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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Unholy Realms & Zone 300 (simultaneously!)

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That yellow key can be accessed through a completely untelegraphed pushwall secret nearby, Mouldy.

UR Map 22 -- Halls of Fallen Undesired (Lust) - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
According to the textfile this is E3's 'breather' map, and so I was surprised it was as tricky as it was--died on the first couple of attempts learning the lay of the land, with the arch-vile on the walkway overlooking the big blood pool being persistently problematic (to put it lightly). Once I developed a plan things went smoothly, though, thanks in part to the powerful secret the textfile also mentions.

This is a very traditional location-based Hell map, featuring a grandiose (yet seedy) marble shrine with many clean angles and broad surfaces, housing a number of blood pools of varying sizes, no doubt sites for unspeakable orgies. About that, the 'Lust' angle is really only represented in the most abstract of ways, with nothing overtly sexually suggestive present, perhaps save for the vaguely phallic aspect of the big tower of decaying flesh that looms on the horizon (of course, one could say that about most big towers, arguably)--so no DTS-T sector-tits or sergeant/imp sodomy displays here, heh. Like I said, it's subtle (which is probably for the best), ala the decidedly 'fleshy' color scheme created by the combination of crimson marble with that odd CC4 'dulce de leche' marble recolor. One random aesthetic observation I'd have is that I think the shape/style of the sky-hole exit room is rather interesting, certainly unorthodox.

About the action, there's a nice mix of incidental combat, traps, and free-for-alls in open or outdoor areas, so the intimation that E3 combines the combat styles of E1 and E2 is certainly being borne out thus far. Similar to map 21, I think most of the actual challenge elides not so much from the danger of given encounters per se, but rather from the fact that health and ammo can both be surprisingly scarce at times. I reckon it's a map where the degree of challenge is highly route-dependent; like I said, I was killed through simple attrition on first look, but once I knew where things were it was indeed rather easy (second death was just some very poor play, plain and simple). I liked the uncomfortable noble/demon trap on the way to the blue key (although I largely ignored it on my successful run), and the way that various monsters (particularly shotgunners and cacos, felt like) seemed to be gradually filtering into the starting area from somewhere and meeting me later at various other points in the building. The aforementioned secret is simple (though its tell is subtle), and allows for easy handling of the largest battle, although that battle offers enough space to be successfully conquered without it. I also noticed the conspicuous lack of a berserk pack, I believe the only map thus far not to have one--is that some kind of impotence joke, Snakes? :D

A couple of technical issues I encountered: when I teleported to the invulnerability sphere, I heard a cyberdemon stomping around, but he never actually appeared in the map. Secondly, I accidentally found that it's possible (though difficult) to activate the trigger line that lowers the part of the walkway the yellow skull is on by vigorously strafehumping the edge of platform from down in the blood pool while it's still elevated. It occurred to me that this might be another one of the speedrunner routes, but something about it somehow felt like it wasn't really intentional. Oh, and while I'm at it, in looking at map 23 I found that the automap refers to map 23 as 'Greed' even though it's supposed to be Gluttony, and to map 24 as 'Gluttony' even though it's supposed to be Greed.

Z300 Map 22 -- Firestorm Tomb - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Yes, this is a more traditionally PCorfian Hell setting. Looks alright with its traditional marble/redrock scheme, although a couple of the large gnarled trees in the opening yard are placed in spaces far too small for them, making them clip severely into the sides of the building. Similar to some other Z300 maps, ammo is pretty tight here at the start, what with the Baron bouncers guarding the entrance. If anything, I'd say that's what most sets this map apart--it's the first one in the set that I felt was really dangerous, mostly a function of the aforementioned supply shortage and the sheer volume of lost souls that surround the player at the start. Pressing on and finding the secret eventually evens things out, but still, it's a fairly stressful start. Quite liked the BGM here this time, it has that adventuresome quality to it that reminds me of some of the better tracks from 2002:ADO. Unfortunately, the ending falls flat on its face, with the most egregiously oversized (or over-HP'd, rather) portion of ExitMeat to scarf down in the WAD thus far. PCorf, cramming a lot of high-HP monsters into the area right before the exit doesn't add 'challenge' (since Barons are generally fairly easy to fight when you have weaponry/can retreat from them) so much as it adds 'playtime', and there's a world of difference between a meaningful encounter and simple padding.

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Demon of the Well said:

That yellow key can be accessed through a completely untelegraphed pushwall secret nearby, Mouldy.

well how about that, i must have pushed every bit of wall execpt for that bit!

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Zone300 MAP22: Firestorm Tomb

I expressed worry after the last map that PCorf was starting to phone it in, thankfully, this map shows that's not the case since it feels a lot more well-thought-out through the whole shebang. The lost souls really add a lot of danger to the map. For me, the big crux of the level was after killing the first few barons and souls - I had 10 shells and only a SSG. Open the door, immediately get bombarded by flyers and shot at by hitscanners. Holing up isn't an option due to the lack of ammo, so it turned into running kamikaze at the hitscanners hoping I could grab the box of shells, armor and chaingun without dying horribly. Which happened many, many times before I finally got lucky... frustrating.

