New Blood


Written by Jeff Walters

The Rock - Gandolo IV    

Author - Clayton Cameron

The Story -

As you know, the recent hours have been quite hectic for us. Grand Admiral Thrawn has risen up from obscurity, and is bent on reviving the Empire. He has enlisted the help of an insane clone of a Jedi Master, Jorus C'baoth. Their bargain is that C'baoth aidsThrawn in any way possible in exchange for new Jedi students: mainly, Leia Organa Solo and her twin children.

But Thrawn has been unable to keep his side of the bargain. His Nogrhi commandos have been unable to capture the Princess, and this has upset C'baoth. Upset him enough to cause him to break away from Thrawn. The bad part is two divisions of Thrawn's troops had grown quite loyal to C'baoth, and now obey him. These are no ordinary Imperials(anymore). The ranking officers are training as Dark Jedi. The stormtroopers and regular officers have had superb training from the best the Imperials have (before they seperated from Thrawn, of course). C'baoth's troopers stand out with their dark blue armor, and make up a fearsome enemy. Combine this with the two AT-ATs, five AT-STs, and numerous sentry devices the traitors took with them, and you have one impressive fighting force.

Thrawn doesn't appear to care; two divisions are nothing compared to what he has left. He's not bothering to eliminate C'baoth, either, because in the end they both have the same goal: to restore the Empire's glory and bring down the New Republic, except C'baoth is bent on reviving the Jedi(in his case Dark Jedi) as a galaxy wide force.

Review -

The first thing many people noticed about this level, was the hoops you have to jump through to get it to play......I sincerely hope most people got it to work, for otherwise they have missed out on a pretty good start to a promising four level project. Like Peter Klassen's Bounty Hunt, released earlier this year, this level is it's own worst enemy. The reason the level is hard to get to work is because it is simply WDFUSE the sector count was 1200-1300! Fortunately, unlike Tim Smulder's massive Ice World level, you don't seem to notice it as a huge level while playing it. This is because a lot of those 1200+ sectors went into making rooms more detailed.

What I really liked about Gandolo IV was the atmosphere in certain parts. When you first emerge from the water in the sewers beneath the Imperial base and hear the gunfight echoing through the tunnels, a great deal of suspense is created that sets the heart pumping. The atmosphere of the city with speeders zooming around and citizens that talk if you walk close to them is terrific too, but I feel there was an oppurtunity to do even more here that wasn't taken advantage of.

Repetition of design, thankfully, is not seen much in this level, with every area having a different feel to the previous one. My favourite part of the level was when the VX gas cannister is spilled and you have to make it through a contaminated area before dying.....very nice. The sequence underground where you have to run through a flame filled corridor is a very good idea, but the flames only cause you minimal damage.

The architectural design and texturing of the level, particularly in the city areas, is good but could have been better, though the area lighting seen through out the level is excellent for the most part. The city area suffers to a certain degree from HOMing, which can become annoying.

The Facts - This is Clayton's first level and not many authors open with a level this innovative. The ideas are fresh and it is fun trying to spot the scenes taken from the Rock movie whilst wasting troopers. The scene mentioned earlier where you hear the gunfight above while in the sewers is a classic and very atmospheric. More creativity in architectural design and texturing and this would have been one of the top levels.

Assault: Fortress Dantooine     

Authors- David Ralph & David Lovejoy

The Story -

Some time ago Fortress Dantooine had to be evacuated after a crushing Imperial attack. Fortunately we got most of the people out. How ever we had to leave behind some things that were too valuable to take out at the time. The empire has built a new facility next to the ruins of the fortress. Some rebel spys still hiding out at the ruins have located the data for the newest Battle Moon the empire is planning to construct.

Smaller than a Death Star but none the less deadly to have on the loose. Although this Battle Moon has no super laser like a Death Star. It is protected by a powerful computer network which controls all aspects of defence ,both externally and internally. We need to analyse the data to find a way to breach the computer security. Kyle must find a way to retrive the Battle Moon Data and set three charges which the Imperials have conviently built into the new facility.

Review -

The main feeling I experienced whilst playing this level for the first time can only be described as deja vu. Although the text file states this is a new level made from scratch, numerous localities in Fortress Dantooine seem to be straight from the original levels. Many areas just seem way too much like Level 4 (Imperial Weapons Research Facility) and the area with the conveyor belts just screams Arc Hammer at me.

The 'technical' design and texturing of the level is perfect, but the 'logical' design of the fortress leaves a lot to be desired. Unlike the base in Star's End, which you could have believed was a blueprint for an *actual* base, this fortress at times just seems like room after room without a given purpose and this results in a distinct lack of atmosphere.

One of the really impressive aspects of this level is the use of walkway 3DOs. The part at the start of the game where you have to hit a button and a walkway comes down and locks into place (see pic. above right) is terrific and variations of this idea are seen through out the level. There are also numerous VUEs seen in this level, including a dog fight at the end between an A-Wing and a TIE fighter.....though the level of VUE usage is good to see, most of them could have been a bit smoother.

My favourite part of the level would have to be the abandoned base area at the end of the level. It's one of the only parts of the game that feels logical in terms of layout and this results in a nice eerie atmosphere (the flickering lights also help).

The Facts - This level was a long time in the making, and even though it has a confused and somewhat unoriginal design, it is really very impressive in the level of detail. I personally didn't find it a terribly enjoyable level to play first time around because of the confusing design, but after two-three plays it starts to warm on you.