Fact Sheet

IWAD Doom 2
Engine Boom compatible engine
Date 1999/9
Levels 1

Review by DrCrypt

I think I speak for the whole of the DOOM community when I say that anyone becoming a budding disciple to King Reol's cult of Extreme Detail, and all of the copyrights it implies, is highly dubious. King Reol bravely saw a gap in the community which no one ever thought necessary in the slightest to fill, and I think everyone agrees with this. Now, King Reol's Extreme Detail levels aren't -bad-, per se, but tiring and frustrating in their slowness, hard on the eyes after an hour of playing or so, and ultimately not his best work. So it is rightly surprising that anyone would decide to start their level-making career emulating the "millions of line defs to make a realistic bump in the ground" approach to level design.

Well, with the advent of fizzb1, Extreme Detail may have a new king. But its the king of a desperate, pitiful kingdom. :)

screenshot Fizzdude shows some real talent, by the way. It would be hard for him not to. Anyone with the sheer stay of will power necessary to make a level with 634 enemies, 2465 sectors and 26.657 linedefs has the potential to be a great level designer - so much so that it seems absolutely pathetic. :) In Fizzdude's defense, he worked on this level for something like 5 months, although I have to confess, I wish he'd stopped after 3. More on that in a moment.

At any rate, yes, this level crawls, and is crazy, and took me over three hours to beat. I don't think it even has a theme... one moment, it seems you are in an old mansion, then a castle, then in an old mine shaft, a graveyard, a library, etc. Part of me thinks that this is very cool: just someone sitting down who loves DOOM and saying, "Okay, what do I want the next room to be?" and just designing a very cool, independent room. On the other hand, you start becoming painfully aware that there is no theme to the level after, say, the first hour of playing. Rooms don't mesh with one another, and while most of the rooms look good independetly of one another, going from one room to another can sometimes be jarring and having you scratch your head.

There are some areas that look really incredible though. The mineshaft section has to be one of the most eerily lit portion of a level I've ever played, where there are only small shafts of light from torches interspersed among a dark den infested with enemies. Similarly, there is a beautiful graveyard (unfortunately, somewhat annoying to play because of Fizzdude's badly placed monsters) where Barons of Hell and Revenants actually crawl their way out of the ground as you enter. I can tell that Fizz, if he can get off of this Extreme Detail kick, will make a decent level designer.

So, without going into Extreme Detail, what are my criticisms of the level? Well, for one thing, it lasts fucking forever. I was certainly not exaggerating when I said that I think this level took me over three hours to beat, removing all of the excessively long save-and-load times that are due to all of the monsters and Extreme Detail. A good DOOM level should not have you rolling your eyes and fighting for a good 45 minutes for each key you get. A good DOOM level's length will just -feel- right... while a good DOOM level should make you thirsting for more, everyone is always glad to see the exit, and gains a sense of accomplishment from hitting that switch. Remember: while playing DOOM is a pleasure, everyone plays to -beat- it.

The fact of the matter is that, after awhile, I could have cared less what was in the next room of fizzb1. This point came after an hour and a half of playing. That means that half of the level, I was just trudging on through simply to review it. Not a good sign.

Monster placement is also pretty misguided, I think. The super-shotgun is your workhorse in this level, which is fine, but Fizzdude has an affinity for tons of revenants, archiviles, pain elementals, and arachnotrons in his levels. I can not stress enough that these are the most ill-used enemies in the modern DOOM level, and no one likes walking into a room with very little ammo and nothing much stronger than a chaingun and have to deal with a room of the mothers. Fizzdude will throw 3 revenants, 4 barons of hell, two arachnotrons, and a half a dozen imps in a room for you to deal with. Obnoxious. Or two archviles at once with only a super-shotgun to fend them off. Stupid. You do get the BFG rather early on the level, but you only have ammo for a couple of bursts, which are used up at the first key door, when confronted with about 30 BIG baddies, including barons, cacos, archviles, revenants, and demons, in a surprise trap.

The last few rooms of this level give an example of just obnoxious monster placement. Imagine 5 rooms, each a square with ONE side leading to the next. You go into the first room and have to kill a bunch of revenants. They whittle you down to some health and you use up your last remaining rockets killing them. Okay, fine. Now, after you kill these baddies, you notice that the room has medikits and rockets around it. So you start to pick them up, but as soon as you enter the room, another room full of mancubi spots you and starts to attack. You kill them, go into that room, ANOTHER room of cacos and barons spots you. Go into THAT ROOM, and a penned cyberdemon starts spraying you with rockets. Kill the cyber, which I didn't bother doing, and you have to deal with a spiderdemon. Stupid.

As for Extreme Detail, what can I say that I haven't said before? It is tiring on the eyes and often looks odd. For example, frequently in Fizzdude's levels, his "arches" look lopsided and his domes jagged. This, by the way, also plagues Fiffy. Jeez, guys, why bother? All you make us do is scratch our head and wonder why this was worth slowing frame rate to single digits.

Fizzdude's extreme detail looks very odd in places and just reaffirms my belief that Extreme Detail, well, sucks. Some of his simpler rooms are really great looking and show a really good mind for aesthetic texturing. Unfortunately, most of his rooms are agonizing in their obesity of linedefs. Also, I can't explain this, but Extreme Detail also hurts the eyes after awhile. All I can think of is that the player blurs their vision so as not to see the jags in the arches and that this is what causes it to hurt.

There are also a good deal of small texturing misalignments (not so surprising when the author is dealing with 26,000 linedefs, but that won't excuse it for me). I also noticed a couple of spots where a linedef was visible and textured on one side but not on the other.

Overall, then, what do I think? I think Fizzdude has talent, or at least stamina. I think he could become a very good level designer. But he needs to ditch extreme detail, make his levels more compact, do a better job with monster placement, and pay attention to the simpler level design that DOOM is so good at. I'm giving this level a "3" for its good points. Abandon the cult of King Reol, Fizz! It's your only hope!


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