After the initial fight, the going is pretty easy - some souls, some imps, a revenant, etc. The ending is basically another big meat room but at least it's a room and not a short little corridor. But I do agree with Demon of the Well (I gotta figure out an acceptable shorthand/nickname for you given how often I echo your opinions) that sticking 5 Barons in a room isn't fun gameplay, since they're easy to deal with. There's a reason all the new baddies added to Doom II have lower hit points. Oh, and there's really no need to have the lava be 20% damaging. It makes some of the fights harder than they need be and getting hit with a 20% damage hit is just too much (and it even leaks through the pointless radsuit). 3/5

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Zone 300: Map 22 - UV, pistol start

This was one of the toughest maps so far, mostly due to that unrelenting start. I quickly grabbed the SSG & fought the barons in that room letting them kill any lost souls for me. After the barons were dead I went back outside to get get rid of the last few lost souls. I had only 30 bullets when I finally opened the first door & had to let a lot of monsters do all the killing for me so I could save ammo. I dropped down into the pits & got the rocket launcher & berserk, I didn't have to much trouble with the map after that until I got to the Red key door. I once again almost ran out of ammo here, luckily though this was also the exit room.

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Now... time for my Unholy Realms massive catch-up!

MAP14: Drifting Complex

Not my usually preferred style of map, but not bad for what I consider a "concept" map (i.e., all the gameplay is focused on one idea). Was a bit frustrating at first until I discovered all the ammo was down in the sludge. I liked the AV ambushes, but the one after the yellow switch felt a bit repetitive since I had just ran the exact same route. Still, the design makes this one stand out. 3/5

MAP15: Ravine of the Hatred

Decent map, the start is hectic but not overwhelmingly so like some of the other maps. Cyberdemon fight was a bit frustrating due to the placement of the shotgun shell boxes; I wasted them all taking out imps so I could run around the outer circle safely. Still, I like how the Cyber has a wide view of the level and threatens a large area of it. Found all the goodies, but only after lots of searching at the end of the map.

MAP31: Destructive Infinity

Charming little map, though it peters out a bit after the initial battle (which left half the monsters dead). I can see how it's by a different author, but the style isn't so different that it doesn't fit in. The yellow key was annoying since the switch was too dark for me to see (I ended up shooting it out lack of ideas, heh). I admit I had to cheat to find the secret exit (due to trying to get through these maps quickly) but it's not unfairly hidden... I actually usually like hidden switches for the eagle-eyed. Incidentally, there's a pretty bad HOM on the "exit" teleport pad before the secret soulsphere. 4/5

MAP32: A Charming Khorus

Unlike the last one, this one does stick out like a sore thumb as being from a different author. I'm not familiar with Khorus' work, so I can't comment on the "well its definitely a Khorus map" comments, but I will say that it's definitely less detailed and more old-school design that Snakes work in UR. Even the MIDI feels old-school and reminds me of E1M1 a slight bit. The fights are pretty easy (even the Cyber can be avoided/infighting), but it's nice to have a map that doesn't have everything be about teleport ambushes and reveals and instead just have monsters waiting in rooms. I think my biggest challenge was adjusting to primarily using the plasma gun due to the plasma ratio. Also, remembering where the blue key is (I kinda hate the "picking up the key opens the door" effect because it doesn't show on the minimap as a key door). No secrets either. 2/5

MAP16: Dockside

Between the texture choices, music and level design, this feels a lot like a Heretic level after escaping the initial start area. After reading the textfile and musician's notes, that's apparently intentional, so, good work. Huge ring around the main structure, clearing out the enemies, then it's pretty tame. Apparently this is due to a bug though... I don't think any monsters teleported for the red switch, just some steps to the exit. 2/5 as is; would probably be a 3/5 with a bugfix.

MAP17: Missing Gamma Sector

Good map, back more to the standard design seen earlier in the WAD. Some good fights, though the blue key one almost feels unfair with the unseen teleport and the demons clamping down on the player before they can switch weapons. Hope you have the BFG out for no reason as you head down that dark watery corridor. Enjoyed the fight at the end, I was hoping for a big arena fight after seeing all the ammo laid out there. Kinda disappointed I couldn't walk up the Cyberdemon's tower, though. 4/5

MAP18: Of Blood and Crimson (The Sanguine Base)

I dunno, nothing about this map jumped out at me much, beyond the blood floors everywhere. Even the not-that-much-of-a-remix MIDI underwhelms a bit. I suppose there are a few nice bits, such as the yellow door trickery, or how enemies would storm in from far away in the map, but other than that, meh. Not bad, just generic feeling. Reading the author notes, seem Snakes felt the same way. 3/5

MAP19: Borough of Blood

Feels a lot like MAP16 with MAP18's monster patterns and ambushes worked in. Very frantic start, lots of running around a big circular area with lots of large buildings in the middle, then explore to find the keys, each unleashing more and more ambushes, including the roving AVs. Had fun finding the secrets on this one. Interesting ending with the blue door, as it first appears as though the player can dash in, hit the switch, then run out and into the exit without killing anything, but the "exit" just teleports you back into the middle of those enemies you didn't kill. Hehe. While this one repeats a lot of the same themes and design bits seen so far, it feels a bit a cut above. 4/5

MAP20: Rite of Passage

An interesting concept (big arena with a series of keys/switches to hit) but definitely needed some extra work to make it perfect. The progression of the level isn't very clear - took me a long time to find the first skull button, and then had to guess at what happened next. Key unlocked? A teleporter? Another random switch on a column? Aside from the Arch-Viles, I didn't bother killing anything that teleported in. Also, and this is more of a pet peeve, but I really dislike replacing the revenants in towers with more revenants, just feels like a time waster. The exit is a nice campy touch. 3/5

MAP21: Ashen Layer

The first time I played this, I really felt like I was missing something, since I kept running out of ammo - at one point I had 10 shells, and had to kill two revenants, a hellknight, the arachnatron, and assorted imps/sergeants. Yeah, that wasn't happening. Replaying the map with the idea of "make sure you clear out as much as you can before proceeding" made it a lot better - still tough, but not unfairly so. Only finished with 40 health, 7 shells and nothing else, but nice little map. Really dig the aesthetic, too. 3/5

MAP22: Halls of Fallen Undesired (Lust)

Break map, huh? Riiight...

