|olcsanguis.j2l||Sanguinary Sanctuary||15.92 kB||13 Feb 2009|
|Waz18.j2t||Dark Reign (waz18)||51.71 kB||08 Aug 2004|
|04_-_ether.mp3||Ether||3880.00 kB||06 Apr 2012|
Friday the 13th release…
Originally supposed to be the successor of Toxin Twister, Sanguinary Sanctuary got blown out to unusual for me proportions, turning it into a level suited for large events like JDC or the ever-so-inevitable Anniversary Bash.
Also the first proper level I’ve finished since May 2007. I’ve had no idea when I said “I haven’t done anything in a while, have I?” in TT’s level description eh? Feels good man. Anyway, this is hopefully a harbinger of me doing more JCS work soon, and I do hope that this whopper hasn’t burned me out completely..
This level requires JJ2+ for two reasons. First is the extensive use of bridges, which will cause errors more often than enough in vanilla JJ2. The second is the music, which is in mp3 format—vanilla JJ2 will crash when attempting to play a non-module file, so be sure to install JJ2+ before downloading.
The gameplay is defined by the layout, which is enhanced with the eyecandy, which is serving as an addition to the gameplay. Now that we’ve gone full circle, go download and review :)
The level size is 245×64, and yet you once thought a level of 200×200 was only fit for sp. It’s heavily patterned ec-wise. The gameplay does not justify the level size, and the layout may be too overcomplicated (UNLESS THIS IS IN A BIG GAME/EVENT). Some parts are amazing but others are redundant.
this is very scary how make you it
this IS GREAT i give it an 10
No, but seriously, this is a pretty good level with some nice EC tricks and smart use of bridges. The layout is a bit different, and has some interesting stuff (like the warps above the Bouncy PU) and some nice RF spots (always good to have)
This level has got the best eyecandy I’ve yet seen with this set. The level might look insanely large in JCS that would fit only like 8vs8, but practically it’s probably fine for a 5vs5 even. Fastest route from base to base takes under 10 seconds even! Thanks to a neat flow too. Pickups come with a reasonable amount and variety. D/L and host!
I don’t like this tileset, Reminds me MS lvl =/ But It’s great one, CelL did enough Review so..
Very nice. =]
this is the one that i want to download
[Rating (6.5) clearance. You might want to click the \“sanguis.zip\” link at the top. – cooba]
Sanguinary Sanctuary marks the first release of well-known community member cooba in well over a year, and also his first release since the disbanding of his levelgroup IC and his joining of the well-known yet relatively inactive OLC. So, to add some special flair to the occasion, here’s the first actual Jazz2online upload review I’ve written in give or take four years, a good deal of which I was near completely inactive in the community myself. I wasn’t going to review the level at first or not this soon at any rate, but after having the pleasure of playing it online this evening in a game with FireSworD, Bobby, PurpleJazz and others and having a bit of time on my hands I decided to take a stab at writing something on it. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this baby shall we?
What we have here is a 245×64 (amusingly very close to JCS’s default 256×64 level size) symmetrical capture the flag level using the old but cool Dark Reign tileset by Waz. I think the first thing a lot of people will notice about this level is the sheer size, and yes, this level is indeed quite large. This is actually a very good thing in my opinion; I like CTF levels of a decent size and we need more of them, as this is obviously good for JDC events, thing like the Aniversary bash and big team games in general. That said this level is probably best played in games with six players or more, maybe even preferably eight or more, as said game that I played here was a 3vs3 and while it generally progressed quite smoothly staying alive with the flag proved to be quite easy with only two people chasing you. Still this can also make for some fun games, which indeed it did, so playing with 6 dudes should still be justifiable here.
