Here are my thoughts on each entry, totally subjective and personal. I have granted each map a grade on 10 points with absolutely no fixed way to determine what is good or bad, but with 10 being a map I really loved and will play again and 0 being an empty cube with the default texture and 1 playerstart. As usual, I didn't try to be nice while taking notes, so there might be a few harsh stuff for some; sorry if you're angry at me, it was just one guy's very biased opinion and doesn't mean anything in the long run. But first, my personnal winners are:
1 - Aquarius : 3 points
2 - Sonder : 2 points
3 - Rooftop Rage : 1points
And so, in Alphabetical order, a list of thoughts about the maps. Let's mention that I had no idea who was the author of which map while testing, so my personal sympathies don't affect the scoring in the slightest.
First the CTF:
Arcane Engine: nice little map, generic temple theme, some fun ideas (like the teleporter under the pulse gun), but I think it suffers because of the huge straight line in the middle of the map (which makes it possible to snipe anyone's head off from the other side of the map) while the side roads are so full of turns it's very hard to catch the flag carrier once he has gone round a corner. To me, 7/10.
Belacrue: Too spammy, too simple, it's like a LAN map, surely fun with friends but on it's own, not my cup of tea. I'm not a fan of the Rocket+sniper/shock loadout because, well, it ends just like that. Also, the map is extremely dark and more than simple: the texture choice I think, is part of the problem. 5/10
Caliginous: I loved that one. Rarely seen textures, and very well used too! Simple but fun, intricate and open layout, good music choice, nice ideas, great. But there are places where you fall through the floor just beside the Flak Cannons. BLEEEEH. I would have given it a nice 9, but just for that, I lower it to 8/10
Costa Del w00t: I love this one. Simple and nice beach, with a horrible sky texture, but it just feels right, and it plays perfectly. The jumpers mean the game is very fast and very airborne, with plenty of opportunities to deny your enemy the landing on the central cliff; you can then look at him falling to his death. And since it's so small, scores are easy, so the game is tensed and there's plenty of suspense! 9/10
Courtyard: I'm sorry but I don't have much nice things to say about this one. First of all, the gametype is not set, so if you just double-click on the map, it starts as a DM. Second, it's insanely dark, it's barely playable. The layout is small but since everything is almost pitch black, it's confusing nonetheless, I never know where I am. The sky looks like nothing I know, and worse, there seems to be a display bug in the skybox in OpenGl. Finally, the bots play ok, but it's useless as they can't teleport up on the central structure between the two forts, which means you can easily outrun, lose or snipe them from there. In my opinion, this map is only 50% done. 4/10
Gravo: One of these very Q3 maps entirely open in space. It's technically perfect and the layout is simple yet convoluted enough to have some interesting action. Even though I don't like this type of map, it's a very good one and I rate it 9/10
Hall of Midgets: a slightly reworked hall of giants with a skybox. Inherits all the qualities and flaws of the original. Meh. A sad point is that the gravity wells propel you so high you can often see the limit between the map and the skybox. 4/10
In a Cave: Title: In a Cave, subtitle: Cover is for Pussies. It's just a better-looking version of the maps we have all seen on some server where the map consists of a single hollow rectangle with flags in opposite corners. There are a couple of stones, a lower central zone where you can't see anything because there's no light, and weapons and bonuses are scattered. Honestly, I'm disappointed.
Ioneye: I'm usually not a fan of the "flags side by side" design, but this one, I think, works. The texture work is very nice, which is hard with so few polygons, and the lighting is good too. Unfortunately, bots do not navigate it entirely well, as the lifts around the UDamage seem to boggle their minds. I often walk up to two bots of the same time waiting idly for a lift to come down, only for it to go up before they can get on it, and so they remain paralyzed until they die. Too bad. 8/10
Isotope42: nothing to write home about, but a solid layout, if a bit cramped. A few dark spots, a bit bland on the texture side, but it plays correctly, no major flaw, no major quality. 6/10
Kaylon: Nice caves, nice crystal lights, but the layout may be the simplest in the entire contest. I'd rate it as perfect on the technical side and absolutely lacking in terms of gimmick, it just doesn't stand out. 5/10
MeinKraft: The most gimmicky and fun to look at! Very nice use of the theme and simple but efficient layout. Just a few vexing problems: the central lava canyon cannot be escaped with the flag as you cannot jump high enough to climb the small blocky stairs, you have to use the translocator. Once you're down there, you have to use the lower caves. Too bad. Since these stairs are here, I guess it wasn't intentional? Still, a solid 8/10.
Ratcher: It plays fine. Otherwise, nothing much: it's extremely dark (a recurring problem in this contest), visually average. I only played an entire match because it uses the best music in the whole game, but I feel a bit more work put into it could have turned it into a much better map such as Caliginous. 4/10
Rooftop Rage: I came in fully expecting to hate this one but nope, it's very good. Classic city theme, with an awesome layout. Slaloming your way between sniper shots while trying to get to your base was never as cool. It's not too dark, bots play excellent, a great success! 9/10
Templeness: Gametype is not set, so it launches at deathmatch by default. Too dark! What the hell people! Otherwise, not a bad map and I like some of the architecture. 6/10
The Beat goes On: the opposite of Rootop Rage I wanted to like it because it looks nice but I actually got bored. Nothing is sadder than a boring UT match. I couldn't pinpoint the problem exactly, but there is exactly 0 reason to take the lower path and I think more jumpers would have helped. Right now it feels slow. 6/10
Now entering DM
FastPaced: Very good map, many cool ideas, I enjoyed it a lot. Too bad it's symmetric though (there's only a slight difference between the two sides), but otherwise I loved it.
