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Reviews: 26th April 2006; Review 1 [Reviewed by Tronyn]
Game - QUAKE
Map - hellvill: Hell's Village.
by - Elvis
Download - hellvill.zip
Overall Verdict - small & basic architecture in this custom medieval map.
Hell's Village is a smallish but good map from new Q1SP designer Elvis. The map's layout consists of two large structures in an outdoor area - a church and a castle - with several smaller structures surrounding them, such as houses, huts, walls and a graveyard. There is also a small cave section off to the side. The architecture is primitive by modern Q1SP standards, but has its own charm. It is adorned with a good mix of id textures and modified and new textures from various sources. One really nice thing about this map, perhaps not a universal aesthetic but one which is underdone in Quake, is the fact that the architecture is all functional. Pews, chimneys, fireplaces fill in the structures - rather than infinite amounts of mysterious crates.
The blockiness occasionally gets annoying, and the cave section gets away from this but not enough. Also, all of the buildings are aligned on the grid - all on 0 or 90 degree angles. I'm not sure which editor was used, but in a newer one like haxored Valve Hammer, it's pretty easy to build a structure on the grid, then rotate the whole thing every which way with texture alignment intact. Not that I'm taking points off for the fact that that wasn't done in this case: but it goes quite a ways to making a map seem more like a believable location when everything isn't on square angles. But overall, despite the squareness and relative simplicity of the map's layout and architecture, it creates a good sense of place and there's often two stories, allowing for more mileage out of the layout, plus other benefits like being attacked by monsters from above/below.
The areas are lit with minlight mostly. More effort could definitely have been put into lighting. It's hard to go wrong with skylight - realistic outdoor lighting that is easily available to every mapper. That would have made the outdoor architecture look a lot better. As it is, the whole map is a kind of
dull mid-range in terms of light. Personally I would also have made the minlight level quite a bit lower. There are plenty of monsters, including the usual culprits in historical or medieval maps: knights, more knights, and those pesky deathknights. Ogres are also present in force, but it's the fights with fiends that show the map at its most enjoyable. With all of the houses you might find a fiend waiting around a corner, or yourself trapped in one with 3 of the monsters pacing outside, and yourself low on shells. Good combat situations there. The finale is probably a suitable climax, though I tend to like the arena-style finishes.
All in all, I'm glad to see a setpiece-based outdoor map, and a medieval one at that. I'm very partial to that style. However, while the gameplay is good, the map is fairly amateurish (architecture and particularly lighting) when compared to the average Q1SP, so I should score it accordingly. But definitely play it.
Overall Score: 12/20
Reviews: 26th April 2006; Review 2
Game - QUAKE
Maps - sewage: Sewage Devastation
by - Hrimfaxi
Download - sewage.zip
Overall Verdict - An interesting theme and good lighting complemented by reasonable gameplay.
Experienced Q1SP mapper Hrimfaxi, releases another map shortly after Egyptian Rhapsody. This one is a smaller, slightly less ambitious level, but still displays the strong theme in Architecture and the exciting gameplay characteristic of many of his previous maps. The theme is a green stone and brick underground sewer complex of pipes and rooms/corridors, as the name suggests. Its a medium size layout, with a mix of standard quake medieval monsters. Architecture is neat, always nice to look at, without ever being especially spectacular for a mapper of Hrimfaxi's caliber. The greenish stone/brick/pipe theme is built and textured throughout the level in a pleasingly consistent way. Another strong point is the excellent lighting, spotlights provide pools of light on ground level, but the ceilings and walls are often deliberatley obscured in dark, high shadows. The lighting really stood out in this map as an example of how to use shadows and sparse lighting to complement the architecture and atmosphere of a map. There is a monster count of 154 on hard and 7 tricky to find secrets.
The challenge for the most part, even on hard skill level is largely straight-forward, although having said that there are some tricky sections. One is the spawn-infested pipe area around the gold key door, another is the climb up to the gold key, past a chain of tough to avoid ogres. Overall, monsters, ammo and health/armor are balanced reasonably well. The ending room is probably the best part of the map in gameplay terms, with good monster placement, usage and numbers. A couple of nasty surprises await before the exit can be reached.
This is not one of Hrimfaxi's epic maps, but its still good fun and certainly a very worthy release. It showcases some unusual architecture and an interesting theme, along with excellent lighting and solid gameplay.
Overall Score: 14/20