Screen Shot Screen Shot Added 9-8-1998
( 7,052K)
AUTHOR: Neil Manke

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3D Gamers Edge: Seal of Approval Winner!


Neil is back, and once more puts a breath of fresh air into the Spq2 scene with Dry Gulch. The story started in Paradise Lost continues, as you escape from the island but enter a time-warp, and find yourself in the Old West. Unfortunately your boat vanishes, and now it's up to you to defeat Pierre, find Gravy Trader, and return to normal life once more. Once again Neil takes the Q2 engine and puts a fresh coat of paint on it - giving us all a chance to see just how powerful a tool Carmacks' creation is, and that its limits are only in the imagination of the level author. Dry Gulch is clearly one of the best looking Q2 maps available. Beautiful canyons and old-west landscapes surround the wonderfully crafted and highly believeable town. The new textures and environment map are perfectly suited to the task of creating the atmosphere intended - and contribute greatly to the immersive qualities of this game. The new skins for the Enforcer and the Gunner, and the new Pierre model are exceptionally well done, and humorous as well. Despite all the great looks offered - the key to success for this level is the gameplay. Fun fun fun. The Strogg placements and weapon/health/ammo distributions are near perfect. The challenge is high from start to finish, and you will likely be constantly reeling from the brutal pace of the game. I was nearly always in search of more health, and ammo was kept sparse enough to make me pay attention to my supplies, without getting me frustrated by lack of firepower. No HyperBlasters and Railguns to be found here, you'll need to do most of your dirty work with the Shotgun, SuperShotgun, and Machinegun. A huge improvement over Paradise Lost, in that the battles and group attacks allow for plenty of movement, and enough ammo to complete the job without relying on the Blaster. Dry Gulch offers exactly the level of challenge, and amount of action I want in an Spq2 experience. While the plot is a bit thin, the architecture of the town buildings and the huge amount of secrets keep the game moving along an excellent pace. There is a lot to explore, and if you want to find every secret and hidden item in the game - then you are in store for hours of quality gameplay. I enjoyed the attention to detail to be found throughout these maps - a working telegraph, a mine cart ride, a moving train, and all the settings you'd expect to find: a bank, hotel, saloon, dentist, and more. Gameplay is very non-linear, and it is possible (though not recommended) to skip over much of these maps. Luckily, the town locals are serious litter-bugs, and by reading the various newspapers lying around you'll pick up on what's going on, what's expected of you, and where you'll need to explore. The freedom of this style of map authoring appeals to me greatly, as it generates a feeling of exploration and discovery, which in turn provides a very rewarding experience. Neil has an ability to to provide those intangible elements to his creations that provide not just action, but a feeling of interaction - which was so well executed in Slaughtership as well. As for complaints, I had a few. There were a few textures in the town that caused damage to me (climbable pipe, and a support post) for no reason I could see. The insane marines use the new Coconut Monkey voices when they take damage/die. I looked under a desk in one of the buildings, and was able to see through the wall. And the new Berserker skin seemed a bit sloppy. That aside, this is another high quality, highly recommended creation from Mr. Manke - well worth every second of the download time, and sure to have you hoping for a Coconut Monkey 3. Thanks Neil!