09/11/2010 @17:23:25 ^19:28:10

Damn I am really behind with site updates as usual

Jade Earth

This is a massive sprawling underground base in a cave. Massive and sprawling need to be emphasised. It looks glorious - it's not overdetailed with filigree linedefs but the texturing is all very clean and consistent. And green!

However, I've been playing it for a month now and I still haven't finished. I've got a bit bored of it to be honest. It trips a few of my pet peeves. I've wasted vast amounts of game time hunting around for secrets that are obviously there but you can't find the trigger, then I got bored and thought "oh I'll come back" only to find that you can't get back. It has a really annoying habit of basically stopping you from backtracking at random points, or locking you out of some cleared area even though you've left a load of health and ammo behind.

This will probably get a bunch of awards at the end of the year, and it does look fantastic and has obviously had a huge amount of work put into it, but as of now I'm not appreciating its gameplay very much (yes I am playing it on skill 2 before that nit gets picked) and if the map's not fun who cares if it's the most perfectly-constructed thing in the history of the world? Maybe once I've beaten it and I know my way around it and I know I'm not about to encounter some huge trap that will kill me if only I'd picked up that health I left behind for later I'll think it's fun, but right now I can't be bothered to finish it...

Drip Feed

This on the other hand, if it gets a bunch of awards it deserves them. Running for some reason on map30, it's a huge complex castle-style map, a followup or spiritual successor to NDCP map06. Green bricks, stone, rock, water, etc. More episode 4 style than anything else I guess. Oh and the imp fireball is replaced with this kind of swirly version which is pretty cute.

The map looks great, it's packed with detail but not the irritatingly pointless look-at-me-I'm-showing-off kind that makes no difference to gameplay. The rock formations look natural and stuff like that. But of course detail is not really that important, I don't care how detailed a map is unless its gameplay pisses me off. So, about the gameplay, then: well, it's basically fine except for being rather top-heavy - for example, through half a dozen runs I've basically never died after I got the rocket launcher, despite playing blatantly more recklessly as I've gone on. I think it helps if I get the secret blue armour a bit earlier. Also, a tip: don't shoot the mancubus that appears in a cage near the start of the level. It's a waste of ammo since you teleport on top of it later. Just keep out of its sight.

Anyway the rest of the map is just a pleasure to run through, with lots of things to shoot, clever secrets to find - the BFG is especially evilly hidden - and interconnections and glimpses (you come back to the place you started at least twice from different directions.) It doesn't skimp on the ammo or health and you can just run around and have a good time. Very recommended.

There's one really bad place where you can get stuck. On the east side of the map, beyond the red bars, is a large bay of water. Despite the obvious temptation, you must not try to jump out into here because you can't get back up again. The problem is, the way it's set up it looks really obviously like you're meant to jump, to find something something hidden behind the walls on the far side. Although the walls of the bridge are too high to walk through, the bridge is next to sector 306, which is slightly raised, and it's really obvious to me to try to straferun out of this sector, over the player corpse (thing 661 at 1456,1712) and over linedef 2236, and it's quite easy to do too.

FBase 6: Remanasu

Played this years ago, decided to replay.. a few months ago. Yeah it's been in the queue since like June. Oh well.

This is a base set around a river valley. It's really very good. It's detailed but not completely smothered in filigree linedefs, but the best part is its layout. It's basically linear but you'd never really notice since the route crosses over itself and is really interconnected and there's plenty of future glimpses to draw you in.

It's not entirely without problems, it uses conveyor teleporters which I always think are a really bad idea because they always break, and frankly it's very easy to get lost if you don't know the route. The author freely admits he thinks he tries too hard to make his maps seem nonlinear. Frustration is compounded by the ammo balance being very tight, indeed you can run out if you don't kill the monsters in the right order. But due to the layout this is still one of my favourite "modern" maps (despite being over 7 years old now!) and I've often wished I could create layouts like it.

Incidentally there is another version of this map in Freedoom, it's the same but has been retextured as a hell map and looks a bit weird.

Scorching heat

Just a quick followup, I did play this thing through to the end and then several times more because once you know where everything is I started to find it really fun. It's definitely an acquired taste, and has a lot of problems. For example, some parts are bland, and it's easy to lock yourself out of some of the secrets. Backtracking is limited, especially in the final section of the map after the spacecraft flight (in actual fact I thought that last section went on just a bit too long) But like I said, it was engaging enough that I played through it several times to try to optimise the route, and it does all make a kind of sense when you see it as a whole.