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  1. Surprised to read some of the dislikes for map 04 "Vindication." I get it though, fair criticisms on the linear gameplay. To me though, this is linear done well in that I barely noticed because I was having too much fun. Music wise, it is a tad crazy but I just turned it down and mostly forgot about it.
  2. MAP04 - “Vindication” by Anthony Soto gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves An excellently designed base that loops around on itself in very interesting ways. Every single room shows top notch quality and is a real treat to go through. Even finding secrets was fun! Plenty of enemies mixed together in a variety of ways. Good fun everywhere. A few barons showed up to say hi and make sure you put that SSG to good use. A surprise PE. Even a few fatty’s made their singular presence known. Don’t forget the well used CG snipers, “caught you!” Turret revs and teleport ambush revs as well. I liked the variety of windows and opening through each section. You can glimpse more ares outside with some cute views. (I cheated with a jump for that shot to catch more if it.) Right from the start you can see the effort with the rocky lava falls. Wouldn’t set the world on fire now a days but I gotta think something like this in 2000 really stood out then. Only thing I didn’t like about this map was the exit set up. Seemed lack luster and only one spider tele’d in to get whacked.
  3. MAP03 - “Binary Compound” by Adam Windsor gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves Wow, 3 for 3 so far. Almost night and day difference from The Darkening episode 1 to episode 2. I’ll be honest, 1 was a bit of let down and I wasn’t expecting 2 to be so damned good. This one was kind of a faster and more wide open mix of maps 1 and 2. Grab that shotgun and go go go! Lots of good use of open spaces with plenty of choices to kill. The outside area between buildings was a nice touch. The lobby like entrance to the last area was neat. The final challenge with 3 HK’s was a good choice. By that time my ammo was starting to run dry but I had juuuust enough to handle it. Good stuff. Also found the secret cubby which was kind of funny. Not sure if I missed something bigger but in any case I got a chuckle out of it.
  4. That's an awesome aspect of this club; giving the authors some kudos (or criticism unfortunately) decades after the fact. I'm sure it gives them a weird sense of "memory lane tripping" if you will. That is, provided they even know their work is being reviewed. Haha. Thanks for giving us your insights!
  5. MAP02 - “Biotech Terror” by Jan Van der Veken, Derek MacDonald gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves Another solid map. I really enjoyed the pace of this one with the use of teleporting enemy nodes and small cubby ambushes from behind. Even with the optional pistol work early on. @TheOrganGrinder is correct in pointing out that it's less open and more direct approach can be a bummer coming right after Outpost Mortem, but I liked it. It provides a change of pace while keeping the quality up. The slow feed of ammo and health was perfect I thought. Nothing too crazy yet in terms of enemies which is nice given the limited arsenal. Just a healthy amount of mid tier baddies capping out with HKs and a triple offering of revs let loose before the end. A pretty well balanced affair that was challenging but fair. I also loved how the HKs teleported in a seemingly random fashion as well. Really teaches a player to fear areas they think have been cleared already, if not so much in this map then the next coming maps. Complacent play can bring green fiery surprises to the face, that's for sure. Again the base design and architecture is on-point. Boy, if this kind of work holds up throughout this whole wad I will be happily impressed. I really dig this style and the looks they offer. The exit room was another good surprise. Very cool use of liquids there, in some of the other spaces and hallways. Also, of course, under that gnarly looking bridge. Lots of really interesting spaces to paint with red. The music felt a little off for this one. Not sure why, it just didn't connect with me. Forgot to mention map 1's music which had a groovy drum beat to it. It helped bring in an adventurous feel which was great for a non linear exploration affair.
  6. Great points! I did enjoy coming back and doing just that, hahaha.
  7. The Darkening: Episode 2 Heard this one was better. I am hoping so. MAP01 - “Outpost Mortem” by Ola Björling gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves This was a surprise. I did not expect to go from Quake infused Doom to something that reminded me more of Strife or something else with more of an exploratory narrative feel to it. Half-Life influence creeping in perhaps? It was 2000 when this wad came out and there are a few situations that require you to think outside of the box a little bit in order to advance. It’s a very cool base you descend upon from above. Climbing down from the rocky hills is a nice touch. Great sky texture to go along with the colors used inside and out. I like the use of a custom Darkening logo for switches and decorations. Anything to get away from Quake rip offs! It’s a nice looking design too. (Weird exit gimmick, that.) Intermission art uses the logo as well with a more worn look. I'm sure this wad will jump around in style, if the first was anything to go off of, but I hope the quality and uniqueness like this map stays true throughout.
