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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Estranged

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ok, i really late, being mostly afk, little time, so i'll be concise and try to do the first 15 or so maps in one session and catch up.



MAP01 - "Outpost”

d_runnin, surprising. easy opener, startan, base map, outside area with a bit of platforming. imps and zombies, 1 rev at the exit. and one berserk pack, only there, not earlier, to use it on the base dwellers?



MAP02 - "Waste Treatment”

reminds of d2m02, some zombies with their backs to you at the start. sewers theme, with some pinkies and specters to shoot, nothing spectacular.



MAP03 - "Survey Centre”

rocky landscape with nukage rivers, some indoor spaces, rather straightforward and plain. berserk pack again at the exit, for refreshing continuous players? give that thing at the start...



MAP04 - "Venom”

underground base with acid caves. one has to ru through to getthe rocket launcher, which is important, as the low health / attrition factor continues. the map drags on, and the music from tnt doesn't help either.



MAP05 - "Dust N Bones”

hell already? marble buildings under an udoom ep4 sky. an ambushing trio of revenants right at the start, and some jogging around to get them infighting easily. the first cyb, a boring affair to shoot him as he's a turret. i thought it can't be that primitive and went around carelessly searching for a telefrag - a got hit right when i found it.



MAP06 - "Razor”

same orange rocky hell with marble buildings. first archvile here, one can chainsaw him with some luck. pretty linear, some platforming for the armor, then again the berserk at the exit.



MAP07 - "Scream”

desolate hellish landscape with ruins scattered around and a fitting "sign of evil" track. a cave with some harmless specters, then you emerge again to the surface, stir some infighting, . lastly there's an obvious ambush in the open, easily solved via infighting.



MAP08 - "Reptile”

with the berserk finally at the start, a nimble player can hold the bridge against the welcoming party and further make use of infighting to assist his boxing skills. turns out the map is pretty long, with 3 legs, one for each key, needed for the triple exit.



MAP09 - "Torture Chambers”

interesting combo of wood and red metal. the first fight at the ssg on a pedestal has to be won with cg and sg, as the ssg becomes available only later. good use of an archie, and the baron / triple rev ambush at the wooden bars. some things i found less hot: the ammo eaters at the plasma gun, and the wooden maze.



MAP10 - "Deadlands”

rocky outdoor tribute to ultimate doom. one has to count the shells scattered over the place and keep the viles from reviving all that had been killed in the beginning, and pains from filling the place with skulls. i'm glad one can navigate the deadlands with the automap, as i'm terrible at finding my way through such maps. the bunkers are a bit plain, but the lights out moment with the vile & revs appearing was great.



MAP11 - "Baron Keep”

large hellish map, a marble fortress on an island in a red lake. one can run around getting everyone to infight in the opening courtyard. the island part was too chaotic for that, but then there are so many rocket packs that blowing everything away is a breeze. the reward for collecting all the goodies? a death exit. so the first episode ends.



MAP12 - "Dig Site”

very straightforward, without surprises except the flat caco circle-strafing exercise.



MAP13 - "Dark Heart”

first more difficult map, a techbase, dark and sinister with fitting music, ep2-like. horror angle, flickering lights. beware of ambushes in very tight quarters, like at the warehouse (i defused the vile trap by simply walking back there and shooting them from above), and the green steel panel corridor near the end, where the damn souls were the biggest trouble.



MAP14 - "Fissure”

open area with paths and stairs leading through rocks between a few bases. annoing revenant snipers, all can be cleared out quickly after getting the rocket launcher, and get to the exit bunker.



MAP15 - "The Floating Fortress”

huge castle, some modern, blocky style, of concrete and rusty metal, no eternal doom. gameplay consists mostly of shooting inept defenders off the battlements from below. i didn't care for the secret exit, nor did i have the patience to go back searching that monstrosity for the 3 keys needed. instead, the central arena was more what makes doom stand out: the fun of movement, one man vs a horde than can't touch him.



MAP31 - “The Tomb”

a very empty land, grass and water under a night sky. takes a while to wander around and collect the keys. a few zombies here, nothing more. a mapping exercise? but so quiet it's spooky. then, you get to the pitch black exit bunker, and the finale with the viles is excellent.



