Jun 10, 2015


Score - 4.33 / 6
- I have to say that "Helpyourselfish" is much like a sweet looking, tall blond woman with a perfect body

Chris "Cooper" Hansen is a well known and highly prolific map author, credited with a large variety of releases all through the 2k's. Hansen might be best remembered for his fantastic "CH Retro Episode" and his co-authorship on "2002 A Doom Odyssey"

As for the oddly titled "Helpyourselfish", it was released back in 2003, and as such is one of his earlier offerings. This complex and violent creation became an unexpected challenge, since we recently also enjoyed blasting through his Retro Episode. Expecting similar resistance and complexity, you could say we didn't realize what we were getting into, and it consequently involved getting totally stuck, as well as having our collective asses handed to us several times before exiting...

The level replace Doom II Map01, and have no new textures except a well executed orange sky. A limit removing sourceport is required.

Hunsagers' Summary and score:
This map have you starting in a square area outside a base or some sort of a warehouse. There is a guard tower and some cages hanging in the air accompanied by a lot of instant action. If you're not a quick thinker, you will probably die in this first scene. Two windows let you peek at a supercharge, but apart from that, you don't get any idea of the size of this structure and what lies inside. It's a big map with a lot of rooms and hallways, partly connected to outdoor yards and areas. It looks great, very nice and realistic with a high level of detail. The architecture is delicious, with symmetrical windows, rectangles and shapes. Naturally, some of the rooms are initially locked off so you have to search for keys and switches and try to figure out how to access them. The hallways are filled with monsters and the difficulty is high.

The route in this map is too difficult in my opinion. You have to cross from room to room and often return to a previous section to flip a new switch, while wondering what it might did. The size of the structure and the large number of switches makes it a bit too complex to figure out where to go, even though the building is cool and nice looking.

We had great difficulties accessing the teleporter in the northwest tower and then we were transported to a small room at the other end of the map, close to the section with the yellow key. After the teleportation, we we were supposed to cross the hallway and locate a tiny switch in the smallish room with the green slime. We had already visited this enclosure before, but how could we assume the revelation of a new switch in that section, after crossing an invisible linedef? Since we didn't see it, we searched around through the entire map like crazy and kept looping it. All the action and fun was over - where were we supposed to go? We want to kill monsters not stroll empty hallways! In frustration, we decided to figure it out using Doombuilder, something that took us a while regardless, because of the size and the complexity of it all. (Some would say this counts as cheating, I guess. And we don't feel too proud about it...but this is a complex map...).

This magical switch raised some steps that made it possible to access the section in the southeast - with the supercharge we saw in the very start, as mentioned earlier. Finally progressing again, we slayed more monsters in between searching around for yet more switches and jumping a few teleporters. Eventually we ended up back in the beautiful looking blue key room and it was now possible to access the key.

Behind the blue key door lays a spooky underground section with dark rooms and ambushes. After a set of narrow stairs, you come back to the room with the teasing yellow key on its pillar. Now, it's finally lowered and you can run across a tiny pillar to get it.

The section behind the yellow key door is the last part and it's a linear ride through the mountains, leading to a gigantic circular arena with a cyber, a Spider Master-mind and some cacodemons. A good, large map should always have a start, a middle and an end - this would be the grand finale. This is the last epic battle where it all ends - as soon as you manage to take down those bastards! It'is a worthy closure to this large and complex map, and very memorable.

There is such a buildup in this map, its obvious a lot of effort was applied by the author. This is certainly not half-done, but maybe it's a slight overkill? I have to complain about the path to the exit. I think the lesson here is simple: An advanced route involving switch-hunts when you are teleporting the player around, isn't a good idea. The teleporting won't necessarily function as logical shortcuts and easily confuse the player. I guess I have to question if this is a good way of using them, as applied in this map. Contrasting this, there are two good examples of teleporters though, I will give the author that; when you finally get that yellow key you are instantly teleported back to the dark basement, and a group of barons are now transported in, again making it a brutal battle scene. Earlier on, in the same section, when you can spot the supercharge in a the narrow corridor, running for it will telepeort you back, releasing a nasty ambush in the process. What a nice way to trick the player - as he naturally runs to snatch it he is quickly paying for his actions.

At the end of it, my conclusion would be: Since aesthetics are top-notch and nearly as good as it gets, there is no reason for me to not grant it the full 6 points in this category. They route progression is too complicated, but, hey! This is a level containing a lot of snacks, so I will give it a 5 on layout. The gameplay disappoints though. At times it was too tough, and because of the route problems the fun and action came to an abrupt halt for us, so I'm only gonna grant it 3 points there.

