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The DWMegawadClub Plays: Dawn of the Dead & Earth & Classic Episode

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Well at the end of the day it's still a cyberdemon fight, but it gives you a bit more shenanigans first. Not especially interesting ones, though. It's all fine, but a bit visually bland and the action isn't as tense or interestingly staged as the last map.


It's a better last fight than DODEAD's though, I must give it that.




I feel like this episode is a more polished product than DODEAD, and overall the quality is higher, but somehow it never quite matches the best moments of the earlier offering. The secret map probably comes closest, I think. Still, it's a good solid OG Doom offering, and I am glad we played it.



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E2M8: Evil Refinery


I am glad the title is well written, this other map from Memento Mori II said "Refinary" and it bugged me :(


Solid end-of-episode level. I liked the idea of a hub for a change of pace, none of the maps so far were centered around that concept. It's slightly bland visually but at least the full-tan section lets you contemplate the sky better. The final arena is something, one simple switch hunt that keeps revealing more enemies until the boss arrives, seems like a recipe for some choreographed infighting with erratic results, like the cyberdemon getting cornered to death and ruining your demo like it happened to me, almost twice(!!). It also looks like the ending text wasn't recorded in the demo, so for everyone who watches the video ignore past 8:10




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E2M8: Evil Refinery


So, if we're assuming that a "toxin refinery" is a facility that refines its toxic input into a less-toxic output (and I don't know why you'd want one of your nine buildings on Phobos to be a chemical works that refines toxins into a more toxic product), is an "evil refinery" some sort of purgatory or confessional or other place of industrialised absolution?  Or is this just a regular refinery that's gone bad?


The layout here is somewhat intriguing in its very deliberately "staged" quality; locked doors divide it into north and south sections, but teleporters provide access between the three subsections of the southern half of the map, despite the ostensible barriers of locked doors between the three.  What those red doors do, dividing the central hub from the eastern western nodes, is break up the pacing of the map so that whenever you revisit the hub, there's a fresh batch of enemies waiting for you; you can't just run about the whole place freely, and they can't do anything except sit and wait for your return.  As with the early maps of the episode there's a bit of a sense that the multiple keys aren't strictly necessary; the colour-coding provides direction but doesn't prevent a significant set of obstacles, nor do the blue and yellow keys hide more than a single small room apiece.  I did like the gradual transformation of the eastern room, which feels like sector movement for the sake of sector movement but isn't at all obnoxious about it.  The final Cyberdemon duel goes pretty much as you might expect, with rockets and a BFG being handed to you so that you've got plenty of tools to finish the job you've been building up to.

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Dawn of the Dead - Jan Van der Veken

This is a really solid mapset made by only one person, although incomplete by one level, it really shines on creating a really nice Doom E1 feeling, almost reaching a Fava Beans level in that regard. I said it tons of times by playing this, all of Jan E1 styled maps are superior to any of the found in DTWID E1 (Maybe because they were restricted to use Romero mapping style), not only aesthetically, but in terms of layouts and gameplay. The only problem with DoDead is mostly that feels like a mixed bag at the end and, as said before, it's incomplete.
Still, it deserves it spot on one of the best 1997 wads, since, considering the year it was made, and considering it was made by only one person, this makes the mapset great, and has its replay value.

The best level for me was E1M6, but it's actually a mixed feeling between this and E1M4, since both of them are really good, and I feel E1M6 could be a hit or miss.
E1M6 gives a really nice 'sandboxy' map, in a fortress which you can get through. I really liked the concept both aesthetically and in gameplay.
On the other hand, E1M4 is the most accurate definition of DooM E1 present in this mapset. Is both fun and challenging, it never felt bad, and is one of the maps which, for me, makes the wad replayable.

