The DWmegawad Club plays: (Ultimate) DOOM

OK, some E2 maps.

E2M1: I think it's interesting that while it starts out looking fairly different from E1 (or more like a continuation of E1M8 perhaps), the "registered-version only" content sort of trickles in in this map, rather than hitting you with it at once. You get a shot of the new sky, but only if you look backwards from the start. Beyond that, you will eventually find some green marble walls, a few cacodemons, a plasma rifle if you know where to go, and a whole lot of teleporters, making it clear that we're not in KansasMars anymore.

I like the initial layout at quite a bit: the bright red inverted cross is certainly striking and leads you on the path toward the blue key, and on collecting it several unseen monsters below are alerted to your presence. However the teleport chains, as much as they serve the atmosphere, feel a bit overdone and kind of ruin the flow of the level.

It's interesting that cacodemons are hard when playing this way. They approach more steadily than an imp, hit a whole lot harder, and often appear where there isn't much room to run around. It's certainly given me a renewed respect for how frightening they were to a player in 1994, especially one that didn't know how to make use of all the controls properly.

E2M2: Crates! An interesting thing about this level is that if you play on co-op, players 1&3 start on one wing of the crates while 2&4 start on another. You get a lot of new textures in this level, and some hidden lost souls, and so things really start to feel different than E1. Walking, and not running, under the crushers is kind of dangerous.

E2M3: Interesting to read so many mixed reactions to this level. It's not the prettiest, and the intermission music is best suited to intermissions. But it's the first level where from pistol start, figuring out how to get the needed equipment is kind of a puzzle. You can go straight for the berserk and chaingun, or you can go to the shotgun first, and grab the blue armour, or you can avoid the chaingun entirely.

It's also HARD playing without run/strafe, and I died several times and in fact almost threw in the towel on this modified Challenge of Dobu. But eventually I had the patience to lure enemies out one or two at a time, where I could deal with them in relative safety. Still ended the map with almost no ammo and having used up all the health.

Check out the way Sandy (or Tom?) uses the STAR textures here, compared to Romero: all 3 colours in one room, and the colour-fade textures are actually used to fade between colours as opposed to just providing a washed-out look. This map also has the underused BROWNWEL, which is fun to see.

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E2M7: Spawning Vats
100% kills, 6/6 secrets, 2 deaths

Hmmm. A bit disappointed by this one, I never played it a lot but always had the impression that it was supposedly one of the better/tougher maps in E2 (or maybe the game as a whole). While it's got a nice expansive layout that's fun to explore, and a few decent fights, that's about as good as it gets. Combat is spread out (only 95 enemies on UV to cover a pretty large level)... the only rooms that really provide a challenge are the demon/box room, and maaaybe the baron/imp area, but both also have invulns that make them a piece of cake.

The level is also pretty dang ugly, going back to the "every room is a different texture" syndrome common in Petersen's levels. I think there's like four floor texture changes without height differences in the first hallway alone if you go to the right. There's also a HOM on the yellow door due to a missing texture, non-pegged door sides and some very questionable texture choices (a whole room of GRAYTALL? really Sandy? Now you're just trolling). I really don't like how the damage zone after the yellow door uses the UAC carpet floor when the other has FLAT22.

As the last of Tom Hall's levels though, it has a certain charm. Mainly due to the size, I think. It's still towards the lower end of E2 on the whole, though.

E2M8: Tower of Babel
0 deaths

Ah, the good ol' Cyberdemon level. I was a bit surprised to find out this was a Sandy map, given that it's, well, actually very nice to look at. The marble face boxes work nicely, and the image at the start of the dead Baron on the wall immediately makes you realize I am in for some serious shit.

Of course, beating a Cyberdemon is old hat in this day and age, especially on a port with circlestrafing/mouselook. He's no harder on -fast either, since his missiles aren't any quicker like the fireballs are. Still, there's something impressive about the ol' steam demon. Even in 1993 I thought he was cooler/scarier than the Mastermind (having no BFG in E2 helps somewhat in this regard). As a boss level, this definitely holds up better than E1M8, though the ending isn't as cool.

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E2M7 -- Spawning Vats - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
This map's definitely a step (or two) down in intensity coming off of Halls of Damned--not the last time in DooM that a penultimate map will feel a lot more down-tempo than what preceded it (I guess the tradition of the last 'normal' map being an epic battle is something that only really started with The Living End in DooM II). While an ominous 'calm before the storm' is certainly not something that there's inherently anything wrong with, as I said before I think that this map probably could've switched slots with Halls of the Damned and given the episode a stronger climax--the action here's maybe a little too low-key (largely a function of liberal use of invulnerability spheres), and it doesn't have the atmospheric edge that other combat-light maps like Containment Area or Deimos Lab have to fall back on. Not that there's no sense of direction at all; either by accident or design, Spawning Vats sort of encompasses many of the major themes from the other Deimos maps over its expanse--a big crate room ala M2, airy, tall-ceiled computer rooms ala M4, an open pillared yard with ooze canals ala M6, and so on. Not a bad looking map despite the typical Tom Hall corridor-heaviness, but its patchwork design does make it difficult for it to stand out amongst many of E2's other, more idiosyncratic maps. Indeed, I wasn't so sure I was going to remember this one very well, but a lot of it started coming back to me once I saw the demon-infested crate room. Even remembered to go back and get the secret soulsphere/bulk cell back at the start. On the gameplay front, I guess I sort of Hurricyclone'd this one--ran from the demons at the start rather than pistoling them, killed a sergeant, used his shotgun on a few things, and then found the berserk pack while running around the warehouse, which I ended up using almost exclusively for the rest of the map, very easy to do given the aforementioned free invulnerability spheres, both of which I used to casually maul some Barons. Despite being a fairly large level by the original game's standards, it was over before I knew it, no wonder it's been one of the maps to make the least impression on me in the past.

