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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Bloodspeed

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MAP10 fda: I don't think I could say my impression in a better way than @Demon of the Well. My first thought after visiting the initial areas was how this level looks like something that came straight from the CC2/3 era. After this is a very classic sprawling techbase with a good attention to the detail and using only the stock textures. I thought that the presence of the lava was a bit odd considered the very "undramatic" setting and the peaceful music. Tough it gave a nice effect to the corridor and I guess we can't give up of an area where something went really wrong and having to raise the lava to be able to pick the YK was nice. Another neat thing were the computers you could use to open the doors or do other things. Similar to MAP08 there's a puzzle to find the right path but without the death penalty this time.

If a slow cleaning of self contained areas as you progress isn't your thing you may not find the gameplay to your tastes I guess. Standout moment: the spiderdemon encounter. I didn't think that the exit village really worked (it looked cool tohugh), maybe it's because I went there before unlocking the exit so it helped later when the areas gets repopulated. Like I mentioned before there's the mandatory cyberdemon battle that will only drag things more than the necessary, while on the city streets or the roofs there wasn't much going on to threat you.

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L10 - Last Hangover

 

We've had some fairly long techbase maps in this set and this map continues on that theme. The first task is to get the shotgun and chaingun from the enemies around the start, easy enough. The red key trap got me the first time - dumbly, I tried to mow down the imps with my chaingun from right in the middle. Next time, I took cover and it was easier, but low ammo still forced me out of cover. Then after that it wasn't so bad, at least until the congregation of barons and HKs by the lava and just before the puzzle nearly got me. Agree with @gaspe that the raising of the lava was a nice touch, triggers to raise liquids isn't something I've seen in many maps (not that I've played loads of maps). I also like secrets that 'preview' areas further on in the map, like the one with a window into the circular lava area with the staircase. I preferred the puzzle on this map to map 08's effort, though I confess despite my efforts I did not manage to get to the soulsphere (my determination only goes so far...!). Did anyone else on this thread manage it? I too found the exit village before triggering the switches that released the rooftop enemies and cyber, which no doubt made it significantly easier than if I made it my final destination. Thanks to the BFG the cyber battle was just as easy as map 8. The spider demon battle was also pretty trivial thanks to the cover. The MIDI was better than map 8 but still not to my taste to be honest. However, the actual level itself I definitely enjoyed more, even if it dragged on a bit longer than I would have liked 7/10

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Map 11 -- Spider Caves - 102% Kills / 100% Secrets

While neatly textured and otherwise cleanly appointed with a few pleasant lighting effects and other bits of sector detail, this underwhelming sub-5 minute affair might be most charitably described as a "competent beginner map", though the aforesaid hints of visual flair may suggest that the author was at this time new/unaccustomed to speedmapping, as opposed to new/unaccustomed to mapping in general. All spaces are very small, height variation is essentially non-existent, and all areas of play are firmly segmented by doors. There are 40 monsters in the map on skill 4, and while this doesn't really read as 'empty' given how small/short the map is, there is essentially only one dull/elementary open door/shoot things inside fight you do repeatedly, with different monsters down the gunsights--there is really no room for dynamism of any kind given the rudimentary layout, for either the player or the monsters. The most complicated space is a small lava cavern late in progression, which has stimpacks and other minor items down on stalagmites in the lava--not terribly well thought out, as the value of the items (esp. the healing) is likely more than counteracted by incidental damage you soak getting them. Not a strong showing.

 

Also: there are no spiders of any kind present.

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MAP11 fda: Very basic and completely flat. At least it looks somehow cute with those small and detailed places. The tricky part was the rev guarding the YK that it taks a while if you want to shoot it from distance only with the SG. The RK and YK traps are easy to skip if you are fast to react. Not a bed level per se but unremarkable and I will forget soon about it.

