Friday, July 5, 2019

Mappack 1: The Ultimate Doom

The year is 1995. Doom 2 is already out. iD software is working on Quake, a fantasy RPG that's sure to be the greatest RPG of all time. The level designers, who should be working on Quake, are instead working on a level pack for Doom. I presume this is at the behest of GT Interactive, wanting to rerelease it in a proper commerical format. I could be wrong, but Doom's commerical release before this seems mostly limited to mail-order, so that's just how I figure it. The end result is, it's difficult, and it's fine.

E4M1 is perhaps the trickiest level released commerically, only rivaled by E4M2. On Ultra-Violence, which the player would run at this point, there isn't enough ammo for the number of enemies. There's a big fat asterisk attached to that, since most of the problem is related to the level's final "secret". Which is the Nine Inch Nails logo with three barons of hell. It's not so much a secret as it is mocking players who search for secrets. The rest of the level involves you slowly inching across, shotgunning everything you see, before running back and hiding. Health here is like water in a desert.

E4M2 makes me think Romero has a poster of the barons in his house. Or did. The level geography revolves around raised platforms over lava pits. There's an area without the pits, but it's not very memorable compared to the main area. There's like six barons on this level, and unless you did good in E4M1 and got the rocket launcher, you're better off pistol starting this one. Lots of clever secrets in this one, that gets overshadowed by the monster placement.

As for the rest, they're not very exciting. They don't really look like much of anything. They feel very game-y. While they do have some interesting areas at times, you're mostly just shooting through more wooden and flesh hallways without any of the desperation of the first two levels.

E4M8 is lame. I mentioned how in E3M8 I thought the Mastermind was slapped in, and this one isn't any different. Only he's now in a mess of other monsters. Lead-up's nice-ish. The area directly preceeding the boss arena has a nice build-up, but is ruined by side areas.

E4M9 is directly comparable with E1M9. It's not bad, and the only thing secret about it is that it feels nothing like the rest of the levels.

Doesn't seem to be much point in going in further detail. 6/10. This episode is only remembered because Romero made the player suck it down, and that's only because he had help from McGee.

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