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Review: The Rescue of Panunu

A pretty basic concept for a map, developed well

Project information

The Rescue of Panunu
Single Map

Main review

This map was the winner of a contest (Myscha the Sled Dog's Level Design Charette) in the early days of Unreal mapping, there was a map in the contest that I personally found superior, although I'm not sure how many maps were actually in it.

I know that one rule of the contest was that the story had to involve rescuing a Nali priest. While this is a pretty basic concept for a map it is developed well throughout this map, with the messages hinting at a bigger world outside the level, and also making up some Nali history. The messages also talk about how powerful Panunu (the priest) is, and do a good job of forboding your rescue of him.

Within the fortress

The architecture is mainly cubes detailed with more complex shapes like torchholders and pillars. Decorations like knives are also used well to make the areas more detailed, and a cave at the end has a good atmosphere (while still relatively simple). Unfortunately,however much is added, the fact the rooms are mostly cubes inherently means they can never look too amazing. I remember that another rule of the contest was that polycounts could not go over a certain level, but I'm sure a bit more detail could have been included.

The textures fit the level well, although some areas in the fortress having rock textures on the ceiling was a bit questionable (partly because the basic architecture does not develop the "artificial and natural combined" theme much). There was nothing that seemed too out of place. The lighting was sourced but very basic, and another case of the mapper seeming to put the sources after placing the light rather than the other way round. The cave at the end made a good use of fog though. The bright lighting outside at the start did make a good contrast to the more gloomy inside.

Sound was used in a relatively basic way, it was used in areas where it fit, but it could have been a tiny bit louder. The music was "Nali" and it fit well with the action songsection being used every so often. There were no BSP holes I noticed (and considering the basic shapes, there shouldn't be). In the sleeping chamber it was possible to get stuck behind a bed while getting the superhealth, although the more experienced could probably ASMD jump out. Some of the levers seemed hard to trigger, and I had to walk into them multiple times before they worked, but they did eventually.

The creatures were well placed in most cases, like at the end when a Skaarj walks out of a cell, that, when examined, has a slaughtered Nali inside. The combat was mainly a mix of Skaarj and Krall, and there was nothing that stood out, a boss fight or something would have added interest to the end. The event when you rescue Panunu was pretty cool, but maybe Panunu's power could have been demonstrated a couple more times. On Unreal there is maybe too little health; Other than the superhealth, if you make a mistake it is hard to recover later on (I had to go through the later sections with about 21 health left). The ammo was just about right, although there could maybe have been slightly less razorjack ammo. The dead Skaarj you got the razorjack off was questionable, with no other humans or anything around it was dead for no reason whatsoever, which was odd. Also, at one point part of a room collapsed for no reason, which made the event pretty random.

A gloomy tunnel

This map probably wasn't planned much, as things like the collapsing room seem added in for little other than "coolness factor" with little reason for being there, the map does interlink well at times (like the well in the entrance room). The story of Panunu shows the author had some concept for story, and planned to develop it.


The author says in the readme he planned to make more levels in the series (and improve this one), but he seemed to have dissapeared after this map, a shame, as the concepts hinted at in the level for some of the later maps in the series was cool. This map is decent and worth a go, but there is nothing that makes it stand out from other releases.

download links:*

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

Build (21%)
  • 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 (21%)
  • 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.