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By Kristian "Ebola" Käll Homepage darkm2 -needs Darkening II


This is "Darkmatch 2: Retribution", the 'sequel' to "Darkmatch 1: Hardcore", which has already been reviewed here on The DooMer's RecesS. While "D1" was extremely small and intense, "D2" differs a little by being more open and more interesting to play... without ever impressing you endlessly.

The biggest improvement in this level compared to "D1" is the fact that there's a little more room to move about in. This appeals to a much larger number of players as there's plenty of action with a bigger gameplay value than that found in "D1". And while not supporting great tactic manoeuvres, it does succeed somewhat by having three switches activating a pillar in the center of the level, which on skill level 2 holds a megasphere; the only health/armour you'll find. The interesting thing lies in the fact that when you press a given switch and the pillar lowers for a couple of seconds, the chance of some other player snatching the megasphere right in front of your bloody nose, is very big. This is because the building in which it is situated has four doors leading out to four sets of stairs again leading to a walkway with great visibility to the rest of the big area, which the level more or less consists of. And at the end of those sets of stairs is those switches. So when someone presses a switch to lower the pillar, you can actually hear it wherever you are and just turn around and head for the centre of the small building and maybe play thief for a couple of seconds and piss someone totally off. It's fun! And when first you've gotten your health and armor boosted to max, it is pretty hard to finish you off. That despite of the fact that there's a big arsenal  consisting of a Shotgun, Supershotgun, Rocket Launcher and Chaingun available on all skill levels for you to choose from. And there's a good amount of ammo available too, even when you're playing against three others. But this is outweighed by the size of the level; there's not much room to move about in and the chances of you getting a ton of lead in your back from a Supershotgun is high indeed. So getting that megasphere might not just save your day... On the other skill levels it is just another weapon like the BFG. I strongly suggest playing the level on skill level 2 with the megasphere.

The level is as I've already pointed out, very simple in design because of its symmetric architecture. Basically you have one high walkway, one low and one small building with a pillar in it. I'm not sure if this level would have worked with all plain old Doom textures. The Darkening II textures really makes this level look good and one can only wonder why more people don't make more wads for this popular and highly widespread megawad. There's endless possibilities in the textures and flats, and they make a level look great! And Kristian Käll has used them cautiously and rather OK. There was more detail in "D1", and a little more in this level might have given it that last important finish.

"Darkmatch 2: Retribution" is closer to Three Marines than "Darkmatch 1: Hardcore", and brings the last few important points in by being more entertaining in terms of gameplay value.