Fear not young Quaker, the Quake 2 Level of the Week has returned with another installment. Since I cannot remember what happened last night, no since in trying to remember why there has not been review since April 16th. I think the Strogg had something to do with it. This week’s we return with a map that was nearly selected a few months back, but was still in a beta stage and not quite ready. The level I am talking about is, Icepick by John “Metlslime” Fitzgibbons. While it may take some extra time getting acclimated to this dark and chilly layout, no better place than the present to keep the frags ice cold.
The basis of Icepick start and end with the quality texturing which were seen in Metlslime’s previous level, Derelict. “All textures were made by me, originally for the defunct Oblivion mission pack. Icepick was originally available on the PCGamer UK release of the Oblivion mission pack in 1998. Revamped and tweaked for release as a vanilla Q2 level, Icepick now has three times the brushcount, and a somewhat larger capacity for carnage,” says John.
The texture usage has an entirely different feel and really sets the tone for the entire level. Add to the different shades of blue lighting which are cast throughout Icepick. The soft, blue glow helps to create a cold and ominous ambience as you traverse the darkened metal corridors. The cold blue lighting helps to make the less significant texturing seem to leap out. The interior of the doorways have been highlighted with bright orange lights that contrast the blue hues. There are also dimly lit white floodlights that shine down on the floors of the corridors.
Metlslime describes the layout as a, “two layer figure eight.” This is a level in which you cannot pin down a “central” location. Many Quake 2 levels feature vaulted rooms and rising atriums, none of those are featured in Icepick. Probably one of the most telling features, is the ice cold river of water which flows through certain sections of the level. It is quite and intricate level to play, as much of the level is quite non descript, but the texturing still remains very impressive. The entire level is essentially made up of numerous small chambers, connected by a corridor system. Some of these chambers allow multi-floor access and overlook a portion of the level.
The weapons and power seem to be sparse when you are running around with nothing but a blaster in your hand. You will find all the weapons, with the exception of the BFG. Who needs that in a level this tight? Two areas of note, the rocket launcher is sitting on a ledge, below a spawn point, which makes for quick kills, if you are able to get it. Directly in front of that on the level before, the body armor, ready for the taking. Nearly on the opposite side of Icepick is a second chamber filled with gib-o-matic goodies. The rocket launcher rest high on ledge and the chamber below contains a super shotgun and the all powerful Quad Damage. Directly through one of the two doors, a combat suit. The Mega-Health is contained in a small locked chamber that is only accessible though the river system. Find your way in and be rewarded.
After about an hour of testing, I realized one thing, I still suck at Quake 2. But that has absolutely no bearing on this level review. I felt like the “all powerful one” as I quickly armed myself with a rocket launcher and the body armor and went in search of fragile gamers to dominate. While there is an abundance of ammunition strewn through the chambers I quickly exhausted my rockets and was left with a blaster to defend myself. The server consisted of two other gamers and 3 bots, for a total of six in the level. Weapons and ammo came at a premium, as they do in most level which teeter on the maximum number of players. The level played very fast, and it was not soon after you enter a few chambers, you were a bit disoriented in where you came from and where you are headed. Thankfully the river, was there to act as a midpoint to the level.
Icepick is definitely going to chill you to the bone. It has all the important aspects of a quality map. Check it out and add it your next LAN. What holds this level together, is not so much the layout, but the strength and quality of the texturing combined with the ambient lighting. Another “must see map” called Icepick. Why don’t you pick it up today
Level of the Week Comments? Mail Oswald.