The DWmegawad Club plays: Back to Saturn X E2



What is the DWmegawad Club?
This is a place where we settle down, have a cup of tea (or drink of your choice) and take a month to play through a megawad on our own, together! Any keen observations, criticisms, or frustrated ranting about it goes here in the discussion. As long as you want to say something about what you've played, feel free to speak your mind.

Can I join?
Sure. The only rule is that you have to play at least some of the levels in our monthly megawad to contribute, but you're generally encouraged to finish the whole thing, even if you've played it before.

What levels am I allowed to post about?
Whatever day of the month it is, is the upper limit for the map you can post on. So if it's the 6th, you may discuss up to MAP06.

Do I have to post an entry every day?
Nope, not at all. This is only for our more enthusiastic members. As long as you play through it with us you’re part of the club.

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>>>DOWNLOAD BACK TO SATURN X E2 BETA HERE<<<
>>>AND THE TEXT FILE HERE<<<

Back to Saturn X Episode 2: Tower in the Fountain of Sparks is, besides an even bigger mouthful than E1, a vanilla compatible sequel to the lauded Episode 1, so hopefully everyone knows what to expect. Get ready to return to a megawad full of skill, style, and interplanetary demons!

Author & maplist for BtSXE2:

MAP01 - "Shadow Port" by Joshy/Esselfortium/dew
MAP02 - "Underwater Explosions" by Tango
MAP03 - "Wings of Thorn" by Brad Spencer/Xaser
MAP04 - "Dirty Water" by Use3d/Tarnsman

MAP05 - Episode Hub by Xaser

MAP06 - "Useless Inventions" by Vader
MAP07 - "Shrine to the Dynamic Years (Athens Time Change Riots)" by The Green Herring
MAP07 - "A Blue Shadow" by Matt Tropiano/Tarnsman
MAP09 - "Adverse Wind" by DeathevokatioN/Esselfortium
MAP10 - "Eureka Signs" by Esselfortium

MAP 11 - Episode Hub by Xaser

MAP12 - "Demons Are Real" by Skillsaw
MAP13 - "Nation Gone Dry" by Jimmy/Tarnsman
MAP14 - "Shocker in Gloomtown" by Mechadon/Vader
MAP15 - "Theory of Broken Circles" by Vader

MAP16 - Episode Hub by Xaser

MAP17 - "Steeple of Knives" by Xaser
MAP18 - "Optional Bases Opposed" by Skillsaw
MAP19 - "Unbaited Vicar of Scorched Earth" by Tarnsman
MAP20 - "Speedtraps for the Bee Kingdom" by Tarnsman/Esselfortium
MAP21 - "Bulldog Skin" by Khorus/Esselfortium
MAP22 - "Bite" by RottKing

MAP23 - Episode Hub by Xaser

MAP24 - "Perhaps Now the Vultures" by Tarnsman
MAP25 - "Unstable Journey" by Mechadon
MAP26 - "Beneath A Festering Moon" by Xaser

MAP31 - "Fireking Says no Cheating" by Joshy/Esselfortium/dew

BONUS CONTENT
Suitepee's playthrough: 1 2 3 4
kmxexii's review
----------
OLD THREADS
BF_THUD!
Community Chest 4
Jenesis
MAYhem 2012
Memento Mori
Interception
2002: A Doom Odyssey
Hadephobia
Coffee Break & Fava Beans & Double Impact
HYMN
Stardate 20X6 & Monochrome Mapping Project
Realm of Chaos
Back to Saturn X E1 & Favillesco E1
Kama Sutra
Unholy Realms & Zone 300
Vile Flesh
Ultimate Doom
Whitemare & Sacrament
Scythe
Epic 2
Whitemare 2
Sunder & Countdown to Extinction
Doom 2 the Way id Did
MAYhem2048
Stomper

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Compared to E1, most of those titles could actually work as serious level titles. I am disappointed.

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^ That's true. There is no "Bingo Pool Hall of Blood", "Remember Your Birthday" or "Big Chief Chinese Restaurant" this time around

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PrBoom+, UV skill, I intend to play continuously, I'm a casual non-hardcore player.

