My 2 Cent Take on Mine Filled With Methane
Methane - Jacek Nowak
DooM2 - Solo Play - 108658 bytes
.: OverviewThis is a single-map replacement for DooM2 that plays in the Map01 slot. It requires ZDooM, and includes no new resources, although the use of Bye Bye American Pie from Map23 as the music replacement is a welcome change from the standard Running From Evil. The map is large, and is primarily set in several rocky caverns with pathways that thread their way across lava chasms.
.: Map Design and AppearanceThe map is designed to be explored in more than one direction, making this a non-linear map almost from the start. In addition, you will be returning to some areas already visited, and the yellow-key area is accessible from doors in different parts of the map. This further augments the sense of exploration, and adds to the replayability value. It also means that, coupled with the hugeness of the map, this can result in some disorientation.
The map successfully creates an atmosphere of oppression, laced with danger. You will often find yourself on narrow, curving walkways with a solid cliff of rock on one side and a steep drop onto sizzling lava on the other side. Naturally, the opposition waiting around that corner is of the species that fly, meaning that you will mostly be back-pedalling as fast as your stubby little legs will carry you, while you over-work your trigger finger. Or reload your saved map as you plunge to your doom [sic] into the lava below. Which I was doing a lot. [Thankfully, the author has strategically placed teleporters around the lava, and you do have a way out of the lava pits, albeit with diminished health.]
ZDooM features are used sparingly. There are a few sloped sections, mostly in the rocks, but also some suitably arched supports. There is only one main script to speak off, requiring the player to find three switches that raise the water level in an area that leads to the blue key. [Two other scripts allow a lift to lower to different heights depending on which switch is used.] A MAPINFO lump prevents jumping or crouching, and changes the music used. Most of the map is quite plain-looking, and could have benefited from more detailing, which a limit-removing port such as ZDooM would allow. However, the paucity of ZDooM features does not detract from the main focus of this map - to convey a sense of vast hellishness.
.: GameplayThe bestiary runs the gamut of that found in DooM2. Resistance gets stiff fairly early in the map, and gets increasingly more brutal as you progress. Encouraging enemy in-fighting is in your best interests, not so much because of any lack of ammo, but because if you can get one 'heavy' distracted by another it will permit you a bit of breathing and maneuvering room. Particularly near the start, armed with just a shotgun, and with an assortment of imps, cacos, a revenant, and a mancubus hurling insult and fiery abuse from far-flung corners of the massive cavern, you're likely to be a sitting duck. Or a dead duck. Take your pick. That's not to say that you won't face the uglies in close quarters - the "interior", base-like areas offer plenty of opportunities for charging in, guns ablaze. But the "outdoor", cavern areas will take patience, as you duck and snipe.
Some of the traps are quite challenging, and may surprise even the most jaded of DooMers. Overall, however, the map relies on flinging large numbers of enemies at you, and sometimes giving you very little room to maneuver. At HMP skill level I found this map to be sufficiently difficult to be entertaining without being overly frustrating. The one part of the map I did NOT like was the switch sequence to duck into the exit room. There is barely enough time to reach the second switch, activate it, and then reach the exit door, and my efforts to exit were frustrated repeatedly because of the hair-trigger timing. I understand that the author did not want to provide an easy escape, but being a ZDooM map, preventing early escape could have been better handled through scripting.
There is no shortage of ammo, health, and armor. You are given heavier weapons at strategic points in the map, and I felt that the tactical balance between the monsters and me (an average player) was generally spot-on. There is a BFG on an island in one of the lava caverns, and it is marked as a secret area, but you've practically decimated all of the ravening hordes well before you reach it. Another secret I found pretty pointless was the alcove (in the lava) with the light amplification goggles and the invulnerability. By the time you find your way back to a teleporter to get you out of the lava the invulnerability has long-since worn off, and you encounter no resistance on your way to the teleporter to boot.
.: Wrap UpAll-in-all this is a map that will provide a fair degree of entertainment to a player that presses on beyond the initial areas.