The worst level apart from E1M5, is the last one, the ending is one of the things that made the wad lose some score. It's short, straight-forward and simple. And feels like it was speedmapped in a day. I don't feel it had any soul, it's just there, a finale map

Score: 75/100 (Good)

EARTH - Roger Ritenour 

This is a big rollercoaster of feelings, first of all, I'm glad I have to play this through, since now I know what this is all about, the thing is, I would never replay it ever again. 
This mapset shows you some really nice looking landscapes, and limit-touching things on the Vanilla Doom engine. Earth focuses specially on exploration, but in a bad sense. Aside from the aesthetic feels, the 0 brightness caves that are not shown on the automap or and the buildings, look like the mapset was made some time in 1995, the mapset overall plays both bad and looks old, there is little to few things to salvage the gameplay, because there are not too many good maps, there are mostly maps, and that's it. Earth often becomes obnoxious with the overused gimmicks, specially with the monster randomizer, which is cool at first, but got old really fast.
Some of the levels can't be done on UV max, that's a really big problem for me, I don't care if the wad consists on exploration, for me, if you don't have the resources to kill and do everything, it's broken. In fact, some of the levels are nearly impossible to beat on UV is you had a bad RNG and didn't have an almost perfect ammo preservation.

The best map was by far MAP09, since is the best looking one, and the least annoying. The opposite can be said for MAP08, with you having to get ammo from a monster infighting ring and getting damaged on the way. With tons of dark tunnels, monster blocks, weird progression, boring gameplay...
...Every problem you can encounter in the whole wad, gets compressed into one map with MAP08.

Score: 45/100 (Bad)

The Classic Episode - Jan Van der Veken, Anthony Soto, Nick Baker, Travers Dune

On the other hand, we have this Classic Episode, which mixes everything found mostly on the original E1, and the best aspects of the other 3 episodes (Including Thy Flesh Consumed). Jan and Anthony are here the strongest mappers here, both of them making one of the most accurate E1 homages, as said before many times by me. Every map from them feels like an outtake from the final game, every map except E2M7 feels great to play, with little to no problems on gameplay overall. My only nitpicks is the lack of rockets or bullets for the chaingun at the first levels, since it mostly limits you to shotgun action. Difficulty here is pretty high, being more difficult overall in comparison to DoDead.
I feel like this wins over DoDead on creating a good "Classic Episode" but for me, both are TOP 3 along with Fava Beans (which almost beats it)

So far, Outpost 666 was the best map, and is sad that this was not in the final version of DoDead, because this only map would have made DoDead score the same as Classic Episode.
The worst one for me was E2M7, but this is not saying its bad by any means, map is good, but I liked it the least since of its insane difficulty at the start, and that it felt kinda out of place. But nothing much to complain here, as I said, it was still good.

Score: 83/100 (Great)

Edited by DJVCardMaster

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so this is the whole of classic episode... one day left but whatever, on to next month.



E2M1: "Foray" by Anthony Soto


replaces e2 but looks like e1, at least the first maps do. compared to dodead, it throws you right into the action, with a shotgun from the start, and plenty of shotgunners. (lol @theorgangrinder for the hicks quote, made my day). as many didn't like the sergeants, keep in mind they'll often fire immediately when you run into them with your shotgun in the last frames of its reloading animation, so always reload it first before moving on and check corners like in more tactical shooters. also, don't go close to peek through the slit brown walls as the sergeants are often behind them and hard to see. these shotgun-centric maps are fun to play a gib mod like bolognese, with its more powerful boom and the "wet sack" sound when you drop them. surprisingly interconnected map for an opener, with non-ortogonal walls which is a welcome feature (architecture with right angles everywhere looks rather basic and boring to me).




E2M2: "Mars Outpost" by Anthony Soto


a similar build as before, but on a bigger, more convoluted scale, requiring 3 keys... or not? it's easy to step on the pillar with the yellow key and jump through the window as it rises into the next building with the imps and sergeants, ready to exit... if this shortcut is intended (in gzdoom). so i reloaded and came back. pretty convoluted, you get a berserk to smack those imps, but should be ready to switch to the shotgun / chaingun against the humans. the rocket launcher is grabbed with a bit of listening. the single radsuit is better kept for the leap of faith into the nukage, rather than the bit of hopping around at the yellow key.




E2M3: "The Deimos Complex" by Jan Van der Veken


more complex than dodead, this map follows the same formula of mixing low tier enemies, but i found its gameplay more laid back than that of soto's maps, due to having less hitscanners in close quarters and behind corners, so room clearing and falling back to the chainsaw for working on demons was less dangerous. has its share of homages, which didn't bother me. i'll echo @gaspe about the empty feeling blur sphere room, it was like tacked on when i didn't need it (and had alredy killed all shotgunners from the window).




