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The DWmegawad Club plays: Zone 400

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MAP 33 – Gangajang

Doomsday Engine, UV-Fast, Pistol start, blind run w/saves

 

If someone did not play Zone 300 this bonus level would not bear any particular significance or trigger any distant memories. @pcorf pointed out this was a pastiche of the first 3 maps of his 2013 WAD (The Spaceport, Control Facility and The Alleyway) and I think the inclusion as MAP33 was worthy for several reasons.

 

Firstly, it highlighted how much the author has improved the visual and gameplay design of his maps in 8 years. Even though the places were ok to shoot some demons emerging from closets, we had far more refined and polished levels to look at in Zone 400. This was not only because of 100 more lines, but also due to better texture choices, thing placement and overall map construction.

 

Secondly, monster placement had become more accurate. The closets in these maps basically killed themselves before I shot a single bullet, except for a few cases. In Zone 400 I often had options for using the environment to my advantage and cause infighting, but rarely saw an ambush counter itself.

 

Third and last, monster teleport lines seen at work here were not so meaningful, they just created confusing displacements without the clear purpose to surround the player or block an escape direction. Most of the time the monsters disappeared in front of me while I was shooting at them. Weird, but ultimately pointless besides the wasted ammo. The majority of such tricks in Zone 400 followed a plan, frequently getting the desired result.

 

Gangajang could be seen as a nostalgic journey to the past or as the author’s personal WAD archaeology. In my opinion this was a good way to make a comparison and highlight the achievements of Zone 400 over its predecessor. It was a short and simple romp, leading to a climactic, if humorous, finale by the “thanks for playing Zone 400” message. The army of SS Nazi basically annihilated itself all alone, as typical for this monster type, and provided a good laugh to end the level.

Spoiler

1706311229_Zone400Map33_01.jpg.e1f16fd77fa371de415296cb76de2482.jpg

 

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MAP30 - Alleganiensis

UV | Continuous | GZDoom and Vanilla+

 

A fun twist on the old Icon of Sin fight that I quite enjoyed. While there's a shit-ton of demons running around, there's plenty of room for you to run around as well plus a generous amount of pick-ups to help out. Once I figured out the central gimmick, I had a good time with it. I even attempted to speedrun it a couple of times, which was fun. Not much else to say about this one.

 

 

Now time to round up my favourite maps of the WAD:

  • MAP03
  • MAP04
  • MAP05
  • MAP06
  • MAP08
  • MAP10
  • MAP15
  • MAP17
  • MAP18
  • MAP20

Final thoughts

I'm really glad I nominated this one because I had an absolute blast. It reminded me of our time with Bourgeois MegaWAD in the sense of really fun, short, punchy maps with the added bonus of Pcorf being slightly less sadistic... when he wants to be that is lmao. This WAD is a quintessential example of how limitation breeds creativity and it was fascinating to see how our man overcame the self-impose limitation across 32 maps and made every single one of them pretty damn unique, while also making them complement each other with recurring elements like the wonderful use of triangles. I definitely loved the second episode best thematically thanks to the heavy use of Heretic/Hexen textures. Those maps were great fun, especially. With only one map on the shit-list, I dare say Zone 400 will live on in my mind as one of my absolute favourite megaWADs ever. Brilliant stuff, Pcorf. :^D 

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MAP21: Plethodontidae
We have reached the Hellish themed episode! That means things are going to get nastier, though I didn't notice any spike in difficulty (maybe I was just lucky), at least not until last couple of levels and this level felt rather easy, as once again my health and armor stayed above 180% and it was a good thing because this map doesn't contain any soulsphere and blue armor, just a couple bonuses to repair some damage.
Traps are predictable and easy to deal with, with only the last part of the level getting a bit tricky (and it was quite dark in that room), meaning I had to do the careful approach and as soon as walls started lowering (before I pressed switch that unlocks exit), I just ran back to the door and picked off the enemies from behind the door, minimizing the damage. Ended up with around 185% health and armor, which was nice and much needed.
There is a single secret to be found, the rocket launcher + backpack located in the room just before grabbing blue key.

 

MAP22: Lithobates
Things are getting a bit tougher, probably to make up for the rather easy previous level. This one has you starting in a room with SSG and box of shells, as well as a bunch of health bonuses. I kind of knew what to expect and when I opened door, I just took cover and waited for some monsters to come closer and blast them with SSG, while trying to snipe those hell knights and imps from far away with chaingun (well at least those that could be sniped).
You have to press those switches and navigate the platforms safely in order to make your way to the next room.
If you fall into lava, you have to grab a radiation suit quickly and get into teleporter. There are many radiation suits to be found but note that lava is 20% damage type and it can do that rare bullshit leak like it happened to me once (as it seems in every level so far, the suit has to leak at least once). Though I didn't drop into lava until I was pretty much done with the map and also had to grab the rest radiation suits even if they don't count for items percentage.
There is a surprise archvile that will spawn when approaching the door, so I recommend being careful and taking it out quickly. It resurrected the revenant twice (and I think I took a fireball to face) but I was fast enough to avoid getting blasted by archie, since this level doesn't contain blue armor either.
There are some surprise traps where monsters get revealed at some points in the second room, which include mancubi, imps, shotgunners, etc. I advice to take it slowly and not rushing or you may get caught unprepared for the situation.
The soulsphere secret can be found in same room with those traps and can be reached by pressing on the switch and rushing for the lowering platform until it raises. There is a baron of hell guarding some bonuses, so take him down too. The bonuses managed to repair some of the blue armor, so at least I had above 100% armor and didn't have to replace it with the weaker green armor. Health was restored to 200% as always.

 

MAP23: Tridactlum
As it has already been pointed out, this map seems similar to MAP29: The Living End from the original DOOM 2. It is tricky at times but not very difficult. It also includes the return of the Cyberdemon! I guess the presence of the invulnerability sphere kinda gave it away, though at least I didn't have many problems dealing with the traps.
What I did was besides climbing and cleaning all those sniping imps, zombies and whatnot, I also used the RL to take down those imps and revenants in the center of the map.
After that, it was a matter of grabbing the keys and dealing with the monsters that spawn. The most interesting part was obviously when grabbing the yellow key. The room you get the yellow key also locks you inside because that side of the door can only be opened with the yellow key. As soon as I saw that (when I was carefully taking down those arachnotrons), I retreated and made sure after activating bridge and going back to open door from outside, to run as fast as I can when grabbing the key as I knew there were going to be some nasty traps. The plan worked for the most part. Monsters seemed to teleport outside as well.
This made me a bit concerned and as soon as I saw the Cyber teleported (that got infight with monsters), I was trying to find a solution quick, so I ran around for a bit but was getting cornered, so I retreated and in meantime saw the bridge raised and could finally get to the invulnerability that I saw earlier! The problem is I got blocked by a caco and got unstuck in time before the cyber fired rockets (any second later and I would have been dead), thus escaping with minimal damage. Unfortunately I missed and fell into lava, so I had to take radiation suit, teleport and try again, this time making the jump safely.
Once I grabbed invulnerability, I killed the cyber and most other enemies with the BFG and RL. After cleaning the place, I grabbed everything before exiting.
There are 4 secrets to find this time around:
1. BFG secret (climb on top, strafe into ledge, press on switch and the BFG is unlocked)
2. Blue Armor and Soulsphere in the center of map on those ledges, where the imps and revenants were located earlier (climb on top, strafe into the ledge and you should make it), secret best saved for the end on continuous run
3. Invulnerability, accessible once the bridge raised (as mentioned before, probably available after grabbing yellow key)
4. Light amp in the yellow key room

