A map based upon a previously reviewed map "Hexen Morgue" with better layout and thing placement overall, but doesn't have the trident in the original map, kind of disappointing since i wanted to see that, it was the only nice part of the original map. There's two missing floor textures, missing textures for the surprise crushers and a player spawn in the ending room whit no exit? WTF? Overall, a nice change from the original.
Proxima Centauri's hot start throws you headlong into what is quite enjoyable combat for the time, a small sandboxy city brawl with imps and pinkies and hell knights and revenants after you, mancubi around corners, pain elementals to take out, and lots of roaming and sniping zombies of every type. That is the highlight, and it's all graced with cheesy sound replacements and James Bond music. The '90s.
It's plain-looking by today's standards but has character, and there's a nifty hyper-dithered nebula sky replacement, although fans of Downtown (lol) won't get their verticality fix. The progression is charmingly incoherent. Lots of random illogical random teleports from one area to another, a lot of what feel like secrets but are actually unmarked … wait you use that key where again?
The major fault is that the puzzly exploration parts are very divorced from the action. It's easy to kill 95% of the monsters before making much actual progress, since most of them are roaming about and demand your attention. Then you end up with five minutes of teasing out what to do and where to go to exit, in silence, knowing you won't even get to use the extra "fake secret" resources you can find on much.
This is a riff on Computer Station that starts off unassuming, like a nondescript DTWID map with its uniform STAR* texturing and sparse, lower-tier opposition. But after a short while, it starts revealing that there is more to it.
The long vantages across its open spaces and the scattered opposition and the warped, jagged wall geometry result in a vibe of eerie desolation, especially when you spot monsters far away from you like ants, flickering momentarily in front of windows. In Memfis fashion, there is a recurring tasteful use of "sector gizmos": building stairs and falling platforms, and light pads that you need to step on to momentarily illuminate dark computer mazes. The design can be even more spare than Doom's, but what gives it a strong sense of place is the way areas are regimented visually into regions, with a convincing design logic uniting everything. Upstairs in the "computer station" region, there is a lot of STARTAN and STARGR, but this is surrounded, pretty much enveloped by an outer nukage-filled ring of grimier brown and green walls, which creates a neat structural-spatial effect. Exploration is more like taking a circuitous path through alternating habitats rather than traveling room to room to room. One of the big ideas inflecting that exploration is the use of radsuits essentially as keys, necessary for extended swims through nukage you aren't sure when will end, which spices up the light combat around it. I was reminded of Shotgun Symphony's desolation, although without that wad's immense scale, and certainly without its explosive rocket play. Controlled System goes more for a vibe of horror and dreariness, and doesn't try to match even Computer Station's intensity and use of packed monster closets.
The MIDI was not my favorite aspect of this -- it's kind of a droning, dull track, even though I see what the choice was going for -- but this was a solid 12-minute experience overall.
When I saw an oldschoolexual posted about this, I had to give it a go.
UNDERSEA.WAD is one of those pwads from the initial wave of 1994 that has been remembered by modern players because of its core concept, which shows that creativity ages best of all. That concept is that you're in an underwater base of some type -- although since the interiors tend to all feel similar to one another, lots of gray walls, lots of tight hallways, it's hard to pin the setting down much further. Combat is light apart from some occasional multidirectional exposure to hitscanners. Chainsaw fans might enjoy using the choppers on all the pinkies, cacos, and imps that fill the hallways or are packed into monster closets. It was surprisingly fun rampaging down the bends of a 64-wide maze with it in hand, just mowing down sergeants. There are some occasional satisfying barrel situations too. The early scrolling SP_FACE cube was amusing. (That texture has also aged well.)
Overall it just wasn't my thing, though: too much clearing out harmless monsters in hallways, and unlike some other wads from the period, like The Waterfront from a year later, there was not much to the concept. The rocket launcher and plasma rifle are in unmarked secrets that even the computer area map doesn't reveal because the lines are hidden from the automap, secrets that aren't hinted at with a changing wall texture, so without those I skipped the handful of barons. If I vibed a bit better with the map, I might have distracted them and chainsawed them in the ass.