Demon of the Well
E2M7 -- Puzzles to Solve - 100% kills / 100% secrets
Kristian Aro returns and teams up with Mr. Corfiatis to produce the most involved map in the episode. As E1 did a pretty good job of illustrating, Aro has a knack for aesthetics while Corfiatis tends to produce the more interesting gameplay scenarios, so their combined effort amounts to a rather good-looking map that plays pretty well. Chocolate + peanut butter = Reese's, right? The eclectic derelict/haunted base theme here is as Shores of Hell as they come--indeed, the map is full of nods to scenes and visual ideas from various parts of the original E2, most prominently the good old Command Center, an influence that asserts itself from the moment the map loads. Fortunately, though, the actual gameplay itself is not homage-y in any real way, so you won't be able to predict everything 5 minutes before it happens. And it does play well. Again, the map is quite linear, but it's a tactful and natural sort of linearity that didn't strike me much until I was thinking of this writeup after the fact. It's not a very hard map, really--it doesn't make you run around wounded or with nearly empty bandoliers a lot of the time, like some of the other maps in the episode have--but it does keep you on your toes. Barons of Hell are used more effectively here than in previous maps, often popping out of small enclosures near your position to efficiently flush you into complicated situations, like the one near the red skull who pressured me into dropping down into the lower corridor, which was rapidly becoming crowded with zombies, imps, and cacos, or the one in the small abattoir behind the walls that you're likely to ignore until you unexpectedly get teleported in there with him. There's also another dastardly barrel trap here, this one pretty hard to see coming because it only involves one barrel...it hurt, but it also made me laugh. Good stuff. The one weaker area is probably the end of the map, which just involves shotgunning/chaingunning long lines of sergeants in the winding stone corridors, but it's a small thing, really. Overall it's a satisfying excursion, and I think it was a good choice for the episode's penultimate map. Oh, and again, there's a good music track here, that follows suit with the rest of the map in being kind-of-a-homage-but-not-really.
One thing, though.....why the name? There's not much puzzle-play at work here, although I guess getting started on the path to the blue skull might be slightly unintuitive.
E2M8 --Total Disturbance - 100% kills / No secrets
Hmm.....I don't really have a lot to say about this one. It's a very traditional E2M8 setup, a straightforward fight with a single cyberdemon in an expansive outdoor arena. It does add a little bit of trivial combat against some sergeants before the main event, and replaces the lost souls in the cyberdemon's territory with some cacodemons, I guess...but it also ensures that you're comically overarmed for said event, and in this kind of scenario lost souls would probably have been more of a threat, anyway. The main area looks nice, at least... that big lake has a feeling of finality about it. Still, I can't help but feel that maybe there should have been two cybers, or something, since previous maps in the episode had already thrown the big guy at me on more than one occasion. Regardless, I did find this more satisfying than E1M8. Oh, and speaking of which, BaronOfStuff had earlier commented on the awkward writing in the story screen at the end of that episode....I didn't think it was so bad, myself, but the text at the end here is just....dire. For shame, Paul, for shame.
Nevertheless, I found "Road to Eternity" more engaging than "Deep into the Code", largely by dint of a greater degree of variety, in the gameplay style, in the difficulty curve, in the settings of the maps, etc. I still found some parts anticlimactic, but things are certainly looking up, and E3 and E4 will introduce still more authors to the proceedings, so there's more variety to look forward to.
Last edited by Demon of the Well on 03-13-13 at 09:41