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Reviews: 10th November 2007

Map - travail: Travail (14 SP map pack)
by: Travail Team
Overall Verdict: Large pack with some great maps and gameplay.

Pack intro
This is the largest Q1SP episode (12 single player maps) for a long time, the most maps in a pack since around Soul of Evil i believe. There are also 2 secret SP maps (not reviewed, possibly will be in a future update), 1 start map and 4 DM maps included. The pack spilts up into 3 SP episodes, with 3 distinct themes and styles. I played the whole pack on skill 2 (hard).
The Travail Team who made this map pack consisted of: Paul (distrans) Brosche, Jack (scragbait) Meacher, Kirk (neg!ke) Eichler, Bengt (aguirRe) Jardrup, Andrew (Preach) Denner and Asaki.
Link to official travail website.

qte1m1: piedracero
This first level proper (after the start map) is a mediumish to large sized layout which has the player starting outside the enemies base and then slowly progressing and infiltrating their way in. The map has a green/brown color theme. The outdoor areas are reasonably well built and once inside the main base there some good detailing, like the various buildings and soldiers outposts, structures and bridges/lifts/pipes. Theres a good sense of progression and involvement with most areas explorable and lots of interesting sections and a pathway leading deeper into the heart of the enemy being well conveyed, creating a good sense of atmosphere and immersion. Build quality and texturing are both solid.
This map is on a relatively small scale and can sometimes feel a bit cramped, but the level is made better by the well balanced gameplay. Theres a mix of mainly base enemies (grunts and enforcers) for most of the map, with scrags and ogres also used nicely. Monster placement and numbers are good, and there are a number of nicely set up gameplay battles, spawns and ambushes which are well judged and good fun to play through. A decent first map, with a high level of immersion and strong sense of place.[15/20]

qte1m2: aguenergia
This continues the green & brown metallic/base theme of the first map, but the layout now has the player progressing through a well built dam-like structure. This outside dam has a number of waterfalls, sluice gates and different levels, just like a real dam. This once again creates a sense of immersion and atmosphere. The layout is more expansive and ambitious than the first level and brushwork is neat and tidy, although sometimes the architecture feels a little incoherent and random, varying from archways to metal railings to stone bridges. For the most part though the dam layout is original, and imaginatively executed. Lighting is also good, with some noticeably dark and shadowy rooms and corners adding atmosphere and variety. Like the first level the gameplay shines in terms of good pacing,flow and difficulty, with well-balanced monster numbers and placement. Its clear these maps have been well beta tested! However, on the negative side, gameplay is sometimes repetitive due to the limted range of weapons the player has as well as the almost exclusive use of base enemies only. [16.5/20]

qte1m3: costarodillo
This map is a complex of various tunnels, sewers, underwater sections, small alcoves and buildings. Although it can feel a bit haphazard at times and there is the slight inconsistency in feel and theme noted in the second map also, in the end it all holds together reasonably well. As the player progresses the very good interconnected design of the level begins to make more sense and things fall into place. The theme does vary a lot but is mainly green/grey brick mixed in with metal buildings and structures. Highlight include the tower where you "pray at various shrines", and your prayers are answered my swarm of ambushing monsters, and the well implemented underwater sections.
This is quite a long map (containing around 150 monsters on hard), and the twisting and turning routes require some exploration, messages and decent markings keeps things from thankfully getting too confusing. Gameplay is again finely tuned and the good testing results in a similar well balanced trade off of health/ammo compared to monsters, as in previous maps. In addition, the super nailgun and grenade launcher are finally supplied in this map which opens up some more variety in the gameplay.[16/20]

