Demon of the Well
'Ungod' is the one with all of the lacquered green/white tiling, right? I think in that one you've got to kind of avoid the cyb until near the end, although it's been years and years since I've played. Anyway, few Vile Flesh maps are really difficult, although when pistol-starting some of them may require you to find some secrets (which is sometimes hard) to easily maintain an ammo balance that allows for straightforward attainment of maxkills (though there's usually a way to do it even without if you can figure out a good route). Another thing worth mentioning is that while Vile Flesh has some minor puzzle elements and its maps are quite extensive in places, it has nothing parallel in obscurantism to the maps by Jim Flynn or Bob Evans that appear in Eternal DooM, or anything comparable in size to the largest of Chris Coleur's behemoths, these probably being the biggest stumbling blocks to completion of the WAD that most folks who make it past the first few maps encounter.
UR Map 27 -- Serpentine (Violence) - 104% Kills / 100% Secrets
Ah, the Skillsaw map. These are always easy to recognize, both from the arenas (I almost think it's not so much the way he builds them as the way he places them) to the winding paths to the generally imp-crazed proceedings. I guess this one represents 'Wrath' in that it's.....violent, and you kill a lot of stuff, or alternately are killed by said stuff? Yeah, I got nothing, this time.
Looks good, though. The red-hot fire/lava style is actually one of my least favorite of all Hell themes, truth be told, but this one is pleasing to behold if for no other reason than that it features a grand sense of scale and space in its main lava crater, where enemies sometimes look like tiny ants in the distance....I've always felt that for all of its relative simplicity, the idtech 1 engine and its functionally 'infinite' draw distance really does this kind of expanse a lot better than many engines vastly more advanced than it is. Also somewhat notable here is the use of the lovely flesh-tech textures to accent the various side areas; I saw these put to a similar (and similarly effective) use in a recent Darkreaver map, and it strikes me that I wish I saw them more often, since I reckon they work well in all light levels and have all manner of interesting uses. The music was again rather arcade-y, which usually fits Skillsaw maps pretty well. I did see one strictly visual error, that being that the scrolling face texture used on the doorway-style teleporter that gives you access to the top of the pillar-running section in the final area doesn't look right, given how poorly it tiles vertically.
As far as action goes, well, it's predictably fun, and like the majority of his maps, not actually as difficult as it might sound like it's going to be on paper, largely a function of very generous health/ammo placement and some very easy secrets. I reckon the reason that Skillsaw's maps are so popular with so many different tastes is that he understands that while a lot of action without real challenge often leaves maps feeling a bit superficial, it is nevertheless okay (even beneficial) to sometimes leave challenge aside for a few minutes and set up some easy massacres simply for fun (I reckon this is why he always uses so many imp-hordes). That being said, 'Serpentine' certainly isn't without danger. I think that the use of arachnatrons in particular here is excellent, as they command the vast lava cauldron like almost no other enemy type can, insuring that you often feel hemmed in and chased despite the vast amount of space and generous supply of radsuits that allow you to semi-safely play in the lava (I was quite lucky on my playthrough, very rarely suffering radsuit leak despite the amount of time I spent in the lava). There is also some decent arch-vile usage, a pair of them being the centerpiece in the only truly nasty fight in the level, that being the one for the BFG--pinkies + viles are another underused but potentially very dangerous combination. I didn't mind the repeated use of revenant clusters in the final area per se, but I do feel that the map's ending is quite anticlimactic; I expected there to be some twist on the theme at the end (probably involving more viles, I thought), but no, after you raise the last set of pillars you simply leave without incident. Pretty weak.
Flat ending aside, it's still a fun map, a good addition to the set despite its pronounced differences from Snakes' style, I'd say.
Edit: Oh yes, I nearly forgot to mention, but I also saw a pair of imps trapped in the terrain in one of the smaller lava-falls in the main area, the one near the megasphere, I believe.
Z300 Map 27 -- Dissect - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
I reckon this is probably the best map in Zone 300, honestly. Leaving aside the line restriction and its impact (or lack thereof) on design and gameplay, this really is new-ish ground for Paul in the sense that the flesh-hell theme is something he's hardly ever worked extensively with before, and it's a refreshing change after all of the red/vine-hells that have preceded it. I think the music track is really cool, too, indeed I'd go so far as to say that I hope PCorf (or someone else, even) reuses it somewhere down the line. Apart from aesthetic considerations, though, the reason why I'd say this is really the cream of the Z300 crop is simply that it feels most like a complete, proper map (albeit a very short one, of course), with a consistent unifying theme and sense of gameplay/combat progression throughout, as well as fairly smooth-flowing and recursive layout, rather than being 2-3 random disconnected rooms/ideas set down in a few lines and then super-glued together like so many of the others. The action itself is fine, hardly very taxing, but it keeps you busy. I spent the most time and quite a large amount of ammo on the caco/PE fight, simply because one of the PEs managed to a get bit out of hand with the soul-spawning. I kind of wish there was a final kick in the ass to go along with shooting the last eye switch, but alas, nothing's perfect.
Last edited by Demon of the Well on Oct 30 2013 at 04:16