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By Kristian "Ebola" Käll Homepage darkm1 -needs Darkening II


This author is one to look out for! He's really made some quite entertaining and spectacular maps. One of them was last years super-cool Legacy map "Phobia"! So I had quite a few expectations for Darkmatch: Hardcore, however, also taking into consideration that not every designer masters the mysterious differences which separate single-player levels from deathmatch levels. So how was it then?

First of all, I had already been informed by Kristian Käll that the map was, in his own words, "probably the smallest DM map ever". He wasn't joking... This map is really, really small and consists of one 'big' room with four player-start platforms, four switches, four windows and one pillar in the middle with either a Plasma Rifle, Rocket Launcher or BFG on it depending on the skill level. The architecture is excellently made with great attention to detail with a good use of the Darkening II textures without ever looking exactly like anything from that megawad. It's in the proximity but stays true to itself by not being a copy. A good bunch of carefully selected, colourful aligned textures finishes the architectural design perfectly.

The gameplay is fast and furious totally free of breaks or pauses! I dare not imagine the bloodshed and amount of kills which would occur if you actually played the map against three friends or bots! The action in one-on-one was enough for me, which I think the map is made for! Besides the already mentioned weapons on the pillar, there's also SuperShotguns, a Shotgun or a Chaingun and little ammo available for them. Skill level four is really 'hard' with the BFG and two Rocket Launchers together with one Shotgun and Chaingun. But also level three is 'hard' with the two SuperShotguns and Plasma Rifle. Every skill level has one thing in common: There's no armour or health. All this and the tightness of the small arena creates an obscene amount of frags and if first one of the players gets on killing spree it is hard to stop him. When you kill an opponent you just turn to a given platform to watch him re-spawn and smash him with a couple of SS shots or a rocket before he can find a weapon himself. This is fun for a short amount of time, but hardly entertaining for a broad deathmatching audience. And I didn't really find it that amusing or entertaining and got bored by the low difficulty factor relatively fast. Tactics is nowhere to be found in this map.

It looks good, but has a low gameplay value which happens to be the single most important thing in a DM map.