MAP32 - "Void Walker”

slaughtermap. at first not my taste, but then i found quickly the fun of moving unimpressed by all the crap flying around. it's a series of platforms floating in the void. the last one with something like 20 viles is hilarious, but there's a v-sphere, a bfg and ammo by the truckload.

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MAP22: The Bloodworks
21:41 | 99% Kills | 100% Items | 100% Secrets

So I liked this one. Kinda wish I had seen/grabbed the BFG last level, but ah well. Least favorite part was having to (as others have said) do the roundabout over and over again. At one point, I lured the cyber down into the marble room at the bottom of the lift, so I had to contend with him every time I needed to get back up. (I didn't bother killing him, hence the 99%.) The rest was quite a bit of fun; I especially liked the soulsphere secret, whose trigger I noted early on, long before I got to a point where I could reach it. Of course, I immediately wasted that supercharge by getting nailed by the cyber on the last loop through.


MAP23: Eye of Misery
35:06 | 100% Kills | 100% Items | 50% Secrets

A pretty epic-feeling level, even if its footprint isn't that large. The opening was nasty, but easily handled if you started with a loaded rocket launcher. There are couple of nasty traps here, probably the worst was the blind teleport shortly after picking up the yellow key; 4 spectres coming at you, 2 shotgunners (elevated) at your back, and 3 imps off to the side. I was at 33% health at the point, which meant two hits and dead. That wasn't fun. Nor was trying to clear the two archies out of the cage in the manc room. Not sure what the point of those guys was, other than just to be super annoying. The teleport to the exit was pretty easily cheesed by just running through as fast as possible (taking care to avoid/kill the manc at the end. I did of course, head back after clearing everything else out to max my kills, which was a lot easier the second time around. So: fun map, looks great, meaty without being terribly frustrating. Wish I had been able to figure out the plasma gun secret, but I've not the slightest clue how to access (and not for lack of trying for waaaay too long.) I ended up killing the cyberdemon with my SSG just because there were soooo many shells lying around, and still were even after I exited.

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MAP22: The Bloodworks

The layout got me turned around, but a pretty fun set of mostly outdoor exchanges. At the right dosage, having a linear, particular pathway to the exit can be fun. Not sure why the caves at the west end of the map are so dark.

MAP23: Eye of Misery

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this one. The start is very hot, then things cool off tremendously if you walk outside. The cyber room is ok. I would have preferred even more caco's to snag on the cyber's rockets. I like the yellow key area, it's quite a curveball. The outdoor area right before it, however, is kind of snipey. There's a pack of revenants that doesn't serve much purpose outside of making you scurry into the door. The little set piece that forms the yellow key room is fun on continuous, not sure about pistol start. I was preparing to not like this level, but I think it won me over.

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Map 23: Eye of Misery

What's with the stupid backdoor gangbang start? Comedic value? At least map05 had the decency of releasing the Revenants after you moved forward. This is another forgettable map that's horribly red and gives you another Cyber to shotgun. Speaking of shotgunning, you'll be spending a few minutes clearing the Noble shits from the start. I never did manage to grab that Plasma Rifle secret, but at least I got a backpack in some lava cave. Minus unprops for the Erik Alm Revenant pop-in at the red cave. Foodles seems to stick to mostly vanilla style gameplay but sometimes he just likes to throw a 10+ Revenant group here and there. Rating: Yeah, nah bruh.

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MAP23 Eye of Misery

That was a SHITTY start if you ask me. Never ever do things like this, putting enemies directly behind player starts, especially loads of barons and knights. Yes, it works to promote running but there are better ways of doing that. The hall ahead has a fork and I usually head left first, but I went right to get an SSG as well as a well-put secret with lots of weapons. Going left reveals a cyberdemon which can be gleefully sprinted around, or killed with a secret plasma gun, choices. Unfortunately Foodles almost never seems to give more likeable killing alternatives for the cyberdemons (he didn't for MAP32).

The paths do intersect once you find out the left path ends up on the ledge with mancubi just outside the right path, with the switch opening a path south to a triangle of revenants. The more hellish nature of the map allows for more midtiers to be more liberally used, not in my favor most of the time. There's also a path on the right side of the map leading to the exit which requires the yellow key. The pincer trap that follows isn't entirely memorable for me, and it's an alright level overall.