qte1m4: el lugar feo
In this 4th map of the pack, the theme changes to a setting with metallic and wooden thin walkways, bars and lifts which are built above pools of glowing red lava. This is underground level set in a series of caverns and caves. Throughout the whole level there is always the risk of falling into the lava below, which increases significantly the elements of tension and player caution in gameplay. There is a lot of spawning monster used in this map as well: areas will have succesive waves of monsters spawn in as each phase is cleared. There are also a lot more vores and shamblers used in this map than previous ones. Theres a good gameplay mechanism at work here: the location of the spawning monsters combined with the limited room for movement forcing judgement of where to place oneself so as not to fall into the lava and yet still be able to pick off enemies without taking too much damage. [17/20]

qte1m5: roca de la perra
This is a final boss map for episode 1. The theme is dark black rockface and red pools/rivers of blood, a kind of Doom/Insomnia feel. Theres a small bit of exploration required to find 5 seals before the path to the boss can be opened up. You must defeat an uberscrag, who is a good mini-boss. The ubesrscrag summons normals scrags during the fight and takes a fair bit of damage, luckily supplies and armor are plentiful. I actually thought this boss could have been a bit harder, more attacks from the boss or a bit less armor/health packs would have made it more tense, exciting and challenging. [13/20]

qte2m1: tejido de cicatriz
A small linking start map between the two episodes with the chance to reselect skill (i continued to play on hard, skill 2), brings you to this map, the first map of episode 2 of the pack. The map starts in a castle, green/brown stone walls with lots of well built archways and buttresses and some nice stained glass details. Inset luminous yellow crosses provide good spotlighting and detailing which makes everything look even better. Theres a big open library, which looks great and which is right in the heart of the map layout and serves as its central focus, nicely done. The theme and architecture is slightly reminiscent of Glassman's classic map Day of the lords albeit on a smaller, less grand scale. Eventually the player progresses underground to a very dark cave complex where many shadows hide lots of spiders and creates a foreboding atmosphere. Throughout the level brushwork is neat and texturing and lighting are good. Gameplay immediately feels like it has a bit more variety due to a greater mix of weapons and enemies, although sometimes vores are over-used and can become annoying. One obvious and clear of highlight is the usage of a Zerstorer custom weapon, the superbly implemented and satisfying "riot-controller" (replacing the DBS), which with its awesome sounds, feel and speed certainly adds another dimension to the gameplay.[16/20] .

qte2m2: voces extranas
This is a large level which essentially continues the greenish castle theme of the previous map but takes it a bit further in terms of a more ambitious layout and architectural design. This map is also notably more difficult than previous maps mainly due to a deliberate lack of health packs at some points, which increases the excitement and tension for the player and works well. There are a number of nicely constructed areas and rooms, with some good curving domes and archways, although once again the scale is for the most part quite small and confining. The player finds himself mostly twisting back and forth through various interconnected walkways and areas over lava, and fighting in small compact rooms, packed with strategically placed vores, Hellknights and scrags. Due to the more challenging gameplay and good design, this is probably the most exciting map in the pack up to this point. Chthon appears near the end and serves as a transition point between the green medieval theme of the previous 2 maps and the custom blue base theme of the next map.[17/20]

qte2m3: punto de la infeccion
This is a very well put together base level, with a theme of blue walls and trim everywhere, set off with yellow lights and inset computer consoles. There is lots of good brushwork resulting in neat, solid looking angular beams, walls floor and pipes. Its large, well interconnected layout which has the player finding the blue/gold keys and backtracking in classic quake 1 style. Its probably the most consistently themed and well executed map layout in the pack up to this point. There are some sections outdoors with an excellent very natural looking blue/cloud skybox and the layout also goes underground into well constructed water and cave sections at various points. Gameplay is solid and well executed for the most part, the tougher custom blue and red enforcers are used here, along with quite a few vores which provides the main challenge. I think the map could of been made more difficult to make gameplay even better, a little less health or armor and/or more usage of the custom enforcers.[17/20]

