Thursday, April 28, 2011

Congestion 1024 (1024.WAD)

Congestion 1024 is a Doom II megaWAD released in 2005, born from the Exquisite Corpse project, in which a collection of mappers created twelve 1024 x 1024 maps and bound them together as a single, contiguous level. I assume either those involved or those observing found the individual puzzle pieces so intriguing that they made an entire WAD out of similarly sized bits, creating 32 levels of intense action. The rules: the player is bound to a 1024 x 1024 area. They are allowed egress as long as they die upon leaving the 1024 confinement. Monsters, of course, are allowed to be outside the area's bounds and frequently are.

Congestion's maps are deceptively small with large monster counts to compensate. Most use teleporters to warp more cannon fodder into the playing area. The overall effect creates cramped gameplay and guarantees that if you weren't good at dealing with particular monsters, you WILL be by the WAD's end, as every form of Hellspawn shows up (excepting the SS Trooper). The small size of the levels also lends to spending more map time per virtual inch, resulting in levels with great care and detail put into them.

When I originally picked up Congestion, I wasn't very experienced in the arts of Doom II. I won't lie - I died a lot. A LOT. But I got better, and I was happy to (mostly) overcome the challenge. Each of these maps plays like a little puzzle box with its own particular strategies and solutions to dealing with thing placement. The only level I didn't complete from pistol start, no saves on UV was MAP30. One day...

by assorted authors

Water FacilityMAP01
by Nick "hobomaster" Laurent
Fun open techbase level. Most of the action is on a walkway that surrounds an open pit of water. There's an island in the center with some goodies on it. The warp in near the end really had me and I didn't catch any of the secrets until I'd already cleared the enemies. I like the pseudo-bridge.

MAP02Garden of the Descent
by Trevor "Iori" Primmett
Outdoors/rocky map with some great detailing including a small ruin at the level's peak. The switch that appears as the ground collapses was cool. I also love the little flower and grass textures seen here; they really complete the image of an outdoors area and aren't used unintuitively or excessively. The fight with the hell knights up top sticks out in my mind since it's such a cramped space. I experienced an error at the end with the door before the teleporter; whatever trickery used to make it fell apart after I went and sought out the last secret.

by Ray "Shitbag" Schmitz
The detailing on the techbase is superb. The computers, the cords, the air ducts – phenomenal! It's also a much more clustered fight space, fitting 44 monsters in. There's no large open fighting area, so prepare for a lot of shoulder to shoulder slugfests.

MAP04Outpost 1024
by Ian "The Flange Peddler" Cunnings
Another techbase gone to seed. It's a bit more open than the previous one, allowing more maneuverability. The base has obviously suffered some attack, with the ruined debris invading the main fight room, which looks gorgeous. The blue key trap caught me by surprise in a great way. Also love the ceiling rigging by the red key switch, not actually three-dimensional architecture but an incredible simulation!

Autumn in HellMAP05
by Ray "Shitbag" Schmitz
A more abstract Hell keep level that starts out by putting you in the thick of things. There's also a fair amount of nukage that causes you to restrict your playing area even more so. The arch-vile is a bit of a cold, sharp shock, but Schmitz has given you the tools to work past it safely, if not quickly. Overall, very fun, and I love the secrets.

MAP06Departure Point
by Nick "hobomaster" Laurent
Another ruins level with some more open outdoor areas. Nothing spectacular but it instills a good sense of vertical movement and the outdoor area looks great, a nice reprieve from the interior action. Standout fights are the cacodemon room and then later the arch-vile. Having to dodge past the baron for the SSG is a nice rush too.

Dead SmallMAP07
by Lee "Fen Boi" Szymanski
Pure bloody Hell, as you can see. Like MAP01, this is a level that reveals the whole room at the onset. It's infinitely more cramped than its original form but remains fun to play through. The main trick is to make sure you don't lower all the platforms before the arachnotrons warp in, or you'll be short vital cover.

MAP08A Jagged Stroll
by Ray "Shitbag" Schmitz
Another outdoor/rocky terrain map with some ruins involved, and Schmitz's description of "a little too cramped" isn't too far off. You start out high on the rocky cliffs and make your way through some cramped canyons, with your maneuvering room rarely opening up. Most of the level isn't too bad for it but the courtyard with the baron and the pain elemental is very tricky to handle. I managed to barely skate by after a number of attempts. I like the textures here, same as MAP02. I wonder how difficult this is without the 24 secret shells...

