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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:07 am 
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Thanks for the video, Alex!

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:20 am 
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Well, level S3 is indeed tough as shit. Very luck based too, not to mention it's really hard to avoid triggering the matcens in the upper area. When I beat it I expect things to start getting easier again with the last three levels. But while after playing the first 2 levels of D2 and loving the experience I'm anxious to start the game, I'll be taking a short break to finish up that level I've been working on for D1,5 first.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:41 am 
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Xfing wrote:
Well, level S3 is indeed tough as shit. Very luck based too, not to mention it's really hard to avoid triggering the matcens in the upper area. When I beat it I expect things to start getting easier again with the last three levels. But while after playing the first 2 levels of D2 and loving the experience I'm anxious to start the game, I'll be taking a short break to finish up that level I've been working on for D1,5 first.


Well I myself had a lot of problems with S3 earlier. Until I studied Marvins' walkthrough of it.
But, it is possible to exhaust those matcens in upper hall on S3 easily, like Marvin did, with fusion, turning from one to the other. Main hall area is tought at the beginning, but learnable. I just used the cloaking device from one of the cloaked drillers to kill most dangerous enemies, including 2 vulcan drillers and concussion hulk from the second floor. Then circled in the 1-st floor arena, waiting for all other bad guys to come (2 plasma drillers and spider, many green hulks and most of blue drones can be easily destroyed there). Blue key area is easy (of course if you dont decide to exhaust two concussion hulk matcens like Marvin did ;), yellow can be easy if you are quick and robots (especially concussion hulks) don't start wandering. For reactor area you have the mega missiles. Of course those supervisors at the end and their offsprings are shitty, easy to run out of invulnerability and time and die. Apart from this I think it is very possible to reach maybe 1 of 5 success rate on this level, after you learn all its parts starting from the selected save points. So it is not as hard as it seems initially. To start the level is the most difficult part. Especially cold start.

BTW i started D2 Obsidian insane no-save, did first 2 levels already. Seems fun enough and doable, but I still plan to save before difficult bosses (I.e even after a lot of learning I will not achieve good success rate on the boss, or will have to camp for 20 mins in order to kill it, I will still save).


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:33 pm 
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The late-game Obsidian bosses shouldn't be a problem if you know what to do... and if you're trying for an insane no-death run, obviously you will.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 1:49 pm 
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Sirius wrote:
The late-game Obsidian bosses shouldn't be a problem if you know what to do... and if you're trying for an insane no-death run, obviously you will.

Unfortunately I go for no-death... Now I am at level 6, at least I was able to kill the boss without saves once (from the 3-rd try) and the level itself is not a big problem, so no-death run should be possible. Yes I believe later bosses will make me save before them. I remember one late boss needed around 9 shakers at the back to kill it, and you had only 2 invuln and cloaks, so extreme luck was necessary to do it. BTW I don't understand why designers created bosses like this, makes fighting them long and boring, more like exersise in save-loading and not real fighting challenge. Same boring and frustrating bosses feature in D2 counterstrike (L12,16,20,24). L12 and 16 bosses especially required extremely boring and time consuming tactics to kill (I mean insane difficulty of course). So I always save before them. TEW bosses were reasonably hard and not boring in comparison (except L25 boss). Although I still believe those one-shot kill bosses are bad idea in general, so you can only fight it with invuln and/or cloak. D1 L7 boss was much more fun. Yes, was very easy but still fun to fight. And it does not break the idea of doing a level without saves.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 3:38 pm 
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Current impressions of Obsidian on insane no-save no-death are good. Now completed level 8. No overly difficult levels, interesting gameplay, balanced robots and their placement (small robot size is a bit annoying however, you kill most robots before you see them), first 2 bosses are not too bad.
One more question to Sirius and Darkhorse - do you think it is possible to play D2 Apocalyptic Factor same way (singleplayer insane no-save no-death)? Or it is mazochistic waste of time (of course I play for fun and don't want to sit for weeks on one level).


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 1:26 pm 
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Ok, I made it right to the exit sequence, but there's one thing left I forgot to account for, and that came back to bite me. The supervisor robots. One of them releases 3 super hulks, and I did myself in trying to Mega them from point-blank, silly me. No idea how to take care of those guys, seeing as how there are no invulnerabilities in the level at all, none that I'm aware of at least. Parallax really did try to see with this level what's it like when you're unfair.