MAP01 - "Shadow Port" by Joshy/Esselfortium/dew

In my honest opinion, it's a great opener for E2 of a modern wad like BTSX. Gives a glimpse of what we can expect further - at least, it gives me the impression, as I haven't seen further levels yet, but now I feel that I know what's coming. Primarily - awesomeness.

Quite extensive and elaborate layout, while somehow intuitive to navigate. The visuals AND structure impressed me greatly, obviously - so many varied structures in a thematically unified environment. I could imagine a futuristic, Doom-realistic ship port looking like this. No doubt that this design is top-notch. I didn't mind that the level was dark, not even in the slightest - dim light creates the mood of the level, and seems to be used appropriately (not too much to be annoying). I liked the difficulty curve of this level. From the beginning, when monster density is low and you're unlikely to be heavily hurt*, to continually introducing tougher enemies (Cacodemons! Chaingunners!! Revenants!!!) placed in a slightly tougher way. Chaingun + berserk gameplay, with no shotgun for a really long time, actually worked very well for me - it was quite an unique experience. The level as a whole wasn't challenging too much, but also not too little. Now I'm enthused about seeing the rest of BTSX E2 too, and although I realize it'll be getting tougher in difficulty, I still believe that I'll enjoy the further maps as greatly as I did this one.

* I once died early on anyway, unluckily hit by the first sergeant multiple times while already damaged by imps and demons, because I paid low attention to my movements. I haven't died since.

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dobu gabu maru said:

^ That's true. There is no "Bingo Pool Hall of Blood", "Remember Your Birthday" or "Big Chief Chinese Restaurant" this time around


"Speedtraps for the Bee Kingdom" "Fireking Says No Cheating" "Shrine to the Dynamic Years (Athens Time Change Riots)"

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Cool, here goes with the usual pistol start UV save spamming.

MAP01 - "Shadow Port" by Joshy/Esselfortium/dew

Very nice, slick visuals and intricate layout, particularly cool use of lighting. I like the interesting dynamic of chaingun/fist for the first half of the map, nice use of chaingunners too. Quite a long meandering adventure with convoluted navigation, which makes for a continually interesting journey but didn't really encourage me to go back looking for secrets for fear of getting lost. My favourite bit was the ship, also the hardest part thanks to the rev sniper. Good stuff. Great textures too

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GZDoom, HMP, continuous. also, I'll be playing with a little mod called Weapons of Saturn for the best Saturn experience.

MAP01 Shadow Port

Well of course it's a cool opener and "Hey a berserk pack right there!"

The lighthouse thing was cool, and the fights were MAP01-easy despite revenants and hellknights showing their ugly mugs already. Large layout though which took me 20 minutes cuz I'm slow. It's mostly chaingun and berserk action, until you can get a shotgun, then there's also this secret plasma rifle which I coulda found a use of. Standout was the faraway ship, dubbed "Visplane Overflow" which was neat. If you have the blue key, you can open one crate and, well, okay I'm pretty sure that one berserk at the beginning was enough. Goddamn that's a lot of unnecessary berserk packs. Nice level overall.

Bugs:
-There's this small misalignment, haven't found any others, but this one I found, it's this wall in the middle before the cave. (sorry for brightness, I swear it was darker than this.)


-Two enemies didn't spawn in. I believe they're revenants and are supposed to spawn in after getting the red key. Interestingly enough, I did have two other revenants spawn though after the key grab. still, I missed some kills.

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MAP01

Annoying map, starts off normal but soon enough you'll have to battle chaingunners with low health.
One of the imps decided to go into the waterfall secret and reveal it for me, perhaps add a blocking line?

I'd say add more health or remove some enemies, just do something to do to make the map easier, it's the first level. The level could also go with some barrels or ammo as I ran out of bullets quite fraquently.

Doesn't play very good but looks just amazing.
2/5

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Map 1 - Shadow Port - 98% Kills, 100% Secrets. HMP skill.

I'm currently doing two simultaneous playthroughs of this much-awaited megawad, one being a lower-difficulty run at my own pace so I can appreciate more of the game's design, and the second being my standard hurt me plenty playthrough of one level a day. Anything I post in this thread will be from the latter.