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Map 23

I did not care for the start at all. I may just be in a shitty mood, as the map seemed fine in layout and combat, but I just did not feel like playing my usual kill-em-all style. Instead I avoided combat unless it irritated and killed me and I couldn't generally proceed without doing some of it. I wish I could say i was speedrunning or even attempting that but instead it was just me being lazy and um estranged from doom. Took me over 11 minutes to beat the thing, if that gives you any idea. Some things I definitely 'noped' at included the start Nobles, the annoying-to-kill Cyber, the Archvile/Mancubus room, the popup Revenant horde near the teleporter switch and the three PE's around a corner shortly after. Also near the end I just tanked a bunch of damage from the popup Mancubus before it moved out of the way so i could dart around and exit. Maybe i'm getting burnt out on Doom? It could just be Estranged getting to me, but I dunno as again I think this was a fine map.

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map23

The start: yeah, quite irritating unless you happen to read this thread first and know what to expect. ;) It's a cheap one alright. The action in the earlygoing, the scramble for a weapon, is fun enough, though low pressure because the turretted cyber is never a real threat. But eventually the nobles need to be dispatched, particularly if you are going to get to the rocket launcher in ports that don't allow you to step over monsters' heads. That duty falls on the map's infinite SSG, which quickly grows monotonous, even though I like SSG-ing nobles. The RL path is "guarded" by four mancs and an archvile, but it's such a short journey across the bridge that, like the cyber, these never pose much of a threat, so in effect they exist solely to be tedious to kill, or in the case of the vile, really really tedious to kill. Revenant clusters are always fun to dispatch with the RL, but I wasn't in the mood for sticking around the area with the spiral skin stairs and the rare switch teleporter. The monsters milling around in the liquid quickly become an infinite height nuisance, and once again there are distant sniping revenants that simply prevent you from entering for a few seconds and have no other purpose.

The path to the YK is mined with some low-threat snipers, but these can be skipped, at least. My favorite encounter takes place in this area, the trap with the mancubus and hell nobles warping in. Oddly, the teleporter takes you directly to the group of revenants at the start, which I'd file as another 'cheapshot', simply because it is 100% reasonable to want to leave those revenants alive until the end, as they pose no threat. I killed them before hunting for the plasma rifle secret, but would not have appreciated being sent directly into their midst. (This isn't the first time the mapset has done this; in map22 I eventually teleported to an unmarked destination that happened to be next to the corpses of non-threatening barons that I had no particular reason to kill when I did.) In the lava pool below the exit, the strips of dry ground also damage the player, not so pleasant when hunting around for secrets. I did enjoy the other secret with the assorted weaponry, however. It's somewhat cute how many areas in this map have pools of liquid of some sort with teleporters situated in them -- no stairs or lifts or anything like that. Not a bad map, but too many minor irritants for me to enjoy.

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MAP23 - "Eye of Misery”

Great start. Bit of running the gauntlet followed by a long period of monster cleansing. There were some surprises along the way, some pop up revenants made me laugh, and being teleported into a room of invisible spectres. I ran away from a few fights, and stayed to finish fights I probably didn't need to (such as the cyber on his island). Can't think of much else to say. People really didn't like those surprise barons at the start, I found it quite amusing myself :)

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Man, map24 is way more fun with -solo-net. The arbitrary exclusion of the SSG on singleplayer is ridiculous in this map.

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Map 23 -- Eye of Misery - 100% Kills / 0% Secrets - FDA
Colorful start here (always check behind you immediately at mapstart etc. etc.), a congregation of greenbluebloods immediately falls upon you to flush you out into either of two little tracks leading to further misadventure, and potentially resulting in your acquiring a heavier weapon to begin beating back your oppressors with (though you need big brass balls and/or foreknowledge to get the RL on first sight, probably), from which point things quickly settle down into something a little more standard for this mapset. Ammo is plentiful, and other than the simple pincer trap in the 'Forum' building beyond the yellow door and perhaps the brief ambush scenario which has you teleporting into the darkened blood/stone dungeon which feeds back out into the cyberdemon's yard combat is very straightforward, pitting you against groups of mid-tiers occupying the landscape along linear tracks. It is not at all what I'd call a difficult or demanding outing, all told, though once again the 100% health / green armor status quo limits the amount of mistakes you can make, considering that most of your opponents are capable of high-damage attacks. I got down to around 25% health in the flesh-island cave in a matter of moments--it was one low-damage revenant rocket and a couple of rounds of lava damage, IIRC--so momentum can swing pretty quickly, but the battles themselves are generally not particularly complicated or heated, and many players will likely be able to handle them on reflex alone.