E2M8 -- Tower of Babel - 100% Kills / No secrets
Confession: It took me a few years before I noticed that the Tower of Babel gradually builds itself on the intermission map over the course of an E2 playthrough. I was thrilled when I finally did catch on, I still think that's a very classy little aesthetic quirk....sort of epitomizes why I feel the map concept remains one of the original game's main advantages over its sequel (the other main one being the episodic format).

Anyway, there's not much to say about E2M8, other than that the complaints of it not seeming to be an actual tower always seemed strange to me--I had always imagined that the arena is actually on the top of the tower as it continues to form itself out of Deimos' marrow. Anyway, it's the cyberdemon's debut, and the ol' cyb is certainly in the Hall of Fame of video game enemies at this point. Of course, to a modern player, having this much space to face the cyb in renders the challenge paltry (accidentally exploding yourself on a troll-soul swooping in from the other end of the map is probably the greatest actual danger it poses), but in its day the vast amount of space and ample cover seemed almost mandatory given the terribly high price of actually being hit by one of the cyberdemon's attacks. Unlike E1M8 before it, this certainly functions best from a pistol-start, the resultant rocket duel making the cyberdemon encounter feel more substantial than simply coming in and hosing him down with a plasma rifle. More like E1M8, however, it does do a good job of establishing an atmosphere in its opening moments (e.g. the iconic kiosk adorned with tortured Baron corpses), and the setting overall seems suitably grandiose outside of the logistical considerations of the combat that actually takes place there.

I always thought the whimsical notion/final revelation that the Deimos operation has actually been physically swallowed by Hell (hence its disappearance from the communication lines between Phobos and wherever the marine task force originates from) and is thus gradually morphing into something far more twisted than its original form was really, really cool, but I'll grant E2's ending still hardly has the impact that either E1 or E3's does, I suppose.

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E2M4: One of the most praised levels of E2, and well deserving of it. A strange and mysterious mix of castle walls and tech textures. It looks quite nice, especially after the visual hellhole that was E2M3. The giant REDWALL1 room, simple as it is, is quite striking, and there's good contrast in lighting throughout.

There's a particularly strange area, both visually and mechanically, that's come up before in other threads, and while it's certainly not the centrepiece of this map it's a very memorable section.

Not as hard of a level as the previous one, but still a few deaths. Lots of crushers here are nice for luring enemies to their doom. Which is good because ammo is kind of tight here, though I could have made better use of the berserk pack, probably. Cells for the plasma rifle start to become easier to find, which is good for taking out Barons relatively safely.

Lastly it's interesting that there's a few bugs here: monsters can close the yellow key door from the other side once it's open, leaving the player stuck. There's also a crushing floor that can fail to kill you if you have enough health.

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E2M7 Spawning Vats

Damn, Episode 2 is the episode of the berserk! Now, what I do here is clear the right before the left. Big cargo area with demons had the berserk in it (On pistol start I made a beeline for it) as well as a handy invulnerability which makes me go nuts on the baron and cacos. There's a second one on the left side in front of the other baron, all really helpful. With Beautiful Doom's silent fist, I punched quite a few imps without them knowing where I was. I think the only times I even used a gun were against the imps in the beginning, the shotgun guys in one area, and the caco at the end. As far as I'm concerned it's a great level to play on throughout.

Look at all those imp heads! (and arms)

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E2M3: Refinery - 100/-/100

It is indeed interesting that this map has received so much negative reviews in this thread. I didn't find this offensive at all, in fact I thought the gameplay here much more intense than that of the previous two maps. I didn't initially remember where the weapons are so I had to run around for a while with nothing but the berserk fist, which is less than ideal if you have shitload of monsters coming for you and dying means game over. When the dust finally settles, the map becomes much easier to handle and beyond the start there's really no difficult situations to be faced.

Okay so that's the good. The bad includes the messy visuals, pointless Caco cage and some of the "secrets". There's enough good here to offset the bad though, so overall I enjoyed this.

E2M4: Deimos Lab - 100/-/less than 100

This is another very memorable level imo and pretty good looking at that too. Perhaps a bit too easy though, the only dangerous area is the spiral staircase one and even that wasn't much of a problem even without running. Missed the big side area secret with Pinkies at least, I'm pretty sure I found everything else.