 

MAP24: Rhinella
A rather interesting map that may not seem that difficult at first (the first rooms are easy to deal with) but some later parts were definitely tougher than I expected. The dark room can be made easier with the invisibility sphere which makes enemies' attacks miss you but even then you will have to take a bit of forced damage as you're killing mancubi and arachnotrons quickly. Would have helped if I adjusted brightness/gamma correction since in this version of PrBoom+, it is reset to the vanilla default where things are pretty dark and it didn't help at all in this room. At least I didn't take too much damage, I was at around 160-170% health and armor.
Which is good because the yellow key trap was the nasty part of the map. I knew and expected an archvile to be around but thankfully the BFG shot landed directly in archie's face (which killed in 1 hit) while I was running and trying to time the blast correctly. What sucked was after killing the revenants, I took like FOUR homing missiles to the face (ouch!) which I just couldn't avoid them, bringing me down to around 70-80% health and armor. I was of course panicking for a bit because I still had to deal with a few revenants that teleported in starting area. Somehow I got through this just fine.
Of course, the armor had to be replaced with the weaker green armor but at least I saved that soulsphere for the end, so I can have 200% health once again.
Once again, there are 4 secrets to find (most of which I found myself):
#1 is the BFG secret available at start, press on the hidden switch where some imps were standing on ledge earlier
#2 and #3 are the soulsphere and invisibility also found at start, impossible to miss, just strafe into them to collect them
#4 is the light amp secret (would have helped a lot in the dark room) that I found by watching an YT video, the secret is found inside the rocky caverns, just look for a different wall texture, it contains Light amp and a bunch of goodies (ammo, health).

 

MAP25: Gymnophiona
A bit of an out of place map for the hellish episode. I must say it was quite an interesting map, especially with those crushers that you could get safely through by just running through the smaller part of the crusher, so I never got crushed in first place.
The highlight of the map is when you take the elevator and grab yellow skull key because as soon as you do that, the walls lower and you find yourself surrounded by monsters from all sides. I initially used Plasma but quickly switched to BFG and got out of the situation quickly without losing too much health, I ended up with slightly above 100 health or maybe 90 or so, I don't remember exactly. I had to be careful with the next rooms, so I ended up with the slower/careful approach until I was done with the map.
There is an easy to find secret soulsphere at beginning when cacodemons get revealed, one of compartments hold the soulsphere. Though there is still no blue armor to be found anywhere, until the next level at least.

 

MAP26: Phyllobates
Well, things get a bit tougher this time around. The fights where enemies teleport are a bit more trickier this time around, though at least you are given the blue armor right away in one of the rooms and I recommend picking it up.
To get started, you should check the door behind you as the secret gives some useful goodies, such as the radiation suit that might help you for crossing the lava. However considering you don't have to traverse long distances, you can make it just fine without damage. Out of 3 times I crossed the lava until I got key and unlocked the rooms, only one time it hurt me. And yes it's the 20 dmg one, so be careful and try to time it correctly to minimize damage, though it relies entirely on RNG luck because it's pretty much impossible to predict the exact moment when you are getting hurt, I only know you get hurt when the weapon bob reaches top.
Anyway, there is a spider mastermind at end, with an archvile hidden in the alcove. To kill the spider, I recommend taking cover behind pillar and SSG her to death. Funnily enough, shortly before the spider died, somehow managed to hit the archvile and reveal its location, so I was able to kill it from the safer place earlier and after that, there wasn't much else to do other than BFG-ing the two barons, since I was at end of map.
Also when I went earlier and grab radiation suits (which also helped with traversing the lava for getting BFG secret), as soon as I grabbed the radsuit in the lava, the leak happened. Why is it like the radsuit has to always randomly leak? Good thing I grabbed the soulsphere at end of map, so I still have 200% for the next level, though only around 150% blue armor as it was necessary grabbing it earlier to not risk some of the harder battles with just the green armor.
There are three secrets to find, the first one mentioned earlier at beginning with the second secret revealing later, containing a plasma and a switch that temporary lowers the BFG on crate you saw earlier, which counts as the third secret, though you need to hurry to reach it.

 

MAP27: Ambystoma
Things get even crazier this time around! With many teleporting monsters all around the place, they just don't give you a break!
I don't have much to say about this one. It was quite a crazy with unexpected monsters appearing at times but the good thing is I survived it, since I just got down to 45% health (and no armor) at one point when the archie showed up and blasted me and I decided to conserve that megasphere secret for the end of level, as a reward for my efforts. Thankfully I managed to survive in the end, as I desperately ran around, grabbed medkits and a fresh new green armor. Funnily enough, there were FOUR green armors in same place! I wonder if they were meant for multiplayer coop mode?
Two secrets to find: a BFG + other goodies secret that is accessed by pressing on a differently textured wall, as well as the megasphere secret that you may have seen earlier but didn't know how to access, it is accessed by pressing on left wall in front of switch that unlocks exit. I admit I had to look on YouTube to see how to access the megasphere secret.

 

MAP28: Taricha
Thankfully the things get much easier in this map with some interesting ambushes but nothing too deadly, at least I felt the map was very generous with resources and you can get the blue armor and soulsphere right at start, though for obvious reasons, on a continuous run they should be saved for the end. I still ended with like 180% health and armor at end of level before I grabbed them.
I don't have much to say about this map either, it was nice and easy but I guess I got tired of writing so much and others already made much more interesting comments compared to what I'm saying right now.
Once again, two secrets to find: Look for a tiny button to shoot it in starting room, it reveals a hidden teleporter where you started level, which leads to soulsphere + other goodies up there. And the second secret is reachable by pressing a switch in second room which temporary lowers the lift containing a plasma rifle.

