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Wednesday 5th July 2000:

Dazsp2: "Arabian Nights"
(Size: 1.1 meg. Alternative downloads: Dazsp2)

Another temple style level, another very distinct execution of this theme. The main architecture is dark, atmospheric, deserted "city" courtyards, with tall, squarish (though slightly rounded off) "buildings", walkways, passages and arched windows. This is textured in clean sandstone with wooden banding, giving a strong style which shows how good simple but dramatic designs can look. Since it's a Daz map, naturally there are some diverse design styles mixed in: a sort of temple bunker style, angled corridors, rock sections, and various other designs in the temple style but quite different to the rest of the map. Textures mostly work well, with nice details, but sometimes are too plain (though this is fine on the buildings), sometimes the combinations are a bit too busy. With the gloomy night-time setting contrasting with strong torchlights, and little touches like piles of windswept sand and broken tiles, this map has a great, eerie atmosphere. It would have been better sticking to fewer styles and exploiting them more - especially the main, original city style, and enhancing the atmosphere with more broken sections and ambient sounds too. Still a cool map though.

The lack of exploration - and any secrets - is disappointing given the map's design. The map feels like it should have more obscure places tucked away to discover. Gameplay feels exploratory though, not through route choices, but through the style of the map and the initially sparse combat. Very few monsters at first and it seems too easy, but definitely gets trickier later on, with some surprises. Monsters are a bit sparse but the challenge comes from the way they are used and having to take care with health and ammo. Monsters tend to lie in wait, and when they *lurk* in shadows it's a great touch. Ammo is rather tight, doesn't seem so at first but the later on it might - first time I played, I had to run past the final monster as I'd missed some supplies earlier on, doh. So it's best to be careful. The combat fits the desolate feel, it could have been enhanced with more monsters lurking in obscure places and a bit more ammo to compensate. The strong feel of the map stands out more than the gameplay, definitely worth getting for that.

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