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The DWmegawad Club plays: Witness of Time & Monument & Unwelcome

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All right then, on to Monument, which I believe I've played before but in a beta release, and quite some time ago at that.  ZDoom, Hurt Me Plenty, continuous play with saves.

 

E2M1: Rip and Tear

 

With a name like that, I went into this level expecting lots of berserk pack gameplay, lots of "ripping and tearing" with my bare hands, which didn't actually happen; instead, this is a lovely, grungy Deimos base sort of map, its pervasive gloom made all the more oppressive and threatening by the custom palette and status bar.  Gameplay is shotgun-heavy as might be expecting for a map in this slot; there's a secret chaingun to be had, but not really enough ammo to keep it properly fed, nor that many situations where it's clearly more useful than the trusty boomstick.  I feel as though the actual threat present is kind of frontloaded, with a trap involving imps and sergeants right at the start that seems designed as a wake-up call that there are no free rides to be had here; beyond that particular snarl-up of cramped confines and monstrous meat, things settle down a little into a more manageable sort of mess, and it's a short and compact enough map (claustrophobic, almost) that things are over pretty quickly and it's on to...

 

E2M2: Beta Station

 

So this is a much bigger and more ferocious map that delves deeper into the Deimos corrupted techbase theme; there are certain areas (mostly those involving the various snake/intestine textures) where the custom palette doesn't just feel more naturalistic than the classic Doom palette, but actually conveys a sense of deeper, enhanced shadows, as though you're looking at the world through a grungy filter or perhaps the face-plate of a helmet smeared with grime and stained with the various putrid fluids of Hell's minions.  I ended up popping this one open in the editor after the fact to confirm that the map is indeed doing something quite deliberate with vertical transitions; there's a distinct "upstairs" and "downstairs" to the layout, two elevated regions in the north and south of the map separated by a lower portion that you have to traverse, the station's filthy underworks or some kind of tunnel or underpass between separate facilities.  That latter is enhanced by the corridor-heavy architecture of the level's lower portion, its many pillars contributing to a sense that you're traversing a space that's not really designed for a human presence, just the supports and underpinning and maintenance spaces of some greater facility; you are the rat in the walls of this particular complex, though Hell has made sure you've got no shortage of company as you squirm your way through places you weren't meant to go.

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@Chris Hansen A little off topic, but I've noticed you actually have enough maps to do a 'Monument E3/E4 style' combo, with some upgrades, much like Monument has. Something like:

 

M1: Bloody Realms of Hell

M2: 2002ADO E3M6 (probably a bit more forgiving lol)

M9: HighLow 3 (reached from M2)

M3-M7: Mix of 2002ADO E4 maps (there's four of them)+ HighLow4

M8: Boss level

 

Would be an intersting project IMO :)

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A combo, @FrancisT18... hmm, interesting. It's a good idea, but I'm more keen on making a "pure" E3 and/or E4 episode. I've thought about it before, but never really had the time for it. It's definitely on my wish list. It would be a cool thing to have on my resumé - four complete episode replacements. But alas I'm no Paul Corfiatis, so it's perhaps only a wet dream... we'll see.

 

And btw: It warms the old ticker inside me that so far noone has downright hated any part of Monument. It seems like you're entertained and that's the whole point. So thank you so far! Fingers crossed I don't mess it up later in the episode! :)

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@Chris Hansen That's an even more ambitious idea...if it ever comes to fruition at least. You're only a third of the way to an E3 wad, 5/9 the way to an E4 wad, if I'm not forgetting anything. On a positive note (for you) - Paul does not have any full E2 wad in his name (just a single map standalone and four in 2002ADO), and I find both CH Retro Episode and Monument to be superior to Simply Phobos and Paul's E2 style work, respectively.

 

CH Retro Episode + Monument + Incineration + Death Tormention III would make quite the megawad combined together, but I think there would be some resource clashes if you actually tried loading them all together.

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E1M2 - Beta Station - 99% Kills, 100% Secrets, Death Count: 1

 

Now we start to see the real Chris Hansen. If this map was your friend, it would be the kind of friend you get together with to reminisce about the old days, and you say things like, "Remember the time you beat me up after soccer practice in front of the entire cheerleading squad?" or, "Remember the time you beat me up at the prom, stole my girlfriend, and spent the night with her at a Motel 6?" Yeah, that kind of friend. 

 

This is an intricate, devious map that I first encountered in 2002:ADO. Indeed, it might be the first of the Hansen maps I encountered in that megawad, and it totally owned me. I was completely confused by the nukage maze, which isn't really a maze because most of it is in separate areas, but it seems like it's all connected somehow. In a way, the map is all connected by lifts, teleports and drop-offs, but because many of the areas look similar, progression is obtuse until you really learn the layout. Once you do, you can take advantage of multiple ways to attack the fights in the Rocket Launcher area, which can be overwhelming if you fail to thin out the waves of opposition sequentially by coming back there several times.

 

The Rocket Launcher area is really the core of this map, but the toughest fight is a lock-in battle in a room that's quite small for all the Cacos, Lost Souls, Sergeants and Imps therein. I died on my first attempt because I foolishly went in with my shotgun. I really needed the chaingun in my hands. I also went for the switch that raises some stairs so you can run back out, and then went for the Zerk secret instead of running away. I did this both times, but the second time I was ready with the CG and bulled my way through to the secret. I'd call that a lucky break, since running away and camping the door might have been safer. I eventually returned to this area to kill everything in that room in hopes of getting max kills, but I'm guessing that either a Lost Soul wandered off somewhere or maybe a monster failed to teleport in.

