Category: Tronyn Reviews

Tronyn reviews: The Gateway to Hell by JPL


The first thing to be said about this map is that it is badass. JPL‘s latest is sort of like a combination of two of his previous maps, the Doom3-Hell themed Five Rivers Land and the Daikatana-Medieval themed Castle of the Dark Ages. These two themes work very well together in “The Gateway to Hell” (a hilariously evil title) – there is a lot of medieval architecture (mostly Daikatana textures) interspersed with rocks, a hell skybox and a floating ruins theme all drawn from Doom3. The layout of the map is basically a series of large, asymmetrical ruined setpieces connected by hallways, caves, and bridges. The lighting is very dark in places, but if your brightness is turned up properly you can find your way around, and there is some nice coloured lighting – used subtly, which is key, but it really adds to the look. Torches in cages cast shadows, and the setpieces are full of details like huge dislodged stone blocks, large fountains of blood, torches lighting up waterfalls of blood in the wall, lots of medieval carvings and gargoyles, very nice arched doors with retracting bars, broken pillars, decayed floors and gaps straight to the void. There are some custom ambient sounds that add to the atmosphere. The overall effect of this map is extremely atmospheric, it is one spooky map, the Quoth enemies fit right in and the sense of brooding malice here works, in classic Quake fashion, very well. Only complaint is the skybox could have converted better.


Gameplay is tough, you need to be careful and enemies will teleport in (though thankfully not annoyingly as in Doom3). The map is fairly unique in giving you the rocket launcher and lots of rockets well before the map ends, but then forcing you to use it with quite a few gaunts and other enemies who can hit you from far away. The ending is a hilarious gib-fest, and the exit portal is suitably demonic. Badass map, and another version of id hell done well.

Score: 18/20

07.12.2010 in Tronyn Reviews | 2 Comments »

Tronyn reviews: Elements by Vondur


Vondur has returned once again from the dark corner of the internet he lurks in, with a nice new Q1SP map.

“Elements” is a neat, interesting little map built up of simple, tidy rooms and hallways with several vertical levels, and themed around three elements. I was expecting four elements (water, air, earth, fire), but the first two are followed by lava which combines the last two. The architecture is fairly repetitive, squarish, and generally lacks decorations (except light-based ones like skylights and cross-light insets), and the texture selection is limited with only id textures and only a few of those at that. This makes it all the more impressive that the map comes across as consistently interesting and elegantly designed – every area has enough detail, and is well-designed enough to maintain visual interest. The different-yet similar designs of the three different elemental areas add nice variety branching on the same theme.


In terms of design it’s a nice break from all the massive, asymmetrical levels lately, and the same is true of the gameplay: there are a few difficult places (the “air elements” area is a bit tough if you rush in, and you have to be careful near the end), but overall it’s a pretty laid back map. What we have here is a nice run through an elegant little map which presents a characteristically Quakey, oldschool but unique environment.

Score: 16/20

Tronyn reviews: Conflagrant Rodent by Orl


Orl’s new map takes place in a vast series of caverns, canyons, and ruined medieval structures, into many of which are built broken wooden structures like bridges, ladders and platforms. From the start I could tell that this map was going to be excellent. Ruined architecture takes time to do in Quake, and the amount of work put into this level clearly shows. To list a few of the details which appear in this map, there are dislodged stones, fallen beams, broken arches, and bent and shattered doors (this was an especially nice and unique detail). In many cases, these details are used as part of the layout, so that the gameplay involves a lot of jumping and climbing. This is fairly unique and really satisfying, the only analogy I can think of is my own soe1m3, but there the consequences of falling from the climb spots was nothing serious. In contrast, this map makes heavy use of lava, so that there is a sense of real danger (remember crossing the broken mine tracks in hip1m3?).


There are some places where pieces of architecture drop off into the lava once you step on them, but what’s more dangerous is the (thankfully appropriately constrained) use of monsters while the player is in such situations. New mileage is made out of scrags especially, which are suddenly much more dangerous when they can block your jump and knock you into the lava, or shoot you at inopportune moments on some high tiny platform. A section with a moving trolley and a unique use of lava is also well done; overall the map consists of many distinct, well-designed segments, so that the gameplay is constantly interesting. New textures contribute to the look, including a fire texture which is used for doom-like effect in some places; the design is both a technical and visual achievement.


The centrepiece of the map is a huge medieval courtyard with water inside it and lava and caves attached to it; this section is full of walkways, arches, platforms, torches, beams, etc; it is a very nicely designed room, and as elsewhere in the map it incorporates very nice rockwork into it. The map is very interconnected, and does not skimp on connecting one area to another visually; given the amount of detail, the map can probably be compared to This Onion, in terms of medieval setpiece design incorporated with lava and caverns. Gameplay is nicely balanced – fiends and vores are especially dangerous around lava, but the grenade launcher is provided and you are even forced to over-rely on it in places, which is an interesting challenge. Health is plentiful for the most part – it’s about surviving section to section, though there are a couple especially dangerous areas, including the end. What we are talking about with this map, is a massive, detailed, well-conceived and well-executed Q1SP that takes an old theme (Red Stone medieval) and updates it in a very nice way. Welcome back to the elder world, this seems like the best map of the year so far to me.

