Jun 19, 2015

CH Retro Episode

CH Retro Episode - 4.68 / 6
- The layout is often advanced and some of these maps even surpass the originals

Danish mapping machine Chris "C-Cooper" Hansen (also known as "Dykanden") cranked out his CH Retro Episode in 2002, and since occasional justice exist in the world it also made Doomworlds infamous "Top 100 WADs of All Time list". Both reviewers recently enjoyed the slick Classic Episode, and thus wanted to go through this one to better compare it with the competition. Several other people from the Doom community have reviewed it through the years, and the general consensus seems to be it's a "must play".

So what did the episode set out to do? Lets quote Mr. Hansen's txt:

"CH Retro Episode uses 99% of the episode 1 design 'codex'. There's only a few things such as a couple of episode 2 flats, which makes it deviate a tad. I've tried to make it look and play like Romero's masterpiece, but have also mixed my own style in with it to make it unique."

So there we go, straight from the horse's mouth. Lets get on Teamspeak and Zdaemon, fetch a cold beer or a hot cup of coffee depending on the marine, and see how well C-Cooper can conjure up the Romero magic.

E1M1 - First Contact
The first map is highly reminiscent of the original E1M1. You enter a base and progress into a room with four pillars next to a secret yard with a multi only rocket launcher, and although lacking the originals staircase plateau, there is of course a room with windows centered around a green armor. The only difference is that the whole thing is reverted and the player enters from the other side. Apart from that, this is exactly as it's done in Romero's E1M1. This is a cute little base, and everybody can see that we've landed on Phobos but it's just too similar to the original. Apart from the start, the base showcase a room with acid on the floor. This spot holds a cool little secret with a blue armor and a small exit area, and that is all there is. The opposition is light as there are only 30 monsters, totaling just one more than in the original E1M1, which means it's barely justifiable naming the map "First Contact". Apart from imitating E1M1, it doesn't looks like Hansen had any other ideas going here. That's a shame, because this man is not a copycat but talented, creative and fully able of making good looking rooms. What a pity he doesn't showcase any of this in this first map. Maybe he was in a hurry and felt it was OK with an easy start, or maybe he's just a great admirer of E1M1 and made this for pure nostalgic reasons? Personally I feel he shouldn't have done the tribute thing here, or at least expanded the map with another section, perhaps a keyed door and at least some more monsters. Apart from the things he didn't do, I also have to question why he decided to give away a rocket launcher on multiplayer, something the original also did.  This and the megaarmor just makes it too easy. Could it perhaps have been better saving the blue armor for the next map and placing the green armor in the secret since these 30 monsters can't really do that much damage?

Aesthetics: 5/6 - Layout: 4/6 - Gameplay: 3/6 - Score:  12/18

E1M1 it is, as we are thrown into action in this obvious clone. This one takes the mimicry too far for my taste, as it basically seems like someone changed around Dooms original map a bit. As it often do, the stock mixture of low end monsters work to its effect with providing laid back shotgun action. There's a rocket launcher available in the garden area on multiplayer, a secret one surely should visit, if not only to check out the base from the outside. There is solid texturing and a good sense of scale all through the map, but it's an extremely short visit. We exited fully stacked on shotgun ammo in the first level, and even though it's hard to proper balance these hitscanner maps, Hansen went too heavy on the supplies here. I'd really wish the outdoor secret added at least some detailing to the front of the base, but I suspect this was sacrificed to give a more authentic "Knee-Deep in the Dead" feel. Love the slight shading effect near the wall tho, way to go Romero...I mean, Hansen.

Aesthetics: 4/6 - Layout: 4/6 - Gameplay: 4/6 - Score:  12/18

E1M2 - Computers and Electronics
This map is a step up from the first, but again one can spot some heavy inspiration in the entrance hall and with the two winding stairs leading up to the blue key. Even though it could be called a tribute map, this time it seems that the author has higher ambitions than just doing an inverted ripoff. Hansen avoided turning his tribute of the classic E1M2 "Comptall" textured area into just another maze. Instead he has constructed two large and connected sections with more of a ceiling height than the original maze. The two included secrets strike me as more exiting than the originals chaingun enclosure. You'll be able to find a biosuit, a megaarmor, a supercharge and an invisibility. One of the two secrets also utilize the considerable height of the darkly lit room, and riding a life will take you to the top of a lookout. The only downfall in the map is unfortunately a big design blunder. The dark acid area to the north is supposed to raise up to the nearby floor, thus making it possible to cross over to the exit area. The acid will transform into a floor and raise as soon as you pass the green armor. But unfortunately all the four sides of the square around the green armor are marked with the action "Floor raise to Next Higher Floor", this means that if you backtrack or pass over it again the floor will raise once more and block you from accessing the exit section. If only one of these linedefs were tagged instead, this would have worked fine. Perhaps this map hasn't been playtested thoroughly enough. Most people who play this for the first time will probably run around looking for secrets and accidentally prevent the map from being completable. Aside from this flaw I would say that Hansen has succeeded in making a beautiful base with a great atmosphere.

