RMQ Winter 2011 Demo by RMQ Team

E2M1RQ: Primary Installation

Well this is a crazy map. It is a massive, Quake2-influenced base map, with a ton of atmospheric touches, including dripping water, sparks, a wide variety of crates and equipment including a forklift, lots of pipes, water, and broken panels. It is one of the most convincing base maps in Quake, maintaining a scifi feel and a strong theme coming from very solid coherent choices in texturing and lighting. It appears to be evening when you first get a look outside; the skybox fits with the dusky blue lighting, and the base's yellow and red lights contrast the water and rocky landscape surrounding the base. You begin in an enclosed slipgate chamber, and cutscenes show you surrounding areas, in particular an area containing a large slipgate (this becomes important later). You have to chainsaw through the floor to escape, and you soon find yourself out on a wide walkway around the outside of the base. The architecture is beautiful and up to the highest modern standards of design: the natural rockwork curves around the base designs, which themselves have all kinds of structures meeting each other, creating the impression of being in only part of an environment even larger than the map in fact is.

Your goals throughout the map are clear: cutscenes show you what is where, keys and button-hunts are straightforward, although I did have difficulty finding one underwater button (while wandering around looking I found a few secrets though - another cool thing about this map). Modified tech enemies patrol the base, all of them are stronger than usual, especially enforcers. You need to be careful, but I didn't find the map especially difficult. There is a new effect when you get hit, and it takes some getting used to. I don't think it's bad, but maybe it should be toned down a bit. The weapons are all heavily modified: they are all held slightly sideways instead of straight and have new hi-res models. The shotgun now actually feels more like a shotgun and is actually fun to use, although it sucks even more than it previously did when it comes to sniping enemies far away (though this makes sense). The nailgun is about the same, quite useful. The supernailgun has a spread and is inaccurate except at mid to close range, so it gives the normal nailgun a use (long range attacks) even after you get the SNG. I didn't mind these changes and thought they were all fine. The enemies are harder as well, it's true, but it's not like nehahra where they sidestep your shots, it's more just like what Quake already is (predictable enemies which get harder in larger groups), you just have to get used to them firing more shots, and faster. A few horror-themed enemies mix in with the base enemies, notably Fiends, Vores, and the Vomitus.

For the majority of the map I was thinking, "this is a great base map, lots of cool setpieces and features, immense in scope and vision, good atmosphere and execution - but what does it have to do with e2m1? TT's a base map, and it has some water in it - that's about it!" What is awesome about this map is that only at the end do you really see how e2m1 fits into the picture. Also at the end, it's like the author was showing off the MAD layout, there are several moments near the end where you look back and see an area you visited like 15-20 minutes ago (the map took me 40 minutes), from a totally unexpected angle, and the area is in fact really close by. The exit slipgate is one example of this. Of all the strengths of this map, the layout is probably the MOST impressive. This is the best base map I've played in a long time. It might be best compared to Stark Monstrosity. All I can say is that I'm very impressed by this map, and with the secrets, sense of exploration, and great layout, it's a map deserving of multiple replays. Score: 19/20

E3M1RQ: Termination: Cerebral

This seems like a big improvement over the previous version of this map, included with the last demo. Unlike e2m1rq, this is much more recognizably based on id's original base map. The modification of the style includes the noise of thunder outside, light rain, and giving the base more of a sense of being located in a real place by improving and extending the outdoor areas. For this map you primarily use the chainsaw, shotgun, and blaster - a new weapon, which is kind of like the Quoth plasma gun. It is perhaps too powerful - at least, I found it too easy to kill Shamblers with it, which was a bit anticlimactic given the spectacular new Shambler attack on display here, even moreso given the gruesome and disturbing place where the first shambler in the map appears.

Design-wise, I had a few issues: there is an audio AI with, in time-tested scifi tradition, a woman's calm, creepy voice. I thought this was a good touch, especially when it said "The Goat with a Thousand Young" in the room full of severed heads - what the hell! - but since it seemed to be giving instructions or hints or atmosphere bits, the information seemed important, yet I couldn't always tell what it was saying, due to being in the middle of a fight or whatever. Therefore, if the voice's statements could just be printed in the console or onscreen or both when they're said, I'd find that a lot better.

Enemies, other than the Shamblers, were the base variety. I actually found this map more difficult than e2m1rq: there is less room to hide, and if an enforcer or a rottweiler gets close to you and opens up with its attack, you can easily lose half your health (also there aren't as many health items in this map, so I was usually at or below 100, whereas in e2m1rq I almost always had more than 100). I don't think this was a bad thing, this map in particular was trying to feel threatening, so having less health and armour is natural. When you shut down the core, there is a cool sequence where the main lights go out, and the area you are in is lit only dark red. I'd like to see more of that in this map. The previous version overdid the coloured lighting, I thought, but there is too much straight, bright white lighting in a map that aims at being disturbing. Maybe a storm outside, with lightning flashes from the map's numerous skylights, would add to the atmosphere even more. I'm not complaining, of course, this is a great map: tight architecture and texturing, again a convincing sense of the base having operational machinery (the power core, lava meltdown, AI voice, etc). The platform suspended above slime, one of the setpieces of the original, is restored, or more recognizable. One thing this map made me think is, I hope that RMQ has some kind of a story - it can be vague and skimpy like the original QUake's story, but with all these hints and atmospheric touches, some sort of background concepts or loose plot to explain some of it would be appreciated. So for the second demo version of this map, it's a big improvement over the first: it's clearer where to go, the map runs better, the setpieces are improved, the voice is a good addition, and it IS dark and creepy - just make it, if possible, even darker. Score: 17/20

