10/12/2005 @13:39:31 ^15:30:33

The reason why club DJs shouldn't have radio shows, part 673

"For those of you that sit down and think, 'that's a bit hard for Fabio', just remember: Fabio gets hard every now and again"

- Drum and bass DJ Fabio, after playing something not in his usual soulful style, Radio 1, 2am 10/12/2005

lots of gates

A sprawling conglomerate

Due to the limits imposed by doom2.exe you could make large maps but you'd have to split them into independent sections because the renderer couldn't cope with too much going on at once. Thus a lot of old maps are in the form of completely separate areas with at most a locked door linking them or even completely separated except by teleporter. UAC Gates Central is one of those maps.

It was released earlier this year, having apparently taken 9 years to make. Thus it does have a very old school doom 2 feel to it, but with 900+ monsters it's certainly not something I'd recommend running with the original game engine. The sections are mostly dark metal/industrial style, though occasionally you stray outside into a rocky canyon or something.

You start off in a very small room with some hidden doors that reveal teleporters. These lead to three separate areas, a dark area around a river of slime, a warehouse, and a large maze of flooded tunnels with fake walls and no map which I found quite annoying. Having navigated these a fourth door is revealed in the initial room that leads to the exit.

However the exit is barred off and you're only halfway through. Now you have to go and find all three keys. The first is in one of a small number of buildings outside in rocky valley, the second found via some more dark places which resemble the start of MAP06 and finally the third in a cage in the middle of a pool of slime which you get locked in when you pick it up. Doing all this gets you into the final huge room which is covered in flashing demon faces and a lot of monsters. The final room was probably the most fun to play.

So this is a large level that took me nearly 100 minutes to finish the first time. It also has nearly 50 secrets, some of which are very hard to find, and worse, only give you one chance to get into them; the mapless maze has one where you press a button to open a door only for it to close again if you don't know exactly what you're doing and guess what the open door button only works once.

UAC Gates Central is not perfect but will pass time if you've nothing better to do. Come on the guy took 9 years to make it, give him some sympathy; his name is apparently Richard Head.

A celebration of infighting

Hell Gate is quite the opposite. It's a fairly small map in a brown brick and wood style. However it still has nearly 500 monsters, more if you count all the inevitable resurrections. It requires the Gothic texture set.

While being relatively simple in the detail department, the overall layout is pleasantly interconnected and complex. There's plenty of goodness like windows, height differences etc. I wish I had a word for this type of thing, coherence or cohesiveness or something I don't know.

The gameplay is rather erratic however. There's very little health and, while there is plenty of ammo, it requires doing some quite dangerous things to get it. You end up spending ages getting the monsters to fight each other, then having a massive surplus of ammunition at the end. There's far too many archviles in the big crowd outside to run out there and go to town with the BFG. In order to get a backpack and carry a good amount of ammo you have to go outside and press a switch which is behind a lowering wall and yet more large monsters, which you need to do because you need the cyberdemons behind it to do some fighting for you... it's a bit of a mess, really.

In many ways it is similar to nutslite, which may or may not be by the same author, I'm not sure, there is conflicting evidence. It is fairly replayable, although never quite being able to finish it makes it annoying for me. I want to run out and shoot the monsters, not hang around in corners waiting for enough of them to kill each other! Let's get on with it already!