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Review: Konosus: The Secret of Minos

One word: epic.

Project information

Konosus: The Secret of Minos
Robert Wey
Single Map

Main review

As Project Zephon's case has showed us, multiplayer arenas if constructed properly may translate to single player quite efficiently. Konosus: The Secret of Minos, originally a deathmatch map from 1999, revisited ten years later by the author and a person called W3RM, just might be one such map. Is it?

Wey's original design technique certainly helps in that regard. As the author himself acknowledges in the release notes, he aimed not for a typical fragfest arena, but for a setting and this made it easier to turn the level into a single player endeavor which turned out quite neat.

One of the castles from a distance.

Konosus is a fairly large map with a river running through the center of the area. This river is blocked by a dam with two castles nearby. The player's task is to clear out the castles on both sides of the dam and find a way to the top of the rock formation surrounding the entire valley where the destination camp is located. That's all there's to it. And with no story implemented it may seem pointless.

But it really isn't. The visuals themselves are awesome for a 1999-era map. The castles, boasting new textures look realistic and fresh. The little details like a steamy little cloud at the waterfall or rundown machinery at the basement, or finally the small library that makes the player feel like home are a feast for the eyes and with the lighting, while not perfect, still good enough not to spoil the impression, the level is one of the better ones out there. There's also a lot to hear in Konosus. The ambient layer is pretty rich and adds to the enchanting feel of the level and the Unreal Crypt tune fits the location like a glove.

The rundown machinery in the basement.

The gameplay factor is the toughest part to pull off when dealing with MP-to-SP porting. As a solo adventure usually revolves around searching for a way to unlock the next portion of a location by doing something in the previous area, leaving too many routes open might prove problematic. That is not the case with Konosus however. The level is fairly linear but each main location can be accessed by at least two ways and all have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you use the teleport to get to the second castle, the Skaarj troopers patrolling the premises will sooner or later spot you anyway and just might enter the interiors and engage you up close. On the other hand taking the bridge makes you fair game for the snipers while giving you enough room to jump around, avoiding shots.

The main entry hall.

Enemies are plentiful but so are weapons and health provisions. Seemingly there's no concern here for gameplay balance but the players may be surprised or even frightened of entire teams of Skaarj charging. However in those cases you just might realize how useful might the Eightball Gun's regular spread shot mode be. When I saw the squad on the bridge charging at me, I deployed a full set of six missiles at them and watched the gibs fly. Only two of the opponents remained but those were quickly picked off from behind cover. Earlier, the player encounters a titan. It might prove tempting to waste as much ammo as you can on the beast, but I beseech thee - touch it not! A much better idea is to provoke the Skaarj troopers around to either attack from distance and hit the titan accidentally or close in on the player and get hit by the rocks thrown by the monster. It may be tricky but it is doable and shows the authors' mastery at orchestrating the entire thing as it forces the players to utilize their surroundings instead of mindlessly firing away at everything that moves.

The library. Now that the intruder is dead, it feels like home.


This isn't pure excellence but in my opinion it's pretty damn close. The authenticity of the location combined with the challenging, frantic and yet well balanced gameplay make this level a truly great experience and while lack of a storyline does sting a bit, it's not a valid reason to skip this level. Strongly recommended.

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Build (34%)
  • Architecture
    Imagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.
  • Texturing
    Use of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.
  • Lighting
    Lighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).
  • Sound
    Use 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.
  • Technical Execution
    Technical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.
Cast (24%)
  • Conceptual Grandness
    Scale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.
  • Story Construction
    Backing story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.
  • Story Implementation
    Progression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.
  • Gameplay Awe
    Quality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.
  • Gameplay Balance
    Balance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.
Above average

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