Valley of Storn by Steamteck
|Review machine: AMD K6-2/450, 196Meg RAM, Voodoo2 SLI @ 1024,768||Download (UK) (Russia)|
Huge ground / air level with some interesting ideas, has a plot / story line set after the game.
Valley of Storn is a quality level, the author states that itís his first PCL for any game and itís well thought out with some neat features that keep the player interested. A job well done for a first attempt. Good story too, I prefer PCLs with a plot as they give me an incentive to finish them and I feel a sense of achievement upon completion.
On starting out, you will find yourself next to Arokh who is stood in the middle of a flame breath pickup. This seemed rather odd, it would have been better if you started in the air and doing away with the pickup as why would Arokh have no breath weapon at all and need to collect a rune?
Anyway, thatís only a minor niggle, the rest of the level is well thought out and I noticed that steamteck had paid a lot of attention to detail. Examples such as furniture in the giant cave enlarged suitably and collectable weapons placed where you would normally find a sword i.e. by somebodyís bed or in a weapon rack instead of been scattered all over the wilderness like I have seen in other levels. Some of your weapons came from your fallen foes which is more realistic because if a powerful sword was left lying round, somebody is bound to pick it up, but not necessarily you.
Talking of detail, The towns and villages were very well done; they were laid out like typical medieval villages, with an outer stone wall surrounding the village itself and a pier leading to the lake. Details such as a vegetable farm and other amenities made it seem all that more authentic.
Level layout itself was done well, with a good variety in the landscape which always had features to catch the eye such as various ruins and lakes. Most of these ruins were worth investigating; some had useful items that were worth collecting. The music track was a good choice and it added to the tense atmosphere, music in a level really does make a difference.
I also liked the idea that the end boss could only be killed by a certain sword that can be only obtained from a cave, which is heavily guarded. This made you look for something rather than rushing through and missing things.
Now the bad parts, there isnít many and they are only minor but I thought I would point them out.
When I started playing the level, I noticed that the sky was midnight black but yet the ground was relatively bright it just didnít seem like a moonlit landscape. Also when you got to a high altitude, you couldnít see the ground which made it seem kind of weird. I think it would have been a lot better if it was set on a damp foggy morning like in Wartock Canyons (L2 in drakan) or maybe set at night, like island nights.
Framerate was good throughout the level except near the villages, where it dropped to an unplayable level. Decreasing the fog depth helped a lot, but with this level of detail, slowdown is unavoidable, maybe itís the Riot engine that canít handle a lot of objects on screen at once?
As for bugs, I only noticed one; its where you kill a wartock / giant (I cant remember) and land on the ledge to collect the goodies. I did this and Arokh was killed by the giant in the cave below even though he was under several feet of rock!
Overall this is a great level and well worth a download, it will keep you occupied for an hour or two and the difficulty level is just about right for the average player.
Rating; Architecture / landscape: 8 Texturing: 6.5 Item / enemy placement: 7
Atmosphere: 9 Coolness / new ideas / enhancements: 7 bugs: slow in some places