There's something about this map that doesn't seem right at first; all these Cell Packs? Really?
Later on though it does dawn on me; they're the only source of ammo throughout the entire map. No Bullets, Shells or Rockets. Just a bunch of really big batteries to keep your Plasma Rifle and BFG warmed up and ready to fire. So as you can imagine I felt pretty stupid after being so reluctant to vaporise so many denizens within.
For MAP24 this is more than suitable enough in the visual department; we're certainly in Hell now, or Hell's at the very least definitely made itself at home. The second cameo from Baphomet was a nice touch, too.
Holy shit, they fixed him already? No... wait... this is the reverse si-.. you mean he has TWO faces?!
Sadly though, difficulty left a lot to be desired for something this late in. I know I mentioned reluctance in using plasma weapons, but when there's a Cyberdemon standing in front of me then nothing else is going to get the job done. And I could have been less than half as efficient too, and still left with a surplus of Cell Packs littering the map. Maybe a tad too generous with these supplies?
The Hellknight maze was pretty cool, albeit ugly; hearing the Arch-Viles but not knowing how many were going to be released ensured I had one hand ready to hit '7' on the keyboard, but cue disappointment when only two emerged. That's the only real issue I have with this map -- difficulty. Enemy placement is somewhat lacklustre, and everything essentially stands around waiting to get pasted. The Spider Mastermind in particular is practically defenseless against anyone playing consecutively at this point, and serves only to quickly soak up 40 cells of ammo and suffer a meltdown for it.
...oh wait, one more issue. Yet another unmarked exit! I know everyone was aiming for a consistent appearance regarding level transitions, but a small exit sign to clearly mark things wouldn't exactly break the immersion. If anything, suddenly having the map end for apparently no reason is more jarring than seeing a subtle 'EXIT' sign displayed somewhere.
That Soulsphere secret is a real series of consecutive dick moves. Having to find a secret in order to access another secret? Which is only really noticeable if you first find yet another secret while getting access to another fucking secret? WHICH CAN BE MISSED ALTOGETHER IF YOU FALL OFF?! Oh fucking come on! I thought I was playing Doom, not Milon's Secret fucking Castle!
Cyberdemon/Berserk secret at the start. Are you deliberately trying to be unintuitive with this? One minute everyone's aiming for consistent transitions from map-to-map, but then we get a switch in a 'previously cleared' area which suddenly changes function just because we're on a new map. I wouldn't mind this one so much though if there was a way back up, but no! There isn't!
The blue doors (on the reverse side of the Yellow switch, leading to the Hellknight maze) only open once, but the switch is of the open-wait-close repeatable variety and will close these doors again. It's possible (however unlikely) to trap yourself in here this way -- more so in co-op.
Sector 384 is a secret.
Starts off pretty blandly, with a series of basic scuffles that pass by without concern, but then this map offers one of the most intense moments of the WAD. No, not the trio of Arch-Viles (although that did have me scrambling around for cover like a Jew chasing a penny), I mean the having an entire area sink into lava as you fight your way up the sinking terrain toward the teleporter, in an attempt to escape before your ass is turned into slag; maybe my single favourite segment of this playthrough so far, solely for how unexpected and unique it was.
This is immediately brought crashing back down to the realms of medocrity though with a boring Revanant assault through the next door. Switch these moments around, please -- let's go out on a high with this one, because the rest of the map really isn't memorable. The exit here's unmarked, but by the time you get there I guess it's obvious enough that you're about to leave. Still... need some exit signs.
More horribadly cramped nonsense, but nowhere near as hideous for control and manouevrability than MAP19. Pretty short too, which certainly helps given the narrow passages and constantly getting an overwhelming desire to turn sideways every time I tried entering a doorway.
Ah fuck my uncle, another unmarked exit which doesn't even look like the end of the level. Bollocks.
Fuck's sake. No, I don't like this one. It combines all the worst traits I can think of; cramped passages, total darkness, unavoidable pickups (another Berserk in the fucking darkness) a Radsuit in some nukage you have to wander around in -- IN some nukage you HAVE to wander around in! -- and one last big "fuck you" in the form of not being allowed to go back for supplies.
I actually replayed this map because of that last one; why does this mapset keep fucking punishing anyone who doesn't need a Soulsphere at the precise moment it's seen? What the fuck is wrong with you people?
In spite of all that bullshit, it does at least have a few nice touches -- there's a series of secrets that eventually lead to an area which was originally passed through long ago (but it's implemented in such a weirdly-cryptic one-shot monster-initiated manner that it's unlikely you'd find this in a casual run), you get another view of Baphomet's chamber at the end (albeit from the reverse angle, so you just see a big wall of pipes), and the Cyberdemon's first appearance is a good scare (although he has more than enough room to suddenly take aim and fire if you're 'unlucky', which is a bit shit). Arch-Viles are almost all used effectively (that one in sector 416 is a total waste though), and the end skirmish isn't bad on the action at all. If only that fucking door would open again; even if it was after a few minutes via Voodoo magic, it's a preferable option to missing out completely.
Short, fast, and eventually it's got potential to be pretty vicious.
At the start I was being trolled by some cunt of a Zombieman who scored three hits in a row. The shittiest, least-accurate sack of crap in the entire fucking game managed to score a hat trick using my face as the target. Fuck that RNG.