 

The next big fight gives us a whole room of descending walls. I ran away and camped that one because too many hitscanners with no cover -- except other monsters. You then ride up a lift to the exit and experience "Variation on a Theme from The Shaft", and conclude with a leisurely battle against some Cacos. I seem to remember that a past version had you frantically running to hit timed switches to reach the exit. If I'm right, thank God that's changed. That was tough on the Ancient Keyboarder. :D

 

Secrets are great in this map. The Zerk and Computer Area Map are both classic Hansen parkour secrets, and both accessed from the same room. The Zerk is another super-fun secret, as is the Blue Armor, perhaps the easiest one to find, though it gave me fits in the past. The map features the excellent texture flow I expect from Chris's work and as a result is very good-looking. In short, a fantastic map.

 

Here's my playthrough. It's a prepared run. Even though I died at the first lock-in fight, I pretty much own the map at this point. I'm sure Chris will be happy to know that I died 7 times in my trial runs. ;)

 

Spoiler

 

 

 

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E1M2: Beta Station

 

Deja vu!, and not just due to the map's origin in 2002: A Doom Odyssey, but also that musical piece which some of us might easily associate with either BTSX:E2 or Resurgence, or both (off-topic, I recently started a replay-through of it because listening to the midi put me in the mood, the little things music does to our emotions). Right off the bat this promised a good time. I could recognize the majority of the first half by the layout and a few ambushes, like the imps on the fleshy corner or the narrow tunnels filled of toxic, including the secret megaarmor out of reach. That's more or less all, the rest came out as relatively incidental, for sure a lot less cramped. That early secret not-so-hidden chainsaw must have been something else before, because I clearly remember how desperately low on ammo I was in the base map, and that was never the case here. Well anyways, these plenty of hell minions spawning and crawling in every room is what makes the map feel consistently rolling, it's pretty awesome the dynamic when barrels participate and you can detonate them at the right moment (not like I succeeded in the demo whatsoever). Really dig the chaingun setups, or at least where it's designed to be fun to use, my favourite being that with walls lowering to reveal all the shit around you, a good case of crowd control diet edition, though the lock-in Steve D talked about was probably the meanest part. The lift ambush was straightforward but that last shotgunner was the cherry, and it seems the order of the teleportations is randomized so that added a bit of tension (I mean, to surprise him instead of him surprising you with an insta-shot). Perfect way to end with cacos sneaking from the sides to screw with circle err squarestrafing. 

 

At minute 4:05 the lost soul died in a single shotgun shot. Kinda got me horny. The Good at Doom ™ accident nearing the final section took me back to reality.

 

Spoiler

 

 

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E2M3: The Wailing Halls

 

This one isn't a "transit" sort of map so much as a knot to be unravelled; the exit is pretty close to the start, though you wouldn't know it at first, and the gameplay is less about covering distance than squirming through the loops and undulations of this wonderfully gloomy corrupted base environment.  I found myself a little lost upon clearing my way through the western loop for the first time and in general I feel as though there are a handful of switches that affect multiple sectors in ways that, thank to the dark and occasionally maze-like nature of the map, aren't always apparent in their totality.  The level does make good use of secrets and having got my hands on the plasma gone I'm loving the way the modified palette transforms its plasma projectiles into something that looks much more energetic and dynamic.

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So on to Monument now - it's also good to see others have joined, and that @Steve D will be dying with us.

 

As before, I play UV continuous with saves in PRBoom plus, and as @Chris Hansen has been kind enough to iron out any boom or zdoomisms, I'll be playing CL 3.

 

E2M1 - “Rip and Tear” - 2/2 Secrets
This would be the first level from Rip it, Tear it, Smash it, which I recall from the Doomworld top 100 from back in the day. The level is pretty much identical to how I remember it, which is a small, compact and competently made initial level. I always liked how the vertical space in the starting area varied with the snaking double height space looping across and outside of the starting area. Elsewhere we see a gentle, E2M1 homage, where the player runs around an overlooking platform a la the area after the first teleport in the iwad original albeit in smaller scale. It does seem quite a bit more square now on replaying it, but this is probably more noticeable to me than normal because of the 'Nicolas Monti effect'.

 

Gameplay is really simple of course, but competent and slick with the initial wall lowering 'trap' (of sorts) being a neat touch to alter the play dynamic for a moment early on. Thereafter it's pretty gentle, with several little bunches of low level monsters are briskly presented for the player's shotgunning pleasure, generally in procession of course but it's an episode starter map so that's all in order. I agree with @TheOrganGrinder that an earlier placement of the berserk pack may have made sense given the name, but then I guess the name is a reference to the map pack it came with.

 

These are all things that are familiar from previously playing it years ago, however the new palette and sky give it a new set of clothes. In line with @ Magnus @ I'm actually a little ambivalent about the new palette as it seems a little muted, but perhaps that's down to my having played this before and therefore expecting the more gaudy original palette. Certainly a darker look for an E2 theme is far from inappropriate.

 

But yeah, the map was good on first release and is still retains it's charm now - I appreciate the re-use of the starting area (good to make extra use of a part with good architecture) and also the charming little 'press switch to progress' mechanic with the stepping stones to the exit - the kind of simple trope that is pretty trivial and yet satisfying.

 

E2M2 - “Beta Station” - 3/5 Secrets (found all 5 subsequently)
This map is far more substantive, but also not that long. The map is mostly rooms and hall-based, with some of the larger rooms acting as focal points. I particularly liked the sort of anteroom containing the yellow key protected door across the slime pit, which stuck out more due to it's size and was a helpful reference point. The decor is nice and E2 ish, with a crusher corridor a la iwad E2M2 and the positioning of the blue key was reminiscent of spawning vats, but otherwise the map broadly does it's own thing and is pretty compact overall. It also feels like it ought to be non-linear, with the choice of whether to go to the slime corridor part early on or not, but it doesn't seem to make too much difference.

