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Reviews: 17th July 2004

Game - QUAKE
Map - fc1: Ontranto [5 map Episode]
by - Fat Controller
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Overall Verdict - Varied, interesting and fun medieval 5 map episode.

This is a five map episode in a medieval/town style, featuring custom monsters [including archers, swordsman, electric eels and overlords [flying attacks with homing fireballs]. Gameplay often consists of challenging combat combined with a sense of exploration.

After the start map, the first level proper is fc1m1: "The Swamp of Ontranto". This map is a dark, dank, swamp leading the player through a claustrophobic and very atmospheric twisting pathway to a medium-sized set of houses. Much of this map's charm like in its atmosphere and exploration with good use of lighting, texturing and ambient sound. After the Silver Key is found, which is probably the most tricky part of the level gameplay-wise, the main set of houses can be entered. Enemies in the first map include the custom electric eels in the water and the custom archers with their bows and arrows on land. Gameplay consisits of nothing too challenging, but this is still a good atmosphere builder and scene-setter as first maps in episodes should be.

The second map fc1m2: "The Tongs and the Bones"takes the player underground, firstly through a series of flooded caves which are relatively well built and again atmospherically lit. Like the first map the player must explore this network of locations to find the silver key which will gain access to the distinct second part of the map which here is larger, underground tomb/crypt. Nice architecture here with the towering columns and high arching roofs, checkerboard floors and the well textured walls featuring paintings and so forth.

Gameplay also increases significantly in challenge due to the sudden appearance of 3 nasty overlords [with thier excellent models and skins], who provide a real and prolonged battle due to their quick and flexible flying/respawning abilities and nasty homing fireball attacks.

Once you escape the crypt, you find a boat which makes up the third map fc1m3: "Queen of Ontranto" and ride up a river on the Boat whilst exploring it and finding silver/gold keys, battling through waves of mostly archers, with Ogres and Hellknights added at various points. Overall the boat is nicely built and well proportioned, although the rooms are rather basic and boxy. The Gameplay is not too difficult and experienced players should soon progress to the end of the boat ride which leads to arriving and docking in map 4 fc1m4: "Ontranto Towne". This is large medieval town in the style of Fat Controllers previous classic Q1SP map "Towne"[2001].

Architecture is nicely built and FC shows his experience in building this kind of medieval town map, lots of good houses, stone stairways and alleyways, with the whole town rising on a hill up to the Castle at the top which is the final Boss's home.

There is a lot of exploration to be done by entering the various houses and buildings that make up the towne, often leading the player across connecting wooden walkways, down into dark cellars or up into loft & attics, where armor, ammo and health are often found. Again progression is dependent on finding [at least?] 2 silver keys and 2 gold keys, these keys are hard to find and this will probably frustrate some players. Gameplay itself is solid enough, with some tricky fiend, ogre or Hellknights ambushes at key points and an especially hard ending, making this overall probably the hardest map in the episode.

Gaining entrance to the castle at the top of the Town, leads into the castle and the fifth and final map fc1m5: "Audience", This is essentially the 1 Custom Boss you must Kill, named the Duke of Ontranto, and 32 other Ogres, Vores, Hellknights and so forth, who also occupy the castle. The castle itself is basically one huge room, built decently if not exceptionally, although there are some nice touches like the plush dark red carpet and throne, and the tall stone columns. The custom Boss is not especially hard to defeat if you remember a certain key tactic in quake 1 SP fighting, but overall its a satisfying conclusion to the episode.

Summarizing, this is a good, varied episode from an experienced Quake 1 mapper. On the plus side, architecture is neat and solid looking, and lighting and texturing are both well done in general. Gameplay is quite exciting overall with a good mix of regular and custom enemies. On the down side, none of the architecture is truly spectacular, FC himself has made better maps than these for example. Overall the impression is of a good episode, but one which never really hits the heights of the very best Quake 1 experiences, indeed it does not represent Fat Controllers best work, that title still belongs to his truly exceptional and superb previous Quake 1 episode, oum: Operation Urth Majik.

Overall Scores:

fc1m1: The Swamp of Ontranto 16/20
fc1m2: The Tongs and the Bones 14/20
fc1m3: Queen of Ontranto 15/20
fc1m4: Ontranto Towne 17/20
fc1m6: Audience [final boss] 14/20

Overall Ontranto: 15/20