Sunday, May 25, 2014


by Eddie Nguyen

DIOPATRA is the third map in Eddie Nguyen's UCA series, which started with UCA and moved on to TALPOIDA before moving on to this. They're all single maps released for Doom in 1994; this one occupies the E2M3 slot as they're meant to be played consecutively with carryovers. The previous two levels had voluminous .TXT backstories. Here, Nguyen is savvy enough to realize that, since the story hasn't changed much (you're still trying to blow up a "pulse cannon" that is capable of destroying the ship you hope will rescue you and any other UAC fleet vessel), he should skip the setup. Instead, he talks about his choice of monsters, what the map's design is, and how much harder it is than the previous levels for a pistol start.

What Eddie - and I - will tell you right out of the gate is that Diopatra is mazy. It is a big, underground red rock maze. It's not a straight-lined maze, thank God, but it is a maze. Take that as you will. The upshots - no dead ends, really. Also some areas are gated off at specific positions, like the yellow key door getting you across the river of fire, and Nguyen has good enough sense to cram some non-cavern sections in a few spots, like the lake of fire plasma rifle puzzle to the northeast or bright marble facade toward the level's southwest. If you don't care for navigating a network of dark, red rock caverns, though, this map will probably not make you a believer.

That isn't helped by the combat, either. Nguyen is a firm believer of fair combat, and in this setting, he creates a dearth of imps and spectres. Now, I'm happy with the absence of spectres, as they're usually a cheap shot at the player, but anyone who can't handle imps in the dark is beyond help when it comes to Doom. Instead, you spend a lot of your time killing zombies, but mostly imps and cacodemons, using the shotgun, and if you brought the chaingun over, that too. Hopefully you grab the plasma rifle on your way, because I'm pretty sure there won't be one in the next entry. The map is the real obstacle, here, but except for a few isolated bits of progression, it's hard to get caught up on anything.

DIOPATRA takes the UCA series to a different place yet again, and while I'm not exactly a fan of mazes themselves (I prefer rooms that together leaves a maze-like layout), DIOPATRA has a better delivery than most that I've seen. I guess that's faint praise, especially when directed toward players that hate poorly-featured labyrinths, but that's the crux of Diopatra. Take it as you will. Interesting side note: I was informed that the random patches of lava you see while roaming the tunnels are, funnily enough, type 11 damage floors, aka you will exit if you fall below 11% health while in one. I didn't run into this myself, but I checked it out, and it's definitely true. Not every patch of lava will kick you to the next map, but they do exist.


This post is part of a series on
Eddie Nguyen's Uca series


No comments:

Post a Comment