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Duke Map/Mod of the Month Club - May 2024  "Three TCs for this month"

User is offline   FistMarine 

#1

What's this thing?
We play through a set of maps/mods during the month, and use this thread to discuss it as we're still all fresh with our comments/opinions/feelings about the maps.

What's the purpose?
Basically, there are 4 purposes:
  • Showcasing some of the older mods/maps to wider public - they definitely deserve the attention!
  • Getting more people to actually enjoy and appreciate the user content - because let's be honest, over the past 28 years this was really what kept Duke alive after all.
  • ...and while we're at it - keeping Duke alive by still enjoying it, as there's no new games in the franchise on the horizon (and let's be honest, they wouldn't be as good as some of this stuff!).
  • Having a more structured discussion on maps than what's going in "Last map you played" thread - which is great, but it's basically a monologue most of the time.

Can I join?

Sure, as long as you find some spare time during the month to play the stuff that's on the table!

Why a month?
Because people have lives, jobs or other stuff to do (like mapping). For smaller maps, this could be shorter time - it's all up to debate in the future!

What port should I use? Are mods allowed? Where to get the maps?
It's entirely up to you how you play the game, so you can use whatever port or mod allowed - it would be cool to state in your posts what you're using too, as there might be some slight differences between the ports! As for the maps, they should be always linked within the first post.

How should I play the maps or post about them?
Again, it's up to you. You can finish them all in one go or play them one by one whenever you feel like. On Doom forums, there's a rule that you should keep the pace by not posting about a map that has a higher number than the day of the month, so e.g. on 6th you shouldn't post about map 7 etc. I think that might be a good practice if there's a large interest in this, but first let's see how active the thread is for a start - so if there's nothing going on, feel free to post about whatever map you want to.

Previous 2024 Editions


Previous 2023 Editions


Previous 2022 Editions


Previous 2021 Editions



For this month, three old TCs from the late 90s/early 2000s have been chosen!

Merc: Fatal Reality was released in September 1997 and contains 12 levels (4 hub and 8 normal) split across two episodes. A sequel called Merc 2 was released in August 1998 and contains 19 levels (12 SP, 5 DM and 2 test maps) split across three episodes. Both TCs require the Atomic Edition of the game. I am not sure if any of these TCs contain secret levels or if most/all levels from the first Merc are present into Merc 2. I will figure this out at a later time when I finally get around playing them, so until then, it is up to you whether you want to play either one of them or both of them.

Murder: The EDF Conspiracy was released in September 1998 and contains 13 levels (9 SP and 4 DM) split across two episodes (E3 is the SP episode and E2 is the DM episode). This TC is also for the Atomic Edition.

Pray Your Prayers was originally released in late 1999 and featured three levels. It required version 1.3D of the game to play. PYP was later re-released as "Pray Your Prayers 2000" on August 2000 and contained an episode with 11 levels (5 briefing, 5 normal and one secret). The mod was still designed for version 1.3D but an Atomic patch was released separately. Many years later in 2008, PYP TC was re-released for EDuke32 by James Stanfield. The new version not only makes the TC Atomic compatible and fixes various stuff but it also includes an user map named Repent. However, it runs on an ancient version of EDuke32, so you might want to use a newer eduke32 build from 2015 or so to play the mod.

What are you waiting for? Download the TCs right here:

Merc: Fatal Reality
Merc 2 + Merc 2 1.1 Patch
Murder: The EDF Conspiracy

Pray Your Prayers (Demo Version)
Pray Your Prayers (Full Version)
Pray Your Prayers (EDuke32 Version)

Installation Instructions

Merc
Copy your DUKE3D folder (version 1.5) and rename it to MERC. Paste the file merc14.exe into the directory. If having 32-bit OS, then run the installer. If having 64-bit OS, then extract the contents of the executable using 7-zip. Afterwards, run MERC.BAT file in DOSBox.

Merc 2
Copy your DUKE3D folder (version 1.5) and rename it to MERC2. Paste the file m2full.zip into a directory and extract it. Afterwards, run M2setup.exe and follow the instructions. Specify the correct directory (MERC2 instead of the default c:\duke3d), then click on the Setup icon to begin installation. Afterwards, run m2dos.bat (in DOS) or MERC2.EXE (in Windows). If playing in DOSBox, obviously you use m2dos.bat file to begin.

Murder
Copy your DUKE3D folder (version 1.5) and rename it to MURDER. Paste the file murder.zip into the new directory and extract it. Afterwards, run MURDER.BAT file in DOSBox and select the third episode in game.

Pray Your Prayers (Demo Version)
Copy your DUKE3D folder (version 1.3D) and rename it to PRAYERS. Paste the file prayers.zip into the new directory, extract it and accept to overwrite the CON files. Afterwards, run DUKE3D.EXE and select the first episode in game.

Pray Your Prayers (Full Version)
Copy your DUKE3D folder (version 1.3D) and rename it to PYP2000. Paste the file pyp2000.exe into the directory and run the self-extracting archive after specifying the correct directory (PYP2000 instead of the default C:\DUKE3D). Afterwards, run install.bat on your computer to rename the files (don't run inside DOSBox as the batch file will fail for some reason), then run DUKE3D.EXE and when in-game, select the second episode in game.

Notes:
-Be sure to check the readme files for more information about the TCs regarding the story, new weapons and monsters, etc.
-If playing the original versions of the TCs in DOSBox, you just need the following files: merc14.exe (Merc 1, self-extracting archive), m2full.zip (Merc 2, Windows installer), m211ptch.zip (Merc 2 Patch), prayers.zip (demo version with three levels, pre-installed), pyp2000.exe (full version, self-extracting archive).
-Merc, Merc 2 and Murder are available in GRP format but PYP2000 is only available as a set of files.
-Merc, Merc 2 and Pray Your Prayers 2000 have new gameplay demos available. However, the Merc demos desync over time (third demo is almost entirely with the player dead) and Merc 2 demos are not playing, might be because they are 1.4 compatible. Murder doesn't seem to have any new demos present, so you just get the Atomic demos. I only used Atomic 1.5 to test the mods starting with "M".
-Merc 2 has the 1.1 patch available to download separately, make sure to install the patch on top of your MERC2 folder and overwrite the files when asked.
-Obviously, you want to install each TC in a separate folder. This also includes the demo and full version of PYP2000, they should be installed each in a separate folder, NOT ONE ON TOP OF ANOTHER!
-These TCs can also be found as part of the EDuke32 Addon Compilation with further bug-fixes and improvements, though only in the newer 4.00 pre-release version of the compilation.

Warning: if you think there are too many levels chosen for this month, then this month should mainly focus on the "M" series (Merc, Merc 2 and Murder), which means Pray Your Prayers 2000 should be saved for another month and coupled with other classic TCs. What are people's opinion of this? I only realized this recently while counting the number of levels and don't want to overwhelm people who want to play through every map, especially since the past month was quite busy with about 30 single player levels.

Have fun! :)
6

User is offline   slacker1 

#2

Let's see if I can keep up with this month's set of maps :)

I'm on Linux so I used DOSBox to run the install exe and then copied the files from my dosbox 'C:' drive area to my Duke maps folder. Started EDuke with: eduke32 /x MERC14.CON /g MERC14.GRP
Seems to work fine so far...