E2M4: "The Evil Base" by Jan Van der Veken


the most evil thing about the evil base were its evil minions, especially the mix of sergeants and other critters and their war of attrition. the bigger enemies, a baron and some flying tomatoes, are easily led into infighting. then the only dangerous part, the part with the couple barons where you're locked in, has a solution that's a bland as it is safe: snipe the first baron from the tunnel, then the second one, and you won't have to fight 2 of them over a berserk pack while several skulls are blocking the way (which would be the more heroic way though). the maze with the sergeants / souls mix was rather basic. the rest of the map was architecturally solid, showing a decaying base with a little containment area homage.




E2M5: "Deimos Observatory" by Jan Van der Veken


same visuals and formula as before, you have to get moving from pistol start or those imps will box you in. a bit too many pinkie roadblocks in tight corridors, but the rest is solid. many push wall secrets and plenty of ammo, i found the chaingun and the rocket launcher but still used mostly shotgun + berserk (also secret). the regular exit was more difficult to access than the secret one!




E2M9: "Dissension" by Travers Dunne and Jan Van der Veken


belongs more to e4 with its marble and rusty metal. shows a nice trick where the starting area collapses, leaving the player with a teleport and some walkways to move between the color-coded doors. not actually hard i think, as it gives plenty of ammo (i was always at about 60-80 shells and exited with 100 of them), but requires careful play, as running headlong into enemies will see one quickly perforated by an army of shotgunners, especially the reveal at the yellow key. or the crusher trick, works only if you don't alert the barons first. then some of them close in at the last key (blue iirc), the first time i had to use rockets and plasma freely. overall a pretty bloody map with refreshing, dark, dirty looks.




E2M6: "Outpost 666" by Jan Van der Veken and Anthony Soto


oh, see where that unfinished e1m5 from dodead went. i found having the starting point from that map a nice touch, although unnecessary. the map is competently designed, an e1 techbase with little signs of hell, like a few candelabras etc. good start with all those imps and pinkies threatening to box you in. it's only after when the map gets tedious with its high-hp monsters vs a shotgun, which gets by far the most ammo. the baron on top of the yellow key and several others. there are so many shells still that i exited with over 50 left, but what a bore to feed about 15 of them to each clumsy goat. searched for a way to get into the courtyard, but then there's no way, and a soulsphere is inside, not in that outer area. and i couldn't get that ammo stack either, seems to have been forgotten or just left here to frustrate poor doomguy.




E2M7: "A Place of Sin" by Jan Van der Veken


we're back in wooden / marble inferno land again with a hectic start, the shotgunners are hard to see while you're fending off the bigger ones, cacos and barons. there's a hidden plasma gun nearby which helped me when i hid in the maze at the red door / soulsphere as there were 4 barons - only afterwards i found the secret bfg. speaking of 64-wide mazes, this relic from doom's antiquity could have been left out. hopped on one of the 3 pillars to retrieve a blue armor and then found another one right at the red door. nice try at the yellow key when one baron spawns in front of it and all the rabble behind, but it's nothing that could deal with a bfg at this point (or a shotgun and an angry fist, for the matter)




E2M8: "Evil Refinery" by Nick Baker and Travers Dunne


we know how this ends, so bonus points for wrapping the final arena into a map (not resembling a refinery at all) that leads the player through e1/e2/e3 styled areas first before the confrontation. it's a bit weird as the exit doors of each area are locked and you have to return via teleport to the central hub. i have to say though that the baron at the bottom of the nukage pit was well used because one has to fight him there and can't just run away. reaching the final, red door, i took my time and made extensive use of infighting between goats and tomatoes before the cow appeared, thinking that i might run out of ammo with so much demon meat around... and then the remaining goats scratched it pretty badly, because it went down after only 40 cells or so from me, and one single imp in the cages above was alive when the screen froze...



overall, a great udoom episode! shows how jan improved as a mapper since dodead and would have been perfect imo with less doors with health in m6 & m7.

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