Category: Tronyn Reviews

Tronyn reviews: Rubicon 2 by metlslime and czg

Probably the longest-in-development-ever Q1SP has been released, and it is awesome. Rubicon was a base map with custom textures from the early days of Quake, but its sequel has much more than that. First of all, there are still the custom textures, but the set is massively expanded. It is probably the first created-for-Quake custom texture set in years. I don’t know how many textures were in the original Rubicon, but I’m guessing the texture set here is now 3x as big at least. There are also tons of neat touches, like waving flags with the Rubicon 2 logo (repeated on crates, walls, etc as well throughout the episode). There are custom exploding barrels, custom laser traps and other hazards like steaming pipes, and lots of other custom content like new sounds (all of which sound very oldschool and awesome) and even a Rubicon 2-specific help in the start menu. This is an episode that deserves to be played and replayed to savour all the cool little enhancements/touches. There are three new monsters as well, a pyromaniac enforcer who charges you with a flamethrower (awesome), a sort of R2D2 robot (pretty cool), and coolest of all a flying enforcer which makes for a very original flying enemy (awesome). In addition, grunts and enforcers are now slightly more dangerous (at least it seemed that way), so the map set is challenging but never ridiculous.


The start map introduces the episode’s style, many of the features here will be repeated later. One of the coolest things about the map set, is that the cumulative effect of not just the suite of custom features, but the repetition of architectural designs (giant x-beams for examples), is that a very distinct, coherent style of environment is created. I was actually reminded quite a bit, when I started playing this, of the first time I played IKSPQ5 The Secret Installation, in terms of a distinct base environment with a its own look. However, in terms of the amount of custom mod stuff, it is probably more comparable to something like Operation Urth Majik. The map set is not linear, in the start map you pick what maps you want to play in whatever order. I started with “Hydroexploitation Plant,” then played “A Thousand Years Into the Past,” and then finally “Subterranean Spookworks.”


Hydroexploitation Plant is the map that some of us remember seeing screenshots of a long time ago. The map begins with a tribute to Quake’s e1m1, but soon shifts settings into a complex network of underground tunnels, store rooms, and canyon areas. For me the setpiece highlight was the outdoor dam, sort of like some of the stuff early in Travail in a more compact way. The architecture of the dam is impeccably curved, which is interesting since not a lot of maps do this anymore, and yet the map doesn’t do it just to show off curviness but rather it does it where appropriate. The overall sense of this map is of well-proportioned, well-judged architecture. In terms of layout, while the map has a lot of twists and turns, the layout is so well-designed (I’d imagine this was all sketched out beforehand, or edited and redesigned quite a bit) that it is always clear where to go, you are almost by default always heading in the right direction despite the complexity of the setting. I thought this was the easiest of the three maps, but that doesn’t make it a pushover, you cannot run in too fast and it’s a good idea to use the shotgun to snipe enemies far away so they don’t snipe you.


A Thousand Years Into the Past is CZG’s map, with a slightly different take on the Rubicon 2 theme (different skybox, fog, somewhat different architectural style). Most of the map takes place in a massive underground facility, with platforms and bridges spanning yawning chasms, between large support structures and with plenty of pipes and crossbeams. It’s quite atmospheric, and has probably the largest amount of open space out of any of the maps. The gameplay is quite a bit tougher than the previous map – whereas I didn’t die there, I died several times here. The layout is similarly complicated, but the gameplay path is usually pretty clear. The map involves disabling laser traps, getting keys, and of course killing plenty of robots, enhanced enforcers and other base enemies. I’m not sure exactly what to compare it to, perhaps Subterranean Siege or The Lost Mines. Basically, with this map you will get an increased challenge, in an impressive/atmospheric environment.


Subterranean Spookworks is the last map I played. It centres around a central atrium/hub, with a curved tunnel encircling it and three major side areas guarded by laser traps of different colours. I think this might be my favourite map in the set. While the layout isn’t as complex as either of the other major maps, it is more obvious and logical, especially when you see the outdoor areas and realize that they are basically bunker-like entrances to the whole underground complex. I found this the hardest map, not because it had the most enemies in it, but just because it seemed health was scarce (even with exploration which can be helpful). There were some pretty nasty trap “labs” in this map, so you have to make sure your aim is good. I really liked the concrete theme of this map, and the lighting was especially good.

