One more worthy release from a gameplay mapping master Spike! Duality or SPIKECTF1 is a smaller CTF map with pleasant visuals and balanced gameplay that will satisfy not only Capture the Flag fans, but also players who find the game mode overall interesting. The bases of this symmetric level are connected to each other by several passages and a larger central hall with a valuable power-up in the middle. While the upper floor in this room is executed as a curved bridge presenting a Rail Gun right above the power-up, there is one more reason why the player should take care when taking the latter: 2 side mounted grenade launchers will simultaneously activate when taking the power-up. The power-up is teamed or paired, it will be a random spawn between Quad Damage or Haste. The fact that both these ideas - the grenade trap and random power-up spawning - are implemented, helps diversify the gameplay even more.
I was unable to find the regular Grenade Launcher, although there is some grenade ammunition on the map. All the other regular weapons are present and placed well enough for not making overwhelming matches, which is another strong point of the level. The placement of Medkits on the bases seems not to be identical. The Medkit on the blue base is put closer to the flag and therefore can be grabbed by jumping and bumping into it from below due to the way id Tech 3 works, while the one on the red base can only be reached from the upper floor by falling onto it.
Some other very useful goodies to find on the level are two MegaHealth items, which are located next to the respective bases and lure you so that you use a "private pool", either yours or the one that you may borrow from the enemy team - as long as they do not see you, feel free to assume that they do not mind. The scheme for both bases is the following: the MH is placed on an average-size ledge not far from the place where players are spawned from a teleporter. The spawning point is on a tiny island of floor (personally, this is where I would like to see the GL) that is perpendicular to the platform with the MH located in an alcove, so the teleported player and the player in the MH zone can not see each other straight ahead. This fact allows for some great competition and makes the MH more valuable, as players might be more excited to pick it up and have some dynamic fights for the item. The water here serves as an obstacle to a certain extent, since it somewhat slows the player down and does not let for flags to be stolen too quickly. At the same time, the combination of the water, location in the base, teleporting players' spawning and jump pad that leads up to the platform that you can use to get to the base provides an opportunity to implement some pick-a-boo shooting and fast rallies with Flag Carriers!
For example, a Flag Carrier can use the portal to their base in order to avoid more fiery lively zones, whereupon they will be met by the pool that will most likely increase the time of their path of flag capturing and give some additional time for the enemy team's members. Under certain circumstances, the Flag Carrier will be able to rocket jump off the tall slope that leads to the jump pad, even despite the slope being underwater, and get to the jump pad faster while leaving for the newly teleported enemies one more piece of path to swim. That is possible thanks to the fact that players are given an impulse once spawned through the portal, and therefore are immediately plunged into the deeper pool. Another thing to note is that the possible camping in the pool zone towards the tunnel with a Rocket Launcher and latticed lava is quite significantly limited by the fact that the enemy team members can teleport to the camper any time. These players should beware of potential attacks from behind and, like Athena and Strogg from Quake Champions often say, "death from above". Bots do not seem to be willing to go through the portal but will follow you if you use the "FOLLOW ME" order.
Without a doubt, the aforementioned and other layout elements, which are mostly various twists and turns, staircases and jump pads, liquid obstacles (water, lava), as well as the fact that the map has enough verticality, is what makes the layout one of the strongest points of SPIKECTF1. Basically, there are three main long ways or passages that consist of symmetric halfs that you can choose from and switch when composing your path. These passages are the one with the Shotgun, the one with the Plasma Gun and the upper floor with the curved Rail Gun bridge. A lot of their parts are connected to each other and as a result, make navigation around the map very easy and provide a lot of possibilities for varying your path and diversifying it. For instance, on both bases, near the portal the player can make a choice whether to go through it, use the jump pad to get to the upper floor or jump off to proceed to the base directly; in the latter case they can also plasma jump (or rocket jump) to get back at that. Another good example would be the central hall that offers six (!) different ways, three to each base.
As for the visual side, the texture work is diligently supplemented by dynamic neon lights and panels and other lights that help with identifying the direction. The overall lighting on the level is well taken care of too, although it could have been somewhat brighter in certain areas on the lower floor. Maybe an additional window to see more parts of the beautiful skybox with the picturesque sunset in the mountains would be a good idea. The level does not lack any Medkits or Shards and features 6 Yellow Armors (3 in each base) - a nice balanced alternative to Red Armor - and will give players a chance to gear up as necessary. Both PGs and LGs are skilfully placed behind columns or walls away from the centre which makes the respective tunnels worth visiting. Ammunition for these and all other weapons is carefully distributed throughout the map. The ledge attached to the platform with the MH a little from below (equally on both sides of the map) is also good in preventing the gameplay from being too simple.
In conclusion, Duality is a definite keeper and as it has some cosy neon and lamp lighting, chessboard tiles and water in abundance, it is for sure a recommended download!
Reviewed by Geniraul