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Friday 12th May 2000:

Dazsp1: "Death's Cold Touch"
(Size: 590 k. Alternative downloads: Dazsp1)

A level that sticks very firmly to the metal (Episode 3) theme for texturing and detail: grey stone walls, metal and skulls trim, gargoyle heads, runic details, torches as well as some hi-tech lights. Architecturally, the level varies wildly throughout: *every* single area has a different style of designs, and only the theme holds it together. This is quite a problem with the level, although almost all the design styles are good, it spoils the coherence when there are so many different ones. It would be much better if the level stuck to a just a few of the better design styles, with varying architecture that fitted in with them. Designs include a platform bridge above lava, open, simple courtyards, rooms with angled buttresses up the walls turning into ceiling beams, walls corrugated with lots of small buttresses, imposing crossroads with platforms above, curved corridors, a room filled with octagonal plinths as well as a few simple connecting areas. Most of these look rather good, but some areas needed more details or structures. There's less variation in scale, most areas are comfortably large and open. Lighting and build quality are mostly good, the incoherence is the main flaw.

Like the architecture, gameplay has it's own obvious qualities and defects. Progression through the map is finding keys and pressing buttons as usual, at one point you have a route choice to get keys, one route is better taken first... There are two fairly simple secrets. A room where you have to shoot *lots* of switches is silly, as is spawning on the map some way from the obvious start point. Combat seems quite straightforward at first, fun enough though not especially exciting. Until you run out of ammo that is... Halfway through the map, ammo gets very tight, and unless you get the first secret, you will almost certainly have to run past monsters to collect later ammo. There is *just* sufficient overall, but more would be is equally sparse too, so this map is hard unless you're careful. It's helpful that the open spaces make it easy to dodge, and in many areas you can encourage monster fights. Some monsters are well placed for ambushes, but there are a few obvious niches for monsters that weren't used. The ending is a fun, potentially tricky finish in an good setting, and there is a very amusing moment (again, tricky) going up a lift - you'll see =).

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