Things start out fairly easy (I like the shotgunners trickling in from the start pad) but the lack of ammo early on makes it difficult after the first room or so. I actually got trapped by going for the RL too early. The outside fight by the blue key is pretty tough - sure, there's a nice chokepoint to slam rockets into the revenant army, but the Cacos and Pain Elementals floating around are a huge threat (especially due to the lack of ammo if too many lost souls get spawned). I was still plagued by ammo troubles throughout the map, and just high-tailed past everything by the yellow bars. Ain't no time for that shit when there's an exit to jump into! I really dug the tower off in the distance, nice design. (Not sure about putting the invuln sphere there, since it gives a not-so-great view of the level where the sky clips off a lot). 3/5

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IMO, the real "break map" of UR Episode 3 is 23.


If you know when those Viles teleport in and are ready to take them down ASAP, the map is a breeze

EDIT: There's a BFG in Missing Gamma Sector? Huh, missed that; certainly would have made everything from the blue-key onwards easier.

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MAP23 Dungeon of Inferno

*Regular Run*

Shows its Inferno-ish qualities. Plenty of hellknights in this one, then revenants. Plays real well. Missed the soulsphere secret the first time on this go, and had at it again. Final Time 2:12.

*Reality Run*

Wasn't anything special, although I didn't see a caco coming when concentrating on the hellknights. Mostly rocket action at the end too. Final Time 2:50.

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I'm pretty sure there's no BFG in Missing Gamma Sector.

Unholy Realms Map19: Borough of Blood

God damn, what a map. I've liked E2 overall more than E1 and this is really the crown jewel of E2. The gameplay is just amazing, everything I've loved about the previous maps' open and fast paced combat returns and is raised up a notch. It's pretty difficult too and I had some troubles getting a good exit at first but never did I get frustrated with this. The first Cyber being able to roam freely in the premises is a brilliant move since it offers constant threat and he can be rather useful for nimble players if you opt to keep him alive. I killed him a bit early actually, usually I'd let him take care of some of the Cacos but for some reason didn't this time. The monster placement overall is very good and you really have to watch your surroundings to survive this. The secret are also pretty clever and especially the BFG one took me some time to figure out. Just a great map.

BUT this map seemed to be very susceptible to all kinds of annoying shenanigans that will or could break a run. First of all, on some occasions a single monster refuses to teleport in. Often it was one of the Archies of the AV-duo that appears after grabbing the BK but I had a Caco stuck in it's chamber once too. Their destinations were probably vacated when they crossed the teleporting linedef or something since they weren't dormant either. Secondly, resurrected ghost monsters were very common, courtesy of those two aforementioned Archies. They don't break anything and there's really no way around it without lessening the experience but killing a ghost HKs is rather annoying. Oh, and intercepts overflows say hi as well. Happened twice I think: one case is clear cut, in the other a Pinkie waltzed through solid wall and bit me to death so I didn't really have time to think what was happening. It was pretty early on though so I'm not sure how it could've been a resurrected ghost either. Yeah yeah, it's my own fault since I didn't turn off the emulation so this is not really even a complaint, more like a curiosity.

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Veinen, are you using a particular soundfont or something? The strings are always rather loud in your videos and the lead synths are barely noticeable. The guitars are also a bit quiet. Nice choir, though x) It just sounds different than my generic soundcard SF2's.

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Nah, I have no idea why it's like that but my glboom always sounds a bit different. Prboom sounds much more balanced but it looks too bright so I prefer glboom+ in video capturing. No worries though, I always watch my own demos in prboom so I get to hear the music better too, hehe.

Aaand since I'm here, I might as well post a vid. Map19 has a neat speedrunning trick that I found a few days ago, didn't mention it in the review since I really wanted an exit. Well I finally got one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2W2VMQzoqA.

I'd be kicking myself in the head here had I died at the final stairs...

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Zone300 MAP23: Dungeon of Inferno

A bloody affair that actually feels a bit longer than it actually is, which is a good thing. True to its name, lots of the E3 textures show up here. Fights are decently tough but not unfair, with plenty of infighting opportunities and enough shotgun/rocket ammo to rock all the bruisers. Good map. 4/5

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Veinen said:

I'd be kicking myself in the head here had I died at the final stairs...

Cool! Now start working on killing less and less monsters to speed it up... ;)

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I'll wait for the final version to unleash my true speedrunning potential! (yeah right...) Seriously though, there's definitely plenty of improvements to be done but an exit is a start and grinding down the time to more competitive levels is going to be a nightmare, I'd wager.

Unholy Realms Map20: Rite of Passage

A small slaughterish map, which is unfortunately not very difficult. Decent fun though since it's pretty short too and very bloody. Do an AV-jump to the BFG secret as soon as possible and you're pretty much home free. Not much to say really, just keep firing until everything's dead. I too disliked the neverending Revs on pillars though and the visuals are pretty damn plain to be honest. Still, it's good for a laidback run or two.

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Zone 300: Map 23 - UV, pistol start

This map wasn't that bad, up until the exit room. A nice change of pace here at the start where I can take it nice and slow instead of rushing to get a weapon like the last few maps. The way this map is set up is pretty good I often had to watch my back for enemies that would attack me from above, cacodemons were particularly deadly. Near the end I once again ran out of ammo, this marks the first map where I was unable to get 100% kills because I really didn't want to punch an arachnotron to death.

