The Dreadful Place (Q3shw24) was Pawel "Shadow" Chrapka's entry for the NoGhost Mapping Competition (held in the latter part of 2009) and while it did not place in the final prize pool it does offer some solid gameplay.
The map layout consists of a large open arena traversed by 2 accelerator pads at the higher points with exits leading to several other areas of varying sizes that curl around the main arena in a horseshoe-fashion. Upper and lower levels are connected by bouncepads and stairs and rooms are interconnected through a network of corridors. There are no teleporters meaning that opponents will often be left to duel it out for themselves in their zones of responsibility in 4 vs 4 Team Deathmatches until someone respawns following a frag.
The main arena features a Grenade Launcher at the top and Shot Gun down below with the MegaHealth set back in an alcove. Facing away from the MegaHealth and to the left is a smaller room at the base where the Rail Gun is situated leading onto a chamber with a bouncepad that takes players up to the Quad Arena. Corridors from the Grenade Launcher will also take players to the Quad. Just off to the right you will find a Lightning Gun in a large mezzanine corridor as well as access to the Yellow Armour/Rocket Launcher room. Following these paths around you will come to the other main area where the Plasma Gun and Red Armour (at the end of a catwalk) are to be found. Leading back to the Quad Arena is a small stairwell with a second Shot Gun. There are sufficient spatterings of health and ammo clips to top players up. The resident bots are Anarki, Major, Sarge and Visor.
Visually ShadoW has continued to work in the same austere, concrete, futuristic feel of his previous 2 maps, Simple Brushes (Q3shw22) and Hipertrofia (Q3shw23), using a combination of Team Arena, custom textures and logos of the competition sponsors are dappled throughout the map (as stipulated in the competition rules). The layout has a classic Quake3 Free For All/Team Deathmatch feel to it and has been designed with this gameplay in mind. With the exception of a small alcove hidden behind the MegaHealth there are no hiding/camping spots as the roof area and ledges have been clipped off. This is generally a good thing but is frustrating to a map's sense-of-place where they appear to be accessible architectural features. The author could have perhaps left the ledge open near the Shot Gun at the top of the stairs. On the other hand - I hate ledge campers, even as I sometimes aspire to be one!
8 is the recommended number of players and this works perfectly for both TDM and FFA. Anymore and the game becomes an exchange of machine gun patter while scrambling for health, any less and much of your time will be spent looking for a party to crash. This I do not mind in TDM however, as smaller player numbers tend to encourage a more gripping game of cat and mouse that I enjoy so much in Tourneys and Team Deathmatches. Add a couple of more weapons and spawn points and The Dreadful Place could easily house 10 players.
There are four main areas/item combinations to take control over: The Grenade Launcher or Lightning Gun/MegaHealth combo, the Plasma Gun/Red Armour combo, Rocket Launcher and Yellow Armour and the Quad Room where you have the option of picking up either the Rail Gun, Shot Gun or Grenade Launcher quickly. Due to the even spread of items and lack of teleporters the map proves balanced for 4 vs 4 Team Deathmatch and makes it difficult to control armour and powerups in Free For All. My only concern is the proximity of the Rail Gun to the bouncepad up to the Quad as once this route is established it is easy to pick off players as they try to pick up the Quad, as they respawn behind it or as players come up the bouncepad but given the available options for counter attacks I could actually waiver this criticism.
My final verdict is that Q3shw24 offers solid gameplay but with none of the wow factor that accompanies some of the author's other maps. It is professionally finished and worth the download.
Reviewed by Mark