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Published on Jun 7, 2012
Pwad: Slaughter Until Death Author: The Innocent Crew (Denis & Thomas Möller) Date: 21st June 1994 Map: e2m4 - "Death Pain" Category: UV Maxdemo Executable: Doom.exe Time: 3:56
I wonder if Slaughter Until Death was only designed to be played through from start to finish or whether the Möllers took into account people who just warped to a particular level. (Any multi-level wad really should be designed for the latter, if for no other reason than not forcing players to reload from a savegame after they die.) Because ammo-wise, this is a bit tight when played from a pistol start. You'll need to go to the chaingun secret first, which is itself a bit lame as it's an unmarked stretch on a flat featureless wall with nothing to indicate there might be a secret there. Even then, and even after picking up the shotgun, you'll need to make every shot count for the first minute or so.
Really, there's not much to recommend the start of the level at all. Again we're starting with a bland texture scheme, and underdetailed rooms. The opening view doesn't exactly entice you further into the level. The level's fairly underpopulated as well. A couple of rooms hem you in tight, like the nice trap involving half a dozen imps, two cacos, and a bunch of demons. But the majority are like the first outdoors radiation pool, with no monsters. Or the indoor radiation pool, with an enormous crescent platform behind it containing almost no monsters. And the square techbase room near the end of the level, again featuring no monsters. Why create such a nice looking room and then give the player nothing to do in it? Plus the techbase room feels derivative of the similarly textured rooms in the E2M7 level Spawning Vats, one of the very few times this wad feels like it's copying from id.
But now I've said all that, let me say the important thing: it's a lot of fun to play. The map has been designed very carefully and intelligently in the way it keeps you circling back to the start without it ever feeling like you're retracing old ground. It's always branching somewhere new, there's always a fresh switch to hit or a new passage that's opened. Nothing is frustrating, nothing feels unfair. And the bland sections of the level are really only at the start. The lighting in particular is fantastically judged - the outdoors feels properly outdoors, interior passages are dark where they should be, light sources illuminate like they should. It gives a very strong sense of place, maybe not to the extent that the TeamTNT levels do, but this is probably the first level in the episode that gives me a sense of a real place with real functions.
I really enjoyed pushing this one for pace, it's the sort of level that encourages you to hurl yourself in with reckless abandon chaingun blazing. After my first few exits I wanted a sub-4 minute time. Most of the level goes fine, there's a few missed shots but you always have those. And the I really like the rapid exit, that happened just about as fast as it can be done. Two rockets on the caco, one on the sargeants in the window behind. Kill monsters while the lift lowers, finish off the sargeants on the far side window as it rises, kill final imp and exit.