Infestation by DOMiNiON comes from the times of the golden age of Unreal mapping - from 1998. Right after the game's release, many have tried their wits with the new editor and many landmarks of early Unreal SP mapping days come from that era. Now is Infestation such a landmark? We shall see.
For a first try, Infestation is surprisingly decent. From the visual side, it's not a squarefest, the brushes' shapes are quite varied, the textures are aligned correctly and not overstretched. The lighting is not that great, but it isn't a pain for the eyes either. It's worth mentioning that although the level utilizes various movers and is multi-layered, there are no visible construction flaws. Such a thing is rarely seen in first attempts of Unreal mapping.
It is a puzzle though as to what is the purpose of the infested area we are to clear out. The hi-tech constructs and texturing suggest a facility or outpost of some sort but lack of any kind of storyline in the readme or in the level itself doesn't help to clear things out. Therefore, we face yet another purposeless technodungeon similar to many other technodungeons all over the world. No visible concept for the place.
Infestation doesn't try to infest our ears with anything either. There is no ambience in the level, other than grunts of the monsters we'll soon be silencing. The "Shared Dig" track does fit the location surprisingly well, though, and since the author made sure to change song sections as the players progress through the place and did so sensibly and that's rare for first-timers.
The gameplay aspect is quite well done. The standard find-them-kill-them-go-forward fare is spiced up by the occasional traps set by enemies. These are featured prominently as pupae jumping out of ventilation shaft openings both above the player and at their feet. There's not enough of them to kill somebody if the player retreats a small distance and picks 'em off with any gun at their disposal but if underestimated, they can do quite some harm. Also, another advantage is that the monsters have actual patrol routes. They don't stand in place like witless idiots but instead they move about the level and there is a chance they'll see the player before being seen themselves and that opens them a window for a surprise attack.
One thing about this level is that it is too damn easy. The player is more than sufficiently equipped to do battle with any opponent present on the level and while the Stinger-toting Skaarj trooper encountered fairly early on the level can do quite some damage, nothing else will have the same chance as new weapons are found quickly and pretty much nothing can match the player once they get their hands on those.
DOMiNiON's Unreal debut, albeit simple and short, does demand some respect. Many of his peers have failed to think of something so seemingly obvious as patrol routes, shuffling music sections or care to build level geometry properly. DOMiNiON may have failed to provide something of value in terms of concept or storyline but he did succeed in offering players fifteen minutes of decent entertainment. It's too bad he never tried again, otherwise we might've received some really high quality content from him.
ArchitectureImagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.4
TexturingUse of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.6
LightingLighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).3
SoundUse of ambient sounds and event sounds to give the level atmosphere, and the quality of any custom sounds. Appropriate use of music and silence to complement the atmosphere.3
Technical ExecutionTechnical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.7
Conceptual GrandnessScale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.2
Story ConstructionBacking story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.0
Story ImplementationProgression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.0
Gameplay AweQuality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.4
Gameplay BalanceBalance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.5