Continuing the theme of the end of episode 1, it appears we've washed up on a rusty and weathered shipyard. The new sky texture looks great, and the music as always is well-fitting. Just looking at the sheer complexity of this level in the automap makes me amazed that this is purely vanilla.

The level design ranges from wide open outdoor areas to claustrophobic ventilation ducts. There are a few really nice touches like the hilariously titled "Visplane Overflow", the lighthouse, and the occasional caverns that we get to explore.

The combat in Shadow Port is a major jump up in difficulty compared to E1M1. Compared to Episode 1 where I didn't die until map 5, I died several times on Shadow Port alone, mostly due to the lack of ammo. This at times can make the middle parts of the map a bit of a grind, but I do like me some Tyson play every now and then.

The most brutal section of the game was the fight on the Visplane Overflow with the onslaught of revenants and hitscanners. Well, a least that rather quirky blue key secret was there to save my ass!

Overall, this is a very impressive and highly challenging opener for what appears to be a very diverse episode. I also can't wait for some level-by-level commentary by the authors themselves!

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Back to war. I'll follow the advice and use software rendering this time, other than that - it's my usual scheme: UV, pistol starts, no savegames. I'm too lazy to post each FDA separately so I'll just throw the complete pack out in the end (that is, if I ever finish it of course).

MAP01 - "Shadow Port" by Joshy/Esselfortium/dew
And here comes the game of guesses. Who is responsible for another tyson crap in greater degree, Joshy or dew? I prefer to blame both. Yes, this time you slowly obtain other weapons that turn boring punching into boring chaingun sniping and - later - shotgun pooping. For a map with such slow pace this one is a bit too long, and even though it looks nice (albeit really generic, new textures cannot camouflage this simple fact) - gameplay is a slog.

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1 - boo, tedious berserking and chaingunning with some higher-tier monsters present. Didn't like the part where I take a lift with no bullets left and two chaingunners welcome me on top and kill me. Not much fun and the considerable length makes it even worse.

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UV Continuous using saves on first attempts, pistol start without if I repeat it

Map 1 - Shadow Port

I like Tyson gameplay and fighting mostly smaller tier monsters with limited ammo, so I enjoyed the gameplay of this one. The berserk crate and punching hell knights to death was fun too. The ship fight in general was a lot of fun, though frantic as I just kept diving further in to avoid the enemies behind me. The map itself looks fantastic, which is of course expected.

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How come nobody rates each map? This should be a thing by now.

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Shadow Port -
Man what an opener, really set an exciting mood with dim lightning and open scale shot.(i really liked that lighthouse). I really liked the track here, it fits the map like a glove. in terms of layouts and visuals, to me its a 10/10 really good texture and use of liquid. some really cool ideas too with the piston section and "visplane overflow" and the docks area were very memorable. I also enjoyed the fact that it was larger and longer than the regular map01 formula. I didn't have any problems with the gameplay, zerking and small arms are fine for me.

Also i like the dark style of the map, especially when i think its the map that comes after tough skin river which was very bright.

Great job joshy and tarnsman.

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Map01: Shadow Port - FDA

Alright, Buttsex part 2. As expected, this thing looks really fucking good already. Loving this set of rusty metal textures, really gives a sense of place and realism. If it's supposed to look like a weathered and abandoned seaport, then it succeeds perfectly in my eyes. Cool little details too, like the lighthouse thingy and the Visiplane Overflow. And that dark ceiling in the first cave... awesome. If there's something to bitch about, it's that area that leads to the soulsphere secret. I think it looks a bit goofy and a more elegant teleport positioning or a more complex way to reach it could have worked better and would be more fitting to the theme of the map in my opinion.

Gameplay is just alright though; I don't have a problem with berserk punching and light gameplay on map01 but it is a bit too long for it's own good. I reckon this is meant to be an atmospheric opener which is all fine and good, and it does succeed in that too, but 20 minutes spent in map01 is still a little too much. I wasn't too bored when playing though since I quickly took the exploratory approach and didn't expect even a quick exit. I'm quite puzzled at how it's even possible to run out of ammo though. Maybe it's just me but I get the feeling that when a berserk is given right away in a low monster count map, it might, surprisingly, be a good idea to use it once in a while?