The only thing I can think of is leaving a cloak lying around, but I don't think there's one on the upper level, and there's too little time to spare to get down to the lower level looking for one.

These guys are meant to be skippable, I know, but they're not matcen-generated so they need to die for my run to be valid. I could maybe try laying all my prox bombs when the reactor room is clear and then coming back just to blow it up? There's enough bombs to probably at least blow up like two of them, so I could finish the rest with plasma from afar. I wonder how to do it, really

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 4:28 pm 
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Xfing wrote:
Ok, I made it right to the exit sequence, but there's one thing left I forgot to account for, and that came back to bite me. The supervisor robots. One of them releases 3 super hulks, and I did myself in trying to Mega them from point-blank, silly me. No idea how to take care of those guys, seeing as how there are no invulnerabilities in the level at all, none that I'm aware of at least. Parallax really did try to see with this level what's it like when you're unfair.

The only thing I can think of is leaving a cloak lying around, but I don't think there's one on the upper level, and there's too little time to spare to get down to the lower level looking for one.

These guys are meant to be skippable, I know, but they're not matcen-generated so they need to die for my run to be valid. I could maybe try laying all my prox bombs when the reactor room is clear and then coming back just to blow it up? There's enough bombs to probably at least blow up like two of them, so I could finish the rest with plasma from afar. I wonder how to do it, really


Don't panic, there is an invulnerability in the reactor room, to the left and down of the reactor. If you cannot find it just look for it with full map cheat. However there is big chance to run out of time fighting the robots (maybe 50% or even more), as I said earlier. I hate this place. In my run I just skipped the supervisors.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 5:48 pm 
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AlexanderBorisov wrote:
Current impressions of Obsidian on insane no-save no-death are good. Now completed level 8. No overly difficult levels, interesting gameplay, balanced robots and their placement (small robot size is a bit annoying however, you kill most robots before you see them), first 2 bosses are not too bad.
One more question to Sirius and Darkhorse - do you think it is possible to play D2 Apocalyptic Factor same way (singleplayer insane no-save no-death)? Or it is mazochistic waste of time (of course I play for fun and don't want to sit for weeks on one level).


?????????????????? it's possible to get to level 8 without being blinded and dead and still with a positive impression?
Oh I get it...
AF I doubt. I play on ace and insane normally but I've never managed to finish level 2 of that set outside of co-op, even on Rookie. Too many homing missiles without enough space to dodge them.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 1:56 am 
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Xfing wrote:
Ok, I made it right to the exit sequence, but there's one thing left I forgot to account for, and that came back to bite me. The supervisor robots. One of them releases 3 super hulks, and I did myself in trying to Mega them from point-blank, silly me. No idea how to take care of those guys, seeing as how there are no invulnerabilities in the level at all, none that I'm aware of at least. Parallax really did try to see with this level what's it like when you're unfair.

The only thing I can think of is leaving a cloak lying around, but I don't think there's one on the upper level, and there's too little time to spare to get down to the lower level looking for one.

These guys are meant to be skippable, I know, but they're not matcen-generated so they need to die for my run to be valid. I could maybe try laying all my prox bombs when the reactor room is clear and then coming back just to blow it up? There's enough bombs to probably at least blow up like two of them, so I could finish the rest with plasma from afar. I wonder how to do it, really


Whoa, I only thought there was a quad laser powerup in the reactor room! This knowledge is going to make the level a cinch. I'm not worried about having enough time, a charged fusion blast and a mega should do the trick. Maybe I'll practice that section on its own first though... I've gotten rather decent at the rest of the level already.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 6:07 pm 
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Alter-Fox wrote:
AlexanderBorisov wrote:
?????????????????? it's possible to get to level 8 without being blinded and dead and still with a positive impression?
Oh I get it...
AF I doubt. I play on ace and insane normally but I've never managed to finish level 2 of that set outside of co-op, even on Rookie. Too many homing missiles without enough space to dodge them.

