doesn't rhyme with MIDI :(
Having just played through it all, I have a lot to say. First of all, good job to everyone involved in the project. I would say that unfortunately it wasn't entirely to my personal tastes, but I will explain why.
The new textures for the most part look good, though the green, unanimated slimy texture which is used for teleporters is... strange to say the least. (Particularly here - I mean, what?) There's a diagonal stripey flat used a lot which I don't like very much. I also don't understand the purpose of the Doom 2 map list appearing very clearly on that one computer texture. (It perhaps would've worked if the font was 1 or 2 pixels smaller so you had to have a really keen eye to make it out.)
Also, the status bar is almost illegible. I can only just make out the words "ammunition" and "life" on it, and the numbers are the blackest shade of black I've ever seen.
The environments created by the textures are clearly very well put together, but for some reason I just didn't find it as engaging as the first UAC Ultra. Virtually everything is grey and really roughened, with a smack of brown and green thrown in to make it look military, but the overall aesthetic of the mapset is kind of bleak and cheerless. I certainly felt as if I was immersed in a new and unique environment, but... I didn't really want to be there after a while. It was lacklustre. Not in the "generally bad" sense of the word - in the sense of lacking lustre. I just couldn't find a lot of appeal in its visual department (though the new blues are pretty cool). I'm pretty sure I had to open a wall that was not a door in order to progress through the rest of MAP04. Oh yeah, and this happened.
The layouts don't really fare a whole lot better, in my view. The majority of the maps look simply like deathmatch maps - Hellbent layouts, in particular - just filled with monsters. A lot of the indoor rooms are non-orthogonal and kind of forgettable, and oddly open and spacious when you have map names like "The Confines". A couple of outdoor areas were pretty cool, though.
One thing I noticed is that some of the lighting choices don't make a whole lot of sense.
The gameplay seems to be fantastically non-linear with lots of interconnectivity, almost to the point where it feels sandboxy and loopy. I didn't really get lost, but I did find myself thinking that some of the rooms just seemed outright superfluous to requirements. I'm fairly certain I could've skipped quite a few of them and I probably would've enjoyed the mapset a bit more had I done so. Perhaps this mapset would've benefitted from it just being shorter.
The music is all death metal MIDIs. They sound really daft, to be honest. When the guitars are playing 32nd notes at 200bpm, it kind of makes my ears want to escape my head. After a while it got really grating and I had to change it. Honestly, after UAC Ultra's wonderfully atmospheric and quirky Abuse MIDIs, why was this direction taken with the music? This is noticeably darker and grittier than the first UAC Ultra, so slow and ambient music would've fit this like a charm. The monster placement certainly doesn't seem any more frantic or slaughtery than the first, so all things considered, the high-speed metal shredfests just seem like a rubbish choice in general.
The weapon behaviors have been changed slightly. Not for the better, in my opinion. The pistol looks jerky, the shotgun uses PK's smooth animation when the rest of the weapons don't, the chaingun looks glitchy and weird, and the rocket launcher actually fires sooner than normal, which jars a bit.
The novelty started to wear thin around MAP04, and MAP05 and MAP06 were perfectly forgettable. The music had just gotten stupid by that point and the maps were getting bigger but not really any more memorable. Past that point, finishing the mapset felt tiring.
Monster and item placement seemed well-balanced on the "Memento Mori" skill setting. No complaints there, but I didn't find a chaingun until MAP03 (after I'd found a rocket launcher in MAP02) though I don't know whether this was intentional - and didn't find an SSG until far later. Could've used it a lot sooner and then perhaps progressing through the maps wouldn't have felt as chorish.
I liked finding the secrets. Didn't get them all, but the ones that I did get were pleasing - switches that opened little panels a short distance away, in particular - though the switch textures themselves often completely blended in with the surrounding computer panels... even the non-secret ones at times.
Okay, everything summed up, this is at best an okay mapset in my view. A little bit disappointing but nothing horrible.
Oh, wait - the bonus level.
I just can't get over the anti-ending to this map which basically ruins the whole mapset for me completely. It's perhaps the worst ending to a WAD I have ever witnessed in my life. Not only am I treated to more really bad MIDI grindcore throughout MAP07, but the Icon setup is just... ridiculous. I'm forced to preserve my rockets (and there's no indication that I have to, but it's absolutely essential for the setup here), as when I get to the shooting point, I'm trapped there. No teleporter or doorway leading out, nothing. All I can do is fire rockets at the Icon - through some incredibly visually obstructing metal bars, so it's easy to miss - and if I don't have enough to defeat it, I have to wait for something to kill me. I also have to pray that there's no lost souls, cacodemons or pain elementals that can easily get in the way and force my autoaim onto them, so I have to gamble on the boss cube lotto for that one. Finally, when the final fight is done, it's not the end. You walk past the icon (which okay is sort of a neat idea), and... have to beat one more area before getting to the exit switch? Really? Oh, wait - it's not an exit switch after all. IT KILLS YOU. It kills you instantly, and immediately forces you back to a previous savegame, leaving you trapped in this woeful, torturous map for all of eternity. ALL OF MY HAITI.
I can't rate this WAD highly after that. That ending has made the previous six maps, which were already sluggish in gameplay and lacking in visual appeal, seem like a wholly pointless exercise. There's no finish to this mapset. No goal for the player to reach. No reward after beating the dreadful Icon fight. Just... a switch that triggers instant death. At first it was underwhelming, now it's just downright insulting.
My hopes for Episode 2 are dubious.
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