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UR Map 23 -- Cliffs of the Consumed (Gluttony) - 118% Kills / 100% Secrets
More high-octane than either of the first two Hell maps, 'Gluttony' is essentially a return to the gameplay theme of E2, turned up to 10. It contains a lot of powerful enemies who are deployed such that they are capable of killing you quickly, but as a compensation also features a glut (heh) of medical supplies to hold you together throughout the ride.

This is again a very traditional Hell setting, this time based more on natural (if you can call it that) terrain than on any particular building. Depicted is a series of sweltering caves in a very hot part of Hell; the blood-red rocks glow and shimmer with heat, and the area is dotted by pools and streams of lava. Nearby is a squat stone enclosure, apparently a larder of some kind judging by its contents. Again, the projection of the 'Gluttony' theme is left largely up to the player's imagination, with the only really pronounced nod to it being the decidedly maw-like aspect of the exit aperture; one might also posit that the magma-blighted cave system is itself like unto a stomach full of ulcerous secretia, but that's merely my own interpretation. One thing that really struck me here as I was looking at the automap is the shape of the level; its irregular, craggly aspect standing in stark contrast to the decidedly boxy aspect of earlier maps, suggestive of Snakes having gained a lot of experience over the course of creation of the WAD. Another is that I somehow suspected there to be a lot more mancubi than there were (again, the theme).

As aforesaid, the order of the day here as far as combat goes is tearing ass around all over the place from the word go, being assaulted by all kinds of monsters from all sides and on several height levels; you can try heading into the caves, but a lot of the monsters (particularly the cacos) are quite happy to follow you in and make your afterlife difficult as you try to clean up. As per usual there's a large amount of open space at your disposal most of the time, but evasive maneuvers aren't as simple as they might seem, given that there are so many perched enemies and so few convenient obstacles that it's sometimes surprisingly difficult to lose revenants' seeker missiles; very much a map where you want to kill things as soon as possible, even if they aren't directly threatening you at the moment. This 'quick victory' principle is key to triumphing over the viles, who are either fairly harmless or formidable indeed depending on how long they're allowed to exist. I'd say the one big flaw is the cyberdemon....I don't really like his placement much. He's essentially a turret, but a turret that is completely incapable of harming you (while you can damage him with impunity) if you stand at the correct angle to the exit maw. Personally, having only enough cells for a single BFG shot by the time he appeared (incidentally, this is another of those things that barely even qualifies as 'secret'), I decided to amuse myself by looking for an opening to dash into the sky-hole without killing him.

UR Map 24 -- The Keeper's Castle (Greed) - 107% Kills / 100% Secrets
Rather tough....tougher than I expected, really, died a few times here getting the hang of it. A bloodsoaked bastion of classic green marble and iron, the name of the game in Greed is crossfire--it's exceedingly easy to be almost instantly torn to shreds by the firestorm of gunfire and evil magic that flies your way as soon as you show your face in the ensanguined courtyard that serves as the Castle's main battleground. Similarly, it may seem at first like there are a lot of medical items to see you through, but they can vanish at a demoralizing rate what with how quickly you can take a lot of damage. The same is true with ammo, with an apparent cornucopia at the outset that begins to seem less and less adequate as more and more fuel is added to the fire in the final struggle. Armor, at least, is slightly less rare.

While there's a large (and largely laid-back) side area centering around a bridge and a neat cage-run trap involving a cadre of Barons and some cacodemons, the marquee fight here is the conquest of the heavily-defended sunken keep where the red skull-key is found, jealously guarded by undead watchmen, a phasing brigade of bonemen, and a pair of absolutely merciless arch-vile accountants--much as in map 18, these latter two in particular are dangerous because the open ground of the courtyard allows them to attack at will, and cover can be extremely hard to come by at that point in the battle, since staying in any one place for too long is cheating death considering that a cyberdemon takes up a position on a ledge overlooking the whole battle shortly before it begins...sure, there are a couple of places to hole up, but there are just so many of the miserly damned coveting your soul at that point that this is essentially just as dangerous. Survive all that, and another cyberdemon with another arch-vile in tow will try to stop you from reaching the actual exit. While satisfying to conquer, it surely is grueling considering it's such a small map. Fortunately, there are a number of key secrets and tricks that drastically increase survivability, though oddly only one of them (the plasma rifle ledge) is actually flagged secret.

If I've not talked about the visuals much, again it's because this is a rather understated map, its structure generally being strictly utilitarian (it was made for hoarding, after all, not to be pretty); it's essentially a couple of boxes with little in the way of light variation, although the modest degree of height variation in each is quite relevant to the gameplay in this case. Again, the 'Greed' theme is not strongly played up, the main manifestation of it (as far as I can see) simply being that there's a keep full of valuable stuff tightly guarded at the heart of the fortress.

Enjoyable maps both, although in truth I reckon I liked 'Lust' more than either of them. Oh, and a minor bug I may or may not have remembered to mention before, but the automap has the names 'Gluttony' and 'Greed' erroneously switched around for these two maps.

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MAP24 Cavern Of the Evil Spirit

*Regular Run*

Sexy title :). First half was very Spirit-World-esque, ties in with the map name well. Second half is a "pcorf corridor" which is a long corridor with mainly zombies, quite spread, and the corridor reveals to a bigger threat. Here, it was a few mancubus. Pretty fun level overall. Final Time 2:31.

*Reality Run*

Kinda nerve-wracking at the start but not bad. Gotta watch the lost souls. The corridor was somewhat frustrating to deal with though, I probably shouldn't use the SSG here but I did, oh and there's an archvile about halfway through the corridor. But it's not bad for a run through. Final Time 3:08.