Of course blinded and dead many times, until the levels are learned well. After this, all the levels i've played are doable no-death no-save. Of course with full knowledge of the level, careful use of missiles, phoenix cannon, very careful tactics etc. Now finished level 9, took couple of days to learn, the boss is nasty (mostly due to it's guards), one mistake and you are dead. Only chance to kill it is using invulnerability, but it requires some luck (well even to reach it). Getting to the boss was not hard if you have good strategy and don't make mistakes. Positive impression - because until now I haven't found entirely luck based not learnable shit that makes you fail 9 of 10. Or even more often like TEW level 25. However I would not recommend coldstarting Obsidian levels to anyone...

About AF - I did it on insane earlier with tons of save-loads, my impressions were - first 3 levels are hardest (as you don't have gauss), then it becomes like usual very long and hard levels of D2. With brilliant design of course. Without saves it would be hell, I think.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 4:01 am 
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Ok, done with S3 finally. Once you learn it, it really isn't that hard, surprisingly. After these dozens of tries that I had to put in, I realized that the hardest part is the very beginning. Once you get your bearings, it's pretty easy to find ample hiding room and whatnot. The upper matcens can be a nasty surprise, but they're not that hard to handle if you tackle them deliberately. With knowledge and practice this at first glance extremely difficult level becomes quite doable and fun.

This run isn't necessarily perfect, but I decided to accept it for the purposes of my challenge - I don't quite manage to get the last super hulk in the trap by the exit, but that's because I got tangled up killing one of the hulks guarding the reactor room - he hid inside the reactor and was therefore impossible to target, and that cost me quite some time. It could have been dealt with much more easily, but I first made the mistake of using homing missiles on him (which pushed him back into the reactor), and later not using Fusion right off the bat, as it passes through everything. But it's abundantly clear from the demo that I did have enough munitions to take care of the entire trap at the end, and had I had more time, I would have managed it easily. (tried out this scenario from a savegame several times to confirm it too, it is indeed no problem if you have at least 2 megas and are invulnerable). I had to exit the mine here because it was already blowing up, so one Super Hulk remained undestroyed.

As for impressions on the level itself: I really like its design, it reminds me a lot of some D2 levels, so it was probably made rather late. I really like how open it is and how much roaming room it gives to the robots. There are flaws such as some areas sticking into other areas for some crude 4D effect of sorts, but otherwise the level is very solid and has a very particular atmosphere about it. Using almost all available robots from Descent in it also spices up the variety of gameplay and makes you need to use many different tactics learned previously throughout the game.

DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/sism11

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 8:18 am 
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Level 25: A really easy level, got it on my third try with ordnance to spare. Lots of room for error, strong robots placed in far away spots and quite easy to destroy, very few drillers etc. The only thing that might be tricky about this level is the number of plasma drillers in it, it can be somewhat hard to dodge their fire due to the corridors tending to be narrow. The design is really risque and creative for Descent 1, that's for sure.
DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/6q4ari

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 11:28 am 
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Lol, those supervisors on journey:D. Never happened to me. Btw there is one more invuln in the big room at the end.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 11:49 am 
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Marvin wrote:
Lol, those supervisors on journey:D. Never happened to me. Btw there is one more invuln in the big room at the end.


I know, must have skipped it this time. Not that I needed it tbh. Guess what though, there's news.

Level 26: Tries-wise it definitely took me several dozen, but time-wise it wasn't all that much as you can see. Once I got past a certain portion, the rest went pretty quickly. Guess this is owed to the level actually being quite short. That said, I think it's very, very difficult and punishes the slightest mistakes at every turn. It really does pull out all the stops both in terms of both robots and ordnance, since it spams smarts and megas at a practically unprecedented rate. The part of the level before the blue door is very unforgiving and there are things you need to do if you want to succeed, but it is learnable. The hardest part by far is managing to take care of all the roaming lethal robots after you pick up the first invulnerability - if it weren't there, this level would probably be the single hardest level of Descent (you'd have to patiently lure all those bots to the crossroads area I suppose). The lone fusion hulk in the secret area with the two smarts can also catch you by surprise, as you can see from my demo, but he's the least of your worries. The reactor room is also among the toughest in the entire game, with several drillers and a contingent of super hulks guarding it, but once you make it to the cloak, it's not all that bad, as you can see in the demo. I actually managed to get to te reactor area twice before I succeeded, but I got murked by homing missiles - letting your guard down in this room is death. That said, you can probably relax somewhat for the areas beyond the yellow door, they really aren't bad at all if you pick up the cloak and know whar you're doing, probably the easiest sections of the level. There can be hiccups though, like in my run. Nothning serious, fortunately.

