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Reviews: 14th January 2005 [Reviewed by Tronyn]

Game - QUAKE
Map - kinn_marcher: "The Marcher Fortress"
by - Kinn
Download -
Overall Verdict - excellent level design and intense gameplay make for a very good map.

Creating a map of this scale is a difficult enterprise to say the least. Yet the architecture in this map is better than technically perfect: it is sufficiently detailed throughout, which for a map of this size is an astounding feat. Not only that, but furthermore many of the individual rooms have highly individualized details, such as furniture or map objects, so it actually feels like a functional place (or much more so than the average Quake map anyhow!). Even more impressive, is the work with rock faces, cliffs and caverns, which is easily the best I've seen in Quake to date. I didn't even know this kind of thing was actually even possible in Quake, regardless of how new the engine is.And perhaps more impressive than that, is the fact that the layout is not meandering it all: it seems tightly planned, towers and rooms interlock logically, the layout is both highly interconnective and well used for the gameplay/play route.

I haven't even started on the looks. Using an arcane and fitting mixture of Quake, Quake3, Contract Revoked and Insomnia textures, as well as a great skybox, this map creates a theme that is coherent throughout, and is remnant of the best of the classic id Software SP idea (whether it be Doom (CLASSIC Doom, goddammit), or Quake) - blasting through an army of supernatural beings with an arsenal of modern weapons in a strange and evil environment. Though the theme, as well as the map in general, owes heavily to Insomnia's third map, CZG07c, I'd go so far as to say that in several ways - namely that it adds creates a coherent indoor/outdoor split between fortress and surrounding area, that it is heavier on detail, and that the terrain is better - Marcher Fortress actually improves on CZG's evil masterpiece, something which I don't think has been done since that benchmark was released in 2001.

Gameplay is similarly dead on. All of the map's additions FIT the map, something the king of Quake reviewers, Mr Shambler, would have put heavy emphasis on. All of the new sounds, new models, and most importantly, new monsters, fit the map's theme and Quake in general, perfectly. There's a weird new enemy, remniscent of Doom3's trites (I hated them in that game), but they're kind of cool in here, as if to say "ha ha, we can have that too." I also noted that many of the spiral staircases also had the stairs tilted (you'll have to see this), which is weird and probably harder to do than flat stairs. I was wondering why that was done, and I decided Kinn was probably thinking, "Because I can." And hey, that's as good a reason as any.

You'll be blasting your way through a variety of combat situations: from cramped, indoor combat all the way to intense outdoor battles on top of battlements and otherwise, that make full use of the level's outdoor potential. I admit that I did get lost after I obtained the silver key. The place I was supposed to use it was marked, but I failed to find it for quite some time. My fault more than the map's anyway. I died a few times, and in a climatic fight I came down to 21 health, no armour, and nothing but explosives and a few shells. I got half the 4 secrets, and caught sight of the two I didn't get, so the map should be satisfying for people who like to explore and find secrets as well. Basically, the map was a great challenge, the gameplay I would say was as perfectly calculated and executed as the architecture.

All in all, this is the most impressive Quake map I've played until this point. As CZG07 was a benchmark that has been imitated, come close to, but not equalled since its release, I'd almost predict a couple more years before (or even if at all) someone tops this. This design puts the design of many new games to shame, and reveals to many of us precisely why we're sticking around with Quake 1 after all this time.

Underworldfan's notes: I agree with Tronyn about the map architecture and layout/design being excellent, but in my opinion the gameplay is slightly repetitive and unimaginative in places, my score is 18/20.

Overall Score: 19/20