MERC 1

Episode 1 - Fatal Reality

Your Aparment]

Nothing much to say here, just a starting area that is a simple one bedroom apartment with a small secret closet area. The floppy disk as a keycard for the computer was a neat idea. The exit doors to the street confused me for a second because it didn't seem like they opened and I couldn't break the glass. I tried again after walking up and down the hallway and it opened... end of map. Besides everything being slightly over sized, the mapping quality is pretty mediocre. The new assets look okay tough. I'm not going to give this one a score as its just a starting spot.

Rating: No Rating


Suburban Slaughter

They don't really explain how you got to this area, I guess you drove and ended up inside a building? Level design seems to stay mediocre at best... often dipping below that. The level is a somewhat generic city map arranged in a square block. I don't mind the new enemies.. but the constant 'ha-ha's are a bit much. I got turned around a bit thanks to the reliance on random switches in random places opening up other random areas (I'm looking at you sewer vent accessed via the electrified subway...) Health is somewhat sparse so even though the enemies aren't tough, they eventually wittled me down to somewhat low health at the end. The end of map just teleports you back to your apartment building which was a bit jolting but I guess answers my question from the start of the level of how we're getting place to place.

Rating: D-


Compound of Death

To quote Mr Horse from Ren and Stimpy, "No sir, I don't like it.".

This level reminds me of something straight out of Duke Zone. It's a patchwork of places sewn together (poorly) in a nonsensical and arbitrary way. I'm usually fine with abstract levels but I feel like it doesn't fit the story/world of the TC having such a bizarre level (or maybe it does? It's only level 3 after all...).

Anyway, you fight your way through this ugly looking level full of odd shaped rooms and conveyor belts, and also an absolutely unforgiving lava maze to eventually open an exit to an outside river area. You follow the river area to the end and jetpack up this random room (why? who the hell knows...) to the Nuke button. Yep, this level ends with a Nuke button instead of a teleport back to the apartment. The previous levels didn't have an exit button and simply relied on you stepping into the exit to leave the level but this one changes it up... oh and with the next level you're magically back at your apartment so I'm not sure why they didn't just repeat the teleport idea from the previous level. Perhaps it was two different level designers between the two? Idk... didn't really care for this one. The new enemy introduced wasn't bad though but its hard to tell when he's shooting you so all of sudden you just see your health spinning downward.

Rating: D-


Your Apartment

No rating again for this one. It's the first level again. I don't dislike this idea at all honestly. You grab some supplies, insert the disk into the computer and read about the next mission before heading out again.

Rating: No Rating
4

User is offline   slacker1 

#3

Drug Bust

I'm not a huge fan of Abyss style levels to begin with and this is an abyss style level. Thankfully it's not very large. Like the previous maps, things are rough around the edges but the cliff area at least has a linear path to it and more or less fits the atmosphere (except for those very long and slow lifts). The level also relies on your jetpack a bit especially if you want to get the large secret at the beginning where the toxic waste pours out.

In the level you make your way through the cliffs to what I assume is a drug lab (its labeled above the door but I forget what it says... It might actually say "IMF DRUG LAB" lol) where you then kill everything inside and destroying their nuclear reactor (which is a simplified version of the one from Duke E2). You escape into the sewers where you get captured.

Not the worst level in the bunch so far. I like it better than Compound of Death BUT it has one very big issue. The map is broken an unbeatable without using the keys cheat (at least with EDuke). While exploring a side area in the mountain side, you eventually snake your way to a small black room with the text 'BLOW ~M UP" and a pipebomb. In front of the drug lab is a motorcycle which I assume is what "~M" is to get the blue key. The problem is, you can't blow the motorcycle up no matter what you throw at it so you're stuck from continuing the level.

Rating: D

(I just noticed I meant to rate Suburban Slaughter as a 'D' not 'D-' but I can't go back and edit it anymore.)

I hope my low scores aren't scaring anyone off from trying the mod or thinking I'm hating every second of it. I'm actually have quite a bit of fun muscling through these odd and poorly designed levels. :)
3

User is offline   slacker1 

#4

The Rock

The level is named after the movie but has no relation to it, it's just located at Alcatraz as well. That's where the 'FAJ' have their base set up or something. The final room in the level is a very simple representation of the iconic shower room scene from the movie though.

The mediocre level design continues at the same quality as the previous maps. This one doesn't really have any obscure or out of theme areas. The raging thunderstorm outside complete with SFX and flashing lightening lighting was a nice touch. The level is pretty straightforward except for the first blue key which requires the jetpack and is hidden up inside the original vent you crawl out of your cell from. The level also is very liberal with giving ammo and health... which brings me to my next point...

Why did I wait so long to actually try the flamethrower!? I figured it was just a reskinned freeze thrower that would be buggy as hell but it's not! (at least not entirely) It's actually F-ing awesome! It sets fire to EVERYTHING and mows through enemies like they're butter. It's just awesome. Another weapon I didn't really explore to much were the replacements for the shrinker/expander though I didn't really notice anything except it's an electric shock thing that shoots slow? Didn't seem that great.

Anyway, with the amount of ammo they were giving I was expecting a boss fight or something at the end but there wasn't any (At least on Let's Rock) so that was a little disappointing.

Anyway, this level was fun overall. I'm not going to dock it too hard due to its poor mapping quality as it seems that these are going to be all about the same in that regard so I should probably tweak my ratings to reflect that moving forward.

Rating: C


And with that... That's the end of episode 1. On to E2 - Into the City...

This post has been edited by slacker1: 10 May 2024 - 07:35 PM

2

User is offline   slacker1 

#5

E2 - Into the City

Your Apartment

No apartment upgrade from E1. Less supplies as well. Same as previous times, grab the disk, use it in the computer to get a mission brief and head out.

Rating: No Rating


In the Gutter

This was a fun map. I was worried by the name that it was going to be another sewer map (I feel like E1 had a good amount of sewer sections) but was pleasantly surprised when it was actually a bowling alley. After leaving the bowling alley, you enter the small city/town that has a bar, a shipping/warehouse, a parking garage, a cinema, and a melted down reactor/base area.

There's an interesting amount of work done in some places and lack there of in others. I'm wondering if the mapper just was crunched for time and didn't get to put the level of detail in that they originally wanted. For example, there's a very intricate (for this TC) pencil holder on a desk and also a very nice looking blown up bridge out of town out side of bounds but the city as a whole is VERY limited vertically (almost feels Wolf3d in that sense) and bland in areas. Overall though, I feel like its a bit of a step up from E1.

Also, another interesting change of pace here was the multiple paths you can take to get to the exit. You can go through the reactor base as a whole, or you can go into the secret car park and exit the reactor base from the start (making the level very quick to beat), or you can use the key from the car park to open the warehouse loading dock in the back and get a different key for the reactor base but in a different location. That was really cool to see.

Enemy placement was pretty good for the most part but I do feel like they went a little heavy with instances of the rocket guy hidden behind a wall that you have to play 'peek-a-boo' with. A nice amount of secrets as well.

Like I said in the previous post, I'm going to be a bit more lenient on the mapping quality, so with that said, this was a pretty decent map.

Rating: C+
2

User is offline   slacker1 

#6

Matinee Maul

Looks like E2 is keeping the level design a bit better than E1 and more consistent. This level is on par mapping wise as the previous.. maybe even a bit more ambitious in its scale.

