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Lost Levels D2 insane no-death no-save walkthrough

Posted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:26 am
by AlexanderBorisov
I want to share impressions on my play-through of Lost Levels. Another great mission comparable to TEW, Obsidian, Vertigo. Completely designed (both levels and robot placement) by DarkFlameWolf. What makes it special, is a lot of D1, D2 and Vertigo levels reminiscences (and even one remake level from Entropy Experiment 2), very consistent level quality and difficulty (which is really challenging), and great robot usage (both new robots and D1,2+Vertigo bots), many snipe mode bots. In contrast to Vertigo and TEW, which had a lot of easier and smaller levels. Boss levels are a bit weaker, due to small size and repetitive patterns with hitting switches and activating the matcens. Althought I'd say I like the idea of small boss levels in general. The mission contains six 4-level (3 normal + 1 boss level) units like D2 counterstrike, with similar texturing to Zeta Aquilae, Quartzon, Brimspark, Limefrost Spiral, Baloris Prime (although with more texture variations; last unit has completely different design). And one secret level, various parts of which can be accessed from the 6 boss levels.
Some levels feature nice theme mix (like L18,19,22, 24). For example L18 - green with lava - looks very cool. There are a lot of devious secrets, but because I am a bit lazy and my primary goal was to do a no death Insane run, and not finding all secrets, I looked up some of the important ones in DFW and Matt Naphtha vids, and with DLE. This includes even the mandatory keys, sometimes they are well hidden.

I should note, that I still did not managed to record 3 levels without death. Those are 3 boss levels : 4,16, 24.
For 4, I don't know how to approach the boss without 2/3 chance to be killed immediately on Insane. But I recorded separate cold start walk-through on Ace for L4 (where it is possible). For 16, same thing with the boss. No way you can fight it without save scumming. The boss room has no place to hide from it's homing flash and guided missiles, entering the boss room means instant death 3 of 4 times; one cloaking device (which is in boss room too) is not enough to kill it. So the boss fight is basically reloading until the boss teleports in position where you can hit it from afar (happens very rarely). The level itself is not hard. L24, I did not recorded the full run just because I am a bit lazy. The level is a bit repetitive with those mini-bosses, and takes around an hour (and maybe around 3 hours to record a no-death no-save insane run); last boss is hard to kill (I died there maybe 4 of 5 times, with more practice, I reached 3 of 5), so I decided to record everything before the boss, and the boss fight separately, to avoid replaying the whole level many times.

First unit is, well, extremely hard for the first unit. Most annoying are those smelter 2 robots, especially in the 1-st level. Hopefully they could be corner sniped with Vulcan cannon, and in most cases even with lasers. I played this unit with weapons mod (except L2 which I replayed later because I lost the demo), just because the mod did not make difference. In fact, dual conc and flash missile launchers are useless (twice ammo consumption and you cannot fire a missile from the corner), explosive spreadfire looks cool, but also not very useful (you can hurt yourself; robots on Insane dodge most of the shots). I used it a just few times, The boss level is a bit annoying as I said earlier. The boss always teleports to the same spot, and you cannot approach this spot in any safe way. I just save scummed past it, killed it with corner sniping (although it often fires a homing or smart missile around the corner and kills you).

Second unit is not hard maybe except L6 which has a lot of ITSC and Vulcan driller bots. Levels are starting to become very large, some having above 100 robots. The boss level is easy; the boss is a sitting duck and one cloak makes killing it a piece of cake. The unit features gauss cannon and plasma cannon, the main reason why I turned off the mods. Homing plasma cannon makes the play a kind of cheating. Modded Gauss-Vauss is a one-shot kill, a kind of OP weapon, too.

Third unit introduces sniper ng's (most of them seem to be not in snipe mode still) and WASPs (which are seekers firing 4-5 instead of 2 missiles, and are smaller and faster, use Vertigo Canary robot polymodel). There are some gigantic levels reaching the size of AF levels, with around 150 robots per map. But they are still manageable if well practiced. L11 is especially hard and tricky without saves, I was forced to skip two parts of it (square rooms with sniper ng's and WASPs that contain nothing useful except for gauss ammo, and "main" exit run). Boss level is ok, intended way (running around the loop whicle activating the matcens and hitting switches) is too boring, so I hit the switched with guided missiles and did one loop to collect the ammo. The boss is not hard to kill.

