Latest Game Reviews

  • Medal Of Honor

    Medal Of Honor

    Overall, MOH falls short of Modern Warfare 2 and Bad Company 2, but not by much. It's fun, it looks good. It provides a more realistic war plot, so I'd certainly recommend it.

  • The Ball

    The Ball

    Just a short review for The Ball, because it's a short indie game. Originally starting out as a mod using Unreal 3.0, it ended up being turned into a full commercial game. The Ball is a bit of a one-trick pony. It's just several long levels of puzzles without a lot of charm to it. It does look nice, the puzzles are creative, but it didn't grab me enough to even finish the game.

  • Venetica


    Venetica is not an AAA title. The visuals are fun and okay, but they don't really compare to modern 2010 games. But the combat and gameplay had me well addicted to finishing it for a couple of days, so it must have done something right. It is certainly worth playing in my opinion. Not quite as good Gothic 4, which again is not as good as Dragon Age: Awakenings, but single player RPG's are few and far between. And by the way IGN gave this a 9.2.

  • Bioshock 2

    Bioshock 2

    The only real problem with Bioshock 2 is that a lot of gamers might be put off by a lack of evolution. The game is basically the same as the first - not really pushing any boundaries but just improving and tweaking probably every area. I think that's why Bioshock 2 hasn't really had the same acclaim and review scores as the first game, but ultimately Bioshock 2 is the better game.

  • Tron: Evolution

    Tron: Evolution

    Conclusion - just a typical game/movie tie-in with little real effort. A five to six hour afternoon and you'll have this game done and forgotten. I see this game has a 5.5 Metacritic score. I was hoping this might be one of those games rated lower than what it deserves, but it's actually pretty accurate.

  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

    Overall, the fantastic visuals are your main purpose for playing Castlevania. Decent story and cutscenes and some fun, although sometimes overly-complicated combat help. What doesn't help are the bad fixed camera angles, some annoying boss fights and the keyboard lag. Oh the keyboard lag, that really has to bring my score down. But just don't play it on the PC.

  • Medal Of Honor
  • The Ball
  • Venetica
  • Bioshock 2
  • Tron: Evolution
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Latest Game Reviews List

Ethereal Hell has been in existence since 1999 - well over a decade. It's gone through a few purposes - initially being a review site for custom Quake, Quake2 and Half-Life levels and mods, before becoming an archive of all my own custom levels.

Now, the aim of this website is to provide reviews of all the modern action games worth playing, from a single person's unbiased perspective. That person is Shaun [Kona] Ross, ex-level designer and gamer.

From the early-mid 2000's I'm reviewing all worthwhile action games, working my way up. You may just find some obscure gems here! If it's first or third person perspective, it'll be reviewed here. Shooters, hack n slash, survival-horror, RPG's, even the odd adventure game. What you won't find here are sims, sports games or RTS.

The following is an interview I did for Spirit for Qexpo 2008.




Could you briefly introduce yourself (age, location...) and tell us when you were most active in the Q1 community?

27 years old, from New Zealand. Love music, movies, games. Just like every other guy! These days don't have time for game playing unfortunately, and instead put all my time into website design running my own little web design company.




How did you get involved in the community?

Started out playing Doom2 & Wolfenstein 3D. Eventually got hooked on Duke 3D blasted pigs and spending a lot of time telling strippers to "shake it baby". The Hexen and Heretic titles were also great. Then my cousin gave me a copy of Quake in early 1997, and I absolutely loved it! I'd never seen a game like it before - it was pure fantasy horror - and more of an 'experience' than any other game. The atmosphere was just perfect, with gameplay that was straight-forward, pure action-oriented fun. After playing through the game I started downloading custom levels on the library computers at high school. I didn't have any editing software then, but I did manage to get some for Doom2, so made a couple Doom2 levels in the meantime - just to get used to level editing for Quake.


