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Classic Map Review: 18th December 2002

Game - QUAKE
Map - neh3m2: Soulstice
by - Tim Elek
original release date - February 2001
Download - (the Tides of War)
Overall Verdict - An incredibly imaginative and stylish milestone in Quake 1 mapping.

Note: This map is part of the 4 map pack "The Tides of War". There are 3 other maps in this pack, but they are not covered in this review.

Map 2 of this 4 map pack then, the only "official" Nehahra expansion pack; "Soulstice" is a stunning achievement in terms of showing what can be done with the Quake 1 engine, albeit in it's heavily modified Nehahra form. The player progresses over a series of rocky outcrops, which loom above the ever-present and all-encompassing empty void beneath, the fear and threat of an instant plummet to death is never more than a few mis-placed steps away. Linking these treacherous outcrops are a deliberately archaic series of rickety, metallic and wood lifts, bridges and moving platforms. This map drips atmosphere and instills panic into the inexperienced player. Crumbling wooden bridges mean the player can never relax. Sometimes a fall brings the player down to another sub-level, where a group of monsters is simply lurking, in ambush, ready to rip him apart.

Using the maps virtually unique setting and architecture to its fullest, Tim Elek has packed 9 treacherous, hard to reach, but very useful secrets into this levels nooks and crannies; look under bridges and around corners for many of them, the armor you may find in some of these secrets is particularly useful for survival and completion of this map on hard/nightmare skill (the best way to play Quake 1).

Nehahra enhanced AI enemies lurk to pick off the weak player. Scrags wait, out of reach of the player, and niggle at him from afar. Ogres and Death Knights are encountered on small platforms where it is difficult to avoid them. Shamblers surprise you with an early appearance in the map, which can be very nasty if you are not prepared for them. And everywhere there are the nightmarish Nehahra enhanced Vores, capable of jumping vertically out of reach and surprising you with aerial attacks whilst hanging, hidden, from dark ceilings.

Progression continues, through a number of tough mini-battles on isolated platforms and areas to the final arena, where an abundance of ammo is matched by an equal abundance of enemies in what is best described and played as a true quake 1 slaughterfest. Its hard to find much to criticize in this map. If you dislike the Nehahra AI you may find this map too tricky - but even that is not a fault of this map as such. Personally i think the Nehahra AI and other improvements are superb, and they achieve the hugely difficult task of improving, refining and increasing the challenge of the original Quake 1 gameplay without losing its essence.

The level is slightly short, perhaps, but only in the sense that the intense gameplay makes you want it too last for much longer, overall this is a simply superb map. It is a great testament to the imagination, artistry and mapping skills of its author, and an example of Quake 1 Single player gameplay near its very best.

Overall Score: 20/20