The level takes place in a city where there's a cinema, post office (that is sort of like a bank?) and some construction/destruction buildings. In the level you have to hit all the dip switches located in each of the individual theaters in the cinema. There's also keys to be found but they aren't too hard to find. One requires taking a dip in the water fountain outside the cinema, one is upstairs in some storage room, and the other is in the post office. Once you have all the dip switches hit and have the key to open the demo building, you blow up the building in front of the cinema to reveal a Nuke button in its rubble.

There's a nasty trap in one of the bathroom doors if you don't come in through the vent. Also, the crack in the wall of the other bathroom, make sure to not be in the room when it blows up.

All in all, not bad. A little bland again and the scale of everything is rather large which causes you to take longer getting from point A to point B. None of the puzzles are head scratchers or hard to find what to do next. Theme stays consistent without any really random locations that don't fit the map. Also, I finally used the expander's replacement weapon which is the radiation gun and IT IS AWESOME. Enemies just blow up within a second and no blast damage from it either.

Rating: B-

This post has been edited by slacker1: 14 May 2024 - 12:13 PM

2

User is offline   slacker1 

#7

Your Apartment

Same old same old. Less supplies this time.

Rating: No Rating


Big Guns

Well.. this was sort of a disappointment. The level is basically just one large warehouse where you have to flip switches in order to blow the building up. It wouldn't be so bad if the warehouse wasn't so sprawling with many areas looking exactly the same. There's an incredible amount of health and ammo. There's also a good amount of enemies but besides being annoying due to them hiding in the dark they really weren't a problem.

There's a couple of secrets. One gives you access you full ammo, weapons, and items. Thankfully that one is pretty easy to find.

I feel like I might have missed part of the level in a secret area? I opened the F3 teleport and was able to teleport back to the start from there and blow the warehouse up. I feel like there was a whole other locked section that I missed. Oh well, the level wasn't really fun enough to warrant staying longer than needed.

Rating: D+


Final Confrontation

Hey! E2 actually has a boss ending! Neat!

The final boss is the FAJ's robot they've been working on (or something). It's stationary from what I can tell as well. The level is just a hi-tech style circle arena (no height changes) with a bunch of items and health on the floor with the boss in the middle. He spams rockets pretty quick but circle strafing with the devastator took him out in a few seconds. Really easy boss but I'm glad there at least was one.

I also missed that this TC was from September 1997 in the original post for this month and just I saw © 1997 on the E2 end screen! So I guess the level design isn't that bad considering how early the TC was...

Anyway, filler boss level. Nothing special at all but gives closure to E2's story.

Rating: D+


Woo! And that completes Merc 1! On to Merc 2...
2

User is offline   slacker1 

#8

Merc 2

This was sort of a pain to get running being on Linux. Usually I just use Dosbox to extract these into the individual files and such but the merc2 without the patch I think didn't even have a .bat file to run, just a Windows launcher. The patch does though... anyway, I ended up spinning up a Windows XP VM and running the installer and the patch. I then zipped everything up and copied it back to my computer.

I'm running with: eduke32 /x merc2.con /g m211.grp /g merc2.grp

Attached is the zip I made that has the installed merc2 with the patch so you don't have to deal with the installers and such if you're using eduke like me.

E1: Enforced Judgement

Your Apartment

Oooh! Right off the bat, this is definitely an upgrade from Merc 1. It's the same apartment and building but it's been touched up a bit with lighting and such. Also some more duke talk. Nice. Same idea as Merc 1, looks like this is a hub map. The out of order elevator at the end of the hall has been replaced with another hallway to a secret jetpack and atomic health. No rating here but I'm liking things so far.

Rating: No Rating


Slum Dynasty

Nice! This confirms that this is definitely an improvement over Merc 1. The level design is still a bit wonky in spots but overall it's not bad. There's a good amount of lighting and I feel like every room had a functional light switch.

As the name suggests, it takes place in a slum like city area where there's a Duke Burger, office building, bar and apartment building. You hop from one building to the next getting the key to the next area. There's a fun little Bevis and Butthead secret as well. One thing I wasn't crazy about is the return of random keys and switches in hidden random spots. Like the first key (disk) is in a garbage in the back room of the Duke Burger, the switch to open the bar is hidden on the side of the filing cabinet in an office that's not easy to see unless you're looking for it.

There's also random pedestrians that walk around and a few new enemies as well as the return of some old ones. The flame thrower guy is pretty cool.

Rating: B


Your Apartment

Back to the ol' apartment for supplies and briefing before heading out again...

Rating: No Rating


Air Raid

This one takes place at an air base though it's hard to tell by the looks of it. The level is a bit disjointed in locations. For example, at the beginning you start in a warehouse room, go through an apartment to another warehouse. Later in the level there's a futuristic looking office section that is connected to a run down apartment via a curtained door. There's also a good amount of vent wandering to be done. The level itself looks pretty decent though.

One thing I didn't like was the necessary fall damage (I guess you could use the jetpack if you knew what was coming) when you exit the one vent. Even more so because you fall into an ambush and then you have to backtrack all the way there again if you forgot to put the disk in the computer in the futuristic office room (double fall damage). The next level also starts with you taking mandatory fall damage at the beginning...

On the flip side, the expander's replacement is now called the 'disintegrator' or something. It works the same as Merc 1 but instead of blowing up the enemies fade out of existence. Really cool.

All in all, even though it didn't really manage to stay on theme regarding locale, it was a pretty fun level to play.

Rating: B

Attached File(s)


2

User is offline   slacker1 

#9

High Stakes

Wow! This is a GOOD LEVEL! It looks great, its layout is really nicely interconnected, and everything makes sense. I feel like it would even stand on its own as a stand alone map. There's only two gotchas that might cause some time to be wasted. There's a second story window that needs to be blown out in order to gain entry to the casino but it's hard to see because its so dark it looks like the regular building texture. Also, if you died and no longer have a jetpack, it's impossible to get out of the lower level where you turn the power back on. Other than one other switch I noticed I could flip from outside the window, it's a really solid level.

The level takes place on the streets outside and inside a casino. There's also a EDF base as well that you travel into. When you first get into the casino, it's pitch black (hopefully you still have night vision). As stated previously, you have to go into the basement and turn the power back on. After that, it's a bunch of switch flipping and key card grabbing events that aren't hard to follow what goes where. There's even a CCTV screen to show you at one point what switch needs to be flipped which is nice.

All in all, I really liked this level. It's a bit dark but it takes place at night no that's understandable. The mapping quality is much better than the previous levels so far.

Rating: A


Lab Rats

Another very nice looking level. This one takes place (as you can guess) in an underground laboratory of sorts. I say 'sorts' because I don't think I actually encountered any actual lab rooms but the level does read as 'underground lab'.

Being an underground lab, fighting can be tough as there's not a lot of breathing room with the room sizes. Sections are connected together via locked doors that you need to collect keys or flip switches to unlock. Getting from place to place in spots is done by going down small little underground rivers. At one point, I think you fight the boss from Merc 1? I'm not really sure. He was in a doorway and I took him out pretty quickly but it was a totally different enemy than I had seen previously. At the end of the level you get back up to the surface by the parking lot and blow the place up via a switch. (Why would there be a self destruct switch there? idk... but it works)

Turrets are sort of plentiful in the level. I don't really like them but they make perfect sense being there.

Another solid level to finish off the episode.

Rating: B+

Oh! I almost forgot to mention, after you beat the level there's a small little car chase video that plays before the end of episode text. I wasn't expecting that. Nice work there.