E2M5: Command Center - 100/-/100

DOORS. So many of them, gets annoying when you try to quickly escape to another area. Somehow I managed to waste all my ammo at the start and I had to run around dodging enemies in the door mazes on the right side of the base. Accidentally found the secret exit in the process with like 50% kills done so naturally I went back. In addition to the intense start, this map has pretty good gameplay throughout as well. Visually similar to E2M3 in that seemingly every room has different texture style. Nice level overall though.

E2M9: Fortress of Mystery - ...

Ded. I had no memories of this map and got cornered in one of the alcoves immediately. No running = no escape and so ended my E2 journey in this mysterious fortress. Deaths or no deaths, this is a pretty terrible map with the sole catch being infighting. Oh well, onwards to Inferno next week then.

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Jesus fucking Christ I got sidetracked as usual.

E1M6:
Okay, I honestly expected more from this one (given the density of hitscan maggots roaming around and all those potential opportunities for taking potshots in my general direction) but very few enemies actually bothered to attack with any murderous conviction. One Shotgun Guy manages to sneak up on me while I'm sweeping through the pseudo-maze behind the blue keydoor, and... he fucking misses at near-enough point blank range! As always, the most dangerous (although still fairly harmless) moment of this map is in the penultimate room as you approach the switch -- opening a bunch of closets and unleashing a load of nonsense -- but it's nothing that a couple of swift rockets won't almost immediately declaw. That still didn't stop a rushed stream of Imp fireballs from hitting me in the face for a nasty 50% reduction in health though.

The exit room has the saddest sight in all of E1; a lone Spectre, stuck in the wall. Almost feeling sorry for the bastard, I get out my Chainsaw and put said Spectre out of its misery before leaving.


E1M7:
Finally, the claws come out with some real intent for once. With almost constant harrassment from the moment I open the first door until I hit the switch to allow access to the exit, it's no real surprise that I took a bit of a slap while going through this one. I couldn't so much as peek around a corner or through a window without something trying to attack.

With the possible (and very real) threat of being turned into mulch in only a couple of close-range blasts from the dozens of Shotgun Guys littering this place, I must have utilised the various windows and views into other areas for the first time since way back in the mid-90's; almost every run since my first adventure or two through this desolate control centre has been nothing more than a mindless, gung-ho charge through generally pitiful resistance -- but on this occasion, a sharp dose of pain from the bastards outside while going for the Yellow Keycard was clearly this game's way of telling me to stop trying to kill everything ASAP, and to take the time to pick off targets from a distance whenever possible.

Going into the outside area leads to an irresistable opportunity to really soften up -- if not outright destroy -- the last few gangs of monsters. Having the lower ground works to the player's advantage, as enemy fire harmlessly collides with the windowframes while you take a few leisurely shots and pop some skulls. By doing this, everything behind the blue keydoor is practically toothless; I counted a mere 7 aggressors remaining by the time I opened said door, with a hell of a lot more corpses.

And so ends the only threatening map of the episode, because...


E1M8:
Well, it's something.

This was always going to be an easy end for the episode this time around; how very cruel time and experience have been to this bossfight. Exclusively using the Rocket Launcher for this map yielded a perfect (and very unimpressive under the circumstances) 'no damage' result for the 'playable' portion of the map, all in the space of 90 or so seconds.

Then I went through the teleporter and destroyed myself with only two explosions in less than as many seconds.

Of course, I love the atmosphere that this map generates. You leave the chaotic load of interconnected noise that is E1M7, only to be greeted with a very quiet, very unremarkable-looking (in a good way) structure that only leads one way. Regardless of how laughable the actual fight with the Barons is these days, anyone who played this back when Doom was new most likely thought something along the lines of "Jesus Christ what the fuck are they?!" on meeting the 'Bruiser Brothers' for the first time. The build-up and execution was undeniably brilliant, especially since up until this point the toughest enemy has still only been tough enough to take three Shotgun blasts at most before expiring. But these? One rocket... nope. Two? Nuh-uh. Three then? Still standing! Four..? Oh fuck!! It's a huge ramp in durability, just like any classic boss enemy, and really does come out of nowhere.

All that being said, E1 is over. And even when you inflate the difficulty like so, it's still a smooth enough journey from start to finish. Whether or not that's because I know the damn thing well enough to compensate for this, I don't know. All I know is that it's a fine introductory episode for the game, with a hook to make you want to play the subsequent episodes; nobody likes leaving on a bad ending.

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E2M5: Such a weird and non-linear layout. A lot of these maps are quite non-linear, much more than I remember. Those two Barons are a little tricky, not sure if it's worth it for the chaingun since they can easily be avoided. And the secret exit that's quite easy to find and lets you bypass half the map! I went to it but then returned to finish the level, and ended up exiting through the normal exit since I didn't have the health to get back through the slime. Doesn't matter much with pistol starts, anyhow.

E2M9: The fortress of mystery is not very mysterious and doesn't look much like a fortress. Oh well. Pretty lame map, run around and get some infighting going, then kill the stragglers off or just leave. It's weak but it's short, so I can't hate it too much.

Veinen said:

E2M9: Fortress of Mystery - ...

Ded. I had no memories of this map and got cornered in one of the alcoves immediately. No running = no escape and so ended my E2 journey in this mysterious fortress. Deaths or no deaths, this is a pretty terrible map with the sole catch being infighting. Oh well, onwards to Inferno next week then.