 

Although there are plenty of encounters where the monsters are just in front of you, there are several traps which really mix things  up a bit, and also a few monsters teleporting behind the player at various points too, so I pretty consistently found myself losing health - that's not to say that there isn't enough, but I first exited having used nearly all of it and still not being 100% so that's a sign of good balance (or poor play by me!). The reveals of monsters in the areas past the yellow door are fun, but also so is the smaller marble room with the red blood round two of the edges prior to the yellow key.

 

I agree with @ Magnus @ about the blue key reveal being a bit unobvious, but also I think that doesn't matter since there's only a limited number of ways to go before you drop down into the slime chamber and lower the monsters, which is generally a good indication that you're doing the right thing. Arguably having the three traps in a row after the yellow key activated door is a little bit much, and might have been better to vary, but this is also a minor (and debatable) point - I suppose it is also fitting to have a tougher build up to the level exit.

 

As with the last map, this is also quite a squarish level, and particularly a lot of the rooms are rectangular and look a bit grid-like on the automap, but no-biggie. I initially found 3 of the 5 secrets but discovered the other two on replaying. The last one I found (the automap one) in particular I shook my head at myself for failing to realise it was accessible before, but it was fun to finally uncover them so thumbs up.

 

Decent, squarish map with nice looks - good job.

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@galileo31dos01 It's nice to see a fellow keyboarder who's not only fast, but, unlike me, a good player. Very nice work at the lock-in fight in M2 and also the descending walls room. You made it look easy. It's also fun to see the different route you took, demonstrating that this is a very nonlinear map.

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E2M3 - “The Wailing Halls” - 2/3 Secrets (3rd found on replay)
This map is more spacious and less rectangular than before - given that M2 was based on an older map you can see the change in mapping style already. The big close quarter traps are gone (well, there's a smaller trap near the beginning but that's it.) and between the central slime hallway that much of the map plays around and the large-ish L-shaped outdoor area, the average room size of the map is bigger too. As a result, I found the gameplay more sedate and easier. That's not to be confused with boring by any stretch, but just there was a lower pressure overall. @Magnusblitz is on point about the hitscanners at the beginning though.

 

The biggest release of monsters (by the switch which raises the crossing to the blue key area) seems flawed - a good number of monsters warp in but you are in ready made cover with the two tech pillars and can quite casually camp out there and handle it with the chaingun or shotty. Other than the odd flanking lost soul you are then basically set and the trap is largely defanged as the majority of monsters file through the narrow entries. That said, a map certainly doesn't need to be difficult or pressure the player to be fun and I did still enjoy that part. I also quite liked the release of shotgunners and cacos in the rock section after the blue armour/lost soul ambush - a little bit of level transformation (even as insignificant as a few pillars lowering) makes the map that little bit more dynamic and helps keep it interesting. The platform hopping crushers section with the troopers was a bit odd and different but ok - it does make that section a little more eerie though if you revisit it after the crushers stop, as I kept getting paranoid whilst hopping across that they would restart and be done for.

 

The secret chainsaw was fairly intuitive and easy to find, but is only available a good way into the map, so it's value to pistol starters is more limited. The blur and energy cell secret I also found, albeit perhaps more by chance/intuition than by my observational skills. I really have to applaud @Chris Hansen though for the soulsphere secret, which eluded me on my continuous playthrough, but on replaying I discovered- a nice clever yet satisfying to find secret there and some good secret hiding by the author.

 

As stated I replayed this map from pistol start after passing continuously and overall I found I enjoyed it more on replaying - the areas to the side of the big(gish) central slime hall were a little bit samey first time around but on replaying I think the map generally flows quite nicely - the author has a habit of if not quite making clear precisely that you've done what you needed to progress, but still guiding you to the point you need to be at (I'm thinking of the aforementioned pillar-crossing switch to the blue key area again) and then you can usually figure out what to do as if you knew what you were doing in the first place. Perhaps given that I am only saying this on a replay it suggests the flow could be more intuitive or better telegraphed though. I sympathise with @Deadwing when saying you are lost, but still making progress!

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E2M4: Hive of the Horde

 

Oh, now this is just a lovely and intricate bit of map design here, starting you out right in front of the exit (if you bother to look behind you before hopping down the lift) and thus informing you exactly where you need to get to, only for the level itself to sprawl repeatedly outward like the layers of an onion that you've somehow found yourself trapped in the very centre of, every step of progress forcing you to move further away from the objective you've identified for yourself in a way that's deliciously contradictory and disorienting.  Once you're actually in position to reverse course and make your way back toward the point where you started out, everything rapidly falls into place like a cascade of toppling dominoes.

 

I probably could've been done with this map rather sooner than I was if not for my utter lack of situational awareness around the BFG room.  "How do I get into the Baron's little cubby with the switches?"  It was a facepalm moment when I finally figured it out; the two branches to actually reveal those switches weren't a headache at all, it's the most obvious part of the complete mechanism that eluded me.

