Previews, Reviews and Seaviews


Written by Jeff Walters


Desalinization Plant    

Author - T. Stallings

The Story -

On an overcast afternoon, Kyle sets down on one of the supply moons of Coruscant (I'm not well-versed in the geography of the SW universe, so if there are no such moons, please suspend your disbelief) to disable and deactivate an ecological nightmare created by the Imperials to supply water to Coruscant. Years of cheap but bio-ridiculous procedures have left the moon a lifeless hulk and the plant itself a half-functioning, rusty shell of what it once was. It is hoped that the destruction of this plant will help the Rebellion to gain recruits through this demonstration of ecological concern.

Preview -

The first level an author makes, typically isn't anything flash. Therefore, when I received this level for testing in the mail from an unknown author, I wasn't terribly hopeful. What I found was very impressive first effort. As with any beta-version there was unpolished sections and minor bugs, but the level was full of some very interesting and unique ideas.

From the very beginning of the level I noticed that the author has a particular love of spinning sectors and it is shown throughout the level. From large spinning fans that stir the sewerage to extremely small fans in the air vents, his use of spinning sectors is very refreshing to see. In many ways this level is similar to Anoat City from the original game in that to finish the level you have to turn on/off fans and pumps so as to access areas previously hidden or inaccessable. But overall, I found this level much more enjoyable.

The author has also made use of some of a couple of Al McDonald's new WAX creations. There is one thing I should tell you though - get ready for a fight. This level contains *two* enemies with Boba Fett logic and they are most definitely not easy to defeat.

There are some nice INF features scattered throughout the level including a 'sunset' effect that makes the outside light gradually change over the course of the level.....very nice. The texturing, while not perfect, is pretty good with only a few questionable texture choices and the architecture is entertaining and, for the most part, realistic.

Prediction - I don't think this will be a classic level, but it is still very good in my opinion. It has several new ideas and the puzzles are not dumb and frustrating like some levels, but clever and challenging. Should get between 90 or 91 at the Crow's Nest. The author predicts an October release.


The Dark Forces of Zsinj    

Author - Capt. Palleon (Jim & Andy Maxwell)

The Story -

The Warlord Zsinj has found the old plans for the Dark Trooper. He is trying to remake an army of them. As a older Kyle you are supposed to find out where they are being produced and you need to find out where the plans for the building the Dark Trooper are so they are destroyed completely. . .

Preview -

I first saw the initial screenshots for this project quite a while ago now and ..well...they didn't really impress that much at all. But like 'Desalinization Plant' above when I played unfinished copys of the first two levels for this project, I was very surprised and very glad my first impressions were wrong.

Of the two, the second level was the one that really caught my eye. Set on a rock/ice planet, the level features a nicely designed city located in deep canyons in the rock. Complete with it's own roadway and checkpoints, as well as even a monorail station complete with nearby turntable.....brilliant.

The combination of both ice and rock in constructing the planet environment is a good idea. Usually levels are either one terrain type or another, not a mixture of several.

The first level is enjoyable, but not as innovative as the second one in my opinion. It does have some nice sequences though, like were you have to break out of a crate and another when you end the level. I also noticed a perfect example of effective lighting where a vent leading off from a room with flashing lights also experiences light flashing but to a much lesser degree....very nice. I should add that both levels were still fairly incomplete and so things could change significantly before their release.

Prediction - Both levels could stand some improvement in the technical details side of things, but I'm sure this will happen before release. I found the storyline works extremely well within levels, not just merely as background or another excuse to find the death star plans. I think these levels will likely do very well when released, but it's still too early to make any firm predictions.


Archon Raider    

Author - John Johnson

The Story -

Commander, the Rebel Alliance recently intercepted several sensitive Imperial transmisions. We are afraid most of this information has already been passed on to the Rebel High Command. It is no longer possible to prevent them from using the data, however the Emperor believes we might still obtain a copy of the data hidden in a relatively small rebel base on the moon Archon. Don't let the size of the base fool you, it is well protected. Your mission officer will fill you in further when you reach the moon. Beta team will provide cover for your escape. Our mission is primarily damage assessment now. Recover the hidden data tape and meet up with Beta team outside the base.