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L11 - Spider Caves

 

When I got to this map I was thinking it was going to be a map of arachnotrons with some supporting monsters and a spider mastermind final boss. But as @Demon of the Well points out, the reality is pretty different. Playing this on continuous almost felt like cheating. But at the same time, I've always done continuous and rationalised that if an author wants a map to be only played from a pistol start, the end of the prior level should be a death exit. The map is pretty quick and split up into two parts: a bigger cave and a smaller techbase. The cave lacks detail and is pretty monotextural, save the lava pit in the RK area. Most enemies are the weaker ones, with just one hell knight, one revenant, and a surprise arch vile at the end. It's not a bad level, there's nothing here that frustrated me, but as @gaspe said it is basic and not particularly memorable. Average fits the bill pretty well here 5/10

 

 

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Got busy with real life (just started a new job!) but should be able to catch back up since the end of month maps look pretty short.

 

MAP08: Symphony of Darox by +Ku6EPyXOBEPTKA+

97% kills, 3/4 secrets

 

Bit of an interesting theme/layout here, lots of abstraction but has a bit of a fantasy castle theme to it? Despite the large rectangular section it didn't feel boringly orthogonal, as there's lots of good use of height variation to keep things interesting. Combat-wise I had a similar experience as @Demon of the Well in that the start was pretty hectic with lots of hitscanners and potential ways to get shot, but once you arm up it's pretty easy going (the Barons-as-doors certainly pose little threat, except for that one asshole at the red key that kept teleporting right on top of me). The yellow key fight went a bit strange too as the AV and all the other monsters jammed up at the top of the staircase when it seems like it's more designed for all the doors along the hallway up top to open up. I agree with @gaspe about the 'mandatory boss' syndrome too, just one-shotted the SMM and when I saw the cyber pop out I just ran for the exit teleporter instead of bothering with him and the revenant sniper squad. Decent map all in all, I like the design/layout but there's definitely room for improvement with some of the combat design. Still, when a map is nice to look at and walk through I'd rather have the monsters lean towards too breezy than too hard.

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L12 – Village of the Black Sun

 

This is more like it. A small space but a lot of action packed into it. And a welcome change in theme from the first 11 maps too, as we leave the techbases behind for something with more of a gothic feel. I started this one with low health so had to tread carefully, taking care of the fortified hitscanners bit by bit. Once the central area is cleared, then it is a matter of getting each skull key, each one guarded by a trap, and each trap harder than the previous (but none of the traps are that difficult to deal with). Seeing the yellow skull key right below the red skull key was a little strange, I thought surely I won’t be getting one straight after the other. Sure enough, Memfis had a plan, as switches trigger lowering of the water to collect the keys. The ending was a little anticlimactic, with a single spectre guarding the exit. The use of the crackle texture at the end suggests we are nearing the realms of hell. Fun to play through and the MIDI was good on this one 8/10

 

And with that I’ll be getting pretty behind on this mapset. Flying back home for a while where my priority will be family and friends, not Doom. However, I still plan to finish this up, especially as a sneak peak with IDCLEV tells me I like where the theme is going…

As I’m new to this format, is lateposting still desired? I’ll be in the middle when others are on the finishing stretch, and I doubt I’ll have it done by the end of the month, that is, unless most of the remaining maps are as short as Spider Caves! So some of my posts would roll into next month. 

 

And when is map 33 played? After map 32 or after map 30?

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MAP12 fda: Not sure if I already played this, few things lookd familiar but I could be wrong. Memfis pulled out a very pleasant aesthetics and the theme of the underground village is cool, even though the building look more like small forts. Rather hectic start with monsters from all the directions as from the get go you will battle into the big open main area. It was very neat that 2 keys are placed on the same waterfall and the BSK had the best surprise. Very good level.

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MAP13 demo: Another underground adventure by Memfis. Not as visually striking as MAP12 but it's good enough and the classic and unpolished 90's feel, that seems to be also a product of the session rules that set a limits to the textures and flats you could choose, is certainly nice. Interesting layout and the green structure makes also its effect with the scale. I liked how the starting area that you leave soon with a teleport is still part of an area of the map you'll visit later. The backtracking from the YK is oddly empty, maybe the author ran out of time.

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MAP14 demo: Simple and good enough. Not a big fan of these kind of cramped combats so I wasn't very enthusiast to play this level. The real hurdle is the starting area, the YSK part isn't that hard but I wasted too time with some stupid deaths. After that the map turns easy, the revs trapped with the cyberdemon at the BK get all alerted and you can make them infight with the cybie (and I think you should be able to kill with the crusher too).