Score: 19/20

04.09.2010 in Tronyn Reviews | 7 Comments »

Tronyn reviews: Red Slammer by negke


negke’s new map is a medieval-textured map whose theme might be described as a cross between e1m5 and e1m6: that is, it has red and white stone medieval structures, yet bound together with metallic beams and decorated with metallic details and lava. As we are all accustomed to with negke’s maps, the use of id textures on an unusually angled architectural style creates a unique look. There is also detailed, functional architecture, yet this does not prevent the map from retaining a sense of elder world strangeness, just as in Skinny Norris and Lower Forecourt. As you walk from room to room in this map, every section has new and interesting details in terms of lighting, architecture, and texturing. To give one example of the detail and creativity here, one room featuring lava-falls spewing down from metallic troughs has a green grass texture on the vertical surfaces of the brown grass, giving the appearance of lava-lighting but using only standard id textures. Design-wise, it’s all about making new designs with old resources; and the ending of the map (where the reason for the title becomes apparent) follows this rule as well. There are also some traps reminiscent of e4m2, and a few tricks like incorporating monsters into the architecture. It is undeniably cool to see things like this in vanilla Quake.


The map features an in-map skill selector, and while Normal difficulty is pretty reasonable, you can adjust the difficulty all the way up to “Carnage” mode. The challenge is scalable. Monsters include all of the medieval normals plus grunts and enforcers, which makes sense given the techish/metallic twist to the medieval theme. There are a lot of secrets, of which I found hardly any, but this should prove satisfying for attentive players. negke’s maps cast the player as more cerebral than usual, investigating a world whose sense or rules become apparent slowly. Without a lot of firepower (use of the lower-level weapons is common), the player has to rely on observation while exploring a strange and threatening world – and the end result is very Quakey.

Score: 17/20

04.09.2010 in Tronyn Reviews | 6 Comments »

Tronyn reviews: VeniVidiFuzzi by Madfox

Madfox’s new map takes place in a large, interconnected city/castle/cavern landscape. The sprawling layout connects all of these different areas in sometimes unexpected ways. There is a fair amount of water in the layout, one of the first main areas is a venice-style city street (stone walkways and a road of water) and numerous water tunnels connect other areas to this section. I liked this use of water, in some places you can use the water areas as an alternate route through the map, which is nice (and reminded me a bit of my old map The Autumn Citadel). Now to turn from the layout to the gameplay and architecture.


The architecture is great throughout, a mixture of detailed blocky town buildings, arches and pillars, which (along with the use of Hexen II textures) provides a Graeco-Roman feel. Later there is a more castle-like section. There are also some very Quakey darker indoor bits with stained glass, some caverns, and a very nice canyon bit which shows the best rockwork in the map (though there is some nice rockwork elsewhere as well). Generally, the look is very “busy,” yet despite the complexity of the architecture and the “mix ‘n match ancient/medieval” architecture, the map feels quite coherent as a place. This is probably due to the fact that the texture set is wisely chosen (and limited, so that all the areas appear related), and that even in the most “townish” areas rocks appear, while even in the most “rocky” areas town stuff appears. There is a light fog which adds to the atmosphere, and some nice new map objects are used to decorate the town parts of the level. The use of ruined temple architecture that you can climb on was nice; for me the design highlight was the gold key area, a sort of open cave with a temple in it, which came across as nicely designed, cool-looking, and unique. Finally I should mention the cool touches like the entrance (look backwards when you spawn in), and the secrets, which keep you exploring. There’s much worth noticing here, including plenty of Quakey detailed ceiling beams.


The gameplay is good throughout, though a bit more mileage might have been squeezed out of the layout (especially the initial town section). The new monsters are cool, the crossbow knight has always been decent, but it’s the totally new skeleton character (from Q3) that shines here. His two attacks are effective, you as a player have to adapt to these guys, so this is a new monster well-implemented, filling a new niche. His effects look cool as well. Other than that, it’s the usual mix of medieval monsters, though surprisingly no zombies. I played on normal since I haven’t played Quake in months, and I still died a couple times; my one complaint is that ammo is a bit short, adding in a better melee weapon or more ammo would fix this. Also sometimes the messages directing the player where to go are not entirely clear, so be careful to look around when you get a message saying a door opened. Monster infighting was a useful tactic for me, if you can get it going you can save yourself ammo and health.

The ending is very dramatic, there is a very imposing circle of arches, and a highly challenging confrontation in the pit below. All in all, this is a very nice map, it’s basically setpiece after setpiece which is awesome, with a unique style, variety in design, and new features. The ambition on display here, and the effort that went into making this, have to be admired. Enjoy.

Score: 17/20

08.08.2010 in Tronyn Reviews | 3 Comments »
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