On to E2: In Pursuit...
2

User is offline   slacker1 

#10

E2: In Pursuit

Your Apartment
Same as previous times. Get the disk and supplies and head out. One difference here is that there was actually a bad guy outside the door. Don't miss getting the rocket launcher... it makes the start of the next level much easier. The computer screen makes mention of going back to the drug base from Merc 1... ugh... I hope that got a facelift.

Rating: No Rating



Cavern of Despair
What a start. Right off the bat your ambushed and will die quick if you don't run and gun before even hitting the ground.

This level takes place in a mine/cave system. It's super cramped in spots and there's a bunch of walls to blow up. It's also not very pretty to look at... or really play for that matter. I feel like there's a way to get soft locked here if you run out of explosives but I had enough to get through. Not a great start to E2. The end of the level seems to have you entering some sort of base. Thankfully this level is pretty short.

Rating: D


Zero Tolerance

Well... here we are in the base we entered in the previous level. Goal here is to free the hostages from deep in the base (though you never actually open the cells from what I experienced...)

Definitely a better looking level than the previous but not really by much. There are some cool set pieces though. The outdoor cliff drop section was pretty neat even if the rocket dudes spamming rockets everywhere can make it a bit of a headache. The level overall has that Merc 1 disjointed feel where it seems like the mapper wasn't exactly sure where he wanted to go next with the map or what areas to include. The end section by the hostages is super plain and undetailed whereas the cliff drop section mentioned earlier looks pretty good.

It just felt like the mapper was running out of ideas which I guess is no surprise seeing that the story of E2 is basically 'revisit Merc 1'. I feel like if the scale of the level was shrunk down a bit, it wouldn't have felt so aimless.

Random helpful note: Make sure to drop down in the first outdoor pit. It has a jetpack there that makes the next section bearable.

I'm a little bummed with E2 so far and I think I must be at least half way through now... hopefully the end levels get better.

Rating: D+


Edit: I took a quick look at the Duke Match levels in E3. I'm not going to bother reviewing each of them at least half are Merc 1 levels with no enemies. The other new ones are pretty poor quality with a lot of tight rooms and/or very large in scale. The first one is a very plain looking corporate office with elevators. There's a ton of floors and the elevators take you to random floors like a puzzle. I feel like playing even with four people would be a chore just finding them in that maze. The mid-evil level is also very maze like though looks a bit better. There's also a base level with force fields protecting each corner base that has a decent open area. I wasn't able to find a switch to turn off the other player's force field so if they decide to lock themselves in their base, you can't actually get to them.

TL;DR don't bother with the death match levels included.

This post has been edited by slacker1: 22 May 2024 - 07:51 AM

2

User is offline   FistMarine 

#11

Hey Slacker1, thank you very much for joining and keeping the topic alive. It seems this month was quite inactive and I apologize for my absence, I had a very busy month as well. But I will still try to contribute to the topic in the last couple days remaining. I have never played the TC before and I decided earlier this week to go through Merc quickly. Finished the TC in just two days (one episode per day). As usual, I played Duke3D v1.5 on CGS difficulty (all kills and secrets, continuous with saves, keyboard only controls) in DOSBox 0.74-3.

Before I begin, let's clarify some things about the TC:
1) It appears that various mappers have contributed to the project, as you can see from the mappers' signatures when viewing the maps in Mapster.
2) Besides the Apartment levels and the Final Boss level, Suburban Slaughter is the only map without difficulty settings implemented, which means Piece of Cake, Let's Rock and Come Get Some are identical in terms of gameplay (same enemy count, same damage taken), while Damn I'm Good means respawning enemies. However, most other levels implement difficulty settings properly, even going as far as adding extra enemies and items only available for Damn I'm Good. Though I recommend playing on CGS for an overall fun experience.
3) Some secrets seem to be unreachable in Suburban Slaughter, as you will see shortly why.
4) Strippers add to kills when killed but they don't count as actual enemies from what I can tell. I'm pretty sure in original game it didn't matter if you killed strippers or not but usually they spawned extra monsters, this seems to be absent here because I did not notice a single spawned enemy upon killing the ladies.
5) Trash bags have a small chance to spawn a Large Medkit when destroyed.
6) Assault Trooper replacement possibly uses LameDuke sprites and uses the Corvus (Main Character) sounds from the video game Heretic. The constant "ha-ha" is the sound where player picks up a weapon and the death sound is...well, the player's death sound in that game (same death sound was later used as Cleric class in Hexen). Yes, the sounds get stale after a while. And now he fires a low damaging hitscan attack, though never drops ammo when killed (can still occasionally play dead though).
7) Pig Cop replacement (Rocket Guy) also uses LameDuke sprites but sounds seem to be borrowed from the Redneck Rampage's shotgun guy (at least when he notices you). As you can tell from the name, he launches rockets (same damage as a Commander's rocket) and although he no longer drops used shotgun, he still rarely drops used armor that can give 50 or 75 points, which is very helpful when you are running short on armor.
8) Enforcer replacement (Black Suit Guy) probably uses sprites from Tekwar but I'm not fully sure about that. Their attacks are a bit more damaging but they no longer drop weapon/ammo when killed.
9) Some weapons are changed/replaced (weapons 2, 4, 7 and 10).
10) Pistol is now replaced by MP5K, which you often saw in many other Duke mods/TCs (was also released separately as a mod), don't know if it does extra damage but it seems like the ammo is scarcer due to lack of ammo dropped by enemies, so use it wisely, mostly for sniping enemies from far away.
11) Chaingun is now Minigun, seems to be the result of mixing the Duke Chaingun with Doom Chaingun, plus the ammo pickup gives 75 and max ammo capacity is increased to 300.
12) Shrinker/Expander is now Electricity/Radiation Gun. As usual, press 7 twice to toggle between the fire modes. I believe sprites are from Tekwar with Duke hands added to them. The Radiation Gun seems to also have much higher ammo capacity (100 instead of 50).
13) Freezethrower is now Flamethrower. New sprite looks kinda ugly but it does damn good damage and kills enemies quickly. Max ammo capacity is also increased to 150.
14) There is a pre-installed version of Merc 2 that I should have linked in the first post: https://www.gamers.o.../merc2/m2md.zip

Here's the review of Merc 1 Episode 1!

FATAL REALITY

Your Apartment

First map begins in a nice small apartment. The objective here is to insert the Blue Disk, look at the monitor to see the mission description (message is quite unreadable at default resolution of 320x200), collect a bunch of goodies and exit the apartment.

There is one secret you can find: Near the TV, look on the left speaker and press a switch to open a nearby compartment. Press on the shelf to reveal Minigun + ammo.

Additionally, exploring the apartment gives you more weapons, armor and jetpack. So be sure to fully explore before exiting. A nice little intro map.


Suburban Slaughter

A city map that is a little bit complex, so be sure to explore.

One thing I appreciate at these maps is that the authors made sure the player won't get softlocked, so there are Jetpacks added at various points you drop down. You should already have a Jetpack collected from the first level but the extra Jetpacks are appreciated when going to explore further.

Although difficulty settings aren't implemented in this map, the difficulty is fine here, not too hard and not too easy either. Health pickups are a bit scarce (I only spotted like three large medkits) and I haven't seen a single armor pickup but with armor from previous level, it's no problem and once you find the bathroom, you can use the toilets to recover health when needed. Most of the time I spent with around 75 health/armor, so it wasn't that big of an issue but I still occasionally retreated to the bathroom when I couldn't find a medkit to restore health.

