Dawn of the dead


Fact Sheet

Authors Jan Van der Veken
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 1997/6
Levels 9

Review by DrCrypt

screenshot An excellent set of levels, as everyone knows, since this is one of those level packs that everyone recommends when someone asks for "something in the Knee-Deep flavor". That is how I was originally turned onto Dawn of the Dead. This is pretty accurate, although I felt that the level pack escaped from the episode 1 feel after the first four levels or so, although I would hesitate to say that evolved into, say, a "Shores of Hell" feel. For the most part, levels are open and give you lots of oppurtunity to get out in the air and kill some monsters. Earlier levels, for the most part, seem to take place in doors, where as later levels feature more extensive outdoor areas. I think, most likely, the author put these levels in the order that he designed them. While the first three levels are good, I didn't find myself really -digging- the level pack until I hit the secret level 9. I think the first two or three levels just lack something... while they are very clearly inspired by Knee-Deep and look very nice, the play just seemed not to interest me as much as when I reached level 9 (really the fourth level of the episode). Once you get to this level, the play of the pack seems much faster, more frantic, and more dangerous, architecture seems more skillfully designed, with a lot of good traps of the bars dropping behind you variety. The author also likes to use the monster-teleporter line to make you think a monster is coming for you and then teleporting it right behind you. Lighting in most areas is superb.

screenshot I've discovered, unlike Colin, I can't really make a level by level commentary on mission packs and make it very interesting. However, I will comment on a few of the levels. The first two levels were good, smaller levels. I was rather unimpressed with E1M3... there were a lot of areas that seemed to be a bit too drably decorated for their size, although the level still looked good. Also, at one point in the level, I found myself wandering around in circles for twenty minutes trying to figure out what to do next. E1M9 was the first level I was really impressed with. It has some beautiful architecture and lighting: there is an outside area (see screenshot) with large blocks, texture with demon heads, standing outside. The shadowing in this area, which is pretty much fullbright, is superb. Check out how subtle those shadows are, but on the other hand, completely uniform: this is very realistic, as if the sun was shining from behind these pillars. Gun battles were bloody, frantic, and fun in the level. Levels after E1M9 became uniformly excellent, except for E1M5. Of course, on E1M5, the texturing was aligned correctly, but monster placement and weapon placement were off entirely, not to mention gameplay and flow. This is because E1M5 was a filler level made up of an exact duplicate of E1M4's exit room. E1M6 was an excellent small castle level, although I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a bit more intricate. E1M7 involved another fort-like level.

I was a tad disappointed, I must confess, with the episode end level, E1M8. There is a quite liberal use of Barons of Hell throughout this episode, which is nice to see. On E1M7, you are placed in a position where you have to deal with a cyberdemon to reach the level exit. Having seen this and with the large amounts of Barons in the episode, I thought I'd be dealing with a Spiderdemon or some incredibly bloody e1m8 shootout. However, the final fight is a bit of a disappointment: a couple of barons, a bunch of sniping sargeants, and a cage of spectres that are let loose on you. I suppose the author was going for this as a -real- replacement for episode 1, but still... I was jacked with over 60 rockets and 300 plasma blasts and had a full arsenal by the time I reached this final fight. I just let a couple of BFG blasts loose and exitted the level. In E1M8's defense, however, the deathbox at the end is handled really well.

Overall, its just as good as you've heard. I'm giving it a 5 even though the first few levels didn't interest me as much as the later ones did, simply because there was nothing wrong with them, it was just the way I felt about them. The first three levels are really quite decent, but definitely not as fun, challenging, or as pretty as the last 5. Weapon and monster placement are excellent, architecture, for the most part, very sound, and the new music is great (the E1M2 song is, in fact, one of the songs in the George Romero directred, "Dawn of the Dead" film). Go get it!

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