I have to say that "Helpyourselfish" is much like a sweet looking, tall blond woman with a perfect body and an advanced brain. She is much too complicated for you, so don't expect to figure her out. What you see is not what you get. You can look at her perfectly hot body, but this honey is out of your league. Her interests are not booze and disco dancing, instead she prefers German philosophy and psychoanalysis. So, if you have never heard about Hegel and Schopenhauer, or aren't capable of discussing Nietzsche and Freud (in German, of course!) she will never be yours. There is no love or passion here for you. So, although it isn't that fun to converse with her, just take a tour on "nomonsters", and look at all her nice, sexy details. Even though she is middle-aged, everybody has to admit that she is a real beauty.

Aesthetics: 6/6 - Layout: 5/6 - Gameplay: 3/6 - My score: 4.66 / 6 (Awarded points: 14/18)

Johnsens' Summary and score:
Hansen obviously went in editing mode high on testosterone with this one. To navigate through it the first time is reminiscent of trying to complete an average map in Eternal Doom, just way more hardcore on the gameplay.

The first area you're greeted with seem to pretty much sum up the maps theme; brown and grey bricks surrounded by lava and white rock, accompanied by a beautiful orange sky. We didn't have much time to let the mood set though - behind us a nasty guard tower and two abstract looking floating cages with chaingunners eagerly peppered us into scramble mode. The super shotgun was luckily close by, allowing us to bite back.

Flipping the switch lowered a set of stairs, revealing a nicely lit hallway which somewhat abrupt and oddly ended in a shaft, dropping us into the next part of the map. I'm unsure what I think of the drop and the teleporter shortcut which bring you back up, it seems a weird choice structurally so early on in an otherwise well constructed base.

The 2nd hallway you get to is a beauty, as the tall, differently textured windows contribute to a moody setting, casting shadows on the floor and walls. Hansen really have a good eye for proper scale and solid texturing and showcase a knack for excellent use of smooth lighting, all contributing to a great atmosphere. Again though, one can not stick around for long to enjoy the sights, as we were attacked from all sides; roaming arachnotrons and imps and caged cacos all make the first patch a rough stretch.

Since the door to the right greeted us with the need for a red key, we had to take a left, thus passing a great looking section with the yet inaccessible yellow key - an area you will visit many times. Said area let you peak into a very cool looking secret lava-garden with a tempting plasma gun on a ledge, one we eventually managed to snag by teleportation. The structuring and the height differences, the light levels and the eye catching yellow key makes this a most memorable section to behold.

Flipping a switch in the yellow key room removed a set of bars, allowing us to stroll across a small garden patch leading us to the red key room. The key rest on a ledge across a few pillars, but luckily they are placed in a straight line, making it an easy climb. The garden area have the same abstract, floating cages as the start area, adding a surreal touch to the scenery. Picking up the red key unleashed all hell in the previously cleaned hallway, filling it to the rim with angry revenants, hell knights, chaingunners and more. Quite the pesky fight, as they quickly flooded us.

After unlocking the red door, we came across the great blue key hall, a monstrous construction, its key made unreachable by solid bars. If you take the time to look around after disposing of its army and its nasty pillar revenants, you will see solid detailing, all executed with a knack for good texture combinations. I feel more could have been done with the huge stone pillars, perhaps the entire section could have benefited from more contrast and heavier focus on varying light. It comes off somewhat bland, despite its complexity and level of detail, which is slightly baffling.

The same issue occur in what is the following area; the core garden, the very heart of the map in my opinion. The placement of the rocket launcher on a small pillar next to the partly destroyed building, the grassy field stretching toward the lava moat, the bridge, the cliffs and the windowed buildings on every side just combine beautifully and make this a most memorable spot. Adding more light level contrast here - for instance having the lava glow and cast shades, would make this spot about as good as it gets. It's still great architecture on display, but it suffers slightly from the mundane lighting. You will be wise to do as we did - by killing as many monsters as possible from the windows before entering the garden area, as it's stacked on all sides.

I do not appreciate the hidden arch-vile who constantly revive one of the chaingunners. The building across the bridge is a sneaky one; inside you have to shoot a switch before you walk into a river of lava, or else you can expect a no escape meltdown to end you. The rest of the structure basically consist of narrow metal hallways, making for some difficult fights because of the limited space. Beware of the hell knight who pop from the ground, he scared the living shit out of me, but more importantly take note that there is a coop stopping one time door here, so if you die before you can activate the switch he is guarding, you wont get back in. Suckage we barely avoided, and an obvious gameplay error in multiplayer mode.