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Map 12 -- Village of the Black Sun - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets

A simple/straightforward but nonetheless rock-solid short speedmap by Memfis, demonstrating his experience with this type of map creation. Coming out of the caves from the previous map, the theme for the next several maps here shifts to a broad medieval/gothic patois, with more emphasis on natural/unnatural terrain. The village here is slightly askance-looking to my eyes....far from ugly in any sense, but something is subtly 'off' about the look, maybe that saturate cake-frosting green grass contrasting with the gritty/dirty stone textures to create sort of an uncanny 8-bit/NES effect? Lighting is also very plain (though far from non-existent), and a lot of heavy lifting is left to the simulated contrast, perhaps as an artistic choice. Players wont to get antsy over lapses in Doom-realism may be a mite irked by the pillbox doors which plainly go nowhere at all, as well. Nevertheless, there are some nice features if you look, ala the three-tier waterfall diorama in the background of the northeast corner. The gray stone recolor used in a very straightfaced way as stone in the northwest rock formation (where the red and yellow skull keys are perched) is also interesting/unusual in a sense--I guarantee you that same texture will be used as part of a snow theme later on, as this is by far its most common usage in PWADs.

 

The action is nothing earth-shaking, but it is nicely conducted given its brief duration, with a strong sense of weapon progression. Each weapon you acquire is guaranteed to be the optimal tool (both tactically and in terms of enjoyment) for the next few moments of gameplay--apart from the opening chaingun romp vs. the village's sundry milling undead, the rocket launcher conspicuously shows up A) before the SSG and B) literally a single second before you get a nice juicy cluster of meatsacks to fire it at. SSG later follows suit, with its own staged introductory cluster-kill and close-quarters brawling defining the map's later stage.

 

I was very amused by "that" goatboy booby-trap, if you played on skill 4 you surely know the one I mean. Love the unbridled cheek, made my day. :)

 

Map 13 -- Moments in Doom - 102% Kills / No secrets

Another by Memfis, again I would term this a success given the constraints. The overall visual styling is quite similar to that of m12 just prior, though I felt that this map reads better, both because of more depth in lighting contrast and as the result of some interesting/unorthodox (though certainly not odd/off-beat for the sake of it) interplay between stock textures and somewhat grander/more complex architecture. As with the previous map, much of the layout is dominated by open space, though functionally most of this is more of a frame for the scene than a venue for the action, which takes place mostly within or occasionally just outside of the walls of the 2.5 large, abstract bunker-type places.

 

Progression is more conventional and more fleshed out than in the previous map, with more distinct legs centering on acquisition of each key, which in turn allow for new outlets from the central cross structure. As @gaspesays there is something of a conspicuous 'dropped beat' during the last leg, where the player backtracks without incident to use the yellow key on the exit latch, but prior to this space is used/re-used effectively, with small but well-judged reveals of new monsters in previously cleared chambers paired with a satisfying loop back over the starting room. Speaking for myself, I'd probably have preferred more of a stinger of some sort after getting the YK, but it could be argued that a seesawing in intensity/danger is part of the map's fundamental character (contrast the general action in and around the cross with the rather insidious pincer trap at the BK, for instance), and of course it's not lost on me that some tastes see artistic boldness in dropped beats for their own sake. :)

 

By the way, does anyone happen to recognize the BGM track used here? It sounds familiar enough that I suspect I've heard it before, perhaps even fairly recently (sort of sounds like something a Dobu Gabu Maru or a Ribbiks might choose for one of their maps), and yet I can't place it. It's quite lovely, whatever the case, reckon I've found my go-to IDMUS selection for the rest of the set, should one become desirable.

 

Map 14 -- Temple of Hades - 103% Kills / No secrets

A brief but mostly effective gauntlet-style map by Chaingunner, in an attractive (if somewhat uniformly dim) subterranean Plutonia + CC4 theme. The relative peril of the different encounters veers wildly from legitimately dangerous to oddly harmless and back again (and then back again) in a very short span of time here, giving the level something of herky-jerky carnival ride character. I most enjoyed the opening fight, which puts a premium on highly reflexive/highly improvised movement in a geometrically complicated space, necessary both for collecting shells and to avoid being cornered and eviscerated. The fight in the northern cave also has interesting wrinkles--the overall nature of the trap is fairly obvious, and you can game it/camp it out to some significant degree from up top, but doing so leaves you vulnerable to some nasty business if certain enemies manage to find a way to teleport up there with you.

