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 A # 1

By Benjamin Burton talby@mediaone.net A#1

 

From what the author had said to me in an e-mail about this level, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. First of all I got the impression that the quality in design and architecture would be somewhat bad because of its high age; A#1 was made a long time ago. But he promised a great gameplay with lots of monsters and secrets which sounded good. My expectations was fulfilled.

The room you start in is HUGE! In its center a big structure of 3 or 4 platforms/levels rises high into the air and bids you an evil welcome with a lot of monsters. Later you learn that you by working your way through surrounding hallways and rooms eventually will have lowered them all revealing the exit and something else..... The concept is fairly simple and in it self not the most innovative of all. But it works! This big room bears an unmistakable sense of old-school designing with its high surrounding gstone walls. Not very pretty and very boring. After some minutes of desperately searching for a door to lead me out of this big room I almost gave up. Then I tried the door with the blue markings, just for the fun of it, and bingo! Weird, and not very impressive. The old-school thing struck me again and again strait in the face; ouch! I had nearly exited the game from boredom by seeing another under-detailed hallway with a poor level of shading and lighting when suddenly things started coming alive: For every move I made and every step I took, a wall, floor or ceiling opened, lowered or raised which ultimately, after having gone through the entire map, had changed so much that I couldn't recognize places I had already been. It must have taken quite some time to plan all these trigger effects, especially making it work so good. A#1 becomes alive and evolves around the player emerging him a strange and ever changing universe of weird textures choices, bad alignment, different environments, a search for secrets all the time and kick ass gameplay. I totally forgot about the foul and nasty look of it and enjoyed it to the fullest; really impressive.

The other thing Ben mentioned was his great compassion for putting in lots of secrets. He wasn't kidding! There's a ton of them (something I myself tend to leave out in my own wads...) some hard to find and some more classically easy and obvious. It adds a great level of playability and reminds me that Doom is also about the fun there is in finding secrets; a great aspect of the gaming experience. And somehow this high number of secrets fits in perfect with level, I can't quite explain it, but it really works quite good. Someone like me could learn from a level such as this. 

The score doesn't get any higher, because the level is ugly, downright ugly. Its filled with errors and could very well end up by being the laughing stock of the class, but like Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen's wonderful story about the ugly duckling A#1 is a diamond in the rough It should be enjoyed for its fun. Many levels these days have a ton of nice features and detail, but can't deliver a good gameplay. A#1 is the exact opposite.

 

Score:  50%