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Tuesday 25th May 1999:

FMB5: "For my Babies 5"
(Size: 1.10 meg. No Alternative downloads.)

This level is billed as a "Sort of a medieval themed map with a little "alien" touch to it." Which is about right, as the map has the usual medieval styles, but adds it's own attractive details to spice up this style: specifically, the combination of brown and white textures with rusty metal beams, the common angling off of details, and the prominent shield-like torch fittings. These aren't really "alien", but they are quite individual and improve the look of the level. The level sticks to this medieval theme well, and where those distinct elements are the strongest, the level is at it's best, both for theme and architecture. In some areas the level reverts to the normal medieval style, which is okay but less distinctive. There is also a cave area (dark, nice earthy feeling, good bit of variety), and a kinda blue final arena (doesn't work so well with the rest of the map, it's okay but should be more impressive).

The room design is worth highlighting in this map - in some ways it feels like a Doom map, only one room has more than one storey, and in general the room layouts are very simple and 2D. This is a bit disappointing as it means the areas can feel fairly similar - enter one large simple room, exit it into another large simple room. However, despite this general simplicity, there are some nice designs in many rooms, both large scale and small scale details (ceiling details, buttresses, torches etc) - as mentioned before these are distinctive and compensate well for the simple layouts. There are some areas where more of these details and styles would have been good, as they are rather cool and the plainer rooms would have benefitted from more large scale details. As you might guess, there isn't much exploration, though there are some pretty cool secrets that I enjoyed finding (I really liked the message in one =)). There is some backtracking, and good use of reinforcements to keep you occupied.

The gameplay is pretty much like the map itself, large, simple, and to the point. No fancy stuff, just a lot of mostly medium class monsters in large gangs, and a lot of ammo to kill them with. With the simple open rooms, this is both a good and bad point: good because you can have plenty of fun circling and dancing around the monsters, getting them confused and fighting each other, bad because it's rather basic and doesn't often make use of Quake's potential for exciting fighting. There are some areas where with a little more thought, the fighting could have been made more tense and exciting. However, there are a few good set-ups: a lava platform presents a combat challenge, and scrags in the cave area are quite cool when they appear. To deal with all these monsters, you get plenty of ammo and health, not much armour though - this makes the arena finish more exciting, as you're likely to get there with only your 100 health. There is a very neat weapons trick/trap though, you'll know when you see it, it's a cool idea and a thoughtful choice (I chose the correct one,BTW =)). The ending is an arena style, not too hard because you can take cover, but not too easy as there's not much margin for error - a good finish, though a plain setting. Worth getting for the fun gameplay and the nice details.

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