Hey, too bad you got caught here. I didn't realize someone else was actually doing a Dobu Challenge attempt. I've long since given up on the "no deaths" part, but E2M9 is one of the few maps on E2 that I haven't died on, because I remembered to hit the ground walking, so to speak.

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E2M4 - dead

I think I'm going with a partial Dobu Challenge, I died thrice here and didn't want to retry. I think I'll call it for E2 since there's only E2M7 and E2M8 that I really like to play.

This is a great map but ultimately I got shafted by the tight ammo balance and Doom Forever's berzerk packs only lasting whilst the screen is red.

What can I say that others haven't? It's a great mix of themes without being too clashing and it probably the episode's frontispiece for a tech base engulfed by the elements of hell. It plays well and offers a great pistol-start challenge, and there's plenty of secret nooks and crannies.

Video:



I am so bad at this.

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E2M4 – Deimos Lab. Kills- 100, Items – 100, Secret – 100. Time 35:48. End Health – 191, Armor 163. Death Count – 1

A truly embarrassing playthrough on my part. Haven’t played this in years, and it gave me some serious trouble. Another Tom Hall/Sandy Petersen maze which left me dazed and confused, but rather pleased overall.

This is a very atmospheric and rather good-looking map by E2 standards – IIRC, E3 is even worse – with many memorable rooms and some good traps. I especially liked the Metal1 room after the teleport, though I wished they would have had DB2 to align that difficult texture. Watching Romero’s playthrough of E1 on IGN, I heard him say that he programmed DoomEd himself, so all these alignment problems are his fault! ;D

This map has a really creepy atmosphere and is generally tight on ammo. I was lucky to find the first secret before teleporting, but happily, I was able to teleport back as well, which came in handy when I needed the Medikit I left behind.

I played so badly that I got killed when cornered by Pinkies and Spectres in the first Soulshere secret area. I hadn’t found the Zerk at this point, and when I came back with Zerk, I still got badly chewed, probably because I’d foolishly grabbed that most user-hostile of power-ups, the damned Blursphere! I kept replaying this fight to get my health numbers up, and eventually decided to let the Blur effect wear off before going back in there. What a difference that made! I chewed right through those Demons with little problem.

This is really an exploration-based map, and you have to trudge around one maze after another to find this or that power-up. Some of the areas I liked better than others, such as the CompBlu Baron area and the Redwall1 area with its oh-so-obvious “you better run for that yellow key!” crusher trap. ;D But the area that made my hair stand on end was the damned marble circle which I remembered far too well but thought it came from a PWAD. In fact, I often used to ask myself, “I wonder who the hell designed this area?” So I was stunned to find it here, and to know it was Tom Hall and Sandy Petersen, and I groaned right away because I knew it meant scrounging around and around, getting lost, forgetting where I was going, and having to fight Barons and Cacos with rapidly-dwindling ammo. At least I managed to get one Caco killed from infighting and I punched out another, and some Lost Souls, too. My biggest embarrassment by far was taking several hits down there from Barons. Luckily, the health was more plentiful than the ammo and I found all the Soulspheres and the Blue Armor, so I finished with good health stats which belie my stunningly incompetent play. Oh, and further proof that continuous play was kept in mind is that rockets were all over the place, but the only rocket launcher is on multiplayer. :P Not the first and certainly not the last “Fuck you, player!” that we’ll see in this IWAD. :D

Even though this map has a lot of things I essentially dislike, such as mazes, borderline survivalist gameplay, relatively little action and too much emphasis on exploration, not to mention the dreaded marble circle, I still liked it. It’s really the atmosphere and the outstanding music track that do it for me. It creates a sense of menace that sometimes materializes in rough situations. One of the best in this episode so far.

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E2M9: A cute gimmicky infighting map—a decent secret map in the end. Feels like there could’ve been more of a “level” to it though.

E2M6: This is a pretty classic Doom map, filled to the brim with monster closets and asymmetrical halls. It does get a bit plodding as you punch your way through legions of pinkies, but there are some interesting ideas here like the nonlinear layout and false exit.

E2M7: I didn’t realize that on pistol start this map is a whole different story. I was clueless as to where the berserk was so I had a mad scramble to look for munitions in order just to hold off my predators in a narrow hallway. Once I spotted it the map was a cinch, everything going down to my fists of fury. If I have something to lament about E2, it’s that it has an overabundance of the meaty pinkies.

E2M8: Ah, the cyberdemon fight. Not much to mention here—the inclusion of the obnoxious lost souls is a good idea, although there’s plenty of space that they and the cyber don’t become much of a threat. Alright closer at least.

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The Ultimate Doom E2M6: UV, Pistol Start

Another map made only by Sandy only. While I have played this map before, I've never actually beaten it because this thing just sucks so I'm really not looking forward to this.

