Hard Attack is a remake of Tim Willits's ATTACK.wad from the Master Levels.
Dated 2006, it has that tidy trim-heavy look many have come to associate with the time. Little is unexpected, but it is pleasant enough to look at. The original layout, with its straight hallways and clean angles and pervasive symmetry, happens to suit mid-'00s stylings perfectly, or at least stereotypes of them. So, to me, it felt like the remake was proving the thesis that ATTACK.wad, enhanced a decade, would be an early-game Community Chest 3 map.
The author says Hard Attack is "not a hard map." If anything, modern players might read that as understatement. Ammo can get tight early, but the action is very sedate. Throughout, you're mostly fighting a scattering of hitscanners, a trickle of pinkies, a duo of revvies, a handful of imps, piecemeal, in familiar ways, without a driving pace or smooth flow. A late key trap throws four low-tiers at you.
Having skimmed other reviews, "original design that willits made" is a sequence of words that made me laugh, divorced from context, with what has become common knowledge about Willits's history.
Plut is a Russian speedrunner who has released a handful of maps, mostly small ones like these. In Marbland, one learns that basically every room is bugged with some sort of point-blank trap, most containing just a few monsters. Both maps are relentless with these traps, far past skillsaw or the Casalis or whoever you consider trappy, to the point that I even started laughing. If you are focused on survival, the meta shifts towards preemptively deciding where to run upon hearing the fizzle of a teleport flash or the clunk of a lowering floor, rather than engaging the encounters on their own terms.
But despite the crude staging, I thought the encounters themselves were consistently enjoyable and well made, like Crumpets stripped down, or cramped takes on Skepland skirmishes. (Now the name makes another layer of sense.) If you blur together the fights into an average pictorial representation -- like those "face of the average human" composites -- you'd probably get a 4.5-monster encounter with an imp and a hitscanner and a revvie and a hell knight, the latter with a suspiciously pink torso. Oh, that still leaves the 0.5 to account for, so toss in maybe half an archvile (the lower half of course) or caco horns mixed with pain elemental arms. Mancubi and arachnotrons are conspicuously absent, being too thicc to navigate these claustrophobic rooms.
The aesthetics aren't bad. As the stamp-sized versions of the screenshots might hint, the attractive texture choices and pleasant combinations of natural colors go a long way. The looks don't hold up quite as well to closer inspection, though. Although there are nice-looking areas, the mix of assets in a scene can be sloppy, and distinct textures and flats aren't always separated in tidy ways.
Very comfy and well-executed factory. Truly feels like a polished 90s level, and while I believe it's certainly better than a handful of the original official Doom levels, it features a few of the original levels' boring aspects of their gameplay repetition, such as often having to shotgun harmless moving walls of meat, aka Pinkies, in many of the rooms.
Visually it's pleasing and well-done for a good part, though, having played this on Chocolate Doom, there were many obvious tutti-frutti effects that were distracting and immersion-breaking.
At one point there was a mean trap that played on the player's knowledge of Doom, putting a switch texture guarded by a fast crusher, however, by the time you've realized the wall isn't actually a switch, you've already been crushed. That's more confusing when right after this door is opened somewhere else, another wall with the same texture is shown, however that one is indeed a switch. I didn't find this inconsistency a good idea.
I don't find the map has much replay value, being that all encounters except the final section seem to have a perfectly built formula for how the combat should take place, which is difficult to change due to the somewhat clausthrophobic design of a handful of its large-count monster-filled areas.
The final combat section was very fun.
It's good fun for a good part of it, recommended if you're a fan of 90s wads.
I didn't read the other reviews beforehand, but Zalewa is spot-on (words I couldn't imagine saying back in 2016). So much about this feels quaint in a way that ordinarily, these days, spells failure. Half the combat involves shotgunning hallway pinkies or fare not too far removed from that. Corridors, boxy rooms, corridors. Stretches unfold as a litany of Beginner Mapping Guideline don'ts.
Yet despite all that, I really enjoyed it.
The pacing and immersion was pretty damn good. Every area has some creative touches gracing it, whether it's design-concept showpieces like flesh crushers, or easy progression puzzles. Combat is indeed consistently low-key, but just when complacency sets in, a tighter trap might spring to jolt you alert. But more than all that, it felt like the mapper just "gets it," has a strong feel for that inexpressible task of wiring together an experience.
N.B. if you self-identify as a Revenant Hater, this is a must play.
Played randomly from my huge collection of wads and...
Sure the genocide it was real over here, not only for the high amount of dead people from the very start, it even kills reality itself with some rooms that are been butchered and rendered them a terrible spectacle (look at tech base section with the blue key, just look at it!)... demons in this level are so sadistic and cruel that in their genocidal activity they even destroyed their own army leaving only 40 survivors to the slaughter, with you they just called the cleaner for finishing their misery, a pretty easy task since the remaining part of the enemies are just easy / medium monsters with a pair of chaingunners here and there and a pair of cacos at the end... expected something juicy like a cyberdemon or a mancubus or whatever else, but their not survived to the staged genocide hatched by Shannon here as it looks. Boy, what a review. Level itself is not that great actually, but what a review make me wrote!