 

The map does end on something of a mild gaffe: the cyberdemon will usually see and fire at you while you're on the stairs down into the southern area, but in so doing will simply injure/anger the revenants in there with him instead of doing any harm to you, which rather undercuts the last reveal, though the BFG + two bulk cells there would generally tend to make it more a matter of ceremony than anything regardless, revs or no. Didn't even occur to me that you could opt to use the crushing ceiling on the final enemies--more trouble than it's worth given the BFG, I reckon, but I suppose it's nice to have another option.

Edited by Demon of the Well

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MAP07 - “Nanotechnology Experiments” by Dragon Hunter

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Very strange map with lots of quirky architecture and detailing, large spaces, and phoned-in gameplay. This map really comes off as a bunch of different mapping ideas combined into one large level and then populated with some monsters. There are 12 secrets with the majority falling into wallhump territory or looking for a usable line on the automap. Monster population is quite sparse, with many of the detailed locations existing for decorative purposes. There is an emphasis on teleport traps but most are non-threatening with a few Imps and Pinkies. The crusher room which contains the largest arena encounter and the finale with like 10 Revs and a Vile are the only sections which come off as somewhat engaging.

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MAP08 - “Symphony of Darox” by +Ku6EPyXOBEPTKA+

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Is the door marked with a red key skull not requiring a key intentional or is this a hot new mapping trope I'm not aware of. First of all, that's quite the name the author is using. Second, the map generally looks nice and has some creative detailing. Third, I like that folk midi despite how ill-fitting it is. Now on the gameplay front I'm scratching my head. The first half is so easy and full of weak enemies that it feels like another map01 contender. Then you fight several Barons with the SSG  because there are barely any rockets to launch. Then there's this room with the yellow key full of plasma where nothing happens. So without firing a shot of cell ammo I grab a BFG and wonder why the hell I need that for. Apparently to faceroll the ending which allows you to recreate the Gotcha! encounter if you so wish. I can only describe the overall exprience as strange.

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MAP15 demo: Bricks and metal is a classic combo that is used in this short and higly detailed mansion. It makes a nice use of the very small population (36 monsters on UV) and without going for something cramped and very hard. Pretty cool the drop into the blood pool to get the RSK.

 

MAP31 fda: I don't recognize the map but I have a deja-vu from the Plutonia exit with the pillars to raise. Shadowman is unmistakable and it isn't missing the extremely stingy ammo balance where you can't afford to miss even the pistol shots. I was good at finding the secrets that included a berserk (that I didn't even used but I should had since I ran out of ammo at the last 2 cacos) and a very valuable chaingun (it's neat that you pick it from the only chaingunner of the level). To unlock the exit you must visit 2 separate areas and get the respective keys. The RK section at east is a grey techbase that also combines green from nukage and the ickwalls. There are a couple of nasty crushers that can ruin your day, and the sinking floor into the damaging green slime is another sudden danger. The BSK part at west is an open outdoor area with a small mansion and some ruins, all reminding of Khorus. It has a nice contrast with the other part, is also more manageable and with less risky part but all the snipers around aren't to underestimate.

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MAP32 demo: I remember this map and that an user mentioned in the session that Fort Boyard is an existing place and that this map is a remake in Doom of said place. The main courtyard is quite cool and for the red and yellow keys you can have a brief visit to some of the outer parts of the fortress. There's isn't so much to explore and see though. Still a fun level.

 

MAP16 demo: I get a strong Thy Flesh Consumed vibe from this level. Lots of marble, metal, blood but the visuals are also aided by bstone from Doom 2. The gameplay for the most features only imps and sergreants, with few pinkies or lost souls. There's a strong sense of desolation since you'll meet only few monsters at once while you advance and the rather sad midi plays in the background. The arch-vile comes as a real surprise. Some nice bits of architecture too, in particular I liked a lot the BSK area.