That was pretty unbearable, this like E2M2 & E2M4 is another one of those more atmospheric maps, which for me is really starting to get old. It starts off with a tough little fight where you have the exact amount of ammo to kill all of the enemies, then after that it's completely barren the only damage you take is from the forced run through the acid. I got the blue key easily enough, but decided to skip the maze & clear out the small tek room first, I accidentally found the light goggles in there so I was forced to run through the maze before I wanted to. This made that whole part of the map way easier because I could see the specters. The worst part of the first half of the maze is that freaking Baron, I can never fight him in there so I always retreat & wait for him to come to me in the long hallways. The second half of the maze is a bit easier plus you get the plasma gun, there is a second light goggles in here, but it was in the last area I checked so that was pretty useless. The whole area where you get the yellow key & the fake exit is where I always die, it's usually that crusher that gets me, but sometimes I just get get frustrated & forget about an enemy & get killed by it. The last run to the exit is annoying because you have to fight 2 Barons, luckily Sandy screwed up with some Demon placement so you only have to fight 1 at a time. The best thing I can say about this map is without a doubt the music, I think it is the very best from the entire game, to bad it has to go along with a shit map like this one.

The Ultimate Doom E2M7: UV, Pistol Start

Okay now we're back to a Tom Hall & Sandy map. This is Hanger 2 from the Doom bible wich is supposed to be the very first level you are supposed to play. The original starting point was in the tek room with the cacodemon & specter. This map appeared as E1M1 in the 0.4 Alpha, but by the time the 0.5 Alpha got around they had decided to push this map back to the E1M11 slot.

I have mixed feeling about this map, I did enjoy it more that most of the E2 maps, but I wouldn't say it was great, only slightly better than E2M2. The opening is pretty good looking, I like how the demons run across the screen before they turn their attention toward you. My favorite parts of this map are the Crate room, & the whole tek area near the end. I like this crate maze more that the one from E2M2, I wish more people would do crate placement like it was done in this map.

The Ultimate Doom E2M8: UV, Pistol Start

Here we have our first Sandy only boss map.

I sure do remember this one when I first played through it, man the cyberdemon scared the crap out of me, it wasn't until years later I learned about the trick to make killing the cyber really easy where you just stand in the opening room & shoot above the pillar.

This map has not aged well, fighting a cyber in a wide open space like this is so easy. The only hard thing about this map is trying to avoid the Lost Souls, which are extremely annoying. Like E1M8 it has one of the best music tracks for the boss fight.


Overall I'm just not a fan of the E2 levels, there are some good ones, but there are a lot more bad ones. The visual style of these levels are great though, I always enjoy making E2 maps more than E1 maps. Here is how I would rank the levels from my favorite to least favorite.

E2M3 4/4
E2M5 4/4
E2M7 3/4
E2M2 3/4
E2M8 2/4
E2M9 2/4
E2M1 1/4
E2M4 1/4
E2M6 1/4

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I find it rather interesting that you hate Deimos Lab, Jaws.

E2M8 The Tower Of Babel

And this is how it ends. Continuous--plasma gun. Pistol Start--obviously, rocket launcher. But the lost souls are problematic, so I had to find ways to get rid of 'em all without risking myself to injury. What's even worse is if cybie goes into one of the ammo cubby holes, he tends to get stuck there for quite a while for some reason, and trying to shoot him out he often dodges out of the way. But he eventually leaves and things WILL go on as planned.

DEIMOS FLOATS ABOVE HELL ITSELF!

Final Thoughts: The Shores of Hell

The predominantly Hall/Sandy episode is my favorite as it gives us more bang for buck. Cacos, lost souls, crushers, crate mazes, dark mazes, invulnerabilities, plasma guns, and berserk packs. I've always enjoyed this episode for that last part alone, it's always been fun punching demons, and there's some good practice for those who wish to punch cacos or barons. Other than E2M6 I like it all as a whole, especially E2M1, M2, and M4.

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Hurricyclone said:

Final Thoughts: The Shores of Hell

The predominantly Hall/Sandy episode is my favorite as it gives us more bang for buck. Cacos, lost souls, crushers, crate mazes, dark mazes, invulnerabilities, plasma guns, and berserk packs. I've always enjoyed this episode for that last part alone, it's always been fun punching demons, and there's some good practice for those who wish to punch cacos or barons. Other than E2M6 I like it all as a whole, especially E2M1, M2, and M4.


I'm not playing along with you guys, because I replayed UD just a month ago or so. But I'd agree with that final part of your post. The Berserk packs is what makes E2 what it is.

It's generally an average episode. It's not as good as E1 or E4 but it's not as bad as E3. The Berserk packs are fun. However, a lot of the maps are just flat corridors. E2M3 and E2M6 come to mind. I really like E2M6, however.

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The Ultimate Doom E3M1: UV, Pistol Start

I remember this map very well from my original playthrough, facing a cacodemon with only a pistol seemed like an almost impossible task at the time. The lowering bridge would always get me as well, it took me awhile to figure out I had to run through the wall.

Of the 3 opening maps so far I would rank this one in the middle, only slightly less than E1M1. Fighting the cacodemons at the start is rather time consuming, & I always take damage from the imps behind the invisible wall. The worst thing about this map is how flat & uninteresting it is, the long demon filled hallway is really bad.

