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Sunday 10th January 1999:

Real: "Far Beyond Reality"
(Size: 650k. Alternative downloads: Real / Real)
Speedrun demo: 1:16

It's yet another map from the veritable map machine that is J.F. Gustafsson (expect to see a few more in coming weeks), and although many of his later maps are comparable in quality, this is my favourite, for it's style and sheer class. It's a medieval, well, a medieval something....a medieval *place*, that uses some of J.F.s typical styles, combined with some new semi-gothic touches to give a unique and capitivating flavour. In quite a small map, there are many different elements competing: dank caverns, serene pools....of blood, proud medieval hallways, decaying arcania. All of these are individually excellent touches, and mostly they blend seamlessly and work very well together, though in a couple of places better textural matches would have been better - such as the first large cavern would have looked better in the grim grey rock found elsewhere, and a couple of ceilings seemed to clash slightly. Overall these are minor details, and the general style of the map is delightful. The architecture is superb - while containing no major set pieces, it is full of interesting, well designed, and attractive areas, in which even the smallest section has something to offer, often enhanced with fine details such as flags and arches.

Progression through the map gives you occasional decisions with some minor exploration, and you end up fulfilling various tasks and trekking back and forth through the map - with monster "reinforcements" making good use of the space. Monsters consist of medieval monsters (guess what they are!) backed up with a satsifying amount of "real" monsters - of which some are used very well - particularly the Vore infestation (they can be awkward buggers) and the Fiend hole (which is a sweet piece of work). Elsewhere the gameplay is fine throughout, though sometimes it can be strangely less brutal than you would expect - more in-yer-face fighting would have provided more excitement (within reason, of course). This is not to say the gameplay is poor - it's very good, but in places doesn't capture the true violence of Quake. The gameplay progresses smoothly to the end, with some minor climaxes, variety and fun. The end game is really well designed, a unique style and fine finale - but I found the message somewhat spoiled it - ignore what it says and you will find a vicious and worthy climax! Ummm....or maybe a painful death =). A very stylish level that is highly recommended. (Did an Easy speedrun in 1:16, also on the Demos page.)

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