Map01 – Back to Saturn X Radio Report by esselfortium and Tarnsman - Kills – 73, Items – 73, Secret – 33. Time 16:28. End Health 104, Armor 8. Death Count – 1
First thing to get out of the way is that my death occurred because I foolishly decided to practice punching Hell Knights after I grabbed the Zerk. ;D
Play notes: I’m playing in two styles for as long as I can. I’m using Risen3D in Basic Doom Mode for continuous play on UV. For pistol starts I’ll be using GZDoom on UV to take advantage of its monster and secret counter. If necessary, I’ll restart maps on pistol in a lower difficulty than UV if I run into anything I can’t handle after 20 deaths or so. Frequent save and reload in both approaches.
Next thing, congrats to the DWMC for a full year of operation. I’m on the same page as cannonball. This was a great idea, Dobu, perhaps the only thing that could get me to play full megawads, and it’s been a blast ever since I decided to drop in. Many thanks!
Now for BTSX. I’m thrilled to be playing this. This is quite a major thing we have here, and a giant step forward from Realm of Chaos last month. From a 1996 megawad by a bunch of noobs to a megawad by experts which delivers the following; new music, new textures, and even a new color palette! This is fucking ridiculous. ;D And at the risk of fangasming, we can blame esselfortium for a lot of this over-the-top nonsense.
Right away, we see what looks a lot like a melding of Quake2 with Doom, which is cool by me because I love the look of Quake2 and it’s my second-fave id game.
The music track by essel, as others have noted on the BTSX thread, imparts a slight sense of melancholy to the affair, in a good way. I really liked it.
I generally play maps at a slow pace until it’s kamikaze time, but I take longer than usual here because I’m just gawping at everything. These new textures are crazy awesome. I’m especially fond of Meshfblu, in part because blues work so well with gradient lighting, and this texture has some nice heft to it. Then there’s the fantastic new water and nukage textures, softer and richer in tone than the regular ones. But I’m guessing we can’t just yank these textures out and use them in our own maps because we need the color palette, too. And let me not forget the outstanding neon textures for the key doors. Superb. Really, this map is just swimming in superbness everywhere you look.
The architecture is also incredible, very effectively getting across the impression of being a tech base where the denizens like to swim in nukage. The Mordeth Bridge is an obvious highlight, but after you cross the bridge, the columns that support the ceiling beams in the Caco-fight area are beautifully worked with exceptional attention to detail. Cheers to essel and Tarnsman for mapping at such a high level. I could gush and keep on gushing about the look and feel of this thing, but I think you get the idea. I’m very, very impressed.
So what do all these features deliver in terms of gameplay? They deliver standard Doom gameplay, which is fine by me. Standard Doom gameplay has kept me around all these years, and I’m not likely to get bored with it soon.
The architecture works well for flow, and for keeping enemies coming at you or firing from multiple angles and elevations. It’s not a very difficult map in spite of the HKs and spider babies you encounter. Chaingunners are the real danger here, with Sergeants at number 2 on the pain parade. There is a rising ramp of difficulty as you go and as you occasionally race into situations that would be of little danger for cautious players. I found the combat engaging even though it wasn’t very lethal. I do think gameplay could have been better with a couple traps thrown in. Instead, the mappers relied on the architectural structure, and placement of on-site enemies. It worked well for me.
This is a massive map for Map01, with a truly huge blockmap and tons of detail, and several secrets. Unless there’s been a change, the toughest fight happens if you find the secret SSG, at which point, when I cheated my way to it last year, you get bitch-slapped with a massively overpowered teleport trap that dumps a bunch of Revvies on you. I’m playing honest this time, and I have no idea how to open that pathway, but I love the idea of massive secret areas with tons of extra gameplay. It’s just a natural progression from principles first seen in IWAD map E1M3, as I frequently like to point out. That said, pathways to secrets are quite obtuse, and let me give thanks to Tarnsman for the heads-up that wall-humping is a waste of time in this megawad. I’m sure DoTW and BaronOfStuff will find many secrets that I miss.
The one irksome thing I encountered was the backtracking to get a radsuit before I ventured out upon the nukage to get the Soulsphere. Other than that, I’d say that essel and Tarnsman achieved a fantastic collaboration to open a mapset that, to me, is as much about mood, art and ambience as it is about combat. Fantastic stuff, I loved it!