 

Where is everyone? :/ Got scared by the Russian maps?!

I'm already on MAP21 and after a peek of some of the next maps I would say that this feels like the "least Russian" of the speedmapping compilations. The great majority of the maps are short-to-medium affairs (which isn't a surprise since Memfis and Chaingunner are the 2 biggest contributors and they are masters at making those kind of maps) and not so out of the box, as perhaps you could have expected. I guess that the people who have a beef with long or weird maps can find something they will enjoy here. Even if I must say that I'm missing the long and quirky adventures you could have in Whitemare 1 & 2.

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In my case it's less the russians and more myself underestimating the free time I had last week. Still alive, though!

 

MAP08 – Symphony of Darox by +Ku6EPyXOBEPTKA+

 

Not playing the mapper defined MIDIs was a wise choice, going by all the AGH MY EARS in this thread. Anyway, I had expected something fiercer judging by the start of the map, but it’s relatively simple and inoffensive, with only the crusher section giving me some trouble. Any other fight had an element making it trivial: the lost souls ambush was cheesed by dropping into the pit, the yellow key fight cheesed itself with all the monsters wedging themselves at the door, and the last fight could have done with one less BFG and giant spider. Or hell, it’s okay to not end with a cyberdemon.

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Map 15 -- Fortress of Tears - 100% Kills / No secrets

Another very small map, in something of a "Crimson Tide" theme. When you get right down to it, the fundamental character of the map is not far removed from that of the simplistic/comparatively amateurish m11 from earlier--very basic threshold-based action vs. a small number of small creatures inhabiting a small number of small rooms--though the visual and other aesthetic elements are certainly more advanced, in a way that goes beyond simply using more baroque sector detail and a stronger texture theme (though it does these things as well). For example, while height variation is here all but nonexistent, at various points we encounter enemies rising (or popping) up from the sanguine tears flowing under the fortress, and one point even fall through a membrane of it ourselves, into a hidden room, creating something of an illusion of greater depth. Core progression is slightly more elaborate as well, using a number of carefully inset switches to control doors and other barriers, though these can tend to get lost visually in the packed/cramped detail scheme, and arguably make traversal less elegant than a bunch of standard doors might've been, rather than moreso.

 

Looks nice, but again, not a particularly strong entry.

 

Note that this map does contain an exit to m31 as well as one to m16, but nothing in the level is technically flagged as 'secret.'

 

Map 31 -- Daemons of the Mind - 100% Kills / 75% Secrets

A recurring PWAD theme, a sort of dimensional 'hub' world which splits into two different subworlds with two divergent themes, one featuring a small, dilapidated nukage base in an icy ravine and the other a tiny medieval fort or gatehouse situated in some nameless desolate steppe. The hub itself is based around an underground cavern, housing the two gates, with an annex featuring a decidedly Plutonian exit teleporter. All three themes are wrought very cleanly and attractively enough, and with a certain amount of stylistic flair and small-scale detail, particularly on the actual ground (lots of crumbling roads, missing pavers, a damaged floor in the nukage base, etc.), though again the overall modesty/presumably short creation timeframe of the work falls short of anything truly striking. The level's name is evocative, but it's hard to point to any credible way it's reflected in the level itself.

 

As others have mentioned, the flavor of the action is perhaps most reminiscent of the author's Hellfire series, a steady string of small skirmishes against small groups of weaker foes that aims to keep the player honest by keeping a tight leash on both ammo and access to healing, though to me the balance didn't seem so miserly to the point where significant changes in tactics/playstyle were necessary--just remember to use the pistol for picking off wounded enemies and to occasionally plink away at distant/elevated targets where the shotgun would be less efficient, and you'll be fine for ammo, I reckon. For what it's worth, the secret that I missed on this playthrough is a berserk pack, evidently hidden in the nukage base, but I got through just fine without it, and left the level with ammo to spare.

 

Of the two subworlds, I found the nukage base the more interesting of the two, mostly by dint of its 'dangerous environment' angle, with a number of crushing ceilings (one of them quite cheeky!) and the unexpected collapse of a floor into a nuke sewer below at one point, making a more lasting impression than the otherwise light/dry combat which carries the other zone, and the player's limited engagements in the hub itself.

