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9.22.2000: Squonkamatic - Q2 SP: "AE Arena"
"AEArena" ... nothing says quality level design like having the author sign his name in lava.

Author: Christoph A. Loewe (aka AEon)
Reviewed By: Squonkamatic

Game Mode Supported: DM

Overuse of Colored Lighting: Not really
Spelling Errors in Text File: Amazingly, no.
Pain Level: Digesting shards of broken glass while lighting your hair on fire with jellied gasoline.

Download Here (3618k)




The hallowed Room of 1000 Jump Pads.
AT A GLANCE: Anyone who is familiar with Cranky Steve's Haunted Whorehouse has encountered AEon's work at one time or another. With such triumphs in his portfolio as "AECtf", "AEShake" and the unforgettable "AEon's Cyber Arena" for Quake 2, one knows that they can expect no less than gobs of total shit from this drug crazed axe murdering Quake level making Zombie, and he has delivered the goods once again with another hideously over-designed hunk of binary crap to glut your greedy drives.

An AEon map can be distinguished from any other game level (well, most of them) by one phrase: SHIT EVERYWHERE. He is the King of the "Kitchen Sink" approach to game level design: add at least two of EVERYTHING. He also has this almost "baroque" style of laying down brush after brush over brush to create layers of crap that lie over one another in such a way that Quake 3 can not draw the architecture efficiently, creating little pockets of dizziness inducing lag here and there built right into the map. Some spots even make the whole game "freeze up" for a second or two, which allows you to collect your thoughts for a moment but makes your ass prime target to anyone who isn't frozen up and stumbles upon you floating in midair. Maybe that's one of those "equalizer" features that puts everybody at equal risk regardless of skill level or ping. In any event, it is a prime indication of a shitty Quake level, something that AEon excels at.

DESCRIPTION: One need only read AEon's map description in his info .txt to start to get worried about this one: "Quake III Arena - DM Map in gothic style. Cathedral Arena, lots of Lava, Bi-Pyramids, Lava-Fall, Pool, "Secret"-Room, The Tube, The Columns, The Dungeons...Map has distinct Quake(I)ish feel to it." If this is in the "Gothic" style of my beloved Classic Quake than I need to have some teeth pulled and my tonsils yanked out by their roots. "Gothic" to me inspires visions of creepy Oger and Vore infested castles with vaulted underlit chambers where death and mutilation await. This map looks like a warm puddle of purple and orange tinted hamster vomit and made me laugh out loud when I first saw it.

THE MAP: I cannot begin to explain the "style" of this map, because it does not represent anything I have ever seen except for another AEon Quake level. I say it again -- shit is everywhere. The items are strewn ad nauseum throughout the various twisting over designed corridors connecting these large oddly detailed rooms, all of which seem to have lava floors over which is laid a grid of blue textured blocks. The result is a truly nauseating and completely improbably color scheme that will very quickly produce a headache in even the most ardent Quake player. Indeed there really doesn't seem to be a "color scheme"; AEon more or less just selected a couple of textures he found convenient to use and employed them over and over and over again as if he were in a trance. He used them to create huge diamond shaped structures that serve no use except to clog up your Rspeeds. He created rooms with dozens of nooks and crannies that serve no purpose other than to hold the dozens of extra items that he added for no particular reason except to pump up the file size of the map. He created passageway after passageway of lava filled tubes of shit that are constructed so that you don't touch the lava ... WHAT'S THE POINT OF USING LAVA IF YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO GET FRIED BY IT?

The point seems to be to create an "anti-lava" aesthetic that he touched at in "AEon's Cyber Arena" for Quake 2, where he created huge rooms with lava you don't come in contact with, but that still gunk up the frame rates via the unwarranted animation needed by their inclusion. AEon stubbornly creates miles and miles of these lava/grid corridors this time out and the result boggles my mind. There are even gridded corridors overlapping the gridded corridors so that sometimes one is not sure exactly what they are looking at when peering down. In the days that it must have taken to align all that stuff he could have been in valuable psychiatric therapy sessions to help cure him of his schizophrenia, or at least putting his intellect to better use by flipping bacon burgers at Wendy's and making minimum wage to boot. I mean, you almost have to marvel at how much time he put into this map, and at the same time feel really sad that he couldn't come up with something that doesn't play like such a fucking three legged donkey. He can obviously align brushes OK, why couldn't he think of anything worthwhile to do with that ability instead of masturbating with one hand and composing this level with the other? There are structures that serve no purpose at all, or serve a purpose that makes no architectural sense ... my favorite example is the "overflowing lava dam" in one of the open-aired segments. Why is it there? Obnoxiously, just to confuse and annoy us -- there is no way in hell to get at the item spinning on top of it (which resembles the Gauntlet, if I am not mistaken, something every player ALREADY HAS). There are also this forest of what he refers to as "bi-pyramid" forms (let's avoid Freudian interpretations of that while the kids are up, please) stuck in the middle of certain rooms, and I cannot fathom for the life of me just what they are supposed to resemble. Whatever they are, I pray that I never encounter the like ever again.
The purpose of this structure is one of "AEon Arena"'s many enigmas.