 

MAP29: Dermophiidae
Alright, the penultimate level! When you begin the level, take a look around you. You will see monsters turned with their backs at you and giving you a chance to think how to approach. I just did the usual approach with running in circles after I begin firing with SSG and sometimes switching to BFG to clear some monsters, switch to RL to kill the monsters on ledges (Hell Knights, Mancubus, Arachnotrons), then switching to SSG to kill those lost souls, demons, etc.
Once done, grab the red skull key, kill the archie and two barons behind red door, shoot that switch and prepare for the most interesting part of the map! There will be the usual Spider + Cyber combo, except they won't be able to infight, so make good use of that Plasma to kill the spider from far away. Cyber is a bit tricky to kill and don't recommend standing there near lift, unless you are luring the cacos, though some of them will get infight and once ready, just run in the next room and try killing those teleporting archviles in cages. There's FOUR of them! Once done, take the cyber, press the two switches, kill the last revenants and the level is complete!
Although it's nice I made it all without dying (for such a difficult level), I had to sacrifice the soulsphere and grab it before dropping down, I ended up getting blasted twice by archies until I realized what I had to do and take cover behind wall in left side of arena. I used SSG to kill the cybie and then failed to get that invulnerability secret, as I made the mistake of first pressing the two switches which revealed the exit (I expected the blue skull switch to unlock the exit) and had to run in circles and kill the revenants carefully, as I missed my chance to get secret during that time, I wasn't fast enough to reach the elevator before it raised. I had to do the hard way I guess, though at least I didn't take any damage, as I ended up replacing my armor earlier with the weaker green one before getting the blue one from secret area.
Once I was done, I grabbed the two secrets, the first one which is located before advancing to the last room (contains blue armor, berserk, backpack and other goodies) and the invulnerability secret in last room (also grabbed all radiation suits), then I exited. I ended up with 124% health and 200% armor at end (after I made the screenshot), which is fine, I know things could have been way worse...

 

MAP30: Alleganiensis
The final level! Things are going to get serious this time around! As usual, it's an IOS fight with a twist! There is even a cyberdemon at start, that can be lured to start room and killed him before the madness begins! Then grab megasphere and other goodies and prepare yourself for what awaits you in this level!
You have to collect the three skull keys to open the way towards the elevator you saw at beginning and kill the IOS to end this madness! This won't be an easy task as there are many IOS spawners and even another cyber and spider! Plus there's the usual 80 monsters when you start the level, though it is impossible to tell which ones are placed at start other than the fact zombies and bosses don't get spawned by IOS.
I ended up running in circles while using BFG at times and after grabbing one of keys (probably the yellow skull key first), I understood I have to find THREE keys and then decided to ignore most of enemies, just running in circles was good enough to me. And of course avoiding getting telefragged, as not even the invulnerability saves you from getting telefragged! I was lucky to not get telefragged and the one invulnerability I grabbed at one point was really helpful!
The only disappointing thing is I ended up skipping the second cyber, as well as 3 of items and a bunch of other monsters, so on automap it said 68/80 kills but my actual kill count at end of level must have been like 280% I think. I know for sure I only got 66% items. There are no secrets to find, so in most ports you get 100% anyway. Very proud that I not only did this and previous maps without dying but also nearly the entire megawad (besides my only death in MAP31). Maybe I should have pistol started every map...
Though I might probably redo the map tomorrow and get a proper 100% rating, as now I know exactly what I have to do. Before that, there is a bonus level that must be completed!

 

Bonus: MAP33: Gangajang
(On the automap, it is shown as Level 33: Betray)

Bonus level time! I'm not sure why on automap it says Betray but I know it's just like how the bonus MAP33 from XBox ports of Doom 2 is also called. I'm sure that's a placeholder or something that PrBoom-Plus did despite the fact I'm using a plain old v1.9 DOOM2.WAD (dated 01/02/1995 00:09, from id anthology). I guess it's a bug in current version of PrBoom+ umapinfo.
If someone knows a better explanation, please let me know! As another weird thing you can see in screenshots is that PrBoom-Plus 2.6um crashed upon exiting the level. That was disappointing I can't properly finish the map but at least I found everything...well I had to look on YouTube for the last secret, see more below.
The map is interesting to say at least. You've got to fight mostly the usual Doom monsters until near end when you suddenly have to kill a CYBERDEMON! I didn't expect that, though at least he wasn't too bad to handle when I decided to go around the level, thinking that my ammo wouldn't be enough and discovered a secret passage was revealed, which contained a revenant that was guarding lots of goodies (Plasma, BFG, cells, megasphere)! I ended up grabbing most stuff, while conserving the megasphere (and even the soulsphere earlier found on the lift). The plentiful cells helped very much against the cyber.
You have to fight a few more Doom 2 monsters (arachnotrons, mancubi) and now comes the interesting part! The boss of this level is...a bunch of nazis! That's right! A horde of them in fact. All you have to do is to use BFG few times and that took most of them, then finished off the last 3 or so with the chaingun.
Good thing I saved after that because as soon as I pressed the switch, PrBoom-Plus crashed with the message W_GetNumForName: CWILV32 not found.
That's disappointing the level name lump isn't included in the wad, I'm sure that's an easy fix that could be included, so that PrBoom-Plus won't crash when exiting this level. Not sure how would have Chocolate Doom acted in this situation, I guess the same. Maybe it will be fixed for next version of PrBoom+


Also there's 6 secrets to find, of which I managed to find 5 (I had to look for the last one and then take an automap screenshot of the level 100% finished), the secret I missed and had to watch YT to find was the one containing berserk + rocket launcher located near yellow door. No wonder I found the RL right at end, I knew I was missing something, hehe. The rest secrets can be found during normal gameplay. Oh yeah that soulsphere + backpack secret halfway through level can be accessed by pressing on those panels, before unlocking the fake exit that lights up arrows on floor.

Pointless info: I warped to this level with following parameters: -iwad DOOM2.WAD -file zone400.wad -warp 33 -skill 4 -complevel 2

 

Total Deaths: 1 (MAP31)

 

Overall: Zone 400 was an interesting and nicely designed megawad but I feel that gameplay wise, it gets very predictable at times with the traps. While I don't mind traps in general, I feel like traps are overdone these days and makes me feel like having to do the careful approach with exception of stuff like most of MAP29 and MAP30 where I was forced to think and play fast in order to succeed.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy playing through the megawad. It was good and had nice music, it's just that I got burned off from so much vanilla Doom as of lately, as I just wanted to finish the megawad already and that's why I got ahead 10 days ago and left the last 3 maps for today, just to finish in time before the end of month.

