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Wednesday 3rd February 1999:

Citdoom: "The Citadel of Doom"
(Size: 750k. Alternative downloads: Citdoom / Citdoom)

Dressed in a blend of terracotte and blue brick, and packed to the gunnels with 110 monsters, this is some citadel. A very meaty level, but will it spell your doom??? Nope, I don't think so, but it should provide a lot of fun. But before gameplay, architecture, and the architecture in this is a mixed bag. Some areas, such as the initial building front, are rather impressive, and some interior areas such as the girdered pool and the final room are equally nice. There are also some good details, like spiral stairs and the detailed windows, but in a few areas the architecture can be a bit bland and unpolished. There is also sometimes a clash between the terracotta style and the blue style - both of these are individually attractive themes, but don't always fit together. In short, the architecture is good and well made overall, but you're left with the feeling that a lot more attention was lavished on some areas than others. An attendant problem with 2 of the larger and more detailed areas is that the map slows down quite noticabley. This occurs in the initial outdoor level, which is not so important, and the main L shaped hall, which is more detrimental due to the amount of action that area sees. This is not a serious problem due to the space to move and the nature of the combat in this level, but some choppiness is noticable.

The room designs are varied and support a variety of combat. There is not much exploration, but there is a lot of back-tracking through the level - this is made worthwhile by having reinforcments in almost every area you return to. The gameplay is the best feature of this map - it is of a perculiar flavour, in that there are a lot of monsters, but equally there is a lot of ammo and armour (including 6, yes 6, yellow armours!). This leads to carefree and fast paced combats, where you can wade through dozens of monsters knowing that you have the firepower to survive. This is enhanced by my favourite feature of the level, the use of "medium class" monsters, like Ogres, Knights, Scrags and DeathKnights in large gangs. It's rare that you meet any monsters on their own - groups of 3-4 are more common, and in particular there is a tendency for mass ambushes by DeathKnights. With the fire power to hand this can be really fun. As such, the level is not particularly challenging, as there is always enough room to fight and few worries about surviving - only in a few places does the combat become tricky. The end is a bit disappointing, it certainly has potential in the design, but with the amount of weapons and protection, it's just too easy. There is also one trap in the level, but it is marked and indeed escapable if you have the requisite skillz. It also has some fun potential...lets just say that the trap is not just restricted to killing you. Overall, a good level with simple and violent fun involved.

Fatalpla: "The Fatal Place"
(Size: 750k. Alternative downloads: Fatalpla / Fatalpla)

This is a metal level with some stylistic differences to the metal norm - in fact it has a slight "Andrew Smith" feel, with crates and futuristic trappings setting apart from the typical arcane metal style. In addition there is a fair amount of colour in the level, with the blue trappings and various other details, and of course the weird brown sky you can see in the screenies above. It's nice to see a new sky used, because it is a distinctive features in any open areas of the map, it adds an original look to the map, and often new skies look pretty cool. Certainly something other map authors pay more attention to, I feel - after all, with Id skies you are pretty much limited to blue or purple. Anyway, the map is well made and looks pretty good, however the outdoor area of the map at the start was the highlight for me - the combination of metal, blue details and natural rock seems to work best here, especially with the nice curves. Elsewhere the level doesn't really reach this standard - the architecture is nice enough, varied and detailed, but there is nothing really special, no eye catching setpieces. Also in some areas the colour combinations don't seem as effective and can look awkward. It's all solid enough and nothing really bad, but more rooms as inspired as the first would have improved it.

The rooms do provide good fighting areas, with plenty of room for you and monsters to move, some multi level rooms, and some interesting sections with sort of waist high "windows" that make the Ogres behind them surprisingly effective. Progression through the map is a straightforward affair, little exploration except in a couple of areas, and 2 secrets - one of which has a nasty habit of spitting you out into lava if you don't take care. Gameplay is pretty standard and solid gameplay, quite fun and reasonable, plenty enough monsters and room to move. There are some surprises, but no real climaxes, rather the level wears you down gradually (especially if you miss the second secret). However, when you are worn down, some of the combats near the end of the level can get quite challenging, due to low health etc. However, there is no real climax at the end - a couple of big monsters, but not really an exciting situation. A pity because the combat is pretty well balanced and paced through the rest of the map. Overall, a good and fun map that could have been a bit more adventurous.

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