May contain spoilers
After playing the original scenario earlier this year, I was pretty glad to give this a try once I heard of its release. I would say for the first two levels, it started out pretty strong, from then on though? I’d say that’s where the annoyances began. In my opinion, I feel like this scenario has the same problem that some others had too; it wasn’t tested much on Total Carnage, and this review reflects that difficulty.
For a majority of the scenario, it really feels like ammo is severely lacking. There are just too many instances where you’re trying to fight against a tough group of monsters, and you keep running out. I get it, it’s Total Carnage, it’s supposed to be a challenging difficulty. But there’s a difference between challenging, and annoying. I know some people have argued that you shouldn’t just have an insane boatload of ammo, and to a point, I understand where they are coming from. But at the same time, it’s not exactly carnage if you can’t fire much of your weapons because there’s no ammo for them! Especially if you are gonna have many instances of a large (more like insane in some instances) groups of Troopers or Hunters coming at you, you seriously need to consider giving more than it currently does. In All Things Uncertain, I literally just had to run to the end the best I could because I had next to nothing left to fight the insane amount of Troopers and Enforcers that were appearing, and attempting to would be fruitless. Kind of like Irons said, sometimes secrets were a necessity if you wanted to have a fighting chance, if that, in some areas. Some of these instances made me consider quitting the scenario without finishing it. But I kept at it because the review wouldn’t be very fair/accurate if I took that route.
And on that point, seriously, make some of the rechargers 2X. Not right at the beginning of course, but later on like most of the Marathon levels do. I know there’s canisters and such, but again, for how many groups of monsters some of these levels seem get, you should really consider giving a little more for the player to actually be able to stay alive.
Another thing Irons had mentioned was the sounds. While they weren’t bad by any means, they just seem to...I guess blend in too well and not stand out much. Like he said, it’s kind of hard to tell what’s going on in the environments. I also think the sounds for picking up a power up should be different from ammo, but maybe I’m just used to that. The sounds for the grenade detonations though just seems.....really off.
In a lot of the levels, the whole thing of all these hexagonal polygons for a majority of said levels seems cool at first, but it gets overused and pretty old very fast. I was hoping to see more variety in regards to that, but at least not all levels are like that. Once you get past The Salt Pile, this is where the scenario starts to pick up I think, but of course by that point, you’re a majority of the way through. The amount of ammo and such feels way more appropriate. But I gotta say, making the last level have you lose all your items, and the insane amount of monsters that appear on the stairs while you’re trying to beat the rising lava? Just no. Especially with how far back you have to go if you die, unless there was some pattern buffer I missed, which I don’t think I did.
Some other things here which have no effect on my rating. The soundtrack for The Great Fen? Horribly annoying. I’d really consider changing that. The sounds for what would be S’pht Doors I’m pretty sure are backwards, but that’s probably because of that whole thing with the 8 bit and 16 bit sounds. Simple fix anyway. Some platforms that should be ambient, aren’t. But that’s just a pet peeve of mine, and I know some can be easily missed. And some delays for some platforms are WAY too short. As soon as it stops, you have like less than a second to get off before it goes down again. I’m assuming that was done to allow the player to get on it since the engine sometimes will make the platform go up before the player fully gets on if it is not level with the floor. If I’m honest, I know it’s done for aesthetic purposes, but I really would just have platforms be level with the floor when down so that problem does not happen, and you can have a more reasonable delay.
All that being said, I will certainly give credit where credit is due. The smoother animations on the monsters is very impressive. Definitely the smoothest I have seen for this engine, especially for the Juggernauts when they go from their normal to dying animation. That really caught my eye. Most of the spaceship/space station levels are absolutely beautifully designed. In fact one of them is in the third image of this submission, and I really enjoyed that level. And for Sky Burial? Wow…..that really impressed me. For those familiar with Marathon, it’s easy to see what was done here for the space walking and such, but it really looks, feels, sounds, and plays like it is a damaged ship open to space. For someone who generally heavily dislikes vacuum levels, this is probably the best one I have ever seen. Admittedly that could also be because your oxygen level goes down at a reasonable pace, and you can easily refill when you need to. Too bad Acme Station wasn’t as nice in that regard.
If I were to rate this based on my overall enjoyability? It would have to be a 2 or a 2.5 (if that was possible for S7), but I am giving it a 3 because I know a lot of work went into this scenario, and I want to respect that. Sadly, I can’t say I finished this scenario on a positive note, but that’s just my experience. I’m not gonna say don’t play this, because it deserves a shot.