 

As mentioned above, the missed berserk pack is the last 'official' secret here. If ala m15 there is a hidden/unofficially secret exit to m32, I didn't find it, and so used IDCLEV to reach m32.

 

Map 32 -- Fort Boyard - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets

From Big Memka, known purveyor of strapping brawls in rusty/smokey/dirty cityscapes, comes a strapping brawl in a crusty/grody/grimy stone seafort, more reminiscent of the Eternal Doom settings for which he also (if less famously) has a penchant. Geometrically fairly simple, the level makes effective use of vertical scale, lighting contrast, and its custom assets to create a number of memorable scenes over its short duration, particularly the islands in the distance in the moonlit bay while the player is scuttling around the outer walls. On that point, the actual playable space is again quite small, smaller than m31 and perhaps only slightly larger than that of m15, but there's a lot more going on in it than in either of those two prior maps.

 

The main yard, segmented into two by iron gates which you'll spend most of the level searching for the key to remove, is host to varying degrees of crossfire throughout progression, opening with a rain of fireballs from imps on the battlements and eventually introducing blasts from a bovine siege-cannon perched in the south tower, so it's wise to stay on the move and not linger overlong here without a good reason. This relatively open inner arena-type space contrasts nicely with the more intimate trap-based fight in the basement, and with the trip over the scant footway skirting the fort's outer walls, where neither marine nor monsters can readily retreat and so are behooved to rely on all-out offense, at least for a few intense moments. The level closes out with a demented little game of four-square in the southern half of the inner yard, where the cyberdemon ports down from the tower to camp the exit teleporter and act as the fort's last line of defense. Versus many of the previous maps, Memka's disposition as a more combat-focused author is both quite apparent and much welcome.

 

Map 33 -- !? - 100% Kills / No secrets

Whether this was intended to be what it is from the start or became this way as the result of a difficult/failed speedmapping session is impossible to tell without talking to the author, but either way is best approached with a sense of humor. After a fairly innocuous beginning, things quickly become.....strange, let's say, with Hell trying out a different tack and going for an attack on your aesthetic sensibilities rather than on your life per se. One particular point in progression can be somewhat arcane, and arguably more puzzling than any of the proper 'puzzles' seen in earlier maps, but make it past that and you'll be alright, I reckon. There's nothing to fear here, really, save perhaps a touch of eyestrain. Oh, and earstrain, too.

 

Incidentally, while I had long academically known that it's possible to have BGM change mid-map in prB+, I think this is the first time I've ever seen it actually done, at least that I can readily recall.

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MAP33 fda: Didn't know that on prboom+ you could something like that with the midi, I thought the 2 songs were put together to create a medley. It's a silly short map, it reminds a lot of the intentionally bad maps with terrible and nonsensical texturing you can find in joke wads but here is done in a more refined way and since it's the only joke map (at least I suppose there won't be more maps like this in the set) it feels allright as a cute "novelty". The "reverse-lighting" on the torches was very funny.

 

MAP17 fda: Same author of the previos level but the hand of Memfis too, this is like a continuation of MAP16 with the same hellish castle of marble and blood. It's less intimate than MAP16 tough and it feels more grandiose even though the map isn't long. The layout has more interconnected parts and courtyards that build a better sense of place instead of the previous system of stand-alone corridors. Nice idea the secret with the optional BSK and the RL cave was very good looking in its simplicity.

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15 hours ago, Demon of the Well said:

Incidentally, while I had long academically known that it's possible to have BGM change mid-map in prB+, I think this is the first time I've ever seen it actually done, at least that I can readily recall.

 

I think it's done in the first map from Ancient Aliens, and also in a late SlaughterMAX map iirc. It's definitely one of the rarest tricks you can do in boom, not something I believe it's easy to introduce without good context.

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On 9/16/2019 at 5:15 PM, gaspe said:

Where is everyone? :/ Got scared by the Russian maps?!

