Fact Sheet

Authors Nicholas Bell
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 1994/4
Levels 1

Review by DrCrypt

screenshot A good wad, but could have been better. It starts off very promisingly, in typical Nicholas Bell style... you in a base loaded with hundreds of sargeants, imps, and former humans. This formula works: it gives you a lot of shotgun fodder while at the same time, since monsters attack you in droves, giving you a fair amount of challenge to take them down. Bell pulled this off very effectively in dmpits, his previous level, which had some great action in it but very lackluster level design. This level has better design than dmpits, but he's clearly learning. I think what has frustrated me so much with the Nicholas Bell levels that I have seen is that each level has one aspect of what could be a -great- wad nailed directly on the head, while other aspects are neglected. In dmpits, great action with mediocre level design. In dmturm, Bell has some really nice level design with mediocre action. In this wad, Bell has some exciting action, better level design, but it is way too hard.

The main reason this wad ticked me off is that it places all artillery with the exception of shotguns behind secret doors. This really wouldn't be a problem in a wad like his dmpits, where there really aren't any hard-core baddies except for the Baron... mainly, you chew and spit out the mangled corpses of former humans and sargeants. This level throws in almost every baddy into the mix, including Cacodemons and Barons. What's worse, is that he throws them all at you at once in many places, meaning that you -need- some heavier artillery than your trusty workhorse shotgun to take them down. However, since I couldn't find any artillery, they quickly creamed me when they began spawning in. I started the level over again and began carefully searching for the weapons I'd need to take them out... finally (cheating), I found the chaingun, rocket launcher, and BFG-9000, along with a berzerker pack and a chainsaw. The majority of these weapons were behind unmarked secret walls. This is bad level design: weapons that are absolutely essential to beating a level should not be hidden from you. The BFG-9000 was a bit much... I could have done with the rocket launcher and the chaingun. Bell writes in the text file that you really have to watch your ammo in this wad. This isn't actually true if you can find these weapons... the problem is is that if you haven't found any of these secrets, the level is very difficult to beat, and you end up having tons of ammo for weapons that you don't even have.

Level design is better than his last level, dmpits, but still needs some work. For one thing, secrets this important should be marked a little better. Secondly, the blue and yellow doors on this map were unmarked, which I consider a no-no. The level is linear but in several places gives the illusion that it is unlinear, which is fairly skillful. His texturing has gotten better since dmpits, but I would still occasionally find misaligned textures. The last half of the level is a typical example of old-school bad level design: a long, dark maze that takes forever to go through with long passages and no dodging room. Mazes are not fun. I had a lot of fun with this level until I got to this point, but this is also the part of the level where, if you've missed any secrets, it starts becoming painfully obvious that you are unprepared, and so its fairly obnoxious. Another problem is that once you get to this part of the maze and realize you don't have military enough to meet with the enemies in this portion of the level, you can't go back to the rest of the level: you go through or you start over. Obnoxious. I also found a fairly large HOM at one point, after you flip some switches in a room and then open the door to exit. However, when I went back to check this out again, I couldn't duplicate it, so I'm not quite sure if its a bug in the level or not. Therefore, I won't dock for it.

All in all, its a decent level. I really like Nicholas Bell's enemy placement style, but overall, the weapon placement problem was annoying enough to turn me off from this wad. If you play this level, just make sure you find all the secrets early on.

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