Deathmatch Classics (Volumes 1 and 2 by Connor Fitzgerald, Volume 3 by negke)
This is a review of all three current volumes of deathmatch maps converted into SP maps, the first two by Connor Fitzgerald, the third volume by negke. How does the concept work? Everyone knows that there are plenty of DM maps with very tight architecture, texturing, and lighting - never a brush out of place. On the other hand, DM maps tend to eschew the setpieces that make some SP maps more dramatic. All of the maps are good for a quick blast - some have some really intense gameplay - but what is really interesting is seeing how the gameplay is set up, how secrets fit in, and so on.
- Download: dmc1.zip
- dmc1m1 : basewalk (basewalk) by Preacher
- dmc1m2 : Acrophobia (dm7) by (maybe) American McGee
- dmc1m3 : Bloodrun (ztndm3) by ZTN
- dmc1m4 : DeutschMaschine (cmt3) by Gandhi
- dmc1m5 : Domination (p3a) by Pingu
- dmc1m6 : #endif (endif) by Yataze
- dmc1m7 : Lost Entrance to the Dismal Oubliette (e2m10) by John Romero
Starting with a base map that is basically one large atrium, the next map is the lost Quake dm map, dm7. It's cool to see this, you can definitely tell it's id style - a dark, square and weird. The next map has probably the most intense gameplay of the whole pack - fitting the title "Bloodrun" - it's an e1m5-themed series of small rooms and atriums, with weapons and items everywhere, but monsters everywhere too. Go ahead, grab the RL, it won't do you a lot of good when the monsters are all in your face. After this is a calmer map that takes place in a dark, slightly Q3-styled dungeon with lava. The secrets and routes were fun in this map, and the gameplay was a calmer break after the previous one. Then there is a sort of medieval outdoor map, that probably resembles a traditional SP map the most in its theme and layout. It was fairly colourful, if on a small scale. After this there is a boss map which is just a bunch of items and monsters falling from the sky in a giant Egyptian room. As a bonus, there's the Lost Entrance to e2m10 by John Romero, adding to the id-nostalgia along with dm7. For me other than the id-nostalgia stuff, the highlight was the third map Bloodrun.
- Download: dmc2.zip
- dmc2m1 : Deadalus Revisited (imp1dm6) by Biff Debris
- dmc2m2 : Slipstream (slip) by Inertia
- dmc2m3 : Black Rain (evdm1) by Evan Wagner
- dmc2m4 : The Killing Jar (kdmj) by Kell
- dmc2m5 : Void Runner (kdmv) by Kell
This map pack is a series of quick blasts through either base (3) or otherworldly (2) environments. Tt's good fun: the architecture and design are of course very high quality, and the gameplay is fast and enjoyable. Beginning with the very smooth and nicely designed "Daedalus Revisited" by Biff Debris - author of a couple similarly nice SP maps - the pack starts off well. Nice to fight through some Biff-style architecture since I doubt we'll get any more SP maps from him. The next map is also a base map, and for me it wasn't quite as pretty as the one before it, but still good fun. Map three is a strange void map, with a runic/wizard style design, unique in having grayscale textures. At first I thought this map was one of Kell's since it's so weird, but actually no. In any case it's one of the best DM maps to convert to SP, this looks like it easily could have been submitted to a coagula contest or something. Finally, if it's too bad that we aren't getting any more Biff SP maps, that must be said all the more for Kell. While the first Kell map, Killing Jar, didn't seem that impressive to me, it's just a Rubicon style base that like the other base map isn't as impressive as Biff's base, the final map in this pack, Kell's Void Runner, is classic Kell weirdness. Kell always put a lot of thought into his levels, and thus even his DM maps had a story/concept behind them - and often one that showed in the map itself, as well. That's the case with Void Runner, and it has a real Elder World feel with lots of shamblers and magic artifacts (ring, pentagram and quad!). It's the highlight of the pack and a great finale.
- Download: dmc3.zip
- dmc3m1 : Orange Whip (lundm1) by Lunaran
- dmc3m2 : Zeal & Fury (spirit1dm3) by spirit
- dmc3m3 : Deep Scars (q1shw2) by ShadoW
- dmc3m4 : Aghast (aghast) by Vondur
- dmc3m5 : Devastation (q1shw1) by ShadoW
- dmc3m6 : Dark Ritual (ritual) by Tyrann
- dmc3m7 : /me Votes Vondur For World Domination (rpgdm1) by R.P.G.
- dmc3m8 : Base Of Two Deaths (negdm1) by negke
The last Deathmatch Classics volume begins with a Lunaran map "Orange Whip" which is a hi-tech orange and gray base map. It has similarly nice design to "Daedalus Revisited" which began the last pack. I don't know if the map was harder than usual, but I did die a couple times at the start, and I exited the level without killing the last shambler. The next map is much more of a traditional id-style map, in the style of e1m3 or e1m4, with some metal elements and a bit of slime. It's also fairly tough at the start with lots of enemies targeting you - you come up from water at one point and get swarmed by rottweilers while a Shambler approaches, for example. I think, on reflection, that the maps of this pack are harder than the previous two. There's nothing as intense as "Bloodrun" in the first pack, but that map gave you lots of health and armour, whereas those aren't so common here. The third map is probably the weakest in terms of looks, an overly bright angular Runic map, with the usual gameplay.
The fourth map is by Vondur, and therefore, it is slimy. It starts out with some fun zombie blasting, and moves into more conventional medieval territory later on. Good stuff. After this comes a map which uses a real grab-bag of id textures: tech, runic, medieval, everything appears. Given the odd texture mix, use of lights and gears and symbols, the map almost looks like it could have been designed by negke himself (not dark enough though!). It does kind of resemble the start map that negke provides for the pack. Next in the pack is the highlight: Tyrann's "Dark Ritual," the concept of which Negke expands significantly, with human beings being transformed into demons by evil magic, and a cool boss area involving trademark negke hacks. Beautiful Tyrann lighting, dark atmosphere, setpieces, etc, this is probably the best map in all three packs. The finale is a grimy canyon where you confront Shub herself. It begins with a taunting but appropriate message, given the amount of high-level monsters. The final map is by negke, with exactly his style of mechanical weirdness, and tough gameplay, kind of like Bloodrun, though not quite to that level. Nice to see the Scourge of Armagon-style base.
As you might expect, playing all three packs in just a few days, the gameplay can get a bit repetitive, given the similarity of most DM maps' layouts (though maps like Black Rain and Void Runner are, of course, exceptions). That said, some of the maps have surprisingly creative gameplay setups. The highlights for me were Black Rain, Void Runner, and Dark Ritual; each of these was as fun as a "conventional" SP map, in terms of atmosphere, in particular. So generally well-done, this is fun stuff. Oh, and negke is an evil bastard with monster_tarbaby.