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Level Review: DODEAD.WAD
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Overview

Not since Sean Birkel's Fava Beans has there been an episode that so perfectly captured Romero's Military Base style, until now. Jan Van der Veken's Dawn of the Dead is a brilliant set of levels that not only equals Fava Beans, but surpasses it. The levels range in size from small to large, with good item placement throughout and design as close to realistic as I've ever seen in DooM. If you've been looking for an Ultimate DooM episode that's worth downloading, look no further.


Warp Station 1:18
Easy
This Military Base greets you at the beginning of your journey. It could've come straight from Ultimate DooM. A small, great beginning to the episode... images/dod_01.jpg

The Reactor 5:00
Easy
A significant increase in length and resistance over the last level. The layout is intricate, requiring a good deal of backtracking, and the action is nonstop for most of the level. A fair number of monsters make this one take longer than most levels of its size. There're additional monsters when passing through previous areas, but it could use a few more to keep the pace up... images/dod_02.jpg

Space Port 8:11
Medium
Another Base level and even longer than the last one. There's tons of ground to cover and no shortcuts to aid in backtracking. Getting 100% Kills is particularly annoying if you want to use the secret exit; fortunately, you don't have to actually use the secret exit to get 100% Secrets. The level design is excellent and helps to make the long trip enjoyable; lighting is especially good in several places. The Knee-Deep in the Dead style seen in the first two levels has some elements of The Shores of Hell mixed in with it here. There're plenty of monsters to keep you occupied and several clever secrets to find; the switch that can be used twice is original. There's also a teleporter near the secret exit that will kill you. It's the one with the strobing light and a sign on the back. Just thought I'd warn you... images/dod_03.jpg

Atmospheric Processor 5:33
Easy
If you ask me, Sewage Processor might be a more fitting title. The level design mixes Base, TechLab and Slime quite effectively, while still fitting in with the previous levels. The gameplay feels slightly different, however. The resistance is on par with what we've already experienced, but there's not as much backtracking, making the action a bit more consistent... images/dod_04.jpg

Fortress of Hate 6:17
Hard
An excellent level in the same style as Excalibur and The Citadel. The crates and occasional computer panel look a bit out of place in a stone castle, but the design is otherwise superb. It's also one of the more difficult levels in the episode, having just enough ammo to make it through. It does have a Berserk Pack, though, which makes it a great deal of fun. Of course, if you can punch pretty well, this isn't that tough. If you don't want to punch everything there's a specific route choice to stretch your ammo supply: in the center area, opposite the Red Key, there's a Backpack and a few Clips. Instead of picking those up when you get the Red Key, wait until you've finished the rest of the level. A group of monsters will teleport in and you'll use a fair amount of ammo disposing of them... images/dod_06.jpg

Death Awaits 7:41
Hard
Death most certainly awaits those who aren't careful in this tough level. Designed with lots of Brown and Wood textures and an excellent layout with some clever secrets. It also has the best lighting in the episode, next to Hunted Down. You'd do well to punch a good number of the monsters, as you don't want to run out of ammo before you defeat the episode's only killable Cyberdemon. Remember that once you drop beyond the Blue Key barrier you can't come back, so aim carefully after you've passed that point... images/dod_07.jpg

At the Heart of It All 2:08
Easy
Not the greatest of levels, but it more than lives up to the standard of Phobos Anomaly. The texture usage is a little eclectic for my taste (and there's another out of place computer panel), though it still manages to be fairly cohesive. The final battle in the arena is a let-down, with too few monsters for such a large area. There are four Cyberdemons that can't be killed... images/dod_08.jpg

Hunted Down 3:55
Easy
Very similar, in style, to Fear, with a great layout and fast gameplay, plus some of the best lighting I've ever seen. There's lots of lead flying around, so keep an eye on your health. There are two unmarked secrets which compliment each other. One contains a Radiation Suit and is revealed by shooting a switch. The other is the lake of acid with a Soulsphere, a Chaingun, a Backpack and some ammo, which can be accessed via a small step in the Northwest corner of the courtyard... images/dod_09.jpg