For My Babies - Bin Dunne Gorne 2 by Mike Woodham

This episode is represents the full culmination of the earlier map (and imo masterpiece), This Onion, from a few years ago. At the end of that map, there was a vista-style view onto a huge castle with gargoyles in the fog; this was a very tempting and intiguing ending and I always hoped we would eventually get to continue onward from This Onion into that second map. Well, as it turns out, there were actually two maps following on This Onion, so even better. I was happy to replay This Onion, which as I've said is exactly my sort of map, but I won't make too many comments on this map since it already appears in my Top 10 for medieval. I think there were some changes since I played the previous version, at least in the gameplay (is it just me, or do the Lava Men and Droles both shoot their projectiles much faster here?), but for this first map, suffice it to say that this is a beautifully designed map with challenging gameplay: an underground fortress in caverns full of lava (and for once, the lava feels like a very real danger throughout the map!), with excellent natural rockwork and an overlapping, interconnected, 3d route, populated with medieval monsters and selected extras like the Quoth drole, Hexen 2 imps, and the Rogue lava man (which is a great monster for this map and which I've hardly seen used since Rogue created it). Q1SP doesn't get much better than This Onion, really (and there's plenty of interesting secrets, too).

The first map to follow, This Garlic, does not take you into the huge epic castle courtyard glimpsed at the end of This Onion, but is instead an indoor dungeon-crawl. While there is some jumping in the first map, this has one particularly ominous lava-jumping section, and later uses Rogue's pendulums and phantom swordsmen (only use of these I've ever seen outside of Rogue) - giving, perhaps, an even more malicious sense of the environment. The asymmetrical design throughout this map is great - while recent maps like Sock's get a lot of mileage out of a few textures and a strong architectural consistency, this map uses textures from a wide variety of sources, but within the same general palette and medieval style, to create a wide variety of areas that all fall under the episode's "big tent" style. Each area looks unique. There are even some custom-modified textures which I noticed. Overall, this map, like all of the others in the episode, has a very strong dark medieval / gothic atmosphere, which is only improved by the music (which, in a cool touch just like Quake's original in-game skill selection, can be turned on or off using buttons in-game). There are some functional details like broken boards, and even a floodgate, but overall this is definitely a Quakey evil-gothic dungeon. The well-placed medieval enemies continue from the previous map, including challenging use of Ogres and Vores; lava remains a serious hazard, and there are plenty of awesome secrets. However, the start of this map seemed a little bit too hard - letter the player keep his weapons from the previous map (or providing them earlier on) may have been better - although I think I missed the normal nailgun (I couldn't use nails until I got the perforator). Overall, perhaps not quite as good as the first map, but a suitable followup, and definitely good. The design highlight of this map is definitely a cavern section spanned by a large bridge.

The final map, That Shallot, is the huge showdown area that you see at the start of map one. It is without exaggeration, one of the most epic areas in a Quake map. While there are some "indoor" (the whole thing is underground) dungeon bits, most of the map is spent in this gigantic area, and the Shamblers, Hellknights, and Droles are out in full force. Two "Guardian" gargoyles guard the exit, and must be disabled by getting the runes. You get both keys and combat is challenging throughout the map. As before, there are thoughtful secrets. Given the high-level monsters, obvious and well-styled end-gate, and the spectacle of the map's main setpiece, this is definitely a satisfying conclusion to the episode. It is obvious how much work went into this (and the vis times must have been brutal), so it's great that this was eventually finished so we can play it. The author says that there are still some rough edges, but I had no problems at all - I spotted maybe one misaligned texture (and perhaps the lighting was too bright in some areas of every map). Looking at this and realizing how impressive it actually is, you can see the arc of the author's development throughout the FMB series (the first FMB map was released in 1997!). Overall, this is a very high quality, professional effort - an atmospheric and satisfying swan song from one of the great Q1SP mappers. And now his watch is ended.

Score: 19/20