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E2M3: The Wailing Halls

 

Part of me hesitates to call this a "breather" sort of map only because my experience went far smoother on a second try, to study progression and record a demo. It actually functions a little weirder than E2M2 in certain parts, namely the teleporting stuff scripted for the BSK which the layout doesn't quite let them all pursue the player efficiently, the cacos being the least threatening. The road from the start to the outer area is where I had more trouble, with zombies firing from every window with exact precision on my back, plus me trying not to soak too much toxic and skip the baron, that green armor wasn't even my safety ticket. The palette also seems to hide spectres a lot better, maybe. So then I found the RL, but of course, my main concern aside from health was to get the almighty chaingun I saw at the beginning (also the chainsaw, but forgot about it until the end), at least to do the grinding quicker. After the initial steps, once outside it was basically chill, hence there's where the map leans towards a "breather". Various neat setups, a few I felt they could have been meaner, like a teleporting baron along with the lost souls mmm delicious. Didn't really mind the final invasion wasn't that much of a strong climax as it gave me an excuse to spam plasma. Agreed with TheOrganGrinder that the shinier blue makes the projectile look more energetic and also items very attractive. Surprisingly, the exit room and the start were very close to each other the whole time, guess that chainsaw wasn't really necessary. All in all this was pretty nice, no hiccups. Could swear I heard the midi track before...

 

Spoiler

 

 

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I've been working on Monument the past few nights, I've just decided to devote my time to playing rather than writing. Catching up a bit:

 

E2M2: Beta Station

20:42 | 100% Everything

I played 2002:ADO for the first time in-between my Monument plays, so I recognize this one. (As I recognized it when I did ADO.) The most familiar bit is the crate room with the secret chainsaw. This one did feel pretty nonlinear, and it took a while to get my bearings; the narrow slime tunnels made things maybe more confusing than they should have been, since I dropped into them early on (sneaky to have all the radsuits outside the tunnels!) The basement slime area is probably the highlight, with a pretty intense battle there. And then of course you get the key and then you're free to leave, but first you get the big ambush in the great hall, and after that you get the cacoswarm in the actual exit area! {Whew!} This level's got a dingy, oppressive feel to it that I really like, without being overly difficult. Very cool.

 

E2M3: The Wailing Halls

24:35 | 100% Kills | 97% Items | 100% Secrets

The first of three maps taken from Chris's "The Wailing Horde". I haven't played that WAD yet, but I do love this trio, so I would like to get to it someday. It looks like these have been expanded considerably from their source material, however. This map in particular is the one I immediately picture when I think of this WAD, particularly the two-tiered sections of map, as well as the brief outdoor area where you encounter that sneaky-clever soulsphere secret that felt so fantastic to finally figure out. There's actually less to this map than I remember, and I think I had an easier go of it this time around, too. But it's still pretty fantastic. I did miss a couple of items that I can only assume were a couple of bonuses I missed; I made a brief attempt at trying to track them down, but didn't feel too bad about skipping them (assuming that's what they were.)

 

E2M4: Hive of the Horde

31:10 | 100% Everything

This map, on the other hand, is an absolute beast. Just massive, and the way it slowly unfurls itself, becoming more and more open and interconnected is pretty amazing. I honestly didn't remember too much of this one. I too was almost tripped up by the BFG secret; it was the last thing I found before exiting, and I only solved it because I happened to glance at the automap at the right time and see a linedef flicker out of the corner of my eye. Obvious in retrospect, but devious! I don't remember if I've yet died in this WAD, but if I didn't, this one came the closest to getting me; I was down to 6% health when I took out the last two cacos overlooking the yellow key. And then I almost lost that to a sergeant tucked away in the BFG area! (I got better.) A superb map.

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E2M5: Chasm Control

 

After four levels consisting mosty of claustrophic corrupted techbase interiors, it's... well, I want to say "it's nice to go and play outside for a while," but between the streams of lava criss-crossing the exteriors here, the endless swarms of cacodemons and lost souls that rise from all around to oppose your progress, and the usual assortment of twisted and gruesome Doom environments in the buildings and tunnels that dot the map, there's precious little about this map to which the word nice can be reasonably applied.  And that isn't a complain; this is exactly the sort of grungy, gore-slick goodness I'm looking for in a Doom level, and the focus on an outdoor environment with some freedom to roam changes things up in a welcome way.

 

It's also the designated "Here Be Secret Exit," map, and it's fascinating to me how quickly the secret exit can be accessed and how much of the level can be skipped if you know it's there and have better situational awareness than I do; as it is, the secret exit was the second-to-last secret that I found (after the secret chaingun than really should have been the first secret that I found, but again, terrible situational awareness) and so I jumped through all of the level's hoops and solved all of its puzzles to open the way to the regular exit despite not really having any need to.

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E2M9: The End?

 

After E2M5's change of pace from claustrophobic interiors to open spaces, things get switched up again for our side trip to the secret level, which presents an arena-style battle against progressively tougher waves of opposition for the player to deal with.  I had quite a number of deaths here, mostly due to failing to appreciate the particular triggers being used and so releasing vastly more monsters upon myself than I could handle; once I had a clearer picture of why so many beasties were pouring out of the woodwork at any given point, things went rather more smoothly.  It's a brief enough level that I don't find myself with a whole lot more to say, enjoyable as diversion from the main flow of the episode but not something I'd have an appetite for in larger portions than this.

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E2M5: Chasm Control

97% kills, 6/7 secrets

 

Definitely agree that it's nice to get some outdoor areas after four levels of tiny bases. This level was frustrating at first with the forced lava trips (really couldn't have one safe path at the start?), myriad snipers and every door being closed to begin with, but it's fun to puzzle out the progression and there's a lot of well-designed areas here that fit together in interesting fashions. I also like returning to the start for the final fight, though for what it's worth I hadn't noticed the exit signs early on and completely forgot about it. The level probably could've used a bit more of the rocket/cell ammo as well, as I found myself dry on everything except shells at the end and ended up having to shotgun down some barons and wait for the far-off cacos to get close, but that's a minor complaint. I found 6/7 secrets in normal course of play and of course the one that I couldn't figure out was the secret exit, which I ended up needing to look up. Felt kinda stupid (since I actually had hit the necessary switch) but I just didn't realize what it did, thought it opened another nearby secret. Still a really fun map.

