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Map Title: Greek Island
The day is October 6th, 1998. Obi-Wan, member of Unreal Creations and DeCyber, releases two items in one stroke. The first is a new monster and the second - a map that uses it. In general, Obi-Wan is known as a very decent mapper, however at that time this was his first release in SP fare. Let us see how good was this attempt.
First off, let's start with build. Obi-Wan sure knows how to deal with architecture, the three floors of the small temple we come across as well as outdoors that don't have flat vertical rock walls, but something a bit more... shaped, so to speak, or the final arena -- all this looks well, taking the map's age into consideration. Even now, in 2011, the map looks decent. What is even more important -- the construction is without technical faults. Not a single BSP hole or HOM, no crashes or any kind of issues.
The textures are well used and tiled properly. I haven't seen a single misplaced or wrongfully aligned texture on the entire map and they do add to the level's feel, be it the temple, or the outdoors. The lighting however is another story. The skybox seems to suggest that it's already past sunlight, and yet everything seems bright as in broad daylight. The temple has multiple torches lit, however they don't seem to have a purpose -- there is almost no difference between rooms lit by torches and places where their light technically shouldn't reach.
The level's audio layer is every bit as high quality as the architecture. Varied and fitting ambient sounds (including torch fire crackling) add to the Greek Island's environmental realism, but the music... let's just say I find it strange that the music tracks change so often. First WarGate, then K_Vision, which both disappear shortly after you exit the teleporter room -- I'd rather extend the mentioned place's size for them to be played longer than a couple seconds. Dusk isn't really fitting, since we spend way more time in the temple than outside it, I believe UTemple would be a much more fitting choice here. The only music that is both fitting for its purpose and plays long enough is Warlord, which enters when we confront the final opponent.
I've already mentioned the temple's architecture to be decent, as the temple has two main floors and a small annex with a Flak Cannon upstairs, all of which are quite detailed, but the entire level lacks the feel of being coherent. First, we begin in a hi-tek environment which is revealed to be just a teleporter room with no real exit. There's a hole in the wall, but I'd almost expect that if you do yourself the trouble of constructing a teleporter device, at least SOME security measures would be in order. A door, anyone?! Proceeding further, we see a large pipe of unknown purpose. It does not connect to the complex in a visible way, it seems out of place here. The temple itself is the only thing that makes actual sense because it really looks like a place where you perform sacred rites, or in this case, rites of passage most likely - you pass through the complex to finally perform your religious duties in a pillar circle reminiscent of small-scale Stonehenge. There are seeds of decent - even if not ambitious - concept here, but something would have to be done with the level's beginning.
The Greek Island fails at storyline though. Totally. Big, fat zero. No storyline in the readme, no storyline in the level. The translator is given at the very end of the level to remind you of the secret you may have missed, which is a Flak Cannon and an Assault Vest. And then you fight the beast this map is to show to you, and then... the end.
The gameplay is nothing to marvel about also. The level is surprisingly short. Grab weapon, kill this, kill that, grab another weapon, kill boss, byebye. The ancient temples are usually incomplete without some puzzles to slow down our progress and make us think a bit. However uninspiring the gameplay may be, it is however very well implemented. On lower difficulties you may just stroll through the level fairly easily, but due to the place being relatively narrow, you might find some challenge in whacking the swift Skaarj Assassins. The boss is also challenging due to the rapid fire rate of ASMD projectiles straight out of its fists, but he looks... ugly. It isn't very well detailed and the mesh is really low poly, but I recognized it as a minotaur of sorts. Perhaps a better skin would save the day, but unless someone attempts to retexture the creature, we will never find out.
Obi-Wan's first attempt at SP mapping turned out to be a decent-looking map but it's hardly attractive gameplay-wise and to top it off, there is no storyline to speak of either. The boss that it's supposed to be the testing ground for is nothing marvellous either. Still, it's still worth to give it a shot, even if it's just for the visuals and atmosphere of the place which is indeed impressive, given the level's age.
None to date.
Download spobiw01_224.zip (1,2MB) from UnrealTexture