Aesthetics: 5/6 - Layout: 5/6 - Gameplay: 4/6 - Score:  14/18

Again we get what is pretty much a recreation of the original map, as this one opens with a heavily E1M2 inspired area, even branching off to the mandatory stairway to the right, scenic windows and all. You also get a copycat area of E1M5 as you pass the blue door. Despite its shortcomings with lacking creativity, the map delivers another fun, fast blazed shotgun feast, and again Hansen is way too generous with the ammo stacks. You could miss half your shots like a drunk sailor and still exit with as much as you can carry. There's a decent exploration element to the map, despite its smallish size, and it feels neatly interconnected and planned. The most difficult secret to locate would probably be the supercharge, requiring you to bolt downstairs to catch it, after flipping the same switch that unlocks the blue key. Good luck figuring that one out in singleplayer. I enjoyed the detail and planning that went into the dark computer area. Too often one find that such areas end up as generic, dull mazes. In this case, the author takes care to make each part quite bearable, even interesting. Unfortunately there is a potentially game stopping error to be found; beware the slab where the green armor eventually appear since it can be repeatedly triggered, causing a wall to raise elsewhere and eventually block your path. Only cross it once to pick up the armor, and then dodge it like the plague. A weird design decision since it should be pretty obvious what trouble this can cause, in our case we had to restart the map. The highlight for me would be the super cool secret acid-river passageway leading to the chainsaw. Locating such areas still make me giddy after all these years. This is a highly unoriginal map, but it looks good and do manage to create a tasty exploration element amidst all the familiarities.

Aesthetics: 4/6 - Layout: 5/6 - Gameplay: 4/6 - Score:  13/18

E1M3 - Main-Frame
This is a map where you enter an area with a large open pool of acid, with several smaller rooms centered around it. Unlike the first two, this is not just a remake of one of the original tech-bases of Dooms first episode. Even though there are more monsters lurking here, it can be finished quickly as it has a short route to the exit and several optional areas to explore. This includes a plasma secret, a red key and a secret exit which is very cool to find. Maybe it's too much with a plasma as the difficulty isn't that high, but several of the secrets are hard to find the first time through and there's so much to explore here.

Aesthetics: 6/6 - Layout: 5/6 - Gameplay: 4/6 - Score:  15/18

It would perhaps be fitting to describe this map as a treasure chest of creative secrets. It's easily one of my favorite maps in the set. Rarely do we come across a level that have us darting back and forth to locate all the secrets with such eagerness and childish expectation. When the secret exit finally revealed itself behind a lowered computer panel, it was one of those highly satisfactory moments that comes when dutiful searching bears fruits. The layout of this map is simply outstanding. Take for instance the near perfect visual and strategic placement of the yellow key. Perking it high on a ledge, and forcing us to take a tour through a neighboring section before we're eventually allowed to cross a platform and pick it up - this is how you tease the player into engaging a map. The "lights off" double ambush upon pickup was perfectly timed as well, great stuff. The textures are tastefully and perfectly fitted to each area of the map, and it solidifies a wonderful Episode 1 feel, while not openly borrowing old architecture. This sufficiently feels like a new map. The sizable outdoor secret area which offers a panorama view of the base exterior, is a tad too simplistic for me. In contrast, the green "Browngrn" concrete walls and the acid pool at the heart of the map, with the surrounding balconies and ledges, is simply beautiful. The gameplay is slightly more engaging than the previous two entries as well, with a tad increased difficulty, yet it still stays firmly planted on the chill side.

