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Screen Shot Screen Shot Added 7-31-1998
LEVEL: ON SACRED GROUND
(jdsacred.zip 2,174K)
AUTHOR: Jack Davis

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RATING
115

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PLUSES

MINUSES SUMMARY
Jack Davis takes another bold stride forward with the release of his third Spq2 creation: 'On Sacred Ground'. Set in and around a Strogg Temple, the goal is to locate a sacred crystal, use it to reveal the evil Jorg, then destroy both Jorg and the crystal. The architectural foundation is wonderful - these maps look fantastic. They are smooth and clean and very solid. Pillars and angular supports, smooth integration of outdoor, indoor, and lava areas, and texture choices that are second-to-none. I was constantly in awe of the beautiful look of the areas I was exploring. And explore you must, for the path ahead is not always clear. There are several examples of using intelligent jumping skills to reach items and new sections of the map. I'm not talking about Mario-style jumping, but the kind where you must be paying careful attention to your surroundings, and need to spot that one tricky means of reaching your goal. Gaining access to the Strogg Temple from the Outer Temple is in particular a difficult task, which took me an hour to figure out. There is also a clever and deadly trap which you will encounter that is very well thought out, and fun to escape from. The layout is very nicely done. Several large rooms allow for some good quality Strogg gang attacks. There are also many side rooms and corridors, good use of vertical space, and a real sense of place generated within the maps. Along your way you will encounter plenty of action. The placement of Strogg is very well done. In particular the groupings are well arranged to prevent Stroff in-fighting. Fights are designed to range from tough to hectic, but never cross the boundary into frustration. Item placement is well done, though there was a bit more ammo and health than necessary for my tastes. The only real faux pas was presenting the player with the Super Shotgun early on, and never providing the Shotgun. It would have added a bit to challenge and flow to have recieved the Shotgun early on, and have to wait a bit for the Super Shotgun. All aspects of the map combine to form a very high quality immersive experience: the clever introduction, the story, the beautiful construction, the great pace of the action, tricky layout, well implemented ambient sounds, and the sense of closure generated by the final conflict with Jorg. This is one of those rare maps where all elements come together to form a highly enjoyable cohesive experince. The only tiny complaint I could find was that the waterfall in the opening sequence flows into a pond with no where for the water to go. The entire area shold have become flooded long ago. This, however, is very nit-picky, and should not in any way detract from the overall game. Overall, this is a top notch experience, and one not to be missed. Bravo Jack, you have done it again.