I’ll be back next week and fully intend to finish this set. Not sure what reputation Russian maps have but I’d say this mapset is at least as good as the average community megawad I’ve played so far, if not better

Edited by Horus

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Map 16 -- Outskirts of Hell - 108% Kills / No secrets

This Hell episode (or 'minisode' if you want to call it that, since it hasn't been running for the standard duration of m10-20) that one traverses in this part of Bloodspeed very much feels like it's a collection of maps from one specific session, though perhaps that's coincidental and the similarities have more to do with the authorship (Memfis and Chaingunner completely dominate the batting order here, provided one leaves aside the secret levels) than a session theme, though there are nevertheless a lot of conspicuous thematic similarities--the texture scheme in the whole running is very particular in reference, IIRC armor is extremely rare or nonexistent (I only recall getting one green vest during this stretch, in m17 I believe), and so forth. Either way, "Outskirts of Hell" is then very strongly reminiscent of "Fortress of Tears" before it, and like much of this stretch of maps feels, to my taste, to be way too 'early game' in timbre for something running in the middle of a full 32+ level set--again it's very simple room-to-room spats vs. mostly small groups of small monsters, again the surroundings are humble in both scale and scope, etc.

 

Nevertheless, to give due I did feel that this was a significantly stronger map in a number of small yet valuable/important ways. Through subtle shifts in the usage of lighting, I felt this to be a more genuinely atmospheric environment, for one--darkness is used not only for visual effect (and more often at that) but also to more actively accent gameplay, as in the larger "Morlock-den" chamber beyond the blue-locked door, where more pronounced numbers of imps creep out of the tangled geometry of the side tunnels and burrows, cloaked in heavy shadow. The level is also more clean-looking and airier on the whole than m15, which works well for a small/modest level like this. There is one notable visual gaffe--a failure of perspective where the sky visible in the squat narrow tunnels leading to/from the rocket launcher's room spatially 'overwrites' the much taller dark room mentioned above--but this likely won't bother (or perhaps even be noticed by) most folks much, I'd imagine. The deft selection of BGM undeniably makes an impact as well, marking an all-too-rare appearance by the superb track from Iori's Songs of Damned.

 

While the action is again for the most part very (perhaps overly) restrained, it also transcends the bare minimum in design offered by other recent maps with a handful of more flavorful encounters, ala the concealed 'pincers' scenario which emerges between the imps and the lost souls around the seal shotgun-altar in the start room, or the use of a traditional vulture-vile to resurrect the many slain imps in the Morlock room, at which he's quite adept.

 

Map 17 -- Hell Sunrise - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets

Next verse, same as the first, more or less. This is, once again, a leisurely little Sunday morning stroll through some quiet backwater of Hell, offering more light/low-key, basically serviceable action. Like the previous map, it's also visually pleasing, in a clean, tasteful and unostentatious way--nothing terribly groundbreaking, but quite easy on the eyes, nonetheless, reminiscent of later work by Pcorf, or perhaps Dr. Sleep.

 

This level most distinguishes itself through its relative expansiveness compared to others in this same stretch, being a more normal-sized short/medium affair than the very short/tiny maps which surround it on both sides, and has room to include more traditionally pronounced 'legs' in progression, and even a secret/optional key leading to a small bonus area. Apart from being a mite longer in running time, it also simply looks/feels bigger, with taller structures in general, a more pronounced sense of certain regions of the level being at higher/lower elevations than others, and more development in off-map scenery in general, particularly the unique-looking picket-pikes atop the outer wall encircling the earthen pit where the player begins.

 

The most interesting thing about the level play-wise is the aforementioned secret/optional key, a miniature sidequest which comprises both of the level's two secrets. The material reward for doing this (a soulsphere and ten extra rockets, something like that) is neither here nor there considering how laconic the level in general is, but it's fun to search for nonetheless, with the first of the two secrets being pretty cleverly concealed.

 

Map 18 -- Demonic Bloodpool - 100% Kills / No secrets

Back to the shorter levels here (though this one tends to feel maybe slightly bigger than it is, just because its rooms are a bit bigger in general than what we've recently become accustomed to), though this one has a different look and feel to it than what has come before, with a combination of CC4 and UAC Ultra (?) resources, plus a few less immediately familiar assets, to create a dingy underground granite temple complex nestled amidst lava-scalded rock cliffs. The titular pool, which can be dimly espied from the start point through a semi-translucent sheet of stretched skin, is both a shrine to an opalescent crystal skull and the favored lounging spot of a local cyberdemon blueblood, who does not take kindly to intrusions on her "me-time."

