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Sunday 10th October 1999:

Mospq1: "The Castle of Morpheus"
(Size: 1.50 meg. No Alternative downloads.)

A good first level from this author and hopefully there will be more to come. A decent, spacious overall design, and some thoroughly fun gameplay make up for a lack of details and impressive structures. In this way, it's reminiscent of early Mexx levels, with it's large scale and good action. It's set in a medieval castle, and although it's all medieval styled, it incoporates varying themes: To start, a rich sandstone texture is prominent - this looks like a modified Rogue texture, and turns out very well, adding some nice colour. I'd have liked to see more or all of the level done in this theme as it is original - though the other themes used don't clash with it. As you progress further, there is the common brown+white medieval style, which is quite nice, with some good, curved, ribbing. Then in the bowels of the map, a rougher, grimier style, similar to DM1 but darker and less detailed. Throughout, wooden walkways, ceilings and beams are used, giving it a consistent feel despite the different styles.

Architecture is fairly plain: despite their size, rooms are often fairly square and don't have many angles nor major structures except simple ledges, arches and a few pillars. In a few places, like the tunnel above, some good designs are added, and really the map needed more of this. There are also few details, some windows, torches and bookcases, again more would have improved the look. Lighting is pretty good though, with some reasonably sourced lighting and plenty of atmospheric dark areas. There's nothing that really looks bad, and some areas are fairly attractive, it just needed more designs and details. The map design makes good use of the rooms, often visiting rooms at different levels to complete various tasks, but there isn't much exploration involved - just occasional dips into watery areas and a few secrets - these are easy, but nicely placed without resorting to hidden doors.

Gameplay is the best aspect of the map, and here the open design allows some fun, dynamic combats. There's plenty of medieval monsters, mostly both sorts of Knights, Ogres and Scrags, with a few tougher enemy, and there's plenty of ammo to deal with them. In fact, I found there was a bit too much ammo overall, as once you got some good weapons, it made it easy to use your best one and not worry about running out. However, given the lack of skill settings, this may be beneficial for some players as it gives them more leeway. For experienced players, much fun can be had by charging groups of monsters and using the floor space to dance merrily around them =). There are a few surprises and ambushes, but simple gang combats are most common, and are pretty enjoyable. The combats progress nicely to the end, which is a foreboding arena, where some custom monsters add much interest - in particular the last monster requires some thought to take down, and provides a good, unusual climax. Worth playing for the action, and bodes well for future maps.

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