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Magnusblitz

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

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E1M7 Death Awaits (99% K/52% I/75% S): 

This map has nothing to do with the rest, it's yet another E4 rendition here, most likely E4M7 or E4M4, this map is only brown, pretty much the same "BRONZE" texture all the place, with some efforts of making the texture look less boring. The map, still, is not boring, but it's really punishing in a cheap manner, so I started savestating here, and I died 3 times, luckly I managed to escape from the first part with the Bruiser ambush getting the secret rocket launcher at the start, which really comes in handy if you pistol start. Talking about Bruisers, why do I have to fight so many couples of Barons in those tight spaces? This is the worst the map has to offer, not the BRONZE texture all over the place, not even the Cyberdemon jumpscare (which made me start savestating so I don't loose to much time on this one). There is little to no place to maneuver in this one with all that meat barrier, so forget about spamming rocket launcher on those encounters.
Map's architecture is neat all over the place, Jan tried his best not to make a boring layout. Still this map is not up to par to most of the rest.
The cyber fight in the small passageway is one of the most tense encounters I had in a while, but I think you can skip it by taking the other route if you go fast.
Also, is really common for Jan to do the same "secret" trick with those Light poles with different color, it's already obvious by this point.

Maps in order of preference at this moment:
 

E1M6

E1M4

E1M2

E1M9

E1M7

E1M3

E1M1

E1M5

 

Only one more to go...
...Luckly Jan stopped putting me cacos at the end a while  ago.

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I drew parallels to MAP19: The Citadel. E1M6 resembled it more than any Heretic map I've played, though, to be fair, I don't remember much of Heretic as I didn't particularly enjoy it.

 

E1M7

Eternity Engine 4.00.00, UV, pistol start, saveless

This one starts off wanting you to run away, and that is the best solution, as fighting 2 barons in a small area with six spectres is bound to be somewhat difficult.

There is a very much needed rocket launcher available early, and a chainsaw immediately behind you at the start.

An early fight is able to be cheesed somewhat, as it can be triggered because the doors shut to block you in.

While there is a plasma rifle available, there isn't much ammo for it, and ammo is somewhat stringent.

Being proficient with the fist isn't a requirement, but it will make certain fights come along much more smoothly.

The aesthetic is extremely brown. There is some grey and green, but it is dominantly brown.

There is a surprise cyberdemon toward the end. I suspect he's supposed to teleport away before he hurts you, but the first time around, he shot me immediately.

Fighting the cyberdemon later doesn't strike me as terribly interesting. It's just dodging him straight on while firing rockets at him.

Not my favorite map, but better than the previous.

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DODEAD e1m7

Certainly a hot opening for pistol starters, designed to send you scrambling forward in search of some kind of ordnance to fend off the goatboys.

 

On continuous, I just sprayed them both with plasma :)

 

Anyway, this is a very (very, VERY) brown map. I mean, seriously, there are over 1,300 instances of BROWN96 and over 800 of SUPPORT3. IT'S BROWNTOWN, BUDDY! And yet it still looks pretty good. The use of strong contrast textures and flats (marble and water, mainly), and some colourful Things, are key to this, I think. I do wonder if Jan was planning to do more visual spruce up later, though.

 

The cyberdemon is a pretty heartstopping moment, but it's actually not too hard to snake away from. And even when it takes up its final defence point, a slalom past it is definitely doable. Certainly, it was how I chose to handle things, and it worked on the first try.

 

 

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E1M7: Death Awaits

 

Following the plan of the secret map, another spicy start that appears to encourage running away from, what any player would do I believe. Maybe Jan thought someone would want to snag the shotgun behind one of the barons but that's not a smart idea, you get both another one and a chaingun pretty soon (besides an early RL if you know where it is). Anyway, teleporting ambushes in close quarters are the gimmick and each of them is executed to keep the ambient blood-pumping, specially involving barons. I saw an IronCamel stream last year so the cyberdemon didn't come as a shock, though a setup like that in a blind playthrough would have made me jump in such a tiny room. The pile of rockets should be indicative enough that you'll go Tower-of-Babel for a short time but the previous dick move gets my approval. One of the best parts of the map is a locked path to a blue armor and other pickups including the computer map that looks unobtainable at one point. I finally felt love for these optional areas, like TheOrganGrinder said it's another feeling to discover hidden sections not for the purpose to score a max. Besides, the path features another fancy portal!. Great map.