The entire map plays pretty horizontally and there’s basically three different horizontal levels to the thing with shafts with springs and vines allowing you to move up and down between them. The layout in general seems pretty conventional and at first glance rather unexciting, and while this holds true to a degree it does make use of a few clever ideas and if not the most original still manages to be very solid and fun to play. There’s a lot of space to move around in and the level generally doesn’t get too cramped to allow a generous amount of freedom of movement. The flow here is pretty decent but still leaves a few obstacles out there in the open for you to jump over, which is actually a pretty good thing in my opinion. Instead of just having perfect slopes and float ups to smooth things out and have a perfectly flowing level, I like it when a level designer is actually bold enough to throw a few bumps into his levels to force people to actually put some more thought into getting around, instead of just holding right or left all the time, sometimes hitting a convenient spring or suckertube along the way. The level is inherently neither Spaz- nor Jazz-biased. Spaz can make use of some tricky RF jumps to travel up and down the level faster (which do seem annoying to miss as Jazz but not so good as to be truly abusive) and has some advantages with a few tricky jumps around the middle section. However, all those horizontal surfaces make it very easy for Jazz to move across the level from left to right quickly. I played this as Jazz and after getting over some initial awkwardness, mostly in avoiding some obstacles in making my jumps, I was actually able to move around quite quickly. In fact I beat Spaz players from base to base several times just by bombarding them with Seekers while smoothly coptering over the middle area, or was able to kill them by coptering over the full energy carrot area and shooting Bouncers down below me. cooba also used a nice little trick where he puts springs above bridge events (which no longer crash the game thanks to jj2+) and triggered tiles set to dissapear when the level loads, effectively making the springs float in mid-air and letting you walk a tile under the springs without hitting them. Very clever.
Event placement, as expected of a weathered level mapper like cooba, is pretty much top notch here. With the level being symmetrical the base placement is pretty standard, with blue and red bases in about the vertical middle at the left and right sides of the level respectively. The bases are reasonably out in the open, each being placed in a sort of broad hollow in a relatively open corridor and accessible from either left, right, above or bellow. cooba told me he wanted to make this level a “base camper’s hell”, and while this may not be entirely true (there being a decent amount of ways to defend with the flag if you’re clever), you can still be easily nailed by RFs, Bouncies or fastfire Pepperspray if you’re not careful, so defending certainly isn’t a no-brainer here like it is in levels such as Security Breach. Being ready to score consistently without getting hit certainly is hard. I especially like the little shafts with the vines right above the bases. They seem like an easy place to be ready to score, yet they’re actually so high up that it’s hard to see what’s actually going on at the base and it’s also hard to attack from up there (Bouncies going down the shaft have a depressingly tiny hitbox) while it’s easy to BE attacked (i.e. Seekers, shooting Bouncies up the shaft, Electro Blaster). Weathered Spaz players can also RF climb up the shafts from the bases to gain quick acces to the one health carrots above.
Speaking of carrots, this level has five of them: that’s right, you heard me, five. There’s four one health carrots and one full energy carrot. Let’s tackle the full energy first. It’s located in the top middle of the level, in a sort of pit flanked by two high walls through which people can bombard you using the Electro Blaster. It looks pretty easily campable on one hand but on the other hand campers can easily be attacked there as well as I described above, so there’s nothing really wrong there. There are two one health carrots located at the left and right of the middle area, and two more located in an out-of-the-way area above the shaft above either team’s base, as I described above. There are actually a number of warps which lead to several of the carrots, which might be easy to miss for some people. They are signified by four large gargoyle statues: there is one a slight walk either left or right of each base, and there are two in the bottom middle of the level. The warps at the bottom middle of the level will take you to the full energy carrot, while the warps at the bases will take you to either the left or right middle one health carrot, respectively. I personally found the warps at the bases the most useful as they allow you to quickly mise both middle one health carrots as they’re quite close to each other. The warps to the full energy also provide a useful way to access the otherwise pretty hard to get to full energy carrot as well, though.
