Most all of the players who consider themselves, “old timers,” have seen Action grow from a rough, incomplete beta version to a highly successful Quake 2 mod. From the early beginning, players have come to associate a single map with Action Quake 2. That map being, Urban by John “Gerbil!” Parish. This is “the” city map which started the frenzy of city layouts. I give credit where credit is due and Gerbil! deserves his fair share for creating a highly successful, but over hyped, map series. A series so blown out of proportion, it is legendary. A map series which I have dubbed, “The Urban Legend.”
While the early versions of code for Action Quake was still being written, players took their ideas for maps, an editor and basic Quake textures and began a sort of new revolution in FPS gaming. These pioneers began creating maps for a mod they enjoy playing. Gerbil! was hot on the scene and created a map called Urban. This map has seemingly been the cornerstone of Action since the early beginnings.
Urban is a straight forward, no-hold barred, city layout based on a square city block, filled with high rise buildings. By todays mapping standards and quality, Urban is consider average by most. There is nothing special, which sets this map apart from the pack. But for those who are still die-hard Action players, they still demand Urban! The demand has recently sky-rocketed based on The CLQ rankings, that Urban is played over 1.2 million minutes in a two week!
With the sort of success that Urban drew, one would think that creating a map which could rival Urban would be difficult. Gerbil! though, made it look easy. His city design seemed to pick up where it left off. Urban2 was his next attempt, which proved to be a smashing success. I consider this to be the best map out of the four map series. While there are many players who vehemently deny this map is due credit, there is a completely different ambience created when you spawn. The darkened rooftops and sparsely light streets make this map a challenge, even for the accomplished player.
This map seems to have lost a bit of its mystic with the creation of IRVISION, making the auto-monkeys a bit more dangerous with their “spray and prey” tactics, but snipers will always dominate this map. In my expert opinion, Urban2 was a vast improvement on the original Urban, in many areas. Thus, the “legend” grows. But how does one improve on a so-called “legend?” How about by creating a sequel to the sequel. Urban3 is born.
The Urban series took a turn for the worse with the release of Urban3 and subsequently, Urban4. The quality and unique styling seen in Urban2 seemed to be lacking in Urban3 and Urban4. These success of these map rest solely on namesake alone, not the quality or game play, which made the series a success. The “legend” seems to be growing stronger for some damned reason. Urban2 and Urban3 are consistently ranked in the Top 5 maps, based on The CLQ rankings.
What spawned this rant you ask? The fact that maps such as Riot2 by Ellusion, which is probably the best overall map created (although Ell won’t agree with me) and Beer by WetWired are ranked much further down the rankings then Urban4. Yet Urban4, which was released mid December is getting ready to crack the Top 10. I guess this all goes to show that maps are based more on popularity, then actual design and creativity. This is unfortunate, since the many maps and authors will not get their due credit. Leaving us begging, “Will any map ever dethrone Urban?”