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Monday 25th December 2000:

ADD: "A Desert Dusk"
(Size: 890k. No Alternative downloads.)
Speedrun demo: 0:37

Note: This level requires the Scourge of Armagon mission pack to play.

Mmmm, a fresh new Arabic style, so well themed you can almost feel the millenia of religious hatred and conflict :P.'re more likely to feel Centroid nails spiking your arse to the walls. The map consists of interlinked courtyards and complex outdoor sections, with the main "fortress" of the map set into natural rock. There are a few indoor rooms and connecting tunnels, but mostly it's open to the glowing sky (nice sky but somewhat pink with the Id gamma patch). It's textured in sandy stone and bricks (including a good use of some of Id's crappier textures), with a mixture of luxurious brown/gold trim, and the ubiqituous rivetted metal trim - some of which doesn't look right and could have been used more consistently. Architecture is varied and complex - each area has something fresh to admire - but held together with the strong theme. There's lots of little buttressey bits, angled, looming, rocks, cool curves and arches, with some great cross shapes and window designs, and some wall fittings and light details - lighting is good too. All very stylish, hardly anything to fault except a few areas look a bit haphazard in the way designs are thrown together - the joins between disparate designs could be smoother.

The layout is a good, most areas are visited several times and explored at various levels - nice to be able to access rooftops. There's little exploration, but 3 useful secrets, 2 easy and one tantalisingly visible secret that took me ages to find. The gameplay uses limited monsters: Lots of SOA's Centroids, and flocks of Scrags, with nothing easier than the latter. This "medium" monster choice ensures almost all combats are challenging, but some variation and "cannon fodder" monsters (Zombies being an ideal choice) would be better. Weapons and ammo are in very liberal supply, but health is somewhat sparse. Combats tend to be straightforward, and favour a lot of ducking and shooting, though there are a few tricky surprises and monster traps (sometimes avoidable if you're cunning). The SOA monsters sometimes get stuck on scenery, which makes them easier than they should be. The gameplay is good in general but has the classic flaw of being harder to start (weak weapons, no armour), and easier to finish (all weapons, lots of health and armour). Overall a great map that shows off yet another fresh Quake style very well.

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