 

I hope next month's choices will get a bit more varied. I wouldn't mind playing a megawad made for ZDoom/GZDoom if it gets selected, though I'm not familiar with most of entries suggested and judging from nominations so far where some stuff I haven't even heard of, I guess I will vote for the more familiar stuff, even if it means more vanilla stuff:

+++ Claustrophobia 1024
+++ FreeDoom: Phase I
+++ Wonderful Doom

 

I would have voted for Hexen again myself but it looks like if next month it doesn't get chosen, maybe in October it does and that's when I will vote for it again, therefore this time I decided to use that extra slot for something else. :P

 

Screenshots (mostly of MAP33)

Spoiler

Zone400_MAP29.png.2200aaa3470511897f6297008a824b13.png

Zone400_MAP29_2.png.89fa19db4eaa1fc66fce4e393441d470.png

Zone400_MAP30.png.2637518d86cc84dbbbf9941844db8639.png

Zone400_MAP30_2.png.49bf0b3bb6444df659b1a9994065bedb.png

Zone400_MAP33_1.png.417b9c68a6e200409a759e8e5ae859d2.png

Zone400_MAP33_2.png.a7890b760b6446b018e0193bf8381868.png

Zone400_MAP33_3.png.43afcd851456e558713169b6047ec36a.png

Zone400_MAP33_4.png.484693bc3a292b8582b6a44145317064.png

Zone400_MAP33_5.png.812bb284c850cb0cfdbef67ee20b3bb9.png

Zone400_MAP33_6.png.c5c9400d22d1909c54cce4abba1fec43.png

 

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Map30 - Alleganiensis

Very fun final battle at the end. Surprisingly easy since there’s an abundance of powerups. First thing I did was kill the mastermind, then just ran around collecting the keys and firing a BFG shot when an archville or cybie blocked my path. For some reason it took me what felt like ages to find the blue key. Ended up beating it in about 6 min.

 

Map33 - Gangajang

Very fun end to the mapset. A lot more chilled out with lots of secrets (I missed one of them). Like the “thanks for playing” sign, I wish more map makers would put out fun little sendoffs like this.

 

Overall - Really enjoyed it. With the smaller levels it was great to unwind after a long day and bang out a level or two without feeling overwhelmed. Like a lot of people say, being limited to 400 lines, a lot of the maps feel a bit samey but still I had a lot of fun. The traps were a wee bit predictable at times, but nothing too egregious. As for difficulty, I found it had a pretty good ramp up, with the final levels being challenging without being absolutely nuts (maybe map 29 would be the one exception). It felt like archville and pain elemental placement was restrained (usually only 1 or 2 per map) which helped keep the difficulty manageable. I really enjoyed the secrets as they didn’t seem impossibly difficult and were usually well telegraphed. Like @Thrustpeak mentioned I think the star of the megawad was the music. I can’t really think of a dud in the set. I plan on listening to it while studying a bit. Anyway thanks for the fun levels @pcorf this month was a blast, even though I didn't post very much.

 

Like I said earlier I'm going to be on vacation in September, so I hope to revisit the megawad club in October. In the meantime I plan to play around with the new Quake re-release and maybe finally finish my first WAD I've been working on the past year. Take care everybody!

 

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MAP29 - "Dermophiidae" (100%K/I/S):

A map in a similar vein to MAP16, but with a hellish landscape, not only that, but the map is divided in two parts, the "outside" area, which looks like some kind of hellish neighborhood, and the last fight, that resembled the one in Gotcha!, but it was not, as both bosses can't fight each other, so I was a bit dissapointed. The first area, difficult to tackle as there are several hitscanners about to make you swiss cheese at the first second you make a sound. You can rush through, kill some of them, and then proceed to the lake of fire with goodies at one of the corners of the map, once you get the things here, you are able to easily proceed by killing everything at the area. Luckly, once you proceed, the map does not get infested with new enemies. Once you kick out all of those pests, you can finally proceed to the second area, the part that I liked/disliked at the same time, as those Arch-viles where AIDS. None of the bosses will put you on a hurry, but those Arch-viles sure will do it. Try to just make the bosses infight with them, and kill them easily, the same when you want to tackle the bosses, make them in-fight with those annoying cacos and  there it goes, an easy job done.
Once you try to exit, there is a wall that lowers full of revenants, grab the Inv-sphere at the middle as fast as you can and start shooting them melee range with rockets.

MAP30 - "Alleganiensis" (100%K/55%I/0%S):


I rushed through this one, similar to MAP27, you can run in circles around this area and search for the 3 keys. Easy job, as harsh it may look, you can make everybody fight with each other, you get everything at start, and inside the map there are several areas which you can find even more powerups and stuff. Try to fight only when you have enemies in your way in a "non-dangerous" area (open area), and proceed. The monster spawner here is not a big problem, again, there are many enemies trying to infight each other.
It's an Icon of Sin, not the best one, not the worst one, at least you've got some kind of a map going on here.
 

Deaths: 181 (UV Continuous/Chocolate Doom)

Order of preference:

Spoiler

 

MAP14 (Great)
MAP31

MAP10
MAP15

MAP29 (Good)
MAP21
MAP16
MAP11
MAP23

MAP28

MAP20

MAP09

MAP08
MAP04 
MAP27 
 

MAP17 (Ok)

MAP02
MAP18
MAP13

MAP07 (Average)
MAP06
MAP05

MAP12
MAP03
MAP01
MAP30
 

MAP25 (Meh)

MAP22
MAP19

MAP24 (Bad)
MAP26

MAP32**

 

With this, we finish a nice, "limit" project by PCorf, later I will post my opinions on the entire WAD itself.

I don't think I'll play MAP33, anyways.

Edited by DJVCardMaster

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GZDoom/Blind/UV/Continuous/Saves

Map 28 - Taricha

100% kills and secrets

Time: 8:04

 

Pretty standard, but 2 moments I want to mention. First was the big fight after grabbing the blue key where a ton of enemies show up from 3 different areas. I can see this being super hard on pistol-start, since you can't grab the hidden plasma rifle until this happens. But I'm not doing that, so I BFG'd the hitscan hordes and pain elementals, then rocketed the parade of imps coming down the stairs. Fun! The second thing is the Archvile ambush. I backed up as the walls were lowering cause I knew something was behind it, and as I started firing rockets at the archie, he teleported directly in front of me, causing me to face rocket. That wasn't very nice of him. Other than that, standard Zone 400 fun.

