Lower Forecourt by negke

Negke continues his tradition of a detailed, abstract architectural style coupled with innovative gameplay ideas. The reslt of this combination is a very cerebral, unique style of map. "Lower Forecourt" contains two gameplay modes: a more conventional single-player gameplay, and a DMSP-style gameplay. I chose the former, as I thought I would already be in for a challenge without worrying about respawning monsters. As it turns out, I was right - though the monsters are not really excessive (even the end only involves a few though it is certainly very challenging), but their attacks cause more problems than that number of monsters normally would, because of the tight spaces, intricately wound stairs and platforms (ie, they could come from a number of different directions and surprise you), and the fact that you're often not sure exactly where to go. This is a unique style of gameplay; navigation could be easier, but the close-quarters fights against knights and ogres, going up and down staircases, was interesting - especially never knowing who would be ambushing who. Scrags and vores were also well used.

The architecture is great - another great and unique use of id1 textures - no gargoyles, windows or normal decorations, but instead a wide variety of different brick and metal structures, many fragmented and broken. The lighting generally comes from glass lights, including some cool floating lamp posts. The part where this map strikes absolute genius is its incorporation of monsters into its architecture. This is, as a major map feature, unprecedented, and it's freaking great. Spoiler warning, but I'm sure that just about everyone has played this map by now. On with the review: You teleport into the map with nothing but your starting supplies (ie, shotgun and 25 shells) and immediately see two giant shamblers with their arms upraised to crush you, and nowhere to retreat to but a deadly black void. I thought I was dead, but the Shamblers didn't move - they were, Atlas-like, holding a giant building (if not the whole world) on their shoulders, and couldn't move! This looked cool and gave a really weird sense of atmosphere. Each of the map's towers has a wiggling Shub-Niggurath on the bottom of it, and there are spike-balls (as in end.bsp) which glow and move around whenever you "activate" a tower (generally by dueling with monsters inside that tower using traps; this is a great idea but two of the three were frustrating, especially the tarbaby fight). There are zombies staked to the walls in places, and faces tacked to the walls (a custom texture based on an id original), a detail that has never seemed more appropriate than in this map. Overall this is a creepy, beautiful, weird map. The tight architecture and vast void creates a sense of agrophobia and claustrophobia simultaneously. Never, I think, has a Quake map succeeded in creating a sense of "who the hell built this place, and why" better than this map.

The gameplay is also good; I just wish the signposting was a little clearer, and the traps you must use to kill monsters a little less difficult. Perhaps having a different monster other than a Shambler hold up the second tower would make it easier to tell the areas apart, as some areas appear quite similar (the shambler design appears twice and can be confusing). Arrows or even slightly different colour schemes for each area would probably help this quite a bit. Anyway, the gameplay requires a bit more patience and thinking than the average map, but this is a great map - unique in many ways, and brilliantly executed.

Score: 18/20