 

 

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E1M8 (pistol start again, god moded at the 2nd half of the map): Pretty cool map for a final one, i've enjoyed the semi-hellish feel of it and the glowing lava room after the start, i've also liked the concept of having barons around various places instead of having them only at the final room (that somehow on automap resembles... a cat face?), little less hard than E1M7 but still engaging to play... Probably bad part is that ends abruptly and i was thinking of having more to do here... However cool final map and nice way to ending this episode.

 

Overall, so far is a really good episode! Tomorrow it well be the last map! 

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E1M7: Death Awaits

 

...Though with Barons of Hell present and correct in the very second chamber of the map, death needn't be kept waiting for very long.

 

This is a map of arches and canals and cosy little champers; it's almost a Doom take on Venice, albeit one that's rendered extensively in monotonous shades of brown.  Opportunities to keep the enemy at arm's length are limited; most encounters take place in close quarters, thanks to a combination of barriers, intimate little spaces, and various teleporters that either bring new enemies into the fray, or relocate those already in play to unexpected quarters.  It's a map that's relatively generous with its supplies, and given its abundant opportunities for imps, demons, or worse to get right up in your face with barely any time to react nor much in the way of space to dodge to, the plentiful provision of health is rather welcome.  The Cyberdemon is delightful as a jump-scare but has less of an impact when here's playing the role of an obstacle to your progress, stomping about in front of a portal as though frustrated to be on so short a leash when really he wants to be turned loose to chase the player down.

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e1m8: At the Heart of it All

A fairly easy episode finale with a linear path through stone with some lava floor. The most difficult part is picking up both the official and non official secrets. The final room is not all that daunting and most doom veterans will polish off the enemies forthwith. The ending is a sector 11 damaging lava floor with 4 cybies surrounding our marine to help him on his way, so much for 100% kills!
 

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Greetings everyone, T-Rex here to take part in playing the trilogy of wads set for this month. Let's get started with Dawn of the Dead.

 

Dawn of the Dead is an episode 1 replacement by Jan van der Veken, released back in 1997. The gist of the story was that simple lifeforms were discovered in Jupiter's moon Europa, leading to attempts to terraform the planet. The end goal was the colonise the moon, and at "present" time, there was a quota of 20,000 civilians and 500 marines were brought to Europa. They then discovered relics from an ancient alien civilisation that mastered teleportation technology, including later on some manuscripts containing vague warnings. Now the moon's colonies were overrun by unknown hostile forces, and having been experienced since the events on Mars, it's up to you to take care of the situation. As for the level design, Jan's calling cards were emulating John Romero's level design sensibilities. However, he is by no means a one-trick pony as he has also dabbled on other design styles of the others names associated with id, including Tom Hall, Tim Willits and Dr. Sleep. Most of the theme is techbase, but Jan explored other themes like marble, stone, etc. Gameplay starts off easy, and gets progressively difficult. It also comes with a music wad which consists of some new tunes including a couple of Doom's soundtrack. So time to be underway, here's Dawn of the Dead, played on Ultra-Violence.

 

E1M1: Warp Station

100% kills, 100% items, 100% secrets

Time: 03:50

 

The episode immediately starts off with imps looking down at you. Don't waste your bullets on them. Instead, hurry straight into the base entrance, kill all the gunners and imps, collect the dropped shotgunners, then go back and deal with the imps at the start. Progression is linear, straightforward and pretty easy, though you later on will face a spectre and a cacodemon as you reach the end. The theme is predominantly techbase, but you get some metal textures to give somewhat of an Episode 2 vibe. There's also the classic Doom tropes, including the walkway that sinks into the toxic slime, and the little callbacks to E1M1, E1M3 and E1M4. Nice little secret which requires you to make use of the radiation suit, and the partial invisibility really helps to avoid getting shot by the zombies. Fun opener, and the midi rendition of Nine Inch Nails' Last sets the tone well.

 

E1M2: The Reactor

100% kills, 100% items, 100% secrets

Time: 10:29

 

Fairly longer than the previous map and with plenty more enemies to slaughter. This map emphasises a lot on exploration much like E1M7, and it even lifts from it with the large nukage area where the catwalk is including the pillar that lowers revealing imps and a soul sphere. There's also another nukage chamber not far from the start after getting the red key which reminds me of that area in E2M2 leading to the backpack that gets raised up by the three columns as you approach it. Scan the walls beyond so you can find a switch that will lower a lift, giving you access to a much needed backpack for all the meat you have to plough through. The chaingun comes in very handy for the nasty ambushes in this map, especially when after you obtain the blue key. There's some backtracking involved as you search for the yellow key. Then as you get close to the end, you'll finally meet the lost souls in the sewers, but before you do any exploring, hurry to your left to grab the radiation suit, then you can search around for the switch that will allow you to reach the soul sphere on the pillar. A good map and it really picks up thanks to the sheer number of enemies to kill.