The garden area you unlock and transition to after this, somewhat suffer from the same lack of stark contrasts, but remains as solid architecturally. Lava and brown and grey bricks prevail to keep the theme consistently strong. You can reveal a secret in one of the towers by flipping a barely visible switch on a mountain side, allowing you to climb the ledge with the shotgunners for more ammo as an added bonus.

After riding a lift, we were treated to yet another cheap teleport shortcut, this one taking us back to the area near the yellow key. It simultaneously revealed a new switch in an already visited area - this had us heavily confused to the point of forcing us to mess around in the editor for quite a while. Hansen chose to put a very easy to miss switch inside a tiny nukage room, one that we completely failed to catch. What make this trigger particularly unfair is the fact that it's not visible if you first access the area through the plasma teleport secret, as we had done earlier on. Its function is simply to raise a few steps in the red key garden area, allowing us to enter the later half of the map.

This is a complex bit, with a small, neat storage room, a bridge that needs to be raised across a lava soaked hall, leading you to a small nukage cave with a cool stalagmite. It's also loaded. You get an invulnerability which better be spent well, preferably on the wast amount of cacos, demons, revenants and barons that teleport in. We had moderate success with this, but my invulnerability lacking partner was eaten quick.

I love the sense of location the stalgamite cave bit adds to the map, complimenting the feel of it resting firmly on a rocky mountainside. Moving along a small ledge, dropping into shafts and then teleporting, we eventually reached a small storage room with a switch. Pay attention there and you will also catch another switch placed high on the wall next to the red door, allowing you to shoot it and thus revealing a teleport that will take you to the tempting 200% health bonus on a ledge. Great stuff.

On the note of secrets, there is another tricky one you can grab, if you chose to drop into the moat in the rocket launcher garden, and then press a different textured wall past the crushers, just before the yellow key pillar. A lift will take you back up and reveal a nest with ammo and health - it's dangerous work, though!

Our journey so far allowed us to kill off a bunch of imps and reach the switch which lowers the bars in front of the blue key. Inside the blue door, we were led to a small tech base room with a broken wall. I love the sensation of climbing through this wall and into the colorful, darkly lit core area. Doing what needs to be done down there, you will eventually flip the switch that raise a tiny pillar, making it possible to run across and finally grab the yellow key in the neighbouring area - a very cool and memorable puzzle that had us both compliment it duly.

After utilizing the yellow key on the proper door, we were led through a slimy, white rock area, down a steep fall and surprisingly into a huge garden arena. I'm not sure how I feel about this sudden transition to a very different, and somewhat disconnected area. It also hold the mandatory full on final slaughter, involving a cyber, the Spider Master-mind, tons of cacos - and an arch-vile for good measure. Luckily it also supply good infights and lots of rockets. You could bolt for the exit quickly, instead we stayed around and died a few times before exterminating them all. This bit felt more like an attached deathmatch arena to me, and it's probably so that it's my least preferred part of the map. It's a nicely detailed garden area, but there is nothing striking about it, and it just looks like a separate map.

I enjoyed the journey through this thing up until the unfair, silly switch mentioned earlier. A bit of bad luck and unneeded deaths made it harder on the ammo. The timer clocked in well over an hour in total play time, much thanks to us fiddling with editors on top of the heavy monster load, but the grim lack of stay open doors did not help either. My main objection would probably be the constant amount of high end monsters, since the flow here would be so much better and more fun with less of them.

Unless you take it real slow and conserve your ammo, this will be a harsh ride indeed. The secrets are most vital for survival, yet all of them are very hard to locate. At its best, the map is truly a masterfully executed piece, and it's fun to explore. For me, the highlights include the rocket launcher garden and the placement of the yellow key, the stalagmite cave, as well as the tasteful plasma secret. The author allow himself a few easy solutions with teleporters, and it's way more complex than need be. I would most definitely not rate it above the fantastic Retro Episode by the same author, but it's clearly a very solid release architecturally. I did not particularly enjoy the overuse of revenants, arch-viles, barons and cacos, but I appreciate the sights.

Aesthetics: 5/6 - Layout: 4/6 - Gameplay: 3/6 - My score: 4.0 / 6 (Awarded points: 12/18)





No comments:

Post a Comment