The rest of the map was largely predictable, but not dull. That Cyberdemon was pretty obvious, or at least the chamber being revealed was -- what was more surprising was all the other shit that teleported in, although a map with a name like 'Teleportation Centre' shouldn't really surprise me in that regard. This is soon followed by watching Baphomet sod off through the roof. A nice visual moment that ties in with the story, and one that leads me to think that I'll be hearing spawncubes get lobbed around at some point before the end of the WAD. Probably.
What else was predictable? The ending. I don't mean the sudden reveal of however many Hellspawn seem to just erupt out of nowhere -- I really didn't expect that abrupt an introduction but I certainly welcomed it -- no, I mean yet another fucking one-way door system. While the endfight itself isn't exactly problematic (plenty of room, more than enough to avoid any and all damage), there's still a bundle of ammo left in the bulk of the level that becomes unobtainable. And if you didn't need the Soulsphere or Mega-Armour before going through the Red Door, then you have no way of going back for them either! I really hate this sort of thing, it just seems lousy... and it's been in almost every fucking map lately! Why can't those doors open along with the bars? For a mapset that claims to be a 'progressive fiction', it sure seems more tuned toward pistol-starting with all this no-backtracking one-shot item chance bullshit.
THIS is what we've been waiting for. All Hell's breaking loose (again) and this time it's taking no prisoners. The absolute chaos seen here makes Odyssey Of Noises look like a training map! I was slapped around and kicked in the balls almost all the way through this, barely scraping past some of the worst Arch-Vile encounters I've ever had the misfortune of experiencing. Seriously, any time I grabbed a good item, it was reduced to almost nothing within a couple of minutes by whatever materialised in the area. An exhilarating adventure through a truly lost city. And during all the time it took to blast and run my way through and around adversity, Baphomet was up there, laughing at me. Bastard.
I'm not entirely sure what the point of the final Cyberdemon and his Arch-Vile minions could be though. The other Cyberdemon in this area, the one guarding the exit, can (and should) be wasted before you raise the bridge. Is it some sort of trap to punish speedrunning? I went and killed the bastards anyway, because after everything else in the map, I felt I had to.
But spare a thought for this poor bastard. If not for his dozen sacrifices and constant distractions, the Arch-Vile would have been roaming freely:
A suitably ominous silence greets me as I stand before the final obstacle.
Anyone home? Hopefully not, but you know there will be hundreds waiting really.
Everything kicks off as soon as I get past the pathetically suspicious Shotgun Guy guards and start hitting switches. Thankfully the 'ambush' attempt here backfires spectacuarly, as on MAP30 anything can and will telefrag anything and everything else. Although... wait, this just makes things too easy! The obvious "pick this BFG up" area was broadcasting loud and clear that I was about to start tangling with some Cyberdemons, and... well, I wasn't expecting four of them. I also wasn't expecting to dodge a rocket, fall through a bloodfall, and have my vision go inverted-greyscale, but I'm glad it happen because the next rocket was a second from impacting on my face. Sadly, these four don't have to be dealt with at all; you can just grab the Red Kaycard, and run like fuck to the door. I didn't do this, but there are only two Pain Elementals guarding whatever it behind it, and by this point they can't and won't pose any threat whatsoever. Beyond them... what is this? Freedom?
Wait, you mean it's over already?
Well that was... okay I guess. I just ran around, hit switches, stumbled into the Invulnerability, massacred everything and apparently abandoned Earth, leaving anyone left alive to deal with it. No showdown with Baphomet, which was a bit strange considering all of the appearances the bastard made throughout the last episode, but in a way this is a good thing... I think? Certainly makes a change from sitting around on a platform and using the Rocket Launcher for 90% of the map. Eh, whatever.
I'm not so sure that this would be a 'realistic' time if this sort of thing actually happened.
A Demon and a Baron Of Hell were invited to the party, but decided to just stand around in their 'off map' containment chamber (Sector 97).
This is the most horrible 'downer ending' I've seen in any FPS, never mind a Doom WAD. All of that fighting through Hell itself (again)... and for nothing this time?
Okay, quite a solid mapset we've got here, but with some obvious potential to be better in places (and for various reasons). As for how the maps themselves flow and unfold, the quality does go up and down constantly, but it's all above an acceptable standard and nothing really stands out as being truly dreadful; even the worst aspects (snagged on scenery, forced item pickups, unmarked fucking exits) could easily be worked on to be less frustrating, and if all the one-way crap was sorted out then it'd actually feel more geared toward consecutive play, with the option of scavenging the remaining equipment before leaving for he next map.
One thing I can't help but notice is that it's certainly not a mapset that's been optimised for Co-operative (which is a huge disappointment) -- the starts are all there, but with all these suddenly-locking doors and bits and pieces that become inaccessible as you go on, it's more than likely that someone would get stuck somewhere. More so if whoever's taking the lead suddenly snuffs it, leaving the map unwinnable.
Worth playing? Of course. Some of the maps display a unique flair and give some memorable situations; the hadephobe-hunt on MAP20, the sinking landmass of MAP25, and... well alright, they are the only moments that I can actually think of right now. But it's certainly worth the time investment.
Action 52. One of them apparently didn't work all the way through (various HOM effects and eventual quitting through needlessly constricted space), one was a lesser/alternate (but fully playable) version of MAP30, and the last was some sort of strange clusterfuck-style that wouldn't have fit in amongst the rest of the maps.