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E3M1 Hell Keep

I HATE this starting level. HATE it. In practice I would kill the three imps with just my pistol, then I would kill one caco with a pistol then (here's the crazy thing) punch the other caco. It's much more recommended to run for the shotgun and kill them later. The next room with combined imps and a caco can be handled with infighting. That stupid ass corridor with demons, I hate it to a tee. It's just so boring since I'm just punching demons, and it's perfectly safe to do that since they sometimes run from me in the supertight corridor. The room full of imps also sucks. I can't really stand this starting map at all.

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Still going with UV/fast/continuous.

E3M1: Hell Keep
88% kills, 1/1 secret, 0 deaths

Yeowch. As much as I dislike certain aspects of E2M1, this one is definitely much weaker. Sure, it makes an impact because of the crazy flesh textures in our first glimpse of Hell, but aside from that, it's a pretty crap level. The opening with the two cacos and only a pistol is pretty crazy, but it's easy to run away and leave them behind. I always thought there was some way to close the door behind you and lock them out, but I don't think that's possible, the door is just too short to hit the outside close switch and run though. The falling bridge and run into the wall is a good introduction of the evilness Hell will throw at you. I think this is also what they were trying for with the doors that open downward instead of upward, though this is pretty subtle and easily missed.

I always skipped through the outdoor room as quick as possible because there was some bug in the early versions of Doom that made the game crash if you stepped onto the dirt. Or was that E3M9? Either way, stepping onto that dirt was a no-no.

Everything after that is crap. A big long 64-wide corridor with pinkies. A room with no enemies in it. Then a small tiny room with imps packed in like meat. Then an exit room with no enemies. Yawn. The second-to-last door doesn't even open from the other side, trapping the player in.

On the other hand, I think the overhead map kinda looks like someone's internal organs, so uh, there's that.

E3M2: Slough of Despair
100% kills, 3/3 secrets, 3 deaths

This one finally showed what -fast monsters can do. Yeah, the death count is relatively low, but all three came within the first few moments of the map, pushing me to play very cautiously from then on out. The map design really accents the advantages of fast monsters - it's easy to accidently let a monster catch you from behind while combing through the middle area, so their fast reaction time means you'll likely eat a shotgun blast or caco fireball. The limited room to manuever makes it so demons and lost souls can corner you. I actually found myself using the trees and other doodads scattered around as obstacles for the monsters, something I don't normally do. The chaingun is a godsend if you rush for it in the thumb, but there's also very little bullet ammo on this map, so it's quickly back to shotgun shells and berserk fist.

So, overall, a nice good early E3 map with some good combat and decent traps. Visually, it's pretty bland, with only two main wall textures used, but it's a Petersen map so you take what you can get. And the "the level is a hand!" idea was cool at the time.

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E3M1: Yep. Not much to see here—ran from the cacos since they’re an unnecessary time sink.

E3M2: This level is one of my favorites from E3, largely because of the consistent theme but also due to the difficulty. Every nook has some hellspawn waiting in it and the Lost Souls are used well here, flushing you out of the open and into the canyon section to collect more goodies.

E3M3: This was a bit of an unexpected toughie. Like with E2M7 I couldn’t find the berserk for a long time so it was mostly me just startling a bunch of baddies as I stumble through this madhouse. Fun stuff, just wish so many random sectors weren’t damaging.

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E3M2 Slough of Despair

WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY HAND! :O!!

Joking aside, once I got the berserk, the level was pretty much sliced in half. It was simply try to find it on continuous first, which was a hassle, not to mention the return of shotgun guys and zombiemen and the occasional demon that now starts to become an annoying roadblock. Particularly on pistol start and particularly since I try to save ammo as much as possible nowadays. But the berserk takes down lost souls, spectres, and cacos with the greatest of ease. I guess the lost soul grouping guarding the exit can be problematic, but they start attacking each other anyways. A fun level, love the automap image. One of the best E3 for sure.

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The Ultimate Doom E3M2: UV, Pistol Start

So this is my very favorite map for the original Doom game. I remember it very vividly from my original playthrough, I remember it well because I think that this was the first map I learned that you could gib enemies. Ammo was low & only the rocket launcher was left so it blood & guts everywhere until the exit.

For this playthrough it was the first time I have ever pistol started this map, & like E2M3 I think it ruined the experience for me. This map was pure running & action, but for a map like this I think going for a more atmospheric route would have been better, especially since monsters able to sneak up behind you from every direction.

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Hurrah, time for Inferno! I'm particularly interested to see others' comments about this episode. I gather that many Doomers feel that E3 is the relative low point of the game, but it's my favorite part.

