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Monday 4th September 2000:

Badpak: "Bad Pak"
(Size: 3.55 meg. No Alternative downloads.)
Speedrun demo: All demos in one zip

Note: Ih1m2 and Ih1m4 were previously released and reviewed seperately. The reviews have been edited to take into account their position within the pack.

Overall review:
Bad Pak is a series of 4 linked levels, there's no story behind the pack, but the levels go well together and share similar characterisitics: Each map sticks to it's chosen theme very well - sometimes too well as the texturing can be a bit repetitive, especially the trim. Architecture is solid, heavy looking, and always well made - lots of angles are used to give the maps plenty of style, and good details are common. However, there is rarely any spectacular architecture - all areas are decent in each map, but only a few scenes stand out as impressive. Some layouts are interesting, with well connected designs, similar to deathmatch complexity.

Most maps don't have much exploration, however they all have useful secrets that are well worth finding. Gameplay is challenging all the way, each map is swarming with monsters, and some situations can be very hard to survive first go. Though health is fairly sparse, ammo and weapons are in reasonable supply, and as the maps progress they get more fun. There's some exciting ambushes and monsters lurking in tricky places, and a cautious approach is best. Skill settings are in effect in case it proves too tough.

Ih1m1: "Technologic center"
Speedrun demo: 0:14

In the grand Id tradition, a base map to start, and indeed it's a traditional base map, with brown and white textures held in place by lots of rivetted beige trim. The map looks good in this style, with plenty of angles and details in all areas - however the map is really a series of rooms and there aren't any spectacular architecture set-pieces to catch the eye. Also, the Id base textures can seem ugly in comparison to some more recent textures. It's pretty linear but enforcements are well used when backtracking - all areas have plenty of monsters. There's also a good 5 secrets, well worth finding since combat provides a serious challenge for a base map, due to modified enemy: Grunts with grenades, and Enforcers with rockets, nails, or lightning. These enemy have recoloured Id skins - slimy green for grenadiers, dark chestnut for rockeeters, and subtle grey for nail / lightning p1mps. This fits in well with the standard enemy, and is much better than a lame and illfitting attempt at custom skinning. They dish out a fair amount of damage - especially the lethal rockets - forcing the player to take more caution than is normal in a base map. There's a couple of nasty situations with these harder enemy, including an arduous start, but overall, with the supplies given, the map is fairly well balanced.

Ih1m2: "The NecroHell"
Speedrun demo: 0:39

The second map is a well detailed, smallish, metal level, with the usual theme of grey stone textures, metal trim, runic details, gargoyle heads and lava. Angles are well used throughout and the runic sections have nice details, especially rows of cross lights set into grooves in the walls, and cool teleporters. Some more "industrial" areas are plainer, and the lighting can be a bit too bland or bright in places, but it's mostly okay. The scale is smaller than normal, not cramped but quite tight, with little exploration, but one of the secrets is in a nice place. Gameplay is quite good, but definitely challenging, though supplies from the previous map make it more reasonable. The map is stacked with medieval monsters and in the first half of the map the small size can work against the player, giving him little room to move when facing some tricky ambushes. The amount of enemy certainly makes good use of all the map. Later on it gets more enjoyable as you get better weapons, leading to a good, solid ending, with lots of monsters.

Ih1m3: "The Dreadcastle"
Speedrun demo: 0:19

The third map is a larger medieval map with nice sandstone wall textures, wooden ceilings, and lots of metal trim . This is a strong theme - the sandstone making it quite unusual - but the limited textures get a bit repetitive. Architecture is varied, but all very solid and angles are very well used to enhance the walls, ceilings, and buttresses - the cool looking central hub being a good example. The design is fairly complex, being centred around a hub with various offshoot areas, which leads to a pleasingly non-linear progression: You need two keys to exit, each one is found in a seperate offshoot area, and you can choose either route and/or backtrack to the hub at your leisure, and there are some useful secrets too. Gameplay is tough but fun if you play cautiously, with plenty of medieval monsters, often lurking in wait or attacking from all angles, and a few traps to deal with. There's also an *unfinished* custom monster, a hulking creature with a nail gun, good to fight and well used in the map, but it has movement problems and only a basic skin [Side note: the proportions of this monster look as it it would fit really well into Quake with the right skin - any takers to finish it??]. The gameplay is balanced for health and ammo.

Ih1m4: "The Hidden Palace"
Speedrun demo: 0:35

The final map is a spacious, medieval map with an interconnected layout reminiscent of deathmatch map design. The theme is dirty cream block textures and a dark brown tiled floor, with occasional wood ceilings, all held in place by lots of heavy metal trim. More variety would be better as the limited textures and continuous trim can get a bit repetitive. Architecture is pretty good, a fresh use of angles, like the undulations on the wall, giving a vague castle-like feel. The starting area is excellent, with complex girders stretching over large angled hallways, and the more complex rooms elsewhere are good, but some areas are a bit dull. Lighting is good and quite atmospheric. There's only a bit of exploration, the well connected areas are shut off for mostly linear gameplay. Gameplay has been beefed up from it's individual release, and is very good overall but too hard to start - monsters have been added in some tricky ambushes, and it's still an uncomfortable distance to the first health. After that the interesting layout makes for good combats and a continual but fair challenge. The open size makes it easy to dodge monster attacks. There's Ogre barrages, monsters lurking in darkness, and some cool surprises. Ammo and health are in fair supply too, and though the ending isn't a big climax, the map is good finish to the unit.

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