2001 Level of the Month

2000 saw some bursts of Half-Life excellence, but the custom mapping scene basically destroyed itself by 2001. Everyone expected huge 30 bsp releases, and not many were willing to put in the big effort. Most that did produced uninspiring, plain levels and put more attention into gimmicks. Even They Hunger 3 was no match for its predecessors. Therefore no Half-Life release reached LOTM in 2001. For Quake2 only Mark Shan and myself were really keeping the scene alive. Instead it was Quake where all the quality was being released. Insomnia, Tides Of War, OUM and Rapture were all high quality classic Quake episodes. Insomnia was on top for Level Of The Year.



Brumal Quest

Score: 88
Game: Quake
Author: [Kona]
Date: December 2001


As the map releases dwindled down for Quake, Quake2 and Half-Life, only a few releases in December followed a completely stale November. But this unique gem was suitably themed for a winter christmas, with custom medieval snow textures and monster snow skins. A village that packs a punch with good, satisfying gameplay and the typical twisting [Kona] layout. Brumal Quest is a nice map to finish the year.



1492: Anno Domini

Score: 86
Game: Quake 2
Author: Mark Shan
Date: October 2001


Mark Shan is certainly the most productive mapper left in the small single player Quake2 community. This is his fourth large episode of levels, and they carry on the theme from all his previous releases. That is by the enormity of the areas in each level, and the amount of enemies. Mark Shaun launches mass carnage against the player with hundreds of monsters throughout the levels. 1492 is a great episode with some spectacular designs and a great mix of textures. The gameplay is typical Mark Shan style at its best, with a great challenge but can be too hard at times.




Game: Quake
Author: Tronyn & [Kona]
Date: September 2001


Rapture is the collaborative effort from myself and Tronyn, featuring four main levels and a few small levels. The theme redefines medieval with the unique hand of Daikatana's texture set and some Hexen2. Some impressive design and a consistent theme. Gameplay is even stronger, with several custom monsters including four new bosses. You travel through the four gloomy regions controlled by the elemental leaders of water, fire, earth and wind. One of the great episodes for Quake.



Penile Devastation

Score: 87
Game: Quake
Author: RPG
Date: August 2001


Also worthy of mention is my 4-map Nehahra pack Permutations of the Rotten, which might not provide the masses of detail and eye candy of this release, but is certainly an exciting pack that will keep you occupied for quite some time. Penile Devastation is the debut map from RPG, which has been in the making for nine months. And it shows it the design, an ID metal style crammed with fine details. For a small level, 3500 is an amazing amount of brushes, as is 1100 entities. The gameplay is good - tough and with a great ending battle. A really fantastic looking level that is quite challenging with some good fight setups. It only did not last long enough.



Operation Urth Magik

Score: 92
Game: Quake
Author: Fatty, Tronyn, Apollo and Tyrann
Date: July 2001


OUM is a Quake partial conversion that was started by Rob Cruickshank a couple years ago. It has seen a number of mappers come and go (lost track of how many) but through thick and thin Fatty, Tronyn, Apollo and Tyrann came through to deliver a fantastic Q1SP addon for 2001. A set of five maps with the common theme of IKbase (except Fatty's extra Oblivion base map). The carry on the story well as your base is taken over and you have to take it back. Great new and modified monsters with new skins, and a mostly well balanced game to the end, if you excuse the mild final map. Along with professional design, good architecture, and the a consistent base style, OUM is an excellent addon to Quake.




Score: 79
Game: Quake
Author: Xenon
Date: June 2001


This month produced two very good maps, both short but good. The other was Vigil's Se Wsi Testamentti, but I decided to go it to Xenon's Perception as it is a little more original. The map is set in a Egyptian temple, with a few new textures but mostly using the beige Rogue set. Xenon has made the theme well done with interesting architecture combined with rockery, water and a bright yellow sky. All in all, definately a great first map and a very enjoyable map in its own right. Perception is not trying to do anything revolutionary, just be a good Q1SP, and it certainly succeeds at that.



Grisly Manifest

Score: 85
Game: Quake
Author: [Kona]
Date: May 2001


Only two maps were released in May, both for Quake and oddly both strictly blue maps. The other was The Lieutenant's Exodus, but I think on at least length of play, Grisly Manifest is the recommended level. A huge level with a very interconnective layout. While the looks and details are good, the strong point of this map is the gameplay. In company with several new monsters, Grisly Manifest is one very challenging level right to it's tough ending.



Tef Double Pack V - Monumental Misery

Score: 76
Game: Quake 2
Author: Tore H. Johansen
Date: April 2001


A great pack of two main maps from an experience map author. It carries on the theme seen in Tef Double Pack IV but with more professional design and very tough gameplay. Level design was great. You're usual Q2 base but with some Ikbase textures thrown in aswell. I preferred the IK sections best, despite this texture set being used heavily already by the community, it's still great and refreshing. Great details are done by Tef, with a number of textures and styles but which all come together and manage to keep a consistent theme going. Gameplay was good with some good surprises, despite a few setups that were too hard and an odd flow of weapons.




Score: 85
Game: Quake
Author: Glassman
Date: March 2001


Colony is by another new Q1SP mapper, and is quite a first map. The technical quality is unscratchable besides having several new effects and monsters. The theme is dark base, very Quake2. The outdoor areas were the highlight of the map, low gravity green-lunar areas which were well-built. The insides were packed with details and all was well lit. Gameplay is very tough with a set of new tougher Grunts and Enforcers that can use different weapons and have improved AI. A huge, tough and unique debut level.



The Tides of War

Score: 87
Game: Quake
Author: Tim Elek
Date: February 2001


Mr Elek has released an outstanding addon for Nehahra, full of Nehahra goodness that continues that theme well. Four great levels with some interesting and unique design using custom textures. Only the base level didn't really fit in with the rest of it, but by itself is still a great map. After that the battlegrounds take you to a unique level with thin beam structures and huts built on mountains above the void, and then onto a Hexen2 textured castle. Gameplay was excellent, just as Nehahra was, but probably a little bit easier which will be good for those that found the original game to be too hard. Unfortunately No Tsemoch!




Score: 94
Game: Quake
Author: CZG
Date: January 2001


After a couple of good single-map Q1SP releases and then a set of great maps he made for Nehahra, CZG puts out a legendary pack of three levels (and a start map) that is really at the top of the line for Quake releases. The size of each levels is amazing, with fantastic architecture and layouts. Each level has it's own unique theme, using textures from Quake2 for base and Quake3 for gothic/medieval, CZG has redefined the themes with great execution. Gameplay is spot on with hordes of monsters similar to Doom. A challenging and enjoyable pack all the way to the end, this is one of the best.



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