 

E1M3: Space Port

100% kills, 100% items, 100% secrets

Time: 18:50

 

Much longer than the previous maps and the difficulty has scaled up significantly. Some of the nastiest parts this map offers is firstly the outside area which reminisces E1M6, and as you explore around the walkways, imps will start teleporting on the columns scattered throughout. Then there's the BFG secret, as soon as you grab it, the block lowers revealing a quartet of barons. Seeing the id logo where they stand makes me chuckle at the obvious homage to the Nine Inch Nails secret of E4M1. Another really tricky spot is the Episode 2-esque room with the arch-vile marble face where you grab the rockets and suddenly demons come teleporting in. You can easily lose a lot of health in those ambush traps if you're not careful. Anyway, the map does very well with the lighting effects, such as when you navigate dark passages and then they light up, allowing you to see the enemies better. The launch pad area is nicely done, and there's also the elevators behind the red key doors. One thing to keep in mind is that in the northeast section, do not take the teleporter with the symbol inside as you'll die through telefragging a voodoo doll. Another thing in the same area is don't go straight for the secret exit, or you'll be locked out from the rest of the map, including getting 100% of everything. This is by far a tough map, though t's only going to get tougher as the episode progresses.

 

E1M9: Hunted Down

100% kills, 100% items, 100% secrets

Time: 09:39

 

Deviating from the Romero-style architecture, Jan van der Veken graces us with a map that is clearly influenced by Tim Willits as this map bears a resemblance to E4M9. As soon as you open fire, enemies are alerted to your presence, including a marching band of pinkies and spectres. Also watch for the gunners and imps that will hunt you down as they teleport into the atirum as soon as you make your way up. A couple of lethal ambushes, but they're not too overwhelming if you're ready for them. Try not to get hit too much as health is pretty much at a premium. Luckily, you got a berserk pack at the start, and once you find a radiation you can search for the soul sphere in the nukage pool. There's also a nifty mega armour secret guarded by those killer tomatoes. Overall, this is a map that while it is fairly easy, the scenarios and sparse health keeps you on your toes.

 

Okay, I'll stop right there for now. See you in the latter half of the episode. Take care! 

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E1M7: Death Awaits

99% kills, 2/4 secrets

 

I imagine this one plays far differently on continuous, where the barons at the start won't pose nearly as much of a threat. On pistol start it's just shotgun and berserk (and an ammo-starved chaingun) for most of the map if you don't find the secret RL at the start, which I missed. Makes the barons threatening but also tedious after you've killed your third or fourth one with just the shotgun or fist. The architecture is nice but as everyone's pointed out, it really is brown, and not even the good variance in brown textures can save that. The cyber fight has aged poorly (or maybe was always bad?) Bonus points though for the extra non-tagged secrets, the one that lead to the comp map is clever but won't boost your secret count any.

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E1M8 At the Heart of it All: 

This is a small E2-esque map, with a pretty lineal and straight-forward layout. Luckly I managed to grab the soulsphere, although I'm not a fan of relying on sound queues for secrets (To bad for deaf players). final fight was just that, nothing more advanced or amazing for what the rest of the episode was. Not the best ending, and it missed the opportunity of having at least more barons to fight throughout all the map, forcing you to fight them, since is map 8. Luckly I didn't pistol start this, never died on this one, but I sense this final fight to be near impossible without your rocket launcher/plasma/BFG. You can get a secret plasma at the end before the fight, but nothing more. And also there are only 3 sergeants on UV which you can steal a shotgun, so don't die, or you will end fighting two barons and a horde of invisible meatwalls roaming around, and some snipers aswell.
 

Maps in order of preference:
 

E1M6

E1M4

E1M2

E1M9

E1M7

E1M3

E1M1

E1M8

E1M5


Death counter: 25

This finale left me a little bit tasteless. We know is not easy to make a good finale (None of the final maps of each original episode were that great) But I was expecting something a little bit clever, considering how good the experience overall was. Anyways, this map is not by any means mark this mapset as bad, in fact it really deserves a spot in the best wads of its year, and a spot on one of the best E1 homages ever.