To conclude the review, what we have here is a very nicely made mod serving three very well-made base maps, with tons of extra features, a nice start map, a cool theme, some challenging combat, pleasing layouts, and a great expansion on a classic oldschool theme / texture set.

Score: 18/20

Tronyn reviews: RemakeQuake SP Demo2 by Remake Quake Team


The second Remake Quake SP demo contains the latest version of the Remake Quake mod (now with its own engine), and the map e1m6rq, “The Doors of Delusion.” I’ll start with some thoughts on the mod. The Vomitus monster is great, and surprising when it’s used. The cut-scenes throughout are very helpful. The grappling hook takes a bit of getting used to, but it is really great once you get used to it. It, and some other elements, add a cool puzzle-solving element (thankfully NEVER overdone or frustrating; this is QUAKE) which meshes well with the surprisingly functional take on e1m6 that is the map, including the traps. Still not sure about the Ogre sounds, seems a bit cheesy, but the sounds for the Fiend and especially the Scrag, are first rate. The feel of the combat is very good; both the player and monsters die easier, which adds a sense of danger to a game in which the skilled player has been feeling invincible in maps without hundreds of monsters of late. This lets the mod get more mileage out of fewer monsters, a good choice. The dying easier aspect could have been overdone but thankfully wasn’t; this is QUAKE not a realistic shooter. So overall, there are a ton of little improvements that modify the game but all, in my view, move in the right direction of making it more challenging and interesting.


Now for the map: e1m6rq is a very impressive map. The basic layout of e1m6 remains, but with quite a few extra areas. What surprised me the most, was that whereas the original id Runic/Metal maps were quite abstract, this map seems very functional and yet retains its sense of mystery. Parts of it even slightly reminded me of Quake 2, yet it is absolutely in the weird realm of Quake 1 in terms of atmosphere. There are pipes, moveable objects, traps, boilers, movement units, so that the whole thing seems like a netherworld tech complex of some (still strange) sort. Visually, the map is beautiful: coloured lighting, broken tiles and gargoyles, fallen pipes, tons of little details to add to the atmosphere. The grappling hook is fun to use, the map progression is fun and interesting, the combat is good, and the ending is spectacular. My one reservation is that I found the “your way has been lit” section really frustrating, and I’d recommend changing it. Other than that though, this is a fascinating, beautiful, powerful map surrounded by a mod that serves it very well.

Score: 18/20

Tronyn reviews: The Anomaly by Digs


This map’s simple title is entirely appropriate: The Anomaly is the only Elder World base map I know of. Like id’s most experimental and troublesome episode, The Elder World, The Anomaly features numerous powerups, strange, confusing and creepy settings (like Tower of Despair), different styles of theme in the same map (consider The Pain Maze), lots of powerups, weird forces at work, cool secrets, and plenty of weaponry. The base here is dressed in a variety of id, hipnotic, ik, and nehahra textures, with the odd addition from hexen II (rocks/grass). There are a variety of settings: dark tech-hallways, open courtyards, subterranean rooms, winding interconnected stairwells and atriums, and rust/copper-themed sewer segments. It’s not entirely clear how the areas relate to each other, and the next place to go sometimes opens up in an unexpected place. The interwinding layout also means you’ll often be surprised to find yourself visiting a previous area from a new angle. The coolest part of the design/ layout is the “warped” sections – tilted or even inverted base rooms (you’ll have to see these yourself), including fighting and puzzles which can be tricky.


The gameplay is very Elder-world: Vores, Shamblers, Tarbabies, Fiends and so forth are present in force along with Ogres, Grunts and Enforcers. Early in the map there is a courtyard where base monsters bounce around while attacking you. id did this with Vores in episode 4, but Vores obviously have some weird link to elder magics that make no sense, whereas the whirlwind of grunts and enforcers in this map seems as confused as the human player they’re attacking even as they are tossed around. A humorour and unusual moment for sure – and make sure that that pesky autoaim is turned off! Probably the most fun in the map is the quad runs (of which there are several!) – one fragging zombies with quad lightning (that was my weapon of choice anyway) is particularly good.

This is indeed a unique map, with some great quad blastfests and peculiar/interesting designs. 2011 is off to a good start!

