Demon of the Well
UR Map 07 -- Passage Underground - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Not a Dead Simple map! +10,000 bonus points.
This is a more evenly-paced, atmospheric affair, emphasized immediately by the dour, repetitive music track (sort of had a Duke3D E2 vibe, I thought). The opening area with its security lasers blocking off one of the drainage tunnels immediately reminded me of map 03 of Requiem (dig the cheeky plasma rifle secret, by the way), but the map's really not anything like that, with a lot more open space and a subtle sort of the much-vaunted 'looping layout.' Like many of these early UR maps, shapes/architecture still tend to be noticeably on the boxy side, but I felt this was more interesting aesthetically than most of the previous maps, largely a result of lots of dim/shadowy areas (including one sudden blackout) and gritty green brick/filthy metal color scheme. There are also some mostly-subtle instances of infernal seepage in the decor here and there (a gargoyle faceplate switch, some marble portraits, etc.), suggesting that the inevitable collision of realities is beginning again. Bring it on, I say.
In play terms, this feels pretty similar to 'Sewage Entrypoint' in that it's heavily skewed towards setpiece battles and traps, with little in the way of incidental combat. As in a couple of the previous maps, the main junction chamber features several distinctly different battles at different stages of the level's progression, including a gratuitous imp horde that poses very little danger and was clearly included mainly to up the amount of bloodshed (read: purely for fun)--which I applaud. One of the map 07 specials actually is used here as a piece of the progression, making a short 'miniboss' encounter out of a small group of mancubi (incidentally, I believe this is this enemy's first appearance in UR), which I've got no beef with, as it avoids the standard abstract/symmetrical mini-arena trope ala Dead Simple (+666 bonus points etc.). My favorite encounter, and the one which most nearly killed me, was the specter-spamming blackout trap with the demonic crest on the floor. At the outset I simply fled the specters back up the recently-activated lift and felt quite clever until the walls of the blue key room flew open and unleashed more hellspawn on me...even this wouldn't have been much of a problem, really, except the specters started making it up the lift in ones and twos before I had time to clear out all of the knights--surprisingly pressuring!
There are some other oddities that give the map character, as well. The most pronounced in terms of actual gameplay is that there is no SSG (uh, unless I missed one somewhere), which makes many encounters significantly more dangerous than they otherwise would be (for example, the blackout trap mentioned above). This is not something I personally have any problem with. Indeed, I'd like to see more Doom II maps that either don't have an SSG or only supply one late in the proceedings. Secondly, I kind of like the way the lone arch-vile is more of a psychological than an actual threat--after first seeing him, I kept hearing his laugh, and I was scared he was going to teleport into the main chamber and revive a ton of the dead monsters there...but no, he eventually appears by himself on a lift later on, when he's half-forgotten and really not even remotely threatening. The actual battle was anticlimactic, sure, but I like the way Snakes played with my (and presumably others') expectations, here. Finally, something that's mostly just plain 'weird' as opposed to 'charmingly weird', but near the end of the map when I went over to look at the computer console with the 'Locked' readout, a gibbed imp casually teleported next to me for no apparent reason. I'm still a bit nonplussed about what that was supposed to be....jump-scare? Hint to 'use' the console in order to progress, maybe?
Quite liked this one. It's often said that an interesting layout is the hallmark of a fun map, and while that's largely true, this map shows that layout isn't everything--it's mostly more boxes and corridors, but the fight/trap design is imaginative enough that one hardly notices while playing. And, forgive me if I've already harped on this enough, but it's NOT a Dead Simple map. Rejoice! However....
Z300 Map 07 -- Heavyweight - 100% Kills / No secrets
....I can't avoid taking my medicine forever, it seems. Indeed, this most certainly is a Dead Simple map, albeit without all of the trimmings (no arachnatrons here, only mancubi), but otherwise in a very traditional style--symmetrical, open-sky, various parts of your kit scattered about everywhere, monsters placed to attack from several sides at once, etc. 'Dead Simple Redux' is probably one of the genres of map of which I am least fond, but I didn't really mind this one so much....to tell the truth, I think I was just unreasonably entertained by being able to cross from one side of the arena to the other via the jump in the middle. Oh yes, the twist is a cyberdemon guarding the exit. Contrary to what some others have said, he actually CAN come through the tunnel out into the main area, but is likely to be coy about it instead, a result of his size/Doom's pathing AI. It's just as well....if he does come out, he's actually less threatening rather than moreso, since it's easy to exploit the high ground and damage him with impunity in this scenario. Kind of like the music track, it goes well with this exceptionally arcade-y style of map.