Sadly, I died once when I fell down the elevator shaft and randomly got squished due a stupid glitch. But wait, that's not the only annoying thing that happened. There are also two unreachable secrets in this map as well, as you will see below.

Secrets:
1) On the streets, fly with the Jetpack inside one of the windows to collect Electricity/Radiation Gun, 3x Radiation Ammo and Atomic Health.
2) On the subway, look for a hidden switch on a Cola Machine. Unfortunately, kicking/pressing the switch does nothing. It was supposed to reveal a nearby compartment but the door lacks the "Ceiling Door" tag, therefore the window doesn't open and secret is impossible to get without noclip. Secret would have contained: Portable Medkit, Armor, Shotgun and RPG.
3) At the end of the level, inside the Duke's Apartment, there is the same secret as the previous level but this time it contains nothing. Unfortunately, entering the room causes the level to end, so this empty secret is impossible to reach by any means.

Therefore, the maximum amount of secrets you can get in this map is 1/3. At least all 81 kills are possible to get.

Overall, this map was average but also quite disappointing due to not being able to access two secrets. I have a hard time to believe this wasn't noticed during testing. I can overlook "copy-pasting" the apartment and forgetting to remove the secret tag but why not make sure that subway secret also works properly? Oh and I think the apartment should have been enterable anyway.

As a fun fact, after using the final teleporter (point of no return), you can choose to exit the map by entering the apartment or by exiting the building. Both will lead you to the next level.


Compound of Death

This map definitely feels like Duke Zone at times and quite average, nothing special but also has some painful moments, like the maze filled with lava where even tapping the jump button won't help much, since you are walking on liquid surfaces which still drains your boots/health occasionally but nonetheless, it is essential to your survival, otherwise the lava will drain your boots/health quickly if you are walking on it.

On the bright side, you can find a few hidden goodies inside the lava, including ammo, armor, boots, health, etc. And using the Jetpack can also help to navigate the area but I recommend conserving the fuel just in case. Be sure to also find two secret areas inside the lava maze, though one of them just teleports you to the mapper's signature (no reward and quite pointless secret, it only helps you get 100% completion).

There is a point of no return when you take down an elevator near beginning, as there is an invisible wall which prevents backtracking...at least until the last parts of the map, so once you find the crack, you can return to the starting area and go back and collect armor and other stuff, as you may have wondered why you are given THREE armor pickups early on the map that you will not need right away.

Either way I appreciate you get the option to backtrack, especially with the help of Jetpack which can help you return to earlier areas after you dropped down the conveyor belt room. I'm also not sure what's with the progression, it ends with a Nuke Button and then you're suddenly inside the Apartment. As Slacker1 said, I suspect it's because there are multiple level designers involved. And looking up in Mapster, it seems to confirm that due to different signatures in some levels, while others have no signature at all.

Secrets:
1) At the beginning, in the large area with cacti, fly with the Jetpack on that opening and on your way down, you will find Atomic Health, Armor, Steroids, 3x Small Medkit and a bunch of enemies. The secret can also be reached later in the map by blowing up a crack and lets you backtrack to the beginning.
2) At the beginning, go behind the building to find a RPG sitting on a pedestal.
3) Inside the lava maze, there is a path that eventually leads to a room filled with barrels, Atomic Health, as well as Electricity Gun and 5x Radiation Gun Ammo.
4) Inside the lava maze, there is an unmarked wall you can open. It contains a teleporter that leads you to a small empty F-shaped room. There is no reward upon finding this secret.
5) Towards the end of the level, you will reach a large area filled with water and a moving boat. Go to the corner and fly with the Jetpack to find an Atomic Health.

In the end, the level was meh. Not as bad as I thought but still nothing groundbreaking.


Your Apartment

Back to your apartment. Restock on supplies and move on to the next mission.

The secret is same as before but this time it contains a couple more goodies: Minigun with ammo (same as before) and Electricity Gun with ammo.


Drug Bust

Level filename is DRUGRAID.MAP, so the map may have been meant to be called Drug Raid at some point during the development.

Although the map works fine in plain Duke3D v1.5 in DOSBox 0.74-3, the weird thing is that loading the map in Mapster32 seems to crash the program. I have absolutely no idea WHY this even happens but the map seems to be corrupted and Mapster re-saves it as DRUGRAID_crash.map, so when I look up this modified map, it seems like the walls are dark and stuff randomly re-arranged in the map, it was difficult to look up the last two secrets (I only found one by myself, which was the one in the bathroom). And even then, Mapster can still crash when looking at the re-saved map.

Anyway, the level is indeed inspired by The Abyss and it's not too difficult to make your way to the level, with two small exceptions. I had more trouble looking for that last enemy, could have sworn I had found the two missing enemies and when I saved in front of exit, I saw one enemy missing again, probably that damn haha guy played dead again and I didn't notice. Ended up backtracking and finally found him after 10 minutes or so of searching.

There are two points that can get you easily stuck and I found the solutions mentioned in the Addon Compilation's readme_hints.txt file (only in the Pre-Release 4.00 version of the compilation).
1) The first point is that there is a hint that tells you to blow up some TREES in order to access the Blue Disk. Slacker1 mentioned trying to blow up the motorcycle but that's not the intended solution and it's too bad he had to NOCLIP through the map, as it wasn't bugged at all. Seriously, you just blow up the trees with Pipebombs or Devastator or whatever and collect the blue key, no cheating required.
2) The second point is that later in the map, there is a SEVEN SWITCH puzzle! I got stuck here trying to solve the puzzle and looked up that hint file, the correct solution is to press four switches (2, 3, 6 and 7), this will unlock reactor room, which eventually leads to the exit.

Secrets:
1) At the beginning, after making through the sewers, use the jetpack and fly on the right side. You will arrive in a small cavern containing a few enemies, as well as Atomic Health and Shotgun. Now go through a fake wall and continue walking until you find a room filled with many goodies, including another Jetpack and weapons/ammo.
2) In front of the IMF Drug Facility, go to the corner in your right and go through a fake wall to find a Jetpack and 2x boxes of Pipebombs.
3) Inside the bathroom, look for a really tiny switch. Press/Shoot it to open a nearby compartment containing Portable Medkit and a box of Pipebombs.

Oh and at the end, Duke gets captured. If playing continuously, it is absolutely recommended to finish with 200 health, since next level starts you weaponless and it is quite tough to survive no matter what. Health is the only thing that transfers in this case, so you don't need to be resourceful with everything else because you end up losing everything anyway.

Overall, the level was average towards okay.


The Rock

Duke has to escape from prison and make his way to the end of the first episode. This won't be an easy task, since he starts weaponless.

There is a slight confusing progression (again I had to look up that hints file to see how to find the Blue Disk, which you had to Jetpack inside a vent) but also the level has significant lack of health/armor.

Even if I started the level with 200 health, I was down to 70 something by the time I got to the jail parts and while I did manage to get one lucky 75 armor drop, I still suffered at later parts of the map. Now, there are TWO Atomic Healths, one Portable Medkit and one Armor you can find in the map but outside of these, there aren't ANY other health pickups, at least until the very last room which contains many toilets that can be used to refill the health.

