Demon of the Well
Map 12 -- Alpha Tower - 104% kills / 100% secrets
Ah, seems I enjoyed this one more than most of you. As soon as the map loaded, I knew I was in for a change of pace, as the tall tower, large blood pond, and huge demon-faced entry gate--all in a quiet yard with nothing going on in it--made an immediate impression, standing in stark contrast to most of the previous maps, which have tended to be small, concise, and even cramped. Noticing the HUD readout of a monster count of 330 (almost triple any other map so far) was also pleasing--finally a lengthy engagement (or maybe just one huge clusterfuck)! Apart from a few bare brown corridors, visually I think the map is quite striking, conveying a strong sense of place much as 'Iron Jungle' did--the verticality of the structure, the spacious nature of most of the corridors, the imposing towers and massive canyon beyond the playable area, the juxtaposition of light (e.g. the walkways around the main tower) and dark (the spacious cave where the yellow card sits back deep in the shadows), and the explosion of the towers in the distance at the close all make for a memorable tour....though I wasn't really feeling the music this time.
The action has a mostly gentle up/down rhythm to it, with the highlights being the themed fights for each key. The yellow key battle is pretty easy, with the only wrinkle being that one might run right into a specter's jaws while tearing around the cavern picking off imps and revenants--I solved this by luring the specters into the light pouring in from apertures at one end of the room to make quick work of them before dealing with the rest. The elevator battle for the red key is also pretty easy, given the generous placement of cells and the BFG at the bottom of the descent to handily liquefy the arch-viles...some will probably find this part a little tedious, but I enjoy a bit of gratuitous hold-down-the-trigger-for-three-minutes-straight indulgence from time to time, myself. The invulnerability sphere was a bit excessive, I thought--the four supports of the central column provide adequate enough cover from the viles as is, although the sphere is probably a good panic-button for those that haven't seen this sort of setup much before. I will fully concur with the others that the initial teleportation into the blue key area is not very classy. I was lucky enough to make the right choice and ran for the recessed area at the other end, avoiding any mortal damage, and a lot of the hitscanners massacred themselves soon after...but cleaning out the chainers in the overlooks afterwards still felt crass and unrewarding. The presence of a blur sphere, maybe opposite where the player teleports, or perhaps in an easy secret right before teleporting, would do much to mitigate the awkwardness here. The actual blue key battle itself gave me no real trouble, as I saw the trap coming and was able to defuse it by running back into the corridor before many of the monsters teleported and choked it off. It would probably be much more serious if one happened to miss the rocket launcher out on the balcony of the other corridor, which I can see happening to a lot of folks. As for that cyber, well....I don't resent him. I was lucky in that he paused a moment before opening fire after phasing behind me, yes, which gave me time to get into position...but, even if he fires before teleporting, a similar opportunity would be afforded, since most players will know that they have no choice but to dodge forwards, or else soak up nasty splash damage. Close-range cybers don't really intimidate me much when they can't advance and I have a BFG and a ton of cells, and so I made short work of him....I'd call this a cheeky trap, yeah, but I don't agree it represents a fundamentally unfair setup, or a fight whose outcome is based unduly on blind luck (although the situation BaronOfStuff described represents the unfortunate nadir of possibility)--the area is big enough to consistently avoid damage from him if you don't panic and keep the correct distance (not too far/not too close, to toy with the angle of his aim). It'll probably ruin a few blind FDA runs, sure, but I managed to make it through on the first attempt (again, with a spot of luck, mind), so it's hardly undoable. It is pretty clear that the map could be vastly more difficult for a player unfortunate enough to take a bad route, though--I can see a few forks in progression where this seems possible (e.g. whether one happens to stumble upon the SSG sooner rather than later). My luck held out, though, and I made it through just fine.
Overall, I felt this had a pleasing blend of atmosphere and a nice variety of action set-pieces, and it was my favorite map in the set so far, with map 08 and map 04 as close seconds.
Some technical things: On UV, there is a sergeant stuck in the wall in one corner of the room with the small square booth containing the teleporter that deposits you in the blue key section. Regarding the blue key itself, it is quite possible to take the key without triggering the linedef that causes the exit teleporter for the area back in the marble room with the chaingunner overlooks to lower, which might leave some players stranded if they don't surmise that this was supposed to happen while their attentions were elsewhere.
Last edited by Demon of the Well on Feb 11 2013 at 08:54