Digestible enough, but I got the sense that the map lacks any real overarching idea tying it all together (perhaps more noticeable here due to the minor element of non-linearity evident early on), as most areas stand alone and a number of them never really resolve themselves in a satisfying way (the cyberdemon yard, the short gauntlet of mancubi and caged arch-viles leading out onto the RL's dais, etc.). A couple of hitches are also in attendance that some may find objectionable, in that failing to kill the revenants by the exit switch from afar early on will likely see you tetra-fisted into almost instant death when you ride a blind teleporter there later (not unreasonable that some players will assume you raise a bridge to the area instead, I suppose), and there are also potential problems with infinitely-tall monsters in a number of areas, particularly the drop down into the imp-caves after the flesh-island cavern (which again can only really be precluded by killing all of the imps through the windows in the starting area early on, not something the map's flow seems to actively intend). This latter problem is something that's shown up a number of other times in the WAD already, leading me to suspect that Estranged is suffering a bit from a case of "designed to Boom spec, but only really tested in ZDoom."

0% secrets here is a particularly poor showing from me, though clearly neither is a crucial element to the balance here on account of the piles of shotshells and mounds of chaingun cartridges littering the landscape outdoors. In line with a lot of Foodles' other secrets, these are hidden in a sort of bluffing 'in plain sight' way; the plasma rifle is accessed through a simple pushwall (which could be inferred from the nature of the structure around it alone, even without the change in texture), but said pushwall is found in an odd spot in an area where one is lot liable to be comfortable humping around. The other secret is in a lava pit below a blind drop, which is also a very traditional/conventional design, but it cannot be actually seen without mouselook, is actively concealed from the automap, and situated in the context of a level where there is at least one inescapable lava pit earlier on (falling off the path in the pre-RL gauntlet is fatal)--so you really have to act more on instinct and intuition here, as opposed to logic and confirmation.

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Map 24 -- Scorching Back - 89% Kills / 50% Secrets - FDA
A subtle strangeness to this level, I felt. Seems a lot like a parallel universe version of the previous map, with similar scenery and geometry and an approach to pacing that sees the heaviest action at the start, even a quasi-nonlinear plan with its final stretch cordoned off by a yellow-locked obstacle. The primary difference is in thing placement/balance--while there are still a few cadres of nobles knocking around in places, overall the monster composition seems to skew much more towards basic fodder-grade monsters, with cacodemons asserting themselves as the most common mid-tier foe. The player's arsenal has been downgraded in turn, as no SSG appears to be present, though the rocket launcher again reprises its role as an assertive #2 weapon with a fairly steady supply of ammo for it found throughout. While the map's strange secret-fork ending seems like an idea out of the blue implemented for no particular reason, overall I felt the sense of place here was a bit stronger than in the previous level, with more of a concerted focus on glowing red crags and defiles with lava flows spidering through them, the broken landscape dotted by little shrines and other hellish monuments here and there. The eastern loop is dominated by a huge quasi-subterranean lava flow which must be swum in order to progress, though the actual impact on progression here is primarily scenic, as a generous supply of radsuits eliminates any real time pressure while the segment's underway.

Despite the higher monstercount and the player's somewhat less powerful kit, I noticed I spent less time here than in map 23, primarily a function of the level's slant towards fewer, larger groups of weaker enemies. On the whole, I thought the combat here seemed a little sharper and more consistently entertaining than in "Eye of Misery", though it's not really any more complicated in scheme and probably skews even more towards the incidental in flavor, with only a couple of spots that could be creatively construed as 'traps.' As aforesaid, I felt that the first fight inside the wood/brick shrine where the level begins was probably the best bit; there's nothing terribly complex going on here, you either choose to fight out on the initial walkway, where the catch is having to put up with harassing fireballs from the nobles on the nearby railed platform, or inside the shrine itself, where the catch is having to tumble around with a lot of hostile bodies in a small space (note here too another iteration of Foodles' favored trick of denying part of the battle space via use of damage-floor), but either way the fight is made much more by its sustained bodycount and general bloodiness than by any complex choreography or conceptual stratagem, which I reckon is just fine--sometimes blood's all you need (and seriously, where the hell were all those cacos coming from?). The rest of the level more or less follows suit at a slightly more moderate pace, though the set's penchant for snipers in the hills reasserts itself somewhat later on. For my part, at no point was I particularly perturbed by the absence of the SSG, incidentally--I think shotgun/chaingun with rocket support was quite adequate for a decently pacy run through the level, and indeed I think that first fight (and maybe even a couple of others) works at least in part because you can't thoughtlessly knock everything out of your way with the sawn-off.

