Difficulty Settings: Yes
Featuring: 1.4+, EDuke32
New Art: No
New Cons: No
Review by Merlijn v. Oostrum on 16 May 2021
Aleks recently returned with his release of the Back in Business episode, now he's back with another old revived project.
Submachine has been in development for over 12 years. It probably means the map was collecting dust for several years before the author decided to finish it, but hey '12 years in the making' sounds a lot cooler! Despite this long development cycle, the map feels very cohesive and well put together.
Now unto the map itself - just like Back in Business it features insanely intricate design, a great eye for detail and several innovative effects. Some of them will make you scratch your head, wondering how the hell the author managed to pull this off in a 25-year old engine. It improves on BiB by not being too cramped, there are still some claustrophobic areas but this time around it doesn't hinder the gameplay.
The map takes place in an underground research and mining facility which, of course, has been taken over by aliens. This could have made for a generic looking map, but luckily that's not the case. Aleks managed to create a large variety of environments, from research labs to mining sites to ominous caves with glowing chrystals. The whole place looks and feels believable, with cool little details everywhere and even some well placed bits of humor.
The design will remind you of old classics from Bob Averill and Alejandro Glavic, but also makes use of modern Eduke features like expanded limits and sloped sprites (this means you need a recent version of Eduke to run this).
When it comes to gameplay, the map isn't your typical run and gun affair. Of course the enemy forces are present and there are several well placed fights and respawns, but you'll need to use your head a bit more than usual.
The map may feel a bit overwhelming at first due to its intricate layout and several mini missions. But if you take your time, carefully read the viewscreens and take a good look at your surroundings you should be okay. There's nothing unfair here, buttons and rooms are well defined and the viewscreens do provide you with useful information.
There's also a mini game involving getting a red key. I won't spoil it, but it's a well made puzzle that you'll either love or hate. Mastering the map feels rewarding and it even has a secret side quest for you to conquer.
The level ends with a boss fight on ground level. While the arena itself looks great, the boss isn't all that difficult to take care of. Just keep your distance and press that fire button (of course completing the side mission may also help!).
Overall this is a fantastic piece of mapping that you should check out. Don't be too intimidated by the intricacies and have fun!
Other maps by this author:
AlexCity 1: Bank Heist
Mode: SP, COOP
Review: AlexCity 1: Bank Heist
Back in Business Episode
Review: Back in Business Episode
Review: The Conundrum
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