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Trying to do reviews

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So I still desperately search for a kindred spirit (read: attention), and I thought that the best thing I can do for the community is reviews, so let's go. And I decided to start with a WAD that I always especially wanted to review (properly, at least - my comment doesn't count).

The Secret Path


This used to be my very favorite map (I have played it dozens of times now!) and it marked a milestone in my Dooming history (actually not only Dooming, to a degree), so I guess that I should feel qualified to write a very long review (my next reviews surely will be shorter).

As with quite a few other WADs, I can tell a long history of myself discovering this map. I have first downloaded it in 2012 when I decided for the first time to intentionally scour through the folders of maps not requiring a source port. Since I looked mainly for stuff like new weapon sounds and new status bar graphics in WADs at the time, I didn't really feel this map. Some time later, I saw it on Doom WAD Station and noticed the mention of the author being only 15 years old when he finished the map. I was under 15 then, so I didn't care about it. But some time later, I played the WAD "The Suicide Missions", noticed that the author of that was 13, remembered this map and played it. And it really blew me away!

Now let's describe the textfile. I think that it certainly is an interesting read and represents the map in a way. There are several versions of a sentence "THIS WILL BE THE BEST LEVEL YOU HAVE EVER PLAYED!" and spelling errors and it overall sounds arrogant, but on the other hand it does also sound enthusiastic, and the tone can be attributed to the author being very pleased with his map. Among other things, there is a storyline. Apparently, the protagonist's name is Nelson McFare and the map is an "underground community" that Flynn (here "Fly Taggert") didn't discover despite the entrance being in E1M1. Of course that place should be cleared of monsters.

I think that the design of the map is great. It's obviously "one idea added after another", but the underground techbase setting is maintained throughout the whole map, so the combination of cramped rooms with sector furniture and impressively high chasms actually creates a great sense of place. The architecture itself has something of a "good 1994 map" feel to it with focus more on creativity than detail for the most part and lighting variation used mainly for contrast. As you might have guessed already, this map is pretty colorful, with lots of different texture combinations. The author also used some engine tricks, like the classic 3D bridges, deep water and a transparent door.

Gameplay is pretty linear and easy, but the author tried to prevent either from being a problem. Linearity is balanced by having a fair amount of optional rooms and secrets, one hub-like setup, and generally fairly complex layout, and easiness is balanced by having varied encounters: sometimes you kill weak monsters one by one, and sometimes you face like a dozen monsters of all sorts with sufficient weaponry.

However, there are a few problems with the map. Firstly, it seems that the author adjusted the REJECT map so explosions don't do splash damage in many areas, but that made for a side effect in form of monsters often not immediately seeing the player. Secondly, most of the pits in the map are inescapable, although I doubt that you will fall into them if you don't play too aggressively. And the last and worst problem is that this is a MAP07 map for a reason, and if you forget about that and skip at least one mancubus, you will be completely stuck near the very end.

There is some new content, notably some new sounds. They are not really appropriate, but they don't distract from playing.

Despite the problems I mentioned, I still think that this map is a masterpiece and definitely worth the one year it took to make. And I hope that you will agree that it's worth the 20 minutes it takes to beat.

P.S.: The textfile says that this is the largest map ever, which wasn't really true even at the time, but among pre-sourceport maps it is indeed one of the largest.

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*typed this up a couple hours ago, I see you wouldn't prefer /newstuff so ignore that part here.

Good job; a nice review :)

If you want to contribute with reviews that won't get burried in the forums, might I suggest either doing some for The /Newstuff Chronicles or for Doom Wad Station, both of which would be better homes for reviews. The only downside of The /Newstuff Chronicles is that they only review recent wads, but they are a good crew and do great jobs; I'm sure they would push you to improve as a reviewer as well, which is always a good thing. Doom Wad Station would let you review wads from any era; just have to contact brad_tilf here on the Doomworld forums. Otoh, DWS also currently needs somebody to take up writing the "This Week in Doom" articles and I'd love to see them brought back.

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I enjoyed my little stint reviewing for The /Newstuff Chronicles, I will return for more sub standard and bigoted reviews soon. You come across some cracking wads and some complete shite, which was rather amusing.

You review seems good to me, I would take on Fonze's advice and get on wad station!

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