2000 Level of the Month

While 1999 was a mix of Quake and Quake2, the following year brought a third game into the limelight - Half-Life. Suddenly there were barely any Quake2 mappers left, having moved to Half-Life. Despite it being a weaker engine and the style of the game led to far less adventurous mapping, there were a few designers that put a spark into the overflowing Half-Life scene. They Hunger 1-2 and Wanted! were very different, while Chemical Existence, Gut Reaction and Edge Of Darkness were all professional HL-style packs. Quake meanwhile experienced a rebirth led by Level Of The Year (if not all time)- Nehahra. A3, Coven of Ebony, The Final Threat were also solid releases.



A Desert Dusk

Score: 84
Game: Quake
Author: Tronyn
Date: December 2000


Another good release from a very prolific mapper, joining other LOTM's Tronyn's been involved in - For My Babies 8, Coven of Ebony, Soul Of Evil, OUM, Rapture & ADD2.

A Desert Dusk is a very professionally built map. You find yourself entering a fortress (fantastic looking entrance) that is textured in temple and brick of greens and browns. It ends up being a unique and very successful looking Arabian styled level. Overall, A Desert Dusk was a great unique level.




For My Babies 8

Score: 80
Game: Quake
Author: Mike Woodham & Tronyn
Date: November 2000


Gameplay was great. I loaded it up, pressed tab to see how many there were and it read around 140 - oh crap! It kept me busy for about 30min, whereas the usual Q1SP only takes half that time. This was made not only by Mike Woodham, but also many pieces of maps made by Tronyn were put in there. The layout was good, as you get with Mike Woodham's levels. Though it's fairly linear, it's also hard to tell where the new sections had been placed (apart from the canyons at the start that were quite different to the rest).



Chemical Existence

Score: 93
Game: Half-Life
Author: Red Genesis
Date: October 2000


While I was playing Chemical Existence I thought to myself, 'this would be a great game to make my next level for'. Moments later I remembered that it's not a game, it's already an addon for a game! With all new weapons, monsters, items, textures and levels, it's almost an entirely new game. If Red Genesis had kept working on this for another year or two and made it as long as a full game, I think it would have been very popular. I definitely would have brought it. Nevertheless it is still very long, keeping me busy for at least 3 hours. I think it is easily the best release for Half-Life to date, including Opposing Forces and Half-Life itself! I look forward to a sequel.



They Hunger2: Rest In Pieces

Score: 88
Game: Half-Life
Author: Neil Manke
Date: September 2000


They Hunger was probably the best release for Half-Life. So it wasn't long before a sequel was started, and several months later it's finished. Improving on all the weak points of the original, They Hunger continues the horror theme and pushes it further, with great news monsters and more unique levels. In the original it was just the countryside, before you get into town. TH2 uses many more - countryside, town, sewer, base, underground and even a criminally insane asylum! This is better than TH1 in every way except one - many times the path was not obvious, a mistake Neil has made in the past. Let's hope They Hunger 3, which has already been started, is better yet.




Score: 95
Game: Quake
Author: Led by Mindcrime
Date: August 2000


Not much of a contest over which is best of the month in August, though Jed released a great Q2 level and Than backed it up with a great Q1SP, Nehahra is perhaps the best release for Quake in the four years of its existence.
Overall, Nehahra is definitely no easy task. It's much harder than Quake, but not frustratingly so. You'll find yourself on the edge alot more, running from enemies and firing rockets in your wake. However if you aren't an experienced player you might have alot of trouble. Even I used quickload a helluva lot. The maps were all fantastic, with them getting better and better as you play.



Castle of the Bad Die

Score: 80
Game: Quake
Author: IronHammer
Date: July 2000


Like last time, I would say my own release was the best release of the month, but I won't have self-pimpage here! So the award goes to Ironhammer in a small but quite unique level. It has great solid architecture and design, although fairly plain, there was good use of angles. Gameplay was good and tough, although it could have done with some tweaking, but overall I enjoyed it.



Edge of Darkness

Score: 86
Game: Half-Life
Author: Chris Spain
Date: June 2000


Unfortunately there were no other levels released for HL, Q1 or Q2 to give EOD competition, but it would have been hard to top it anyway. Veteran mapper Chris Spain brings us a stunning HL episode based in the usual military complex' and labs. This time a new slipgate is being constructed. Build quality is very high, and gameplay is great all the way through, although it could have been a bit harder. My only complaint - it was very slow a few times and the final battle was terribly slow.



Coven Of Ebony

Score: 82
Game: Quake
Author: Tronyn
Date: May 2000


Coven Of Ebony was definitely worth the wait. The levels look good and the wizard style is pulled of wonderfully. Gameplay was top notch, very challenging and with all the new monsters a quite refreshing change from the usual Quake baddies. You get to trek through six levels, one being the start map and end levels with three mammoth levels in between.



A3: The Journey Home

Score: 90
Game: Quake
Author: Pingu
Date: April 2000


If you are much into the Quake community, especially deathmatch, then you should know who Pingu is. If you haven't, maybe you have heard of some Q1DM levels - P3A: Domination, Back2School, A2, Rediscovered Fantasies. Pingu is a very accomplished deathmatch mapper and those levels are some of the most popular levels for Quake. Now, finally, comes his attempt at single player, and he has pulled it off spectacularly!
This is a great and unique level with a great atmosphere and enjoyable gameplay - what more could you want?



The Ruins and The Mines

Score: 81
Game: Quake 2
Author: Eric von Rothkirch
Date: March 2000


You start in The Ruins, a level which feels alot like a castle. Using brick textures with great stone spiked pillars hitting the sky, the level looks superb with a great atmosphere. The second level, The Mines, is more like the inside of a ruined castle. There weren't an abundance of enemies, but it was still great fun and a good challenge. Overall these two levels are a great addition to your collection, but because they were so simple and short I'm left wanting more!


The Ruins and The Mines The Awakening Q2 Mod (required)


Gut Reaction

Score: 87
Game: Half-Life
Author: Tim Johnston
Date: February 2000


It has been with design that most maps, including Valve's, seem to fall short compared to Unreal and Quake/Q2. These levels are what Half-Life should have looked like. Great architecture on the outside, great details on the inside. Most of this level set is based around waste levels, with vents and tubes going everywhere, and yes you get to crawl around inside them. In its design, Gut Reaction is one of the best releases for HL to date, and I can't believe it is a debut!



They Hunger

Score: 89
Game: Half-Life
Author: Neil Manke
Date: January 2000


They Hunger may remind you of some of Neil's oldest levels, most notably his two Alba maps for Quake. They also had great atmosphere that was unique and attractive. You may not find grand pieces of architecture, but Neil's gloomy countryside and zombie theme rivals even Valve's base! They Hunger is almost like an entirely different game to Half-Life, and should NOT be missed!



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