I'm not ashamed to admit I died plenty of times and I save-scummed with low health to get past the level because I saved those health pickups for the supposed boss fight at the end but this also made me start using the Flamethrower which kills enemies in like 2-3 hits. I was running short on ammo for the first three weapons, so I decided to use the bigger weapons and Flamethrower seemed the best pick.

Anyway, once you fly to a bathroom, you will find plenty of toilets to refill the health and expect a boss fight, right? Well, you kill a few Rocket Guys, refill your health, insert the Yellow Card near the Nuke Button to blow up the boss off-screen and then the episode ends. That's it, you don't have to do anything else. But hey, at least you get a new ending screen (no actual cutscene, just modified E1 screen), so props for that, I guess. Oh and there are no secrets to find.

Overall, I disliked this level due to scarcity of health and mediocre design. If I had known there is no proper boss (the Battlelord dies off-screen from the explosions generated where he is located in a box), I would have used the Medkit and the Atomic Health much earlier, so then I wouldn't have struggled with health that much.

Even though I had started with 200 health and got that used armor, I can't imagine how the level would have played with just 100 health and not getting an "early" armor from one of the Rocket Guys. Really could have used a few Large Medkits placed in some places because there were parts I couldn't avoid the damage and from what I noticed, the guys in black suits do slightly more damage than an Enforcer, plus some places had enemies ambushing you around corners and it was difficult to minimize the damage.

Although this doesn't affect 100% completion, there are two unreachable pickups: a box of pipebombs (near three shootable switches) and minigun ammo (located on a shelf, impossible to jump on top of it). Though ammo isn't that much of an issue if you use the bigger guns but I just felt like noting these mapping errors.


In the end, the first episode of MERC turned out a bit on the mediocre side, with some good parts, some annoying parts and a miserable final level. Hopefully the second episode is better. :)


For some reason the attachments/screenshots are not showing up. Probably because as of lately, there seems to be an error often showing up when making a post.

This post has been edited by FistMarine: 23 May 2024 - 01:40 AM

2

User is offline   slacker1 

#12

Nice review! Always fun to read other people's take on these levels. It's interesting we had almost opposite opinions on 'The Rock'. I wonder if it's because I was playing on Let's Rock instead of Come Get Some?

View PostFistMarine, on 23 May 2024 - 01:38 AM, said:

1) The first point is that there is a hint that tells you to blow up some TREES in order to access the Blue Disk. Slacker1 mentioned trying to blow up the motorcycle but that's not the intended solution and it's too bad he had to NOCLIP through the map, as it wasn't bugged at all. Seriously, you just blow up the trees with Pipebombs or Devastator or whatever and collect the blue key, no cheating required.


I had to go back and check this out!

I loaded it up in eduke and searched the whole level and blew up every tree and cactus and couldn't find it. There are two bugged sprites outside the sewer exit at the start so I thought maybe the blue key was bugged too in eduke given the map crashes mapster. I loaded it up in the plain old DOS version and checked. The two bugged sprites weren't there at the start which was interesting. I STILL couldn't find the key. It was just dumb luck I was turning around in one of those tight rock corners where I blew up a small group of trees/bushes that I saw it out of the corner of my eye. It's hidden in a little 'V' shaped spot you can only see from turning around where the trees were. I went back to eduke and, sure enough, it was there too.

Thanks for helping me find it. I'm glad to know the map is in fact beatable without cheating.
3

User is offline   FistMarine 

#13

Quote

Nice review! Always fun to read other people's take on these levels. It's interesting we had almost opposite opinions on 'The Rock'. I wonder if it's because I was playing on Let's Rock instead of Come Get Some?

Thanks man. I also enjoy reading other people's posts on many games/mods I play. And since I had never played these TCs before, I had to check them out and share my opinion as well.

I took a look at the ROCK.MAP in mapster, it seems like there is a significant difference between the skill levels, so I guess Let's Rock was a more relaxing experience. There are a couple enemies without any tags applied to them (these ones are present on all skills) but also a couple enemies tagged for skills 2, 3 and even 4. If CGS was quite frustrating, I can't imagine how the map would have been on DIG, if the enemies still respawned like vanilla Duke3D. :P

Quote

Thanks for helping me find it. I'm glad to know the map is in fact beatable without cheating.

No problem, glad to have helped. And yeah I should have specified you blow up the trees near the place you find that hint. I think the hint should have said "BLOW 'EM UP" in first place, then it wouldn't create any confusion. Though I'm more confused by why Mapster crashes when loading this map.

Anyway, I looked up to my attachments uploaded yesterday and it appears they were deleted in the meantime. Too bad about that, I guess that key error that started to appear as of lately erased my attachments, even if the pictures were uploaded successfully yesterday while I was finishing up my review. I guess I will re-upload the pictures now and post them right here, there were only 7 of them (one for each level and the E1 ending picture). Here they are:
Attached Image: MERC_APARTM1.pngAttached Image: MERC_SUBSLAT.pngAttached Image: MERC_COMOFD.png
Attached Image: MERC_APARTM2.pngAttached Image: MERC_DRUGRAID.pngAttached Image: MERC_ROCK.png
Attached Image: MERC_E1_END.png

Now here is the E2 review and nominations for next month, since we are one week away from the end of the month. ;)

INTO THE CITY

Your Apartment

Once again, we begin inside the Duke's apartment. Grab the stuff to prepare for the next mission.

Secret is the same as before. This time it contains a Flamethrower with some extra ammo.

In The Gutter

Nice city styled map that starts inside a bowling alley. Gameplay is quite challenging at times but there's plenty of health to be found if you look carefully (if not, you can always drink from one of the water sources that you can find) and if you are lucky, you can get multiple armor pickups dropped by the rocket guys.

Progression can be a bit strange at times, as you need to look for multiple access disks and the switches you need to insert them to.

The Red Disk that is inserted at the Duke News, unlocks a nearby door that was already unlocked earlier, as you pick up a Yellow Disk behind that door. Not sure why the progression is strange but at least it has no side effect on the gameplay, so level can be completed normally.

I was able to find nearly half of secrets just by myself and then found the rest with help of Mapster.

Secrets:
1) At the very beginning, press on the right wall to find a hidden room containing Minigun and 3x ammo. Watch out for the hiding Rocket Guy!
2) Near the entrance of the Bowl-O-Rama, there is a hidden vent you can access which eventually leads to an Atomic Health.
3) Near the cola machine where you can collect the Blue Disk, there is a wall you can press and reach a place that contains NOTHING!
4) At the cinema, jump through the HOT poster to collect a RPG.
5) Jump behind the mailboxes to find a fake wall containing a box of Pipebombs in the right side. Then go to left side to find a hidden elevator containing Minigun, Large Medkit and NVGs.
6) Inside the strip club, there is a fake wall you can go through to collect a Shotgun.
7) Before reaching the corridor with the rotating pillar and the reactor, go through the white wall to find an Electric Gun.
8) Near the secret above, jump through the MELTDOWN monitor to find RPG ammo.
9) When collecting the Blue Disk inside the bathroom, open the cupboard and go through until you find a Trip Bomb (weapon).

Overall, a noticeable improvement over the first episode, although suffers from height variation and slightly confusing progression. Hope the rest of the second episode keeps up the same quality.

Matinee Maul

Another interesting city map, including locations like a cinema and a post office. The interiors of the cinema actually reminded me more of Chex Quest 2's cinema level, not sure why but I found the layout more similar to said game rather than Duke3D's first level.

