This is, in my opinion, one of the best homemade Dark Forces levels ever made. Many new WAXes and other components are woven into the level, but with nothing in excess. The plot involves Kyle's attempt to rescue four diplomats (jokingly labeled figures already seen in the original game, such as Moff Rebus' and Crix Madine's relatives) who are sympathetic to the rebellion. The empire has captured them and is holding them in the Lahara Hotel, a deluxe highrise building known throughout the galaxy.
The layout, for a start, is brilliant. Everything is there for a reason, and circumstances at points call for Kyle to crawl along narrow ledges far above the city streets, or to crawl through ventilation shafts to get to other floors, or to shut down the power in the main generator (very neat), or to jump from one suite's balcony to get to another suite, the door of which is locked. There are four floors to the hotel, and each one can be accessed by a main elevator. The diplomats are being held captive in various parts of the building, and it's a real adventure trying to find them.
Another thing that makes this level great are the new, creative additions, that make the level fit into the "Star Wars" universe but that also have footholds in our world, making the level seem more tangible. These little additions and attentions to detail will have you sitting back and admiring the genius of the designer. I've attempted to list these features below:
- The level starts on a landing pad type rooftop, with a blinking "HOTEL" sign prominently displayed over the entrance into the building.
- A large cocktail lounge replete with a bar and dining tables.
- A rooftop swimming pool (sans dianogas, thank goodness!)
- Hotel rooms with closets, light switches that work, beds, TVs, and balconies overlooking the skyline.
- A service elevator that takes you down to a very realistic looking parking garage with large locking doors (WOW!).
- A covered walk way over the city streets (neat!).
- Various homemade posters, and
- An impressive AT-ST walker looming over the hotel entrance.
In addition, the level also includes a short but professionally done cutscene at the beginning, a new briefing, and a very nice-looking loading screen. Also, there is completely new music for the level, a sort of jazzy, big-city theme that also has elements of "Star Wars" type music when it changes into the intense fight-scene music. I don't know where the author got this music, perhaps he wrote it himself, but it greatly enhances an already excellent level. In my opinion, a well-thought out and well executed level is the most important thing, but almost important is the addition of new things to stop people who have played the original levels over and over from being disinterested. A think levels like this one, with new WAXes and briefings, and especially new cutscenes and music, are among the best ones out there.
You probably thought I'd never get to this part, but there are some drawbacks to this level, just like any other. For example, in the field of enemies, this level is not very difficult at all, with no enemies other than imperial soldiers and the rare droid or bounty hunter. Nevertheless, there are plenty of puzzles to figure out, and the level is very nonlinear in that you can tackle any of a number of puzzles first, so you will still find this level challenging. Also, for a big,upbeat hotel, the walls and lighting were pretty dark and confining. It would have been nice to have gotten a little variety and brightness. Finally, part of the level involves walking through the city streets. This is really bland due to the lack of anything like street lights or vehicles parked on the road to hold your interest.
All in all, though, these are minor problems compared to the many times you will want to play this level, because there are so many ways you can go about beating it. This one is definitely a must see.