 

E2M9: The End?

100% kills, 1/1 secret

 

A decent enough arena map that gets some good mileage out of the main area... found it interesting how turned around I got (and also that I dove into the blood three times before I realized "wait, why do I keep doing this?") Nothing too dangerous here, and I enjoyed the chance to splatter some imp platoons with the RL.

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I... think it's okay to post about E2M6 now, given that the original post indicates starting Monument on the 10th and it's now the 17th here?

 

E2M6: Smash It!

 

We're back to the WAD's signature corrupted techbase style here, a kind of "Deimos-on-steroids" aesthetic that serves up a thick layer cake of claustrophobia and gloom for the player to carve their way through.  I found maybe the first two-thirds to three-quarters of this map to be its strongest part, with a sense that it kind of ran out of steam a little bit at the red key door; beyond that point, gone are the delicious interconnections and web-like layout of the earlier portions of the map, to be replaces with a linear series of obstacles that don't feel like they exist to do much except pad out the map's running time.  Prior to that point, the map's pacing is pretty interesting; I found myself with 4 out of 5 secrets discovered when I was only about one-third of the way through the level's monster count, and between teleporter-based repopulation and the presence of a great many tiny monster closets that pop open at a certain point (evident once you've picked up the computer area map) the level does a great job of keeping things interesting even once you're sure you've cleared out the majority of its interior spaces.  I'm not sure precisely what I'm supposed to be smashing here, but there was a point in the southern refinery area, just as I unlocked the doors on its bottom level, that was tailor-made for hunkering down and berserk punching my way through a grunting wall of pinkie flesh.

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E2M4: Hive of the Horde

 

An interesting design in these maps is how the layout periodically unravels showing inter-connectivity and reuse of space, where linearity doesn't feel like a straight line to the exit. It's a slight step up in difficulty, plenty of shotgunners lurking around meant I had to be aware of my surroundings, height variation favoring cacodemons and few tight quarters, all good use of the layout. There's a mix of simple and devilish traps which all can be evaded with advantage of no lock-ins. However, I think these setups work the best when you ignore the cheese and stay like a true soldier. I met my first death at the pincer spectres trap, though what removed my health quicker were the camouflaged imps who scratched my head with impunity. I will point out that the RL ambush doesn't work, the cacos and lost souls just won't get you and they become easy fodder. Everything previous that (and after too) were fine: the addition of the blur sphere, while not much to worry, adds temporary spice as it was tempting to BFG the baron, but decided not to. My favourite idea was that locked BFG, I had a bit of iwad vibes going through those orthogonal 64-pixel wide tunnels, and then unleashing it onto the lonely baron, the secret highlight as was the soulsphere in the previous map. I don't know what opens the secret berserk though. Anyways, fun times, excellent midi choice, which deducing the origin, this belonged somewhere in BTSX:E2. (just checked, indeed from map 21)

 

Spoiler

 

 

Edited by galileo31dos01 : v

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E2M6: Smash It!

99% kills, 4/5 secrets

 

Back to the confined settings, which really does a lot to amp up the monster's danger here - there's a lot of little windows that'll make it easy to get blindsided, and without room to dodge even imps and lost souls can be very dangerous. The first half is probably the strongest layout-wise but I was getting a little tired of having to plink at things with the shotgun (the plasma gun shows up early in an easy-to-find secret, but I immediately used it on some cacos). Not quite sure how I feel about the chaingun/pinky corridor, kinda fun but also not what I ever use the chaingun for, it's just not powerful enough in Doom for this Serious Sam-style setup. The end of the level did drag on a bit. The last ambush feels like it should be pretty tricky but I somehow emerged from it with nary a scratch.

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It's 18th, five maps away from the end of the episode (well, technically will be four in what takes me to write my thoughts). All cool, also Unwelcome is pretty damn gorgeous.

 

 

E2M5: Chasm Control

 

Let's get straight to the best visual part: the view of the mountains under the hot chilli pepper sky. I absolutely loved it, giving a clearer sense of context as you realize it's a terrifying place to be. In this debut of large open fields, we get a lot more freedom of movement as well as damaging lava to keep you wide awake, plenty of buildings and nooks to explore in the same linear fashion yet without that strict feeling of monotony, and various groups of incidental monsters that set loose at different times. All of this brings a sort of Mt.Erebus vibe, which is always a plus to have in Doom 1 wads, or in any set of maps, imo. I gotta say the overall arrangement of setups and fights were a suitable change of pace compared to previous maps, my highlights were the little lock-in with two lost souls and one baron, and that caco-lost soul combo that happened while on the L-shaped bridge, because I refused to jump off to safety (another Good at Doom moment captured btw). The finale was cinematic above all: you'll periodically step on the lava and there's no other reason to be damaged unless you eat too many fireballs, but the imps on the cubes look cute, and I like to BFG barons. I would spawn a bunch of shotgunners had it been my map, and perhaps a couple spiders, though I guess thematically those are not supposed to reveal themselves yet.

 

There's a high secrets count to uncover, with one being the exit to the secret map and surprisingly accessible very early if one happens to stumble upon the clue. I did sometime in between the RSK set piece and the return to the initial area, but took a good minute to understand what was going on (after humping every possible linedef, I brute forced myself through one wall and yeah, that was the idea). It's funny to think how much of the map you can lazily skip if you opt to speedrun it, another point in common with Mt.Erebus. The RL/armor seemed to me the least hidden secret which might have been better not flagged as one, since I doubt anyone wouldn't distinguish the lift to go up and take the stuff. On the other side, I missed the early chaingun on my first attempt, just didn't mind to cheat this time. Thing is, IDDT doesn't really help since the palette changes the magenta linedef to black (it's mentioned in the text file, but it's funny to see it in-game). Overall, obviously another fun map and good midi selection from mmm again BTSX:E2, pretty sure it's in map 17.

