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Reviews: 20th April 2007 review 1 [Reviewed by Tronyn]

Game - QUAKE
Map - phantom: Phantom Polly
by - Madfox
Download -
Overall Verdict - A large, interesting map with custom features.

Madfox's latest level takes place in a large, varied series of caverns, canyons and bases. You progress through several base rooms and hallways before entering into the mines sections, fairly reminiscent of Hipnotic's The Lost Mines. However unlike that map, you don't simply go deeper underground and then return to the surface, but rather in this map many disparate areas await you: sewers, machine rooms, and most notably a massive outdoor canyon with a cable-cart running through it, easily the design highlight of the map.

Architecture as a whole is fairly simple, that is to say the detail level is on average fairly low. However from place to place there are some nice touches, such as small white lanterns that cast cool shadows. Also, effort has been made to individualize sections, with things like broken doors. Despite this, there are still many areas that blend together, particularly the mine tunnels, where there just isn't enough to navigate easily, differentiate one sloping tunnel from the next, or maintain visual interest. These areas certainly serve the large, sprawling layout, which Madfox must be given credit for, but more work on each section in terms of differentiation and details would definitely have improved the map.

The map has some new features, which are well-implemented: rotating gears, earthquakes, and so forth. It also makes really good use of one of Quake's original entities, the train, in the aforementioned canyon section. There are some animated textures also that I believe are new. These are all good additions to the map, suitable, and it is cool to see authors put in the effort to include them. You must also be wary of lava pits on multiple occasions but I won't expand on that.

There are 3 secrets and about 150 monsters, meaning that the map is long and at times tough (I finished it in 35 minutes, missing one secret and one monster). Exploration for secrets can be rewarding but that isn't always the case. Also, given the map's vertical element and backtracking, perhaps portals could have opened up to link navigation up better. That's not usually required but in a map this size it would have been nice. You fight all kinds of Quake monsters, which are used in fairly normal ways, exceptions being a higher-than-normal percentage of vores, which opens up the infighting option, and the cable-cart section where you must stave off enforcers and shamblers from a the moving cart, while more of them move towards you. That was definitely a cool section, challenging but not too hard. There's even a fiend that tries to leap into the cart with you - I met him later in the bottom water pit after I'd fallen off, and was almost eviscerated. You get decent opportunity to use the Lightning Gun in this map, not often used, due to the amount of enforcers dropping cells. This counterbalances the relative lack of rockets.

Overall, the map is quite good if often inconsistent. It showcases the ability to envision a large and ambitious layout with separate sections and different gameplay setpieces, which is really good. However, the map isn't actually as "large" as it seems due to a certain percentage of copied sections, and the layout, despite its complexity, often reduces to a series of sloping hallways and sewers that connect to each other in different places. Also, detail is often lacking - nothing spectacular can be expected from a map this size that mortals want to compile, but more beams and structures (with lights) and less blockiness would have helped the map a lot. The lighting could also have been improved, in some places it looks good but overall it seems too unsourced and bland. However, all of these comments need not give the impression that the map is not worthwhile, because it certainly is. With many enemies, cool new stuff, and the best train ride in recent memory, it would be hard to go wrong with Phantom Polly.

Overall Score: 16/20