Monday MorningMAP09
by Jeffrey "Psyren" Graham
Very cramped Hell castle level with excellent detailing to keep the layout looking fresh. With maps as small as this, I feel the super-hard difficulty is more or less in tune. After all, you're only a few moments away from where you died. It's composed mainly of tiered corridors with virtual hordes of monsters teleporting in to mess with you, from lowly hitscanners to hell knights. This level is particularly rough, but if you find yourself the megasphere secreted away (all the secrets are consistent in presentation) it's a much easier trek.

MAP10Gothika 1024
by Ray "Shitbag" Schmitz
Ruined hell castle broken into a few arena-esque rooms you have to conquer. The first room isn't particularly difficult. You can hop on out and let the infighting sort things out. The second room, particularly the pit fight, is rather brutal depending on how your luck runs. The third big room is a rude awakening. It's sortable, though, and worth it, with great visuals. The rest of the level is downhill from there and includes a curious ending; it's a map trick that forces you to start the next map sans equipment by warping you into some barrels and Romero's head, killing you but earning a level completion.

Caco DistrictMAP11
by Thomas "Lutrov71" Lutrov
It's some kind of ruined Hell city and one epic clusterfuck. From its onset you are constantly under siege from shotgunners, barons, imps, revenants, and even cacodemons. There's a definite procedure to things and the rocket launcher hidden just out of sight of the revenants is key to victory. For more fun, the central pit forces you to deal with a merry arch-vile. For the longest time I had trouble getting past the cacodemon swarm section. After that it was lumpy gravy, but that wave of mancubuses was a definite "oh shit" moment, along with the final wave of aggressors. While this map alone ratcheted the difficulty notch of the WAD to a new degree, I loved unraveling the puzzle.

MAP12Warehouse 667
by Ray "Shitbag" Schmitz
Techbase level with an emphasis on crates. There's a main warehouse section that's fairly open and a few corridors, one of them an excellent advancing shootout. Not too tough for the most part. Once you get the proper sequence for traversing the crate corridor it's pretty simple. The rough stuff involves the pain elementals at the end. Also nice – the arch-vile is in a particularly neutered location. Joy! The map detail is great, as usual for this WAD, though it's understated compared to other levels.

The Focus IIMAP13
by Coen "DoomedAce" Blazer
This techbase sequel uses most of the same textures with the majority of the map taking place in a series of dark tunnels. It's tough and some additional teleports make for an interesting challenge. I like the way Blazer reuses the blue key maze for the yellow key. Like some of these maps, it's not that tough as long as you take your time and figure out just what's coming to you. When you finally get out, you're treated to a more spacious loading docks area with some tougher at-range monsters. The arch-vile is unwelcome but ultimately a futile gesture given the nature of his spawn.

MAP14House of Shadows
by Jeffrey "Psyren" Graham
A labyrinthine castle map. It's quite refreshing to play a level that doesn't grab me by the neck and shake me around like a ragdoll until it snaps. Most of the action is fairly predictable, popping hitscanners in a maze-ish area, while the ammo is beyond plentiful. There are a few rude surprises, like the pain elemental or the hitscanner hell by the red key, but it's all fairly navigable, excepting one crusher that seems difficult to move through. All in all, an incredibly fun romp.

by Mike "Cyb" Watson
A beautiful ruins map that feels more like a puzzle level. With the low monster count, I was deceived into thinking this would be a nice breather map. Then it turned into baron knuckle boxing! There are a few structures and use of fake bridges that lend some real character to the map as well as a well-constructed cave. After edging out the revenants, the rest of the level more or less falls into place. The obligatory arch-vile was fairly neutered due to his placement while the mancubuses at the end were a nice closer. The secret exit's location is a little arcane, but ultimately reachable.

MAP31Archvile Madness
by Kimmo "Jimi" Kumpulainen
Techbase level with a more open finishing section that takes place outdoors. In my mind, it's somewhat comparable to Plutonia's "Hunted," but a sight less random. Predictability doesn't make it much easier, though. As with some of these levels, it pays to take your time. You've got plenty of cover for SSG use; if you spaz out, you might find yourself in an ugly position. The final room's also pretty benign once you know where everything is. That said, learning the map is an intense and slightly frustrating experience.