Aesthetics: 5/6 - Layout: 6/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  16/18

E1M9 - Strategical Offensive Array
This is a very good secret map that stands on its own without being a filler map. In fact I find it much better than the original E1M9, as this looks more like a military base because of its central courtyard, which you will cross several times. Hansen states in the txt that "E1M9 is a bit different from the other levels. I've used some ideas in that level which aren't exactly hard-core episode 1'ish." but I'm not quite sure what what he is referring to. Anyway, numerous walls lower and unfold new sections as the path leads you around inside the base. All three keys are used even though this is just a medium sized map. The first key you'll see is the red key on a pillar, but funny enough, that is the last of the three keys you will actually pick up.

Aesthetics: 5/6 - Layout: 5/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  15/18

If you ever want to make a "tribute" map which captures the spirit of the original, yet surpass it and feels sufficiently different and not like a blatant remake, this would be a most excellent level to learn from. Its a well fitted piece, with a wonderful, interconnected progression - easily on part with the original "id" levels. There is a large outdoor area connecting the various parts adding a nice contrast to the bent hallways and slimy trenches of the interior. It goes on for just long enough, and blends the fast paced gameplay perfectly with the architecture, providing various traps such as a multi spawning demon ambush and lowering walls and imps that pop out of the ground to surprise you. It doesn't overkill on the ammo supply in the same manner a the previous maps either. More could certainly have been done with the aesthetics in some areas, but with vanilla compatibility and a retro take in mind, the chosen amount of detailing is bearable.

Aesthetics: 4/6 - Layout: 5/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  14/18

E1M4 - Command Center
This is a compact map with a brilliant layout. There are three large acid rooms, all connected with openings and windows, and you will get the feeling that you are jumping around as you have to cross over the acid in order to get to the red key. The same goes for the secret outdoor area to the southwest where you have to drop through a window. The pathway above the acid has a 45 degree angle which is not that common in doom map making, but it gives this room a distinctive expression because of its shape. There is a secret BFG and a Supercharge on a pillar, and maybe this gun is a bit of an overkill in these type of maps, especially since the challenge have been on the easy side so far.

Aesthetics: 6/6 - Layout: 6/6 - Gameplay: 4/6 - Score:  16/18

This might just be one of the best maps of the set. You simply can not produce a more nonlinear Episode 1 styled map than this, while still maintaining fun over frustration at all times. It's simply the perfect tech-base. One could mention the placement of the red key, ingeniously situated on a window ledge right next to the red door, so temptingly close, yet just out of reach. Or the pillar perking yellow key, nesting in the large windowed, brightly lit ledge section in the midst of an acid moat. In our coop-session, I did a SR50 jump across said moat instead of going the intended direction - you don't want to do this and then forget to pick up the key, since screwing up the order of the sequence could possibly make the key inaccessible. You have four secrets to track here, and I'd recommend getting them all. It's such an amazingly fun map to explore anyway that I'm sure you will. The pillar with the supercharge even include a BFG on the multiplayer setting, so that's a must find. The only gripe I might have with the design would be with the slightly winding bridge ledge you cross, the one with acid on each side. You must take care to not accidentally flop over the side because of the sector heights. This can be slightly annoying since it's located in the midst of a fight heavy area. However, I cannot praise the map enough for its creative secrets or the flow of the overall design. The visuals are never mind-blowingly striking, but it all looks really nice given the theme and the limitations of the engine. Hansen seem to have added slightly more detail here than in the previous maps. The gameplay stays a bit more tight than the first few levels, I imagine you will not exit with an equally wast amount of ammo and health if you play this one from scratch.

Aesthetics: 5/6 - Layout: 5/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  15/18

E1M5 - Chemical Processing Plant
This is the first of the three large maps in this episode, and it might be the one that stands out from the rest because of the completely different looking start. This is the only time you will be starting outside as you look towards a small building in a sea of acid, with two large guard towers on both sides. Behind the smaller construction lies the entrance to a large underground base, where you will work your way through its depths until you can reach the exit area. Since you can go in several different directions it's a little difficult to find the way the first time around in this huge subterranean structure. Progress will be made by picking up the blue key which lies in a room with a memorable trap - it's very cleverly done, as the lights go out as soon as you grab the key and the entire room transforms as an ambush reveals itself. To reach the red door and the last part before the exit, is somewhat difficult to figure out. You'll have to jump down into the acid and run for a lift. After you have flipped the switch inside the red door you will have to jump down in the acid again and take the lift once more in order to get to the exit.

