Screen Shot Screen Shot added 12-23-1999
level: castles of stroggos 3: the final objective 8,239K

author: brian "grin reaper" griffith

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3D gamers edge: seal of approval winner

the good

the bad the summary
hint: if you haven't yet - play castles of stroggos and castles of stroggos 2: stroggship before indulging in this unit. both units are available here at 3d gamers edge.

third in the castles of stroggos series, the final objective is far and away the best, and one of the best spq2 experiences you can have - period. nearly a year in the making with playtesting by the amazing talents at the fugue state, this unit is an experience that no spq2 fan should miss. sabotaging and escaping a strogg space vessel was never so enjoyable and rewarding.

within the first few minutes after booting up this unit you will know you are in for a treat. the first level specimen containment (13 strogg, 0 secrets) kicks off in such a new and unique way that it immediately captured my attention, imagination, and respect. i'll not give anything away here, but prepare to be impressed. this first map is small but effective and used mainly to set the stage for the immense levels which follow.

cold dissolution (55 strogg, 5 secrets) is where you find yourself after escaping the first map. this is where the scope of what you are in for comes into focus. this level is huge, brutally challenging, wonderfully constructed, and filled with so many amazing details that you'll think you died and went to spq2 heaven. take for example the great look of the door which requires the security pass: this is quality. the level has a distinct theme that previals throughout, and is masterfully reflected in both the layout and the architecture. this is mission and goal-oriented spq2 at it's best. featured within this level are five secrets that simply blew me away - especially the secret area - be sure to hunt them all down. these secrets are some of the coolest and most creative you'll ever see. once you finish mopping up this level, you're on your way to:

poisoned hopes, (72 strogg, 3 secrets) a massively proportioned map that is one of the few to capture the true feel of what a strogg-style warehouse would be like. featured in this map is one of the most awe-inspiring sites i have ever witnessed in spq2 gameplay - 2 massive and fully functional gun bays. upon entering the bay containing the first 'big gun', i literally stared in awe for a few moments, gawking at the expertly crafted gun. then, senses regained, my desire was to see if i could somehow run around on this awesome piece of work. not one to disappoint, brian not only allows the player to do just that, but he makes it mandatory to completeing the level. no amount of writing can describe the brillinace of this level, but i can say this. brian has managed to do here what the original quake2 game failed to do in it's own version of a 'big gun' level: it gives the player the joy of seeing the 'big gun' in action, and when you finally disable it, you *know* you did it. nothing abstract about it: it is a real, visceral, and wonderfully satisfying event. bravo brian! this is truly an achievement that deserves attention from fps players everywhere.

next up you'll continue your adventure in the final objective (28 strogg, 1 secret) , and on the main deck (28 strogg, 1 secret). these two levels intertwine to form the events that will lead into the finale. you enter 'final objective' and are quickly treated to a nice little homage to Unreal. from there you make your way onto 'main deck'. within is a wonderful glass-enclosed observation deck which reveals an approprite and mildly amusing view of the earth. there are some incredible battle situations here, one of which was perhaps a tad bit too tough (i was forced to use an invulnerability). the first feelings of foreshadowed doom manifest in this map as you encounter a few difficulties with the available elevator. once you complete your objectives, you return to 'final objective' where things really get ugly. having completed all of your 'assignments' you rush to find an escape pod off the rapidly decaying ship. under attack by the strogg and the architecture, your hopes sink as you see a chance for escape thwarted in what was one of the most memorable spq2 events i've ever experienced. abandoned and let down, you now have to contend with:

the makron situation (25 strogg, 1 secret), an absolutely wicked and challenging level that wraps up the adventure in a very satisfying way. i don't want to give away the ending, but after you solve the 'makron situation' you are treated to a final 'level' that is well crafted and a pleasure to view.

what makes this unit so great is the immaculate attention to detail brian provides the player with. the new sounds are professional quality and fit the gameplay perfectly. speaking of sounds - ambient sounds are put to extremely good use throughout this level, helping to immerse the player even farther into the world of the final objective. also, the architecture is a real treat. complex, often unconventional, both breathtaking and functional: these levels are all a real pleasure to admire from a strictly aesthitic standpoint, as well as being realistic enough to make up a convincing experience inside of a strogg vessel. one thing that i truly loved was the new graphics developed for this unit. the computer screens in particular were extremely fitting and informative - giving the levels a personality and realism that would not have been possible without them. every aspect of level design is approached with a 'take nothing for granted' attitude that really allows this unit to shine.

as for my complaints, they are few and rather nit-picking, but what the heck. in 'cold dissolution' there is a shaft with a fan at the bottom. if you time it just right, you can leap into the shaft and fall between the fan blades to find yourself trapped in the bottom - requiring a 'noclip' to escape. the texture choices throughout the unit are consistant, and fit together perfectly, however, they are occasionally a tiny bit too busy for my tastes. they provide so much eye-candy that it is at times somewhat overwhelming.

the bottom line is that this unit is my favorite user-created spq2 experience to date, and it's right up there with my favorite commercially released spq2 units as well. honestly folks, i would pay to play this unit, and it is with extreme gratitude that i say 'thank you, brian', for i din't have to pay for it, and neither do you. notice that i have given this unit the highest score that i have awarded in my two years of working at this website, i almost feel compelled to create a new 'seal of approval' award specifically for this unit. in a word, the final objective is a masterwork.