Like any low quality crap game level, AEArena helps to point out one of the regrettable "gimmicks" built into the game that moron map editors should be forbidden to use, and here we are given a mind numbing look at the ways that an idiot can employ the jump pad. Jump pads made me nervous when I first encountered them in Q3Test, mostly because I could smell the abuse of them by the sweaty trembling hands of crack-addled cranks like AEon months in advance. I saw shit like this coming, but it sill makes my liver twitch when I encounter it no matter how well prepared I think I am for bounce pad overkill. AEon has included so many fucking goddamn jump pads in the map that his motivations come into question -- what was he trying to prove? Was he trying to outdo Q3DM16/The Bouncy Map? That level is hilarious because of the bounce pad overkill, but AEon's efforts here are just plain silly. Almost every major room/cavern/lava chamber in the map has at least 4 jump pads that spring you in various seemingly random directions. Items hang suspended in mid air and can only be reached by flinging yourself onto a pad and being propelled through the air like a flying squirrel. One truly mesmerizing piece of real estate is comprised entirely of jump pads (I counted 8 of them), lava, and twisting girder-like brushes, the sum of which is a confusing mess to figure out what exactly it does before you plop into the fire. And I am especially suspicious of the Quad damage that hangs in midair over one particularly crappy looking "outdoors" section ... its presence seems to be an act of desperation to justify the jump pads that spit you at it. So pathetically unnecessary ...

GAMEPLAY: Horrendous. Not only is there the built in lag (I am running a 400mhz machine with 192mb of RAM and 16mb VRAM with a Rage 128 card and it was chunkier than frozen peanut butter) but there is absolutely no way to get around the map without scrambling down what seem to be miles and miles of AEon's trademark "grid over lava" hallways. AEon has apparently gone to great lengths to exclude such useful devices as teleports to help one get around in an attempt to encourage your Quake model to shed a few pounds. And the hallways all look more or less the same, which means a lot of doubling back after you lose yourself and confusedly stumble into the same rooms over and over again. Indeed, I had to switch to bots when examining the map due to my roommate abruptly exiting the test game in disgust after downloading its bloated 3.5mb of binary feces from my server, which can be visualized by the recreated game chat below:

Splifford entered the Game
Squonkamatic: yo are you in the game?
Splifford: this map is l33t
Squonkamatic: look at all of the lava
Splifford: lava is l33t
(an even longer pause)
Splifford: yo where are you?
Squonkamatic: I am in the room of 1,000 jump pads
Splifford: where is that?
Splifford: yo I'm out of here
Splifford disconnected

FUN FACTOR: Well, as hideous and God awful and unnecessary as it is, I was actually entertained when I finally got down to a serious botmatch and screenshot session. Some of it is downright funny, like AEon's name written in blocks floating on the lava down in one obscure corner shrouded in yellow fog. But let's be clear and say that I was entertained in the way that one gets pleasure out of watching a car wreck or one of those "Worst Football Injuries Ever Caught On Tape" videos.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It will certainly be my pleasure to pull this one on some of the smart-asses who play on my server and whine about how I ought to host Q3f (though I must be sure to warn Splifford) if only to make them realize how many fucked up lame ass Quake levels are out there and to be thankful that they might not have to suffer through another one ever again if they just shut the fuck up

- Squonkamatic for the People!!


Category: Rating:
Aesthetics: - 8
Gameplay: - 9
Item placement: - 7
Layout: - 7
Detail: - 7
TOTAL: - 38

Individual ratings go from 0 (bearable) to -10 (painfully terrible). Total score goes from 0 (ok) to -50 (the worst piece of shit you'll ever play).

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