Final thoughts on this one at the end of the month, with the other two wads we have to play.

It's time to move to Earth.

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E1M8

Eternity Engine 4.00.00, UV, pistol start, saveless

Far easier than the previous map, this one feels less like an appropriate finale and more like it would fit in the actual game.

There's a secret plasma available, and a soulsphere, too.

The only thing of note is there seems to be no way back from the final area, which suggests if you don't kill the first baron before leaving the building, that you could get softlocked in the arena.

Nothing much to say on it.

 

Dawn of the dead is a solid set, for sure, and definitely worth a play.

I guess we'll get a couple days' break before Earth, since it's set to start on the tenth.

It's been a while since I've played Earth, so it'll be interesting to revisit, for sure.

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E1M8: Short as you can expect from your usual Doom boss map. You start from a battlements terrace with a view of a marble fortress ahead and from that spot you will teleport inside that place. The inner areas have a mix of hellish and tech rooms. You will meet a lone baron in the middle of the map and I thought it was a rather cool thing. Usually the barons will be used only in the final arena and having them placed mid-level so you have to explore the level to find them could be a nice idea for a different boos map. Soon the map delivers the arena with the bulls and the idea isn't bad. A big portion of the floor will turn into damagin blood, 2 groups of shotgunner above are placed to push you to the center of the arena and there are few pinkies on the ground. Though only 2 barons were a letdown.

 

I'm glad that I finally played this, fun things is that I played (to review it for the /newstuff Chronicles) first the sequel that was released in 2016. Jan Van der Veken has a cool style and he was able to combine well the strengths of E1 with some hints of E2 and E4.

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DODEAD e1m8

A bt more preamble than the original e1m8, but the same basic endgame of two barons in a wide open space. Frankly, the handful of spectres and shotgun snipers that are added to the equation are much more threat. That's a bit underwhelming really, particularly when you've already tangled with 2 of them in much more challenging circumstances on the previous map, and multiple barons on maps before that. I mean, I get that if you want to use the 666 tags in e1m8, then barons have to be your signature bad guys, but at least chuck six of them at me or something.

 

Also, it appears possible to break the map: teleport to the final arena without killing the map's first baron, and I think you will be stuck as there doesn't seem anyway back and he is probably never going to path his way to the teleporter to come after you.

 

I do quite like the occasional echoes of the original e2m1 in this, though.

 

 

DODEAD Overall

This is a fine Doom episode. I enjoyed it a lot. It's a real shame it was never quite finished.

 

 

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E1M9 (pistol start, few usage of iddqd): Oh, what a amazing level! I see the heavy references to Fear you people wrote above this map and i really like the heretic E1M9 music for this map, it suits it well! Enjoyed the shadowing work and little details, difficulty is pretty smooth but the baron part is pretty hard. Overall, i've enjoyed this map!

 

And with this, it's over with Dawn with the Dead. Overall, a really solid E1 replacement!

 

Next stop, Earth! I remember this mod have really impressive graphical work for it's time...

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E1M8: At the Heart of It All

1/1 secret

 

Around the blue key I was thinking it might be a full-fledged map, but in the end it really is just a E1M8 bossfight map, admittedly with a bit more preamble as Capellan says. Pistol start is a little rough but the map peters out after the halfway point, and the secret plasma was easy to find. Having an ending of two barons is uninspired, especially after last map's usage of them. I'd be curious to know what order these maps were made in.

 

In the end, I really dug maps 2 through 4, really good KDITD maps. A bit less love for 6 through 8, which started hitting the tropes I'm not a fan of (citadel, browntown, E1M8 recreation). Pretty solid stuff for Van der Veken's first release, it'll be interesting to see how three years made a change in Classic Episode.

 

Since E1M5 was a nothing map and most people played the secret map on the same day as E1M3, we should probably just forge ahead into Earth instead of waiting to start on the 10th?

