Demon of the Well
Map 05 -- Abu Ghurab - 102% Kills / 100% Secrets
Up out of that musty old burial chamber into the sunlight. Abu Ghurab is our longest look at the ruins topside to this point, taking place mainly in and around an open courtyard containing a pool and littered with various obelisks and planter-boxes. Not that musty corridors and other indoor areas are entirely absent; along the periphery there's a bit of enclosed waterworks presumably having something to do with feeding the pool, and there's a small treasure-vault still carpeted in gold coins, where the ornate skull needed to unlock the first major intradimensional portal rests. Truth be told, while the structures themselves are here more developed in some ways than the simple angular corridors and mid-sized chambers that comprised most of the previous maps, I think that aesthetically this doesn't work quite as well as most of them--the increased length and width of the bare corridors makes it more obvious just how plain they are, and the main yard looks somehow cluttered and disorganized, maybe too visually busy on account of the pool, perhaps (I'll bet it would work better if it were a simple rectangle in shape, somehow)?
I don't really fault it much for its looks, though, simply because it's quite fun to play, and a well-timed change of pace. The main yard represents the first time in the WAD that the geometry really allows one to recklessly wade into a firestorm and subdue it through a combination of speed and infighting (which is fun). This contrasts nicely with the flavor of the combat in the other two major battle areas, those being the hydraulics room with its irregular/difficult terrain and height variation, and the treasure vault, which is small and geometrically simple such that the player needs to manage his/her space well in order to dominate. And of course, it's always appreciated that there are reinforcements in the yard when it's time to leave, even though they aren't very formidable--as far as map pacing goes, it often really is just the 'thought that counts' as far as making an adventure feel complete/rounded goes.
Map 06 -- Revived Bones - 144%(!) Kills / 100% Secrets
This is my personal favorite of the first 'minisode' (that is, before the first intermission screen) by far. Broadly speaking it seems to be right at home in the general scheme of musty little secret-laden corridors and obviously booby-trapped chambers that has so persistently characterized these early levels (and from which Abu Ghurab so effectively deviates); what sets it apart is that it is simply 'moreso', sort of a deluxe version. Aesthetically, it's the sharpest iteration of this theme seen thus far, with moodier lighting and some tasteful/unobtrusive inset wall detailing in many places; even those areas that are at root little more than long winding corridors are spiced up by game-relevant architectural features, ala the bank of imp cages along the long walk towards the yellow skull.
Speaking of, while there are a number of good fights here, the one I want to focus on is the potentially serious clusterfuck that protects that yellow skull. Not being one to methodically clean out monster cages from a position of safety, I began traversing the corridor without killing the caged imps, which of course allows them to suddenly start warping into the hallway behind me--not a great concern, I momentarily ignore them and begin fighting the monsters in the rocket launcher room. Unfortunately, a chaingunner walks out of the next corridor and blindsides me, injuring me and compelling me to dance around to put one of the revenants between me and him, which works...except it allows the imps time to catch up, so I have to start beating them back, but because I'm so badly injured thanks to Johnny Headband they force me out of the junction into the next corridor--sans rocket launcher, because a revenant was bogarting the center of the room. And of course, now the arch-vile has hit the scene, quickly resurrecting a thick wall of demon-flesh between me and him, and me with no RL to cut through it....so, suffice to say, I end up running like a scalded dog deeper and deeper into the catacombs, killing zombie after zombie mere instants before they pick me off, and I end up finally coming out the other end, yellow skull in hand, near death but alive, with a situation rapidly going from bad to worse in the halls behind me. Eventually, I end up outwitting the horde, circling around and indirectly luring it back to start of the long corridor (which closes up behind you at some point to keep you from fleeing back that way when shit starts to hit the fan), and then use Doomguy's speed to double back the other way, grab the rocket launcher, and then massacre the whole lot of them, vile and all, while they're choked up in that first corridor, soon to be stained red from ceiling to floor. Brilliant, brilliant.
That whole sequence of events is a good example of why I play DooM, really. Also telling that I finish with a grossly-inflated kill score, a good sign that arch-viles are being used well (unlike Hurricyclone, I let the last two viles do their thang with the final horde for a bit...mostly because I forgot they were coming, again). Oh, and hey, that first revenant's a cute trick, gets you moving out of the gate, sort of foreshadows later incidents. If I have a complaint, I reckon it's that the one big hidden ammo stash is blatantly overpowered, but that's a really minor niggle in the face of what is otherwise a very enjoyable map.