AQ2 Review: City by Ruskprick

Kumanru by Mats “Ruskprick” Holm
| | 1.88 Mb | Mats Holm | Score: 5.1 | By Ligur |

They say there is great beauty in Sweden, especially when it comes to the bikini teams. There is also grace and style in the way Mats “Ruskprick” Holm designs his maps with a unique realism which has rarely been accomplished to this extreme. Not only is he a master of layout, but he does what most cannot. He creates many of his own individual textures for all of his maps. City is no exception, just look closely at the intricate detail and the style at which the map is played. Only then will you come to understand that Ruskprick is more then a name, it is a style which has become indicative of Action Quake 2.

Texturing [5.8]
Like all of Ruskprick’s maps, City has great textures made by the author. The r_speeds are kept in check by detailing the map with cool texturing and using a minimum of brushes. The basic texturing in this map is an orange, brick coloured one used in the buildings all over. The stairways and interiors in the map have a nice, smooth yellowish wall colouring, and streets look like tinted asphalt. Some details like a Chinese restaurant, a computer store, a police station (don’t worry, they are on strike), Pizza la Mafia etc. are all different textures slapped in the building walls, and every single one of them looks good if a bit plain. The map in general is plain and minimalistic, but clear and somehow very crisp and good looking. The only detail explosion is the flat of Karlsson himself, a two room apartment you can reach by jumping over an alleyway and in from an open window. Karlsson definitely has some kick ass carpet and wallpaper.

Ambience: [3.3]
The ambience is not enhanced by a plethora of exciting new sounds of anything, and you won’t see massive new features here either. Lightning is smooth and harmless, blending to the map in a way you don’t even notice it, excellent so to speak. After that its all in the textures and layout. The nice touch that crowns the map is the radio in Karlsson’s room: It plays his TV series tune. Very groovy, a bit 70s track with a guy honking “Karlsson Karlsson wheee here comes Karlsson” and so on in Swedish. When the map came out dozens of demos of people dancing in the room were recorded. AQ2 music industry bloom? I’ll never forget the dance kick fights up there, and fondly remember how I once danced out of the window (accidentally), got pulpified on the asphalt below, and how my clan mates had so much fun on me laughing about the dork who grooved out of the window. A shame you can shoot the radio to scrap (it does explodes), but that gives a new, wonderful object orientation to the map: Can you reach the room before the lamer who does not like the Karlsson tune (I mean, he must be really weird, possibly dangerously insane not to like it…) and shoot him to gibs before he manhandles the sound box?

Creative Spark: [3.4]
Creating a Swedish town scene with a Karlsson on the Roof flavor and succeeding so damn well, I guess that is creative. Ruskprick is always creative about what he does: nothing is done the easy way. We get the full package of looks, smooth game play and an overall fun theme. The actual city idea is far from original, but the way its made, similar to reinventing the wheel so it rolls better. I can’t but give him credit for the map in this department too. I’ll say again, the Karlsson room idea and how it was made is hella fun.

Construction: [5.6]
The construction is basically very plain, but very, very efficient. Everything is cut and positioned in a way that will reduce r_speeds to a good, multiplayer level which is playable. The map has two ends (heh), and is shaped a bit like the number “8”, with an additional section to the middle. Teams spawn on either end, or the other team can spawn in a roof in the middle area of the map. Deployment is lightning fast, the streets are nearly clear of obstructions and mad strafe jump bunnies can accelerate to subsonic. Basically you can be on the throat of the other team mere seconds after the movie starts. But usually this will get you shot up good, so the teams tend to take a bit more tentative approach and take positions in the middle of the map, either the police station or a high building on the opposite side. The ends of the map are both accessed by a cramped alley or a tunnel penetrating a house block. Some trashcans, boxes and such are littered here and there, sparsely but very usefully positioned. However plain and empty the streets appear, cover is never that far. In addition we have drainpipes you can use to reach various roofs, and stairways that lead up in the middle building or the ends of the map. Simple construction is probably one of the major reasons for the maps popularity and success, it offers sniper and long range action with very good r_speeds, and something no other map this far has to give in my opinion and the game is easy to follow. You can be pretty sure where the enemy is, or at least find him fast. Most of the time. Some of the rooms are reachable via the drains since stairways tend to attract campers, but what map does not have that?

Playability: [6.1]
This is definitely a team play map, and suits small or large teams. Snipers, auto-monkeys or the shotgun will be the most effective here, but a HC or kick freak has his own territory to rule also: the alleys or the stairways spread around the map are cramped and support another style of action gaming. You just easily get stuck on a room or a stairway, with multiple opponents with long range weaponry training their sights on the exits. A heroic last stand is, of course, only fun. The efficiency of the M3 Super Assault Shotgun on this map never ceases to amaze me, but somehow the streets are just the right size of space for SG combat. The SG is also superb on the interior areas of this map. Only accurate snipers easily control the central area or the roofs of the map, which support at least two ways to reach all the good perches. For clan games this map is, however, not the best choice of all. It gives you an easy to comprehend, fast moving game, but the two ends of the map are still easily camped by a whole team intent on only defending if they wish so. Flushing out campers that have a good position and refuse to come out is never fun in the long run. Clans looking for very complex games where communication is the only good way to totally defeat the enemy will get bored here at some point.

6th Sense: [6.0]
The sum is more then its parts or something, the map feels and plays well. City feels really thought over and finished, with no loose parts left hanging around. It really does look like a city! It is realistic, in a cartoonish way that fits Quake2, you don’t stop and start thinking, “What the hell is that supposed to be, now, a red box or a building?” After hundreds of games it starts to lose its charm, but what doesn’t? This map is easy to learn, harder to master and will last for ages. City is one of the classics that will be around as long as there are AQ2 servers. The theme is old and made a dozen times, but never as well and I doubt if anyone will make a simple urban map like City is, and have it work so well and charming as this one.

Final Score: [5.1]
[Ligur] Speechless.
[Oswald] This map like all of Ruskprick’s other creations is quite ingenious. From the basic design to playability and texturing to low r_speeds, he does not seem to miss a thing. As seen in his other maps, he tends to go, “all out” in all his projects. The attention to the detail makes all of his maps something special. City though was different and it took some time for the the design concept to actually set in. This map is better compared to Acticity then Urban, based on its long and twisting layout as opposed to going  vertical. Game play is what most look for when it comes to a successful Action map and Mats has left us begging for more. His unique and beautiful texturing also seems to make all his maps come alive with realism, something which is very difficult to accomplish, or so it seems in Action Quake 2.

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