As a map which stands out for its own certain aspects, The Pure, created by Nicole Dion, is another oldie from the archives of Unreal custom maps.
The file isn't accompanied by a readme, and the only info is the subtitle of the level saying "Welcome to my world...". Probably it's the author's imagination that he / she put to life through the Unreal Editor.
There's no story and no messages, and this case is already closed. Oh wait, there's something else...
Since the author dreamt up a peaceful place, you won't really expect fights, huh? Probably not, and you'd be right. Let me use a similar expression written in another review on this site: gameplay is simple to score, there isn't any! Yes, you'll be getting weapons of all sort (including the Quadshot, which never had an unofficial fix back then), but there aren't real enemies. Just a single Horsefly, harmless groups of Biterfish, a Devilfish who ignores you and an extremely weak Squid who tries to attack you from a treasure chest, but dies less than a second afterwards. The only legitimate way to die is to fall down from a great height or in the two lava pools present in the map. And so, The Pure ends up being more of a sightseeing tour than anything else; there should have been a warning about this though!
This leaves us, obviously, with the build of the map. The first section is a linear bunch of caves, with architecture being poor to below average, generally empty but decorated with a good use of mosses, lakes with Biterfish, waterfalls and a fire pit; also, the author took the time to make a diamond and a collar out of brushes near a treasure chest. Something unique to look at is always nice.
Only the most common rock texture from GenEarth.utx has been used to paint the entire cavern, and most of the times there are bad alignments from a room to another. The use of lighting is instead very crazy. Light actors have no sources and emit different and strong colours (red, yellow, green and blue); but at least it makes the place more benevolent and trigger-happy.
After the caves you enter the second section. After passing a long bridge (curious note: planks slowly move up and down, but that's only a visible effect) over a lava lake, you'll end up at the castle. Exploration is key, as here you go in various different directions, visiting places such as another underwater tunnel, a house over the mountains (this means, you're in touch with the skybox) and the palace itself.
Regarding the palace... sure, texturing is repetitive and often poor (two pedestals had a wavering texture of Vandora painted on them; also, outside there's a bridge built with Queen.utx materials) and lighting is almost never sourced, but the low-poly architecture isn't bad; it's pretty reminiscent of the old Deathmatch maps of Unreal like DMRadikus. Other than that, the palace is filled with items and portals that take you either outside, on the roof or simply in a secret area for more monk statues and pickups.
Once you're done with the palace, you can continue to the last valley, which leads to a dead-end with ruins, or more simply, a group of walls with blood stains everywhere that have the last set of items. But the blood on those walls made me think of something and I wandered around. The place looked quite familiar. I quickly realized that the entire section starting from the long wooden bridge to the dead-end used the entire outdoor geometry of Unreal's Velora Pass as a base.
Oh well, that was the last discovery. At least I didn't find a single HOM.
Lastly, the choice of sounds seems to fit well where they are used, but there's little variety and no dynamic sounds. EverSmoke.umx is the chosen music track, but complete silence could have been even better. Plus, making a coherent use of EverSmoke outside of Bluff Eversmoking is, in my opinion, a real challenge.
Aside from the little fact regarding the use of the base geometry of Velora Pass for the outdoor section, the rest didn't look bad at all. The author had good imagination and showed worthy skills with the editor. The map has its own unique feel, but since there's no gameplay development and therefore no possible replayability, I don't think you're going to check it more than once.
*Note that only the Unreal Archive uploads are checked to be the newest and most compatible/stable download link.
ArchitectureImagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.3
TexturingUse of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.2
LightingLighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).2
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.1
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.0
Gameplay BalanceBalance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.0