Subterranean Library by Than
Ask most Quake regulars about which custom maps are really memorable and no doubt among the responses you’ll hear “Honey” by CZG. One map from the same year (2012) that you may not hear is Subterranean Library (apsp3) by Andrew Palmer (Than). Perhaps Subterranean Library was a little overshadowed by honey, but Than’s epic map packs a punch and doesn’t deserve to be a footnote in that same year.
Subterranean Library is a 200-odd monster romp through a half buried and collapsing library. While there is a story included in the readme file, it could be easily summed up as “this isn’t what you expected it to be”, instead let your imagination roam free and ignore the included story.
Visually this map has a really interesting theme, the geometry is excellent and the textures are well chosen (if a touch repetitive). Than has included bloody waterfalls and bloody rivers for the player to fall / jump into and swim, really adding to the demonic / other worldly vibe that the map is creating. The brushwork is excellently crafted, with good layering and subtle (and not so subtle) details. As is usual for Than, surfaces are excellently trimmed and the rock work alone must have taken a significant time to craft. It is very apparent that significant care has gone into the creation of this map.
Gameplay wise, the player is asked to find four runes to escape the crumbling library. As you progress through the library it crumbles and opens up. Quoth allows the player to experience earthquakes and breakable geometry, for example Than included rune doors that break only after certain runes have been collected. Quoth Also includes a bunch of new enemies that add to the “other worldly” experience. When used incorrectly Quoth maps can introduce new enemies to the detriment of the gameplay, however Than has deftly balanced the weapons and enemy types such that no enemy feels too much like a “bullet sponge”. As the player progresses the map opens and enemies spawn, becoming more and more challenging, but never outright unfair. On normal skill you may be asked to defeat two Shamblers consecutively or two Droles simultaneously, however the geometry is setup in such a way that it’s easy to deal with these enemies in their spawning position. Likewise, you’ll be asked to fight a Gug, but as compared to most Quoth maps which require the Gug to be fought in an open area, Than allows the combat to happen in a medium sized area with plenty of cover; the combat is difficult, but fair.
For the most part Than does a fairly good job of conveying the correct direction to proceed, with arrows pointing the way, or opening up areas as you reach objectives. Occasionally though, the player may find themselves having to search for the correct direction, while this isn’t so bad as the map is quite interconnected, it can be a slight frustration.
This map is a really fun experience, go give it a playthrough, you can download it from Quaddicted. Better yet, you can play it co-op as Than included 4 co-op spawns!