E3M2RQ: The Legacy of Zin

Here we have a fresh and disturbing take on the Runic/Netherworld theme. The map is open to the sky and the skybox is in space; there is weird music playing, and nasty zombies and weird floating alien things are all over the place. This map really captures the absurdity and evil of Quake's domains. Having other human Quake marines, both living and dead, in several places in the map, really helps to show that what is going on is some kind of overlap between dimensions, rather than just one human alone getting into Quake's world. Zombies are especially well used in this map: they break into the map from underground, or in burrows to the side of the map: this takes the "broken bricks/panels" design aspect of Q1SP maps to a whole new level.

The map as a whole is ominous, but especially ominous is a journey deep underground, down many stairs, to a single room, and then being chased back up by rising lava. However, I thought this room itself was a bit of a let-down: it was brightly lit, and not much really happened there. I was expecting some really, really evil underground altar or something, or at least something as disturbing as the impaled heads. Instead it's just an empty, bright room with lava - it felt like a bit of a placeholder.

This map is a really good example of how to use a soundtrack to enhance a map's atmosphere. The scene with the Vore and the pipe organ was definitely Lovecraftian. I hope each RMQ map has a subtle soundtrack like this, although it doesn't have to be incorporated into the map's design as closely as it is here. I got the impression that the map had lots of secrets, though I didn't find many (other than the classic ones of course). Overall, this is a very atmospheric, creative version of an id map, a very evil place. While the maps in this demo are of course all great, and leaving aside the stunning technical achievement of e2m1rq for a minute, this is probably my favourite map in this demo. It piles on the atmosphere. Score: 18/20

E3M3RQ: The Sepulcher of Sorrows

This is a slimy green take on the metal-and-lava original Tomb of Terror. While the green metal architecture is a good change from all the conventional gray metal (it's basically the whole of e3 in the original Quake, plus e1 maps 6, 7, and 8), I thought that the green lighting, green slime, green textures, and green fog all together was a bit too much. There wasn't much in the way of colour variety. If the liquid was changed to blood, lava, or a different colour of slime, with a corresponding different-coloured glow, that might help break up the monotony some. That said, it's not like the map doesn't look good: there are lots of details such as having the metal scales in the commonly used metal scale textures actually 3d, and of course tons of metal boxes carved with runes and symbols. Add in some crucified zombies and knights (who are now halfway to zombies themselves), and you've got a strong sense of strange atmosphere. There are some puzzle-like elements in the map involving moving crates, an invisible bridge (could this be a nod to THE DEMON KING?) and a section where you as a player get "disoriented" - hint: do NOT use the rocket launcher here! I'm pretty retarded when it comes to puzzles and so forth, but I managed to figure out this stuff without too much trouble, so if I can then most players shouldn't have a problem.

Gameplay consists of battling large amounts of knights, hell knights, zombies, and especially ogres. There are also a few vomitus to make things extra disgusting. Because the map is a bit more cerebral, you may find yourself wandering around some, but due to the fog and sharp corners, as well as statues and resting zombies that come alive, you can be caught by surprise and be killed in this map. It's probably the hardest map in this demo, just make sure you pay attention to what's going on. I didn't find many secrets in this one but I'm sure they're there.

The ending of the map is especially creative, in an already creative demo. It is a giagantic space-ship - not a hitech spaceship but literally a ship, with oars, that sails through space (maybe shamblers would have been better rowers than ogres, those ogres must be pretty strong!). The lighting and texturing at the end wasn't quite up to the quality of the earlier parts of the level, but the concept was great and it made for a spectacular scene - and an appropriate ending to the demo. Few players, even now, will fail to be impressed when they step out of the green corridors and realize they're standing on a dock floating in nothingness, with a huge ship in front of them. I imagine this ship will be what the player arrives on at the start of the next level (presumably a remake of that weird water/floating platforms map, Satan's Dark Delight). Score: 17/20


I have only a few complaints about the gameplay: I ran into some trouble with ladders in the last map, the laser blaster is too powerful (shamblers and even vores shouldn't go down so easily), the sound when you surface from underwater is annoying, and I think that's about it. The autosaving in the maps is fine, and lets the player more immersed in the environment. Not every concept is pulled off perfectly here, but the gameplay is smooth, balanced, fast, and fair. For me, exploring these expanded and re-envisioned Quake environments with updated gameplay is a great reminder of why I love Quake in the first place. What a labour of love this is for everyone involved, and what creativity there is on display here. I hope the guys from id play this when it comes out, and that it gets attention outside the Quake community as well.

Overall Score: 18.5/20