Birds fly. Sun shines. And brother? Brutes shoot people.

Review: Escape from the Cathedral

Project Information

  • Title: Escape from the Cathedral
  • Author: Danilo Di Mascio
  • Platform: Unreal
  • Category: Single Map
  • Review Score: 12%

Main Review

Avoid at all costs

Cathedrals. Churches. Temples. I love that kind of stuff. So, after I was told of the Escape from the Cathedral map by Danilo Di Mascio, I decided: I. MUST. HAVE. THIS. The premise seemed simple and unoriginal, but at the very least, entertaining so I promptly downloaded the map and installed it. The readme prepared me for ill-written messages, since the story on what is your purpose here is definitely written by someone who's yet to master English. However, I've experienced a nasty shock when I read the first translator message: the level was entirely in ITALIAN! I had to make a translation and after that, I began my adventure and the effect of it is this here review.

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Firstly, the build. The level is very short, made of mostly cubes, planks and arches. There are five locations, of which two can be described as decent for a first-time mapper, the rope bridge and the cathedral itself -- the remaining locales, namely the dungeon, the water reservoir room and the corridor are all crude, to say the least. Barely viewable. The texture choice and alignment is no good either: the dungeon's exit and the large room that follows suffer from horrible texture alignment and the button underwater has a default texture on it. What a view for sore eyes... it'll make you want to pluck them out instantly so that you are never forced to watch this abhorrence. Other locales are bearable, but these three cases I mentioned are enough to spoil any fun. Lighting doesn't help too -- it is, to put it blunt, nonsensical. The light sources seem to shine a bit, but where does all the other light come from? Besides, if the dungeon and its surroundings are so richly illumined, why is the cathedral so horribly dark?

Sound-wise, this level won't please anyone either. No ambience to speak of and Seti.umx soon becomes boring. Nothing to see-- err, hear here, move along. No atmosphere. Nix. Nada. Null.

As for technical issues, I saw little: a default texture on a button, the large water reservoir room has some issues with BSP and the level exit has a collision hull big enough to exit the level prematurely should you try rocket-jumping.

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Let's see what else this level has to offer. The architecture is, as I already stated, bland -- and it feels that way should you consider what's it supposed to represent. The cells have no windows - okay, we're underground, but why aren't there any small bars in the doors? Despite the obvious lack of any source of air, the Nali within one of the cells and the two pupae within the other feel just fine. Also, a truly funny moment: you can open one of the cells from the inside with a pretty clearly visible button. Nonsense. What's the point of a dungeon cell that you may freely exit... but you have trouble to get to because the button to open the cell is underwater and you need to run fast to the cell before it gets locked again! Why are all other cells already open? Why are the translator messages, which are mostly obvious announcements that would be fitting as signs on walls, placed on books? Why does the cathedral have no benches for the worshippers or an altar for religious purposes? Why this, why that... The level just doesn't make ANY sense to speak of.

The storyline is very original... yeah, right. You're a prisoner, like many before you -- captured by Skaarj forces and slated for execution at the hands of a Great Warlord. A Skaarj SCOUT (yeah, you read that right, a scout, so not wielding a Dispersion Pistol, because they don't carry this weapon -- Skaarj Troopers do) entered your cell and you killed him with your bare hands. Is this even possible? Anyway, you grab his DP and the game begins. After a quick summary of the objectives before you, all you get from your trusty translator are messages typical for signs -- so, a book with "Skaarj Dungeon" is lying on the table just next to the cells, a book "Only one torch per person allowed" is lying inside an armory -- with NO torch-like items around, so utter nonsense -- and lastly, a message strikes you out of the blue (no book or sign of any kind for it to be attached to) when you are about to enter the cathedral.

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All right then: mediocre visuals, repetitive, cliched and badly implemented storyline are definitely valid reasons to avoid this map. But perhaps the gameplay is here to save the day? Sadly, no. First, you are to fight in a narrow corridor with almost no way to avoid the Skaarj guards' fury. If you are lucky to survive that, it'll only get easier: further monsters are located in fairly big areas so you can avoid their shots easily and take them down before they get you and finally, the Warlord is too big to move across the cathedral comfortably and will be easy prey. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around, I mean: first it should begin easy and then as you progress through the level, the difficulty should increase -- not the other way around! To top it off, the aforementioned button-door race against time will play on your nerves, I assure you. First, you have to find the button that opens the locked cell with the two pupae, then you'll probably not realize at first that you have to RUN, RUN before the cell is locked again and lastly, you must engage the two pupae in such a cramped room that you'll be lucky to avoid death. No, gameplay is no good at all.

Summary

Uninspired architecture, horrible texture tiling, no sound-induced atmosphere, hardly any storyline and gameplay that'll make you regret ever downloading this level. Avoid at all costs.
Review Scores
BuildThe combined value representing the technical quality of the level's construction.18% CastThe combined value representing the imagination and reasoning behind the level's conceptualization and design.6%
ArchitectureImagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.2 Conceptual GrandnessScale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.0
TexturingUse of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.3 Story ConstructionBacking story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.1
LightingLighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).1 Story ImplementationProgression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.0
SoundUse of ambient sounds and event sounds to give the level atmosphere, and the quality of any custom sounds. Appropriate use of music and silence to complement the atmosphere.0 Gameplay AweQuality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.0
Technical ExecutionTechnical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.3 Gameplay BalanceBalance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.2
Final Verdict: Very poor
Score: 12%

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