Demon of the Well
Glad to see you back, Kristian. Welcome to all of the new players, as well.
Map 03 -- Outpost - 100% Secrets / 100% Kills
Ah, yes, TNT music. Between this and Hadephobia last month, I've been hearing a lot of that lately, seems like. I was ready to call this a "Hell on Earth meets Plutonia" mashup of some kind, but I think the comparison to 'Human BBQ', which didn't occur to me until Walter mentioned it, is closer, although it's not what I'd call a "remake." This seems like the smallest map yet, if not in terms of actual square footage, then certainly in terms of room count--it's basically two yards with an interstitial space (the actual outpost, presumably) between them. It's fairly unassuming aesthetically--certainly not as striking as map 02--although there's little to actually complain about in this regard. I'm not sure I like the choice of sky here, but alas, that's a small thing. It's a bit more challenging than the previous two maps. People have attributed this to the presence of more powerful monsters (and higher monster count in general), but I'm inclined to think it has more to do with health and ammo placement--most of the health is centralized around the berserk pack in the outpost itself, and it's easy to get a bit sloppy and pick up too much before you really need to, leaving you a bit light in the final battle. Similarly, bullets and particularly shells are measured fairly carefully, such that you might run low if you try to play things too safe and constantly camp at thresholds. Rockets are also in short supply, and should probably all be saved for the last trap. It's partially by nature of the layout (e.g. lots of long corridors or walkways), but monster placement doesn't shine as much here. It may be slightly too heterogeneous in some places (e.g. last trap), and with hitscanners tending to cause as much attrition to their comrades as to you. I do like the red key trap, though--it's fun to fight with the SSG if you stubbornly refuse to leave the platform, as the approaching cacos pose as a sort of soft time limit to the first part. Things went well for me here, and I was quite pleased with myself until being surprised and badly hurt by that deaf arch-vile just chilling out by the red door--which, I seem to recall, is pretty much the same thing that happened to me the first time. D'oh. The first part of the last room is fun if you run back and forth between the two entrances rather than just camping one, but the final fight itself seems like a bit of a misfire, as it tends to result in A) comical infighting, B) rocket spam or B2) running around down on the ground taking awkward SSG potshots if you squandered rockets too early (guess which one of those three was the case for me). On the upside, I found the secret this time, which I recall not doing last time. I'd actually consider a dead marine to be a kosher telltale broadly speaking, as I've seen it used this way in a number of other WADs (although it is more commonly used in hallways than in alcoves, in my experience), but in this case, I think something else would have been better, reason being that it is extremely easy for a dead chaingunner to land on/obscure the 'hint.' Not a terrible map, but it's definitely one of the weaker ones in the current iteration of Coffee Break, I think....
Map 04 -- Toxic - 101% Kills / 100% Secrets
....and by contrast, this is one of the better ones. It's actually kind of crass, but in a delightful way--between the tons of barrels and relative plentitude of rockets, it's certainly geared towards situations wherein explosions regularly kill tight groups of weaker monsters with brutal (and comical) efficiency. I think that the fairly broad mix of metallic and cement materials comprising the plant itself looks fine, as the pale green metal and deep green nukage help to tie things together, but I'm inclined to agree with Walter that the outdoor area comes off as a little tacky if you stop and really look at it (I reckon it's the gargoyle faces that push it over the top). The generally neutral tone of the lighting seemed to fit pretty well throughout, at least. Cool music track, too. I can't remember its name, but I figure its presence in this toxic-themed map is a fond nod towards nataS ot etubirT, from Requiem. Anyway, like I said, barrels make great weapons in the early game, and there's enough rocket ammo to let you make heavy use of the quasi-hidden (non-secret) rocket launcher. One of the players mentioned that he's loath to use the launcher when he doesn't have to--take my advice, in this map at least, use 'em if you have 'em. It's great fun. Monster/thing placement is a bit more thoughtful (and devious) than in the last map; take, for example the chainsaw trap. Tropiano knows that your first instinct will be to shit a brick and switch from the chainsaw back to something else, but you'll probably take much less actual damage if you use the saw to quickly dispatch the chaingunners, at least. Similarly, he rewards players with good instincts for refraining from detonating the many palletized barrels visible in the outdoor area from the aforementioned chainsaw trap (maximum preservation requiring swift deaths for the mancubi at one end); if you noticed the red key was out there while looking through the filter, and smelled something fishy, good on you, as with a little trick shooting you can use these barrels to great effect if they're still around when the red key trap springs. The last couple of fights after the yellow key aren't as thrilling, but they're still fun if you remember not to be stingy with those rockets. If there's any real misstep, I'd say it's the last secret--it doesn't have anything except a rocket case in it, and it's placed/triggered in such a way that you're 90% likely to find it only because you happen to be running around a now-empty facility in search of whatever it was you missed. Despite this, and the fact that it may perhaps climax a bit early, I just simply like using explosions to hurl zombie and imp entrails around too much to not like this map.