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E1M8: At the Heart of it All

 

I feel this is a map in which the castle-invasion preamble is more interesting than the fairly rote showdown with a pair of Barons of Hell at its climax; when the "Brusier Brothers" have been present in various numbers and in rather more difficult combat situations since E1M3, the impact of squaring off with them in a wide-open arena is rather reduced.  This feels like an earlier example of the author's work than the masterfully executed canals and chambers of E1M7, and in combination with the "missing" E1M5 and the roughness of the implied storytelling with its sudden and unexplained mid-episode jump from Knee-Deep in the Dead techbases to more Medieval environments, I'm left with a feeling that the WAD overall is less than what it could be.  And that's a shame, when it counts among its maps so many levels that are good, not in a nostalgic or patronising "for their time" sort of sense but which are examples of strong design and satisfying gameplay even to modern players.  If I'm talking a lot about the rest of the WAD when I should be talking about this map in particular, its due to its brevity and its relatively unremarkable design.  That it brings little that's unexpected to the table does not sour me on Dawn of the Dead as a whole, not when the WAD has offered me so much enjoyment within the confines of its classic themes.

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E1M8: At the Heart of it All

 

This serves a promising start and gradually opens into a conventional boss map due to its breve preamble. The vista of the castle is nice, I normally don't pay attention to the default E1 sky but scenarios like these allow me to appreciate it. I'll also say the final arena looks neat, to the say the least, how the floor descends to expose blood is a cool hazard. A shame that after many stronger barons encounters, we get only a pair in a relatively vast space serving ol' Bruiser Brothers boss fight, aside from a few spectres and sergeants snipers that don't add much. The cinematic aspect was lost too, again considering the previous maps, but overall not that terrible of an ending, everything prior to the finale is better. I'm still super glad to have played the wad, this definitely will be mentioned as a source of inspiration someday in a text file by me :)

 

 

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E1M7: Death Awaits

38:30 | 100% Kills | 52% Items | 100% Secrets

Brutal. That opening encounter stripped away almost all the health and armor I came in with, and then health pickups afterward were hard to come by. I loved the architecture, the brown base with all the windows overlooking everything. (I didn't appreciate how the last few rooms were shuttered; I really wanted those windows to open for some reason.) Constant combat throughout, at least on the first pass, though the red key pickup was unexpectedly tame. (Just a handful of imps scattered across two courtyards, really?) The surprise cyberdemon was a bastard move, and then having him guard the portal back was annoying. Perhaps an odder decision was to backfill the teleporter behind him with a line of lost souls that apparently only woke up once you shot them. Once cybie was gone, I had to sit and just shoot blindly into the portal to max my kills. And speaking of portals, progression design was a bit weird in a couple of spots, too. Like, hitting the switch to lower the canal walls, but then being immediately sent to the other entrance to the canal. (And why was that switch labelled for the red key, if the door to even get that far needed the red key?) And then apparently there was a "secret" chain of teleporters to presumably pick up all those items I missed; never found that, even though I found all the official secrets. Cool level, if a little mean.

 

E1M8: At the Heart of It All

5:55 | 94% Kills | 100% Items | 100% Secrets

The final map! And it goes out with kind of a whimper. The first bit is a nice enough setup, and then the final arena is just a handful of demons, two mobs of shotgunners who do their best to kill themselves for you, and two barons. Absolutely trivial on continuous, and I don't even think it'd be that hard on pistol-start, unless there's not actually enough ammo and you have to resort to zerking the barons. Anyway, I assume my four missed monsters were four cyberdemons surrounding me at the end? (I heard the stomping and was immediately blasted, so...)

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EARTH MAP01

Much has been made of EARTH's opening vista, and I guess it is quite clever, but it's only one of several quite cool architectural / visual bits. I like the marble colonnade you go through right after, for instance.

 

On the other hand, several sections of the map seem almost the complete antithesis of this, being very plain and boxy (and often very dark) square rooms or corridors. It's an oddly uneven whole, frankly.

 

Gameplay? Well it's mostly randomised, with the vast majority of the monsters teleporting in from elsewhere across a wealth of small adjacent triggers. Depending on the luck of the draw, you could have some very awkward monster placement: revs or chaingunners with nowhere to hide, for instance. Or you could have very ineffectual enemies, such as a mancubus teleporting in on a ledge too small for it, or a PE that's on the opposite side of an impassable line. Most probably, like me, you will get some of both outcomes.

 

 

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All right, let's see if Earth aged well!