Weapon-wise the level offers you all you need for a healthy bit of carnage, yet is still conservative enough for you to warrant some ammunition economics. Available are Seekers (in small amounts), Pepperspray, Electro Blasters, two Bouncer Powerups and an RF Missile powerup. Apart from the ever-present Seeker Missile, generally the best (most broken?) weapon in the game, the RF Missile and Pepperspray look to be pretty dominant in a horizontal level like this. The Toaster, always a melee-favorite, is noticeably missing, though cooba tells me he did this on purpose, and having to actually think about what weapon to switch to in close quarters instead of just mindlessly spraying fire all around isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The Bouncer powerups are placed at the far left and right end of the level, and have to be accessed by going up a semi-narrow shaft with vines. Interestingly enough, you can exit these shafts at the top and go directly into the gargoyle-warps to the one health carrots, from which you can go to the lower middle part of the level, where the RF powerup is located. This is a pretty clever idea, considering it allows you to both heal yourself and restock your ammo if in trouble, or to just go for a quick ammunitions run after getting killed before going into battle once more. The RF missiles are clearly the most abundant in this level, as cooba makes some clever use of MCE events to place two +3 RF ammo pellets in a single tile allowing you to stock up quite quickly. There is only a small amount of Seeker ammo in the level which promotes economic use of this weapon; I was personally out of Seekers half the time and had to go a bit out of my way to restock, considering the Seeker ammo, while not completely out of the way of the level’s commonly tread routes isn’t so near to key camp spots to just be able to restock the things at will. A last addition I want to mention are the Fastfires, which are present in clumps of five at the left and right bottom corners of the level. These represent an interesting choice for players to take or not: you can either forego them and forsake the possibility of nailing people effortlessly with Fastfire Pepperspray, or stock up and risk emptying half your magazine of Bouncers with a single press of a button. Personally I can’t resist the temptation of trying to machine-gun people with Pepperspray in flat levels like this so for me the choice is clear.
The overall visual style of the level is quite good-looking and very compelling. Earlier this evening I remember cooba giving a general description of the theme he was going for, which went something along the lines of “a decayed, decrepit place, abandoned since the dawn of time” with “dark mountains and an ocean of lava” in the background. Overly dramatic as that may sound, and with the coincidentally convenient weaponry and CTF bases lying around taken as a given, I don’t think anyone here will argue with me when I say that Sanguinary Sanctuary looks pretty damn good. cooba makes very effective use of Waz’s 400-tile Dark Reign tileset, and while the set makes it a bit hard to strongly break the mold and create a unique visual look with it (I know, I’ve used it in the past) cooba still manages to churn out a level with a reasonably distinct look.
Spikes portrude from the floors and ceilings, ragged curtains hang from tarnished stone, and an impressive variety of pillars, bridges and arches make for some good-looking and well-structured pieces of architecture. Not a single space is wasted as even solid floors have contain network of chains and pillars for you to gawk at. The aforementioned mountainy background looks pretty nice and it took me a while to notice the “ocean of lava” positioned underneath the mountains actually moves at a slow rate when you’re standing still. cooba also used some cool tricks with the tileset I haven’t seen before such as the broken wooden bridges in the middle of the level. I especially like the giant brickwork skull in the background of the full energy carrot area, a la Toxin Twister and very cool looking, it makes for a recognizable landmark within the level and adds to the theme very nicely. There are a good amount of nifty little details, like the gargoyles signifying the warps to the carrots shimmering slightly if you look close which is a nice touch indeed. Apart from this there’s sadly no other tricks with ambient lighting or even a basic 80% start lighting setting or whatnot, which is a shame. Just about everyone plays online with lighting disabled anyway but I still think it’d have been a nice add to the atmosphere.
The overall visual style may look cluttered and confusing to some people but I generally don’t have much of a problem with it. I found it perfectly playable in high detail but for those who prefer a faster framerate or a cleaner look cooba actually made the level fully compatible with low detail, with no noticeable layer 5 cheating or weird backgrounds that suddenly show like you find in some other levels. In the end the whole visual style makes for a good-looking gothic, dreary, decrepit sort of setting which is very well realised.