 

Map 29 - Dermophiidae

100% kills and secrets

Time: 9:18

 

Again, I am very glad I'm playing continuous, since if I wasn't I feel I would die a lot here. There's only about 140 enemies in here, and 120 of them are active pretty much immediately. I ended up camping the starting area for a bit, allowing things to teleport to me so I could SSG them, then rocketed the perched baddies. The sheer amount of crap thrown at you can be overwhelming, but with some focus, it won't be too bad. Some infighting occurred which was nice. The archie behind the red door didn't go down in 4 SSG shots which meant I got blasted, but the first secret got me a mega armor, so it didn't do much. Pistol-starters really need to find the 2 secrets, as they have the plasma and BFG which will help big time for the final room. The final room almost looks like a Gotcha! moment, but there's no way the 2 boss monsters can hit each other. What I did was went on the side with the Spider Mastermind and got it to fight all the cacos in the room. I then took out the teleporting caged archies. Once those were dead, I waited for the cacos to die, then BFG'd the SM. I figured out the 2nd secret at this time, which gets you a BFG and an invul. While the invul is going, I 2-shoted the cyberdemon, opened the exit, and BFG'd the revs behind it before it expired. I was hoping the secret would have an invul, so I was happy about that! Definitely a fun one, but I can totally see why so many people on here don't like it. It's way more fun on continuous I bet, which I think may be the opposite of most of the other maps. I feel like most of this WAD would be more fun and challenging pistol-start, but this map is an exception.

 

Maps 30 and 33 tomorrow.

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oMAP30: Alleganiensis

UV, pistol start, no saves

100% kills, 0/0 secrets

 

The wad ends with an Icon of Sin map containing 80 monsters to kill if you want to get 100% kills proper, and it isn't too difficult to achieve luckily. I wasn't totally sure about the 80 required monsters, but spraying and praying brought me to victory there luckily, you just have to hope an archvile doesn't spawn while you are working on the icon. As for the level itself, you simply need to locate the 3 keys hidden around the level to grant access up to the icon, which has a raising and lowering door in front of it. Pump rockets when it's open and you're done. A simple icon map that isn't too challenging, and perfectly decent as far as icon maps go.

 

MAP33: Gangajang

UV, pistol start, no saves

100% kills, 5/6 secrets

 

The super duper secret map of the set contains an initially daunting 366 enemies, but despite this it's probably one of the most chill maps in the set. The fights are mostly relaxed, and there are ample items to aid you on your way, and the map ends up being pretty much a breeze to get through. The most threatening parts come at the end, where you fight a cyberdemon on a big sign thanking you for playing the game, but there's more than enough space to run around. After him there are some arachnotrons and mancubi, and you hit a switch to unleash a huge wave of nazis, making up a sizable chunk of the enemy count. Blow them to smithereens and the level is over.

 

Final thoughts:

Despite pcorf's extensive mapping history, this is actually the first mapset of his that I've played, and I believe my first taste of his work at all apart from his contribution to Akeldama. Gotta say my impressions are definitely quite good. The quality throughout the levelset is incredibly consistent, with the lows pretty much just being "meh" maps rather than outright bad ones. The limitations of the mapset were utilized well to create nice and punchy action, with some nice creative layouts as well. The limitations do result in some underwhelming visuals a lot of the time, but that's understandable. 

 

Also since I said I'd replay a couple maps, I did replay MAP29 while making use of the first secret, and man it is more of a godsend than I anticipated. In fact I actually finished the map in my first try with it, although I definitely credit a lot of that to the amount of attempts I had with it and the familiarity I acquired along with that. I did ride low health for a while still so I wouldn't call it an easy one at all, still have to say it's the hardest in the set although the gap is close with MAP19. MAP26 was also made quite a bit easier with its secret, but despite this I still feel like that beginning room is a big sloggish, and not really my thing. So my overall impression of the map is still not great I think.

 

Favourite map: MAP19

Least favourite map: MAP26

Hardest map: MAP29

 

+++ Claustrophobia 1024

 

 

 

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Heads up that as far as I can see, nothing has 4 votes yet, which is the minimum required for a WAAD to be selected.

 

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MAP30 - Dermophiidae - dsda-doom - skill 4 pistol start

 

I quite like this twist on MAP30. Instead of a very awkward timing puzzle, this one has you frantically running around trying to find keys before you're choked out with millions of demons given finite ammo.

The hunt kept up with intensity as the floor got mosh-ier. 

I came out of both these maps with no deaths tho yay

 

MAP33 - Dermophiidae - dsda-doom - skill 4 pistol start

 

I have words for maps that have you puttering around mowing down zombies and imps with the chaingun and single shotgun: I like them.

Great change of pace from the mayhem of the last few maps.

one huge pet peeve tho:

I caught sight of the arrows before pressing the 'exit' switch. 

I assumed there was something i didn't want to miss before pressing the exit switch. Nope lol. I was supposed to press the exit switch, which led to me wandering the map again looking for the way into that last wall.

It didn't spoil the experience too much though, and overall I quite enjoyed this bonus. I let out an audible 'aww' at the thank you message

 

Spoiler

 

 

 

The overalls:

Great map set, overall one I enjoyed quite a bit.

As others have commented, more was squeezed out of 400 defs than expected. 

A great exercise for pcorf and hopefully actions acts as inspiration and we continue to get maps from Dr Corf in the future

Favorites:

MAP23

MAP29

MAP31

MAP32

 

final video (might finish processing in the next decade)

Spoiler


 

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Final Thoughts

Zone 400 was a a fascinating journey into Paul Corfiatis’ mapping style. I knew the author has produced a lot of maps and megaWADs over more than 20 years, some of them receiving a Cacoward. He is also an active community member and an accomplished musician, capable of working on a comprehensive project all on his own. Like its predecessor Zone 300, this was a self-limited mapping challenge, allowing not more than 400 linedefs to build each level.

 

I am not familiar enough with his 2013 WAD to state how much he has improved after 8 years of mapping refinement and real-life happenings. I got a glimpse of the old work thanks to bonus MAP33; although it is self-evident that the potential skyrocketed by granting 100 extra lines, I acknowledge some of the environments and gameplay designs in Zone 400 were impressive despite such constraints. The remarkable progress was not only a matter of more freedom; it was a step forward in @pcorf’s evolution as an experienced Doom editor.

 

Extreme variety and inspiration have driven the megaWAD construction, ensuring that no levels look the same. This was obtained by careful stock texture choices and combinations. The adoption of Heretic and Hexen graphics for the second episode avoided the repetition of visual patterns, an essential element considering that lighting effects consumed linedefs and could not be used liberally. The author did an amazing job by building levels around different ideas, with a non-standard thematic progression, and sometimes he even managed to achieve beautiful vistas and sceneries (e.g., MAP 09, 23, 24 and 28). He succeeded in his auto-imposed challenge of designing under 400 linedefs and complemented the effort with an original and compelling soundtrack, which I mentioned less than it deserved in my reports.

