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 on: September 20, 2020, 08:14:13 PM 
Started by Forge - Last post by Merlijn
Alright, it took a bit longer than expected, but here it is. If it's too long, don't hesitate to shorten it a bit. :)

Review: Another alien attack 1: Woudrichem War

Duke Nukem 3D is well known for it's simulation of real life locations, in a time where most FPS games were just abstract mazes. A lot of user mappers took this idea even further and started recreating monuments, castles and even whole city blocks. Authors like Pascal Rouaud and Ck3d are well known for translating European architecture to the build engine and pushing the enveloppe. Now Maarten has taken the next step by recreating an entire town and its surroundings. This whole map tries to replicate the city of Woudrichem, a real historic place in The Netherlands. The result is a very ambitious and remarkable map.

The map starts outside the city and lets the player circle the place first. This is a nice way to introduce the player to this world and give them an idea of the general geography of the area. Enemy encounters are built up in a similar fashion, starting off slow but becoming more intense as the players progresses. Once the city is unlocked, the map becomes more unlinear. The player has to hunt down 3 keys and has the freedom to decide in which order to get them. The entire city is ripe for exploration, and there are hidden goodies everywhere. Even most of the rooftops are accessible, resulting in some enjoyable parkour.

Throughout the city, there are a lot of historic Dutch buildings to be admired, and there are a lot of fun little details. For example, there's a playground with some creative usage of sprites. There's even a little nod to E1L1 (you know it when you see it). But it's the sight of the whole city on screen at the same time that's the most impressive thing about this map. The hunt for keys will frequently take you from indoor sections to the top of a building and the sight alone is worth it.

Gameplay-wise, there's quite a lot of enemies to deal with. A surprisingly high amount of recon patrol vehicles and pig cop tanks patrol the area, combined with lurking assault troopers and fat commanders. But Maarten is always pretty generous when it comes to ammo and health and this map is no exception. And while there are some spicy fights in here, it never gets unfair. The city itself may be a little disorienting at first, but luckily there are viewscreen camera's to guide the player. What's more, there's a large bell tower in the middle of the city, which looms over the other structures and serves as a handy landmark.
My only minor complaint is that some indoor areas are cramped, but luckily these areas don't contain too many enemies.

The map saves the best for last though, with a thrilling and awesome finale which I won't spoil here. Let's just say it's the perfect cherry on top.

Conclusion: this map pushes this old game to its utter limits by creating an entire city and its surroundings, and showing it all on screen at the same time. That's remarkable enough, but it also offers a lot of fun firefights, exploration and memorable moments.There's no reason not to play it, so 98 points is what it gets.

Rating: 98

 on: September 16, 2020, 11:15:29 AM 
Started by Puritan - Last post by Puritan
Minor update;

The short name for this site is CGS.
Bought a domain name down that road.

 on: September 09, 2020, 08:01:51 AM 
Started by Forge - Last post by Puritan
I'm willing to write a review for Woudrichem war (and perhaps some other recent maps too). But since Woudrichem war is made by Maarten, it's probably not appropiate for me to determine the rating.

No problem.
Your integrity is indisputable, sire.
And thank you for offering a helping hand  ;)
( I was thinking of a score around 97-98 if it is a relief ....)

 on: September 08, 2020, 09:32:14 PM 
Started by Forge - Last post by Merlijn
Thanks for the review! ^_^
I'm willing to write a review for Woudrichem war (and perhaps some other recent maps too). But since Woudrichem war is made by Maarten, it's probably not appropiate for me to determine the rating.

 on: September 04, 2020, 11:08:23 AM 
Started by Forge - Last post by ck3D
Very rare are Duke 3D user maps so chockfull of surprises that the mere act of writing a simple review risks instantly slipping into spoiler category. And Shaky Grounds Pt. 3: Epicenter just so happens to be one of those (urban-themed) pieces that tells its own story - or its own chapter of the story more specifically here - as written by longtime Build engine narration legend from the Netherlands, Merlijn Van Oostrum.

The author not only lives up to his legacy here with more stellar design, clever texture applications and good taste as far as general visuals, but also pushes it even further in terms of gameplay flow - navigation is made clear from the beginning to the end of the level, ensuring you'll never get stuck despite the existence of a constructed plot, but also dotted with moments of build up then release. It's hard to think of any map since Red 4 and Red 5 (not coincidentally also by Merlijn) with such a progressive sense of immersion - here your whole ride will be punctuated by atmospheric moments of tension and bouts of all possible kinds of action, including some particularly ambitious explosive surprises (jack-in-the-box style - except your brain will be the box).