Nice tricks that worked for me and I didn't see Calmarius do them (see the demo): pushing the super hulk guarding the blue key back so that he can be handled with plasma from a safe distance from the tunnel leading directly to him; clearing the area adjoining the hostage cell from inside the secret area, only going to pick them up when the coast is clear (much easier in my experience than trying to go about it the other way round); picking apart the final spawn wave of the fusion hulks once you're on your way for the hostages.

Design-wise, you can probably tell that I really like this level, both in terms of layout, the general idea of grated tunnels, and the texturing. In fact it's some of my favorite in all of Descent, with the exit metal textures being used liberally, it really exudes that air of penultimacy. There probably couldn't be a better choice for the second-to-last level in the game, and that's why I made the Eris level for D1,5 that way, and it also happens to be in the penultimate slot for the Solar System.

DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/fvibi8

Level 27: Aaaand it's already done. Took me around 10 tries or so to establish a good route and come up with a strategy to conserve energy. Gotta say, thanks to the abundance of invulnerabilities in this level, it's really nothing to write home about in terms of difficulty. The number of fusion hulks looks intimidating, but that's about it. The layout is pretty rudimentary too, but the theme of three keys being close to each other and visible at the same time is definitely a nice touch. Also love the abundance of purples giving the level a distinctly alien look, more so than any other level of Descent probably.

As for this particular run, it's really cool IMO, as I managed to clear every robot in the mine and explore all secrets, while still being able to evade and kill a good number of robots in the boss arena, so the demo is quite informative.

DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/alt1cv

Welp, done with Descent! I guess I'll re-record the demo for level S3 so that I properly capture the final moment of destroying the robots from the trap, and then I'll go ahead and record all the remaining levels I have no recordings of, just so I have a nice, complete collection (might put it up for download as a whole for those interested). After that it's on to Counterstrike, where I'll finally be able to appreciate the advances in AI and what difference they make for the difficulty. I've already beaten levels 1 and 2 in the meantime, and while 1 is reasonably easy (though much harder than Descent 1's L1), Level 2 can already test you, especially due to the mechanic of infinite matcens.

Impressions about the First Strike campaign as a whole - the difficulty of Descent as a is hard, but manageable, but the curve is far from smooth. Playing the game you can tell that the designers probably either didn't fully know what they were doing, or felt they didn't have enough influence over the game's difficulty beyond robot choice. Sometimes it's things that you completely wouldn't expect that make a level super hard, and some levels are hard only superficially, turning out to be quite easy in reality. That begs the question if there's even a point in introducing some robots later and some earlier if some of the hardest robots in the game get relatively early introductions anyway? Still, completing every level of the game on Insane from cold start has definitely demystified Descent for me. I used to think it was an extremely hard game and pretty much impossible to beat on Insane, turns out it's quite doable to say the least. Good game for sure, after I have a demo for every level I'll probably just try to play it the way it's meant to - one fell swoop and no reloads. I'm quite curious how many lives I'll have left at the end. I remember one time doing the game on Ace with minimum reloads, and then doing the same on Insane and my score on Insane was actually lower due to how many times I died. Right now I'm pretty confident this won't be the case :D

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:55 am 
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Ok, so now that I've finished Descent 1, it's on to Descent 2. Recording demos for the levels of Descent that I still don't have demos for can wait, since that is no fun. I've just managed to finish level 3 of Descent 2 (finally). But first some of my impressions on Descent 2 in general.

