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Sunday 23rd May 1999:

TSPE: "The Grinding of Teeth"
(Size: 280k.No Alternative downloads)
Speedrun demo: 0:31

Note: Because I gave the author some ideas for this map, I discussed the fina map with my friend The OTTA to get an unbiased view.
Hey, it's obviously the time for small action packed metal maps, as here comes another. This is also another deathmatch map converted to single player, and thus is a very small map - only a few rooms, and 29 monsters on Hard/Nightmare. There's quite a cool story that goes with the level (written by, errr, me =) ), which places the map at the end of E3M6, because it is vaguely reminiscent of E3M6/7 - the story doesn't affect the gameplay though, it just sets the scene. The style of the map deviates pleasantly from the usual metal style: lava is conspicuous by it's absence, as are runic details, and the map has an open feel that allows a blood red sky to dominate. The architecture makes good use the "heavy" feel of the metal style, with thick buttresses and large metal beams - it also has distinctive niches cut into the map's upper rim, these increase the heavy feel as well as just looking cool. The open feel of the map, when combined with the buttresses, give the map a good "sense of place", you could imagine this as a section of a castle or bastion. There are also some small inside sections, with a blue style - the blue also covers some of the outdoor sections.

There aren't many small scale details, nor any spectacular rooms, but the well made structures make up for this. So in terms of overall design it isn't anything special, but what it does it does well, and the end result is a good looking map. However, The OTTA had a strange bug which occasionally removed the floor textures when he looked up - I checked in DOSQuake and didn't get this bug, but it could be a problem. The map makes good use of it's small space by having the player's route wind around itself and visit all areas of the map, though this does mean there is little exploration. There are a couple of useful secrets to be found, however, the text on the status bar obscures this, which is stupid. Finding the secrets is a pretty good idea, as this map presents a high challenge for it's size, packing in plenty of surprises and "in yer face" fighting. Right from the start you are faced with testing combat - the test is mostly about avoiding damage, as you are often in small spaces with big monsters!!

The gameplay ebbs and flows, sometimes it will be normal and relatively easy fighting, then you'll do something and a monster will appear or jump on your head, so you have to think quick. These surprises work well to keep the tension high, and make the gameplay more memorable. Luckily, there isn't really any unfair combats, and you get plenty of shells and enough nails to keep going. Also, the ending is pretty good, I won't spoil it, but it's a worthy climax. There are a few gameplay niggles though: the start is rather hard for the start to a map, and the monsters could have been spread out better until the first key. The skill settings are less effective than they could be, there are less monsters and more items, but the challenge is still fairly high on Easy. Finally, a spike trap can prove annoying when you have to go past it several times, often while fighting monsters. Overall, it's good tough map that compensates well for it's small size. (Did a neat Easy speedrun in 0:31.)

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