  8. MAP09 - “Military Complex” by Jan Van der Veken gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves Appropriate Doom 1 music here as this felt very much in line with an episode of some sort, minus the couple of spiders and CG’ers of course. Speaking of... hell of a dirty start. “EH!? Oh shit.” At least this map had some armor in it after the first zombie onslaught. That same ceiling decoration is used through this map. It’s good looking enough to not distract with the copy/paste aspect of it. Getting each of the keys had their own unique hurdle to them. I liked the BK probably the best because it was a total surprise when the wall dropped to show the inside area while I was scrambling for more ammo as there were all of the Barons running around. With so many and very little ammo (even with the secret RL) to deal with all of them, you’re bound to skip a few and move on which leads you to being stuck inside with a lot of space eating demons and then caco’s teleport in to bring in the pain as you hear the barons right outside the walls while you frantically flail away hoping they can’t get in. A very intense moment there. By design I’m sure. Well done. One small touch at the end I really enjoyed was the exit switch forming together into place. I think the sides came up from the floor and the center piece dropped down from the ceiling. Very, very cool. Don’t think I’ve seen that before. MAP10 - “Under Earth” by Travers Dunne gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves Pretty cool underground base with nice texture usage. I appreciated the extra effort on the ceiling to put a little detail on it and close it’s lip coming in from the outside edge instead of just have the walls go straight up into nothing. Brings in the feeling of being underneath something somewhere. Nice touch. For once I enjoyed the use of boxes as sort of a scrambled mess used to connect sections of the base conceptually. The beginning crowd after the first switch up top was quite a challenge with the limited ammo. I really enjoyed finding the wall cave in behind me and open up to a whole new section complete with a Quake feeling floor light and mossy ground cavern. The deaf cacodemons were placed excellently as well. They see you at just the right moment and come down to make things more difficult, nicely done. The end with the AV was pretty cool. I always get a kick out of a perfectly placed AV. This one had a small angle of cover from every angle that makes you have to move constantly. Clearing out the enemies before getting after him was made easier with the secret PG thankfully. Appreciated that. VERY Quake-esque with the teleport back to the base after finding the secret. MAP11 - “Stone Tyrant” by Adam Windsor gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves Well that was kind of fun. Grab a shotgun and get to work! I’m glad it wasn’t a simple E2M8 Cyberdemon battle finale. This had a little curve ball to it with the exit being blocked by a baron, RL ammo being limited and underneath the cow himselve while the space in which you fight in is fairly limited having only a few pillars for cover. Good stuff. The stuff leading up to that point was mild but engaging. I enjoyed the baron guarding the RK in the little gated steps leading outside. Some nice detailing touches through out to keep things visually appealing and help take your mind off of the brown. This wad sure liked it’s brown. "BROOOOWWWWN. All day ev’r day!" Final thoughts While not bad or awful, by any means, it's not exactly great or stunning either. It's age shows badly from time to time but overall a good mix of competently made maps with a few brighter spots mixed in. I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't stop anyone from playing it. 3/5
  9. MAP08 - “Discordia” by John Bye gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves Blah, this one felt like a Wolf3D map to me but with slightly more detail and a few steps here and there. Some of the rooms were okay but most of this was rather dull and reeks of that old ID software design of having SS troopers stand around, mostly behind doors, waiting to be popped. Even the music felt muted as it’s bass warbles on while a melody from that era tries to mix up the repetition. A very door centric flat planed base containing a warehouse box segment packed tight with demons and AV’s. An unusual mix of annoyances but manageable for the most part. The doors though, oh my God. Hahaha, what is going on here?! Blue ones. Double red ones. Yellow and green ones. Even more green ones! Don’t forget the plain ones! Sometimes even two at a time. But wait, did I mention you get to open all of them over and over again? One at a time?? Oh my! Really exciting stuff… There were lots of computer panels to “use” for various other non-door doors as well. Get out of here with that stuff. I play Doom to open doors man. That’s my bag." *eye roll* That mechanic gets just as tiresome after a while. This map... sign of the times I suppose? Anyways, I also had no idea how to get any of the secrets either. Not even sure I cared though considering I just gutted this out with my SSG and CG shooting fish in a barrel mostly. My favorite part of this map was the dark BK fight with the peekaboo baron. Hahaha. I managed to get locked inside trying to take screenshots of him and then had to fight him point blank with strobe lights going on and off. Whoops! Not fun but cool idea if that’s what was intended. The beginning of this map had promise with being forced to run away from a PE into a zombie filled base but the overall layout and design was lacking IMO.
