Monday, April 16, 2012
-MOON 02- by (LL)ATAN/Robert Peterson (reveiw)
After playing -MOON 01- and seeing its potential, I was excited to see what further levels of the series would have to offer. Hoping to see some of the flaws of the first level addressed, and wondering what common traits the author had in store, I was quick to dig into this second level of the series. After playing it through, I can confidently say I feel this level is an improvement over its predecessor. While some of the same points I made negative about -MOON 01- continue in this second level, it definitely seemed like a cleaner, better planned map in the end.
The themes still aren't entirely consistent, but this level is much less of an "everything but the kitchen sink" ordeal compared to the first. Textures are still rather mixed, but a bit less random than before. Also, lava and water are used more sensibly. While -MOON 01- could be eligible to have just about whatever the author felt like in this regards in its every room, this level largely sticks to lava, with water used in only one area (by the red key) that is separate from the rest of the level. The mixed textures themselves manage to fit in most cases.
I found this level to be a smidgen easier in difficulty compared to the first, but this might be partly because I knew from the start to use the heavy weaponry at my disposal. I found high-end missiles (Guided and above) to be provided a bit too excessively, and again there are especially a lot of opportunities to fill up on Guided Missiles and clearly too many Mega's outside of secrets (especially considering there isn't even a boss in this level, just a reactor, unlike the first), though having these powerful weapons did keep the frustration level down, but I think the balance could have been better for an idealized challenge. It didn't kill the fun though, and the generally enjoyable aspects of gameplay from -MOON 01- were generally carried over otherwise. The progression is still smooth, with no big puzzles, keeping things moving along - and this time the exit is not hidden, which I feel more appropriate.
Again, all that's here is a level; there are no other custom features. I'm starting a recognize a few trends from this author. First of all, is the already mentioned overuse of high-end missiles. Once the player learns this author provides them fairly frequently, it cuts the difficulty down, maybe a bit more than would be optimal at point; there are too many robots you could just kill with (especially Guided) missiles without even seeing. Secondly, the author likes to use Hornet enemies. Lots of them, and of both the green and red varieties. Fortunately this is one place in which the overuse of homing weapons works in favor, as if seen quickly they are often easily dispatched with a few Homing Missiles rather than having to chase them around. There are two Bandits again, one of which will start chasing you early and the other which appears late. Finally, the author definitely likes to put a lot behind the red door, so don't just think you'll find the reactor (or boss) right behind it.
All said -MOON 02- is definitely not without flaws but it's an improvement over the first in the series, and overall gets my recommendation particularly if you've already played all the bigger stuff.
The bottom line:
Positives - Another mostly enjoyable, and fairly long level. Reduced swings in themes compared to -MOON 01-, and somewhat better texturing overall. Smooth, flowing progression free of frustrating puzzles or slowdowns.
Negatives - Some trends the author appears to be getting in to aren't exactly the best, like over-providing heavy-hitting missile weaponry and using Hornets a bit too frequently. Also still a very "standard" level that lacks anything to set it apart from other maps.
My overall rating for this level is 62.5%.
And commentary is welcome, as always. :D
Download: You can find all levels in the -MOON XX- series here.
Disclaimer: All scores and critique reflect MY opinion and no author or player should take any offense or feel discredited if they disagree.