D2RELOAD’s strict adherence to the plot of the original Doom 2 is both a blessing and a curse because, as a single-author megawad, the three major themes the plot suggests become familiar too quickly and tiresome before the episodes are over. On maps one to eleven, surgical grey and brown are quite the fashion, as are linear pathing and straight corridors filled with breather enemies, all contributing a degree of predictability to the gameplay although you could suggest that it’s a way of maintaining a certain pace. Other key recurring traits of D2RELOAD are secrets which mollify key battles by overfeeding the player with ammo and/or armour.
This all sounds bad, but all these traits also argue in favour of the casual player, who will know exactly when to save, when to search for secrets, where to go, when to jump off crates (always, in this case =P) … generally the maps do an excellent job of being learnable and intuitive. They also seem deliberately designed to resist speedrunners – a lot of the secrets involve jumping or squeaking along tight passages/ledges, many corridors force you to face down chaingunners which, at high speeds, are too deadly to risk missing with the SSG and the linear nature of the maps tours the player around every single enemy in the level, making UV-Maxing less frustrating but harder at the same time!
This scoring system doesn’t really mean anything in the real world, but purely for tie-breaking various megawads against each other, I’m giving the first episode of Doom 2 Reloaded a 65% score. What I mean by that in this case is that these are very confident levels which ultimately play a little too safely – the only surprises arrive in the form of enemy ambushes. I’m a Doom player who welcomes amateur design choices, whereas the author here has chosen to steer clear of any unintuitive pieces of progression or unfairness. So 65% is about right in terms of me respecting the levels while preferring other styles.
Map 9 is an exception, that’s a 95%. Go play map 9. =P