 

The secret department received the right attention throughout the map set. Most hidden stashes were not very difficult to uncover, given the small size of the levels, and some showed good creativity. As for the secret levels, it was refreshing after last month’s Base Ganymede to play interesting scenarios that added to the whole experience, without punishing the player for finding them. I find MAP31 to be among the best in Zone 400, and even though I do not go nuts for MAP32 and bonus MAP33, they were fascinating in their own way.

 

I do not know if this megaWAD has received feedback under my play settings. I did this continuous playthrough on Ultra-Violence, with -fast parameter, and savegames mid-level (not during encounters to cheat the RNG or to facilitate anything). I found it to be very manageable, considering the short nature of most encounters and the self-constraints put by the author himself. There were cases of good concepts turning out less effective than they could have been: devious ambushes that were easily skipped or countered, generous power-ups (sometimes secret, sometimes readily available) that trivialised otherwise dangerous traps, combat setups that encouraged extreme exploitation of doorways and cover. Not coincidentally I gave the highest rating to maps where these flaws were less prominent or absent.

 

By his own admission, the author adopts a cautious playstyle: he conserves ammo, often changes weapon, and moves carefully around. This could be a fitting description of my own way of playing Doom, so it is no surprise that I mostly had a good time with these maps. Unfortunately, not everybody wants to play like that. Some get bored by camping, strict resource management and recurring ambush techniques, which assumed various forms but at heart they stayed the same. In Zone 400 you meet lots of monster closets interconnecting previously separated areas of the map, complemented by invisible teleport lines spreading the monsters in all directions. Each encounter has its own traits and dangers, but I rarely felt surrounded and overwhelmed by the opposition (MAP18, MAP27 and MAP29 were the most successful in this regard). This does not mean it was a pushover, but at times I asked myself how it would be if I were not playing with -fast monsters. Probably I would have experienced fewer infighting opportunities, but also less hitscanner attrition and dozy attack rates in the open field.

 

The harshness of the very first minutes and the well-guarded basic resources convinced me that the WAD has been optimised for challenging pistol starts. The difficulty curve was not particularly steep and seemed cohesive throughout the episodes. There were no sudden spikes or out of place tough spots. I had no ammo issues on continuous play and the plentiful power-ups, either lifesaving or totally wasted on pistol start, ensured I survived the early stages of any upcoming level. I enjoyed the combat most of the time, as it was polished, with minimum filler encounters or gratuitous slaughter. Every monster type was put in the right place and used appropriately, including hitscanners and Hell Nobles. Arch-Viles and Pain Elementals were used sparingly, as well as boss monsters, the latter often appearing in arenas just before the exit.

 

Paul Corfiatis said the day I beat Zone 400, I can feel proud about myself for sure. Am I proud of myself now? It was a good challenge, no doubt about it, but going blindly on UV -fast and not finding major obstacles suggests the megaWAD was not terribly hard. As I said before, some encounters could have been more effective than they turned out, without consuming extra lines but just changing teleport destinations, special effects, or things placement. This is not a real issue and I regard my success in the first playthrough as a positive fact. It required careful play and sometimes a reload, but it was doable and showed the greatest respect for the time spent playing. There were no dull, annoying, or boring sections, at least not with -fast monsters. Others might have a different experience playing at normal speed, lower difficulties, and especially doing pistol starts.

 

Zone 400 can be classified as a quick and compact map set, with contemporary design, pleasing enough to see and play, boasting a consistent quality level with a few highlights and basically no missteps. However, at some point its gameplay tropes become repetitive and an experienced player will easily evade the traps or find a way to handle them more comfortably. It remains a remarkable achievement for a single author and another confirmation of his many talents as a Doom editor and musician.

 

Best maps:

MAP 07 – Jerling

MAP 09 – Cath’s Communications

MAP 31 – Spooky

MAP 16 – Hypatia

MAP 18 – Halla

MAP 20 – Janssen

MAP 24 – Rhinella

MAP 27 – Ambystoma

MAP 28 – Taricha

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Posted (edited)

Changing vote from auger; Zenith to +++Wonderful Doom. More Slavic weirdness for the win!

 

and I also think Zone 400 is as good as it's going to get with size-restricted megawads, although 2048 Units of /vr/ looks quite fun. I don't really want to play that though.

Edited by LadyMistDragon

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GZDoom/Blind/UV/Continuous/Saves

Map 30 - Alleganiensis

78% kills (IoS map) and 100% secrets

Time: 4:28

 

Time for the final map, and for this one, I decided to not quicksave, just to see if I could complete it in one go. I did! This IoS shoots out multiple spawn cubes at once, and we've got a pretty wide open area to run around in, so there's a lot of possible spawn points. Add in monster-teleport lines, and that makes this a little more dangerous. I ended up getting one of the 2 cybie's attention pretty quickly, and then like 5 seconds later I heard it die, so it must have gotten telefraged, lol. You have to run around to find the 3 keys to open the path that allows you to rocket the IoS. I'm assuming they're guarded by the 2 cybies and a SM, but I have no idea where that first cybie was since it died so quickly. I found the other 2 boss monsters and took them out easily. There's a few invuls scattered around which was very useful. It took me a minute to find the last key I needed as I ended up running the opposite direction from it the first time. I pretty much just used the BFG for most of the map, but had use for the SSG and rocket launcher a couple of times. Honestly, a pretty good IoS map. No stupid platforms you have to time to hit it. Solid end to the megaWAD.

 

Map 33 - Gangajang

100% kills and 83% secrets

Time: 13:54

 

I've never played Zone 300, so if I hadn't read some of the posts in this thread, I'd have no idea this level was the first 3 levels of that WAD. With them being mashed together like this, it's hard for me to tell how exactly PCorf's style has changed between the 2 releases. They feel the same to me mostly. We've still got monster closets and teleporting bad guys galore. Consistency! Since this is the first 3 levels, it's a breeze, with barely anything approaching a threat. Once the entire map opens up allowing access to the final room (with the thank you message), a few Doom 2 monsters appear (a rev and a pain elemental), but nothing major. However, I did manage to somehow not hear the cybie, so I panic retreated when I saw that. Thankfully, I found the BFG and cells just before this. After taking out a double date of mancubi and arachnotrons, hit the switch to lower the final wall revealing a butt-ton of Nazis. BFG everything within a 5-block radius and we're finally done with the WAD. Nice chill ending

 

Final Thoughts:
I'm glad I decided to play this for the club instead of normally for me. Doing a map a day was good, since so many of the levels follow the same basic design, I'd probably get tired of it quickly if I sat down to play this for a huge chunk of time. Doing it one-a-day allowed it to at least still be entertaining. Like I just said, PCorf does have a style that he doesn't really stray too far from in this WAD. That could be from the limitations that 400 lines produce, but I don't know. At least the maps were fun. I don't think there was any map that I disliked, but loads that I thought were just ok. I also think that I may have made this super easy for me by playing continuous. I think I only died 3 times throughout my whole playthrough, with maybe my last death being halfway through in Map 31? (I don't remember and I don't feel like scrolling back through this thread). I could tell that these maps would be much, much harder if I was pistol-starting them, and maybe even more fun. If I ever replay this, I'll probably play it that way. The MIDIs were pretty solid throughout. Will most likely buy on Bandcamp this Friday, assuming I don't forget about it. 

