March 2000, Week 1-2

Dawn of Darkness Episode One
By Ward Six
Game: Quake2 Total Conversion Date: 19th Match 2000
Levels: 4 Size: 35.6mb
Back in the days of Quake editing there were many partial and total conversions. Many were hardly worth playing, but there were several good ones. A popular setting was the medieval-fantasy type style. Unfortunetely, there have really been no big total conversions for Quake2... except the Dawn of Darkness! However, the team working on this mod had alot of problems with it and, after dropping half of the game, just recently released the first episode.

Dawn Of Darkness takes place in a long vanished world of mighty forgotten empires and magic. It is the tale of a once revered Lucitanian warlord, Roarke The Merciless, caught between his obligations to his family, his empire and his honor.

The gameplay was good, with all new weapons and monsters, but the downside is that sometimes you'll run up to an enemy and hit fire and nothing will happen! Also they can deflect your attacks with their shield. The new monsters and weapons looked great though.
It is also quite a puzzle solving game. And with many different routes (it's very non-linear) it can get a little confusing.

The good part is level design... it is amazing! These levels are the most atmospheric I have seen in Quake2. From little villages to castles, caves and swamps. I especially loved the terrain, it is easily the best constructed for Quake2 I have seen. Some of the level designers which you may have heard of from their Q2 maps are Ben Glover (Homage To Mars), Brendon Chung (Citizen Abel) and Jerk Gustafsson (Age of Panic, 1964).

Personally I don't like puzzles and too non-linear, so this wasn't the mod for me. But I am sure there are gamers who will love it. It is only one episode with four huge levels (one of them is 7mb, easily the biggest level ever made for Quake2) but it will definitely keep you occupied and entertained for a while.

Score: 79

Teleportation System Complex
By Dav
Game: Quake2 Date: 17th March 2000
Levels: 1 Size: 1.35mb

This is Dav's latest level, and probably his best. With each level he does, they get a little better. Level design was good (if you can see it), but the problem was lighting. It is so damn dark! These screenshots I had to lighten up manually. But in the few places where lighting is good enough, the design looks nice.

Gameplay was the strength of the map, with five bosses in total! Only two you need to kill though. There were over 150 monsters, and that great teleporting technique used in Dav's last level has been continued into the Teleportation System Complex. That is, enemies suddenly spawning around you when you least expect it. The start did this very well, and was probably the hardest part of the game.

Overall a good level from Dav, and I can't wait for the next one.

Score: 62

The Ruins and The Mines
By Eric von Rothkirch
Game: Quake2 Date: 13th March 2000
Levels: 2 Size: 2.74mb

The Awakening Q2 is a deathmatch mod with all new weapons and powerups (with a bunch of maps thrown in), and has been quite popular. The four deathmatch maps included in The Awakening, dressed in all custom textures, looked brilliant. So it is good to see that Eric Rothkirch (redchurch) decided to add some single player levels to his resume that looks just as good!

There are two of them, both rather small. You start in The Ruins, a level which feels alot like a castle. Using brick textures with great stone spiked pillars hitting the sky, the level looks superb with a great atmosphere. The second level, The Mines, is more like the inside of a ruined castle. It doesn't look quite as great with many corridors, and it isn't as long, but was still a very unique looking level.

Gameplay was good. There weren't an abundance of enemies, but it was still great fun and a good challenge. But not to be forgotten are the new weapons! Three of them from the Awakening mod, which unfortunetely means you need to have the 8mb deathmatch mod installed too. Not only that but there are also new sounds and music to add to the atmosphere.

Overall these two levels are a great addition to your collection, but because they were so simple and short I'm left wanting more!

The Ruins and The Mines
The Awakening Q2 Mod (8.1mb)

Score: 81

By Terminal Reality
Game: Full Game Date: 10th March 2000
Levels: 22 Size: 1.2gb
Nocturne is a third-person adventure set in a past where vampires, ghosts and monsters exist and fight the humans.
To install this hefty game, you need nearly 1.5gb, so obviously I couldn't install the whole game. Fortunetly you get four missions (which for the average player should take 2-4 hours each) and I installed the first three. I got used to the controls and movement pretty soon, except the jumping took a bit longer. Movement is probably one of the weaker points of the game though. It can be quite touchy. Those with a slow computer and little bit of lag could find themselves turning around in circles all the time!

The first mission takes place in a dark and creepy setting, starting with the village then the forest, castle and dungeons. Level design is quite impressive, apart from the layout. I found myself lost or not knowing where to go next a few times, especially in the castle. The atmosphere is excellent, especially in places such as the graveyard with fog around you.
The second mission was even better, starting in a small town of zombies before going underground to the mines and the tomb. The underground had great atmosphere, with brilliant lighting in the mines against the spider webs and rotted wood.

Gameplay was good most of the time. Although Nocturne is not an action game, I was kept entertained by the many monsters of the night. Nevertheless, there are some parts which can piss you off, such as the werewolves' constant attacks in the forest level. Most of the time you have enough ammunition to get the job done, although using the axe is quite effective against most enemies. There is just enough health which you carry around and automatically use it in battle when you are nearing death.

The gameplay in the second mission, however, is not so fun. For the first level in the town I was reminded of Neil Manke's They Hunger as you repeatedly chop through zombies. It can get boring after a while. What was fun, however, was saving the village people who are hiding throughout the town. You need to escort them back to the church where zombies will not go. And if one of them gets killed it's game over - but not before a short cinematic sequence where you get fired from the spookhouse!
Down in the mines it is exactly the same, zombie after zombie, until you reach the secret underground tombs where you'll meet these great looking dinosaur type creatures that run at you. But with only them to fight it is no great challenge. Overall, it is quite a good game, but is full of many small problems. Some that come to mind would be the times when monsters would suddenly come at you in all directions and you can't help but get hurt, or when you need to use the 'use' key, but cannot have your weapons out at the same time. The problem there is sometimes as soon as you do something (such as place a stone/rune) a bunch of monsters will jump out at you and you won't even have the chance to pull your guns out.

Usually in puzzle games I get stuck and need a walkthrough, but if you don't run into any small glitches (such as trying to place a rune somewhere for about five minutes, repeatedly pressing the 'use' key and moving slightly each time, before the idiot character actually does it) then you should have no problems. The puzzles aren't very hard, and the gameplay is usually fun. Along with a superb atmosphere, if your sick of FPS' then give Nocturne a go.
Note: I never bothered to finish the game as I got sick of it.

Score: 75