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natsumedude

Map Reviews - I've been playing this really old game called doom, you've probably never heard of it.

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Posted (edited)

im dumb and think the titles funny ok
this spoiler is a dumb pretentious blog skip down probably
Also I hope this is in the right subforum! Sorry if I messed up.

Spoiler

Doom is 5ish years older than I am, and while I've been playing games for an uncomfortably large amount of my life and have a possibly unhealthy obsession with them, I've never actually sat down and played it or its sequel for more than 5 minutes. I always lumped it in with stuff like Ultima or System Shock or Wizardry, a game that was created before PC game devs figured out how to make UIs for stupid babies like me. So I labeled it overhyped and ignored it in order to avoid having to admit I might be a little bit dumb. This was until about 2 weeks ago, where I read a few reviews of throwback FPS Amid Evil. They were very positive and everyone likes the game very much, but a few reviews brought up how a few holdovers from the classic school of FPS design, such as "First Person Platforming" and "Keycard Hunts" and "Weird Ass Super Complicated Level Design." were a bit shit and probably should have been removed. They slow down gameplay and stop the player from injecting the hardcore heavy metal action straight into their blood stream and shooting constantly for 6 hours. It's a reasonable opinion. But I've always felt like this kind of constant, high intensity action that I always associated with Doom and its offspring, and that people expect from action games, is counter-intuitive to actually making exciting gameplay. If the volumes always at 11, you'll start to lose your hearing and it'll sound more like a 5 and you'll never get to listen to cool music at 11 ever again. These meandering, slow, kinda relaxing but also kind of obnoxious sequences feature heavily in all my favorite action games. So I decided to go back and finally invest some time into these old ass games and see if it was a good kind of obnoxious or a bad kind of obnoxious.

They're extremely badass and I love them.

I love the weird, complicated maps. I love hunting for keys. I love running out of ammo. I love the obtuse puzzles. I love how spiteful the traps and ambushes can be. I love shooting big ass groups of demons that aren't actually very numerous but goddamn Revenants make me want to die so much that I feel like 3 of them is 1000. I love the sincerity, the earnest desire to stick everything the devs thought was cool and fun into these games. I like it so much I feel the need to write about it, which hasn't happened in a while!



So to actually get to the point and stop sucking my own farts, I've been fooling around with a bunch of different mods and megawads and reading map reviews and skimming through a bunch of old DWMC threads and looking at the big cool complicated maps on the wiki (i love big complicated maps so much you have no idea) have actually begun to form vague opinions on some of the maps that I've played (not very many, I'm only at about Map 10 of Doom 2 and have played the first map of a few different wads/megawads) and I thought it'd be fun to write up my thoughts about them and see what kind of trends pop up. I'd normally leave this kind of thing to more talented, intelligent people but the Doomunity is criminally overlooked so I want to contribute any way I can! I'm trying to play UV, saveless, (maps 9 and 10 crushed me beneath their heel like the dog that I am and I started saving so we'll see how this pans out) and with pistol starts. 
 

Doom 1 - E1M1

This is a really good first level, especially considering id was breaking almost entirely new ground here. The map is a brightly lit base, filled with UAC blues and nukage green that sharply contrasts with the stark brown surface of Phobos, and quickly establishes that the scope of the title is far greater than its immediate predecessor. It's a remarkably diverse, colorful level that shows off all the hot new shit like height and elevators and nice looking doors and is also vaguely challenging for complete newbies on UV. The secrets are all easy enough to find that literally anyone other than me could probably find most of them on their first run through, and it also immediately shows the player the difference between the hitscan zombies and projectile based imps which is critical for understanding how to complete the more complex levels in the game. Everything in this first level will be relevant throughout the whole game, and thankfully it doesn't blow its cool idea load here as well. It's fun, quick, and well designed, sure, but it's also unassuming, and doesn't set expectations for a level of spectacle or a style of gameplay that won't be met for the rest of the game. This is probably my ideal type of introductory level, and I'd be fine with it if there was absolutely zero effort put into it beyond the actual layout (looking at you, Map 01) but the level of polish and care present throughout really puts it over the top for me.

also I haven't written anything since fucking december 2018 so if you want to critique my writing please do i need all the help i can get

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Really cool review! Please do more!

 

And yes, I have the same feeling of yours about E1M1. Great opener. As I wrote in another thread, I like all episode 1, I don't think there is some bad level in it. Probably E1M9 is the weaker in the chain...

 

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I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And yeah knee deep in the dead is so good, especially when you consider romero and co definitely had no clue what they were doing and nothing to build off of, just because no one had ever tried to make cool fps levels before.

also

 

Doom 1 – E1M2

This is a solid fucking map. With twice the ground to cover, twice the enemies to kill, and twice the secrets to find, it’s clear that id is not fucking around here. There’s a brick on the gas pedal and they just cut the breaks. Rather, that’s the impression they’re trying to give. One of Dooms greatest strengths is its ability to cut back, slow down the pace and reset the players expectations. Doom admirably tries to get most its mechanics out in the first 3 maps, with any skipped over being introduced early on in episodes 2 and 3. To that end, E1M2 throws a flurry of new ideas and concepts at the player, all packed into a dense space. Keys (the cornerstone of map progression) arena style set piece encounters (the cornerstone of combat) and perhaps most importantly, emphasizes that the shotgun is the fucking gun and it is the best gun and you will use it forever. Every weapon in Doom 1 and 2 have their uses and are remarkably well balanced. Despite this, the workhorses of the roster are clearly the shotguns. It’s available in nearly every map in the game, is surprisingly accurate, and it will absolutely fuck some dudes up (the super shotgun more so, but in Doom 1 the original gets the job done well enough.) Its crowd control abilities are emphasized in the opening and its power in the hidden maze, easily blasting away the imps lying in wait. Both aspects come together in the final trap, and if your as garbage at Doom as I am, its usage is necessary to survive the encounter.  If E1M1 showed off the technology, E1M2 places the gameplay front and center and provides a road map for how much of the game will play.

Aesthetically speaking, it kind of sucks in comparison to E1M1. Very gray, and in some places very dark, with less interesting architecture (lots of samey corridors.) However, in terms of map design it comes out looking much more favorably. I’m a broken human being and somehow managed to get lost in the red key area the first time I played this map but I will take a wild guess that that was a personal problem, and assume most people managed to avoid getting turned around in a fucking glorified hallway. The small opening hub has some light exploration, and it’s fun to blow up the barrels to kill the zombies, and it is even more fun to kill a zombie and also blow up a barrel for no practical reason whatsoever with the easily accessible shot gun that the player is funneled into immediately. I think the most important aspect is that feels very different from E1M1, even if it’s still hella linear and contains mostly pistol and shotgun combat (smarter, more attractive people than I will probably find the hidden chain gun within 30 minutes and get to fool around with that.) It feels exploratory and much more complex and expansive (comparatively speaking) despite it obviously still being a baby (I actually did die here at some point in my life but at the moment I think it’s a wonder I can breathe automatically) easy tutorial level. Great level, and even better when taken context and compared to E1M1.

knee deep in the dead is so fucking good you guys

also I played the first level of lunatic and I think I have a crush on skillsaw now. classic doom maps own hard but the extra 25 years of knowledge and experience yall have is super evident. I wasn’t super sure just how much more fun Really Extremely Good level design could make an fps but just based off of that map the answer is "more fun than I expected"

this review feels a little stiff but with luck i will get more comfortable eventually lol
 

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