 

MAP01 (gzdoom 3.7.2, HMP, 2 deaths, then cheated at the second half  of the map, like the cheater i am): As i wrote yesterday, the graphic works for this wad are awesome for their age, as the other Roger Ritenour map i played years ago, Phobos, since your greeted a impressive shore vista from... Ireland? Somewhere in north Europe? That use some clever texture tricks of gray sea waves crushing into rocky cliffs of the shore, the rest of the level is sets in some sort of this little mixed hell - tech temple, surrounded by brown mountain with open rocks section similar to the one used in TNT: Evilution but larger, that leads or open to more caverns of grey / brown ASHWALL rocks and some neat trickery like (buggy, at least for me with gzdoom) fake deep water sector on toxic shit pit, level is pretty cool even if pretty empty in some parts, like before the outdoor section to the blue key fountain... and i must say that this place have some kind of cozy fell on it, you know the almost empty rooms, the "Stand by me" midi, the sea, the mountains, the peaceful aura everywhere... a lovely, cozy place.

 

If only the entirety of demonkind wants to kill you, this could be a lovely place for your holidays or some shit.

 

Talking about the demons that hides in the dark corners of this place, the item placement is kinda of a mixed bag, with a clever usage of monsters and ammo and the start, the pretty awaken monsters that teleport in the map after you discover the red skull door (after taking the red skull! What a neat little trick!), and this mess with almost not any ammo to save me (most probably i missed something):

 

b2mpRuJ.jpg

(freezed this scene just for you, guys)

 

I mean, how the shit i can come out alive without cheating? I can't do it.

 

Overall, is a pretty cool starting map, i've enjoyed it!

 

Edited by Walter confetti : Grammar typo

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Earth

MAP01

ZDoom 2.9 pre-2175, HNTR, pistol start, saveless

Yes, I'm playing on HNTR. This wad isn't fun on UV.

Obviously, a beautiful vista, especially for its time.

Roger Ritenour makes some of my favorite 90's maps. They're not particularly fun to me now, but they do still hold the air of mystery they did when I was a kid playing them on Doom95.

Doom's software renderer is the way to go here, otherwise everything is impossible to see, the incredible irony of which is not lost on me.

Yes, the caves are so dark that you need the software renderer to see anything because of how it draws things immediately in front of you.

The gamplay on HNTR is actually kind of fun, versus UV which seems to be hard just to be hard, HNTR's easy difficulty really lends itself to this type of map.

Most of the fun, I would say, is in exploring these ruins, except some of what you can explore is hidden behind walls that blend perfectly with their surroundings.

The classical style architecture is very nice, and it's fun to just run through on this difficulty.

It lends itself to exploration more than combat, but it doesn't do it properly, in my mind, and very much suffers for it.

It's a nice starting map.

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Let's keep going shall we?

 

Earth

 

MAP01: The Ruins

 

One of the things about tackling multiple different smaller WADs over the course of a month like this, rather than a single larger set of levels, is that I find myself almost inevitably comparing each set of levels to the others, and having my impressions of each new WAD shaped by the experience of the one(s) before.  In this case, the classic themes and solidly conventional gameplay of Dawn of the Dead have, I feel, heightened my appreciation for the more unusual environment and experimental approach on display here, which I otherwise might not have found myself so much in the mood for.  The defining gimmick of this level is its use of a large "waiting room" holding the bulk of the map's monster population, which is them teleported into place in a somewhat random fashion.  While this makes the map more engaging on repeated playthroughs, with each attempt offering a different array of opposition than the last, I don't know if the layout of the level itself is compelling enough to invite this.

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Alright, time for Earth. I played through this last week in two consecutive days. There's little to nothing positive I can say about it, unfortunately, the levels of enjoyment were below standard, up to map 07 or 08 I started to run past monsters and get to the exit as soon as possible, even skipped a map because it didn't left me exit thanks to a bunch of snipers in unreachable points, plus I missed a key on the opposite side of one of those annoying pitch black ASHWALL mazes. So there won't be demos for this, just lots of ranting and some optimism if there's any left. Settings were Crispy Doom 5.4, pistol starts, Ultra-Violence, saving every once in a while.