Aesthetics: 5/6 - Layout: 6/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  16/18

At the fifth spot comes this large, dark, sprawling tech-base, easily dwarfing the previous maps in complexity. This is an adventurous, moody and at first highly confusing creation. You start in a large, open acid garden, with a sky-box surrounding the center building, always a cool trick, although not perfect if you spectate it from every angle. From there you transition into a starkly lit hallway - an extremely moody entry where the contrast between 0 and 255 in light-level works its visual magic and creates foreboding shadows. If you pay attention, there is even a chainsaw and invisibility secret to the right side. There are five rather challenging secrets in the map overall, and one of them supply a much desired rocket launcher. The gameplay flows excellent. You are initially attacked from every side as you enter the core section of the base, and the choice of where to go next is not an easy one, since hallways are seemingly branching off in every direction. We eventually found the blue key, and then proceeded north through the E1M7 tribute maze. This area is too similar to the one found in Romero's E1M6 for my taste, but gameplay wise it works as it adds a refreshing puzzle twist. The placement of the red key is great, it's visibly nesting in an elevated alcove at first, and you'll have quite the journey before you can get to it. I completely adore the supercharge secret one can snag before exiting. If you'd like to snack on it as well, then look through the window on the right side from the exit room, where you can spot a tiny switch in another section across the yard. Shooting it will open a door behind you. Creativity like this is what makes secret hunts fun. The gameplay stays tight and neat all through, and splattering groups of clustered monsters with the few rockets you receive, or detonating one of the many well placed barrels, is guaranteed to generate amusing highlights. The blue key trap is perhaps the most memorable part as it transforms the room by lowering all the walls and turning off the light. The visuals might not be as striking as the previous map, but the overall mood and atmosphere is solid.

Aesthetics: 4/6 - Layout: 5/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  14/18

E1M6 - Primary Base
We're treated to another compact map with an excellent layout. Early on in this map you will see the yellow key lying on a ledge, but in order to get to it you will have to journey around the base and fight your way through passages of acid and a large yard where monsters are teleported in. The route even force you to cross above a previously passed area as you walk across a pillar towards the red door and the exit area. There are several difficult secrets in this map which include a plasma and a BFG, so if you didn't get them in E1M3 and E1M4, you'll have a second chance at snatching them here.

Aesthetics: 6/6 - Layout: 6/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  17/18

This map easily dethrones the previous one as far as complexity goes. It's equally moody and interconnected, and it's the first map in the episode which really managed to confuse us into senseless backtracking in search for where to go next. Like the former map it's not as slick on the visuals as some of the shorter entries in the set, but there's plenty of stuff to look at; be it the striking zigzagging acid river in the large, secret garden - or the wonderful use of the green "Browngrn" texture in the blue switch pool area. Said spot is probably my favorite view in the map, with its perfect scaling, the multiple ledges, the window view and the strikingly green acid pit. The yellow key can be a bit tricky to locate, as it's easy to stray off the intended route at any time. I did not particularly love the E1M2 maze ripoff at the south-west corner of the map, but there is a pretty sneaky switch and lift combo down there. If you can figure it out, you'll eventually be awarded with the BFG and a supercharge on the multiplayer setting. It's amazing to me that a map that looks so mediocre in size on the automap can feel like such a huge, sprawling base when you're running around in it; a proof that Hansen knows how to interconnect the living shit out of things. There's a great exploration feel to it as well with as many as six challenging secrets in all, but I admittedly didn't feel as engaged by this one as with many of the other levels in the set. It's a bit too complex for its own good perhaps, and lack the visual highlights to keep me proper enthusiastic. Difficulty wise it's on par with the former map, it's satisfying enough without having us break much of a sweat.

Aesthetics: 4/6 - Layout: 4/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  13/18

E1M7 - Laboratories
This must be the largest and most complex map in the set, and also the one were Hansen is at his most creative. The path to the exit is difficult to follow, as you will feel like you are going in circles. The blue key is hard to get because it involves a sequence with two switches and then a quick run for a lift. This combination can be difficult to understand at first. After getting the key you'll have to backtrack quite the stretch to get to the blue door. Behind this door we actually ran into trouble for the first time during our coop-session, as we were surprised by the teleport ambush. A close call with low health left on both parties, but we managed to stay alive despite. There are two memorable secrets and a hidden biosuit in this section. After cleaning up the monsters and picking up the red key, you'll have to backtrack again in order to get to the red door, its actually situated close to where you picked up the blue key. Beware though, new ambushes have revealed themselves and may take you by surprise. Behind the red door lays the last section, and it holds many interesting parts. I especially like the room with the imps standing on each their pillar above the acid pit filled with several specters. This tech-base is nice and detailed all over, and the gameplay grants more of a challenge than the earlier maps.

