level: the sigma core
author: ryan (quaker-x) rutherford
click here to download the map
3D gamers edge gold award winner!
- great atmosphere
- good architecture
- excellent layout
- good PDA/email use
- great challenge
- some nice scripted events
- fun action, cool battles
- getting stuck
- abrupt end
this map is an excellent little adventure. sent to explore strange happenings, it becomes your task to power-up the sigma core, and of course all hell breaks loose while you are at it. i really enjoyed the slow paced opening moments where ryan allows the player to wander around, soaking up the atmosphere and trying to figure out what is going on and what needs to be done. the use of PDA audio logs is also appreciated. although the voice-acting was mediocre, and the sound quality poor, they were more than adequate in setting up the story and adding to the tension. when the action does finally break-out, it is paced well - slowly building as the player travels deeper into the sigma core. item and enemy placement is well thought out, and while there are the prerequiste lone imps and soliders, there are also many staged battles that require tactics and planning. the challenge is well balanced, making it difficult to progress while never becoming frustrating. this level manages to be what many amateur levels are not - *fun*.
what ryan does exceedingly well in this map is create an atmosphere akin to that in the retail game. his use of ambient audio is exceptionally well polished. creaks, sparks, booming laughter, whispers, ominous bass - it is all deftly integrated into this map, with a flair that is nothing short of professional. the layout, architecture and texture use also add to the atmosphere. this level is real, solid, tangible. the sigma core is an entirely believable location, in large part due to excellent architecture and ryan's attention to detail. this level is almost good enough to fit seemlessly into the retail game.
my complaints are few, and the only serious one is that this level contains a few too many ways for the player to get stuck. if you like to explore, you may find yourself jumping down in among the pipes below the floor in these maps. while this is occasionally rewarded with hidden items, it can also lead to your becoming trapped with no way out except for a re-load, or a noclip. this can happen in a few different areas, and is something i find to be very distracting. i'm a firm believer that if your map allows the player to get somewhere (without cheats), then they should be able to get out as well (without cheats). the last thing you want to do as a level designer is to punish a player who is taking the time to expore ever nook and cranny of your creation. other minor complaints include the poor quality of the audio in the PDA logs, and the abrupt end of the level. this would be very well suited as the beginning of a multi-level episode.
that said, this level is an exceptional creation that any fan of single player DOOM3 should not be without.