I don't like this level very much, but for different reasons from the prior level. It essentially is in two parts: the surface, which is still in a big tangled mess between the remaining Pfhor Juggernaut armada and the S'pht/human forces; and the underground area, where most of the actual mission takes place. Both of these areas are basically pretty bad.
The first part of the level, where you're avoiding the Juggernauts, is more annoying than really difficult. You teleport in with two Juggernauts facing you, and while they're busy fighting Bobs, you need to act quickly. As you can tell from the first screenshot though, this level is pretty dark and the exterior lighting is pretty poor, so it's difficult to find your way around. I think I died three or four times on this level -- and got kicked back to the previous level -- before I found the way past them, which is a big cavern with far too many Wasps. You have to make it through the entire surface battle without saving or healing, but as far as I can tell, it's not an issue of skill -- just luck and trial/error. That's not a good way to go. Plus, as with Unlucky For Some, you aren't really engaged in this battle. The way the level is laid out would encourage you to run past as many enemies as possible, and that's basically what you have to do -- not very much fun. This area could be a lot more tolerable even if there was a 3x canister somewhere as a pick-me-up, because this is a nasty endurance trial on Total Carnage.
The bulk of the level is underground in this bland, endless cavern (see the second image). It's filled to the brim with hundreds of enemies and you basically have to chew your way through the endless hordes, press a switch, more hordes, press another switch, etc. Backtracking to the 2x and save takes way too much time, but is necessary because there are just so many deadly enemies down here that you will quickly be overwhelmed.
This level is wholly unsatisfying, even though the combat is pretty decent. This is actually a plot branch level, and depending on who you choose to leave with (Leela or Tycho) I suspect one will lead to failure and one to success. Not to mention it's a pretty important level in the plot, as you try to grant Leela access into the Pfhor mainframes or something, I don't remember what. The problem is that none of this is reflected in the level; it's all just this bland, formless blob that goes on and on, and somewhere you find uplink chips and bring them back to the insertion point. There's a lot of bad guys. It's a lot like "If I Had a Rocket Launcher..." but the thing about that level was, it was specifically designed to have no real point in the plot. It advertised the SPNKR. That it had endless hordes of bad guys made perfect sense because the level basically existed beyond the plot. Not the case here; there is no gameplay prize here, and it's an important plot level, but it has the same kind of formless carnage, and it just doesn't work. This level needs a lot more structure to it, I guess is what I'm saying. If I wanted to just mow down enemies, I'd play Kill Them All.
One thing I did learn as a result of this level is just how horribly deadly the new M2 Enforcers are. Just by increasing the projectile speed, these motherfuckers are extremely hazardous. And I like it! The player is generally enough of a badass that no single enemy is really threatening to him, and this is true of most scenarios. I've tried to rectify that in Phoenix with the Defenders, but also by just being really specific about monster placement like Enforcers in general to get the most out of them from a gameplay aspect without being annoying. I think that's something that could be applied here. Enforcers are just kind of placed wherever, like they're any other monster -- but they're not. They're more threatening than anyone else here, including the MOAHs and the Troopers and whatever. Careful placement of these guys can turn them into really specific challenging obstacles. Unfortunately, what I would find is that sometimes I'd run into a small boxy room with pillars and find five or six of them in there. Not only is it annoying, but it's contrary to what Enforcers are good at, which is sniping and spamming from a distance.
Of course, this has to play in with the weapon selection. Eternal doesn't have much by way of sniping; the best choice is to use your own N-Cannon, but then you burn the Enforcer and can't stock up on flame packs. The Scattergun is okay but inaccurate at long ranges. Nothing else can match up. So, put the Enforcer too far away, and they can just spam you mercilessly and you have no defense -- this happened a couple times in my experience too.
Overall, this level is a really big missed opportunity for something cool. Instead I'm just chewing through hordes of monsters. Which is okay at times, but this is not one of those times. Architecturally, the level is a flop. It's not appealing to look at and the geometry is formless and blank.
Level design: 2/5
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