Aesthetics: 6/6 - Layout: 6/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  17/18

Hansen give us one last classic Episode 1 outing here, and what a way to send us off before E1M8. This is everything a 2nd last episode map should be; large, complex, atmospheric and polished. Like most of the later maps in the set, its full of secrets you'll want to locate, and it's stacked with nifty traps all through. I easily prefer its setup compared to the previous two maps, as it's more forgiving with guiding you to the right parts of the map. Initially most of the doors are locked off, and you have to catch a narrow and easy to miss staircase in order to unlock the yellow key. The blue key is slightly more of a puzzle, and had us dumbfound for a little while, as it includes a double switch and lift combo and a swift run to catch it all. I really enjoy the latter part of the map, past the red door. The rising acid pool with the army of spectres coming at you is a sight to behold. My partner fragged said spectres before they could surface from the pit, but during a single player walk-through I got to see this thing in all its glory. The map is more heavy on stuff teleporting in, and clocks the highest monster count in the set with 220 inhabitants. There's no great challenge here, but rush too much and you'll likely pay sooner or later. The gameplay is masterfully orchestrated, leaving you trigger happy until the very end, with a row of ambushing shotgunners to bid you farewell as you enter the exit. Visually the map is more appealing to me than the previous couple of entries, with a good variety between hallways and larger sections which tastefully let you peak at the skyline now and again. Beware that the secret holding the computer area map will trap you for good if the door close behind you. My partner have a habit of getting stuck in secret enclosures, and will attest to the design error here. Last I checked he was still in there.

Aesthetics: 5/6 - Layout: 5/6 - Gameplay: 5/6 - Score:  15/18

E1M8 - Old Habits...
Old Habits? What about doing something new Hansen, since this is the final battle? If the first map was too short, the same goes for this one, and it's not very creative either. It feels rather disappointing when you eventually unlock the room with the barons. Instead of them actually facing the player, you come from behind which means you will have plenty of time to plan your attack. Why isn't anything tense happening here? The only surprise is that you can't harm these guys before you flip a switch. And the only thing Hansen has done to make it a little more difficult is to double the baron count. With more of a fight offered, perhaps we could have finally utilized the BFG here, and in the process Hansen could have elevated the challenge compared to the original E1M8. I like that the structure is circular, but the huge star is hardly visible unless you take a look at the automap. In any case, this is not creative, it's just repeating and idea that "id" already did with the original map.

Aesthetics: 4/6 - Layout: 3/6 - Gameplay: 3/6 - Score:  10/18

Unfortunately it's very hard to construct a good final episode map in Doom, I think a striking visual sendoff is the only way to add some flavor to it, and this map fails on that account. It leaves very little to look at, and probably seemed cooler on the automap and in the editor than what it turned out to be. There is nothing memorable here, as you get a small wave of imps and spectres in the first half, then four barons in the following section, before you enter the cliched platoon in the hurt floor exit. Hansen wanted to recreate Episode 1, so this was almost a mandatory closure, but it feels bland and underwhelming, and not a worthy end to such a fantastic episode. Weirdly enough there are 10 rockets available in singleplayer too, but the launcher is only present in multiplayer. Consequently the map is even more of a drag on singleplayer, as you then have to chip away on the four barons using only the chaingun and the shotgun. Luckily we came in pretty loaded and chose a more humane and effective way of ending the baron tribe. The door trap that is supposed to keep you in a more confined space as you battle them is easy to avoid, you simply dart back out before it close shut. According to an old review by Anthony Soto, the map can smack you with several grave VPO errors if played with the intended vanilla exe. Tsk tsk, Hansen.

Aesthetics: 3/6 - Layout: 3/6 - Gameplay: 3/6 - Score:  9/18

Hunsagers' Summary and total score:
Hansens' work truly make for a retro episode as you actually feel that these maps must be situated on Phobos. Everything that was in the original Doom's "Knee-Deep in the Dead" episode is here. The texture selections include "Startan3", "Browngr", "Brown1", "Stone", "Stone2" and "Metal1". There is often a dark section with "Comptall" textured walls, or a dark acid room, or a secret passage with the same green goo.