One weird little feature of note here is that there are two little paths that lead to the exit once you've lowered the yellow skull barricades with the key--one standard, and one secret, concealed behind an illusory wall (which I actually accidentally slipped into). I guess the idea is that the secret path saves you from having to navigate the little broken-dogleg bridge fight found on the standard path, but it's hardly a brutal or imposing scenario in any sense, which perhaps undercuts the idea a little bit. In the FDA, I actually kind of expected a false exit with a hidden bonus battle of some sort, but was surprised to find the level simply ended. Odd.

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Map 24

Once again went for occasionally killing things, which I guess I'll keep doing going forward at least in this mapset. Not much to say here at all, it's pretty straightforward. If I can't come up with stuff to say what am I doing cluttering up the DWMC thread? Hopefully just in a rut.

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MAP24 Scorching Back

Know how most levels up to this point pretty much emphasize on camping and snipers? This level's beginning is completely anti-camping and pretty much voids whatever cover space you'd find. It's a hard beginning to rush out of, and the most annoying enemies here believe it or not were the cacodemons. After all that it's mostly Foodles standard, with some lavawalking and radsuits added. The hordes can at times be pretty nasty, especially in conjunction with given supplies as to what you'd use on them. It's a lava crawl to the yellow key, and then you'd backtrack to someplace far to the north, which ends up with some nobles in lava (that particular teleport destination they were in originally didn't work right the first time), and there's even a shortcut past the yellow bars if you want to avoid a certain place. The ending battles aren't actually as tough for me in either way.

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map24

This map started off really well. I quickly rushed out into the field with all the spectres and nobles and cacos, which I had to contend against with limited weaponry and dwindling ammunition. There was a solid simple arena <3 set piece <3 around where barriers suddenly raise, which was especially enjoyable since I hadn't picked up a radsuit. Then promises of timed radsuit use. But it quickly became apparent that the rocket launcher was undersupplied and shells were infinite. As usual. So the rest of the map featured a bunch of single-shotgun and chaingun plinking. I didn't trust the map enough to leave the groups of nobles alive, not in a mapset with numerous infinite height issues, especially not in a map that already had two of them, with the spectres at the beginning and, more problematically, the imps that bunch up behind the drop-off around the chaingunner clusters. The radsuits were generous too, and this second phase didn't really apply any fun pressure that would have been alleviated with additional rocket ammo or the SSG, so I see no reason at all why it was withheld, other than "hey, quirky iwad-like withholding of a weapon on pistol starts". Bleh.

-solonet on the other hand is more fun. It's somewhat lower-pressure too, I'd say, with infinite radsuits and the SSG, but as I said, fun and flexibility trumps challenge in maps that aren't designed to be hard. Rockets are still limited such that a lot of heavy lifting against mid-tiers must be done with the SSG, which gets tiresome against sturdy groups, but all in all it was a lot more smooth.

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Demon of the Well said:

For my part, at no point was I particularly perturbed by the absence of the SSG, <3 incidentally <3--I think shotgun/chaingun with rocket support was quite adequate for a decently pacy run through the level


Maybe for casual play, but a maxrun like that would be kind of boring. :D

Seele00TextOnly said:

Map 24

Once again went for occasionally killing things, which I guess I'll keep doing going forward at least in this mapset. Not much to say here at all, it's pretty straightforward. If I can't come up with stuff to say what am I doing cluttering up the DWMC thread? Hopefully just in a rut.


When I can't come up with things to say about a map, I usually ramble about something tangentially related to something on the map or the mapset. Today that might have been texture schemes in megawads and how it can grow tiresome when they are carried over from level to level so consistently, as it has for me in Estranged. I also wished Estranged had more sector detail, like cool boats and stuff. The wide-eyed attempts at representation are the main thing '90s mapping has over the modern stuff.

rdwpa said:

map31

I get what the map is going for, and the music is cute, but ultimately the visuals are too bare and homogeneous for them to hold any interest. Not a lot of lighting variation, not a lot of sector detail. The map could sell itself for example by being an abandoned forest mining village, with, like, boats and cabins and trees and abandoned fireplaces and all that, with mysterious secrets to unlock (a useless soulsphere!). But it's mostly a Zimmer outline for what such a map might be.


