February 2000, Week 3-4

By Tiddles
Game: Quake Date: 29th February 2000
Levels: 1 bsp Size: 318k
Tiddles has created ALOT of levels for Quake, to be exact - 40 q1dm maps and 4 q1sp all of which are worth playing. But his latest creation, Basex2, is excellent. He uses his usual grimy metal and dirty textures to create a unique base level (obviously) which look good together throughout the entire experience. Lighting was used well with them, making it dark and damp, with the occasional spot of lava or sky to brighten things up.

Gameplay was very well done, despite only getting to meet Grunts, Enforcers and Ogres (this is a base level, afterall), they are used very well and surprise the player many times, or by attacking in groups so that you need to be quick. It wasn't the longest level I've played though, despite being 75 monsters. And there was no tricky final fight either, which always scores a level higher. Nevertheless, on the great dirty base style that Tiddles has created, and the excellent and challenging gameplay, this is another level that should remain in your Quake/Maps folder!

Score: 70

By Tyler 'Tylak' Munden
Game: Half-Life Date: 29th February 2000
Levels: 5 bsp's Size: 2.76mb
Finally a new level released! And it was certainly no disappointment. In Reviviscence your mission is the usual one, your stuck in Black Mesa and need to find a helicopter to escape.

All in all, this is just another good set of levels for Half-Life. It's fun and challenging, although there is plenty of health and ammo to make up for it. The typical enemies are here, Grunts mixed in with Aliens.

In the design department, textures looked good, but there was nothing spectacular. A good range of them were used, but most of the levels were spent inside Black Mesa, so there isn't much great architecture to look at.

Reviviscence is an average level set, which you should enjoy playing.

Warning: To play this level you need tfc.wad, which should be in your TFC directory if you've installed the latest patch. Simply copy this file into the Reviviscence directory and you can play it (otherwise halfway through it crashes).

Score: 68

Strogg Towers
By Dav
Game: Quake2 Date: 17th February 2000
Levels: 1 bsp Size: 1.34mb
I wasn't planning on reviewing or even playing this level in any hurry, as I had not really enjoyed Dav's previous levels (Q2 Caves probably the best) and they weren't really worth a review. But a mapper has to start to improve sometime, and this level is the case with Dav. It is much better than his previous releases in all aspects.

Gameplay was the main strength here, over 130 enemies nicely placed. A good technique was spawning enemies in front of you as your unexpectedly running along whistling to yourself and your head in the stars. Pun not intended, but you almost do have your head in the sky! Eventually you'll find yourself at the very top of four huge buildings with small platforms joining the each of them. This is another strength of the map, and was quite a pleasure running on these tiny platforms blasting Gunners off the side.

If your looking for a fun level with good atmosphere and average design, then Strogg Towers is for you!

Score: 64

Soldier of Fortune Demo
By Raven Software
Game: Soldier of Fortune Date: 13th February 2000
Levels: 4 bsp's Size: 95mb
Soldier of Fortune was not really a game I have been eagerly awaiting as much as others such as Daikatana. I had seen screenshots of it, and the level design didn't look very spectacular. Good, but not great. Nevertheless, I decided to download the demo to see what it was like, and after about a week of trying to get the nearly 100mb file I was finally able to check it out.

As soon as the game started I was impressed. There was a short cinematic sequence - nothing spectacular, just enough to set the story. It reminded me of Kingpin, except it was far superior! Then the game started and I was quite surprised about how it looked. It wasn't all that bad at all.

The first level of the demo you play inside a subway - not the most original idea, but good nonetheless. And even better when you actually start wandering around the lonely and misty subway tracks. At the end of the level there is a big fight on the tracks with you surrounded by enemies which you can hardly even see due to the fog. It may sound very frustrating, but I made quick work of it and it was a very fun end to the level.

The second level took place on a train! I was instantly reminded of a recent train assault mission from Unreal Tournament. I like the SOF one better as there is also a nasty helicopter to watch out for as it tries to blast you away.

Both levels have objectives, which is nice to see after Half-Life lacked them. The first level you need to find a gang leader... which of course escapes near the end. The other is a James Bond type mission - some nukes have been stolen and you have to get on the terrorist train and destroy them before the enemies can use them against you. Obviously the whole game is going to be full of missions like this, which could make it very interesting for the custom map scene as mappers think up unique missions, and hopefully not your usual Quake2 'shut the place down and get out!'.

The enemies, while not all that unique, were fun too kill. But obviously this game is supposed to be realistic, so all your enemies are humans (at least in the demo). However, there are some other things Raven have done with gameplay to set it apart from other FPS' and keep it successful. There are a number of difficulty settings, one of which is custom! You can set how many saves per level you are allowed, spawning of ammunition (I assume) and enemy toughness.
I played on medium and found that it was in fact medium! Unlike many games recently which have been too hard such as the Wheel of Time, it is good to see that Raven have not screwed up the difficulty like many companies do.
You can kill your enemies many different ways. A shot to the waist or legs often won't kill them. But a clean headshot will drop them to the ground. And a headshot with the shotgun at extremely close range was awesome! You could see as the body dropped that there was either no head left of part of it had been blown off. But don't worry, there are settings to turn the gore down if heads being blown apart upset you.

Overall I really enjoyed the Soldier of Fortune demo and can't wait for the full game now. Maybe the design isn't as spectacular as in games like Unreal and Wheel of Time, but it looked good enough and the gameplay was great so it may just be a winner!

Score: 87