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The Red Line

   (18 reviews)
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About This File

9 maps for Doom 2 with a mixed theming. In each map you get one additional weapon. Due to this concept, the first 4 maps can be played without pistol-start. In later maps, pic up all weapons because of some important line triggers. The maps are small to mid-sized, maps 8/9 are long.

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i started playing this shortly after it was released, got stuck on the third map, and i left it unfinished until just about a week ago. Spent at least an hour trying to figure out what i couldnt find before, and finally made progress. i cant remember anything about map01 or 02 but map04 to 9 are excellent. 

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Playability notes: Worked fine in PrBoom+: anything limit-removing will do. According to the text file it's been tested in a lot of source ports, so there shouldn't be any problem.


The Red Line looks great, REALLY great, but doesn't have a clue how to engage the player when it comes to combat. It's not outright bad so much as uniformly peppered with encounters I was never interested in fighting. The beginning starts well enough but by the end it descends into a tired rhythm that barely registers a pulse. (Just to reiterate: the mapset, as an architectural work of art, is fantastic. My criticism and overall review is based on whether the set is worth playing, however, not simply viewing.)

The first few levels are fun enough, as you're forced into either close quarters or complete evasion due to melee-only scenarios. Berserked fist and chainsaw, while certainly interesting weapons in their own right, cause the player to be in a situation of constant threat, as nearly every enemy has the advantage of range and requires you to close in. As a result, this makes the challenge somewhat automatic, and here it proves to be interesting on a basic tactical level.


The foremost problem is the pervading use of imps and hitscanners. Normally you wouldn't expect this to be a problem, as imps are generally good fodder and hitscanners have their own niche use in attrition. The problem stems from their usage in every single fight: you would be hard-pressed to find a single area that didn't contain a handful of these low-tier enemies. To convey this simply, here's a list of Former Humans, Sergeants, and Imps relative to the total number of enemies (including Lost Souls) once the maps involve ranged weapons:

  • MAP04: 90/121 (74%)
  • MAP05: 55/68 (81%)
  • MAP06: 96/116 (82%)
  • MAP07: 86/139 (62%)
  • MAP08: 208/311 (67%)
  • MAP09: 423/586 (72%)

To be fair, the density drops over time: MAP09 in particular has a section near the end with literal swarms of Former Humans and Imps (though MAP07 is lowest because of the obligatory Dead Simple fight, containing a good 20 enemies by itself). But it's not so much the count as it is the fact that they're everywhere, no exception, and you have to get rid of them or they'll plink you to death.


For an illustration, this is one of the opening fights in MAP08:



I just can't wrap my head around this composition! It's not intended to be easy or hard: this is a haphazard menagerie that looks kind of amusing. And while this is an exaggerated case, it's also roughly what you should be expecting throughout the set.


It took me a very long time to understand why I wasn't having fun (starting near the end of MAP05), and my conclusion is that there's so very little worth fighting. Exterminating fodder all the time isn't an enjoyable experience to me, and the occasional sprinklings of harder enemies don't make up for it. This mapset doesn't appear like it's meant to be hard, but a low number of carefully-crafted encounters would play far better than a constant barrage of enemies barely worth using the chaingun on. I expect this set could be made significantly better with improved thing placement alone.


My recommendation: the first 3-4 maps are neat to play through, but after that just nuke the enemies and enjoy the view. The view is worth it, even if the fights aren't.

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I think this is Didy's best release so far.

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The first few maps can be off-putting but they really are not if you try to adapt and see their brilliance. The WAD gets even better as it progresses, with excellent visual design and well placed fights. Layout is built in a way that makes key progression points hidden in plain sight, so keep your eyes open or you may get stuck.

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