E1M4 – Command Control. First Run, Kills – 100, Items – 80, Secrets – 66. Time – 17:23. End Health – 105, Armor 102. Death Count – 23
E1M4 – Command Control. Second Run, Kills – 100, Items – 80, Secrets – 100. Time – 13:22. End Health – 104, Armor 100. Death Count – ZERO!!!!
I was all ready to do a write-up about what a surprise nightmare this map is, when I started reading Magnus and cannonball talking about doing it easy, important since they are both playing on –fast, too. Now, I’ve broadcast loudly enough that I’m no Doom God, but among keyboarders, I’m probably not that bad, so how come Magnus and cannonball breeze through this thing when I get killed 23 times on my first run? Well, it has everything to do, perhaps, with that secret count of 66%, because from the beginning to the end of that slaughterfest, I was crying for health and ammo, and that was because I missed the very first secret! ;D
I never hesitate to be self-referential or to pimp my shit, so allow me to say that the people who kindly playtested my Abcess maps pointed out how I tended to stash health, ammo and important weapons in secret areas, making the maps occasionally starved for those items, and in some cases – Map04 – the ending was unbeatable if you didn’t find a few secrets. Well, here’s my come-uppance, courtesy of some brass-knuckle punches in the face. :D But . . . missing that first secret – Backpack, Medikit and Shell Box – made this map absolutely fuckin’ amazing! I had so much fun getting my ass blasted from one side of this map to the other. There was no strategy that worked well thanks to all the bullets, buckshot and fireballs flying around me at the start. If I went towards the Blue Armor area there was too many hitscanners, plus a couple Pinkies that close on you with the speed of a Top Fuel Dragster on –fast. I died several times proving that I couldn’t beat that area with a blunt-force assault. Running towards the path to the Soulsphere led to a rain of Imp Fireball Death, because even if I dodged a few of their fireballs, I had troopers and Imps closing in behind me, pushing me forward, and that dinky pistol which Jayextee loves so much just can’t kill things fast enough. ;D Thus, the only thing that sorta worked, the path Tom Hall and John Romero pushed you towards, was the center entrance with the devilishly clever lift (a Pinkie activated it, rode up, and killed me later). And that was no picnic, either, because this is the first map where roamers become a real problem.
Having experienced this map at its worst, I have to disagree with many of my esteemed colleagues about the layout of this – dare I say it? – masterpiece. Encounter design is brilliant if you pistol-start on –fast. Sure, it’s less pretty than E1M3, but far more lethal if you miss that first secret. Heh, too bad I didn’t read joe-ilya’s comments before I played, but then again, I’m kinda glad I didn’t. You really have to start behind the eight-ball to appreciate the brilliance here. It’s clearly well-suited to deathmatch thanks to the looping, interconnected design that offers multiple ways of attacking the areas, and of course allows roamers to surprise you at the worst moments. For example, I had finally killed all the Imps in the blue key room and was ready to do a fist-pump when this pimple-faced zombieboy strolled in from out of nowhere and took me out with one shot. Then there’s the issue of being at low health, with 2 shotgun shells, and dueling against that Sergeant bunker next to the blue door. I mean, once those 2 shots are gone you’re trading fire across what seems a mile-wide gap against well-armed enemies, and all it takes is one hit to kill you. I died and died and died before I finally won.
Indeed, I was ready to despair-quit at 13 deaths until, in the darkness of the blue key room, I spied the glint of The Almighty Chaingun. I was at 12% health starting that fight, but I knew I was within reach of the ultimate terror weapon that would turn me into Death Incarnate. It took several more deaths before I prevailed, and a few after that, but I finally succeeded and commenced to tear shit up. Once I had the Blue Armor – another death to the trap up there that I forgot about – and a little more health, I was able to reach the Soulsphere and rocket launcher. I had died several times earlier trying to get there with too little health. So now I had a Soulsphere, Blue Armor, The Almighty Chaingun, a useless rocket launcher thanks to the timing, and enough ammo to win via blunt-force assault even if I took a few hits. And so I did, though Pinkies were still a hassle in that damned maze.
But if you find that first secret, then, as Veinen said, “the map is pretty tame.” I was able to go out, shoot at the Imps and zombieboys, take out the first sarge who waddled in and grab his shotgun, take out the high zombieboys, grab the Medikit, and then take the logical path towards the Soulsphere and rocket launcher. Once you have those, it’s easy to visit the blue key room and toss a few rockets in at the Imps, then waltz in, grab The Almighty Chaingun, and from that point it’s just a mop-up operation. Seriously easy even though I took enough hits to whittle me down some, but never any worries.
To continue this wall of text, I’ve always viewed E1M4 as the Ugly Kid Joe of Knee Deep. On regular UV it’s very easy. It isn’t pretty, either, with Romero a bit off his game on the detailing. And it has another damned maze, albeit a rather dangerous one this time thanks to those Hemi-powered Pinkies. And I think it’s a design flaw to have such a powerful secret at the start, because if you had to fight for these items later, then players would be forced into more of the action-packed terror-fest that I enjoyed, as opposed to making the whole thing trivial to good secret hunters.
Even though I’ve seldom played this map, it has features that have gotten inside me. The survivalist gameplay, the descending server trap (mutilated swastika), and the Soulsphere set-up which I’ve unwittingly homaged in two maps (though not the one-way lift). This is also the first map so far with the looping, interconnected, roamer-promoting layout I associate strongly with Knee Deep. The earlier maps are all much more linear than this one. So if you play it without the first secret, it can be brilliant, and if you get the first secret, it’s maybe kinda “meh.” Either way, it’s had an impact on me.
Last edited by SteveD on 12-05-13 at 02:15