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I just finished the 3rd episode from Heretic on the 4th difficulty and I wanted to write down my thoughts (something like a review, although not that serious). I guess the first 3 episodes are the base game and the expansion is the next 2 episodes, so my opinion should be the same for the next 2 episodes, more or less (unless the game pulls a <<Thy Flesh Consumed>> on me).
First of all, the game was fun to me. The atmosphere was just nice. It stands perfectly between Doom and Hexen. The music fits the game, although I don't find it especially memorable. After playing 3 episodes, I can pretty much remember 2 or 3 tracks.
Also, the levels are well designed I guess, but they can be somewhat abstract. I feel like they are a playground filled with toys for me to come and play, compared to Hexen's levels that seem dilapidated (they conveyed a more believable setting). And the secrets were mostly easy to find and I almost always got all of them.
For the ambushes, I can say the game is based mostly on closet ambushes and they work pretty well. From a point and after you will look everywhere, after hitting a switch, getting a key or opening a door.
Now for the weapons, my main gripe is that I didn't feel like the game gave me an ultimate weapon. Doom had the BFG, Hexen had the Wraithverge, or the Quietus or the Bloodscourge. Heretic had what? Was it the Phoenix Rod? I don't know.
To be honest, I never had an ammo problem in the game. It was plentifully distributed in each map and I got many secrets on my way.
Here is my opinion on each weapon:
- Gauntlets of the Necromancer: Way cooler than the Doom chainsaw in my opinion.
- Staff: Your typical melee.
- Elven wand: Like the Doom pistol, but it is still viable later in the game, so I think it is better (I used it for the Gargoyles).
- Ethereal Crossbow: The Doom shotgun in other words, although it didn't feel as satisfying as the shotgun to me. However, it helps in the entire game and it can be used against many different opponents, so it is ok.
- Dragon Claw: The Doom Chaingun. Faster than the Elven wand and useful. Cool weapon.
- Hellstaff: I don't know if this is the Plasma rifle, but I love it!!! It is my favourite weapon and ammo for it is pretty easy to find. Great weapon! Thank you Raven for such a masterpiece!!!
- Phoenix Rod: The Doom Rocket Launcher. To be honest, I'm kinda disappointed with it. I wanted so much more from this weapon and it doesn't satisfy me, but I used it in very few situations, so I can't complain much. Very useful against Iron Liches (3 to 4 shots).
- Firemace: What is this supposed to be? Why should I use this, instead of the Hellstaff which has 100 more ammo units, when full stacked? I don't know.
And the enemies:
- Gargoyle: A fun little flying enemy, that is not a threat even at the start of the game. There are also Fire Gargoyles, that can shoot... you guessed it, fireballs.
- Golem: Something like a Pinky or an Imp. You can take care of him with the Gauntlets, if you want to save ammo. Golems also have a variation, which is called Nitrogolems. And you can't tell the difference most of the time, except from when they attack (they are not that dangerous in either form). What does this remind me of, hmmmm? Maybe Hexen has something similar. Like, let's say Centaurs and Slaughtaurs. Who else does this thing except Raven?
- Undead warrior: Tall skeleton guy (Revenant in disguise), throws green and red axes, with the red ones dealing more damage. An easy to face enemy with the crossbow.
- Sabreclaw: Its scream is like having nails tear apart metal or something. It is easily the most terrifying thing in the game. Luckily, they die in 3 blasts from the Crossbow and they are knocked back by the Crossbow.
- Weredragon: An enemy with a cool design, that can melee and shoot fireballs. Something like the Hell Knight. I like those guys!
- Ophidian: A lizard like being that throws projectiles from its staff. It is best to take those guys out as fast as you can. And they look good.
- Disciple of D'Sparil: A mage who throws 3 purple energy balls, while talking in an ancient language or something (similar enemy in Hexen). In groups they are dangerous and they too have a lot of health, despite them being mages.
- Iron Lich: You can see those guys pretty often, as a mini boss of sorts. They have 3 spells and if you play the game a bit, you will get used to them. They are ok I guess and they die pretty quickly with the Phoenix Rod.
- Maulotaur: He is the king of bulletsponges. He might have the largest health bar in the whole game. His attacks are devastating and if you get hit by 2 of his ground attacks, you are dead (I died one shot this way, in E2M8). Even with the Power tomes he takes a lot of time to kill. Probably the only time I found the Firemace useful (combine with a powertome).
- D'Sparil: An ok boss that deals the right amounts of damage and he teleports somewhere around 5000 times. I was chasing him around the battlefield to kill him.
Generally, I can say the enemies in Heretic have variety and are great, but they are all, more or less, bulletsponges. That's the one thing I disliked about them.
Additionally, the items are good and most of them are pretty useful, especially the Power tomes and the Invulnerability ring. The healing items I used very rarely and the Wings of Wrath were useful in getting some secrets or escaping a damaging floor.
Now for the Power tomes, they are easily the best mechanism in the game. I was only disappointed about the Phoenix Rod's secondary mode, which was a flamethrower and it didn't help that much. The other weapon modes were awesome.
My favourite things in the game are: The Cathedral (a map in E1), the Weredragon, the Power tome, the Hellstaff and that wave-like texture, used mainly in E3 (it looked really good).
Overall, I can say Corvus is a true badass and Heretic is a nice and enjoyable game, but almost everything in its formula got improved in Hexen. Still a nice start for Raven and I am going to play the next two episodes too. After that, Hexen 2!
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Lol; I never tried tomed gauntlets against a maulotaur, but then again I typically play BPPT so I don't think it'd be possible there. However i do know you can totally knock out iron liches with that tactic, such as the group in the hallway of E4M1. I'm a bit unsure of how you deal with the massive dmg of the gound-pound attack though, considering how quickly it can kill you.
I enjoyed this write-up SD; I have a lot of comments but they'll have to wait for later perhaps. Do try the game on BPPT though; it plays much better.
Also, the tomed mace doesn't work against bosses; use something else. The tomed hellstaff makes for a good quick aoe-dot before switching to a more sane weapon. The Phoenix Rod's flamethrower does tons of dmg if you can keep contact and will kill a maulotaur in, iirc, 2 "shots."
The ground-pound only does all the explosive damage at range -- the melee version of that attack is far less destructive. ;-)
Yes when you are using tomed gauntlets against a Maulotaur, he'll only (or maybe mostly) counterattack using its maze melee attack. However, I don't know if the Tome's time is enough to fully kill the guy using the gauntlets, I myself never took the risk to verify.
Oh and like others said, episode 4 starts rougher than episode 3, and episode 5 even more, I would suggest provoking as much infighting as possible, only that consumes time so if you like speeding things up, ignore this.
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