UnrealSP.org, now with 100% more Web 2.0!

Review: Shamu Quest: Part 1

Project Information

  • Title: Shamu Quest: Part 1
  • Author: Jean "El Chicoverde" Rochefort
  • Platform: Unreal
  • Category: Small Campaign
  • Review Score: 57%

Main Review

Unquestionably worth a play for its grandiose appearance

Shamu Quest is a three-map pack released by El Chicoverde in January of 1998. It was made for Unreal but works in the Unreal Tournament Oldskool mod as usual. According to the readme file, you are a Vortex Rikers escapee who takes refuge in a small Nali Village in the “Shamutanti Mountains”. Your quest begins after waking up to some noises outside the Nali village. This pack was supposed to be accompanied by several more map packs to continue the story, but discouragingly, Chicoverde never made them. He did make another “Shamu Quest”, but it was more of a remake and did not continue the story of this one.

Shamu Quest is a hard pack to review in terms of visuals. The positives are abounding, as are the negatives. Chicoverde is a mapper that is well known for his gloriously grand architecture. Nearly everything you see in Shamu Quest is immensely scaled. The second map in this quest is an ancient ruined temple with a magnificent grandiose aura. Plenty of imagination and effort seems to have gone into the making of the massive ruined temple (seen in the second screenshot below). The large scale looks marvelous on building exteriors, outside terrains, and ancient themes, but it does make the interiors of certain buildings seem overscaled and plain. The end of the third map suffered the most, with a blocky appearance and overly prodigious scale, even for the tall Nali that inhabit the planet. Many of the caves in Shamu Quest were “noob” style – taking basic circular shapes and cutouts and making them into formations. If you stare at most of the terrain and detail long enough, you can spot problems in the connectivity. Lots of the outside details look above standard from a distance, but sub-par close up.

[image:1]

Usage and choice of textures in Shamu Quest vary from average to poor. Some textures on exteriors of buildings are chosen wisely, while others are out of place or overscaled. Textures on beams and details in the ancient temple of map two tend to repeat themselves. There are many alignment problems with those same beams; in fact, there were alignment problems on just about every detail in this pack. The outside areas contained the largest quantity of alignment problems – especially the cliffs and rocks (a problem often observed in new mappers). Textures were scaled most poorly in the last part of the third map, where the rooms and hallways are oversized; this results in numerous blurry textures that have been stretched to fit the large architecture.

Shamu Quest was built adequately for its scale. There aren’t many BSP issues in maps one and two, which is amazing considering the size and complexity of the detail (especially in map two). Regardless, map three does have some major issues. A few hallways were engulfed in massive BSP holes, and semi-large invisible collision hulls were in the way. People might encounter a crash toward the end of the third map, which is mentioned as a “badly placed pathnode” in the readme file. This developer mistake could have been easily fixed.

Lighting was a little too dark and excessively saturated in parts of Shamu Quest. A slight magical feeling was given off by this method of lighting, but it does tend to spout unprofessionalism. Many doors and walls were black that should have been lit. With a subtle hint of zone lighting, Shamu Quest could have looked better.

The sound field could have used more work in Shamu Quest. Some normal sources of sound – torches, wind, water, etc. – don’t have any sound at times. A few ambient sounds were placed, like crickets chirping outside along with waterfall noise, but ambient sounds were generally seldom used. Music is too repetitive for maps as large as these. The same track could be heard from start to finish in each map. No action music is used whatsoever, which might have the average player yawning during the repetitive battle sequences. Strangely, the track “Unreal4” does suit the large ruined temple of the second map well.

Action is a-plenty in Shamu Quest, but it does tend to be repetitive. Prepare to fight innumerable Skaarj warriors and troopers. The monster placement is done with spawn points in some areas, so the battles are random; however, there is a lack of surprise encounters throughout the quest. The biggest fun factor is in the sightseeing and exploration, rather than scripted events or strategic encounters. Weapon progression is done well – each new weapon you get is evenly spaced from the last. There was a major surplus of ammo in all three Shamu Quest maps. Despite the many encounters with Skaarj and Krall, ammo is far too generous. Shamu Quest won’t be too challenging for the most experienced players, but a few unfair fights against Skaarj snipers high up on towers are annoying. This wouldn’t be a problem if you got a sniper rifle beforehand, but unfortunately, you have to frag a few Skaarj to get one. The most boring part of Shamu Quest was at the end of the third map. Here, the sightseeing ends and the battles are dull. There are lifts that take dreadfully long to get you anywhere, and the interiors become a maze that isn’t remarkably fun to explore. Gameplay isn’t too shabby in this pack overall, but could have been spruced up in the third map.

[image:2]

Shamu Quest had great possibility for story, but unfortunately was let down by the deprivation of translator events and scripted sequences. There isn’t much to be learned in your quest after the beginning of the first map. The lack of story progression is probably in part due to Chicoverde’s limited knowledge of English. He is French, and the readme file included with Shamu Quest has quite a bit of grammar problems. Shamu Quest is also deprived of a complete story since it was never completed like Chicoverde had originally planned.

Summary

The gameplay is a bit boring at times, the story is questionable, the lighting could have used work, and the sound was amiss. Nevertheless, Shamu Quest is unquestionably worth a play for its legendary grandiose appearance, despite all those other problems. Shamu Quest is a good example of extravagant conceptual grandness if there ever was one. Each of the three maps in this quest display different skills of build, but the temple map is worth the entire pack. It might be safe to say that Chicoverde is the master of complex large-scale architecture, even in his earlier works such as this.
Review Scores
BuildThe combined value representing the technical quality of the level's construction.58% CastThe combined value representing the imagination and reasoning behind the level's conceptualization and design.56%
ArchitectureImagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.7 Conceptual GrandnessScale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.9
TexturingUse of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.6 Story ConstructionBacking story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.4
LightingLighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).6 Story ImplementationProgression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.3
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.4 Gameplay AweQuality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.6
Technical ExecutionTechnical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.6 Gameplay BalanceBalance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.6
Final Verdict: Above average
Score: 57%

Downloads

TBD: The downloads system will soon be available.

Comments

TBD: The comment system will soon be available.