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Reviews: 23rd July 2006 review 2
Game - QUAKE
Map - orlmaps: Orlmap [7 map episode]
by - Orlando Crispaldi
Download - orlmaps.zip
Overall Verdict - Some imaginative maps limited by some frustrating gameplay.
Map 1 - orlmap4: Castle in the catacombs
The title says it all: this is a small tight layout consisting of a reddish brick castle set within a small grey rock series of winding caves and tunnels. Its an imaginative and original layout if nothing else. Actual map building and construction is a little messy, but as previously mentioned there are lots of nice little imaginative touches such as the lift shafts which take you deep underground, and the castle metal railings and columns. Further the architecture has a pleasingly organic, natural, even unpredictable feel to it which suits the setting. Gameplay is quite hard but not overly so and ammo and health are well thought out. At the start there seems to be plenty of health but ammo then becomes very rare and a series of tight confrontations in small tunnels with knights, Hellknights and ogres can cause real problems. A fun first map.(12).
Map 2 - orlmap5: the slipgates
Actually another quite unusual map this combines two distinct sections linked by the slipgates of the title. The first, initial area is a brick castle and stone caves area which broadly continues the theme of the first map, gameplay is again tricky here with lots of enemies being faced in small, tight areas. There are a couple of instances where first time through it is very hard/impossible to avoid dying, usually when monsters just spawn in behind you without warning, this is a flaw in gameplay. When you reach the slipgate you are transported into a traditional idBase map where the gold key can be found, and then you need to take this back to the castle to escape the level. The base area is quite decently built and lit, and gameplay flows better and is fairer due to the super nailgun that is available to be picked up near the beginning of this section. A reasonably interesting but sometimes frustrating level.(12).
Map 3 - orlmap6: the Night Shift
Essentially a large castle with blue/gold keys that must be found, this is a bit of a mixed bag. Theres no one real coherent theme and instead the map feels like a number of separate parts stuck together a bit uncomfortably. Having said that, there are some good details and nice architectural touches and sections, such as the fun graveyard section (gib through a swarm of zombies!) and some decent gameplay battles. Overall though both Architecture and Gameplay is too inconsistent and weakly designed to be truly satisfying.(13).
Map 4 - orlmap7: the Black Dimension
Clearly the most coherent and interesting map in the episode, this is imaginative, interesting and original metal themed map. The layout twists and turns through a number of good set-pieces of gameplay. There is some good design and layout with many decently built twisted metal beams/girders/gates here, with nice inter-connectivity as the player revisits previous sections and a fair amount of exploration is required in the medium/large size metallic environment.
Gameplay is also better than previous maps. Although the odd strange flaw still creeps in (ogres placed at the bottom of stairs where their grenades cannot harm you, for example), in general, monster placement, numbers and difficulty is better judged. There are some good Shambler and ogres battles especially. Overall this is the most atmospheric and fun map in the pack.(15).
Map 5 - orlmap8: the Sinned World
This is essentially a series of platforms floating in space, in fact its almost a coagula map. Texturing is bright and colored and the psychedelic feel will either give you a headache or you will think its cool and surreal, possibly depending on your mood. The skybox is a strange red and white checkered pattern. The map starts with a huge rising circular platform and monsters spawn in waves (this has been done in previous custom maps) and at the end of each section/platform is a portal which takes you to the next harder group battle on the next section. This culminates in a tough final challenge with multiple vores & shamblers, look for infighting and a lift of air here to complete this imaginative but somewhat basic map.(12).
Map 6 - orlmap9: Showdown
This last map is a boss battle against Chthon, with a few Shambler, vores and fiends to spice things up a bit. Theres also a fairly redundant underwater section filled with a handful of fish and zombies at the start, and architecture is pretty basic and haphazard. It also seems incredibly hard until you discover the "health pod" which boosts your chances considerably. Chthon fights are somewhat boring to me, so i didn't particularly enjoy this finale, although the extra monsters spawning in on the walkway did add some variety to the gameplay.(10).
In summary, this is a fun episode which obviously has had a lot of hard work put into it. Its weaknesses are some frustrating gameplay situations which could have done with more playtesting before being released. Its strengths are imaginative, original map layouts/designs and themes, and some exciting gameplay at a few points. I hope this author will make more maps in the future as this episode shows good potential. Note:there is also a secret map, orlmapbbat: bonus battle arenas, its just a quick series of three large rooms filled with spawning waves of monsters.(7).
Castle in the catacombs 12/20
the slipgates 12/20
the Night Shift 13/20
the Black Dimension 15/20
the Sinned World 12/20
Overall Orlmap Episode: 13/20