Almost every map has one secret yard with a supercharge or an invisibility, and every map (2-8) has one or two secret supercharges. Thankfully Hansen hasn't been tempted to do a "maze mistake" by copying and enlarging any of the mazes from the original E1M2 and E1M4, which is a common error when people make Episode 1 maps. Hansen shows that he is capable of making variation in lightning from one room to the next and often has good contrasts going. Monsters are often placed in sealed enclosures that open up, and if the player has to backtrack there's always a new ambush waiting for you. Hansen hasn't used the technique of teleporting monsters at you in the first four maps, which could probably have made the gameplay a bit more challenging and varied.

Unfortunately, the gameplay is the greatest downfall, as the experienced player will feel that it's too easy. Making the gameplay on par with the original Doom isn't challenging enough today (and it wasn't back in 2002 either). There's a lot of ammo and health supply going on, especially if you search carefully and get the secrets. Again I would question if it's right to hand out both the plasma and the BFG as none of these were given in the original episode. You could accuse Hansen of breaking a rule by introducing these powerful weapons in an otherwise authentic episode, but my main complaint is that it throws off the balance unless one import some cacos and barons too.

The main problem with Ultimate Doom's gameplay will always be that there isn't much room for variation with these low end monsters. How about giving the player a berserk power-up, maybe together with an invisibility? That may also be breaking a rule as you didn't get the berserk in the original Episode 1, but wouldn't it just be more fun to use your fists instead of BFG'ing midgets?

Anyway, if we just decide to ignore E1M1 and E1M8, neither of which are worthy of  starting / ending this brilliant retro episode, I won't hesitate claiming that architecturally, these maps are some of the best Phobos tech-bases ever made. The layout is often advanced and some of these maps even surpass the originals, which is truly an achievement.

My score: 4.88
Aesthetics: 5.33 - Layout: 5.11 - Gameplay - 4.22
(Awarded points: 48 / 46 / 38 = 132)

Johnsens' Summary and total score:
Having played through this episode twice in cooperative mode, and once on singleplayer because I wanted to do each map from scratch, it's superfluous to say I'm a fan. This is probably the creation that Chris Hansen is most renowned for, and for a good reason - he simply nailed what Doom Episode 1 is all about. Much like the very few other similar releases reaching such heights, this does not bring anything new to the table, instead it attempts to perfect what's already done.

For a completely vanilla 2002 release, its a testament to skill and talent when you pull off something as smooth as this on your own. I've said "interconnected" many times during these reviews, but it's the one word that best describes whats achieved here; designs that let you peak into sections before you can access them, constantly taunting and teasing the player with its key placements, allowing you to shortcut and backtrack through newly revealed areas.

It maintains a strong feel of location through tasteful and consistent texturing and adds sufficient amounts of light detailing to spike the atmosphere and immersion. If I was to critique it for something it would be that it allowed itself to transcend the original i-wad maps as far as light detailing goes, yet failed to elevate other aspects the same way. The garden areas and outdoor scenery all seem too bare and bland. Adding just a little extra detail to these areas, like ledges and edges to the exterior constructions, would raise the bar another notch.

The exploration element absolutely shine from the second map on, only E1M1 and E1M8 become letdowns in that respect, which is mostly due to their placement and given size. There's tons of cool secrets to uncover here, with obvious highlights in E1M3, E1M4 and E1M7. The gameplay seemed overly generous on the ammo and health supplies during the first two maps, but then managed to tone it down a bit. Still, its a bit too generous on the multiplayer setting. Obviously, many players will find these maps way too easy in this day and age - and it's most suitable for a laid back shotgun slug fest, when you do not want to claw your way through each map. I rarely experienced much of an adrenaline jolt here, as most of the traps are merciful in the way they are set up. Neither of us suffered a single death during the "Ultraviolence" play-through. The gameplay did feel a bit mundane in a few of the more complex entries, but at its best this is pretty much as good as Episode 1 styled gameplay gets, so if it's not your cup of tea, you should simply drink something else. I would not be able to name many if any episodes that so completely nails the essence of Romero's "Knee-Deep in the Dead" designs.

My score: 4.48
Aesthetics: 4.22 - Layout: 4.66 - Gameplay - 4.55
(Awarded points: 38 / 42 / 41 = 121)

Aesthetics: 4.77 - Layout: 4.88 - Gameplay - 4.38

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