qte2m4: excision
Another smallish end boss map, this is decently done if not especially challenging or ambitious. First you stock up on ammo, then there is a large central room with a mixture of enforcers and caged (soon to be released) shamblers. After this the downstairs section is opened up where you must stand off against 6-8 custom mechanically enhanced looking enforcers. Unfortunately, i didn't find these custom end bosses particularly difficult or exciting as they are too slow moving and predictable, compared to say the excellent Gug from Quoth. [13/20]

qtfin1: hacia la fuente
A return to times past, its more or less a coagula map! Coagula maps are essentially maps set "floating in the void" see the coagula contest 2 for more. This map has a theme of green floors, with blueish metallic trim and blue/metallic walls inset with yellow lights and lots of details. The texturing is nicely done overall and the spotlighting is also good. The layout is not spectacular but is still well constructed and clever, various parts of the map open up and you collect the gold/silver key. There are some nicely built structures and pillars. Gameplay includes some nasty Vore placements (vores have always been tricky on a coagula map). Fiends are placed well which is good because they haven't been used much in the pack so far. The final area is also well judged with a rapid succession of spawning monsters making for an exciting and well balanced finish to a very good coagula level.[16/20]

qtfin2: torredalmas
A custom model provides a boss fight in this map. Theres only 1 enemy an original custom model, which is OK looking, but the animation and modelling is a bit jerky and poor, comparing to Quoth again as the obvious reference point. The actual map where the fight takes place it fairly basic, with 1 spiraling stone stairway with platforms at 2 or 3 different levels providing the actual structure for most of the fight. The actual battle is quite good and original as the boss seems to have 3 distinct phases, each one requiring different tactics and helped by use of the various weapons scattered throughout the level. It is this originality in gameplay and variation from a typical quake boss fight which redeems this level and actually makes it the best of the 3 boss fights found in the pack. [15/20]

qtfin3: puentaltrono
This final map is an underground crypt or mausoleum of some kind as it houses lots of the undead (zombies). Its a medium sized building constructed in a fairly basic manner and unfortunately the gameplay is also a bit mundane and anti-climatic for the last map of the pack. Unfortunately, there is an over abundance of ammo, health and armor supplies which makes the different fights too easy. This flaw extends from the zombie gibbing swarms at the beginning through a Shambler/Vore room to the final boss battle where the custom boss monster from the previous map reappears. [14/20]

Overall Episode Summary:
In closing this is a very good map pack, but it doesn't quite match the level of the classic quake 1 map episodes of the past. The good points are the nicely designed custom base maps in episode 2 and some very original and fun maps in episode 1. On the negative side, the individual themes both within maps and across different maps sometimes feel incoherent and as a result there sometimes can be a lack of continuity when viewing the pack as a thematic whole. Gameplay is in general well balanced, but sometimes is repetitive and also has the flaw of sometimes being too easy due to an over supply of health and armor in some maps, especially in the last map, which was disappointing. I thought the best executed gameplay, with sparser supplies making gameplay the most challenging and exciting in the pack, was qte2m2: voces extranas. Such criticism should be balanced by a final summary of the packs good points: a large selection of well built, sometimes very original maps in episode 1 and some excellent custom base maps in episode 2. Overall a good and very welcome map pack, definitely worth downloading and playing.

Overall Scores:

Episode 1: Ingeniero de la Destruccion
qte1m1: piedracero 15/20
qte1m2: aguenergia 16.5/20
qte1m3: costarodillo 16/20
qte1m4: el lugar feo 17/20
qte1m5: roca de la perra 13/20

Episode 2: Architecto de Miedo
qte2m1: tejido de cicatriz 16/20
qte2m2: voces extranas 17/20
qte2m3: punto de la infeccion 17/20
qte2m4: excision 13/20

Episode 3 (Finale): Un Paso mas Alla
qtfin1: hacia la fuente 16/20
qtfin2: torredalmas 15/20
qtfin3: puentaltrono 14/20

Overall Travail Pack: 17/20

This episode enters the Q1SP Hall of Fame 2 at position 6 in Q1SP Episodes.