Here's a really cute map by Memfis that is sort of what I had in mind w.r.t design philosophy and detail level.

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MAP22: The Bloodworks
98% kills, 0/1 secret

I'm pretty much with the popular opinion on this one, it's unremarkable to begin with (lots of the usual "walk forward, kill monsters in a room, repeat") with the only thing standing out is the weird layout requiring backtracking by way of looping around the same path again. Could've used a key/door too, as knowing where to go is more a case of guesswork or process of elimination than logical sense. The cyberdemon is also a bit fat failure of placement, he's not threatening while you're fighting other stuff (he just lumbers around up top) but you can't ignore him either since he blocks the path to the end. And the path to more rockets, actually, so I ended up whittling him down with the SSG from below, such fun.

MAP23: Eye of Misery
78% kills, 0/2 secrets

The start is cheeky, though I much prefer the design of MAP05's which releases them by a trigger instead of just immediately showering you in baron goo when the level loads. This is another map that required a few trips around the track, this time for weapons - first running past everything to get to the SSG, then around again so I could jump to the RL, and maybe a few more times while I figured out I needed to kill the mancs first and not get blocked and die. After that is a pretty steady progression, but with a few spots that annoyed me... far-off revenant snipers, and pop-up enemies chief among them, plus a rather bad blind teleport into the pile of revenants on the exit switch if you hadn't cleared them out yet. So yeah, lots of running through from me here, not really invested in clearing these levels out.

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MAP24 - "Scorching Back”

Another one of those long meandering journeys, this time taking you around a variety of hell scenery. Little bit of a grind perhaps, no SSG and a lot of monsters, not many of which were all that dangerous. I guess I could have chosen to run from the swarm of stuff at the start and maybe get hounded by cacos on the way, but instead I opted to clear everything out as I went. Thankfully a free rocket launcher appeared just in time for a crowd of hellknights. Overall though its fairly subdued, apart from the start which had a reasonable flood of enemies, and a handy corner I found to camp them all.

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Why it's my favourite day of the club. Time to vote for some stuff.
+++Hell on Earth Starter Pack, Hellbound, Urania.

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+++ Urania, dobu gabu maru 256x256 by rdwpa (WIP, not started yet but can be done by the end of the month)

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rdwpa said:

dobu gabu maru 256x256 by rdwpa

I hope you're not putting me into a tiny box @_@

Only thing I'd slot aside time for next month is +++ Mutiny, though AV would be plenty enticing.

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Ah, time to vote!

+++ Alien Vendetta

The general, unwritten rule is that we're supposed to play modern or classic megawads on alternating months.

With Ancient Aliens, Bloodstain and Estranged, we've played 3 modern megawads in a row.

I think it's high time we played Alien Vendetta! Dobu already has the graphics ready. ;)

I would consider Plutonia as well, since, like AV, I've never played it. I know -- shock! gasp! -- but I just never played many megawads back in the day, though I got plenty of the Casalis in Half-Life. ;D

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MAP24: Scorching Back

This played like a more intelligently put together indoor/outdoor affair than eye of misery. I at first went to the left, and the caco's and other enemies got jammed up in the entrance to the two squarish rooms. That didn't seem to play out as intended. The minor set pieces and touches of scenery throughout are nice.

MAP25: The Depths

Hmm. I had fun. I went into this level hoping to love it with the quiet, ominous opening with the small structure and a very evocative level name, but, the near dark (automap-enforcing darkness) and overused lighting effects quickly put me off. HOWEVER, in what followed, there were still enough weird little rooms, twists and moments to suck me into the dream-like atmosphere. Some of the stuff is kind of silly, like the wall you walk through or the chaingunners that pop out from behind walls, and a lot of it is lightweight enough to be fun. The light never gets that much brighter, at least not for long, but the pathways are narrow and usually straight, jutting off at odd angles, so I had the sensation of feeling my way through by my hands. A bit more careful execution was needed, but the product is still unpredictable and memorable.