Just like the previous installments in the series, Shaky Grounds Pt. 3: Epicenter is a magnificently-crafted city map but also and most importantly, one of the evolutive kind that's only too rarely seen. Here you can literally expect the urban landscape to move around you as you go, and lots of thinking and technical effort has been put into the implementation of a ridiculous amount of effects to make sure your time in this map will feel so coherent and live, with some surreal props thrown in for good measure; for brief moments you won't be sure on which side of the screen you belong: 'here you go weird' as a certain saying goes, but only the best kind of.

If around the time of its release, Duke 3D was popularly regarded as a more interactive Doom, then the whole Shaky Grounds series so far can similarly be viewed as a more dynamic Roch. If ever needed, with that map set, Merlijn reminds us all that pseudo-realistic, complex (or Kompleks?) environments don't have to be static, and discourage authors from using terrain effects that originally made a lot of the strength of the Build engine - if anything, they may in fact make for just as many opportunities to push them, thereby inviting the exploration of new dimensions in Duke 3D mapping as opposed to repeating old tropes. Each and every installment is a piece of art and instant classic.

Score: 98

 on: September 01, 2020, 11:01:08 AM 
Started by Forge - Last post by Puritan
Played "Elevator Hell" by Al Patapoff the other days.
A huge map with new art and even a new enemy; a pig-tank that shoot freezer rays at you.
Quite entertaining even though it's a pretty old mod.

Elevator Hell

 on: September 01, 2020, 10:49:13 AM 
Started by Puritan - Last post by Puritan
As for the subject, I first want to get this out of the way: I would generally prefer a 1 to 5 stars system...

Well, we have both systems available around here.
A rating by the reviewer and a 5-star rating system at the bottom of each review where visitors may vote.

The top 5 results of the 5-star votings are summed up in the "Statistics" page.
Since the numbers of votes are pretty low I've sticked to the "Top 5" for now.
If the votes would increase significantly I would consider creating a new page dedicated to visitors votes.

 on: August 31, 2020, 09:59:09 PM 
Started by Puritan - Last post by Merlijn
First of all: glad you liked SG3 so much! The fact that you even consider giving it 100 points is really flattering already. :)

As for the subject, I first want to get this out of the way: I would generally prefer a 1 to 5 stars system, or a 1 tot 10 scale. 1 to 100 suggests a higher accuracy, but in most cases that's not really true. In the case of MSDN, the rating system effectively locks each new release somewhere between 85 and 95 points, with a few exceptions.

A 10/10 or a 5/5 map would also be less controverial than a 100/100 map.

As it stands, I personally wouldn't object to maps scoring a 100 points. To me, a perfect score doesn't mean a map can't be outdone anymore, but it would mean that the map in question achieved exactly what it set out to do and did so with absolute perfection. For example, with that mindset you could argue that Hollywood Holocaust is a 100/100 map. It's a perfectly executed first level and I really can't think of a way to improve it.

With that in mind, a Roch map scoring 99 or 100 wouldn't be too out there either. Those maps were made with the old limits and they were also very innovative at the time. IMO they have aged just fine as well.

 on: August 31, 2020, 02:56:20 PM 
Started by Forge - Last post by Puritan
Are you looking for a review for this one too, Puritan?

Fully gotcha on Facebook, too. All my social media would be long gone if I didn't need it for work so much.

If you would be so kind  ;)
You are a good reviewer for sure. You may PM me your review and I'll put it up immediately.
Very much appreciated!

"Social media" has become socialist media. Censorship and lies goes hand in hand.
MeWe are a neutral platform and you may be anonymous.
No gathering of your personal data.....etc
Recommended !

 on: August 31, 2020, 02:25:00 PM 
Started by Puritan - Last post by Puritan
Thanks for your input.
I'm very much agreed with most of your points.
It's almost impossible to give a score of 100 due to the facts you pointed out in a great way.

It was harder to pull off a "100" map in the mid 90+s than it is today.
The first mappers didn't have anything to learn from (pull apart a top rated map in Build) nor YouTube or other helping platforms.
Some learned Build on their own free time while others were reading the early map faq's by Jonah Bishop.

I was looking for opinions and feedback and you sure did deliver  ;)
Hope more visitors would leave a comment as well.

Btw: I've never reviewed recent maps where mappers are still present. So unfortunately, I wont put scores or review for SG3 or other "new" releases.
That's simply because I'm really not a good reviewer.
I only write up a few lines, the DNR-style, for oldies that I have stashed on my HD's

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