19/12/2009 @17:01:22 ^18:32:06

Base Ganymede E1

Replacing all of episode 1 (except the secret level), this is an old school (vanilla compatible, apparently) fight through an increasingly hell-subverted sequence of techbases, all under a starry sky dominated by the planet Jupiter.

Nothing you've never seen before, but it's really well made. Great layouts, all nicely interconnected and cohesive, at least up until the rather lacklustre E1M7, which is "only" rooms and halls, and quite disjoint, and the puzzle level E1M8 which can be beaten in 30 seconds and a bit of luck. But six excellent maps, complex, well-interconnected techbases, with just enough detail, and that indefinable quality of great Doom architecture, before that.

Gameplay is good: fairly tough, but not too hard if you're careful. E1M5 seems noticably harder than the others, though, especially from a pistol start, due to lack of health and a certain number of extremely nasty traps. But they're cleverly nasty traps. Like, you think you've spotted the trap and beaten it, but it's not the real trap and suddenly monsters teleport in right next to you and you don't have time to react. It's like, you're frustrated to die, but you have to hold your hands up and congratulate the author for out-thinking you.

All in all I was very impressed with this wad and if pushed would probably say it was one of the best things I've played this year. If there were any bugs, I can't remember them. Recommended.

Hell Ground

Eternal's latest. Seven maps for "Boom-compatible" (very loosely speaking*) engines. A combination of small plutonia-style maps and Eternal's usual "break the hell out of any and all engine limits" style.

  1. First you go over an enormous wire bridge over a river. There's a mansion on the other side, textured in red, and reminding me somewhat of the library from the cathedral in Deus Vult 2. Its monster population is relatively low, concentrating instead on traps. One secret apparently requires an archvile jump.

  2. A small plutonia-style level. Quite nasty but not impossible once you know where the traps are. I liked it, anyway.

  3. A slightly larger plutonia-style level, definitely harder than the previous map. The end especially is nasty, teleporting dozens of chaingunners and three archviles into a room with next to no cover. You will lose all your health.

  4. This crazy map starts off in an apparently endless twisting tunnel filled with floating revenant missles that fly at you if you ignore them for too long (some Dehacked work obviously) The rest of it is in four completely disjoint sections, blue, green, pink and industrial/lava themes (think of Killer Colours, map31 from Alien Vendetta)

  5. Back to a more "normal" kind of map. The start and eastern blue key wing were all right. The huge staircase beyond the blue door is memorable, the part after it with all the monsters in boxes was annoying. The final part is a slowly descending floor to which monsters teleport, like Hell Revealed map31 and so on.

  6. This is a puzzle map. You begin, in a bizarre sequence, apparently falling through space; after some time you land at the edge of a huge field. You get the yellow key from a clock, the blue key and go to heaven, and the red key to open the gates to hell. The red key puzzle is annoying so I'll spoil it: look at the colours of the four squares around the megasphere in heaven and press only the buttons with the same colours. The rest is straightforward. Bonus points for the intermission screen text - purple prose if there ever was.

  7. Great, back in Hell again. The sky is dark and boiling with fire and all that stuff. Three parts: an underground cave and temple, another, larger mansion (this was really complex and fun to explore) and the finale, outside under a meteor storm (which was incredibly well done) where you end up eventually killing the "big boss" (it's like a cut-down Icon of Sin map)

There are a few bugs. For example, it uses conveyor belt monster teleporters. These always break and prevent 100% kills. There's one place in the green section of map04 where you can get stuck because some bars which have four single-use linedefs which close them only have one single-use linedef that opens them (I of course managed to trigger a "close" after the "open" had been used up)

So, a mixed bag. Map02 was engaging enough to spend time trying to beat it. The complex mansion in map07 was fun to explore, and that meteor shower at the end was worth seeing. But, in some ways, a bit disappointing.

* While all the maps are technically Boom-compatible, only using Boom linedefs and so forth, this thing demands in its text file that you run it with a port that supports high-resolution textures, tall patches, and OGG music files.** It's basically a GZDoom map that doesn't use any ZDoom features.

** I deleted 35MB of presumably copyright music - the text file brazenly credits its source as American McGee's Alice, so it's almost certainly been ripped - and 8MB of high-res textures, reducing the wad from 62MB down to 19MB: 12MB of map data and 7MB "normal" textures and sound replacements. It's a bit much, frankly.