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Huntington National Laboratory

   (1 review)
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Life in central Indiana is dull, but as you wind your way up the road to your job as night watchman at the nearby national lab you notice something seems different tonight. The gate, normally open, is closed, and when you pry open the door to the gatehouse you discover the guard on duty dead on the floor. Suspecting murder, you pull out your pistol and step inside. Strange things are afoot, and you’re going to get to the bottom of it…


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baja blast rd.

· Edited by rdwpa

  

HNL is like a decent '90s map that happens to require a Z-port. It recreates a fake real-life location, combat is chill, and the toughest battles dote on you with exorbitant resources. Tying it together is a clever layout: an expansive city on top, and a serpentine basement complex below, with faux 3D simulated by non-silent teleporters. You access the subterranean region, which is at first split in half, from two remote surface-layer spots, and both halves eventually fuse. Good so far. 

 

My big letdown was that the sector props, which are abundant, are lacking in creativity. The objects are only the expected ones, with designs that are basic and familiar. A table might be a straightforward wood-textured rectangle. The toilets are just silver, hollowed-out cylinders. Areas rarely push beyond basic identities or depict the vague mini-stories that can make representational detailing so amusing. I found all of that important not only because it's a key part of the subgenre, but also because most indoor areas are bland and unfeatured, reliant on props to provide interest.  

 

I still think more ardent fans of oldschool maps or easygoing gameplay might love this. Combat is ambient and peaceful, but once in a while it breaks out into a fiesty, devious trap. Also, to its great credit, HNL is rarely a pure grind, avoiding the pitfalls common to emulating real spaces. 
 

TL;DR: 3/5, toilets not interesting enough.

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  • File Reviews

    • By Ordon · Posted
      well, the concept is good  BUT...   WHAT THE FUCK EVEN IS THIS??
    • By Cinnamon · Posted
      Definitely shows its age. It was a real grind to play through, mostly due to the levels being boring, but also from a remarkable over-reliance on hitscan, especially shotgunners. For some reason. The third episode does indeed pick up much of the slack, but with the really fun levels being shining exceptions rather than rule for two thirds of the WAD it still left me annoyed and exasperated in the end. The maps look fine most of the time and the music is good to really good, which is something to hold on to. I would still advice my past self to skip most of this one.    
    • By Cinnamon · Posted
      There's not too much for me to say about this one. While it isn't exactly my jam 100% of the time, I'm struggling to see how any creative endeavor could entertain me so thoroughly, throughout all the 32 parts of it. Ancient Aliens is charming, somewhat challenging, mysterious, well-paced... I could iterate over plenty of different variations of lavish praise, but I guess that in and of itself describes my feelings: AA is remarkably well-rounded. A DOOM blockbuster - and I use that description as an honest compliment rather than the pejorative it's sometimes thought of. One for the ages, and it'll be one of the WADs to which many of my future experience will be compared.    
    • By VoanHead · Posted
      On second thought, this wad is kinda mid if you ask me. After playing through all of it on pistol-start I wasn't really blown away by it. The midi pack that was made for this in 2020 was very nice if you ask me, but why this wad ever deserves a midi pack when it's so bland is what makes me scratch my head. Idk man, I didn't like this one as much as others do :/.
    • By baja blast rd. · Posted
      This reads as an early example of arcade-style mapping.   Areas are defined largely by color combinations, with no real overarching theme to the map: there are silver techbase rooms, brick-like Earth rooms, red hellish rooms, without much in the way of detailing or setting-building -- all centralized around a square hub room with key doors, which repopulates with monsters each time you find a key. It's on the simpler side visually, but still a very clear step above "monotextured square rooms"-type design, with some solid architecture, shapes, and texture combos here and there, and even a clever crushing UFO-like "ring" at one point.    The gameplay concepts are very straightforward, with one exception being a room that has you platforming over damaging floor while closets of lost souls and cacodemons open up. Instead, the bulk of the fighting is more often dished out as blocks of monsters often revealed in closets -- blocks at a density far below what you'd consider slaughter. Some of the potential fun involves herding monsters towards barrels; once I waited several seconds for chaingunners to walk halfway across the room, right next to a clump of barrels I could blow them all up with. The ending fight is designed for you to pour rockets into two static cybs while circling, and I skipped that one.    Completed in a bit under 10 minutes. 
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