For his music selection cooba makes use of a nifty jj2+ feature which allows mp3 format files to be used as background tracks. The music used here is a nifty little mp3 track simply called Ether, released by Damballah, a music project by Michal Moskal under the Polish Kaos ex Machina netlabel. The overall sound of the music is very sullen, dreary and menacing and in that it adds rather nicely to the overall feel of the level. At first I personally found it rather repetitive and honestly a bit dull, and while part of me still thinks that I do feel that cooba made a good choice here as the music still does a very good job in adding to the level’s overall dark and foreboding feel. He told me the level was at first gonna use Shutdown.xm, an old trance/industrial module by Teque, which would’ve been decent but honestly sounds too “techish” for this level to me (if that makes any sense) so cooba made the right choice here in the end I’d say.
When thinking to myself what kind of rating this level’d deserve I was at first somewhat undecided between a 7.5 and an 8.0 (this being in my current opinion the highest mark a single-level release can get unless it STRONGLY manages to impress me), yet I was already leaning towards an 8 simply because of the sheer amount of work that obviously went into this title. After playing this in an online 3vs3 game tho’ I found the level was actually a lot more fun and interesting to play than I thought, so I now feel an 8.0 is fully justified. This is pretty much the rating I feel is deserving for levels I’d actively go back and play a decent amount and Sanguinary Sanctuary surely fits this criterium. I might actually go back and raise the rating slightly after playing this more (though at the moment I mostly subscribe to the Aiko school of reviewing in preferring to only give out whole or half points) but at the moment just go and take a high and VERY well deserved eight points!
In conclusion, Sanguinary Sanctuary is a good-looking and very playable CTF level, that everyone should consider for their 3on3 games and beyond, or for just hosting on a public server for the heck of it. It may not be the most innovative or exciting release ever but it is a very solid product indeed and it’s obvious a lot of work went into it. Everyone, go download this level now!
I like this level. It as a decent layout, it’s big, and it looks good. I’m not going to go into too much detail on these aspects, since other people have. So instead of just describing the level, I’ll look at a few of the things that don’t work and comment on those.
I’ve played this level quite a few times, and so I know the layout about as well as I can. However, I still find that I often have no idea where I am. The problem here is partially one of size, but also because much of the level uses the same style of eyecandy. Whether I am on the left side or the right side, it all looks about the same. To give an example: I know where the warps go, but if I didn’t, I would have no idea which side of the level they took me to. The only thing I have to go by is the ctf arrows.
This level really could have benefitted from some “pointers” in the eyecandy. What I mean by this is stuff (usually in the background) that the player can use to get a good idea of where they are. For example, this level could have used more of those gargoyle statues, which conveniently point left or right (and used them so they always point toward the middle of the level). Other levels do a similar thing with colour, although waz18 doesn’t really have much in that area. There are even subtler ways of doing this – for example, in my most recent CTF level, I used waterfalls to indicate which side of the base is towards the edge of the level (the wrong way to go).
Another problem is the ammo. Most of it respawns fairly quickly, but there isn’t very much of it for a level this size. In large games (6vs6 or larger) it’s quite easy to find yourself using the blaster 3/4 of the time. This can be fixed a bit by turning fast ammo respawn on, but it’s still an issue. I would have liked to see more ammo placed along the common routes here, with things like seekers being kept more out of the way.
A final, more minor comment has to do with the placement of the springs. This level goes out of its way to make you not use them – they are put inside gaps in the floor (forcing you to stop if you want to hit them), or put above bridges so you literally run underneath the springs. I understand why this is done, but it runs counter to what pretty much every other level does. Generally speaking, if you see a spring in front of you which you don’t want to use, you will jump over it. You do not expect the level to have an invisible bridge event that will let you run underneath it. And likewise, if you want to use a spring, you usually will expect to be able to use it if you just run into it (no jumping required). Basically, this level messes with your regular intuitions when it comes to how these things work. This isn’t a major issue, but I feel like this feature, which I assume is intended to make the level flow better, is having the opposite effect it is supposed to.
Aside from all of that, this is still an enjoyable level and I recommend it for any large CTF game. It’s also a good level to look at if you want to see how this tileset ought to be used (it’s probably the best use of it I’ve seen, or maybe tied with medieval skyscrapers).
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.
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