Preview -

This level...well in my basically a WAX showcase level. There is an absolute TON of new waxes in this level. From enemies to room decorations, there is almost countless numbers of them. And most, if not all, of the waxes are of top's a pity the level itself doesn't emulate this same outstanding quality.

As you play the level from a Imperial perspective you've probably guessed that the new waxes are of Rebel troops and the guessed right. There are Rebel snow troopers, wookies, various aliens, Han, Liea, riders on tauntauns, rebels in towels fresh out of the shower.....yes you heard me, enemies wearing only towels.

You even get to battle the spritely 900 year old Yoda. As said above most of these waxes work extremely well.....but some of the new vocs to go with them are a bit questionable. For example, there is a new wax (to replace the dianogas) of a woman swimming who ducks underwater and then re-surfaces to attack you......great wax, but the new voc played when this enemy is hit....well...put it this way, I nearly fell of the chair laughing when I heard it :)

The texturing and architectural design of the level isn't great. The are a couple of areas that suffer from clipping problems and one large area that has great slowdown due to the number of 3DOs. However, the use of new furniture and other assorted waxes to decorate some of the smaller rooms works very well. My favourite place is the shower area complete with dripping shower heads hanging from the roof.

Prediction - Though I'm sure the level will get better before release, I still think it will just be a showcase level for the new waxes and not much more. The author seems to have some genuine artisitc talent judging from the waxes, so expect any future levels to increase in quality.



Free Kelly    

Author - Dave Bushnell

The Story -

The Empire maintains a secure processing facility on Kell Island, one of the few remaining natural habitats for the Kell Dragon. At this facility the Kells are slaughtered routinely. Their hides, bones, and flesh are then turned into armor, food, and other resources elemental to Imperial troop operations. The location of this facility was supplied to the Alliance by Whitestar, the conservationist group concerned about the Kell's dwindling numbers. Your mission is to sabotage the facility.

But there's a catch.

Whitestar supplied the information only under the condition that no Kells would be harmed. Therefore you must destroy the facility without killing any Kell Dragons. If you do, the mission will be scrubbed, and you will be stranded on the island.

The main entrances to the island are under heavy guard, so you will be dropped off on a small loading dock. You will need to plant seqencer charges in three key areas, and then return to the loading dock before they detonate.

Review -

Most levels made on Macs aren't usually of the best quality, but if this level is what's possible then the future of DF on the Mac is bright. Whilst the level's story and indeed 'name' leaves a lot to be desired, this is one of the better levels made so far this year.

From the second the wait screen dissappears and the level appears, you can tell that is going to be unique. The opening sequence in the dock area sets the scene so well that you can almost taste the salt air coming in from ocean outside. I kinda regret playing it on a PC, because the opening sections do suffer from clipping problems accordingly, but if you can overlook this bug created in the conversion from Mac to PC you'll see what I mean about atmosphere.

The water leads up to the beach in certain areas and you can almost believe it. Beautiful! There are also a terrifc underwater section that is by far the best below water FX ever seen in a level. Complete with bubbles, sea weed and other nifty features it makes it hard to believe that it's still the Dark Forces engine. The architecture and texturing are mostly pretty good, though there are areas where the layout of the facility seems strange.

You should be warned that this level is loaded with puzzles to be solved......and whilst they are typically original and complex, unlike 'Desalinization Plant' mentioned above, the puzzles do NOT fit in with the story. Whereas the puzzles in 'Desalinization Plant' involve switching pumps on/off, etc, things that fit in with the level's design and story, the puzzles in Free Kelly don't seem to have any other point than to hinder the player.

Overall - The story, while having an interesting catch, is not that good, but the numerous INF features and different places to visit make up for it. This level is perfect for those people who love challenging puzzles, though as said above the puzzles don't really fit into the story. Still it is probably the best level ever made on a Mac.

Click here to download 'Free Kelly'