About the FDA... took my sweet time so probably not very exciting to watch. Some fucker sniped me across the map early on which lead me to believe that the water textured floors in this map were damaging and played accordingly for the longest time heh. I was dumb and read some of the reviews here before playing and remembered someone mentioning a stash of berserks in the ship so I had to go back for it. Goofy in a good way that stash so I'm glad I did go back to find it. Missed one of the secrets but got 100% kills. Plasma gun I found but didn't even use it, soulsphere was useless since I had pretty much nothing left at that point and so was the extra green armor I found since there are two more of those present.

Solid start for E2, although I think I liked the map01 for E1 better. Gonna be a fun ride though, I'm pretty certain of that.

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Memfis said:

1 - boo, tedious berserking and chaingunning with some higher-tier monsters present. Didn't like the part where I take a lift with no bullets left and two chaingunners welcome me on top and kill me. Not much fun and the considerable length makes it even worse.

If you keep running out of ammo and health in map01, try switching to HMP. It keeps roughly the same opposition, but provides more resources.

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MAP01 - THE INFAMOUS SHADOW PORT

so we start out where we left off, on the docks of Saturn X. the overall feel is darker than the last ep, though, which only figures. it's a tyson map but i cant get myself worked up over it. the more tyson i play, the less i suck at it, and after suffering through SOD MAP21 this is like flying on the wings of angels. its basically punching imps and demons and chaingun sniping all the zombies (revenants and cacos at your own discretion, i dont like punching cacos). i had 160 bullets and 37 shells when i was done, so i could have gone a bit hog wild with the shotgun i guess.

i think most of the difficulty is in the zombies since they tend to pick away at you while you're focused on dealing with teh stuff that's in your face, and dodging fireballs while looking for openings on those zombies in some of the upper balconies like in that gorgeous water-filled atrium is basically picking whichever evil you're more comfortable with. i managed to not die so i didnt feel that pressured. having some of the secrets helps but i couldnt figure out how to get the plasma gun. i found the little "locked" graphic on the VPO but i couldnt get it to do fuck anything and didn't care so much since i was p much done at that point.

its a really beautiful map. that light tower is a gorgeous, stoic sentinel of BTSX's visuals. i love the layout of the tiered central area which as many ways you have out of it will probably confuse some folks. the visplane overflow is of course worth a laff but i was more amused by the cargo. the bridge structure over to the ship is another nice touch. the music track is also great, as per usual. standout fight for me was the western dock fight, which had just enough zombie fodder on the outside to keep me distracted while running around the demons and hell knight. honorable mention to the not so simple act of clearing out that central chamber with the water pits

rating: 0/10 bcuz thats how i roll

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MAP02 - "Underwater Explosions" by Tango
Uhhh... Some might find the idea behind this map to be fresh or creative (haha, seriously?), but I do not. Was never a fan of all this Barrels o' Fun-related stuff. Sometimes blasting hordes with explosions is fun just for the sake of it, but when the whole map offers nothing but that and limits ammo severely - it's just boring/annoying/repetitive. The ending is a FUCKING DICK, that's not even funny, you maniac.
Aesthetic-wise... well, no. Curves and rectangles covered with all kinds of textures that clash horribly and have no sense of neither location nor banal consistency, just some abstract mess, much like mid-90s but with different texture set.
Probably the worst map from Tango I've ever seen, and an utter failure after really strong Tough Skin River. A shame, I've been having pretty high expectations with his name attached to a map for a long time now. *sigh*

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Aw yiss! I am in like Flynn. Been waiting for this for so long now (though probably not as long as a lot of other people here.)

Per usual, GZDoom/HMP/continuous/keyboard-only/frequent saves.

