As previously mentioned I wrote some reviews for QExpo that RPG posted on his booth. Unfortunately due to time constraints a couple didn’t get posted so I’ve decided to post them here, along with the others I did.
Than slipped one in with a remake of DM3. Whilst not one of my favourite maps (to be honest I never particularly liked the original id DM maps) this remake is definitely worth a look. My first run through the level in DM wasn’t overly positive, I thought what the hell was different?
But years of custom map abuse have dulled my senses. I’ve become accustom to the good life and a quick look around Romero’s original reminded how utterly appalling it was in terms of architectural delights. And texture alignment? Mmm quite.
However what I didn’t realise was that there was twist, this is not just your standard issue remake or deathmatch level, it’s also a fully fledged single player level too. DM3’s original layout has been extended out to create a honeycomb maze style layout. As you progress you switch back and forth through previously visited areas, where panels have moved and doors have opened. It’s great fun but it has to be said that it’s unbelievable hard. I mean, three Shambler’s at once? Ouch.
In DM the map is very faithful to the original, with the SP mode’s extra areas blocked off, and for all intends and purposes, they don’t exist. Now I’m no expert on DM3 so will no doubt get lynched for whatever I say but to me a lot of play seemed to centre around the LG and RL water area with a bit of jostling for the Pent and MH and also in the two floored atrium containing another MH, RoS and Quad. Entertaining for a while but hardly making use of the maps large footprint.
The idbase textures (along with some extras) are put to very good use. It’s one of those texture sets that when used properly, looks great and this is a cracking level to look at. But you’d expect from Than. He might eff and blind like the true English man that he is, but he can map the pants off a Vore at forty paces.
There are also plenty of in references and some tough secrets. Actually, I must say I love the underground Doom II style secret. Very cheeky! This is how custom Quake maps should be done.
So this Travail preview… well the start map is a nice opener. It’s very Vondur like in style with sprawling spacious atriums, overhanging ledges and intimidating architecture. As to how it fits in with the story line, I’m unsure, but I like it.
In contrast the opening map of episode one, Ingeniero de la Destruccion, gives a rather gloomy impression. It’s cramped, untidy and dare I say it, old looking. That said the initial bout is an intense affair, with reasonable use of the environment, keeping the player locked in small areas with lots of grunts and enforcers. Ammo and health are tight throughout the level, but if you’re conservative and accurate it’s not much of a problem.
Once you get above ground things you’re given a bit of breathing space to look around and admire the view. You emerge out from under a waterfall to be presented with a large open area leading off towards bridge and a couple of bunkers overlooking your position.
The peace and quiet doesn’t last long as an onslaught of orge’s, scrag’s and enforcers rain down. From here you end up back indoors inside a cavern with a water filled lower section. Again conditions are cramped and after another couple of battles, you exit via a drain. It’s a good 10 to 15 minutes gameplay.
I have some concerns though and they’re all with Ingeniero. In some parts of the level there just isn’t enough space and it feels hard to maneuvoure about or take some form of cover. Detail wise it’s also a little lacking. Some of the structures seem brittle and fragile, reminiscent of Quake’s original levels. The bulk and weight of Quake’s later custom maps seems to have been ignored. You only need to compare it to the start map to see what I mean.
I’m also puzzled by the odd looking bridge near the entrance to the final section of the map. It’s chock full of crates and is a pain to navigate. It seems like an afterthought and stairs would have made more sense to me.
As an indication of the full fat offering, it’s promising. The execution and balance of the varying themes is good (even though there are lots of textures used) and the enemy placement is well thought out. It’s certainly hard but equally just as satisfying. My lasting impression was positive and I look forward to more.
Potential, that’s the key thing to take away from these maps and it’s what Trinca has shown. Objectively though, the main level is a distinctly average map and whilst the list of deficiencies isn’t fatal, their cumulative effect does bring the episode down a few notches. My list was as follows: It’s mostly 2D, very hard, too linear, doesn’t fully do the texture set justice, some of the architecture is bland and the lighting is flat.
However the mini three level episode format (start, main map, end boss map) works well, and the idbase theme gels together nicely. They’re a playable set of maps with a very distinct beginning, middle and end. And I do like the variety of enemies which makes a change from the standard fare of grunts and enforcers (although there’s one or three hundred of them too). The centroids from Scourge of Armagon are a cool touch, but I didn’t particularly like the ZerstÃ¶rer enforcers. Their blue uniforms just clash with everything!
There are also positives here for Trinca to take away. There is some attempt at making good use of the texture set, in particular the carved tunnels either side of the final blue key door. Perhaps looking at dm3rmx and e1m1rmx will give ideas on how to improve that further.
Also everything seems aligned properly and pointing in the right direction, which shows good attention to detail. Enemy placement is good too, with plenty to keep the player busy. Altogether it shows that the basics are in place. Now more concentration and effort is needed in pushing forward with architecture and layout detail. Keep at it Trinca!
What? I’m sorry but I gave up on this one, I ended up going round and round in circles… apparently looking for the entrance to an underwater passage. Initial impressions were not good and it didn’t do anything to redeem itself. You have walls that are actually doors and keys that act like remote key fobs and open the walls… sorry, doors for you. The problem with that is that you then run around like a headless chicken looking for a door that no longer exists.
Oh and coloured lighting is like marmite, you only need a bit of it to get the desired effect. Real world lighting isn’t like the psychedelic vomit exhibited here. It seems to me like this is just one large test map where in parts the construction is bordering on the passable (like water area with the two overlooking buildings, one with a Quad symbol on) but it’s mostly awful. It’s as if it’s just grown over time into this sprawling mess. It’s convoluted but that would have been ok if there was some level of consistency in the texturing and lighting. And enemy placement… why would a scrag be floating in an underground corridor?
So let’s stop whilst we’re well behind. Suggestions to the author, do not use colour lighting again until you’ve mastered basic texture alignment and trigger, item and object usage. Please? We’ll just pretend this was test map. Now where’s the aspirin…
Note: DM3RMX and Travail screen shots yoinked from RPG’s site.