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Reviews: 23rd October 2007 [Reviewed by Tronyn]

Map - warpspasm: W A R P S P A S M
by: ijed
Download: warpspasm.7z
Overall Verdict: An Epic 6 map pack with huge maps and insanely high monster counts!

Pack intro
There is a cool start map which gives you the sense both of the pack in general (flesh, evil, traps) and the first map (ikbase). Good skill selection. Quoth extras are all over the place throughout the pack, and improve the gameplay everywhere they are found. Make sure to follow the instructions in the readme, or else you won't be able to load the pack properly. There is an elaborate, cool, and evil story detailed in the accompanying documents, which are well designed and helpful, so be sure to check them out. Each map has its own skybox, and its own subtle background music, which adds to the mood. Gameplay standard is quite challenging so buckle in. note: it is recommended you play this pack on skill 0 or skill 1.

Harsh Angled Edge
You begin your nightmare journey in a small holding cell inside an IKBase compound. You must eliminate a bunch of humans with nothing but your sword, which gives a suitable feel of primal, evil violence to start this mission pack off. Soon you found yourself outside, but it's not the usual IKBase green-grass blue-sky of earth, but rather a foreboding military fortress set on a cliffside in the middle of winter. There are several other buildings you must enter and fight your way through, connected to each other by snowy canyons. The outdoor brushwork is great, with piles of snow atop crates and sloping, uneven terrain and rock walls. Plenty of surprises in terms of monster ambushes, and continuous explosions give the real impression that the place is going to hell. Monsters are well used, particularly Shamblers, while Quoth defenders are nicely placed bombarding you with rockets while you're outside. The map gives a good sense of a place under siege, by, well, you. It is fairly large, but compared to other maps in this pack it's like a nice little intro. [16/20]

Bile Plant
The first huge environment, this map is a huge old industrial complex, with textures from various sources (Rubicon as well as Q2 Oblivion). The look isn't completely original, but it is a nice twist, and for the most part well-executed. There is a definite lack of brushwork detail throughout the map, which is understandable given its impressively gargantuan size, but never the less there are quite a few areas that leave much to be desired visually. That said, this limitation is overcome in some places by simple yet elegant asymmetric architecture, which reduces the feel of repetitive square rooms. A variety of tanks and pipes, as well as some interesting window/ceiling grates helps keep things interesting. There are also some cool creepy details, such as good use of Quoth's impaled bodies here and there (a scene I particularly liked was one spiked onto the side of a sludge pipe high up in an outdoor courtyard), as well as the odd bit of flesh and some subtle hellish details. The coolest part visually has got to be the finale.

Monsters are well used in this map, using similar principles in gameplay to the previous map: Large, open areas with a mixture of monsters including highly mobile and very strong enemies (Droles, Shamblers, Fiends) in gangs. There are over 400 monsters in this map on normal, so you have your work cut out for you. There's not much in the way of armour (that I found, anyway, but I didn't even find half of the 16 secrets, though I did find one big, cool one), but ammunition is adequate, you will probably not run out of shells or rockets despite the huge monster count. There are points at which health is in short supply, and this can make it necessary to backtrack through the map to find health you left behind earlier. Luckily there are teleporters provided so your mobility within the map increases as you go, avoiding frustrating amounts of running through empty old areas.

Lighting is generally functional, minlight is used along with a green mist and a suitable skybox, which gives the map a suitably eerie feel. There are plenty of sourced wall and ceiling lights which is good, and light styles used here and there (a pulsating light emanating from slime onto another impaled body in a sewer tunnel was a good one) to keep things varied.

Gameplay gets progressively steeper, the Grenade Launcher becomes necessary to use with increasing skill in order to deal with treacherous areas and large packs of monsters, but watch out for unexpected ambushes (Rottweilers and Vorelings are well used). I have to admit I died several times, trying to take down the second Gug and during the finale for the most part. The finale is beautiful, a giant pentagram on a plateau with fiends (but watch the skies!). I found that this map, because of its horde combat, open areas, mostly horizontal layout, heavy use of green slime and subtle demonic touches, really reminded me of Doom. I got the impression of an articulately designed warehouse meant to hold a whole army, with well-judged and highly challenging gameplay. Due to the size (and scale) not as much detail is possible here, but that won't get in the way of enjoying this epic slaughterhouse. [17/20]

Sealed City
Holy shit. This massive map makes the previous one look medium, reasonably sized, normal, etc! What we have here is a monolithic beast that is kind of like Day of the Lords meets Quoth. The scale of everything is gigantic, with several distinct types of area interlocked with each other creating a massive and quite interconnected layout. Similar construction to the previous map (large, open areas, minlight used, cool details from place to place). The main level is made up of massive, arcing hallways and church-style rooms, with details such as bookshelves and blood red stainglass windows. The enemies have shifted from tech to medieval to suit the map's theme, and the stronger, more netherwordly variety of Quoth enemies are out in full force (Gugs, Droles). There is also an army of regular Quake monsters, including lots of Ogres. Tarbabies are extremely well used, I found myself fighting them a lot with the grenade launcher for some reason, which was a cool and unique experience. There are unique sections such as the "Halls of Purification" and a Maze. More so than the previous map, there are symmetrical sections, but they all contribute to the layout and none of them seem cloned gratuitously to increase map size.

