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Reviews: 5th March 2006, review 1

Game - QUAKE
Map - mael: A descent into the Maelstrom
by - Louis Manning
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Overall Verdict:A fine first map but has some gameplay flaws.

Notes: to run this map you must use Aguire's custom nehahra engine.

This is a decent 3-part map (a main level bookended by a start map and a boss map) and for a first ever released level, its a good map. It uses the custom Nehahra engine and its features such as custom monsters like the gaunt etc, and different monster AI, animation and graphical effects. The theme is consistent if slightly generic throughout: green stone walls, green and blue checkerboard floors and greenish ceilings, set off with light blue trim around doorways, arches and other various structures.

After a neat start map the main level, "agony Nexus" is presented. The layout is a series of smallish corridors and rooms, but there is good variety in the larger rooms which open out into bigger more interesting areas such as graveyards and watery caves. Overall architecture is well built for a first map, with some variety and imagination such at the tree roots cave. Lighting is a bit bland and flat and could be improved with more shadows and spotlighting.

The difficulty level improves reasonably well throughout the map. Its quite easy at the start, with the rocket launcher and nailgun being picked up relatively early in the map progression. Theres a decent mix of monsters used mainly medieval and the gaunt, bishop Nehahra custom monsters. However i felt there was a slight over-reliance on knights and Hellknights, where more challenging fiends and vores could have been placed. The somewhat easy-ish progression (even on hard skill) is also due to too much health and armor being made available.
Unfortunately this flaw continues right to the end of the map, at the gold key area, its possible to grab the key and avoid fighting the large horde of monsters completely; the key should only be available after all the monsters have been destroyed. A similar flaw afflicts the ending Shambler showdown, with escape possible with no kills.

After this the player progresses to the final boss map which is named "oval sun", and which has a final boss encounter and a few mini battles (3), although these also allow the player to "cheat" the monsters (using secrets etc) if they so choose. However, I personally don't think this "cheating" method is good quake 1 map design and i don't recommend it as a design principle in other maps.

In Summary this is a good first effort, the best points being some imaginative, varied and well built architecture. However its unfortunate that the gameplay is not quite challenging enough and the Nehahra monsters and challenge is underused and diluted as a result.

Overall Score: 14/20