Wad Name

Version

Type

Map(s)

Mitnal

Doom 2 ZDoom

Single Player

1

Author

Reviewer

Reviewed

Bob Larkin

No Poet

15/03/2004

Playability

Visual

Difficulty

Download

Demo

7/10

9/10

Medium 

Mitnal on DWS 

 


This is one of the last maps I reviewed for my ill-starred site Pray for Death.

Mitnal is a journey to the darkest level of Mayan Hell, where the UAC established a computer base for some reason. This isn't exactly a sequel to the successful map Bloodworks which is Bob Larkin's crowning achievement so far - but it carries on Bob's tradition of producing stylish fully 3D wads which urinate on the opposition from a great height.

This map can only be played on Ultra Violence. Weaker players need not apply.


Playability

Bugs and Issues

7/10

Low to medium powered machines created in the bronze age may suffer slowdown due to extensive 3D effects. Get a new computer, there are 3 GHz processors in stores now!

Although it could be argued that Mitnal is sold on its high difficulty level, I didn't have any problems beating the map, and I'm not a Doom God. I found there to be enough health to keep me over half strength most of the time. It isn't fair to call this map easy though. Less experienced players and people who haven't played Bloodworks may not be prepared for Bob's bag of tricks, which include all-round assaults from every angle. Word of advice: don't play Fava Beans then expect Mitnal to be as predictable.

Ammo was fairly tight for the most part, especially for the plasma rifle which should be used sparingly! Don't fire it all off at the first monster to amble round the corner like yours truly did, ahem. The situation ain't too dire though. Every so often I'd come across a cluster of bonuses which saw me through the next battle with some change. Overall the balance is just right. You can't stick with the powerful weapons and sail through the map.

The enemy mix is fairly broad. Most of the monsters make an appearance at least once with Spectres unfortunately seeming to be the prevalent enemy. In a dark map this can be quite annoying. Happily Bob is a considerate map builder and he places plenty of lighting effects in each area to give us some forewarning of an attack. A number of Chaingunners attack from everywhere at each stage of the level. Some well-aimed return fire from your own chaingun is the best way to despatch them.

On a number of occasions monsters who were attacking from one side spontaneously beamed to a short distance behind me. It may be a shot in the arm for the difficulty level. A lack of powerful opponents means there is something lacking in the challenge quotient. Thanks to my cat-like agilities, this trick never caught me out, but it can make the fight more interesting than would otherwise be the case. It's good that the creatures don't rematerialise within touching distance where their attacks would do an unfair amount of damage but here's a decent idea: when a monster spontaneously disappears, it's time to practice your jogging.

The environment can be fairly dangerous. There's a crusher room of the sort that gives me nightmares. Nukage is also about though it can all be avoided without losing any health. The most worrying moment comes when jumping across silver platforms suspended over a pitch-black void. This is a truly tense moment.

On balance the gameplay is good fun, possibly lacking the outright astonishment value of some of Alien Vendetta's better offerings but remaining original for a Doom wad.

The new music is actually quite good. Good replacement music in a Doom 2 wad? Yet again, something to outclass the competition!


Visuals

Screen Shots

9/10

There are plenty of cool things to keep your attention. Bob Larkin is the only Doom mapper who consistently incorporates a lot of 3D effects into his maps. This makes his maps come alive. They're practically interactive, in a way no amount of Fava Beans switch-pushing could be. You'll be pleased to know that Bob went on a 3D bonanza here. It's nice to revisit the same areas of the map from a different perspective; here you'll clang along walkways which overshoot rooms littered with the corpses of monsters you were down there fighting just five minutes ago.

The lighting is very attractive in certain areas, notably the dark rooms where Spectres lurk. I usually hate fighting Spectres in the dark. But this is Bob Larkin we're talking about. When he builds a level he seems to envision it as a living, breathing place, and he must see the potential battles playing out in his head: this translates very well in Mitnal. Facing monsters coming at you through strips of shadow and light is cinematic to say the least.

One very cool moment involved jumping from platform to platform above a silent void. I was genuinely on the edge of my seat: not only did I expect to go flying off one of the ledges after a misjudged leap, I was bracing myself for a barrage of Lost Souls or some other cheap trick which fortunately didn't happen. It was like being back in Half-Life - but you can rest assured that unlike this legendary Doom rip-off, Mitnal doesn't consist of climbing through pipes and balancing on window ledges for 95% of the time.

The computer station area which you will discover in the last quarter of the map has become corrupted, with computer screens displaying arcane symbols and simple threats like "Die!" There is something disturbing about the thought of an emotionless utility - which is such an intimate part of our everyday lives - suddenly turning against us in this way.

There are some negatives. I felt the use of textures was sometimes erratic. With so many areas each with their own unique theme, the map doesn't come across as being wholly integrated, and the sudden jump from one theme to the next jars slightly. A couple of areas are pretty bland such as the grey stone area in which a bridge and walkway cross over a river of blood. This area didn't have as much detail as it might sound, and although this is personal preference, I don't like the stone texture as I think it looks out of place when used with other Doom 2 textures.

So I couldn't give this map top points. However, it richly deserves a silver medal, so it's getting a 9 out of 10.


The Verdict

It's above average entertainment. With respect to visual appeal, it's...well, it's a Bob Larkin wad, and to me that is a guarantee of high quality. Although this technical style of wad isn't to everyone's liking I find it massively superior to the tired E1 rip offs which - and let's be fair - tend to flounder in the wake of E1M1.

The journey into the new frontier of wad making has been painfully slow. Since playing Bloodworks I've felt that Bob is ahead of the Doom Community in this regard. He's already out there carving a piece of the future for himself. Bob's consistent, intelligent application of 3D techniques to create a genuinely frightening environment makes this map a welcome change from those thousands of maps which are still ten years behind the times.

I do think Bloodworks said it better - though that is simply personal preference. Bloodworks and Mitnal are pretty similar in most regards so take your pick!