 

The overall design continues the general trend of less-is-more as regards monster placement and encounter design, but with a very different spin on the idea than that seen in the past several levels. This reads more like a challenge-map of sorts, though in contrast to the space-management ambushes of m14 by the same author, this hinges more on endurance, with both ammo and healing kept rather limited in supply (and again, there is effectively no armor available, IIRC), and enemies often placed in ways where you'll be tangling with them at close quarters or from a self-exposing position, needing to balance defense with an effective offense that makes best use of your limited assets. Indeed, this is a good example of just how much you can find yourself missing the regular pump-action shotgun when it's not available, and a rare case of the sawnoff's doubled ammo consumption being an actual relevant factor of balance, as opposed to a vague background OCD-tickler--you are pushed not only to close with targets to ensure you get maximum damage output from your shells, but also to be mindful about grouping/multikilling weaker foes such as imps for the same reason. A rocket launcher appears midway through progression, but has to be used both without hesitation and with great accuracy within the confines of the shrine to make a positive difference, further underscoring the premium the map places on knowing how to get the most out of your arms.

 

The cyberdemon is also a more credible threat than the others we've seen earlier, as the limited space plus some unusual angles of fire make splash damage from rockets a real concern for the duration of your time in the bloodpool itself. Perhaps thankfully, the beast isn't framed as an ammo-tax on top of the strict balance--you aren't expected to scrimp and save enough to be able to topple her conventionally, but rather ultimately unlock a staged telefrag sequence, albeit one that exposes you to some hair-rising rocket salvos over its short duration.

Edited by Demon of the Well

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MAP18 fda: It's pretty but I didn't enjoy so much the awkard gameplay, on pistol start you'll really miss the shotgun or a chaingun to clean the smaller foes and you have to be very careful with the SSG to not to waste too many sheels as you only have that weapon to advance. It's an interesting take on the potential drawback of that weapon if anything. Took me a little while to discover that the cyberdemon can be telefragged.

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Map 19 -- Pale Disease - 100% Kills / No secrets

Another by Memfis, featuring a marble fort in a blood lake with some other minor enclaves carved into the hillside nearby. Somewhat ill-fitting choice of Duke track here, I thought. For an author filling as many mapslots in Bloodspeed as he already has by this point, Memfis has certainly shown us a great deal of variety, further underscoring his talent/practice as a speedmapper--this level is laid out differently (kind of a 'tale of two halves') than preceding levels, has more of a straight Doom II look, and more of a sense of spaciousness to it than anything we've seen in a while, which is refreshing in its way.

 

Again, I did feel that the gameplay came out feeling a mite too limp or restrained overall, though. There is something of a hot start here, since the hillside where you begin is rather inhospitable from the offing (there's no making it past the fort's natural blood moat, you've got to teleport into it, which requires the red key), which seems intended to push you forward/into one of the hillside enclaves. Once you've done this, though, the heat almost immediately dissipates, as action in either is fairly sedate and you'll be in a strong defensive position vs. the beasts wandering/perched in the hillside on your way back out. Grabbing the RL from its stone perch requires brief exposure to the arch-vile, but the operative word here is 'brief', and the level has a much looser/less conducted feel to its weapon progression, so no particular tool ever seems indispensable. The map does skew noticeably more towards mid-tier enemies than the past several have, a trend which continues into the fort itself, but the relative spaciousness + player armament tend to make things feel slightly understaffed/sparse regardless, which is more pronounced an impression in a small/straightforward level like this vs. something a little more exploratory, ala Memfis's m04 from earlier or the heavily atmospheric maps by Dragon Hunter.

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MAP19 demo: Weird choice for the music, I think it sounds odd because I would associate this track with different kind of themes but this map fits well with a fast paced midi. 64 monsters but it manages to be hard at the beginning, props to that nasty archviles. Maybe the BK castle could have used a bit more opposition. And for such a short map all the 3 keys are required. Another good job from Memfis.

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