Fact Sheet

Authors A Barsella
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 1994/5
Levels 1

Review by DrCrypt

Neat! Still on my "0ld sk00l" kick, I downloaded another one of my favorites, and unlike "The Pits", I wasn't disappointed. True, it didn't have me quaking in fear as some sort of spineless, gelatinous goo like I remembered that it did, and a lot of the things about it that I considered innovative when I first played it are no common-place/antiquated, but still... a really good level that had me entertained. It seems a bit easy these days (the same map, done by a modern level designer, would have two to three times the monsters) but still... really nice and worth playing.

screenshot You start off in a small little space ship where you get jacked up with a large arsenal of typically phallic weapons. One of the things I liked about this level is that you start off getting the automap, which is good since the level is very nonlinear and it isn't always clear where you have been and where you haven't. There is a neat little touch in the spaceship, which is a new graphic, looking like some sort of wall display, that shows you a map of the base and where your "target area" is. Good for the atmosphere of having been dropped on a military mission somewhere. Once you are stoked with weapons, you jump onto a teleporter and find yourself inserted into the base.

The level itself is very well designed, although I think a bit vacant. A lot of it is in the open air... it mimics the feel of a military base rather well, with lots of running around outside between buildings, etc. The main problem is is that there aren't a lot of monsters, and it is a huge level. For one thing, one would expect at the beginning of this level, after the arsenal pushed into your hands by the designer, that there would be about a couple of hundred monsters wandering outside of the base. Nope... only a few, and spread out all over the place, so you basically take them on one by one. For some reason, though, I got the shit knocked out of me, and wandered around the level for a while with only 15 percent health. This is probably because I was playing the level and then multi-tasking back to mirc to talk about the level.

So the monsters are scarce, but also, I think, monster placement is a bit random. Sometimes you open a room to find nothing in it, other times to a room with a half a dozen imps, and then to a room with a sole lost soul (clever). However, at first, I thought that the map didn't need more monsters, since there was barely any health around the level, and I didn't think you could get back to the spaceship (where there are troves of health containers laying around). I was mistaken, though, as I discovered while moseying along after beating the level and hit the teleporter spot. So, it is a tad easy... however, if you don't go to the spaceship due to purpose or incompetency, like me, it can provide a fair challenge.

The level author definitely gives you too many weapons at the beginning as well... he loads you up with cells, rockets, shells, and bullets, as well as with lots of armor, a shotgun, a machine gun, and a rocket launcher. Overkill for the 144 monsters on the level, and no big baddies. I entirely forgot about the rocket launcher, since there never seemed to be a situation where there were enough monsters together to deserve using it. I also found a plasma rifle, which was unnecessary. I forgot about the plasma gun as well: then, I found myself in a frantic fight in a big generator room with 4 cacodemons and a handful of imps. Still, if you remember your plasma gun, it ain't no thang.

Level design. Very non-linear, but you would expect that in a base with loads of buildings. If you knew exactly where to go, you could by-pass 50 percent of the level. Level design however is very clever, at least for the time. You really feel as if you are in a military base. There are some very clever methods of making the player think they are in a three-dimensional environment, very clever for the pre-BOOM days. In one part of the level, you step on an elevator in the middle of the floor with a sign next to it that says, "Out of Order". When you push the button, the elevator sinks a few feet, then stops. Another part of the level includes a two-storied building. You try the front door to said building from outside: the door rises a few feet and then gets stuck. So you have to go around back, where you climb up one set of stairs, and down another on the other side. The author of the level included a teleport here midway down the staircase, so, ignoring the teleporting effect, you get down the stairs, and find youself on the back side of the main door, which is stuck open a few inches from the ground. Very nice effect and if someone updated this level for BOOM usage, the illusion of true three-dimensions would be absolutely complete. The author has also inserted a lot of military base signs in the wad, which enhance the atmosphere. There is some furniture, which I generally dislike, but it is unintrusive. The only problem I really have with the level design is that a lot of rooms are pretty bare, as if the author couldn't think of anything to put into them.

So, overall: a really good level. A medium challenge, especially if you forget about the room full of medikits. Too many weapons, not enough enemies. Overall, very well-designed and with some innovative tricks "for the time". It is a lot of fun, I recommend downloading it. It is a really good example of a decent "old school" level.

Download deadbs10.zip

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