By mid-1998 I finally got Worldcraft and there began my mapping obsession. Funny enough, after making a crappy short episode for Quake in 1998, I found a new love - Quake2, and moved on to mapping for that and Half-Life for all of 1999. Q2 releases from guys like J F Gustafsson, Jonas NP Lindstrom (both great Q1 mappers aswell), SPOG and The Powersphere Quest were more inspiring than any of the Quake levels at the time. Then in 2000 I finished school and went crazy making maps for various games - a dozen deathmatch levels for Quake3, which is funny because I hardly ever played deathmatch. A bit of a waste of time all those were. Then in 2001 returned to Quake and released around 12 or so levels (most level packs, even) between 2001-2002. By 2003 I had decided I was spending way too much time in Quake and decided to leave the community with Carved In Flesh and Autumn Haunting to leave my mark - probably my best and final releases. I think I once went back into Worldcraft a year or so later and couldn't even remember how to use it.




What Q1 contributions are you best-known for? Which of your works is your personal favorite?

Best known for, I have no idea. Maybe Rapture with Tronyn was the most downloaded. And Grindmill, a Quake3 map I made. My personal favourites are between Necrobrood and Carved In Flesh. Necrobrood because I loved the metal theme and large scale architecture. But Carved In Flesh was my most detailed and best looking work. I also loved Autumn Haunting, but it was too short. Permutations Of The Rotten (for Nehahra) I also really loved for gameplay, but the design was a little more repetitive. I also liked all my Quake2 releases, although they wouldn't have worked in Quake.




What was your initial motivation to work for Quake?

I just loved creatings "worlds". Running through that fantasy-horror environment that Quake had and admiring the design. Which is interesting, because I hated other 3D programs like 3DSMax, Maya, Lightwave. Which is why I won't ever map for any modern games.




Are you still playing Quake? Are you still trying out mods, maps and engines?

The sound in Quake won't work on my computer, so I can't play Q1/Q2/Q3 anymore. No idea why - I have all the latest drivers. If I fix it one day then I can return to all the custom levels I've missed.




Have there been other games you have been playing a lot since you left the community?

I've got a huge amount of FPS games downloaded ready to play, almost 100gb worth - but really don't have time anymore. I bought a new computer so I could play Crysis, but don't think I'll ever get around to playing it! Doom3 was the most recent game I enjoyed - but even that has too many custom releases to get through (1gb worth)! The last few games I actually played were Undying (great!), Wheel Of Time (nice but some of it was rather amateur and bland) and Soldier of Fortune 2 (much better than I was expecting).




How would you describe the Q1 community right now? Is there any contribution that really impressed you in the last couple of years?

Most of the recent stuff I haven't been able to play. I loved Contract Revoked, Warp Spawn by Ijed. Haven't kept up with the community for a while though. I download all the latest releases but don't play them. I WILL one day :D




How do you picture the future of the community? Do you (objectively) think that people will still be modding/mapping for it in, say, 10 years from now?

People are stilling modding/mapping for Doom2 - so I see no reason why not. Games of today seem to be much harder to map for. Quake and Worldcraft was brilliant in it's simplicity. It's the kind of game that will last the test of time. It has such great replayability and a dedicated community.




Your #1 secret special ingredient to a good map (imagine a newbie asking for your advice)?

Having a second monitor with porn constantly playing ;) No lesbian porn though.
Seriously, there is no secret ingredient. You've got to put in the time, don't rush it. Paint the design and architecture with passion and detail. When it comes to gameplay, make it a hectic challenge full of action - something which is lacking in recent games.




What are your favourite maps?

Okay, my memory is pretty poor so I'll miss tonnes of brilliant work, and anything from the last year or two I haven't played. Firstly, anything by Tronyn, Mexx, CZG, Than, Damaul, Necro, Kell...

Best ever release was Nehahra. Full stop. I also enjoyed Bestial Devastation, Insomnia, OUM, Numb Nimbus, Penumbra of Domination, Contract Revoked & The Lost Chapters, Day of the Lords, Warp Spasm, The Marcher Fortress... I always thought Prodigy, Beyond Belief, Zerstorer were great in terms of gameplay, but the level design was a little plain for me.




