Thin Ice, strangely enough, took only 1h45m on Unreal as compared to 2h30m on Hard. Foreknowledge of all the secret areas + knowing the layout of the map is a lot more important in this map than in the previous maps. There is 1 really difficult part and that's when entering the transport area. All seems calm until you take 2 corners to go to the room where the transporter shield can be deactivated, and then all hell breaks loose. However, 350 shield and 199 health + almost full ammo (I saved the supershiedlbelt + the megahealth for this area) should get anyone through this.
I did get a surprise when I took the transporter over the chasm and into the spawning room: in Medium and Hard, the spawning Skaarj were easily stopped by the door which closes automatically, after which they move away frop the door. On Unreal they stay waiting near that door and even managed to follow me out 3 at a time. I wasn't prepared for that and once I had to retreat backwards over the chasm while avoiding Skaarj fire.
Another surprise came when I reached the end of the map and luckily remembered that I still had to get the supersecret. So I had to navigate a long way to get back to the chasm and then realised that I had already used my 3 savepoints. Luckily I still had sufficient health and shield so I wouldn't die as long as I didn't miss my landing point. I didn't die
Coming up next (week) is map20: Interloper and it shouldn't cause too many problems considering I'm maxed up again with health, shield and ammo. (although I can't remeber much about the map right now).
Thinking about the last five maps I have decided to allow myself 4 savepoints from now on (I know for sure that Nested Interests has a difficult start).
I had some time left so I started Interloper and decided to fool around and try stuff.
For one, the starting elevator, I didn't stay on it as it went down but stayed on the upperfloor, allowing me to take out the 2 Skaarj appearing on the side as the elevator descends. Killed those and then jumped down using the corners = no health of shield lost. Easy kills and less resistance if you do return to the normal path. Then tried that again (with success) and jumped into the area were the dead Skaarj lay. In this way it may be possible to avoid a part of the map (I think, not sure because perhaps some buttons which have been avoided like that, may need to be pressed).
Jeezes, I like the whole of Xenome and the difficulty left me almost in despair on my first playthrough (on Medium) but I've come to realise that weapon and armour placement is really well designedh (better than in First Day), and that even the seemingly impossible areas can be beaten without having to resort to cheating (the ambush in Ambush, the lower cave area in Soothsayer, even the dreaded elevator area in Friendly).
@ [UDHQ]Jackrabbit : About the alleged copyright infringements: send a PM to jazz so that he can add the necessary credits (if needed) but let's not make an elephant from a mouse. It is after all an almost 20 year old game and whatever jazz may have used (music, layouts or (god forbid) even ideas) doesn't make anyone lose money.
And yes, to me Cobalt (especially the first areas with all those spiders) is the most astounding map I have ever played (and I hate spiders but here they create constant tension - in fact I know no other map with such good use of spiders and flies).
Jeezes, you people must think I'm crazy playing Xenome so much.