MAP01: SHADOW PORT
First things first, I keep wanting to call this "Port of Shadows", the title of Glen Cook's long-awaited next Black Company novel. Anyway, the first thing I noticed about this level is it's dark. Also, it's tough. First time through, I fell down into the red door pool and couldn't find the lift out (I hadn't decoded the lift texture yet) and quickly ran out of bullets. I died when a chaingunner on the ledge above took me out while I was trying to chainsaw a caco. On my second attempt (I hadn't yet saved at that point) I was much more conservative with my bullets (it was hard though; early chainguns are so much fun!) and I don't think I died again. I'd argue the imps are the biggest threat, as they sponge up bullets quickly in the early goings. By the time I exited, though, I was able to get back up to 200 bullets and had something like 37 shells. It was a fairly long level, too, but E1M1 wasn't exactly short either, so I won't complain. Gorgeous visuals, as always.

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And here we go again! I've not played the first part of this series, so I hope that the story (if there is one) isn't too important. I rarely play games for story anyways, it's all about the guns! I'll be playing with ZDoom on Ultra Violence difficulty, and with mouselook enabled. I attempt to get 100% kills and 100% secrets too. However, I will not be playing from a pistol start on each level. With that said, let's go!

MAP01: Shadow Port 98% kills, 100% secrets
The author gives me a berserk pack a few steps from where I begin. Damn, I've never been a big fan of melee maps. Anyways, I pick it up and punch some demons and imps in the face before picking up a chaingun. I notice that lighting effects are put to great use with the windows. Eventually, I find a hidden air vent thing and crawl inside...

Most of the map takes place inside this large building. Everything is covered in some nice new textures - I don't think I saw a single Doom texture in the entire map! I think the water and waterfall textures work really well with the metal textures - am I right in saying that a new color palette is being used? Of course, there's a secret hidden behind one of the waterfalls too :)

There's a neat section that takes place on a boat called the "Visplane Overflow" which made me smile. After picking up the red key, a couple of revenants spawn in on the opposite end of the deck, but the fight was fairly easy with the chaingun. I also found a hidden plasma gun nearby, but never needed to use it.

Overall, this map is fairly big for an opener. The lighting effects used throughout are pretty neat - I am a huge fan of fading light effects and all that fancy stuff, so I was pleased to see it everywhere in the map. I was a bit annoyed that I couldn't get 100% kills, as three hell knights didn't teleport in. Also, if I were the author, I would have put a hidden shotgun or chaingun near the start to provide an alternative way to deal with the first few enemies. Despite these minor issues, this map is a great start.

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Hey all,

Since I've been neck-deep in the development of the wad (moreso than E1, since I actually mapped for this one :P ), I figure the most fun way to contribute to the playthrough is to give some semi-official behind-the-scenes developer commentary, since there's a lot of fun nuggets about the maps themselves that aren't necessarily evident from the linedefs on the grid. I'll be playing through, too (on Eternity, Ultra-Violence), but there's not much I can say gameplaywise that isn't better stated by the folks giving the wad a first run. ;)

Anyhow, let's get started...

- - -
MAP01 - "Shadow Port" by Joshy/Esselfortium/dew
- - -

The term "Shadow Port" has become somewhat of an in-joke among the extended BTSX crowd, not because of the map's quality, but rather a certain something regarding its oddball development. The original Joshy map, a cool moody opener, was celebrated upon internal release for a time, until ptoing unveiled its dark secret. Certain scenes, particularly the vista from the ship now christened the "SS Visplane Overflow", broke every vanilla limit known to man. Eep. :P

Long story short, Essel had a go at the map and had to make a vast number of changes to the visuals n' layout to get it to work right. The original map had a helluva lot of open space, with the original ship that became the SS Visplane Overflow being visible from the start area... in case you were wondering where its name came from, there you go. The ship was redone from scratch, the grotto surrounding it was added, dew was drafted to fix up the gameplay after Essel broke it (:P), and countless more adjustments were made in order to make the vanilla engine sputter back to life. The end result is (IMO) a smashing success, but it was a scary couple of weeks for a certain couple of folks... ;)

Not that I'm knocking Joshy's efforts -- it's a kickass map in all iterations, and he's not the only one who fell into the "your map ain't 'nilla compatible" pit (*coughXasercough*... hey wait). There's been some talk about releasing a BTSX "outtakes pack" at some point, which would include (among other things) the original versions of the overhauled maps, so perhaps the infamous classic will make its appearance in public form so folks can witness the true meaning of a certain verb the BTSX crew have adopted into their everyday vocabulary: "shadowporting". ;)