Alright thanks for the interview! Happy to know people still remember and enjoy my contribution to Quake. My memories if sitting in my dark bedroom mapping away for hours and hours with music playing, sure were friggin enjoyable (as sad as it sounds).

This map will keep you occupied for longer than you first might think, although the size is pretty average for a single bsp. The answer lies in the weak weapons you are provided with in the first part of the map, and the enemy count to go with that. But more about that later, here's the story:

Tired of training instead of gibbing some real Strogg opposition, you walk into the office of your commander to ask him if you could join in on the next attack on the Strogg. He is however not willing to let you go, and the two of you begin to argue. In the heat of the discussion, you pull your gun and point it towards him, just as a soldier enters the office. Before you have time to react, shots are fired, and as the echoes of your gunfight fades away, they are both dead; now you're a fugitive on the run. You manage to steal a pod scheduled for the Strogg leaders planet. Regretfully you didn't bring any heavy weaponry.


The layout of this map is actually pretty good, but the design lacks professionalism. Some areas look good, some don't. Here's an example: when using a lift you don't normally expect it to go right through the buttons that operate it. And, that particular lift didn't seem to fit in with the environment; it should have been replaced with some stairs. The textures aren't used to their advantage, with the exception of a couple of areas that look good. In the beginning rooms are very small, but the deeper into the mission you get, the larger the rooms get. There's a couple of outdoor areas that are OK, and the 3D feel to this bsp is better than a couple of recently reviewed maps here at QIC. The lighting however is a bit, how shall I put it, original. Take the lower screenshot as an example; is there anyone who believes green light outdoors look natural? I know I don't.


When it comes to Strogg resistance I have to say that the first half of the map isn't very fun, mainly because you're only equipped with the single shotgun and a couple of hand grenades. There's a pretty massive opposition you're up against, and although it's possible to kill all the enemies with the weapons provided, it gets very tedious, yes even annoying. But once you get a hold of the super shotgun the game picks up again. But then the next annoying thing happens; areas that you recently cleared are filled with monsters again, sometimes right behind your back, coming out of nowhere. It would have been OK if it happened in another room and you were to backtrack, but when it happens in the very room you're standing in, it gets unreal. You really have no indication on where they're going to respawn. On the upside is the smoothness, very little slowdown and the escalation towards the end is well performed.


Some of what this map lacks can be explained with the authors non-willingness to learn how to edit with Worldcraft. Therefore no special effects are used, but the map clearly has potential, especially if more time is spent on creating a more realistic environment. One or two moving things would have added to that as well; for instance why not make the crane in the lower screenshot actually work. Well, that's about it, I think I've laid everything I can remember about the map out for you; now it's up to you to decide whether to download or not. I'm out of here.

Score: 3/5


The story of Mel Soaring begins here in the first of [Kona]’s series, Hear Me Roar. Mel, the soldier who kills his commanding officer, and the hero from Quake2, finds himself heading toward a Strogg infested planet where he plans to defeat this over-whelming force.


Over-whelming is probably an understatement when it comes to some parts of this map. I think nearly impossible might be a better choice. As with most of [Kona]’s map, the difficulty is set high with plenty of cramped corridors that make the fighting even harder to pass. There were a couple of times I wanted to slip by and just couldn’t. Though it seems maybe too hard at times it provides exhilarating gameplay that any Quake player will love.


The level design twist you around in so many circles you need to be careful not to get dizzy. There was one instance where I didn’t know where to go next because the lift was in the shadows and I just overlooked it. Other than that one time the level was simple to navigate.


Texture use dragged the scoring down for Hear Me Roar because the themes were inconsistent. You go from rocky terrains to temple entrances that only lead to regular Quake2 base styles. I also had problems with the door textures because a lot of them did not stand out as doors. I would look at them thinking it was just another wall.


Although this map isn’t the best, it does show the direction that [Kona] would be heading in with his more famous maps.


Rating: 7.25