E3M1 -- Hell Keep - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Must disagree with the general consensus, I think this is an effective episode-intro map, nearly on par with E1M1 from a conceptual standpoint, although it doesn't play half as well in practice. From the outset, a much greater impression of malevolence in the setting is established, not only by the famous flesh-pit/brain-plain/redsky intro scene, but in the gameplay itself--for a first-time player, being confronted with two cacodemons while armed with only a pistol seems terribly intimidating, and establishes the idea that you're going to have to rely more on your wits and work harder for your armaments from this point on; indeed, this is generally more true of E3 than of any other episode, including E4. Incidentally, old guides to this level used to consider fighting the cacos with just the pistol suicidal (which of course it isn't, just time-consuming) and always suggested either running for the shotgun or, cleverly, using the gate-close switch and some fast footwork to lock them out (presumably Sandy's intention). Similarly, the very ground you walk on suddenly betrays you as you try to reach the precious shotgun, and even once you finally have it the ammo situation never becomes anywhere near comfortable, at least not where conventional play is concerned--the feeling of desperation is much more pronounced than in previous intro maps. Many fault the long grey demon corridor, but I see method in Sandy's madness here....I think what he's trying to do is just baldfacedly drain your ammo, so that E3M2 plays like it should (it's far less oppressive if you go in comfortably supplied) even when not pistol-started. Not that folks don't eventually find a way around this, of course; indeed, I myself first began learning to properly punch pinkies to death in this map, as an ammo-saving tactic, naturally. The RL secret seems like an afterthought, though, since it's not very useful in the opening moments of Slough of Despair, and of course isn't going to do you much good on Hell Keep.

This is a very difficult level to look at "objectively" in retrospect, seems like--from a gameplay standpoint it's one of the game's very weakest levels (weirdly, it arguably gets worse for many people on repeat playthroughs, since they'll know that they have to slowball through the last demon-corridor if they don't want to be underarmed in E3M2), and it has perhaps the most glaring visual faux pas in the game (the paper-thin "Keep" facade), lending a certain impression of shoddiness that seems terribly inappropriate given the narrative angle. Conceptually it's still very interesting, though, and it makes a lasting impression on almost everyone the first time they play it, for better or worse. One of those cases of "more interesting than good", perhaps?

E3M2 -- Slough of Despair - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Desperation, like I said. Unless you actively conserve ammo at every opportunity in Hell Keep, you're likely to start this one somewhat underarmed. The terrain is vaguely disorienting, the music track is threatening, and enemies approach from many different directions at once. You can get a shotgun fairly easily by killing one of the various former human sergeants, but most of the major ammo stashes and other weapons are either hidden in secrets (read: plasma rifle) or guarded by several monsters, especially cacos. It makes for an oppressive situation for a fresh player, and again, I used to sort of dread this map in the same way I dreaded E2M6.

Of course, more experienced players know that this is a pretty easygoing map, especially if you know where all of the stuff is. Again, this is largely true of E3 and probably DooM's more intimidating maps in general--they're made to seem more deadly than they really are, underscoring the value of aesthetics/presentation. This time I couldn't really remember where the berserk pack was and so didn't get to use it much, but there are plenty of shells, a lot of rockets, and some plasma if you really need it. The best part of the map is pretty much over once you've cleared the 'palm', with a lot of more nondescript frontal fights in the various digits, and a bit of futzing around with non-standard switch/trigger methods. Always have liked that cloud of lost souls in the ring finger, though--satisfying to rocket. As a more general observation, I'm noticing that aesthetically both E3M1 and E3M2 are fairly clean/sensible-looking by Sandy-standards, although perhaps that's largely because so far he's using a lot of textures that don't really look glaringly wrong when misaligned or whatnot.

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Demon of the Well said:

As a more general observation, I'm noticing that aesthetically both E3M1 and E3M2 are fairly clean/sensible-looking by Sandy-standards, although perhaps that's largely because so far he's using a lot of textures that don't really look glaringly wrong when misaligned or whatnot.


I think it's worth mentioning that a lot of the SP_Rock1 in E3M2 is actually aligned properly, though not all of it.

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Where do people get the idea that Sandy doesn't align textures? I'm sure there are plenty of examples of it (the start of E3M4 comes to mind, although those were fixed up for the Jaguar version), but there are tons of counter-examples too. In that same map, the SKINLOW border around the crusher area is completely aligned. Sandy did better alignment than Romero!

What you can fault Sandy for are texture choices. This is the guy that textured an entire building with FIREBLU, who thought nothing of wallpapering rooms with 64 wide repetitive textures, who seemed to think every other room should have a different texture theme, etc. That's always been the ugliness of Sandy's maps to me, not alignment, which he seemed pretty good at.

By that standard, yeah, E3M1 and E3M2 have very good looking texture themes, although E3M1 is a bit all over the place. Honestly, I think the whole of E3 is pretty consistent, with the exceptions of E3M3 (where the retexturing doesn't seem to be complete) and E3M6. Even E3M6 is mostly good looking, but it definitely has its "what was he thinking?!" sections.

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I have fallen behind on this, because of distraction from Skullgirls (which has also halted mapping work, whoops), but a few maps I want to say things about :

E2M3: Ok, I'm going to be the one who defends this. It's no where near the worst level in the game; hell, it's better than E1, by miles, and when you get to it, it's easily the best in the game. Sure, it's pretty flat geometrically, but the atmosphere is oddly disconcerting, the action is a lot bloodier than anything that comes before (particularly the pistol start), and its disorienting maze-like nature works in this particular case, partially because its interconnected enough that you're never too far from where you need to be. A good level, and in my opinion one of the most memorable in the game; it's certainly one of very few levels from E1 or E2 that I remembered at all from my previous playthrough years ago, and its the only one of those that I remembered because I thought it was particularly good.