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MAP24: Scorching Back
25:59 | 97% Kills | 73% Items | 25% Secrets

I dig the name: you leave the base from a one-way drop and have to make your way back through the scorching lava. Neat. It's another of those maps where it's one big circuitous route where, once you start down it, you gotta do the whooole thing over again. This time with a dwindling supply of radsuits. Gah. I ran that loop a number of times secret-hunting (I may have save/reloaded for a couple of those) but man are those secrets obtuse. I discovered the large hidden area full of baddies and items only by cheating; no clue how you're supposed to access, though. That starting battle, man, I was fully loaded from continuous play, but it was a grind: once you start firing, everyone comes (slowly) trickling out the doors, making for a looong time clearing them out. If you decided to just run inside things get way too hectic for my taste. The nastiest part was (of course) the lock-in trap with cacos and pinkies to the north. On my first attempt I was immediately pinned and torn to shreds. Second try, knowing what was coming it was easy to be more meticulous and get through with minimal difficulty. I certainly must admit I enjoyed the scenery.


+++ AV (I'm due a replay) or NDCP (my favorite underrated megawad)

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map25

This map was utterly frightening. It seemed like there was a baddie around every corner, and I was tiptoeing around in fear of what would come next. Plus there were a few panic-inducing (but quite manageable) traps. A top-notch experience. One interesting design choice: the number of true dead ends with nothing but monsters in them. I really like that. Of course they aren't useless (you need them for UV-max), but more importantly they help cultivate a feel that the map is a place that exists and was colonized by monsters, instead of a game where every single nook or sidepath exists to give the player supplies of some sort. One of my favorite parts was the surprisingly dickish chaingunnerfest with the invisible walls. LOL. The archviles were extra creepy too. The strobing lights filling the entire cavern are disconcerting, and maybe even irritating, but I thought it helped contribute to the very gripping atmosphere, so I enjoyed it. If there's a weakness, it's that it's pretty hard to get back up to the tier of rocks that the first lift lowers you down to. You have to go all the way around through the RK path again. Once again some kind of lift or teleporter should open up.

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MAP24: Scorching Back
84% kills, 0/4 secrets

Yet another long, winding linear assault through stretches of hellish rock and some buildings, with some backtracking (not too bad thanks to the handy teleporter) and a forced run at the start to acquire weaponry. I generally enjoyed it a lot more than MAP23, though... not many annoying areas, the only one might be the small lift out of the ravine, but even that had an interesting solution. For me, I rocketed away the cacos, fired 1-2 quick rockets to clear the landing of pinkies, and than ran like hell. Wouldn't like to try it on infinite height settings, though. (As an rdwpa-style aside, I'll take this time to say that I think anyone playing with infinite height on is silly; I don't care if that's the way it was when the game came out, it was a bad flaw then and a bad flaw now, we can do better.)

The other noticeable design quirk is the lack of an SSG, though I think this is intentional rather than an oversight. The monster usage is very Ultimate Doom, lots of imps/pinkies/cacos/barons, when the only D2 enemies being chaingunners and hell knights. I still think fighting groups of cacodemons with the single shotgun is insanely boring but at least you can run away from a lot of the stuff here.

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Map 24: Scorching Back

I liked this one. Not much to say about the gameplay but it was well-paced and fun to explore. Still no cell weapons though? Would be nice for the gameplay and armaments to ramp up any time now. Played on continuous so I had the SSG from the start. My impressions would be significantly saltier if that wasn't the case.

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I really don't have time to play next month, so I'll vote for something I didn't like when I played it:

+++ Urania

MAP25 The Depths

I always liked this one. It feels like Evilution's hell levels in a way, the odd cavern shapes and the Ballistyx feel are what I get here. The glowing liquid is extra cool as well. Pretty standard yet tricky for pistol starters. Two plasma gun ambushes, strangely enough, and the key is in a rather awful maze with chaingunners, arch-viles, and invisible walls. Much like Heck! Oh, and you have to jump through those fire portals (and the FIREBLU later on).

The last few areas to the southeast all lead closer to the exit, with mostly Evilution-like caverns and such. There's a slight tad of funniness with a marble baron wall that has a red nose on it too, and the Icon of Sin texture is for some wrong reason present at the end of one corridor. These corridors kinda drag though, and the level sure is long as it is.

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