Demon of the Well
That bit of twitchy flesh makes a piston sound in some ports? Huh, weird.
UR Map 09 -- Metallic Bloodline - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Another base buckling under the weight of hellish corruption, and another cold, minor-key MIDI. I'm quite liking the way Snakes is playing the 'Shores of Hell in Plutonia' theme thus far, and I'm generally finding these more atmospheric BGM tracks much preferable to some of the repetitive/insistent rock/metal tracks of past maps, as well. I'm also consistently enjoying most of the gameplay on each map now, surely a good sign.
The layout here feels quite open when you're just looking around, as the main area is essentially two spacious arenas, one neatly nested inside the other, nothing separating the two but some railing and a promenade between them. In actuality gameplay is quite compartmentalized, with areas not really being reused for more than one battle this time around, but that's not such a bad thing, for variety's sake. From an aesthetic standpoint there are still a few of the same foibles that past maps have shown in evidence, the most persistent one being Snakes' propensity for some garish color combinations/tech decor. There's also at least one other oddity, that being that the red pillars in the slime arena are very visibly (even without mouselook) 'cut off' by the beamwork over that arena while they're still raised, giving the effect of their lowering a rather unnatural impression...I suppose we can sort of sweep that one under the rug with a 'because Hell' explanation, though. Despite these issues, in a way I'm glad Snakes' detailing style has the sort of compulsive air to it that probably accounts for some of the rainbow-puke we see in a few places, as I imagine it's that same compulsiveness that accounts for a lot of the incidental details designed to depict Hell's encroaching influence....I think one of the reasons his treatment of this particular theme is working so well for me is precisely because it's not particularly cohesive or consistent in implementation, characterized mostly by one-shots that don't repeat themselves, like the marble face suspended by flesh tendrils near the beginning, or the vision of the Icon of Sin peeking through the wall into the yellow skull arena.
As I said earlier, I've been enjoying the play, as well, and this map continues the streak. I played sloppily and got pretty beat up in the process of gaining a foothold in the map (securing the promenade is fun from a pistol-start, incidentally, since you have to move around quickly not only to avoid attacks but also to collect munitions), but still managed to avoid death thanks to the fairly generous supply of medikits in the lower yard, and very timely discovery of the secret soulsphere. Like map 08 before it, I really wouldn't say this is a particularly dangerous map....sure, there's a lot of fire coming your way at most points, but there's also so much room to run in most of the battles (which tend to proceed in 'waves') that things are generally quite manageable, allowing the player to use the tactic of his/her choice. The battle that I would easily consider to be the highlight actually comes in one of the side areas, that being the yellow skull fight--I like that the arch-vile and his bony bodyguards make their appearance before the player has actually grabbed the plasma rifle, and I really like that after finishing them off you get to defend that small enclosure from a steady of stream of lower-tier enemies before you can exit, gives the proceedings a sort of cinematic feel, something I always appreciate. It occurs to me that it does tend to take the stragglers from this wave quite a while to actually materialize, but that's a small thing.
Looking forward to the next map.
Z300 Map 09 -- Nuclear Power Station - 100% Kills / No secrets
.....alright, this is pretty dire. Basic keyhub setup with a basic visual centerpiece, and a lot of very boring, orthogonal corridor-slogging lazily packed with haphazardly-chosen monsters. Sometimes you come to a larger room, and the monsters express how happy they are to see you by cheerfully slaughtering each other. Behind the red door there's a vaguely memorable iteration of the trope where you snake around a corridor and then all of its walls later lower with bad guys on them....that's the only thing even remotely resembling a highlight. I also remember healing items being fairly limited once again, so I guess this is sort of an endurance-slog. 'Slog' being the operative word...300 lines or not, this is already quite a bit longer than it needs/deserves to be.