Oh yeah and be careful at the various trip mine/explosion traps in this level. As Slacker1 has said, there are a few nasty traps but I was lucky I survived that explosion in bathroom thanks to having plenty of health. And much like previous level, I had a few moments I was running a little short on health but I was able to make it without dying.

I also did much better at secret hunting than previous level, as I found 7 secrets by myself, the rest two had to look up Mapster and turned out to be the last ones in order as well. :P

Only problem is I didn't realize there were only three Atomic Healths available on CGS (there's a few more on DIG), so I picked up two of them at some point and when I was backtracking for grabbing all stuff before exiting, I only found one more remaining and finished with 150 health (I tend to finish levels with 200 health, to have a much easier time in next level). Still good to have some extra health for the next level.

Secrets:
1) Near the cinema entrance, there is a crack you can blow up. Inside, you can find two guys in suits, as well as Armor and Steroids.
2) Inside the sewers, there is a crack you can blow up. Inside, you can find a Portable Medkit.
3) Inside the bathroom, there is a crack you can blow up. Inside, you can find 3x Radiation ammo.
4) Inside the cinema halls, there is a Fire Extinguisher. Blow it up to reveal an Atomic Health.
5) Near the post office, there are many water fountains. Dive in the water (make sure you have a Scuba Gear) and go along the long underwater tunnel. Eventually, you will reach a small cave with some sharks. Kill them and resurface to find 2x Small Medkits and Devastator with extra ammo.
6) Near the post office, there is a pillar you can blow up. Inside you can find 2x Electric Gun ammo.
7) Inside the post office, after opening the safe, there is a big crack. Blow it up to access a shortcut to the main street and collect 2x RPG ammo.
8) Inside the cinema, go through the BYTE-NYTE poster and collect 2x Shotgun ammo and Flamethrower ammo.
9) Near the cinema entrance and first secret, blow up one of the ATM machines and jump inside to collect Shotgun ammo.

Overall, this was another nice level and I especially enjoyed blowing up that building towards the end.

Your Apartment

Back to the apartment and the last of the Apartment maps in this mod/TC. Grab the goodies and prepare for the last level before the boss fight.

Secret is same as before but this time it contains a non-usable RPG from LameDuke and some Radiation Gun ammo. Oh yeah, I haven't mentioned but some of the maps contain this RPG pickup that you can't use. I don't understand why is this non-functional weapon included anyway. But according to the sprite it replaces, it replaces the Expander pickup which was also non-functional in original game, so most likely this pickup was a mistake and mapper should have put Electric Gun.

Big Guns

The penultimate map is quite challenging at times as I actually died three times, mostly because of those damn pig tanks that decided to turn around while I was getting behind them and lost a lot of health but I also got killed by lightning and a rocket guy because I was low on health early on. Yeah, I managed to lose all that health from the first couple of enemies, damn it. This actually confirms the pistol replacement does more damage overall, if the hitscanners also do slightly more damage.

However, don't get discouraged by some annoying parts because this level contains TONS of health, ammo and armor pickups. You can find some very rewarding secrets inside the building, plus the occasional cluster with Atomic Health, medkits or containers filled with many weapon pickups. And if you managed to find the Super Secret, you will pretty much finish the level with Full Everything and ready to destroy the final boss. I found most secrets by myself, I think only two I had to look in Mapster to find.

Oh and one of the doors towards the end is glitched, when you open it, you can see the brick texture from one side but you can still walk through the door normally. And also, if you wish to backtrack, upon teleporting to the room with big switch, DON'T press it until you are fully ready. Once you press it, the previous teleporter is blocked and the exit teleporter is now opened. Afterwards, step into the exit and prepare for the final level!

Secrets:
1, 2, 5 and 6 just require you to blow up cracks inside the warehouses and collect a whole bunch of atomic health/weapons contained inside the boxes.
3) Near beginning, blow up the crack in front of XXX-Stacy's Video Productions to access a room with a dead guy. There is a shelf you can open to reveal Shotgun with lots of extra ammo.
4) After taking teleporter #2, there is the second warehouse which contains a few secrets but one of the harder ones requires you to jump on an invisible glass and then go through the fake wall to collect 4x Atomic Health, Armor, Portable Medkit.
7) Inside the first warehouse, go to the top of the boxes and look for a bright wall. Open it to access a secret room containing Shotgun with extra ammo, Armor and Portable Medkit.
8) Inside the first warehouse, there is a conveyor belt and a box of Pipebombs. All you have to do is throw a pipebomb on it and wait a few seconds, then detonate it when you are sure it reached the other room. The walls will be broken and will let you access a room containing LOTS OF STUFF: all weapons with lots of ammo, many health pickups, armor and a couple inventory items.

Overall, the level was a bit annoying and bland and doesn't seem to have put much effort into difficulty settings (only difference seems to be the pig cop tanks, more of them appear on higher skills) but had some cool stuff going on, especially the explosions at the very end and the setup required to get that Super Secret, seeing as other 2000s mappers have used similar setups involving puzzles with Pipebombs. Plus the difficulty of the level is mostly trivialized by the very rewarding secrets, so the frustrating moments don't last long.

Final Confrontation

Short boss fight against a Giant Robot that replaces Cycloid Emperor. Just circle strafe with the Devastator and you will easily win. That's all.

Oh and much like E1, there is no new cutscene but instead there is a cool new ending graphic with Duke standing near the defeated robot.

Here are the E2 screenshots (including the E2 ending screen and the exit screen when quitting the game).
Attached Image: MERC_APARTM3.pngAttached Image: MERC_BOWL.pngAttached Image: MERC_MATINEE.png
Attached Image: MERC_APARTM4.pngAttached Image: MERC_BIG_GUNS.pngAttached Image: MERC_BOSS.png
Attached Image: MERC_E2_END.pngAttached Image: MERC_END.png

In the end, the second episode of MERC is a slight improvement over the first one. I appreciate what the authors have done with this TC, it shows signs of greatness and plenty of creative ideas. I especially like how you get new ending screens, that's appreciated because most other TCs just leave the original Duke cutscenes/ending screens intact.

But much like many other Duke3d TCs released in late 90s, they haven't aged very well, as the level design shows at times and many maps feel like the typical user maps quality you downloaded back then. Though the maps themselves are slightly above average in terms of quality, at least most of them are, that's for sure.

While I was initially disappointed with the first proper level having two unreachable secrets, I was surprised to see the rest of the mod does not have such bugs, so you can get all kills and secrets without any problem. It is quite common for TCs to have a bugged level where it cannot be 100%'ed but I also understand back in the day most people didn't bother going for 100% completion.

Unfortunately, there are also many other bugs, glitches and mapping errors, such as the new enemies sprites sometimes changing to old aliens (this only happened towards the end and only some frames looked like they weren't replaced properly), wrong RPG pickup included at times or the occasional brick texture appearing in some places, at least in the penultimate level with that glitched door. And probably more bugs I can't remember now.

At the end of the day, I recommend checking out the TC once just to see what it's about. I have hopes the sequel turns out much better and with less bugs, hopefully.

Also a fun note but it seems like Merc was finished/released just around same time as HeXeN II (on 4th September 1997, if we compare the date of the files).

I will play/review Merc 2 and Murder in the following week, hopefully can do everything in time before the end of the month.