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Unholy Realms MAP32 - "A Charming Khorus"

Different style of Khorus is distinctly felt here. Reminds more of Khorus Speedy Shit (from which I've played just a little) rather than maps previously encountered in UR. I like this map a lot, even though it is different. (I wouldn't say I like it because it is different, that's something other.) Unlike Snakes's maps, this map appears like the layout was done first and gameplay thought out after that. In no way I am saying that is bad. All the monster placement feels more relaxed and less cluttered and forced/scripted, and it is all followed by a lower difficulty than average UR. I find this good, and I am glad for such a map being part of UR. Maps like this never get me nuts or angry, unlike for example UR MAP14.

You need to well manage with your health in this map, as there's just a very few medikits around and you're dependant on powerups you get once a while. Interesting approach. As well as a forced plasmagun usage (working even in continuous play), good.

Also, I'm saying NO to the map title. :) But seriously, I'd choose another.

MAP16 - "Dockside"

Similar to MAP14 in the way that you're constantly under fire from all directions. Anyway this map felt less hectic and less difficult, probably because you have more space to move around here. I was finished relatively fast with this one.

The map has a nice visual theme, and is surprisingly easy and enjoyable to navigate, good job on this! I found a shortcut to red key, too :). I got both "official" secrets, yet I couldn't find a way up to the invulnerability sphere and cells. Also I have beaten all monsters in the area, but the counter still says about 30 monsters are left somewhere. I haven't read other's reviews or check the map in editor so I don't know, but my guess is that you're supposed to archvile-jump for the invulnerability which would loose 30 muncubi, or barons or revenants or something very threatening.

Although my playthrough wasn't without deaths, I found this map enjoyable.

MAP17 - "Missing Gamma Sector"

Quite early on I straferunned out of a window right to the final-fight area and BFG-spammed the courtyard to access the exit early, letting me to bypass more than half of the map and monsters in it and exiting without any keys except the red one. But I backtracked then to see the rest of the map too.

(By the way, there are quite a many Czech mappers/players who would consider such a thing a total mapper's fiasco and horrible desing fault, to let the player skip - even little - parts of the map. Particularly, according to PavelU's words, to 'shortcut' a map means to 'spoil' a map. I never understood that.)

So because I wandered through the map in a non-intended order, I can't describe much about flow, but I definitely liked the fights. And visuals, certainly. I remembered UR MAP05, I think it has similar detailing. Nice lighting work. Gameplay felt easy, yet some fights gave me a trouble. Not the final one though. At least not much trouble. I died just once or twice there, due to the endurance of revenant's homing missiles.

Good map too, without any doubt. Also I noticed the use of individual hellknights. I've read (not here) such a thing being criticised, but as long as it isn't exaggerated and feels natural like in this map, these are enjoyable SSG practices.

MAP18 - "Of Brick and Crimson" (on automap referenced as "The Sanguine Base")

Wow, that music sounded familiar... Hehe, I know, I know.

I must be getting a better player. Not that I die significantly less often, but now I tend to play aggressive a lot as a matter of course and without a loss in my successes. I mean, now I don't need to play carefully, because it's often worth to me to play aggressive, rush, switch weapons and fire the powerful ones fast etc.

This map is well constructed as a group of courtyards built around a central hub and interconnected by corridors and not only them. Archviles and other tough monsters made for some difficult, yet managable fight. The red key grab thing lets us know we're in a quality wad - and I mean it seriously and without any irony. Such a teasing... I like it. :)

After the end, is it possible to reobtain way out? I haven't found it, and thus couldn't search for more secrets. Likely I overlooked something? Anyway, again, enjoyable piece of work.

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UR Map23 - "Cliffs of the Consumed (Gluttony)": Back to the lake of fire and brimstone. This redrock outpost is pretty enjoyable to pistol start and I was exhibiting some excellent skill up until the final two AVs made a fool out of me. I’m unsure whether I enjoy this or MAP22 more, as they’re both fun to play although this feels more like a playground than a corridor crawl. There’s plenty of spots to hide and you have to be somewhat wise with your ammo, as shells can be depleted before you get your hands on the RL. The final cyber can be unfortunately cheesed by just standing shy of the first step and letting him blast into the grating (or you could merely run past him), but everything else about this map is thrilling. Probably the easiest map in E3 IIRC, despite what the text file says.

Oh, this texture misbalance is a bit eye-catching.

UR Map24 - "The Keeper's Castle (Greed)": This and MAP27 are probably my least favorite E3 episodes, but still offer up bursts of fun. This level is divided up into two sections—west and east—and features most of its fun in the eastern section, which is unforgiving with the number of AVs that pop in (the first is a mere welcome while the last one has his big cybernetic brother stomping around and firing rockets your way). This section, while not too intimidating beyond the perched chaingunners at first, gets more devious as it goes on thanks to the aforementioned yellow devils (and only one platform left to block their sight in the middle of the arena). Only issue here is that I feel the tele in the lower pool of blood should be further back so the player doesn’t run off the edge just to hop into it (there could be monster-only tele lines for the AV down there so they can pop up above if need be).

The western section is far more… disappointing. While fine in style, the gameplay here feels lukewarm at best as the lost souls are unable to pass by the barriers surrounding the blood pit. This makes the subsequent PE trap a bit of a clusterfuck you can easily run from it, and all the monsters will be left to duke it out over and under the bridge trying to find ways to get to you. I feel like this is the weakest section in all of Unholy Realms, as I never quite get a feel for what Knox was trying to accomplish here. The rest of the map is enjoyable, but this section is a fumble in my book.