 

Spoiler

 

 

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E2M7: Hunt 'Em High 'n' Low

 

This is the point at which I'm starting to run out of things to say about these levels, because as fun as Monument is, there comes a point where one dark, cramped techbase starts to blur into the next, and in particular I'm finding myself hard-pressed to differentiate this level from the previous one other than by saying "yup, the difficulty is ramping up, and here is where I started to feel I was really getting strips torn out of me," - as one might expect of the WAD's penultimate map.

 

I felt perhaps as though there was a certain "smoothness" present in the earlier maps that wasn't so evident here, a neat integration and interconnection of different areas versus something of a sense that this map was designed as a series of set pieces, subsequently stitched together with corridor-crawling in a way that sometimes felt more awkward than engaging.  It's interesting to me that, at this late stage in the WAD, there's no rocket launcher to be found here, so those playing from a pistol start will see a lot of shotgun/chaingun action before the late-game aquisition of the plasma rifle.  Granted, in these claustrophobic confines there aren't that many encounters where one could comfortably break out the high explosives anyway.

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E2M4 - “Hive of the Horde” 7/7 Secrets
This is a pretty fun and well laid out map. The chaingun opening wall around the yellow key was clearly going to be a trap, so when it instead opened into the whole upper room and all the monsters started pelting at me it was a good twist which I like. The sheer number of imp fireballs can really hurt if you're not careful as @Magnusblitz said, but the cacos and hitscanners demand your attention more, making the risk of a mishap greater.

 

More noteworthy as the traps go is the one with the timed door and big unveiling of flanking imps, with warping in monsters and cacos, that stands out as a good trap. I also like how it toys with you a little before it kicks in. As you enter it immediately throws you off balance somewhat by short-range teleporting you into the middle of the room, facing the opposite way - I then knew something was afoot, so attempted to retreat through the door by which I first entered only to have it close in front of me and then the trap commenced in earnest. Then when you pick up the key it's followed up by a further trap with more cacos and lost souls - that was all in fun.

 

The layout of the map is pretty cool, with the exit near the start and the area reuse is good: in particular the larger slime area slightly before the return to the exit which gives a temporary change from some of the tighter areas. I'm a little bit unsure why the yellow key needs to be on a lower pillar than all the others, as I think it makes it needlessly less clear so I didn't immediately see it. Perhaps that's just me being faintly dumb though, as it and I cannot see that anyone else had any issue. I guess it didn't particularly cause me any problem really, but it's just a decision that doesn't make sense to me. There are some powerful secrets here, although some I don't know how I triggered. The plasma rife, I cannot recall what I did to make it accessible, and the early berserk secret I mistook for another part of the level and didn't even realise it was a secret that had opened!

 

I'm relieved to see that other people struggled with the BFG secret, as I got really trolled by it - I had cleared the level and found all other secrets, including the two component switches that lower the way, but must've spent the better part of 10 minutes being irritated that I couldn't find it but yet must be so close, haha. In the end persistence paid off and I departed this level very well equipped. I sincerely hope that after all that there won't simply be a BFG freely given in the next level!

 

E2M5 - “Chasm Control” 6/7 Secrets
Fortunately for me there wasn't - the BFG on this level was secret. So this map apparently utilises the oldest map base used in this wad, with the original being from 1998. It's interesting as even with the map being apparently massively revamped it does seem to have strokes of cruder mapping still left in. The early caves come across to me a little that way, and particularly the curling promontory in the lava at the initial plateau. I haven't seen the original base map, so I cannot be certain if the parts I perceive as crude really are original, but it does seem that way. @Chris Hansen I'd be curious to know what things are least changed in this map. I was not frustrated by the lava crossings, as I was able to time my run to cross without taking damage.

 

This map is very different to the last ones in that it is so much more open, more like a city map, or Mt Erebus as per @galileo31dos01. The series of small to medium orthogonal rooms of E2M2 is gone and you have the option of first clearing the overlooking imps on ledges, or of simply leaving them to be dealt with as the player clears each building. To an E2 purist, this map is arguably less E2 themed as (with the exception of E2M8) no maps in that episode were set predominantly outdoors, and the closest one comes to such large areas were the mysterious, cavernous interiors of E2M4. But equally, I don't care about that, as there is no E2 standards police and the map is fun and a great change from the earlier ones as is. Indeed it's good to have a level that breaks the style in a wad, as per the comments of @Magnusblitz and The Organ Grinder, and I really appreciated the different buildings and how they all linked together. In some ways, it feels a little more like Doom 2's The Living End, only with a shallow, non-damaging pit, rather than a city map, as the way in which one approaches the buildings is more linear, and the buildings are less self-contained and more interlinked. In particular the teleport to the north east corner blursphere, from whence one accesses a hideaway teleporter back to the raised building and the secret BFG stuck out to me as cool in the way it all interlinked and used the space of the map.

 

I found it surprising how easily accessible the secret exit was, which is not to say that it is highly obvious - indeed I would not have noticed it were it not for the automap - but in principle you can quit the map without having cleared much of it's population, as @TheOrganGrinder (and others) also noted (EDIT: Apparently a switch had to be pressed to open it - still, it remains that you can exit the map easily). I do not hold this against the map though, as the playing of the rest of the map is fun in and of itself rather than simply exiting as swiftly as possible. I found most of the secrets with only the early chaingun one eluding me.