 

Overall, I'd give this a 3/5. Pretty fun, interesting to see how only 400 lines can affect maps, but most maps follow the same pattern and can become stale.

 

Like I mentioned before, I don't know if I'll have time to do next month's DWMC, but I'm not sure if there's enough votes yet for a pick, so I'll give one just in case one is needed

 

+++ Claustrophobia 1024

(If something else hit 4 votes before this, go ahead and disregard this)

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+++ Skulltiverse 


With its area restriction, it seems like it'll offer brevity like Claustrophobia 1024, and it also has many other creative conceptual things going for it. One later map I tried because of a discussion elsewhere was quite good. I might try either, but I expect Skulltiverse to be more interesting to discuss. 

 

Has 3 votes now (2 behind the leader afaik).

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I'm changing my Hexen vote to +++Skulltiverse. I didn't realize what rd said about the size restriction.

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Before the new topic is up, might as well say that yesterday I got all kills and items in MAP30 (died 3 times this time around, two of which were done a bit on purpose to restart by killing myself with RL or running into a monster cube, the third death was by an archvile and a bit unexpected how much damage I took suddenly) by restarting from the save after I killed the cyber at beginning and yeah, I realized the enemies that were initially left alive (after those failed attempts above of finding the last 10 or so enemies) were those imps on ledges (where the second cyber was found), after that I got all 80/80 kills on the automap, then it was just about grabbing the leftover soulspheres around the map while ignoring most monsters, before destroying the IOS again.

 

As a bonus, I even pistol started MAP31 (the only map I died in the continuous playthrough) without saving, which took two attempts as on the first attempt I got killed instantly by cyberdemon just as he showed up suddenly in my face (as he and another monster were the only ones left alive) and it happened just shortly after I got the blue armor and the light amp secret, which was bullshit. I really hate when I get killed in one hit by a cyberdemon's rocket, it seemed if the rocket did slightly less damage, I could have survived, as shown by having 94% blue armor left when I died. Plus I was very close to finish the map!

On my second attempt I got luckier but I had to waste all my cell ammo to get through the stupid pinkies that were blocking me on my way to light amp secret and also kill the archvile, so I had to kill the cyber with the SSG. Eventually I succeeded shortly after the light amp goggles expired and then decided to chainsaw a cacodemon (the last enemy that was still alive in the level). I should do pistol starting without saving a lot more often, it seems quite interesting, though not on a blind playthrough obviously because it wouldn't be very fun to me, I find it fun to replay the maps with just pistol after I am already familiar with them. It was certainly fun, as in previous few months I pistol started Doom Zero MAP07 as well (after I had already done the megawad) and I was successful in doing that in just one attempt, though obviously I was already familiar with the map, so that time I knew the item and enemy placement. At the moment I'm only sticking to pistol starting maps where I died previously in an otherwise easy megawad and only after the megawad is already finished. Of course besides the forced death exits and maps that require warping to access them (MAP33 for example) since in those cases there is already a pistol start.

 

It has been fun so far to be part of the DW megawad club for the 5th month in a row and regardless what wins this time, I hope to continue to be part of the club.

Spoiler

zone400_map30.png.6c92a1aaee6d341baa24fa0f8e3c98a1.png

zone400_map31.png.e02482d68629d5f39d899326773ccabf.png

 

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Going to make the new topic when some time after I wake, currently Skulltiverse and Claustrophobia 1024 are tied (5 each). Get your voting in now or I'll have to do a coin flip before making the thread.

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Since I've neglected to cast a vote so far because I didn't have any other megaWADs in mind for next month, I'll help be a tie-breaker and submit a vote for +++Skulltiverse.

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Zone 400 - Paul Corfiatis:

A Vanilla "mapping-limit-challenge" MegaWAD by only one author, said challenge was to make every single map with a limit of only 400 linedefs, in a similar maner to the 1K lines project 1 and 2. We saw many sweet maps there, but one thing we could notice, is the lack of good texturing or detailing, in favor of better layouts or more clever setups than regular maps do, even for Vanilla. With this, the limit goes even far beyond, so we could actually expect similar traits, but with even more drastic linedef limitations and savings. Some maps are great at the sense they are long, good looking, with nice gameplay and specially, THEY ARE ONLY MADE WITH 400 LINEDEFS. Incredible test of mapping from an already old and experienced mapper such as Pcorf.
Yet, you can already start seeing some "cliché" moves or "prefab" rooms and tricks to save the most linedefs possible, long corridors of nothing but monsters (meat corridors), stairs with triangular-shaped steps, rooms that are directly connected to each other with walls that lower, revealing monster traps at the same point, recycled rooms,  big arenas,  and more long corridors and prefabs.
There aren't many bad maps here, in fact, most of them, are really good separately, but altogether, it feels kind of heavy to play at times, the sum of the parts is not better than each part itself, for the most part. Music, is new and really good, so you have to give it to Paul, for making not only an entire mapset of 32 maps, but making 32+- songs from scratch, aswell. This is what makes the score a bit higher.
Nice setpiece of Doom Gameplay. Sadly, there aren't many memorable moments here, as it's expected by the short/simple nature of the maps. Possibly, finding the exit to MAP32, is one of the best things you can do, as you break the confort zone for a moment, sadly, it also breaks the rules of the project, nonetheless, great map.
After some 20 maps, almost all ideas were already used, and maps started looking kind-of repeated, and that's why maps started looking boring, if you play them from a linear (MAP01 to MAP30) experience.

Best maps:
MAP14: For some reason this was the best to play, nice looking, non-repeated setup, two nice parts, the outside of the fortress, and the inside. I quite enjoyed this one, it felt, at that point, pretty different from the rest.
MAP31: Same goes for this one, I really enjoyed this kind of map, everything's dark, and feels like a survival horror game. The entire map is an arena, and you need to hit every switch to exit. Looks and plays fine for most part, but it has the plus of being somewhat new, and outside the box.
MAP10: Great tech-base map, nice setup (when its style was not old yet),  and good looking.

Worst maps:
MAP19: Boring experience with a lame layout, resembling the ones in 1995 mapping, it was only salvaged by the Hexen textures at times, luckily it got better from its start.
MAP24: Another of many maps with a start having a spiral staircase and lazy progression. The cave with no-lights and the catwalks killed this map for me, as well as the predictable fight at the end.
MAP26: bad start, disgusting end, felt like two different maps, also, I feel this was the map that recycled the most in the worst ways possible. I'm not digging that final fight.

