Well, it’s been ages since I last reviewed anything “Doom”-related, so I thought that I’d take a quick look at a WAD called “Back To Saturn X: Get Out Of My Stations“.
I should probably point out that, at the time of writing this review, I’ve only had time to play about the first ten levels of this WAD – so this will be more of a ‘first impressions’ article than a full review. Likewise, I also played this WAD using the “GZ Doom” source port.
Anyway, without any further ado, let’s take a look at “Back To Saturn X”:
“Back To Saturn X” is a sci-fi themed WAD that seems to take place within a large base on Saturn. This is both one of the WAD’s main strengths and also one of it’s main weaknesses too.
On the plus side, “Back To Saturn X” has a really cool futuristic atmosphere and style. Thanks to the new textures used in this WAD, many of the levels are vaguely reminiscent of “Quake II”.
Plus, thanks to an absolutely excellent 1980s synth pop/rock – style MIDI soundtrack, the game has a wonderful retro sci-fi atmosphere to it.
But, on the downside, the fact that this WAD takes place entirely within a large base on Saturn means that there isn’t a huge amount of variety between each level. In other words, every level that I’ve played so far has a fairly similar visual style.
Whilst this probably isn’t too much of an issue if you play “Back To Saturn X” in shorter sessions, if you spend more than about an hour or so playing it – then the game can end up looking kind of monotonous after a while.
However, although this WAD contains a lot of new textures, I haven’t noticed any new weapons or monsters yet. So, it’s more of a “traditional” kind of WAD. This is also noticeable in the fact that jumping is disabled by default if you play this WAD using the “GZ Doom” source port.
So, if this WAD isn’t trying to dazzle us with lots of new weapons, wildly different levels or new monsters – then the only things that it has left to dazzle us with are it’s gameplay and level design. And it does this fairly well.
Although the first few levels of “Back To Saturn X” are fairly easy, the difficulty quickly increases and you will encounter your first cyberdemon and arch-vile in the fifth (?) level. After this, the gameplay remains mildly/moderately challenging for the next few levels.
These levels are challenging enough to be enjoyable, although they don’t often require the kind of clever strategic thinking that you have to use in many of the best “Doom” WADs out there (such as “Stardate 20X6“). However, I’ve only played the first ten levels of this WAD so far – so the difficulty may well increase in later levels.
The level design in “Back To Saturn X” is fairly good too. The levels are large enough to require exploration, but they’re small enough so that you won’t really get lost.
Although the visual style of the game might get slightly monotonous at times, the gameplay and level design itself never really gets boring. In other words, the levels are all fairly well-designed “Doom” levels.
Plus, there are at least a couple of imaginative touches to the level design in “Back To Saturn X”. One of them is that, every few levels, you will return to a train station-style hub level that you will have to pass through in order to progress to the next level. This works fairly well in “Back To Saturn X”, mainly because it adds to the “Quake II”-style atmosphere of the game.
Another cool set piece that I saw in “Back To Saturn X” was a corridor full of dead monsters that you find in the middle of one level. This might not sound that spectacular but, when you walk through it, two arch-viles emerge from an alcove in one of the walls and – unless you’ve had a lot of practice with dealing with arch-viles, then they are likely to resurrect every dead monster in that corridor in a matter of minutes.
This is a really cool trick because it makes the game more challenging for players that are still learning and it also rewards experienced players who are skilled enough to stop the arch-viles quickly.
All in all, I have fairly mixed views about what I’ve played of “Back To Saturn X” so far. There’s no denying that it’s a fun and atmospheric WAD, which is fairly well-designed and has a cool 1980s-style soundtrack.
But, on the other hand, some more variety wouldn’t go amiss. Yes, it’s probably a fairly “realistic” depiction of what an off-planet base would probably look like, but.. well… this can get a little bit dull after a while.
If I had to give it a rating out of five based on what I’ve played so far, it would probably just about get a four.