 

I think overall this is a good and enjoyable map, which goes to show that a mapper's earlier, weaker work can still be of value for re-working, but also lending variety in forcing the mapper to adopt a style of mapping they may well have move away from. Also good comment by @galileo31dos01 with the reference to the initial vista - I agree it works great with the new E2 sky.

Edited by Sui Generis

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7 hours ago, Sui Generis said:

I then knew something was afoot, so attempted to retreat through the door by which I first entered only to have it close in front of me and then the trap commenced in earnest.

 

Oh really? My mistake then for alleging all main traps had an easy escape. I guess I forgot to recheck that part on my video.

 

 

E2M9: The End?

 

We secret hunters get super short and concise map, serving as a coffee break before returning to the sprawling corrupted bases. Not without that suspenseful beginning, accentuated by the BGM, this map tries to communicate from the get-go that is going to be blood everywhere. There is one set piece arena and players have the chance to let it all out or take it with calm. I chose to bring all the hellspawns to the light as soon as possible and orchestrate the bloodbath, which seemed the most fun approach imo. The biggest concern though was not to fall in the pit, since the monster count isn't so varied to see infighting take care of it quickly (limited bestiary after all), nor too low to be a cakewalk, especially with the floating ding dongs being naturally pesky. But with what you get, there's actually not a whole lot to worry about if you are good alert: just desist from feeding lost souls with point blank rockets, no matter how caring you are :). (actually I support RL vs. lost souls in many cases). 

 

Not much to add, fits in the slot and provides a short relentless and neat experience. I did fell into the pit because I'm dumb. 

 

Spoiler

 

 

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E2M8: Domain of Evil

 

I feel end-of-episode maps and boss levels are kind of tricky to do in Doom due to the game's longevity and the limitations of its bestiary and mechanics; either the final battle is "more of the same,"/"I've seen it all before," or else something genuinely new gets introduced at the last minute, defying the expectations and quite possibly failing to engage the imagination of the player base.  Monument chooses the former approach, ending the episode with a battle against a squad of Cyberdemons in a somewhat cramped arena of slightly awkward design; this is Tower of Babel's trickier cousin, with four times as many Cyberdemons slinging rockets your way and rather less real estate in which to dance around them.  The final battle is preceded by two waves of enemies (imps and cacodemons) to get you warmed up for the WAD's climactic encounter, and I'm sure a more bold player than I could press those walls of Hell-spawned flesh into service as ablative armour against the Cyberdemons, but I didn't have it in me to try anything but a methodical approach.  There's nothing here that will surprise you, and the text screen rather acknowledges the sheer familiarity of this all; then again, would any of us be here, playing this, if we didn't love Doom and what Monument's author has served up to us here?

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E2M7: Hunt 'Em High 'n' Low

100% kills, 2/3 secrets

 

Like @TheOrganGrinder I do find it hard to say much about this map that hasn't already been said about the author's style in general, as it's yet another cramped techbase. It does flow pretty well and I like the revisiting of old areas, but what struck me is that the health balance is pretty low (even when I found a big one like a soulsphere or berserk pack I would immediately lose a huge chunk of it), and possibly this is due to some of the dickish setups like enemies at the top of blind lifts or blind teleports of barons and spectres immediately into your lap. The last baron I suppose I can't argue with since you had a chance to see it teleport away and should be expecting it to show up again, and there's a nice little setup with the seemingly-vulnerable deaf enemies at the end to lure you, but the first baron in the sludge area felt unfair.

 

E2M8: Domain of Evil

 

Four cybers instead of one, and they have a pretty good view of the arena so don't loiter. The cacos weren't as dangerous as I worried, and it's pretty easy to retreat back to the beginning if you need safe room to clear out the imps and cacos from before working on the cyberdemons. Nice enough ending boss level.

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22 hours ago, Sui Generis said:

E2M5 - “Chasm Control” 6/7 Secrets

 

*snip* @Chris Hansen I'd be curious to know what things are least changed in this map. */snip*

Erhm... least, you say? I honestly don't know. I mean, I hacked and sawed that level to pieces just to build it up again. I might as well have made a new one from scratch. But if I have to answer your question - which I'd like to - I'd have to say this area:

Screenshot_Doom_20190819_213405.png.d4ea806a70c94a948c9b1257f3cb9813.pngScreenshot_Doom_20190819_213443.png.9a62b62eb9462d40c791d980b45e3e6d.png

 

It's the small cave area that connects the "arena" with the "city". The rest of the level has changed a lot, as seen here in the screenshots from the editor :)

theunknownchasm.png.8419b9a89ee5934f2cde42901b27abbd.pngmonument_m5.png.149b3c78bab98b4428591c2a8fc97ed7.png

 

 

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4 hours ago, Chris Hansen said:

It's the small cave area that connects the "arena" with the "city".

Yeah, I thought that that early caves part had a hint of early map to it. I'm quite surprised that my other hunch though about the spiral shaped lava channel in the south west of the initial area was wrong. Also the eastern slime tunnel and blue skull key area look quite similar in the original version. It's really quite interesting to see the two side-by-side in the editor shot though - there's definitely several of the same structures in there but I can make out from the editor view that they have noticeably changed. Thanks for sharing!

 

 

E2M9 - “The End?” 1/1 Secrets
Here be your Fortress of Mystery remake right here - the map is naturally more interesting, as would be the case with practically any remake of that map, though it doesn't go in with the big geometric shapes like the original. This makes the concept more substantive by having multiple waves of monster releases which build up fairly nicely. Of these, I found the second wave (on the promontory containing the plasma rifle) to actually be quite frustrating, as in addition to having to deal with the lost souls and cacos, there are several sniping sergeants that warp in behind which kept taxing my health several times each time I would strafe which caused me to die initially. With hindsight I might simply have ran ahead off of the promontory and just manoeuvred in relative safety around the opposite end of the map near the megaarmour, as @galileo31dos01 did. Similarly, teleporting sergeants were the source of most damage (albeit to a far smaller degree) in the first wave too shortly after you immediately enter the arena - luckily once that's done you can at least take out the bombarding imps on ledges and the like, making tackling the rest of the map waves piece-wise more simple.

