Dead Reckoning 1
Mission Type:
Post Date:
Christian Garris
June 2, 2000
Level Review
Overall Score:
Date Reviewed:
86 / 100
August 9, 1999
88 / 100
77 / 100
89 / 100
First Impressions
Some people might find fault with the fact the you (Kyle Katarn) have no force powers nor do you have a lightsaber. However, the author merely states that this happened after the Battle of Endor. It's possible that this could have occurred between Endor and the events surrounding the Valley of the Jedi. A smart move on the author for staying ambiguous and saving himself from, what might have been, an obvious mistake. There was one problem with choosing Ord Mantell as a setting, but we'll get into that later...
Review Screenshot 1
Review Screenshot 2
Design / Visuals
Although some of the more recent levels have digressed to the editing Dark Ages of early 1998, the JK editing community, as a whole, has progressed over the last 18 months. This level seems to be another step in the right direction. The architecture, overall, was very well done. There's a lot of Nar Shaddaa in the level, which is perfect for recreating the large spaceport/city that is Ord Mantell. Slopes aren't as abundant as I would have liked; however, it doesn't seem to detract from the gameplay much. One of my favorite parts about the architecture was the little bits of detail that the author added. For example, most authors would be content to make a hallway an elongated rectangle. Not so here. At various points the author uses a pipe for the ceiling or for the floor. The extra bit of detail makes the scene that much more enjoyable, and that little bit of effort shows me that the author is indeed serious about his level. Switches are either sunk in or jutting out from a wall to give a more 3-dimensional look to them. Contrasting to the meticulous detail, are areas where the author really opens up his level and treats the player with some great looking exterior shots. Unfortunately, like all levels, the architecture does have some flaws. The main problem is consistency. Some of the opening scenes were rather box-like, especially the hangars. This isn't much of a problem except that the author doesn't add much detail to draw the player away from the room's basic structure. There are other areas, but I think you get the point. The good news is that this doesn't happen often. While the author may have been inconsistent with the architecture, he was not so with the textures. All the textures used were ones that we would except to see in an environment like Ord Mantell. Not only are they done realistically, but they're also diverse. Every room has a unique look, without drawing away from the atmosphere of the level. It's a tough trick to pull, but the author does it with style. The only problem with the textures is that occasionally you will find a stitching error. That's about it though. There wasn't any mis-alignment or textures clashing with other textures.
Dynamics / Interactivity
The briefing states that you won't have too much trouble getting into the imperial base. For what it's worth the briefing is absolutely correct. I had more trouble with some of the tricky jumps in this level, then with the enemies. The basic enemy is the blaster-totting Gran, which are pretty easy to dispatch. Also, there just aren't many enemies in the level. The good thing is that the actual placement was good. Most enemies were in major traffic areas, or patrolling around in the hangars. A few were in areas I wouldn't have expected them, but it helped keep me on my toes. Also, the areas weren't completely far-fetched, so it balances out. Maybe one of the reasons this level felt easy was the number of items. Don't get me wrong, for a level this size, the items seemed fair. However, because there weren't many enemies, it was still too much. One thing that's not too much though, are the enhancements. In addition to the briefing, there are tons of new COG's. I can't possibly take my time to describe all of them, so play it to see them all for yourself. Some of them are flashy, while others look just as good with their simplicity. There are some new SND's as well. One thing that was lacking which really would have helped the level was cutscenes. Even a simple rotation and plot summary would have helped, especially for the end. As it is, the ending is very abrupt. It took me a second to realize that I had completed my mission. Still, the enhancements used were a big help.
Playing Experience / Atmosphere
Since Ord Mantell resides in space, you would expect a lot shading during exterior scenes. However, you'd be amazed how many authors forget even this simple no-brainer. Fortunately, this author is not one of them. Exterior scenes were appropriately lit, with a good mix of light and shadow to help bring out a certain moodiness as well as accent the Ord Mantell/Nar Shaddaa theme. Interior scenes even had a good use of lighting when it was necessary. Also, the level is designed in a believable sense. Rooms were placed with thought as to semblance, adding further to the overall realism. There's only one problem: the author should have made the level take place on another spaceport/city. We've all seen exterior pictures of Ord Mantell and this level just doesn't follow it. Don't get wrong, the overall semblance is good, it's just that it doesn't work for Ord Mantell. Also, while there wasn't any plot problems, there were a couple questions raised while I played. Why is the Crow sitting in a hangar? If it was so easy to get Katarn's ship in, why was he smuggled in via a crate? Fortunately, all of the realism issues were minor. As for Gameplay, this level was a lot of fun to play. Part of it is due to it's numerous enhancements, and well-balanced architecture; however, another part is due to one thing that has been missing in many JK levels: puzzles. I don't mean mundane ones like "find the right key," (since there are no locked doors) or "slash the right grate" (there's only one of those). No, I mean puzzles that require good timing and a little bit of thought. This, of course, adds to the gameplay and makes the level that much more fun. Framerate was never an issue. Even in the large, open exterior scenes my computer ran smoothly. Also, there were no fatal crashes or bugs. Only a few stitching errors kept this level from being mechanically perfect.
Review Screenshot 3
Review Screenshot 4
Final Thoughts
There isn't anything overly shocking or surprising about this level. However, what you will find is a solid level (and a rather large one at that). I think you should give it go. Just don't be surprised if the only thing you find killing you are the jumping puzzles.
88 / 100
77 / 100
89 / 100