There are some nice areas in this upper tier, including a particularly cool one with bridges over lava, a common decoration and hazard throughout. There are other traps as well, which keeps things interesting, and a respectable amount of moving bridges and suchlike. Open combat is also found on elevators, and as in the previous map there are plenty of secrets. Texturing throughout is superb, getting the most out of the brushwork and creating an intimidating feel (which some subtle background music also helps). Later in the map you travel downwards to dungeons, and here the resemblance to Doom is strong. There is a particularly awesome showdown in a curving underground library section with plenty of enemies, horde combat, and details like floor torches and pentagrams, that struck me as extremely similar to Doom (e1m9's pentagon ambush actually, for some reason - must have been the pentagons!). This for me was the highlight of the entire map - moody lighting, huge and challenging combat, sinister details. The finale itself though is a close second, with concentric circles of lava in an underground chamber also reminiscent of Doom/Heretic.

This is the best map in the entire pack, and it's where the pack really hits its stride. The architecture may be mostly simple as in Bile Plant, but the brush count is squeezed for all its worth, and consistently good lighting, texturing and use of Quoth extras only make it better. The gameplay is engaging and entertaining throughout, with a continual clear sense of where to go and plenty of demonic beings trying to make sure you don't get there. The theme is also really nice, certainly maps have been done in the Contract Revoked texture set which look better visually in some places, but this map also manages to keep your interest by having many distinct areas succeed each other, each one different from the last, and all of them creepy. Goddamn awesome. [19/20]

Nightmare Tangents
This strange map finds you in a floating fortress, which is generally built up of square walkways, runic pillars, brown brick walls, with bits of machinery and flesh for details. Over 500 monsters await you, a mix of both tech enemies and medieval ones, which works well given the setting which also mixes the two. Architecture is a bit of a throwback after the curvier, more detailed Sealed City, being blocker and simpler like Bile Plant. However some areas achieve visual interest by having multiple vertical levels interwoven with walkways and pillars, the start area looks good and is one of the best examples of this.

Flesh is a cool touch, as in the previous map, but it's not as well implemented here, being generally just square blocks of it here and there. It would look better if it was more Quake3-style, with tentacles or growths (which is hard to do and hard to compile, admittedly). There are some places where it looks better, one particular spot has achieved that "growth/tentacle" thing to be sure.

Textures from various sources adorn the simple architecture, and most of the structures are built out of metal or stone. Tech bits are incorporated better than flesh - there are plenty of laser traps, moving platforms and walkways, and numerous elevators. The wide open areas, with a more pronounced vertical element, make for unique gameplay. The most fun part for me was jumping down from above into groups of enforcers and blowing them all away. Just about every type of enemy is found in this map at one point or another, and plenty of them teleport in behind you so you never know which way they're coming from. I died a few times in this map, overall it has a very hard/fairly easy dynamic, as opposed to the steadily increasing challenge of the previous level. Supplies are well placed, every time you find yourself on the brink of ruin there is a megahealth somewhere near. Due to all of the different kinds of monsters, infighting can be a real help here. There is one area in particular where it may prove essential. [16/20]

The Final Drop
This is in a somewhat similar style to the previous map, only there's no technology stuff anymore, and it's now night instead of day as in Nightmare Tangents. The monster count is 1/10 of the previous map, but all of the monsters are high-level. This is one of the few maps where you can have the rocket launcher and full ammunition throughout, and it remains hard. It is much simpler than previous maps, without as many secrets, and also much faster paced. There are no traps, key-grabbing, complicated routes, or backtracking. This is pure, progressive ass kicking. It is a nice change of pace from the other huge maps in the pack. Obviously, you can just tell that with a pack like this, the finale is going to be ridiculous. And once you get there, it doesn't disappoint. You are given quad damage, megahealth, red armour, and by God you will need them. A suitably climatic explosion of carnage. [16/20]

Overall Pack
There is a secret map, which is ridiculous, you can't survive it for long (well I couldn't anyway). It is the highest point in the challenging gameplay, just completely over the top. I didn't find enough of the secrets to access it normally (although I did find some). Secret hunters in general will love this pack, there are tons and tons throughout, and although I only scratched the surface of them, I found several really large/cool ones.

Gameplay, as I've noted throughout, in this pack is insane. It has some of the most intense combat you can play in Quake presently. The monster counts in some of the maps, particularly Nightmare Tangents, are literally record-setting. Maps 2, 3 and 4 are all massive, which is impressive, but has the drawback of feeling drawn-out, or not often fast-paced. A sense of overall progress in the maps is available only by checking your progress against the total monster count - sometimes you'll get both keys more than once, and given that these maps mostly take place in hallways (some with skylights, but still), you can't tell where you are in relation to the rest of the map all that easily.

You are given ample opportunity to use both the Rocket Launcher and the Plasma Gun, which is entertaining. Monsters are well placed throughout, with ambushes, jumps, teleports and so forth. There are also numerous traps, which make things interesting. Quoth additions are well used. Overall, this is an epic pack, with preposterously huge maps and challenging gameplay.

Overall Scores:

Harsh Angled Edge 16/20
Bile Plant 17/20
Sealed City 19/20
Nightmare Tangents 16/20
The Final Drop 16/20

Overall Warp Spasm: 18/20

This episode enters the Q1SP Hall of Fame 2 at position 3 in Q1SP Episodes.