 

I did quite like the last release with the lost souls cacoswarm, as that offered a pure opportunity to mix it up with the monsters and foment a bit of infighting with the barons, once the lost souls are chaingunned, plus you can gather up the cacos for everyone's favourite pastime of rocketing cacoswarms.

 

Otherwise, I agree pretty much entirely with what @TheOrganGrinder said - it's a moderately diverting, but somewhat desultory map, the type of which I wouldn't get excited about replaying. It does however provide a good opportunity for a continuous restock with the megaarmour and soulsphere though.

 


E2M6 - “Smash It!” 5/5 Secrets
And this would be the second map from rip it, tear it, smash it - a personal favourite of mine which I remember well. In it's original release, this followed on from E2M1 of this set, and although the balance has been adjusted, I still think that there is a more noticeable build up in opposition, from lower-level monsters to gradually more difficult encounters, which it retains from it's roots as a kind of finale map to a mini episode.

 

Although the map is among the earlier constructed ones in the set, it seems to be at a transitional stage in Chris Hansen's mapping, between the 2002 ADO based E2M2 and the more recent wailing halls maps (M3 and M4), as although it is still quite rooms and corridors based, there is more of a mixture of larger spaces brought in, eg. the red key room and the latter slime walkway areas. This map is quite non-linear too, with the three paths to take at the start letting you choose the order and angle from which you approach fights. And with the well woven interconnections and overlooks as noted by @TheOrganGrinder you do get some windows to pick off several monsters remotely.

 

I feel that this map is a little bit more ambitious in some ways than some of the other maps, and for me gave some more memorable moments. The big teleport in of demons in the south after you first obtain the chaingun (if pistol starting) comes to mind as pretty cool - I love the whole back to the wall, grit your teeth chaingun overheating, desperate defence type of sentiment there. I could have used my continuous chainsaw (I initially missed the berserk secret) but I figured I'd get into the spirit of the map a bit more. Also the ending battle and the monster closets with lost souls dotted about which open after collecting the red key, was a pretty atmospheric way of hinting that the level has taken a more evil turn.

 

Indeed, although none of these are necessarily super deadly traps, I really like the sense of atmosphere in this level, with the constantly moody and contrasting lighting, the progression from techy elements through the marble area near the yellow key bars, then seeing more flesh/tech near the red door and then that rather cool guts/warped area, to the part of the techbase which appears to be dimensionally ruptured altogether, with the no access sign being a rather understated why of suggesting to the player that that is a very fucked up part of the level as though this is perhaps where the UAC's teleportation experiments originally occurred, and went wrong (and the appropriate consequences of venturing past it).

 

Really, sticking with the point of atmosphere I think the music on this map, although good in and of itself, is misplaced. If I recall in it's first release this map used something like iwad E2M2 music - this is the kind of level which I think profits vastly more from a creepy, suspenseful track than a more driving, quick one as is employed here. I do respect that monument isn't simply a repackaging of old levels and the author wanted to put a fresh stamp on the maps, but that's one thing which I think would have been better leaving as is.

 

Anyway after all of these things the player finally traverses the marble and vine walkways over slime, with good use of warping snipers, cacos (although in both cases you can run back, and the snipers are fairly slow to teleport and come as a drip feed, rendering them more a time sink than a danger). The final battle with the barons in close quarters where, absent that precious Doom2 SSG you have to be careful not to get cornered before you can waste them, is cool. In particular if you use the rocket launcher then that part becomes much more interesting. I can't recall if the original release of this omitted the BFG/Plasma rifle but I seem to remember finding the last battle much harder back then. Maybe I was just worse at Doom. Anyway, great level with some excellent design, interconnections, good aesthetic throughout and fun gameplay.

 

Tl;dr - I really liked Rip it, tear it, smash it back in the day.

Edited by Sui Generis

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4: Another pretty good multilayered and tight techbase. The YK area that leads from the Plasma secret is pretty good and memorable. Going downstairs makes you feel you're into a labyrinth while in the top it's completely different with a nice setup where demons comes out of the fire (a nice retread of the setpiece from map 2). And we also get a early BFG reveal (although I wasn't able to get it >.<). It's a pretty fun level overall, others good moments where: The outdooor area, especially after the final and somewhat difficulty setpiece and the setpiece with lots of imps behind cages with a blinking flesh texture in the background.

 

On my playthrough, since I'm playing continuous, I was really low at health from the previous level, and it was a lot fun crawling through the techbase and recovering back your health. Health placement in this wad so far has been pretty good (and tight)

 

5: Ok, this level is awesome. If the previous four levels were about tight techbases, this one is a lot more open, with a very remarkable opener and a small city to explore and kill lots of roaming monsters. Loved it! Also, BFG secret is easy to reach, which you'll want to use it to take down the group of barons in the finale. This level also had some good amount of rocket ammo, which made killing these Caco's and groups of Imps a lot fun.

 

6: Back to tight techbases. It's still a pretty good level, but I agree with @TheOrganGrinder and @Magnusblitz where things start to get repeated a bit. Still, this level has some pretty cool moments, such as the "infected area" where you open a door and all you see is the sky, shooting at infinity waves of pinkies in the acid/machinery room, which was a nice change of pace and the later sections, where you have to walk through tight platforms and acid pools, leading to a very difficult and cramped two barons battle (with Caco's and Pinkies).

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