Demon of the Well
Map 30 -- Interception - 14,300% kills / No actual secrets
....And so our journey through Interception comes to an end with its namesake map. The first thing I am struck by here is that the music track is a vaguely 'symphonic' remix of the mapset's main theme (from the title screen, the story screens, etc.)--a nice touch. It is immediately apparent from a quick check of the BooM HUD (which reads 0/0 monsters and a handful of items) and the starting room (spacious, empty, and with every weapon and a backpack sitting within inches of the player's start point) that the battle with Barbatos himself is going to be along very traditional map 30/IoS lines; and indeed, it is. Now, I know that many players are unfond of IoS battles, sometimes to the point of skipping them entirely, but for my part, I feel that they are an important part of a full 32-map megaWAD. Or, it might be more accurate to say, that I feel it's important that big multilevel WADs avoid anticlimax, or feeling like they've simply ended due to time constraints, and IoS setups, even after all of these years, remain one of the best ways to accomplish this. They provide a certain sense of catharsis and closure to the proceedings, even in cases where they use a very standard design, as "Interception" does--indeed, for most players, the effective difference between this map and the original Icon of Sin is going to be little more than a half-second difference in the timing of the trigger-pull to land a rocket in Barbatos' brainpan, given the slight difference in distance (thus, perspective) between his face and the firing point relative to that of the Icon of Sin. For my part, I have a personal tradition of hanging around for a bit to fight monsters before finishing things in maps of this style (although in some maps the ammo/powerup balance makes this extremely infeasible, of course), which I find tends to make things more interesting/satisfying/challenging. Played this way, this one is quite simplistic, given that most of the action space is a flat plane, which makes waiting for the firing platform to lower after taking a shot at Barbatos largely an exercise in basic crowd control (not that it can't be rather dangerous, depending on which kinds of demons spawn). The size of the firing platform itself does present the one major wrinkle in this scenario: it's so big that it will tend to 'catch' a lot of airborne enemies in the vicinity when it begins ascending, giving them ample opportunity to aggravate you while you try to line up a shot on Barbatos--the antidote for this is a charging BFG salvo to clear the air (literally) every time you mount the platform. All told, there wasn't really anything wrong with this map as an example of its genre, but there's not much that's especially right about it, either--it plays very basically, even by the standards of the genre, and its aesthetics are very simple as well. This latter criticism, I think, holds a little more weight here than it normally would, as an IoS map is one of very few types of map where largely aesthetic concerns--unusual scenery, striking lightning, staged pre-combat traversal, music track seletion, etc.--can be just as important (maybe even moreso in some cases) as the nature of the actual gameplay. This one's a bit underwhelming, both in terms of aesthetics and in terms of play.
Regarding Interception as a whole, my experience has been generally positive. Whether intentionally or not, it does feel like a modern iteration of international team-based megaWADs of yore, with everything that this entails--a wide variety of different mapping styles loosely tied together by an overarching aesthetic 'thread', in this case Matt534Dog's establishment of non-standard environmental themes for each episode (contrast with the 'thread' in something like MM2, which was largely a byproduct of the new textures in that WAD). There are some odd juxtapositions in style and difficulty from map to map as a result, particularly in E3; I myself rather like these wild fluctuations in size/style in WADs like this, yet I reckon others could also reasonably argue this rollercoaster progression style can be jarring and disconcerting in some cases. There are a lot of enjoyable and a few extremely fine maps here, with only 4 or 5 out of the whole 32 that I didn't much care for and a like number that really impressed me--certainly not a bad batting average at all. I also want to give special mention to the music pack, as I found many of these tunes enjoyable. As far as my taste in DooM music goes, I tend to prefer more mellifluous, moody numbers over the aggressive midimetal and evilsymphonia styles, and several nice tracks in this vein were found herein.
In episodic terms, E2 was far and away my favorite part of the set. I was taken by the variety of unusual settings in this episode (and I dig unusual sky textures like the one used here), and for all of the variation in play styles here--the greatest variation of the three episodes, certainly--there was no map in it that I didn't like. Even phobosdeimos1's "Elm Street" worked for me on a level that his other offerings in the other episodes did not.
"Top 5" (no particular order) for me would be:
1. Map 17 - "Antidote"
2. Map 28 - "Amongst the Ash"
3. Map 08 - "Panopticon"
4. Map 12 - "Alpha Tower"
5. Map 14 - "Vertigo Plant"
Honorable mentions to maps 04, 16, 18, 19, 20, and 26, which I am also sure to remember with fondness.
Thanks to everyone in the DW MegaWAD club for posting their thoughts, as reading them has been a pleasure. Thanks also to the Interception team for providing us something to enjoy and talk about; I will be looking forward to Interception's sequel, just as I look forward to the next club WAD.
Edit: Oh, and using the Pal_Plus palette was a nice change, as well. Its relatively softened, 'cool' color aspect gives the game a subtly more nostalgic, dreamlike feel. It makes consistently very bright maps (generally not my preferred lighting style) easier on the eyes, though those who don't have much taste for dim lighting might want to avoid using it in maps characterized by low lighting, as it tends to deepen/accentuate shadows. It's not going to become a permanent fixture for me, but I'd certainly recommend others giving it a whirl with a nice traditionally-styled Doom map at some point, as it's a quality piece of work that's worth a look.
Last edited by Demon of the Well on 03-01-13 at 05:25