MAP32 Case:
This is obviously a special mention, as for me, it's the best map of the bunch, great, long, different, and pretty aesthetic, the problem is, again, outside the boundaries of the project's rules. This is why I decided not to rate it with the rest, as it is not fair. This map does not have any limitations to it, apart from the old Vanilla ones.

It may be difficult to replicate what PCorf did here, 32 new maps with extreme limitations, there are so many variables you can exploit here. Nothing more than what you can see right here, apart from texturing, it is a great job, but nothing you would replay, as the sum of the parts, would feel outdated at the middle of your run.

score: 62/100 (Ok)

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Thanks for your comments everyone. Rest well and prepare for the next battle.

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It appears that after beating map30, I decided to not leave any final thoughts on the wad;

 

Overall - It was a pretty decent experience, the middle section (Hexen thematic) was probably the strongest part of the wad, maybe due to the textures generally being more visually pleasing and overall the gameplay tended to hold up better here. The rest was generally hit or miss, some rather ugly maps, some looked quite pleasing and the combat was quite similar in many respects. Several tropes are repeatedly frequently through the wad, which makes some of the later maps rather predictable. Another note for me i that despite a few spikes, the difficulty curve is close to non-existent, more a case of a gentle rollercoaster, one critique could be the desire for a bit more spice in the combat in the latter sections of this wad.

 

Best Maps -

Map16 - The sandbox layout really works here and was probably the single best experience of the wad

Map31 - The concept was decent and again the layout really allowed this to excel.

 

Worst Maps -

Map10 - Maybe if I play this again I might getting a better feeling from this, but still the first trap just killed the vibe for me completely. I am not fighting a group of harmless hell knights in a large open space.

Map19 - Despite the thoughts above, this map was a downer on the episode, again it is the start that really leaves a bad taste more than anything.

 

Hardest Maps - 

Map29 - Suitably of course

Map07 - From recollection, this one gave me no end of problems, mostly because of how resources were located in relation to the monsters you face.

 

Score - 3/5

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2 hours ago, cannonball said:

The rest was generally hit or miss, some rather ugly maps.

 

Yep, it was really difficult at times designing these maps, especially with these limitations so you can expect ugly maps for sure. MAP19 was a heck of a struggle to make as I felt very unmotivated when creating it. I'm just glad I got this all out of the way. I also have no plans for another sequel (unless it was a community project) and it is now back to creating maps with no set linedef limits.

Edited by pcorf

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I was able to find some extra time throughout last couple of weeks to finish this! These last 5 maps are probably the hardest and simply can not be played casually on UV.

 

UV, pistol-start

 

Map 25 Gymnophobia

 

Kind of feels like a warehouse. The Cacodemons that emerge from the tubes on the sides when you pick up the first key are kind of nice. The yellow key trap falls just short of being complete BS though. Pain Elementals and Chaingunners are among the enemies revealed. There's a sort of proper strategy for this I guess but I didn't write it down. The rocket launcher room really isn't such a big deal though. Of course, this ended with a crappy meat corridor though.

 

I have nothing for Map 26 because putting the strong weapons out of reach when you'll be instantly greeted by a mob the instant the first lift goes up is well-nigh impossible and depends too much on luck. If you're playing continuous, I guess you might have some spare shells that you can use to blast through these fools and probably get a Super shotgun shortly thereafter, but nothing I saw about the map made it seem like that would be worth it.  I really liked the music though.

 

Map 27 - Amnistonia

 

Now this was an awesome map. Completely open and with the ability to grab all 3 keys from the start thanks to accessible switches that opens chambers in the central structure with each of the keys. It's very challenging to get your bearings though. There's no place to hide and I was killed half a dozen times at least. The tiresome enemy teleporting got really old in the following maps, but it actually worked here. As such, you might end up using up all of the combat armor before you've cleared everything out, though you'll hopefully have one to spare at least.

 

The red key proved to be the hardest to find because the switch to access it is located in a cave down a molten rock path containing some spectres.

 

The last fight comes across as almost stupidly massive. Even though I killed the Arch-vile within the first 35 seconds, it took me far, far too long to kill the Pain Elemental. And enemies teleporting throughout this last fight to another corner of the grotto drags things out needlessly. Later, I found a hidden BFG.

 

Map 28 - Taricha

 

I don't apparently have lots for my notes here, though I do remember it being decent. I wish the barrels were placed in more strategic locations though. You'll wish you have more rockets early on though. Be ready to grab the plasma rifle when you press the switch to lower the thingy it got placed on. The last fight with the two Batons and an Arch-vile was pretty nice though

 

Map 29 - Dermodiae

 

I really wish I had a little more to say here because unlike some of the other guys here, I kind of enjoyed it and would even argue it's the most visually-impressive map thus far. The triangle platform you start out in is kind of trippy, and it's not the only geometric curiosity you'll spot here. The start on the other hand....you know that map you play where you die more times in a wad than all the previous levels combined? Well, that wasn't quite the case here, but I probably died between 8-12 times. Absolutely hellish for pistol starters and with a Pain Elemental you may not even spot until they decide to teleport next to you, not to mention Imps on the ledges and chaingunners behind....stuck in the middle with you. I didn't really find the Arch-viles near the end to be so bad because you have a decent chance of avoiding them if you keep moving and anyway, the secret Invulnerbility is not hard to find, though you might want to save it.

 

Map 30 - Alleganesis

 

A flesh cavern. The most hellish and scary of all of hell and a spooky track to accompany it. What more could you want. A competently-designed Icon of Sin fight? You've got it! While you can still UV speed this without actually killing anything, what would be the fun in that?

 

Soon as you enter the main room, the Icon awakens so I killed the spectres/demons that charge at you before entering. At some point on your right, you'll encounter a Mastermind with an Arachnotron bodyguard. Ammo is so plentiful, you might as well go ahead and destroy them. There's also a Cyberdemon that liked to teleport arpund. Paul here does a wonderful job at balancing the more open rooms with the more cramped ones with approproate variance in floor texture. It was also little effort to rocket enemies here while wandering through the caves.

 

This is one of those Icon of sin fights you'll need keys for. Once you acquire all 3, you can open the little bit near the entrance to this cavern to climb the stairs and rocket the Icon of Sin with zero effort.

 

 

 

Finishing this felt gratifying and not without some bit of pride I suppose. My overall opinion remains unchanged though. I would add 27 and 29 to my Top 10 maps, but I don't think I'll do a new list. 26 might go above 19, but that's only just. Yay!

 

 

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