 

 

Map 01: The Ruins

 

Starts fine, if you turn back there's a gorgeous vista of waves crashing into rocks, something a middle class citizen like me doesn't see every day. The midi is also pretty cheerful in OPL3 soundfont. Visually, I liked the piece of marble architecture in the next area and the ruined bridge surrounded by mud later, and admittedly the rest of the map did leave me a good impression, mainly due to the secret lifehacks: exploring the secret path to the RL almost drowning in the mud was really good, also the thin crusher for some cinematic gore (mancubi in my case, ew?). Strangely, it stops functioning once you leave that secret area. I didn't find most of the secrets on my own and wasn't expecting them to involve actually exploring ultra narrow pitch black corridors, luckily monsterless. Not that bad, though clueless me that it was going to get worse later. Oh and about the monster randomizer, while an uncommon concept, it's sure to give us either competent combat or unfortunate situations. The latter can end in ludicrous, fun-killer, or maybe plain pointless, like the enemies on the islands next to the exit are ineffective no matter what, well save for hitscanners, but I saw a pain elemental too unable to spit babies outside of the block lines, and tons of barons. I'm actually in favor of the concept, Roger wanted something unusual to contend with and that's nice, even when knowing RNG rules the game. The first map was a decent appetizer, as I still mostly did my thing under the natural light. It's when I entered the deep that my feelings gave a 180-degree turn, which I'll explain later.

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Earth

Our marine is back on earth, arriving near some caves by what Roger Ritenour describes as "a rocky coastline with rolling surf". While our hero was away the place has been overrun by savage aliens and it is up to him to save the planet yet again from total oblivion. This always happens, when will they ever learn?

Right from the getgo, it is clear that an unorthodox approach has been taken to the use of:

1. textures - using some lovely animated textures
2. monster placement - enemies teleporting in randomly from offmap monster closets and roaming all over
3. lighting - pitch black caves where navigation can be quite painful

I anticipate the club will enjoy 1, have mixed feeling about 2 and will shake their fist at 3.

map01: The Ruins

There are a whopping 10 secrets to find, many of them in the narrow tunnel systems that connect the main path. In a bizarre twist you will probably find it is safest to clear out the enemies via the main routes rather than trying to sneak up on them through the narrow secret tunnels.

I am not sold on the enemy encounters which weren't that engaging, with enemies just showing up in a sporadic fashion from somewhere, throughout the map.

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Okay, so now here's Earth. I could have sworn I'd played this, but now I'm pretty sure I never beat MAP01. I did play and enjoy Ritenour's Phobos, though, so I guess I had just assumed I'd played both. I will doing this the same as last WAD: GZDoom/UV/continuous/saves/keyboard-only.

 

MAP01: The Ruins

21:04 | 83% Kills | 82% Items | 30% Secrets

I literally spent full minutes just taking in that opening view (and trying to snag the perfect screencap). I love the wave animation (and crashing upon that rock!) and the way the repeating sky is used to reflect the moon in the sea. And then the marble ruins leading down into the mountainside look terrific as well. Really, most of the texture-work here is phenomenal; I love those large columns in the courtyards, as well. Gameplay-wise, well it's super-nice to get the SSG right off the bat. Always kinda funny to get it before the regular shotty. If I hadn't read other people talking about the way monsters were randomly teleported around the map, I wouldn't have thought placement was too bad. The most questionable to me were all the turret nobles at the exit. There sure were a lot of secrets here, of which I only found three, apparently. I liked how a number of them provided alternate access to other areas, allowing you to plink away at the opposition from a more defensible position. But I left a lot of the baddies alive; even given the secret supplies, there just didn't seem like enough to deal with them. I left pretty much everyone in the blue key courtyard untouched, for example. And of course the nobles at the exit weren't worth wasting ammo on when I clearly wasn't going to max anything. A decent map all around. I even find the MIDI charming.

 

FUj4b2M.png

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Moving onto Earth...

 

MAP01: The Ruins

83% kills, 3/10 secrets

 

Well, this is definitely different. The opening vista is indeed impressive, especially the way it splashes up over the rock. And the column ruins are pretty good too. Unfortunately after that the map swerves into dark square corridor design, which makes for some plodding combat. It doesn't help that the monsters feel basically sprinkled in at random, and the ammo balance is off (even finding a few secrets I felt like I needed to just ignore everything in the blue key area). Apparently that's by design and the enemies are randomly teleported in? Weird. It is fun spelunking to find the secrets hidden in the crevices, though I also only found three.

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Here we are, moving from Phobos to our home planet to get ourselves some vacation, let's play Earth:

Back in the day when I started mapping and I liked the ZDoom mapping format giving a quick look to this wad that was made a year after I was born I was surprised at how much can the Vanilla engine reach in terms of aesthetics. It blew my mind so much that I quickly changed to mapping in Vanilla (Format in which I'm solidly stuck). But, in all honesty, I never gave a playthrough to this. Only saw some images and the first area but still never got interested on playing it.

