"The England and Wales Cricket Board has provisionally booked Trafalgar Square for next Tuesday"
It's been ages since I did some maps reviews so here goes:
Inside Of The Gray [sic] Building We start with a tiny map, in which you battle your way through some corridors in a techbase/processing plant. It is very reminiscent in style of the work of Pablo Dictter; flat (not many height differences), detailed, but cramped and linear. Unlike Dictter's work though this thing is extremely difficult. There is next to no health, very little ammunition, and hardly any room to move. So in spite of there being only a couple of dozen monsters, I've not known many maps that were so nasty.
Half-Life Demos enthusiast and archivist Opulent made this which he described in the text file as "I think it is a fun map that very weakly imitates a half-life episode". I've never played half-life so I don't know, but it is fun. There's a theory that says demo runners make the most entertaining maps, because if you're going to play a map 86 million times to shave a second off the exit time, it'd better be a fun map to repeat! And while this map doesn't look like much - the corridors are all pretty much the same, it's mostly at full brightness, etc. - it's stuffed with small monsters to mow down and is indeed good fun. Don't ask me why there are two yellow keys and any number of red doors that don't go anywhere and for which there is no key, though.
The Machine This is a simple and easy industrial map. It doesn't look much, there are few monsters, and the theme varies somewhat. It's not bad, but it's not great. I think it could do with a bit more effort. Still I didn't hate it and played it a few times. There's a berserk hidden quite near the start so practise your punching skills.
Superfly There was a record around a few months ago that went "SUPA FLAA SUPA FLAA SUPA SUPA FLAA FLAA" and whenever I see this map's name I get it in my head. That says nothing about this map, which dates back to 1996. It's meant for co-op which explains why there's two ways round many of the rooms. Each area seems to have a completely different theme, although they are self-consistent it's a bit ugly going from tech to bricks to slime-filled stone passages. It has one puzzle that seems to require two players to complete, but it only stops you getting 100% items which most people don't care about. There's a stupid trap at the end which probably only makes sense if you're playing two-player, it made no sense to me. In summary it's a mid-nineties co-op map, small and easy, made by people narcissistic enough to put their faces onto wall textures. What more can I say? I played it a few times and considered making a demo for it but I couldn't be bothered.
Outahere Ah, now, this is good. The text file says you're the last remaining member of a squad dropped onto an island and you have to escape. Island roughly translates into rockery and large expanses of water under a starry sky. There are some good graphics replacements here, tree sprites, a double chaingun, etc. although I don't think the author made them. There's some fantastic scenery punctuated by tunnels. You start on a tower looking towards a fortress, go around and through a cross-shaped building which is a bit like the Y-shaped building in Doom's E3M6, and eventually escape on a rowing boat. The author has a funny way of doing deep water, though, instead of using self-referencing sectors like most maps he just misses off the lower textures so it all looks a bit weird. As for gameplay the start is quite hard if you don't know where to go but apart from that, and one of Doom's most feared enemies, a free-roaming archvile, it's all pretty easy. Tips: don't pick up the box of shells in the corpses room and when you get to the second big silver block, check more than one side for switches. I would recommend this map.
Rock Isle This is a two-map set which appears to be a sequel or at least related to Outahere; it's by the same guy and has the same style and extra graphics. It doesn't seem quite as good, though, somehow. The start of the first map is good, you have some waterfalls and a river and lots of rock formations, and it's all nicely open. But then there's a bunch of cramped tunnels and a second flooded cavern, and I didn't jump down into it before I pressed the button that raised its level up, so I ended up not being able to get 100% kills and it annoyed me. It goes on through this temple that's full of revenants, and finally you jump across a chasm, to a door and the map exits. I don't understand why there's two secret areas with chainguns at the start and going in one stops you going in the other one, though. At least one of them isn't marked as a secret so you can skip it, but I spent ages trying to work out how you open this door, when in fact you can't.
The second map starts on the other side of the chasm you jumped over. This one is much more like a big temple. There's quite a nasty trap at the start, where you see the blue key high up on the top of a fountain. However you firstly need the yellow key to get into a side tunnel, then through some caves, eventually reaching a rooftop altar surrounded by many torches of many colours. I think this bit looks ugly, I don't like lots of coloured torches at once, they clash. Eventually you return to the fountain, which has now switched off, giving you the key you need to escape. You trek down the side and reach a doorway into a cave, at which point the map ends; it strongly suggests that there is a third map to come, and indeed the text file says there is meant to be a third but it was never made. This type of thing is always a bit of a disappointment, but nevertheless I enjoyed these two maps and I think you should play them.