I feel the weird teleporter portals could have been advantageously replaced by warpzones, I don't know if size would have been an issue then. 8/10
Warmup Party: there's nothing in there. I know there's a public for this kind of map but I'm really not part of it. I'm actually amazed this map is above 200k given that it must consist of something like 10 brushes. 2/10
Aquarius: I don't like minimaps. First because the concept doesn't interests me at all, second because they almost universally suck. I am blown away by this one which not only doesn't suck at all: it's an immensely successful DM layout and very well executed, complex but easy to learn, good weapon placement, easy to navigate, never too far away from action... It also has a clear non-distracting theme, which is very well executed, and it's the first map I see where you can go in the skybox... And it serves the gameplay and it's fun too. This is hands down the best map so far. I can only lament the fact that it's so dark; good thing though; it doesn't hamper the game, as you can always see the light at the end of some tunnel and thus always know where to go. Not really a sight to behold, but a most excellent map. 10/10
Ataraxia: I don't have anything to fault this map for: it's a small interesting DM layout. It just lacks something to pop out of the list: bland well-executed theme, bland well-executed lighting, bots play well, no problem, but "ok" is not enough. 7/10
Atrium: Much like Ataraxia, I don't get why it's titled like it is, but whatever. Seriously, what is the problem with lighting in this contest? Most maps are insanely dark. This is a void map, which isn't a problem in itself, but it also has low gravity, which is not a problem either in itself, but it's so dark I can barely see where I'm about to step. With the absence of any railguard anywhere, Mars needs to be in just the right conjunction for me to know I'm not going to happily walk to my death. The central gravity well is a nice idea, but otherwise, this map inherits all the problems of void maps and low-grav maps: projectile weapons are useless, hitscan weapons reign supreme; most deaths seem to be people being shockrifled out of the map. 6/10
Carp Night: first, it's not set during the night, so wat? Then, the map is thematically very good. I loved the shieldbelt area, the keg o'health with its windows, the well... THe problem is that you spend most of the time running in very long, very narrow, very square corridors. It's marginally dark too, so that the map wasn't as fun to play as I expected. 6/10
Iron Guard: The kind of map where the money is not on the screen. It's ugly, it really is, it's the worst-looking map of the pack. But it's easy to see that this wasn't DeathMask's problem: it's one of the best DM layout of the pack and full of good ideas on every level. Rooms are color coded, pickups are well-placed, even the ugly design has some good ideas, everything fits nicely for a frantic deathmatch game. This is THE map I hope to see a "HD" remake of later. 7/10
Ciudad: Very amibitous map, quite large, but I feel it fails to be really cool to play. Can't say much as it's really a subjective opinion. However, the idea is good and there's nothing inherently wrong. 6/10
OoeyGooey: Nothing as sad as a map without music with just about 1 bloop bloop sound looping in one room. Bright purple lighting, at least needs some weird disco music.
This maps was meh to me. Nothing stands out, it's not especially fun to play. 5/10
Sonder: Really enjoyable, good-looking, very easy to navigate, and all the weapon, health, armor and jumpboot bases make sure you know where to look at to get your gear. It's completely open, yet it's easy to find some cover. The green lava around the lower area are very annoying though. All in all, a great level. 9/10
StalwartBasement: This one is really not great. Visually, it's below average, the gameplay is pretty much flat except for a couple of transitions between the two levels, and so most of the fight happens on a flat ground. Bots seem to have a couple of issues to. 4/10
Thunderdome: No music
Apart from that, the map is not bad per se, but it seems buggy. In at least one place, I could go through the fences and fall outside the map while nothing visually indicated it. The meshing was also not masked, so I had a dome of black around the area and the upper platform was opaque too. As for the rest, it's a pure arena, nothing more nothing less. 5/10
Vjenceslav: Geometry gone crazy! I hope you don't like right angles because there's barely any! A few interesting ideas with the "Fly." tiles, the many places where you can speed up by ramp-dodging, etc. But the layout doesn't exploit this and so the map is fairly average. The shield belt requires a small platforming feat which, in a DM is completely out of place, annoying and barely do-able in a fighting situation. Worst, if you fail, you fall in the slime with your belt and can't get out, so you have to wait for it to eat away your belt before killing you. This map feels like a ton of good ideas which are kind of wasted. 5/10
Finally, the wasteland of DOM,
since only two maps were made for it and I can't very well review my own.
DropZone: Gimmicky, it looks extremely good, but suffers from a number of problems. First of all, good luck knowing at what level you are when you need to access a certain control point. Second, I died by leaving a "small crater" in about one jump down out of three, and it's annoying when you obviously haven't hit anything and were in fact approching one of the glowing spheres you were aiming at (which, thank god, allow you to rebound without splattering on the ground). The playable zone is huge but empty, I think scale is kind of an issue and a slightly more compact room would have been an improvement. Bots work ok, but they sometimes take a jumper only to land on another jumper and go back where they come from. This also happenned to me, so jumpers might benefit from a nice offset from their current position. As a conclusion, DOM is my favourite stock gametype because it's so frenetic; this level felt quite slow, in contrast. All in all, a good demo level and nice tech, but not that much pleasurable to play on. 6/10