Let's see if it's only an old tech demo or if it's actually fun to play...

MAP01 The Ruins (68% K /82% I /20% S):

The starting area is one of the most memorable things from oldschool Doom modding, probably, with those waves hitting the shore (No Idea how they did that) and a really nice atmosphere of you being trapped in a "resort" island. This is, sadly, the best thing the first map can offer. Right from the start you get into a nice looking "acropolis" of some sort, that place with the columns, and you get greeted by not only one, but TWO barons of hell, and their little pinky siblings. Pretty nasty start, although you get a SSG in the first room, so there is not too much problem. I died quite a few times on this map, and I noticed there is some sort of monster randomizer, every single time you are going to get different monsters in every room when you progress, adding a little bit more of replay value.
And here the problems start:
I had to correct the gamma to the maximum on those cave areas, since gameplay here is non-existant. What was the Idea of putting light levels to 0 here? correcting the gamma wasn't enough, so I had to waste some chaingun ammo to use it as a "lantern". This cavern has a baron in the worst place you can find.
Overall placements are somewhat lackluster specially because of the randomizer fact, big areas with snipers all over the place and little to no ammo to kill everything.
My other concern is the weird underwater effect. It just, doesn't work for me, you can bump into some unseen things into it, you can cause the slime floors to bleed, and you have a pretty weird RL secret in it.
The outside courtyard with the BK it's awful, it's at this point in which I just started savespamming, since I stopped caring that much to play this continiuous, since it's unfair ammo placement.
The last bridge show you a nice view just as the first room, with some monsters that are unreachable, so it's just impossible to get 100% kills.

The map overall is just dissapointing, gameplay is broken, you get ammo hungry to the point you start rushing the map without even caring about killing enemies, since I find this impossible to kill them all. Lots of ups an downs in difficulty and annoying dark rooms.

Death Counter : 6

Maps in order of preference at this moment:

MAP01 (Mediocre)

What a let down start, it doesn't get salvaged by the aesthetics, let's see if it gets any better.

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Earth, I'm already on MAP03 but it turns out that I only played the first part of MAP01. Well lets discover what this wad has to offer.

 

MAP01: Roger Ritenour doesn't waste time to show you the cool visual tricks he's able to do, facing from the start that beatiful vista of the sea with all those realistic details and effects. From what I saw he seems to be a mapper that opts for a very minimalistic style that sort of betrays the expectations as you go deeper into the level. After the hooking initial vista and the first ruins the level seems almost underwhelming with big and empty places and cramped corridors. The contrast of the open and bright areas with the dark and tiny (so much that you can barely walk in) corridors is weird. Though there was some effort put some height variations on the surrounding rocks, and those view of the sea at the secret RL and the exit builds a nice sense of place. Another defining feature are the various cryptic moments of progression mixed with secrets. I didn't notice the switch to raise the bridge at the YK but I was able to make my way by exploring the secrets corridors at east that are linked to the BK area and the blue door. I didn't had too much trouble at the BK area by tackling it slowly and going back to pick leftover ammo. It seems that it would be also easy to run past the enemies there. Mysterious stuff, lots of exploration to do, I love this. I'm not entirely sold to the gameplay but this is certainly unique which is a good thing to value.

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MAP02

ZDoom 2.9 pre-2175, HNTR, pistol start, saveless

Explore a pyramid.

That's literally all there is to this one.

I'm not particularly fond of this map, really.

Much of it is near pitch dark, there are more of the tiny cave hallways linking everything that are near 0 brightness, and once you get the blue card, everything closes off, preventing you from exploring further.

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EARTH MAP02

I can certainly see why this mapset isn't to all tastes. After a silent opening we get something of a hot welcome for a little while, with a good variety of monsters coming to say hi. But once that's cleared away it's a long search for keys, with the yellow one being at the end of a long unlit maze of secret tunnels that aren't even marked on the automap. I am no fan of mandatory secrets.

 

Once that's finally done, you can grab the blue key and then you just need to remember that big old arrow near the start – which thankfully I did – hump the wall it points at, and exit.

 

The map again relies on randomised monster teleporting, but it worked far less well than the 'win some, lose some' spray of map01, as very few monsters ended up in the latter areas of the map for me. After I started the key search in earnest, only about half a dozen monsters were left on the map. The yellow key was guarded by two lost souls, for instance, and the blue by a single sergeant. This made for a lot of silently wandering about.

 

 

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