E3M8: Despite the fact that I dislike the Spider Mastermind as a monster in general, I think that this is actually by far the most successful of Doom's boss fights from an action perspective (E1M8, of course, is better as far as storytelling/atmosphere goes). The ammo being scattered around the outside is what makes it; you likely won't be able to gobble it up with one quick lap around the outside (no real cover from the Mastermind out there), which means you won't be able to just play peekaboo around that center structure with the Spider; you'll have to make mad dashes around the place to restock in order to keep fighting, which makes this pretty intense, despite using the "worst" of the boss monsters. This doesn't change my mind about the Mastermind -- if you use it in a level, you're probably making a mistake -- but as this level, he works excellently.

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E3M3 Pandemonium

I only really had a bout of pandemonium on pistol start. My route was right, get berserk, go to the left side, clear it out, get everything in the middle, then exit. Again, I try to make a beeline for the berserk, but demons and lost souls are always getting min my path! But just like the levels before, I pretty much smooth-sailed once I got that berserk pack, though lost souls and some flats are quite the damaging bunch. As for the BFG, I didn't use it, but I made up for it by grabbing the invuln and punching the remaining enemies while invulnerable.

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E3M3: Pandemonium
100% kills, 6/6 secrets, 4 deaths

I admit this was always one of my least-liked maps, just because it's so damn ugly with the texture clashes. You can definitely tell it's a Tom Hall map too, with all the tiny corridors. Had a rough time early on as I got chipped away down to about 10% health, forcing me to look for the berserk pack. Once I got the berserk and the green armor though, it was easy going. While the first two Hell maps are pretty slim in resources, this map (if the player explores it) can stock the player up easily - every weapon except the plasma gun, a backpack, plenty of ammo (except rockets), two blue armors and a soulsphere. The blood/lava section with the invuln sphere to grab the soulsphere/BFG is especially generous. If anything, it's a bit of an underwhelming introduction for the biggest gun in the game.

There are a few nice touches here and there (such as the floating lights near the end, or the moving walls and flesh columns) but overall its still a below-average map, I think. And I agree that the randomly damaging sectors are a bit annoying (the water, sure, okay, but the ROCKRED?)

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E3M4: House of Pain
100% kills, 4/4 secrets, 0 deaths

Another relatively ugly Petersen map, with lots of texture clash going on. It's not as bad as E3M3, but still not that great to look at. It's interesting, because there's actually some nice touches here and there, such as the room with the flesh channels with the "nail" columns pinning it down, or the lit-up marble faces in the darkened hallway. But the constant texture changes or strange texture choices (why use all those techbase ceilings?) make the overall effect yucky.

Gameplay-wise, this is probably the most linear map in the original game - while it curls around a bit, and there's a few optional sections, it's basically one giant long corridor. In usual Petersen fashion, there are a couple traps to be wary of along the way, but these are defused by some helpful invuln spheres. There's also some puzzles with the bizarre double doors and the eight-switch room, and these are probably pretty annoying if you don't know how to beat them.

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Where did everybody go?

E3M4 House of Pain

So...much...gibs...

Seriously, is E3 gonna go by the same fate as E2 in terms of how much I utilize the berserk? I mean, I use it almost the whole way through with the exception of a few rockets fired in certain places. On my pistol start run, I hit the first demon with the rocket launcher, and ran really fast to the berserk on the other side (I found out that you can punch the cacos in the windows, but is it really worth the trouble?) and then my knuckles did almost all the talking. Other places to use the rocket launcher, that group of enemies that appear when looking at the left scenery, and that caco at the end. And hurray! I finally use the BFG! On continuous, two instances where I first used the BFG, the aforementioned closet with lotsa enemies, and the large room with zombies, lost souls, and a caco, linking to the BFG secret. On pistol start I ran into loads of trouble, not dodging in time when punching barons or cacos happens quite often, and when trying to get the berserk the demons even cornered me once :p. There sure is alot of them on this level, which definitely beckons berserk usage. Two invulnerabilities are on this map, and it allowed me to go nuts punching even hitscanners all over the place. The first one I made sure to be careful, because I didn't want to get crushed. Even when invulnerable, I'd rather not be caught under one of those slow things.

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E3M5: Unholy Cathedral
96% kills, 8/10 secrets, 0 deaths

Man, screw this level. It's not difficult combat-wise, but it is a pain in the ass to get around and even more of a pain in the ass to find all the secrets. Some are downright obscure - quite a few are completely unmarked doors, with nothing revealed on the minimap, no texture misalignments, nothing. One even requires a yellow key! (I wasn't able to find the yellow door myself). One secret area is entirely a damaging sector.

On the whole, it's an interesting level (and some of the decorations are kinda cool) but pretty frustrating to get around.

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I quit the Challenge of Dobu! :P

After dying a whole, whole lot on E2M6, I'm kind of fed up with not being able to run or strafe at all. It was good for making me remember how much more fearsome Doom's enemies were to a player in early 1994, but I'm at the point where I don't want to do a three-point turn just to move out of the way of a fireball.

Thinking of how I want to play the rest of the levels, I might just take it leisurely and play with a modern control scheme. E4 is hard enough anyhow.

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