A couple of years ago Eternal did this snow-covered mansion-and-town map and here it is again, updated, this time with three maps.
The first is the original one. It might have been changed since it was first released, but I'm not able to remember the original well enough to comment. I still think the route is confusing - it's not obvious how to open the green bars, for instance (the top half opens like a door if you press on them - I was looking for a switch)
The second is a snowy village square. I was impressed with its immersiveness. Despite a low monster count it's quite tight on ammunition from a pistol start, and somewhat repetitive - I found myself getting fed up of having to repeatedly run through the buildings and around the ledges to press buttons.
The final map is another large mansion. For some reason it really reminded me of MM2 map29. More explicably, it is reminiscent of the mansion from Hell Ground, but with snow. Flows rather oddly - two ways from the start, one blue-locked; most of the level is spent getting to the blue key, which is finally reached by teleporting to the outdoor area around the start. But you can't just exit, you have to go through half the first part again (which is now empty, of course) because there's another blue door up in the library.
As usual for Eternal's wads it contains a bunch of recoloured monsters (white and green, to make them look colder, and some jokes I won't spoil) and sound replacements (mostly pointless I felt, but the creaky door was fitting)
And oh yes, before I forget, it has those wretched hyperspeed plasma marines in it. Ruined my day, I can tell you...
Not content with this, Eternal then dumps on us a wad of 13 maps, leftovers from other projects, speedmaps and the like. Despite its PNAMES lump referring to patches that only exist in TNT:Evilution, it's for Doom2 (the missing patches aren't used by any textures)
We begin in a techbase which, while well-detailed and good-looking, is more or less a straightforward maze of corridors. It was made for some kind of demo-recording contest where I believe the object is to be the first to successfully record the map, so I guess it shouldn't be too complicated. Finally the mystery of that test map entryway brought into #prboom two years ago is solved... it was in this map. I knew exactly where the computer map secret was, because I'd seen it before...
This is apparently a four-hour speedmap. It's impressively detailed as a warehouse / toxic waste depot. You can sort of see where the author realised his time was running out as the detail level drops and the theme changes considerably... it ends up in a grassy plain with a stone circle and a couple of cyberdemons.
Three tiny areas linked by stone tunnels. Not much to say really.
A fairly simple and linear base. Has some nasty moments that can kill you if you don't expect them.
A smallish mansion interior, again mostly quite easy but can catch you unawares.
A cramped tech-and-hell-themed map which creates difficulty by throwing a lot of monsters at you in a small space. I probably wouldn't have managed this if I hadn't somehow accidentally found the secret at the start (I think a monster opened it for me...)
A rather nice hell castle. It's wide open and you go round the edge of it. You are often being shot at from a long way away. Progression is a bit awkward, you end up having to go over this set of stepping stones a bunch of times and it got annoying. Fun level though, I like this kind of open layout.
This one's a bit of a slaughter map as it throws large crowds of monsters at you. Seems odd that you don't get the BFG until you've dealt with most of the crowds, though. Seems a bit beyond me, I wouldn't mind seeing a maxdemo of it just to see how it's intended to be played.
This one is good as well. You have basically a giant plus-shaped valley surrounded by ledges. The ends of the plus-shape have towers with cyberdemons and keys on them. You run around the surrouding ledges and go into side areas to get to buttons to lower the towers and get the keys. It was quite a lot of fun.
This map ends with a giant grassy plain covered in monsters. You run around pressing buttons to raise a staircase to the exit, which is on a tower in the centre. It's really fun, the most fun I have in Doom, huge monsterfight orchestration. But to get that far, well, it starts off pretty innocuously but then you have to go through this stupid thin maze of cyberdemons and archviles, and it's annoying as hell...
A small fortress in Hell surrounded by what can only be described as a lake of darkness. Quite easy if you're careful, though.
A sandstone and vines fortress that mixes the Egyptian theme from Evilution and the general Aztec theme of Plutonia. A fun tactical map where you have to avoid some of the monsters for a while until you can deal with them. Again the route can be confusing and its not always obvious what to do next. Has two exits, one "secret" (not actually a secret exit, this is map12, but it was obviously intended as a map15 or a map31)
To finish we have a little techbase area which opens up into a town. It's enormous and very three-dimensional, with epic.wad-style huge architecture. Text file says "this was made in 4 hours. Do you believe it?" At first I didn't but after a while I realised it was too aggravating to have been playtested very much, so maybe it was made in such a small amount of time... Haha, only joking, but it's true you're constantly being plinked by chaingunners on buildings that are too high for the autoaim to kick in. Not to mention revenant homing missiles from 20 miles away. This is a war of attrition. And I found at least one place where I could get stuck thanks to a burning barrel being badly placed (thing #349)
So it's a bit of a mixed bag. The end of 10 is really good but the start ruins it. 7, 9 and 12 were good as well once I got into them. Not the kind of maps I'd want to play over and over again but I felt compelled to try to beat them at least once.
and the obligatory mention of pointless sprite edits and replacement sounds, which I finally realise are from TNT's Return Resources
Followup to Year 21. Was supposed to come out last year but had rather a bumpy road to release (this is all explained at length in the text file)
The theme is cracked stone and water with a couple of metal side areas. The central valley is a bit symmetrical and the three parts of the level are almost completely separate from each other - a shame because the map is probably small enough that it could have all been integrated into one cohesive area. There is a high but not excessive level of architectural detail, in particular the outdoor parts having Herring's usual "everything casts a shadow" approach.
As for gameplay there is lots of health and ammo just lying around and it throws monsters at you in fair numbers, which is the best way to do it really. One thing that it especially likes to do is mass instant teleportation of an entire crowd, which is something I've always appreciated (although it does scare the hell out of you when you're not expecting it!) There are a few secrets of the "alcove behind barely-marked wall" variety.
The map ends in a blatant sequel hook* as you're about to emerge into some lava-filled cavern. Indeed the author told me this is intentional, so watch for the next one I guess. I imagine it will be a lot harder (the "hard place" in the title)
* Incidentally, you start on a teleporter suspiciously similar to what I remember was at the end of Year 21. I suspect this is a bit of "forced" continuity, as I don't recall the end of Year 21 suggesting a sequel so obviously as Year 22 does. Not that it matters...
This is more or less like a larger and more refined version of Communications Center by the same author. A detailed maze of tech-themed corridors with an outdoor area. It still suffers from many of the issues the previous map had. Here are some specific ones:
- The red key is on a platform, the sides of which you press to lower. For some reason this course of action did not suggest itself to me and I spent a long time looking for a switch to raise the "stairs": three silver arrows on the floor next to it.
- The blue key is located far beyond the red door, and when you get it you have to run across most of the now empty map to the blue switch. Then you have to run halfway back again. At these points it would have been better to introduce more monsters via teleporter or some such.
- The outdoor area was completely optional. There's nothing out there you need and hardly anything that you'd want. This isn't a problem per se but it is unusual. At least put something out there to make it worth going.
- The one secret isn't accessible due to a ZDoomism. Specifically it's a fake manual, a switch without a tag, intended to operate implicitly on the sector behind the line.
On the other hand, with the exception of the secret area you could argue I'm just nitpicking needlessly. It's a decent map and worth playing. I guess that's why the minor flaws stand out more..?