Score: 16/20

Tronyn reviews: RemakeQuake SP Demo1 by Remake Quake Team


I missed this demo, released in summer of 2009, because I was on a bike trip at the time. While the version of the RMQ mod on display here is antiquated now, I thought I’d review it anyway along with the new demo. The mod seems good; using hi-res textures for the map and for the items, the experience is very slick with Darkplaces. The feel of the weapons is better than the original by quite a bit; especially the nailgun is fun to use. Nevertheless, the mod still uses the old models, including the tree for example, and the old models as well. There is a new model for when monsters teleport in which looks cool. I am not sure whether the team plan to incorporate hi-res textures for all the models, this goal strikes me as too ambitious, and I don’t mind the mixture of hi-res and low-res art in any case. The new sounds are mostly good, I don’t like the axeman sound, but other than that mostly good. The use of friendly ranger soldiers is cool even though I ended up killing the few that survived the enemy by accidental friendly fire. The Q2 barrel is good, much better than the retarded Q1 barrel, but I think it needs to be recoloured (more brown rather than grey) to fit in with the Q1 base colour scheme. The monsters now dodge, which I found annoying in Nehahra, but they mostly die in one shot, so the difficulty is not unreasonable. Overall, the mod includes plenty of cool touches and general improvements, without straying too much from the original. As a note I think there was a general sound problem when I played. My system is not the greatest though.


Now to the map, e3m1rq. The map follows the layout of the original for the most part, but with several extra areas. The visual style is similar to the original, but smoother and more detailed in some places. There are some nice tech areas – the whole map seems more functional and convincingly technological than the original. There are plenty of cool touches which add to the sense of place. I wasn’t too keen on the lighting, as there is quite a bit of pure darkness. I know some people don’t like minlight, mostly because it can be used as a lazy substitution for real light, but I found the amount of pure black in this map distracting, since it sometimes made navigation problematic. id Software maps, especially in episodes 3 and 4, did have a fair amount of pure black (consider the Tower of Despair, for example), but they also had some dimmer diffuse lights so that it was possible to see what was where. That said this issue might just be due to my contrast settings. The use of rain adds a fair bit to the map, and I got the impression that the secret areas were more extensive than what I saw (which was already cool). My one complaint is that my favourite area in the original e3m1 – the hanging-platform-above-the-slime area, one of the coolest base spots in the original quake – seems to have gotten lost in this version – it’s either too dark, or too remade or reduced to be really recognizable. In conclusion, this is nice improvement on the original and the mod is good, but the map still feels a bit tentative, especially the lighting. Nevertheless it’s a fun preview of what should be the most important Q1SP project since Nehahra 10 years ago.

Score: 15/20

Tronyn reviews: Runic Recycling by negke


negke‘s new Q1SP sees the player exploring a large netherworldly complex full of inventive uses of oldschool metallic designs. While the textures used are all Runic/E3 textures, the style of architecture (slightly remniscent of the author’s earlier map Skinny Norris) creates a more functional, base-ish feel – this Runic complex gives the sense not of some long-abandoned mysterious temple, but of a place where unusual or alien forms of mechanical machinery are still in use. The layout/gameplay route is fairly linear, but the map creates a strong emphasis on exploration anyway for two reasons: first, things like the quad fiend battle – which the player can do whenever he wants – and second, the general style of the rooms. I’ll explain a bit further: the map is built of numerous scraps so that, while it presents a very coherent theme, it is never exactly obvious where the player will find himself next. The use of sections like lava pits crossed with vent beams and outdoor sections contributes to the sense that this is all some giant interconnected whole (the architectural style hinting at some kind of unnamed functional purpose for the complex also contributes), but the player never knows exactly where he is in the whole and so it seems like he is exploring on a less linear path than maps like Breakfast at Twilight (also built of scraps) where the general route and relation of the player’s position relative to the whole is clear enough that the emphasis is not on exploration but rather on ascension. All of this adds up to a very suggestive map in terms of its visual look, layout, and gameplay style.


The use of tricks and traps both adds to this sense and makes the gameplay interesting; while there are some challenging fights (such as the aforementioned fiend battle, and the trademark negke-style ending which combines fighting with puzzle-hacks) the emphasis is on exploration. The usual Runic enemies appear, along with grunts, enforcers, and dogs, which adds to the base sense of the level. Overall, another cool, interesting, and well-thought out map by negke.

Score: 16/20

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