1998 Level of the Month

It was only a year and half after Quake was released that ID Software unleashed the dramatically different Quake2 on the gaming world. Most mappers left Quake for the superior-engined Quake2. So after 1997 being Quake's prime year for great releases, 1998 was Quake2's. Level Of The Year was a tight contest between The Powersphere Quest for Q2, and a surprising little gem in January for Q1 - Tale Of Abbots Rune. But levels like The Widening Gyre, Angron Installation and a stack of level packs like Age of Panic, 1964, On Sacred Ground and The Production Complex made 1998 a fantastic year for those who loved the Quake2 base theme.



Emerald Mountain Wipeout

Score: 73
Game: Quake 2
Author: Tore H Johansen
Date: December 1998


Ever heard of TEF for Quake? Tore has made a lot of good Quake levels, although not greatly well known. It was sort of the same with this level pack - I hadn't heard much about it, but I was expecting something good. I was not disappointed!
This two-level pack reminded my alot of ID's levels, it's a very nicely designed base where you typically have to shut it down. Much of it was outside (I get sick of all the 'inside-the-base' levels) and there were a couple of very large areas too. Nevertheless, the two levels were only medium sized, with a brilliant layout that was quite non-linear. The good gameplay topped it off to make a very fun unit.



The Widening Gyre

Score: 88
Game: Quake 2
Author: Carson Utz
Date: November 1998


Carson's debut level, What The End Is For, was an awesome and mammoth set with superb architecture. The Widening Gyre, is even better! This level is HUGE, with many beautiful areas that are coloured to perfection. Everything looks very clean and professional, while nicely detailed at the same time. This is one of the best looking levels for Quake2, and fortunately, the gameplay makes it even better. There is a huge challenge with over 100 monsters and just enough ammunition. This level is a classic, I've already played it many times!



The Blockade

Score: 81
Game: Quake 2
Author: Michael Shand
Date: October 1998


This is the type of level you would expect to be in the game. It is overflowing with professionality and attractive design. The typical base style is used and construction is well done. But the focus is the gameplay. Some might find it too hard, as it is very tricky and Michael uses an interesting method of spawning in more monsters in the exact position as the last one died. Doubling their health may have been more realistic.



1964 - Echos Of The Past

Score: 81
Game: Quake 2
Author: J F Gustafsson
Date: September 1998


Not quite as good as Age of Panic, due to a large lack of ammo and because it is far too dark. Otherwise 1964 is a very good unit that will take a long time to complete as you battle through a variety of levels from sewers, ikbase, canyons and even an underwater level. Some very nice architecture as you would expect, and even some puzzles that were not too hard.



On Sacred Ground

Score: 84
Game: Quake 2
Author: Jack Davis
Date: August 1998


On Sacred Ground is a three-level set that was very fun. I played through it three times already, fighting almost all of the Strogg which were a good challenge. The design was extremely well done, a top notch base that was very large with lava, outdoors and sewers. The temple-style textures seemed to blend nicely with the sunset. The end is quite hard and a little repetitive but otherwise this is a must get level pack.



Ghost Town 2

Score: 72
Game: Quake 2
Author: Roger Staines
Date: July 1998


Roger Staines had it easy this time, picking up his second LOTM award only because there were no other levels released this month! This is the sequel to his excellent Quake level Ghost Town. Although I like the original a little better, this is alot of fun and features some nice design in places too. It is quite unique with a cowboy theme, which was pulled off quite well.



Improvice, Adapt, Overcome

Score: 75
Game: Quake 2
Author: Wiebo de Wit
Date: June 1998


The Production Complex and Chemical Plant were both quite similar - a couple of huge industrial type level sets, but TPC wins the prize because it has more levels! A great set of action packed levels which I spent many hours on (I played it three times!). Some great design and layout, although it isn't too unique it's a great industrial pack with a superb end fight!



The Production Complex

Score: 85
Game: Quake 2
Author: Bario
Date: May 1998


The Production Complex and Chemical Plant were both quite similar - a couple of huge industrial type level sets, but TPC wins the prize because it has more levels! A great set of action packed levels which I spent many hours on (I played it three times!). Some great design and layout, although it isn't too unique it's a great industrial pack with a superb end fight!



The Powersphere Quest v2

Score: 93
Game: Quake 2
Author: Cedar Kraus
Date: April 1998


Q2 custom maps dominated 1998, and even just in April there were a number of absolute gems released (Angron Installation, Saturation Point, What The End Is For and then Age of Panic). But version2 of The Powersphere Quest was a masterpiece. Despite having played about 150 Q2 levels prior to this one, I was totally blown away and had not seen anything like this before! The gameplay was fantastic, with Cedar taking a new approach and filling the levels with the toughest monsters. Tank Commanders and the mini's bosses were your main enemies! Not only was the gameplay awesome, but level design is as impressive and professional as they come, with large solid architecture and huge underground caverns. Commercial quality design, although no new textures were used so it's not totally revolutionary level design. The only problem is ammo - there is very little of it. Being designed for coop play, it's hard fantastic gameplay, but oddly very little ammo is provided. Some may not like the tough monsters and being very careful with ammo, but this is probably my personal favourite Quake2 level, amazing considering it's a debut release and Q2 was only recently released.



The Azure Mine

Score: 77
Game: Quake 2
Author: James Parkman
Date: March 1998


The first Quake2 level to make Level Of The Month. With Quake2 being released, the Quake releases started to slow down while everyone turned their hand to its sequel. While The Azure Mine isn't much compared to the recent top Quake releases, it's just the start of better things, and better than many of ID's Q2 levels. The Mines just beat Arkanian and Versicolored Vermination by Roger Staines. You need to travel into a base and destroy a bunch of dangerous blue crystals. A very good atmosphere and excellent gameplay, no wonder James Parkman has gone to make levels for Legend Entertainment on their upcoming game The Wheel of Time!




Score: 90
Game: Quake
Author: John Fitzgibbons
Date: February 1998


Rubicon is one of the best levels made for Quake, and probably equal with Iikka's Secret Installation as best base level. Dressed with his own 'industrial and corroded' textures, which looks awesome. But that is not all! You also get a secret level... Eagle, which unfortunately isn't very good compared to Rubicon, but it only took 5 days to make. It is designed to be like some of those 'classic games' which you used to play at the arcade. In that aspect, John has pulled it off extremely well.



Tale of Abbot's Rune

Score: 93
Game: Quake
Author: Rain Rannu (Spacegod)
Date: January 1998


I first loaded this quite unknown level pack up when it was first released, and unfortunately it crashed after the small and average first level. Two years later I tried again, and what a stunner! It has its own unique style, with huge blue pillars against dark and well lit blood-stained rooms. Make sure you play it in the dark. But even better than the level design, was the combat. Many times you will be walking into a dark room, then suddenly the lights come on and a bunch of Ogres spawn around you. There are many surprise attacks, and with plenty of ammunition you will need to be quick to kill. Over 200 enemies in total, which made this pack very challenging. It has to be one of the best releases for Quake yet!



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