Fact Sheet

Authors Lawrence Britt
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 1995/11
Levels 1

Review by DrCrypt

I think that the DOOM source port scene desperately needs a port where one can choose as an option whether or not to load sounds from a pwad file. How many good levels are there out there practically ruined by a level designer who thinks that Beavis and Butthead going "Huh uh huh huh uh huh huh uh huh" is hysterical every time an imp appears. I'm going to try to judge alcatraz objectively, but let me just openly state that it has one of the stupidest sound packs I have ever heard imbedded into the wad.

Overall, Alcatraz is pretty good. It simulates the feel of an island prison very well: one of the things I liked about it was that once you escaped from the prison, you could actually jump off of the island cliffs and "swim" around it, finding all sorts of little caves and docks. Also, a lot of new textures have been imported, making it look more like a prison, with lots of signs pointing in different directions and doors reading what key is required. The new sky is very nice, since it simulates fog really well. Monster placement is good, ammunition is plentiful enough to make fights fair, and different sections of the prison are all there and well-implemented: the courtyard, the jail cells, the docks, and solitary confinement.

What is going to notch this level down some is the sound pack. I've had a debate with myself about this and have decided that when a sound pack is imbedded into the pwad file, it is meant to enhance the game playing experience, and therefore is a valid criticism in a level review. What can I say? The author's sound choices are absolutely retarded. When the player falls, Homer Simpson says, "D'oh!". When Lost Souls attack, they emit a Road-Runner-esque "Beep Beep!". When you shoot a barrel and it explodes, Bill and Ted scream, "Excellent!". The worst, however, is the sound that replaces the player pushing on walls sound... the usual grunt has been replaced with the WSFTP "Uh-oh!" WS_FTP emits this sound when you can't connect to the server, and it is so annoying even in that atmosphere that I usually want to smack the screen. Searching for a secret wall while a steady cacaphony of nasally "Uh-ohs!" gleefully drone on, however, is an enraging experience.

My other gripe in the level lies in the fact that I could not for the life of me find the blue keycard. It might be present, but I had the automap and I'd gone everywhere and still didn't find it, so I feel that if it is there, it is way too hard to find. Add to this aforementioned "Uh-oh!" problem and you can see that searching level-wide for secret doors can be obnoxious.

Overall, a good level ruined by bad sounds. I'm marking down GP for the sounds. It would get a "3" for GP without them.


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