'Winter at the top of the world' by Steamteck
|Review machine: Athlon 950, 256Mb, ATI Radeon 64Mb DDR @ 1024,768 Reviewed 10/11/01
|Download (UK) (Russia)
Winter at the top of the world is a ground / air level based on new characters rather than Rynn and Arokh. The storyline is set many centuries before the game during the so called 'golden age' when the Order of the Flame were the ruling elite of the world. You take on the role of Lady Winter and her Dragon who uncover a plot to take over the surrounding lands...
This is another great level from Steamteck, its fun to play and has lots of places to explore plus a good, well developed plot that is revealed via the usual text messages as you progress through the level. A good storyline is essential to a single player level in my opinion. To start off with, everything seems normal but after talking to the wizard in the village, things don't seem quite right and you leave the village to investigate. Within ten minutes though, you will have plenty of foes to chop to pieces!
Winter is a huge level with tons of places to visit; you will come across old ruins, fortresses, mines and underground hideouts to name a few. Level architecture is good, the ruins look great and underneath some, you will find the underground hideouts which are nicely detailed with areas for eating and sleeping etc. The lighting is much better in these areas than in some of Steamteck's other levels which adds to the atmosphere a lot and it looks so much better than a brightly lit cave as in some other levels. The only thing with the lighting is that it doesn't look right inside the houses and the place where you start out. An example of this is in the dining area, its too bright and the same level of brightness, in an area like this it should be dark lit only by the torches and the fire.
There are also some new buildings such as the fortress at the end which I thought was cool - it looks typical of an ancient fortress and it has good attention to detail. Typically the insides of these buildings are separated into various rooms, such as sleeping quarters, weapons store etc which makes them more realistic. The landscaping is OK too, its mainly flat with hills and mountains separating the various areas of the level. Its also laid out in a way that its fairly non-linear; that is you don't have to follow a set path to complete your objectives. You may think that this involves a lot of going to and fro from different parts of the level, but its cleverly laid out so that this is minimized.
On to the weapons, there are loads of them to be found; some of the good ones are worn but this is not a problem as you find plenty more later. There are some cool new ones such as the lava stone which is a magical weapon that fires projectiles similar to the dragon lava breath. Later in the level, you get a decent, indestructible sword and once you get this, you can pretty much throw away all your other melee weapons. Generally, you gain weapons from slain foes but some can be found in caves and around the ruins. As for Arokh's breath weapons, you gain a few good ones from traitor dragons that you slay.
Enemies are more or less consist of Orcs and Wartocks and in the air, dragons but you do come across some human enemies which makes a change. Talking of enemies, their placement throughout the level is good, they usually look like they are busy doing something rather than just dotted about randomly looking stupid. Some appear by a trigger which works well, for example one or two may enter a room after you as if you missed them or they have been following you unnoticed. At one part of the level, I was attacked by an Orc with a crossbow but he accidentally shot another Orc instead who ran over to beat him to death which I thought was amusing.
The game's difficulty level, for an average player, is just right as well, there's just enough health potions to get you through and the enemies themselves aren't that difficult to defeat. I think that the damage they do to you has been reduced as you don't wear any armor in this level due to the new skin. The skin BTW was provided by Lady Alani who has made a few good Rynn skins for people to use in their levels. As I mentioned earlier, you get a good selection of weapons with varying amounts of damage, as long as you use the right sort of weapon for the enemy character you want to slay, you should be OK.
The only bad points in the level is the texturing is pretty poor in some places, there are too many repeated textures, more noticeable on the rock textures. Also the ground textures don't line up well and looked strange in places. Some parts of the level seem 'boxy' and there are straight edges to things that should naturally be uneven and varied e.g. where the mountains meet the ground. The game did crash on me a couple of times which seemed to happen when I encountered the Rimril look-alike character so save before venturing inside any temple etc in case this happens to you.
After completing the level, I did find one bug in the level - one of the fortresses near some ruins had the roof missing when viewed from outside and when you flew towards it, you would sometimes get stuck in the walls. I never managed to find the key to enter this fortress either so I 'floyed' past the gate to see what was inside.
So overall, Winter at the top of the world is an enjoyable adventure backed by a good, original plot and there are lots of things to keep the player occupied. The difficulty level OK for the average player although more advanced players may find it easy. There is a good atmosphere throughout the level and some cool and interesting weapons. One other thing I would have liked is some sort of ending to the level, maybe a cut scene or something?
Anyway, go and download it now!
Rating; Architecture & lighting: 8 Texturing: 5 Item & enemy placement: 9
Atmosphere: 9 Gameplay / new ideas / enhancements: 8 bugs: one, non serious
- Click the images to enlarge.