As some more trivia, the early version of this map was one of the first completed, and Joshy's original intent was for it to be MAP01 of the entire wad (before we decided to split out the wad into three). I'd like to say that this map's general "hey i wanna be MAP01" intent had something to do with the "split decision" (though the primary reason was always that people were just making too many good maps...), but I really have no evidence to back that up aside from vague recollections and my own opinion. Either way, the split worked out for the best in several ways, not the least of which being that the music n' mood of Shadow Port are perfect for setting the stage. Again, IMO, of course. :P

Stay tuned for our next paralympic event: underwater barrel punching!

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Alright, totally stoked for this. I guess I'll do some (skill 4) FDAs too, why not?

Map 01 -- Shadow Port - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets - FDA, 0 Deaths.
Right, in line with 'Back to Saturn X Radio Report' from E1, this is another fairly lengthy, exploratory affair set in a rusted tech-wharf that looks like it's been abandoned for quite some time, save for the suspiciously shiny and new UAC schooner 'Visplane Overflow', whose captain is apparently not averse to making a little extra scratch on the side by way of some extracurricular shipping activities. After the still-in-dev Stomper's very sparse lighting effects, the beautifully smooth light transitions and contrasts here are particularly striking, playing off of the comfortable autumnal-evening baseline that dominates in the many open-skied areas (does E2 take place during the lunar night, or are we simply on the dark side of the moon now?). While the meat of the map is comprised of a lot of ductwork and flooded dry-docks with attendant access gangways (read: corridors and yards with ledges on the periphery) it manages to feel more open and airy than it really is, a function of the complex layout of stacked overlooks and windows that ensure you see many different areas many different times from many different perspectives (seeing the lighthouse one more time at the very end is a nice touch); the use of a few largescale non-playable 'diorama' detail spaces aids in this, as well. I did spot one visual error (which shows in the demo), a solid sky cutoff near the teleporter that leads to the soulsphere secret. Oh yeah, excellent moody BGM as well, not that that's any surprise considering the classy soundtrack of E1.

Must disagree with Veinen about the map being too long (for a map 01, or in general). In general terms, I don't think it runs out of ideas before it runs out of runtime, although I do feel that some succinct repopulation of the complex main area (with the red and yellow doors) would not be remiss following up on the return from the Visplane Overflow (really easy to leave that little group of zombies and the knight behind if you want to). More than that, I think one of BTSX E1's primary strengths was its ability to immerse and establish a sense of place; presumably (hopefully) E2 will follow suit in that regard, and a more fleshed-out, expansive map 01 plays much more effectively to that aim than the traditional eyeblink arcade-style map 01, I think. All that aside, what we see here is a very comfortable maplength for my personal taste (I tend to prefer a basline medium-large size w/ occasional deviations into the 'gigantic' territory, as opposed to the more vogue medium size w/ occasional deviations into the 'tiny' territory), and I hope to see E3 follow suit, sometime this century. ;)

As far as combat goes, for the lion's share of the playtime you can take your pick between bullets or fists (I tend to favor the latter). You can get a shotgun later on, and a secret plasma rifle, but I only saw fit to use the former a little bit and the latter not at all. Oh yeah, there's a chainsaw in there too, but it tends to be overshadowed by the fact you'll be in berserk mode from the outset, so doesn't seem very relevant. The types of environment and opposition encountered here play fairly well to what is essentially a two-weapon setup--lots of clumped weaklings in shooting galleries, with smaller groups or lone fiends to be torn through in the narrower areas. While a few of the ducts are naturally very cramped, for the most part enough space has been afforded for the player to comfortably move around most of the time, subsidizing the use of a melee-oriented playstyle. It didn't really strike me at all while I was playing that one could possibly run out of ammo in this map, but in hindsight I can see where that might possibly happen if you eschew melee more or less entirely, and use the chaingun to pick off each distant enemy (or group of enemies) as soon as you become aware of it. Doing this means that you spend a lot of ammo early killing stuff that you wouldn't actually meet face-to-slavering-maw until much later in the progression, and since ammo is fed to the player at a trickle I guess it could get rather tight. Assuming you use a more balanced approach between melee and ordnance, though, things should go smoothly. Something I like about this map, and the central area in particular, is that the actual route through it is complex enough (e.g. more than one way to enter the pump room that leads to the yellow key) that you can play it loose and tackle the encounters in more than one way, further subsidizing the melee/gunfire interplay. Probably climaxes with the revvies/cacos on the Overflow; I'm not sure how many of those cacos were there because I initially ignored some, and how many showed up with the skeletons, but the dynamic worked well enough that I'd say give the skeletons some flying more tomatoes for backup if applicable, in case a more methodical player kills all the preplaced ones first.

