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Thursday 2nd September 1999:

Jjspq1: "Vigil of the Night"
(Size: 480k. Alternative downloads: Jjspq1)

Vigil's first released level, and he's certainly put his experience gained from reviewing Q1 DM levels to good use. The style of this level will be familiar to Q1 DM custom map fans, but is a fresh style in Q1 SP: a mixture of medieval wood, brick and rock textures, with heavy use of metal beams, futuristic lights and grilles to create an interesting industrial/medieval hybrid. There are a couple of other distinctive styles used in this map: the lava details at the start, and the floating platform at the end, both add interest (the latter, possibly inspired by the Damaul, is quite spectacular). However, it would have been better (more coherent) if those two aspects had been used more throughout the map.

Architecture is good the whole way, though some corridors are plain, there are lots of interesting structures and designs with plenty of variety from area to area (though the strong theme keeps it linked together, mostly). Roof designs, metal beam structures and lighting details are most common, and produce an attractive map when combined with good use of angles and textures. The only real flaw is the lighting, for some reason it was curiously flat and slightly bright in many areas - given the amount of spotlights and the night sky, gloomier and more contrasting lighting (used in a few areas) would have been more appropriate. Exploration is limited to a single side area to explore, which is useful to get armour, and sadly there are no secrets. However, the progression is given some interest by a couple of tricks using air vents and "pretend" endings.

The gameplay is good throughout, though the use of both base and medieval monsters detracts from the feel - with the style of the map, either base or medieval monsters could work, but having both Grunts and Knights together just doesn't seem right. But as far as actual combat goes, it's fine - the map starts off slowly, and progresses via a mixture of straight up gameplay with some gang attacks and a few surprises, to an interesting and tricky ending. Monsters are mostly medium or weak monsters, with the "big" guys curiously lacking, but they are often used in sufficient numbers to provide a good challenge. To keep the balance fair, there is plenty of ammo, but less health meaning some care is required. The ending is interesting, but can be easily avoided - there are lots of monsters shooting you when you are on a floating platform, and fighting them is very difficult, but you can just run past them... The main problem with the gameplay is that saving didn't work for me. This might be a problem with my computer or Quake, but it works with other maps and not this one, which gives you no margin for error when playing the map - an annoying bug. Aside from that, a solid map with an interesting style, go get it.

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