Also, the green armor past the baron door in the middle of the map is wholly unnecessary as the map isn’t that big and there’s THREE other armors besides it. I picked it up with 87% and ran into the next one with 100% still remaining.


Z300 Map23 - "Dungeon of Inferno": There was a bit too much fighting in that long stairway for me, along with an excess of hellknights. Still, it looked nice and did challenge me quite a bit, particularly when I tried to skip everything once I got the blue key and found myself sandwiched between way too many monsters in the end. It was entertaining to get myself out of the grave I just made.

Z300 Map24 - "Cavern of the Evil Spirit": Shame about this map—the beginning section is probably my favorite part of Zone 300, having a great visual sense, good enemy placement, and a decent assortment of ammo. Zipping along the bottom and picking up shotguns followed by scaling the nearby rocks under fire from lost souls and hell goop was very enjoyable, and cacos were a nice complement to that dynamic. This is followed by a tepid hallway segment that ends in a manc reveal which… is a poor choice of enemy given the astounding amount of cover and their slow movement. It’s unfortunate because the level could’ve ended on a high-note but instead it just felt like busywork… the tried and true rev+AV would’ve worked better there, or hell, just throw 2 cybers at the player. As it stands I’m only halfway impressed.

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UR MAP23: Cliffs of the Consumed (Gluttony)

I agree with Cynical that this seems like more of a "break map" than the previous one. None of the ambushes are too large (usually 4-5 of the Doom II enemies) and there's plenty of room to run around and dodge projectiles in. Ammo isn't plentiful - I think I was in the yellow on every weapon upon leaving - but it's also not stingy. Plenty of health around. Not a bad romp. 3/5

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Map22 "Pestilence"

Dark, hellish, Black-Metal inspired track, using guitar and string combos. Lots of minor tonality and half step drops to make it all the more evil, bwe hehehe.

Map23 "Chaos"

Symphony X inspired song, a bit more progressive and/or technical than my usual style. Still keeping that string and guitar combo keeping the "horror" aspect of E3 and enough tension to keep the player on his toes during combat.

Map24 "Maelstrom"

Another action rock track with Gothic elements. Slightly inspired by Dimmu Borgir with a lot of choir usage and some chimes. Not much else to say about it for me, heh.

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dobu gabu maru said:

UR Map24 - "The Keeper's Castle (Greed)"[/b]: This and MAP27 are probably my least favorite E3 episodes

Map 27?!?! That one is possibly my favorite in the wad, despite the leaky radsuits and weird buggyness! That layout is sweet! And it's got awesome Arachnotrons!

Agreed on 24, though; it's one of two (well, probably three really, but I dislike IoS fights in general, so I didn't even bother looking at map 30) maps I really disliked (the other being map 29).

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more Unholy Realms catching up...

Map 18

I really enjoyed most of this, lots of space for running around dodging snipers and struggling for cover. The final battle was a real pain though, I was on half health and only shells for ammo, so was really down to luck dealing with vile and revs with only a thin pole for cover. I had to just roll a dice and hope something hit the vile before he killed me while i ran for rockets and medkits, so that was only achieved through countless tries and blind luck really. Probably my own fault for not saving any decent ammo, but its still a bastard of a fight.

Map 19

Can't say I enjoyed this one. There were moments of fun, like the initial hunt for weapons and safety (not keen on that forced run to escape certain death by rev) and when I finally got the megasphere which let me deal with the 2 archies and their resurrected army on more equal terms (leaving the 2nd cyber alive to help me turned out to be a good move). But between those moments there was a really protracted struggle to survive on low health (thanks mostly to chaingunner snipers that were too high to see), where every encounter seemed to whittle me down further or flat out kill me with one mistake. This led to massive save spamming. Also I was stuck for bloody ages because I didn't figure strafe-running out a window would be considered a mandatory requirement to progression. I was struggling for ammo towards the end when I needed it the most, and ended up scraping around the whole map for stray bullets just to clear the last few revs out the way of the exit. Dunno if i was just playing it all wrong, but there were situations which should have been fun which I found kind of tedious for some reason. Maybe i'm having a bad doom day..

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Now more pistol starts on Zone 300 for a change:

Zone 300 MAP22 - "Firestorm Tomb"

Nice start. Structure would have benefited from being less linear. Also the idea could have been a little more than just a practice in SSGing (or berserk-fisting) barons, which the map mostly is and the rest feels like a filler, even I feel so. But actually, it's good to have such a practice. I admit I was once killed by a baron near the beginning, hit me in my back when I was running round him and didn't pay attention. No real fault encountered, I only feel it is one of the weaker maps, still good, though.

Zone 300 MAP23 - "Dungeon of Inferno"

I almost survived my first run through... :) On the second one, I actually grabbed all the offered rockets and won. Still embarassing, considering that I once played most of these levels before, even though in multiplayer.

Well, MAP23 is certainly better than MAP22. You're given appropriate weaponry for what crosses your way, but if you are slow, you may be disturbed by nasty flying monsters right at the start area. This time the layout allows for a little more strategies, even if it's just to jump down to the start area to avoid a threat. At least the map isn't typically corridor-y, you know, and I like the layout. Shouldn't forget these are 300-lines-limited maps, result like this is pretty good.

There's a multiplayer-only cyberdemon too :)

Zone 300 MAP24 - "Cavern of the Evil Spirit"

"I like how these hell maps are less about corridors and are more toying with the idea of various drops, ledges, height variation and so on," I was thinking while shooting my way through the first half of this map. I admit I'm not into homages, but this was just a texturing homage to MAP28, nothing else, so it's all OK with me and actually very good. The thin piece of wall (that become visible after the blue key trap is opened) bugs me a little, I believe there would be another way which would even save more linedefs. The performation of secrets was nice.