Anyhow, quality opener. I think I'll go ahead and say I slightly prefer it over E1's map 01, even.

Edit: Oh yeah, I forget to mention, by way of complaints there are some medikits placed in pretty obnoxious places--in front of switches (even if they are secret), tiny manlifts, etc.

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MAP01: Shadow Port (8/10)

A gloomy, atmospheric opener that's as grim and oppressive as E1's opener was serene. The darkness and the texture choices (which remind me a lot of Quake II) work beautifully to create a powerful atmosphere of a decaying, abandoned harbor. The colormap really helps too, it appears handmade and looks miles better than the original. Gameplay is tense at first with limited ammo and few options besides Tyson, but relaxes a bit as the level progresses. I am worried that the maps will come back to this same texture theme and atmosphere again and again though, and end up samey like E1. Another issue I have is the length. Generally I think the longer your episode in levels, the shorter each level should be to keep the experience from becoming tedious. For a 27-level map set, a 16-minute opener is completely excessive. One thing I like about his level is the use of verticality and dramatic overlooks to create a sense of a single, unified location. I don't know how the authors avoided visplane overflows.

MAP02: Underwater Explosions (7/10)

This map starts off strongly with some amusing barrel scenarios, and a shift away from technology to a more gothic theme. The encounter with the arachnotrons and the first archvile encounter get brownie points for having defensible cover and a well thought-out choreography, but said brownie points are rescinded for the ride back down the lift after killing the archvile, which dumps you blind in front of multiple chaingunners with no possibility of escape. Then it's a matter of savescumming and luck dealing with the cacos and revenants that have been released into the main level, as there are no safe approaches. The map concludes with a barrel+archviles trap that will almost certainly kill you when you first trigger it, but is absolutely trivial on the second go-around once you realize where they are.

I was also surprised to find that the blue theme of the E1 interface has been replaced with orange for E2. Will E3 change it to red?

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2 - tough monsters and still no SSG until late into the map, sigh. Kinda hard to take it seriously with all these barrels around, how much more unbelievable a setting can get? I would at least try replacing them with Heretic-like pods, like if the whole place was overgrown with weird wild plants and stuff. Also not a fan of Tango's "lego\large blocks\speedmappy" style, reminiscent of Michael Krause's works but somehow way less elegant. The monster teleporters on top after taking the key seemed very slow.

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Tarnsman said:

"Speedtraps for the Bee Kingdom" "Fireking Says No Cheating" "Shrine to the Dynamic Years (Athens Time Change Riots)"

Let's not forget the incredibly stupid oversight of the name 'Episode Hub' being used multiple times, looks like a rushed product in my opinion.

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MAP03: Wings of Thorn (10/10)
What a great map! This is a compact, brilliantly laid out gothic map that gives off strong Quake 1 vibes. Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see, and the fights are fast-moving and flow well. My only problems with it are the unmarked secrets and the ill-fitting music that sounds like an outtake from the original Memento Mori (is Mark Klem ghostwriting for Jimmy?).

The route is logical and makes sense both in-game and the automap and you never really feel like you're lost. There's brilliant use of gothic arch textures that look solid despite being two-sided linedefs, and there's a lot of yellow and red lights and stained glass to add to the distinctly unearthly atmosphere. Hats off to Brad Spencer and Xaser for a brilliant map.

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Guys, isn't there an upper limit on what maps can be posted? It's still only the 1st.

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People must really love it if they're speeding ahead of everyone else! But yeah, there is an upper limit - check the rules :)

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