In meantime, here are nominations for the next month:

Maps by Various Authors
NAM (Build Engine Game)


Maps by various authors consist of maps by Alan Page (3 maps), C3PO (5 maps), Daniel Aashage (5 maps), James Duncan (4 maps), Mike Beaulieu (3 maps). 20 maps in total so far. If people want, we can add Forge's maps (4 maps) into the mix as well, since they were proposed previously, so this means 24 maps in total. What are people's opinions on this choice? I just want to know before the month ends, so I can prepare the new topic on 31st May in case this wins, as I may be away in early June, so I want to have the new topic up just in case.

As for the second choice, NAM is a Build Engine Game released on June 1998. It was proposed a year or two ago and it didn't win, so I will nominate it again to spice things up, though it will most likely not win this time either, so in July I will have something else prepared in its place, mostly two other Duke3d TCs coupled together.

I am not voting just yet because I am not fully decided. There will be enough time to vote next week. As usual, you add a + next to your choice and highlight it in bold.

Have a nice weekend everyone! :)

EDIT: Looks like the screenshots are up this time. But I also had to reupload them once more because I got signed out once while I pressed submit and it seems like the attachments become unavailable. I guess the forum has now a timelimit and you get signed out automatically, so I will know from now on.

This post has been edited by FistMarine: Yesterday, 02:55 AM

1

User is offline   quakis 

#14

View PostFistMarine, on 24 May 2024 - 02:46 AM, said:

In meantime, here are nominations for the next month:

++ Extend this months choices and carry over Murder/PyP into June, seeing as this month's thread has been on the quiet side and only Merc 1 & 2 have been covered so far as we near the end.

This might just be me but something else to consider; Should the per monthly choices be trimmed down a small bit, just to give more breathing room for playing/commenting? This month's full lineup was quite daunting (for me anyway) if you need time to play and write. Maybe something around the range of 1 map for every 2/3 days to play and comment within (roughly 10-15 maps total for the month). Thoughts?
1

User is offline   Forge 

  • Speaker of the Outhouse

#15

View Postquakis, on 24 May 2024 - 05:17 AM, said:

++ Extend this months choices and carry over Murder/PyP into June, seeing as this month's thread has been on the quiet side and only Merc 1 & 2 have been covered so far as we near the end.

This might just be me but something else to consider; Should the per monthly choices be trimmed down a small bit, just to give more breathing room for playing/commenting? This month's full lineup was quite daunting (for me anyway) if you need time to play and write. Maybe something around the range of 1 map for every 2/3 days to play and comment within (roughly 10-15 maps total for the month). Thoughts?

^ this
1

User is offline   DNSKILL5 

  • Honored Donor

#16

I feel it should be a bit more downscaled, yes. Personally, I like it most when the month covers a specific person's contributions instead of chunks of time or themes, but that's just me.
1

User is online   JacketAU 

#17

View PostDNSKILL5, on 24 May 2024 - 04:18 PM, said:

I feel it should be a bit more downscaled, yes. Personally, I like it most when the month covers a specific person's contributions instead of chunks of time or themes, but that's just me.


Personally I agree with this, it does sound like a more personalized and nice approach, especially considering this community is admittedly not huge, although it rightfully should be :P

I'd love to collaborate and be a part of this project and the community in general in the long term as well. Since joining the forums again I've seen some interesting projects mentioned and I hope to see plenty more creative endeavours!
1

User is offline   Aleks 

#18

I agree with Quakis, would be nice to just extend this month's choices for another one as most stuff didn't really get covered anyway. Personally, I've been very busy with work stuff and didn't get much time to play - and when I did, I was finishing FMX4, as it felt weird to leave one episode out... I haven't played either MERC, but they've been sitting on my... various data devices for about 25 years, so it's high time for that I guess. However, I've played Murder earlier this year for the first time and must say I was positively impressed. I won't go into that much details, just skipped through the levels once again to better remind myself which was which and will comment more generally.

Introduction: This TC has a pretty elaborate story which is surprisingly decent and plays like an 80s action movie in a way. It's also one of the very few TCs where, instead of aliens/mutants/robots, Duke kills real people! The enemies are really well made, there's few variants of SWAT and armoured grunts with various guns (including one that shoots the octablast), a "nazi" looking officer that shoots green projectiles, Doom marine, RPG drones and a mech boss/miniboss. They can pack quite some heat too. There are also new guns, which are more "down to earth" than Duke's regular arsenal - pistol is replaced with an assault rifle, chaingun for a minigun, RPG for a grenade launcher, shrinker for a machine gun, devastator has new graphics and freezer for a flamethrower/lava thrower that apparently sets enemies into burning molten statues that shatter after a bit (apparently it also freezes the RPG drones). The level design is definitely another forte of the TC, as they are way above what you'd expect from something done in the 1998.

Scene of the Crime
The first level starts in an appartment/office that is ambushed by SWAT - and since your arsenal is still very limited and these guys pack quite some heat, the beginning might be quite difficulty and will require moving slowly and using various tactics. The level takes place in a city - which has a couple of typical locations (including an EDF warehouse where a protector drone is kept - only regular DN3D enemy present in the whole TC). The layout is quite good and the design is fine, but could use better shading. Mostly regular DN3D textures are used with only a few minor additions, like the SWAT van textures.

Rating: 76/100

Into the Sewer
Another city level that has a mall and some other locations. The sewer has some nasty traps that can one-hit kill you. It's slightly weaker than the first level.

Rating: 75/100

EDF Headquarters
Now this one is much better, we get a hang of all the guns here as Duke goes through some experimental labs and the design/architecture are definitely improved. The last room even has some fancy layered shadows! I like how the visual storytelling really picks up here as well.

Rating: 82/100

RUN!
This is just a very short level where we escape the burning, exploding and collapsing EDF base from the previous level. Nice idea, but it's all over below a single minute.

Rating: 71/100

Comm Station
Desert/military base kind of level. It starts over the destroyed base and takes us through various facilities, though tends to drag a bit towards the end.

Rating: 80/100

EDF Orbital Defense Network
This time, we go to space to disable some of the evil EDF's planetary weapons that could be used to benefit the alien invasion. It's probably the best level in the whole TC, with fast pacing and a strong "mission" sense. It's also quite challenging.

Rating: 84/100

Cliffs
We're back to Earth. The level takes us around, well, cliffs. It's layout reminds me a bit of the first part of Yukon Duke from The Gate, where we travel along some canyon. There are some really well designed sector helicopters right at the beginning that are probably the design highlight of the whole TC. The map is straightforward - maybe even too straightforward - and I'm not a big fan of the bunkers towards the end which seem a bit cramped/repetitive.

Rating: 82/100

Robotics Facility
Solid level which takes place in quite a large and open military/industrial plant. There seem to be more than just one way to get around as everything is strongly interconnected, just watch out not to wake too many enemies at once.

Rating: 81/100

Final Confrontion
Besides the error/typo in the title, it's a solid and very straightforward boss level where we just get to fight the boss - and it's quite a decent fight due to the boss being fairly tough and the nicely shaped surroundings.

Rating: 80/100

There are also 4 DM levels, two of which also include enemies. Msquad.map is quite heavily populated, mostly with Doom marines, and could be decent for a DM spiced up with monsters, but it doesn't seem to have any reasonable progression/ending. Mines.map is fully playable in SP and probably wouldn't really work in DM, but it's also a very weak map so it's understandable it was left out of the main episode as it would be significantly sub-par to the rest of the levels.
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