The second half... I've got the impression that author just ran out of creative ideas. Neither the return of corridor shootages, nor the encounter following it impressed me. The map would have turned out better if the second part was thrown out completely, in my opinion. It was a letdown after the first, atmosphere-setting part.

Final verdict: Not bad, but would have been much better if the whole map was made in the same spirit, particularly the spirit of its first part.

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And Unholy Realms again.

Unholy Realms MAP19 - "Borough of Blood"

Slaughterfest unleashes, would be my nickname for this map. Oh well...

City map, well structured (even when it's filling a square area), can be navigated relatively well after you travel around for some time. Visually very high standard. Tough difficulty, at the beginning quite hectic until you get rid of all the disturbers around. I found some shortcuts, unfortunately late, and two secrets still remains a mystery for me (namely soulsphere tower and BFG pillar).

SSGing a lone cyberdemon. I suck at it. I decided to SSG the cyberdemon behind yellow door to death, without saving in between. No other monster was active in the surroundings. It must have taken me over 30 attempts at least, no exaggerating! I think I don't have enough endurance, there was always a moment when I moved wrong and he splattered me all over. Finally I only did it thanks to luring him in a narrow street. Also, I know this is a commonly known thing, but while fighting the cyberdemon, I realized that he fired his rockets right from his crotch, rather than the launcher. Funny if you focus your sight on that. For a while at least. Never seen it before.

I just have to say this: I hate the move when archviles are released somewhere without letting the player know. However skilled and talented Snakes is, while me being just a non-hardcore player, this choice pretty much derails his work in my eyes. I say this independently on whatever other players may have said, as I don't read other people's reviews much now.

Everything else in this map is all OK with me and amazing too. I however doubt if I'll ever get used into all the hecticity and slaughtering gameplay. If only the chaingunners made their first appearance later in this map, possibly after you explore the whole city... That'd be ever greater.

MAP20 - "Rite of Passage"

Every megawad needs its arena-clearout level. I personally think there have already been too much of them, but I have to admit this one is quality. Definitely better than for example Zones of Fear MAP25 "The Oblivion", which I remember being done with a certain laziness, as was however nearly everything from Enkeli33 since his ZOF MAP01 times... Forgive me the off-topic remark.

As every arena level, this one is also made with a certain simplicity, which serves an apparent purpose: The player can familiarize with the arena quickly so all the slaughtering will be easier for him then.

Enemies comes in waves blah blah blah, all OK, interesting moments when I realized that the monsters on pillars respawn, another waves... I only ask: Why hitscanners? WHY CHAINGUNNERS? At least there weren't many. I just don't like these unfairnesses, because I am an unlucky person myself. From all the places in the arena where chaingunners can teleport, they do so in my face, to encircle me and perforate before I even realize.

Well, I managed it, after some attempts. Admittedly it was quite good for this arena type map. I agree that I smelled how the ending will be. But honestly - who didn't, after all?

EDIT: One more note. The intermission text is wider than my screen is, therefore I don't see it whole. The same with the MAP11 intermission text I think, which I didn't mention. I have such problems with some wads with intermission texts. My resolution isn't widescreen.

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Zone300 MAP24: Cavern of the Evil Spirit

Pretty much what scifista said on this one. The first part is great, nice height variation, avoidance of orthogonal angles, good caco ambush, and I like the "secrets". After the blue key, it's a boring corridor shoot, and the ambush doesn't work well because the manucbi are so non-threatening in that layout. Something fast like Revenants/AVs would've been much more fun. Was really surprised when that was the end of the level... seems like there should've been more. So, great first half, bad second half. 3/5

UR MAP24: The Keeper's Castle (Greed)

Note that on the minimap, the names of Gluttony and Greed (MAP23 and MAP24) have been switched from what the textfile says. I think the textfile's associations make more sense, personally.

Decently tough map, mainly due to the amount of projectiles being thrown around from weird angles and my desire to not try killing everything, especially the Cyberdemons (I'm weird like that). Interesting in that the start unknowingly gives you the option of two ways to go, took me awhile to figure out the green forcefield was the teleporter between the two. The yellow key section isn't too tough, the red key area though, that's a doozy.

I agree with the other comments that this one seems a bit underwhelming. Maybe because the setups don't seem as finely-tuned as some of the others, maybe because the map is relatively small and not much to look at. I dunno. But yeah, this one doesn't seem quite as good as the others. 3/5

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Unholy Realms Map21: Ashen Layer (Purgatory)

A pretty meh full-blown berserk map to kickstart the hell-episode. Not very many monsters to battle against but like others have pointed out, the lack of armor and health makes maxing this a rather difficult task since there's very little room for mistakes. A good example of this is in the vid when I lose half of my health due to a single HK scratch and drop from a comfortable 116 to 60. Monster placement is fine and offers infight opportunities (which don't really happen much in the vid). I didn't think that the Archie was particularly dickish either but I always saved my rockets for that encounter so he was usually pretty swiftly disposed of. Visuals are pretty nice and hellish, as is the ominous music.

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Zone 300: Map 24 - UV, pistol start

This was another decent map, especially the starting room. Like the last map this one was nicely connected together so that you were forced to constantly watch your back for an attack from a lost soul or a hell knight from above. The highlight was the fight right after you pick up the blue key, I was running low on ammo so it made for a nice tense fight. Everything after the blue door was a complete waste of time.

