The Gateway to Hell by JPL

The first thing to be said about this map is that it is badass. JPL's latest is sort of like a combination of two of his previous maps, the Doom3-Hell themed Five Rivers Land and the Daikatana-Medieval themed Castle of the Dark Ages. These two themes work very well together in "The Gateway to Hell" (a hilariously evil title) - there is a lot of medieval architecture (mostly Daikatana textures) interspersed with rocks, a hell skybox and a floating ruins theme all drawn from Doom3. The layout of the map is basically a series of large, asymmetrical ruined setpieces connected by hallways, caves, and bridges.

The lighting is very dark in places, but if your brightness is turned up properly you can find your way around, and there is some nice coloured lighting - used subtly, which is key, but it really adds to the look. Torches in cages cast shadows, and the setpieces are full of details like huge dislodged stone blocks, large fountains of blood, torches lighting up waterfalls of blood in the wall, lots of medieval carvings and gargoyles, very nice arched doors with retracting bars, broken pillars, decayed floors and gaps straight to the void. There are some custom ambient sounds that add to the atmosphere. The overall effect of this map is extremely atmospheric, it is one spooky map, the Quoth enemies fit right in and the sense of brooding malice here works, in classic Quake fashion, very well. Only complaint is the skybox could have converted better.

Gameplay is tough, you need to be careful and enemies will teleport in (though thankfully not annoyingly as in Doom3). The map is fairly unique in giving you the rocket launcher and lots of rockets well before the map ends, but then forcing you to use it with quite a few gaunts and other enemies who can hit you from far away. The ending is a hilarious gib-fest, and the exit portal is suitably demonic. Badass map, and another version of id hell done well.

Score: 18/20