1997 Level of the Month

1997 was a fantastic year for Quake custom maps. While the Duke 3D community was providing masses of amateur designed levels, Quake custom mapping was all quality and professional. It took a few months for designers to find the way to successful design, with designers like Andrew Smith, Steve Rescoe and Roger Staines, soon some fantastic level sets were to be released like Beyond Belief, Prodigy SE, Ikka's blue series, The Cassandra Calamity. But Level Of The Year went to Mexx's 5-map pack Penumbra of Domination.



The Cassandra Calamity

Score: 90
Game: Quake
Author: Marcus Dromowicz
Date: December 1997


Two great levels with your standard IDbase textures in a very nicely made level with some great interior architecture. The main strength is gameplay, with over 200 enemies in the levels combined, including a super-Enforcer and rocket-launcher Grunts, it was a fantastic experience. You get plenty of ammunition though, so there's no need to take it easy. A brilliant final release from Mexx to cap off a great year of Quake releases.



The Secret Installation

Score: 90
Game: Quake
Author: Iikka "Fingers" Keranen
Date: November 1997


At it's time, The Secret Installation was the best single level ever released. It totally changed the base style of Quake, with amazing architecture and textures far superior to ID's base textures. It is more like a Quake2 level, yet even better than many them, and this before Q2 was even released. Gameplay was also good, and not so uncommon with Iikka's levels, had a very tough start. Unfortunately, it seemed to get easier as it went. Iikka's new textures went on to be used in dozens of Quake levels in future.



Dig Me No Grave

Score: 83
Game: Quake
Author: Jonas NP Lindstrom
Date: October 1997


Number 7 in the Sadlark series, they just keep getting better and better, and finally one snabs the top spot as LOTM. A wonderful medium sized metal level that has you going back and forth through a very non-linear layout. There isn't anything new here, just the usual hellish ID textures mixed with lava. Good lighting, and nice use of curves too. The level is very professionally made, and will provide alot of fun.



Penumbra of Domination

Score: 93
Game: Quake
Author: Marcus Dromowicz
Date: September 1997


There are two sides to a map - gameplay and design. Though the Mexx levels haven't been revolutionary on aesthetics, his gameplay is very well balanced for a fantastic blastfest. Penumbra of Domination is five levels of, arguably the best gameplay seen in any custom level. It is obvious Marcus puts alot of work in, with many traps and ambushes, and a constant onslaught of medium difficulty monsters. The pack sticks to its medieval theme well, using ID textures, creative architecture and large designs to give that nostalgic, old school feeling. A fantastic pack of levels, the best release of 1997.



Bridges & Towers

Score: 88
Game: Quake
Author: Jim Hendrickson
Date: August 1997


Some good levels were released this month, Ghost Town, The Palace of Sadlark, The Ancient Fortress, Starship. But Bridges & Towers just snuck ahead of them as best level of the month. Set in the typical metal theme, it's rather plain looking, but has a great little layout that has you going back and forth. Gameplay was good, with Fiends, Ogres and Scrags all mixed in. There could have been a tougher ending though.




Score: 88
Game: Quake
Author: Matt Sefton
Date: July 1997


Matt Sefton has created a lot of awesome levels, and every one of them has featured in the top three for Level of the Month. This is his second victory, but unfortunately his last level for Quake. Nevertheless, it is by far his best! It is hard to pull of a really good looking base level in Quake, but Matt has done it successfully here with some great design. The level is huge, with over 100 monsters in hard. The gameplay is great - about as fun as it gets with a Grunt or Enforcer around every corner. My only complaint is that there could have been a harder finale, but otherwise a classic Quake level.




Score: 86
Game: Quake
Author: Iikka "Fingers" Keranen
Date: June 1997


Part four of IIkka's blue series, this is the best of them all. The map is done completely with custom blue textures. Iikka has done a great job in just using different shades of blue to make a wonderful looking level. Great architecture, with curves archways and ceilings with light blue trim.
Gameplay is excellent, with 80 monsters providing a fun and very challenging map. It is best to play the levels before this one, so that you can continue your ammo over. A definite classic.



Beyond Belief - The Unholy Alliance

Score: 91
Game: Quake
Author: Matthias Worch
Date: May 1997


May of 1997 was a very productive month for Quake, with The Vigil, My world is Your world, the amazing Prodigy SE. But Beyond Belief just pinched the show for me, a classic episode of levels taking on the theme of the original loved Quake. The build quality is very professional, although it's not as detailed as the levels of today. If your the type who throws strategy out the door and enjoys just running in firing away then you'll have a great time with this. Little strategy, great action.



The Insurrection

Score: 88
Game: Quake
Author: Chris Mayers
Date: April 1997


The Insurrection is easily the best this month, not only because there are four levels with it, but every one of them are awesome! There is alot of variety in the design of these levels, from the sewers of the first level, to the brilliant looking palace and pyramid (screenshots). Most of the design and layout is top class. Gameplay is even better! There is a great and long challenge with quite a variety of fights too. I especially loved one part where you are on a large elevator as it slowly moves down while enemies come in through doors on the way down. Unfortunately there wasn't much of a big end-battle (that elevator was it) but you will still have a very good time with this set!

The Insurrection1: The Overlord's Legacy The Insurrection2: The Grand Opus
The Insurrection3: The Sanctuary The Insurrection4: Resolution



Shadow over Innsmouth

Score: 83
Game: Quake
Author: Steve Rescoe
Date: March 1997


Steve's last level, Shadow Over Innsmouth, earned LOTM December 1996 and here is the sequel. It's rather similar to Village of Dread, but is almost all based in the village. Again, architecture is pretty plain, but does enough to make the level great. Eventually you will make your way to a harbour before dropping into some huge palace for a very fun end-battle against Fiends and Scrags. I would rate this about the same as the Village of Dread - they are both a good challenge, both extroadinary atmosphere and both are classics!



The Epoch Turning

Score: 80
Game: Quake
Author: Andrew Smith
Date: February 1997


As soon as I teleported into this level I thought this looked alot like ID's levels. Now after playing through the whole thing, I would have to wonder if perhaps Andrew really did design some of the Quake levels in secrecy! This could have been part of the actual game - it was brilliant, and better than most of the ID levels! There were really no eye-catching peices of architecture or colours, it was just the swampy medievil theme used to perfection with over 100 Ogres, Scrags and Knights thrown in. It was the gameplay which really shone. I was expecting a tough battle, so I set her to medium first and goddam was it fun! For those who just love to run around guns blazing and not using any strategy, this is the level for you. Despite being many enemies there were easily enough health packs lying around for your needs (perhaps too many?). Overall another brilliant level (and another LOTM!) from Andrew Smith.



King Solomon's Mines

Score: 73
Game: Quake
Author: Roger Staines
Date: January 1997


Roger Staines has made alot of brilliant levels - several for Quake and a few for Quake 2 (and more to come!) He is a very good mapper, so I am pleased to award his level King Solomon's Mines with a MOTM award. Although this isn't his best level, (I like Elsinore and Ghost Town best) you get here a very good challenge and some nice level design. As with all of Roger's levels, they are tricky! KSM is no exception. It doesn't really follow a theme, there is metal, medievil, sewer and underground and even base in this huge level!



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