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Z300 Map 23 -- Dungeon of Inferno - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Hey, a Zone 300 map that genuinely entertained me, whodathunk? Apart from some strange sky cutoff shenanigans that occur if you look at the eastern/western sides of the building housing the blue skull from certain angles while standing outside of it, it's a clean-looking iteration of PCorf's characteristic red-red-red-with-technicolor-torches version of Hell. I get more of a real sense of place out of this one than I do from most of the random disjointed polygon-collections comprising the other maps, particularly in the starting area/around the blue skull--it's probably the height variation, and the way the keep is nested inside and below the strange high lava moat. Doesn't remotely resemble a 'dungeon' in any way, of course, but who cares? I'll disagree with Magnusblitz about the stairs; I always like stair-based carnage, for whatever reason. The best is when you can blow smaller enemies down long flights of stairs from the top, but here funneling rockets into the HK battalion's ill-fated charge works too. As a bonus, this map also doesn't try to forcefeed us a big sweaty slab of ExitMeat; instead, what we get is a pair of arachnatrons that occupy the initially inaccessible exit pedestal. This setup is much appropriate/effective concerning Paul's avowed goal of adding challenge to the exit area, since the arachs don't just get in the way when you're ready to leave, but can fire on you from an elevated position when you first break into the area, thus making a far more relevant contribution to the overall combat scenario than the legions of corridor-bound nobles/pinkies of past maps could ever hope to.

Z300 Map 24 -- Cavern of the Evil Spirit - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
I fully agree on most counts with what other Clubbers have already said about this one--the best part is clearly the start, a relatively substantial scenario recalling map 22 in its surprisingly threatening use of lost souls, adding in relevant threat on two height levels via a perched HK or two. After leaving this area, however, it instantly falls apart....another limp-wristed corridor slog that would seem lazy even in the Wolf3D engine. Some might say this could be excused for essentially being a device to set up the big courtyard reveal, but I've already seen exactly this same setup in several other PCorf maps to date, and being used here as padding to fill out a map PCorf kept making long after clearly running out of ideas for it doesn't exactly make the familiarity any more endearing. Also, I disagree with some of the others in that I thought the two caco-ledge secrets were pretty pointless, probably didn't need to be flagged secret.

Z300 Map 25 -- Hellucination - 103% Kills / No secrets
Hmm, while this one isn't really to my personal taste, I have to admit it's interesting in some ways. Aesthetically it's a little bit of an eyesore, juxtaposing lava and that ambiguous glowing redwall texture with water and blue carpeting/computer-area textures. This is done in a very calculated way, however, with the odd visual disparity clearly being the intended effect, as opposed to simply being the result of Petersenesque hand-wavery at texture selection time (although it's true that one area does almost completely omit the blue for little apparent reason). Similarly, the action is comprised of lots of corridor-running with enemies alternately blocking your path and firing from slightly elevated positions; it gets old pretty fast considering that the 'leaky radsuit effect' in one portion is the most threatening thing about the map, but the way the route neatly shoelace-crisscrosses the very PCorfian keyhub gives the quest a more structured/cogent feel. I'd say PCorf's base style tends to work best with maps like this one that are both highly abstract and highly conceptual; here there's more or less one unified concept that comprises the map, as opposed to what we've seen in several other Z300 maps, where disparate concepts are plopped down at random with very little connecting them into a coherent whole ('Death Row', for example, was very bad about this). This particular map doesn't do a whole lot for me--I find the action rather dull--but like I said, its stronger sense of identity gives it an edge over a lot of the other maps.

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MAP25 Hellucination

*Regular Run*

Title sure as hell makes sense. Looks like another joke/Ruba map. There's lotsa lava, some orthogonal pathways, imps on ledges, and bigger monsters around some corners. Of course, it wouldn't be Zone 300 without the berserk being just before a slew of demons to punch through. Really hilarious and fun level. Final Time 2:43.

*Reality Run*

Those wacky revenants never stop firing at me here, seems like they want sum revenge. Not gonna happen. I had to budget my time with the radsuits wisely, and also battle the archvile duo carefully. Final Time 2:58.

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Unholy Realms

Map 20

A fairly enjoyable arena battle, although I would have got more out of it if i played more aggressively. I was methodically wiping everything out before activating anything that might bring more monsters, which left a few gaps in the action while mopping up stragglers. Then again there were 3 viles running around at one point so I'm glad there wasn't anything around to help them at the time. Towards the end I thought fuck it and just let everything loose, and watched the friendly cybers kill everything off. Great fun. The "welcome" made me lol out loud. Oh yeah, and this did as well:

Map 21

The traditional naked run through hell. I like the hectic nature of these kind of maps, though I'm not so keen on "do it this way or you will die" scripted encounters they often have. This one gave a little bit of choice in dealing with stuff (i'm bloody glad the archvile was optional!) . Pretty tough in places, there certainly wasn't much room for error at the start, many many many deaths.

Map 22

A hell base I guess you could call this, it was a lot less daunting than I was expecting. There was a lot of space between fights and not such a feeling of overwhelming threat. It looks good though, and nice to have something a bit less taxing in amongst the bastard hard maps.

Map 23

Back into lava-land, non-damaging lava I am glad to say (though it is a little weird, I'm sure there was some damaging lava on a previous map?) A great start hunting for resources and dodging bullets - not particularly tricky except for the archvile which is nicely positioned to make life difficult. The only bit I didn't like was the crushers, which seemed destined to take half my health no matter what, and then having a trap after them that forces you to jump off and do them again makes the entire purpose of them seem to be to piss you off as much as possible. I ran out of ammo at the end so had to give the cyberdemon a hug, I think he killed me as I exited but I'm pistol starting anyway so no big deal.

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