Midnight Stalker by Sock

Sock's Midnight Stalker is an all-new map inspired by the architecture of e3m6: Chambers of Torment. One of the things Sock is showing with his forays into Q1SP is just how much potential the relatively simple designs and motifs of Quake's original levels, textures and styles actually have. The only major innovation here over anything id did is the use of broken architecture; other than that, everything else is basically just a logical extension of what can already be found in e3m6 - perhaps most interestingly, the 0- and 45 degree angle metal bars, which appear in slightly more complex configurations and also function as doors here. The broken section is undeniably the map's design highlight, but its uniqueness and visual interest relies at least in part on seeing a style presented so solidly before it gets melted and warped. The two-level indoor and interlinking atriums are very reminiscent of original Quake design as well, although e3m6 did end with one of the only (perhaps the only) outdoor setpieces in Episode 3 comparable to those found in Episodes 1 and 2. Still, the perpetually-indoor setting sticks very closely to other Netherworld maps and is, of course, very well executed in texturing, lighting, and design.

The gameplay is quite tough - you will need to conserve ammo and be patient in fights. In many cases, running ahead into the next room can get you killed (ogres, vores and hell knights are fairly dangerous in the map's relatively close quarters). There is one point in particular - three shamblers at the bottom of the elevator past the gold key (at least this is how it is on hard) that I found basically impossible to survive. Secret-hunting can be helpful to try to deal with the difficulty, and there are also some useful shortcuts that open up as you progress and/or find secrets (although I still got lost, which surprised me given the shortcuts - perhaps it was just that some of the areas looked the same). Anyway, you will need to be patient in this map, but it's obviously worth it, given the quality of design and the very satisfying resemblance to the original netherworld maps. At this point, when increased complexity (in scale, in scripting, etc) has become the norm, it's actually totally fresh to see something so oldschool and committed to consistency. Sock's maps represent some of the most interesting stuff of these latter days of Quake.

Score: 18/20