The biggest change is definitely the new AI, which necessitates a whole new approach to dodging robot fire, and takes much more practice to get down than doding the fire of robots from D1. That alone makes even levels populated with weak robots very tough compared to their D1 counterparts. While in D1 playing even the harder levels is more akin to rote repetition and memorization, Descent 2 seems to be much more dynamic and keeps you on your toes more. Dodging robot fire is no longer a simple machinelike process, and infinitely recharging matcens force certain decisions from you as to which sections of the level to visit and which to skip. The robots I've encountered so far cannot be underestimated even though they're the lowliest of them all, especially the deceptively harmless ITD, which can whittle down your shields with relative ease while itself staying out of harm's way. I still haven't felt the weakening of the lasers very much (though noticing that will probably require facing more durable enemies), but I already weep at the weakening of the Fusion - in D1 it was an indispensable way of insta-killing key enemies and handling clumps of robots straight out of matcens, right now its usefulness has been halved, so it'll also be restricted to destroying only clumps of the frailest robots. Still, I guess that's some usability at least.

Level 1: Very easy, even though there is a degree of shock when first faced with the new robot AI, and it can take a failed try or two to get acclimated. Only the weakest three types of robots in here, so it's no big deal. The design shows the leaps and bounds made by the designers between D1 and D2, but that goes without saying. A very good opener of the mission which also showcases Descent 2's new and exciting engine possibilities for secrets. Definitely harder than D1's level 1 though, all things considered.

Level 2: The difficulty is manageable, but high throughout the whole level. You feel pressured and needing to keep on your toes at all times. But still, the low firepower of the robots in here makes it at least somewhat easy to proceed (maybe excluding the Smelters, no one wants to soak up an entire volley from these guys). The design is of course one of the most memorable and adventurous out of all of Counterstrike, and there are some very rewarding secret puzzles inside, but infinitely spawning matcens can take their toll on you (though with skill they can also be abused to recharge yourself). The progression is quite fun as well.

Level 3: This level is quite shocking in terms of difficulty - Descent 1's level 3 was also a big step up in difficulty from the previous levels, not matched until level 6 (if memory serves), but this one here took me a good number of attempts in and of itself. The robots are still weak, but to someone used to playing D1 more, the new AI makes dogfighting feel as if you had an iron ball at your leg. That said, this level rewards slowness and cautiousness, quite unlike most of D1 where firm and deliberate actions were necessary to succeed. It also confirms my general impression from playing the game at lower difficulties - it kills you slowly rather than all at once. I think all things considered, this level's difficulty can be compared to D1's Level 6, though this difficulty manifests differently. The hardest part is definitely dealing with the spawned ITDs when exiting the area where you obtain the Gauss, after that it's not that special. Needless to say, I made it a point to complete this level without help from the secret level, and I intend the same for level 4.

As for the design and texturing of this level, I really like its cold yet sterile futuristic feel. The purples and the cyans really work, compared with dark green ceilings and Descent 2's new trademark all-purpose gray. The X-grates and the yellow tape in the main area also give the level some vague resemblance to D1's more industrial venues, or a logical continuation thereof. I really like this level overall.

DEMOS for levels 1-3, not counting the secret level:
https://www.sendspace.com/file/woi8lc

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:58 am 
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Level 4: Initially very difficult, but with some training it becomes quite manageable, as expected of an early level. All the matcens are positioned in manageable spots, so refilling your shields if necessary is quite possible (though after some practice runs it's not really necessary, as it's fairly easy to maintain decent shield levels). Hit and run tactics are necessary for the boss, since there are no cloaks or invulnerabilities to help you. Important trick: the boss will not get released into the main chamber if you enter the arena through any of the upper doors you unlock with the switch right next to the traditional entry with the grated door - that lets you clean up any stragglers and collect some powerups, also from the upper chamber full of secrets. I didn't get the secret with the quad in my run, but It turned out I didn't really need it, same with the converter. The design of the level is cool, though the texturing is bland (but in a good way, kinda like in Descent 1). Of course you could stock up like mad in the secret level too, but I feel that would trivialize the level.

DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/fpry6b

Overall, for Zeta Aquilae, I'd say the toughest level is 3, but this one follows closely, and is definitely much less forgiving, especially with the Lou Guards, even though it doesn't feature Smelters. Overall the difficulty progression with this system is rather linear, the further you get the harder it gets. But once you get over the initial shock of the new robot AI, it's not that hard to get acclimated. Obviously still way harder than the first 4 levels of D1 though, hands down.

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