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added 05-15-2005
level: xxx
xxx.zip 18.7MB
author: milous

download it here: download map file
rating
99

3D gamers edge: seal of approval winner

the good

the bad the summary

let me begin this review with a cautionary tale. i always have and always will play spq2 maps at skill 2. i consider myself to be an excellent single-player fps gamer. playing most fps games at normal skill is only moderately challenging for me. and there are a lot of single player fans who are at the same skill level. if you are so into spq2 maps that you are downloading from my website and reading this review - then you are likely a very good player as well. so, without a thought i set the the skill level to "hard" before I began milous' xxx mission pack. big mistake. i couldn't even get past the first room. i don't know who playtested these maps, or how good milous himself is at spq2 - but when i have no armor, 100 health, and only the weakest of weapons, i do not want to face off against 3 laser turrets at once. even when i cheated my way past this room, the next map area killed me over and over again as well. so i restarted at skill 1, normal skill. and it was just as ridiculously difficult. i couldn't get past the first room or two. so - i was forced to play at skill 0. yep - easy skill. however, skill 0 in xxx is at a difficultly level comparable to: lets say 1.5 for most maps. harder than "normal", not quite as tough as "hard". needless to say, that pissed me off a bit and i turned away from this mission pack for a while because of it.

after a few days away from all the frustration of trying to figure out what level to play this pack at - i dove back in. once again milous adds an extremely cool and moody introduction to his creation. in fact, it is one of my favorite intros for any amatuer spq2 creation ever. very slick, very well done, milous. after that you are treated to what i can only describe as a mission pack that is similar to milous' previous work "gladiator", but with large doses of mark shan mixed in. in fact, mr. shan's name makes an appearance in these maps on a few ocassions, and he is thanked profusely throught the read.me, the intro, and the levels themselves. the end result of this paring of styles is at times very cool, very fun, and very interesting in terms of architecture. you get all the groovy music (once again provided my milous' lemonhearth club project), moody and wild colored lighting, and crazy texture selections that are milous' trademarks. you also get some truly epic maps with massive architectural features such as pillars and altars, and huge swarms of strogg attacking from every direction. unfortunately, milous does not add to the mix mark shan's ability to creative levels that give you a true sense of realism in location combined with a sense of purpose in the form of a plot featuring quality objectives and computer updates. nor does it feature top-notch enemy and item placement.

in signing the praises of this pack, i would have to say that you will be treated to a huge helping of high-energy heavily action-oriented spq2 adventuring. you are under assault at almost all times by armies of 100's of strogg. you are give plenty of weapons and ammo and health to keep yourself alive as you single-handedly fight off the entire strogg militia. in addition to the standard strogg enemies of the retail game, you get the extra enhancements and enemies that the ground zero mission pack provides. the action takes place within some very cool environments which feature unique texture combos, wild lighting, and moody music. it is fun to run and gun in these environments, and while not as magnificent as mark shan's architecture, there are some opportunities to ooooh and ahhhh at the design. another bonus is the sheer size of this pack. it took me many hours to complete this mission, i would guess around ten or so. that is a ton of gameplay at no cost to the player. featuring ten playable levels plus the non-interactive intro and outro, you get plenty of bang for your 19 MB download.

in criticism of xxx, i would have to say that it features all of the downfalls of every creation milous has presented to us. poor item placement and enemy placement is compensated for by using nothing but massive clumps of strogg attacking at once. while mark shan uses this tactic very well, he also knows how to use clever placements in well designed architecture to create a high challenge with just a handful of enemies. milous never attempts this type of design. i also despised the huge number of unmanned turrets the player needs to defeat. lining up ten or twenty turrets that rain down rockets and lasers is not my idea of fun gameplay. and this scenario is repeated throughout this mission so many times that i began to look into finding a way to disable them. these maps also feature some pretty blatant copy-n-paste design tactics, in one (that i am aware of, there are probably others) instance a central hub is surrounded by three identical arenas which feature only slight modifications to differentiate them from one another. also, at times the layout of these maps leaves a lot to be desired. particularly in maps 7,8, and 9, where at times the copy-paste design combined with unintuitive layout and unclear mission goals (made worse by the poor English used in the F1 updates) had me just plain confused about where i was supposed to go, what i was supposed to do, and at times even flat out lost in the poor and repetitive design. finally, as stated in the opening paragraph, the difficulty of these maps is horribly unbalanced. if you normally play at skill 0 or skill 1, you might find this pack too tough to get through.

in the end, what we have here is another creation that features massive arenas which are very cool to admire, as well as epic action-heavy battles set to some very cool ambient music. it is a mixed bag though, at times coming somewhat close to mark shan's level of skill, and at other times it can be frustrating and even annoying. despite its many shortcomings, xxx offers a lot of free spq2, some cool design, and tons of action. not a top-notch experience, but well worth the download.