagues of Europe.
The opening lines of the short story directly link to the theme of the map:
"The 'Red Death' had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal - the redness and the horror of blood."
and further on the structure of prince prospero's castle is described:
"When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince's own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within."
Notes: to run this map you must use either Darkplacesor Aguire's custom quake engines.  the map also Requires Quake Mission Pack 1: Scourge of Armagon.  Skill settings are only functional via the console, not via the start map.
Tronyn's newest map is his vision of Prospero's castle, which the player must progress through to reach the exit. Architecture is in general well built, with some spectacular views of the whole area available, as the layout is essentially one large arena, divided vertically into levels that ascend up the green/brown rock faces. It's an ambitious layout.
However some of the brushwork and texture alignment seemed slightly messy and also basic looking. Texture choice in general is reasonable, although nothing outstanding and i felt a slight mix of too many disparate styles of both textures and architecture. A more consistent, neater theme might have given the map more architectural character. Some of the map seemed somewhat bright and sunny as well. There were good touches like the clock-faces and rivers and pools of blood on the positive side. Nearly all the areas are well interconnected vertically and horizontally.
Gameplay starts off tough [and doesn't change]; around about 50 monsters in from the start, a beautiful sense of carnage envelopes the player =). Monsters throw themselves at you in groups from all directions, and in hordes from every angle. Monster infighting and a relatively easy to find health secret are your only allies at the beginning. The gameplay progression is consistent in that hordes of monsters continue to attack as the player makes his vertically up thru a series of gameplay set-pieces to the top of the castle/keep. On hard skill, there are 404 monsters, which again indicates the difficulty of the map. There will be a number of player deaths. The highlights in gameplay terms, are the beginning, and the middle areas especially in the first half of the map up to around the blue and gold key areas.
There are exhilarating showdowns in locked-in areas, including some fun quad damage slaughters. There is a whole "Shambler in a iron cage" area, which is very well done.
I felt the last part of the map, from when you climb over the top hills to the final exit, was slightly anti-climactic and a little bit "tacked on"; it didn't quite feel integrated with the rest map. Also the ending was a little too easy. There is a relatively easy secret red armor, then another red armor. Then finally a pentagram (invincibility) AND a quad damage. 1 or 2 instead of these 4 power-ups would have made the ending much more tense and exciting, in my opinion.
In the final analysis though, this is still a very good map, a huge carnage fest of 404 enemies which is satisfying and challenging and has high replay value thanks to the exciting gameplay.
Overall Score: 17/20