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Egregor's Level Reviews: The Mansion by Alden Bates

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I tend to play single levels from all over the board, not usually finishing an episode until months after I start. I play levels from pistol start on UV. If I die 3-5 times I bump it down a notch, etc.

Egregor Reviews:
1994 Tune Up (2011), MAP10: Melange v2 by Maggot 202. Level based on Melange by Kennith S Forte (1994, obviously).

Visual: This level is a *gasps* nuclear facility that has been *gasps* over run by satanic forces. But unlike many other levels that share this same theme Maggot 202 does a great job only revealing demonic infrastructure when ambushes occur, giving a sense of an evil haunt bending reality. The music, the theme from Halloween, only adds to this, changing the perception of the level from action to horror. The level looks interesting and I feel all the schemes work together well. Maggot 202 has walked right up to the overly detailed line, and managed never to cross it.

Layout: The point of the project was to take a pre-existing 1994 layout and remake it. I feel this layout is weak, linear, and maybe too small. Given that, I feel Maggot 202 stretched it as far as it would go. The level still however feels extra linear and controlled, with several rooms even having back tracking blocked off. Perhaps this was meant to heighten the demonic horror theme.

Gameplay: I tried to beat the level my standard 3 times on UV before knocking it down a notch. After that I was able to beat it first try. I actually think if I would have given it another 2 or 3 times on UV I probably could have beaten it. Maggot 202 definitely knows how to use Boom to his advantage. There are several times when doomguy dummies are used to create highly coordinated ambushes. I felt that most all of the enemies were either a threat or useful as infighters. I like that at a certain point in the level med packs disappear from the supplies, making you really have to struggle to the end, and again adding to the horror style gameplay. I felt it was a strange choice to repopulate the main room with shell boxes instead of making them available from reveal closets. It made me feel even more so that someone was playing puppet master, but I feel it detracted from the demonic invasion theme. Items should be scavenged, not 'provided'.

Overall review: This is a nuclear facility with a demonic haunting. Horror as a theme is emphasized. Beautiful visuals. Boring, linear layout feels very controlled. Great ambushes.

Overall rating: 75%, C

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8-29-13: Coffee Break E1 - Level 6: Checkpoint by Matt Tropiano
Died 5 times on UV. 100% Items, 100% Kills, 50% Secrets.

Visual Theme:
Checkpoint is a sleek 'TNT/Plutonia' style bunker. Those contoured lights against the back pillars appear to bend Doom's 2.5d engine, and both skylights are some of the coolest geometry worship I have seen for quite some time. The ending actually has a clear transition, as you leave one building and go to the next. Often, back in the 90s, when this was done it felt hokey, but here it was done quite tastefully.

The music kind of has this umpa-lumpa Nazi death march thing going on . . . which, now that I think about it, is pretty Doom.

The layout of this small level is (almost) completely symmetrical, which may sound boring, but is actually genius. The except to this being the two different secrets, each of which is located in different areas on each side of the fold, each with its own type of item. I must admit that once I found that first secret I was finally able to beat the level, which in my opinion shows just how well Matt has balanced this level.

The gameplay is really what shines about this level. Many would argue that this has to be true for any level to be considered good, really. The constant onslaught by hit-scanners kept the threat of death very real, and kept the action going, but pain elementals and barons of hell were also a treat. I thought the spider mastermind was a strange choice since I just spammed him to death from behind a window. I assume that's what anybody who actually beats the level does since there is no reason or incentive to run out into his courtyard domain and put yourself in danger (unless perhaps you didn't find the secret/s?). The finale was great, and left me wanting more.

Checkpoint is a small, sleek, symmetrical 'TNT' style bunker. The gameplay is really what shines about this level. With the exception of the spider mastermind the level was action packed. Good fun!

Score: 95%

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Memento Mori (1996) - Level 10: The Mansion by Alden Bates

Deaths: 4 deaths on UV. Kills: 95%, Items: 81%, Secrets: 25%, Time: 14:26

Being a part of Momento Mori, one of the first coherent megawads, makes this level a true classic, but unfortunately it doesn't impress by today's standards. Like the name implies, The Mansion is a 1994+2 style wooden castle. This level functions, has a consistent theme, and is challenging. With that said, it plays and looks like Wolfenstein with height elevation. Even obvious texturing was left bland (like the pillars in the courtyard). A lot of the enemy placement forced me to rely heavily on the old 'door frame' crux, with spacious courtyards often going unused because the gameplay was so straight forward and hit-scan heavy. The layout did allow for several different ways to tackle the level though, with different items placed down different paths. I enjoyed using the layout to my advantage on the repeat attempts, so I feel that part of the gameplay was strong.

The music on this level was actually quite good, starting out with a somber metal-meets-barque section that breaks into a chill rock groove that eventually adds a trumpet solo. It then gets dicey with a clarinet? or flute? solo that leads into the best part of the song, the castle action finale.

Overall: I guess a lot has changed since 1996, because this level felt bland and basic. The best part was the cool castle music.

Score: 60%

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Pretty much agre with most of what you said re: The Mansion, though for its time it was still an interesting level, and a decent attempt to do something *relatively* unique. (Not that maps of this type were particularly new, even then.

I am curious as to why, of all the 64 maps in MM1 and MM2, you chose this one to review, especially seeing as you weren't exactly blown away by this particular level.

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My current roster of WADs:
-Khorus (2012): level 6 (5 frags on UV, 0 frags on HMP)
-Heretic (1996?): 4th episode, 3rd level
-Coffee Break E1 (2012): 6th level
-Memento Mori (1996): level 10
-1994 tune up (2011): level 11
-Vanguard (2011): 4th level, (3 frags on UV)
-Icarus (1996): level 9

When I boot up Doom to play (and now review) a level I pick one off of my list here.

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Keep the reviews coming, this is good stuff. You should also consider recording some videos with these in-depth reviews because I'm sure they would get a lot of views on youtube.

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