  10. MAP07 - “Dead Simple II” by Nick Baker gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves Dropping down from a cage sets up a theme here of sorts with captured marines and torture devices. Felt very outdated to me. I guess this did come out in '99 so what can I say? Kind of a weird delivery method for the "dead simple" encounters with the multiple large teleporting in groups and hallway cubby hole reveals but it’s a lot better than just having them stand around. I did like getting locked in with the 4 Mancs though followed by a large horde of telepinkies to deal with. Probably the highlight there. Not too much else going on until the baron at the exit. Simple key find and very small doors that looked pretty odd to me. A little less time spent on gimmicky torture devices and more on the actual map maybe? I dunno. Not surprising to find the same mapper back to back here with the previous dark mine fuckery.
  11. (can you spot the hidden imp?) MAP06 - “The Mines of Death” by Nick Baker gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves These have to be the most basic mines I’ve ever explored in a Doom map. Very, VERY dark caves. They provided some extra challenge with a few more enemies repopulating later to come out of the dark at you but kind of pointless otherwise especially for a very short map. The AV fight after the RK in the main opening area was the most memorable part with a few interesting looking spaces but not a whole lot else going on here. Like others here, not to keen on the box with the megasphere sitting in it. I can't believe the amount of time and effort that it must have taken to make that. All spent for something that adds nothing to the overall gameplay of this map. Yikes. At first I thought it was just for looks but from reading other comments, I see there is a way and I too missed it like so many others. It's completely useless anyways considering it’s so close to the exit! *SMH*
  12. Sorry, it's been so long I can't remember where I got it but it is just a brightmap effect specific to Doom 2 assets. It's named "AltBrightmapsDoom2.pk3" and it works so/so depending on how much of the original stuff the creators change in the wad. For instance, some of the button lights can be off if switches are changed and such. Nothing huge when it doesn't work but when it does... ya, it looks stellar.
  13. MAP05 - “Hand of Doom” by Jan Van der Veken gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves Oooo, this one was a cantankerous bastard. I spent a fair amount of time trying to get a decent good go for a mid way save point by the green armor that would have been nice. The secrets on this one stumped me pretty well. REALLY wish there was decent armor in this map that wasn't obtusely hidden in plain sight. Getting pot shotted throughout this map with VERY little health laying around was rough going. (“OMG, it’s a stimpack… GET IT!!”) Especially dirty was getting ported point blank into a wall of imps or waiting zombies. "Whew, ouch". The design and architecture of everything was interesting with plenty of pillars to hide behind but they were usually so small it felt like trying to squeeze a tank behind a telephone booth. They did look pretty damned cool though, gotta say.
  14. MAP03 - “Entropia” by John Bye gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves Hrmph, didn’t like this one so much. There were a few funny visual tricks but overall a very short, cramped and unappealing experience. I did like the look of the armor mid way through but mostly just because getting diced with zero protection was getting old. There are three keys in this map. Why? That seems needlessly excessive. Each of them is stuck in a tiny room with not much to it. AV before the blue, Manc after the yellow and a Rev with buddies for the red. Weird choices and uninspired placements. Strange. Much like the texture on the step in the hardest rooms of the map. "Huh? Is that supposed to be blue for some reason?" MAP04 - “Relentless” by Travers Dunne gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves So for being a city styled map of sorts this seemed pretty spot on with a good sense of place by having a way to traveling outside before going back in again. There’s a little bit of adventure/exploring with hopping from landing to landing, using a hidden lift, winding stairs and what not. My favorite part was early on when the music starts kicking in to its best part and you grab the PG to be greeted with two barons and change. Plus a surprise AV behind you. "Hot damn, time to get busy!!" The cacs floating above outside the fence line and more weenies below, all helped add to the tension too. If you flip the next switch before clearing things ahead of time you can find yourself face to face with a horde of bad things when a group of imps decides to sneakily join in as well as opening the next path to more wondering bits of pain. Great stuff. Nothing too crazy, besides the AV, but just enough pressure to keep you on your toes. The SMM fight was a shocking delight as well. Can’t remember the last time I helped a group of imps take one of them down. Lots of health and ammo with just barely enough cover to handle things. Awesome. The exit area was a harsh surprise as well.
  15. MAP02 - “Bloody Hell” by Jan Van der Veken gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves This was kind of fun. Run around and get into fire fights in various buildings with windows, pillars and over-hangings while rocking to a M.I. remix of sorts, a fun map 2 with a few more tougher wrinkles thrown in. Visually a bit drab but I liked the smattering of red in parts. I liked the back area especially. Was a good contrast to the front area while still fitting in with the same locational theme. It felt like this whole map was a detour, outdoors to find a way to open up the base doors you start at. The standing dimensional doors were kind of neat. I’m guessing that with the heavy quake influences, the gray texture is supposed to emulate the starry void of some sort.