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Review: The Aquaducts

A true rare gem in Unreal mapping history

Project information

The Aquaducts
Single Map

Main review

With the recent trends of recovering unique maps from coop servers, the community was given a chance to experience true rare gems in Unreal mapping history. One such gem is RedElectroPlasmaBall's single map The Aquaducts, unearthed by the notorious Bob. The exact date of the map's creation is unknown but it is believed to be a recent creation.

While not necessarily complex, the area certainly looks real.

Given the level's primary purpose is to be played in a cooperative mode rather than solo, there is no storyline existent. A single translator message is present on the level, however due to the fact that in single player game modes one does not receive a universal translator, it can be easily missed and hardly has any purpose anyway. The primary focus of cooperative maps is gameplay and this is where Aquaducts fare quite well. The opposition may appear as strong at times, even overwhelming for the unprepared player but if the areas are explored thoroughly, the map is beatable even in solo mode. Granted, at the beginning health may be a problem if the player does not proceed with caution and gets shot every now and then but there are several armors including a shieldbelt available all across the map.

Entering the catacombs.

The level is quite linear - progression is impossible without opening the routes with switches and levers placed in another location - however it is quite detailed in construction and properly textured. The area is very authentic - a repurposed, modernized ancient aqueduct complete with water-heating mechanisms, sewer systems and other similar features. One may be surprised by the occassional odd tree (growing in a place where sun doesn't reach) but this isn't that omnipresent to be considered a major issue. There are occassional dark areas but the player is offered a searchlight so there is nothing that'd make the progress a pain.

Beware of the currents.

There are certain issues that can make progressing through the level a problem and even successfully halt the player. There is a cracked wall present in the catacomb-like area, which almost asks the player: "shoot me!"... And there's the catch: most of the time it will not yield to any weapon whatsoever, no matter how many times it is shot. The player needs to push it to clear the path. Another issue is the level's ending: luck is required to find the teleporter as it is placed in a spot one'd never think it could be in and its radius is nowhere near enough to find it by accident.

The sound layer of The Aquaducts is quite poor though: ambience is little to none and the track used (Deus Ex' Ocean Lab track 2), despite fitting the setting isn't used in full - don't count on hearing any other sections of the song than the first, exploration section. An important part of every level is its audio layer, the environment can't have a "mute" feel to it which is the case here.


While it is made with cooperative play in mind, The Aquaducts is a worthy release and an enjoyable - even if difficult at first - single player experience. Known mainly for Rune map conversions, RedElectroPlasmaBall deserves recognition and praise for his original work like the level described here. Let us hope he does deliver more.

download links:*

*Note that only the Unreal Archive uploads are checked to be the newest and most compatible/stable download link.

Build (30%)
  • 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 (19%)
  • 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.

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