The ice unit features some more hard and large levels, hardest being L13. And new enemies, namely SPIKE firing shaker bomblets, which have extreme homing ability and large blast radius. But their damage is the same or even less than a homing missile. Here, IMO,DFW overdid it a bit with infinite matcens. The problem is, to access any key or reactor you have to get past a couple of matcens with dangerous robots, that deplete your energy. And you dont have much gauss ammo at this point. Hopefully I got past it at last, with careful planning and a few tricks. But I still think many matcen triggers should be made one-time. L15 is also hard, especially the red key area. And I already said about the boss - I don't know how to kill it without long save-scumming on Insane. This is a problem with arena design (nowhere to hide) and there should be some cloaks outside the boss arena and some invuln too.

The next unit is still harder, with some levels reaching 180 robots (L19)! New robot - MAX which fire homing flash and 2 mega missiles appear. This one is much worse than Warlord in TEW. L17 resembles CS level 20 (the outer corridor), and is packed to the limit with most dangerous robots : WASPs and sniper ng's, some Smelter2, snipe mode BPERs, Vulcan drillers, etc. And the energy center is far away. Hopefully there are some matcens to farm for shields. Another case of matcens abuse, making some of the matcen triggers one-shot could make the level better IMO. L18 is one of my favorites. Although it is linear, still very cool idea with 3 similar key areas around the central tower, resembling TEW L25 and CS L21 at the same time. L19 was the largest of the whole campaign, a remake of EE level 5, and was very special as it had a lot of snipe mode robots (plasma drillers, BPERs, and in the end, SPIKEs). This was brutal, especially when I first started to practice it, but hopefully found a good strategy for all parts of this level. Number of MAX robots was outstanding, including one MAX+SPIKE matcens you need to activate several times! Levels 18,19 were a bit too long and took much time to record a no-save no-death run but still it was fun. Hopefully DFW haven't got the idea to introduce a MAX in snipe mode. Boss level was rather easy, but well designed.

The last unit is completely different from the previous ones. It does not try to overwhelm you with robot counts and huge levels, instead those are concept levels. I liked level 21 "Prison Compound" a lot, had a set of nice puzzles; L22 had crazy central arena with 4 snipe mode SPIKEs, 4 MAXes, a lot of sniper ngs and BPERs, of course impossible to deal "head on" on Insane but still I found the strategy to beat it. L23 is a countdown level (concept more suitable for the secret rather than normal level), again one of my favorites. L24 is not brilliant, although the idea with all bosses in a single level is cool. Too long, repetitive, most robots can be sniped from afar. "Shooting gallery" kind of. The last boss is similar to CS L24 boss (and also needs 7 shakers in the ass to die on Insane) but harder to kill, because it is large and harder to circle, and often teleports close to the walls so you cannot get around it.

The secret level is fun (although it does not have dangerous enemies), and the only way to get shakers during 4 and 5-ths units. And I used all of them and would say they were very important in my play-through. I still don't understand why DFW did not give some of those missiles in units 4 and 5, the only ones are in the secret level. The ammo supply is scarce in general, too, you have to be very economic with gauss ammo, shakers, megas and guided missiles.

In general, the campaign is harder than all I've played before, including TEW and Obsidian. But still it was very interesting, required a lot of thinking and planning, and various weapons usage tricks. At least it did not contain a lot of luck based situations and even the most difficult situations can be learned. This means really good design to me. But I don't recommend trying to cold-start any of the later levels, at least on Ace and Insane. It is all obviously designed for sequential run.

I have all the demos on my HD, and soon (but I don't know how soon) I will try to convert them to vids and put them on Youtube, if someone is interested about the particular levels I can share any demo.

Re: Lost Levels D2 insane no-death no-save walkthrough

Posted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:42 am
by kakhome1
Nice review! I agree with most of it. :)

Level 18's base actually clearly came most directly from another custom level as well:

The portion wrapping around the tower, however, was totally redesigned. As for TEW, there may be similarity but this level (and all of LL) far predates it.

Re: Lost Levels D2 insane no-death no-save walkthrough

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:01 pm
by DarkFlameWolf
Very nice review and congrats on beating it on insane! Bravo!

Re: Lost Levels D2 insane no-death no-save walkthrough

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:51 pm
by AlexanderBorisov
Here is Youtube playlist for my Lost Level walk-through (only 2 levels uploaded now; but other videos are ready and I will upload regularly). ... oWP4l_kDY3

Re: Lost Levels D2 insane no-death no-save walkthrough

Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:44 pm
by DarkFlameWolf
You sir, are nuts for doing these runs. Don't ever change! :P

Re: Lost Levels D2 insane no-death no-save walkthrough

Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:45 am
by AlexanderBorisov
Thanks DFW! Already 19 levels are uploaded and I even managed to beat and re-record L4 and L16 on Insane without deaths and saves!
I hope that you also keep up designing stuff as good and devious as Lost Levels (or probably even better) in the future!