Honey by CZG

This map pack starts with a very nice-looking open village, using Heretic 2 textures which to me are always a welcome sight. The village well, it appears, has been poisoned, so it's obvious what your mission will be. The village square and church is very open and impressive, with plenty of background scenery; I don't think I've seen a CZG map with this style of setpiece-based or location-based design, his maps have tended to be more abstract (ie Numb Nimbus) or otherworldly (CZG07); even the medieval collaborative masterpiece Memento Mori didn't seem like a real place this much. Making your way through the church, you select your skill level and find an underground catacombs/sewer area. This leads to the two maps in the map pack.

Sheer Hellish Miasma is a temple-style map, map up of broken, tilted architecture inside giant caverns. While most of the textures are original Quake ones, there are some good new custom textures that fit in perfectly to add details to the nameless-city style brick theme of the map, such as sewer grates, evidence of slime or ruin on brick surfaces, and the bricks merging with the cavern rock. This map is the better of the two, I think: it creates a sort of 'Mines of Moria' feel (complete with mysterious hanging chains), where it seems like you are exploring only one part of a much bigger area, long since ruined and abandoned. The use of tilted and broken architecture creates a great snese of exploration, and despite the complexity of the map (and the constant fog, which changes colour and density throughout the map), it is always clear where to go next; a particularly cool trick is the use of explosives to advance through the layout. Medieval monsters populate the level, but not too densely, which increases the sense of exploring a huge area and just happening on hostile creatures that happen to be there. Of course, the map is still definitely challenging. While there are some cool evil setpieces like an altar area and another temple area, the theme was perhaps a bit too uniform; but overall this is a hell of a map. At a time when technical design has been pushed very far, this focuses on unique elements and a few ideas which are carried very effectively. Definitely worth replays.

Constant Disrespect is more of a sewer complex, and not on the same scale as the other map. Overall, it is more conventional. The layout, of course, is impressive, with many large chambers, corridors and walkways stacked on top of each other. Again, the route that the player must follow is complex, but it's always clear where to go. The fog and very high ceilings do create the sense of a larger world, but not as much as in the other map. There is some machinery in the map, crates, and so forth, which provides a variation on the Sheer Hellish Miasma's theme; it's also more challenging. Overall, this is definitely a good map, it has many of the strengths of the other map just not as much, so for me it was a bit overshadowed by the "Miasma." After you complete this, you return to the village: it's now night time, and there are nintendo-style ghosts lurking about, who thank you for your efforts but note that ghosts don't really need clean water anyway. The boss monster, apparently, went home, so you don't have to worry about him. This is an amusing ending, given that the end-boss confrontation and cheesy story has been standard all these years. There's some weird credits at the very end following. The release definitely provides an atmospheric quest. One final point of interest, and this is almost certainly a coincidence, is the similarity in style and concept between this release (especially "Disrespect"), and negke's much smaller recent release Bad Dark Cistern, which uses a lot of the same textures and also has an underground plumbing theme. OVerall, great stuff as expected.

Score: 19/20