Nullspace JuniorMAP32
by Russell Pearson
Russell corners his own style with a map that takes place entirely in a void, the level itself presumably floating in space. Incredibly well done. There's some intense fights here but the crushing difficulty of many of the past maps (11, I'm looking at you) is absent. It's fun and weatherable. I almost got my ass handed to me by the revenants near the end but I persevered. I like how the map is reused intelligently and it gradually opens up into a larger playing field. Favorite moment? Probably the inevitable storm of cacodemons coming out of the void.

MAP16Deja View
by Lee "Fen Boi" Szymanski
Hell-themed with a symmetric design. This is a bit of a new take, looking more like an arena with the powerups rationed out with the waves. Nothing is particularly hard. While the obligatory arch-vile isn't much of a surprise, you may feel his burn before you hear or see him. Get your infighting on.

Omega OutpostMAP17
by Lee "Fen Boi" Szymanski
Brown techbase level with a high emphasis on backtracking. There's some nice use of revenants and an arch-vile here that can actually resurrect quite the army. The mancubus is a rude surprise. And the final pair of monsters is a bit of a letdown considering what came before. The architecture serves the purpose well and has a lot of nice curves. It's not as obsessively detailed as the others but it has a few nice points. The only real complaint I have is that outside of a particular map feel, there aren't any memorable features excepting the lighting.

MAP18Tutorial #99
by Nick "hobomaster" Laurent
A techbase that's considerably simpler than most of the other maps in the megaWAD. While not as distinct as the others it has its own close-quarter charm. For some reason I love blasting barons with the SSG in close hallways. The arch-viles are secreted away in various spots to affect nasty surprises for the player.

Lip ServiceMAP19
by Brandon "POTGIESSER" Potgiesser
An intense techbase map with plenty of infighting to dish out. It's not as well worn as some of the other maps but it makes great use of the areas it doesn't reuse. The architecture looks good, but the silver ledges in the first slaughter room really throw my strafing off for some reason. The standout moment was the obligatory arch-vile. I knew it was coming but it still caught me by surprise.

MAP20Claustrophobic Sting
by Ian "The Flange Peddler" Cunnings
Underground level that's part ruins and part caverns. It's short and very atmospheric, using bodies to construct a narrative. The demonic ruins present at the dig create complete the image of an exploratory project that uncovered something sinister. I like the power generator mock-ups. I didn't die until the mandatory death to enforce pistol start, but there were about five or so monsters I hadn't found after clearing the caverns. Odd.

Corpse YardMAP21
by Coen "DoomedAce" Blazer
Hell castle themed map that's quite symmetric. This was pretty tough after the past few levels. I like the hallway dodging and the way the area slowly unfolds. I was doing pretty good until I ran out of ammo during the courtyard clusterfuck and released another wave of hell knights and the pain elemental wave at the same time. I still persevered, but I wasn't able to take out the obligatory arch-vile and had to dance around him to hit the switch.

MAP22Prison Escape
by Kimmo "Jimi" Kumpulainen
Techbase themed with the majority of it taking place inside the floors of the aforementioned prison. It's a much simpler layout than the majority of the WAD, but it's overloaded with enemies. No warping, just torrents of hardbodies. The two arch-viles by the red key aren't difficult to get around; my particular bottleneck was the room jam-packed with revenants. I must admit that my jaw dropped when I saw the final group of monsters.

Close QuartersMAP23
by Michael "Job" Philleo aka "Vulg@r"
Open-air ruined city level with a complex layout. The gist: you move around the map, heading from building to building, triggering massive clusterfucks. And I do mean massive. The amount of stuff that teleports into the level makes you wonder where Job is hiding everything. At the end is a close alley fight with one of the few Cyberdemons of the WAD. It's a little rough but the BFG makes things a lot simpler. I also like how the final wave of monsters appears to fall from the air, though compared to everything else that's been thrown at you, it feels like an afterthought.

MAP24Zyklon B
by Justin "StealthyIvan" Nagy
I'll tentatively call this city-themed. The gameplay was fun until about the twentieth or so restart. The first big bottleneck is the walkway between the two poison fountains. If you can clear out enough of the bullshit, you're pretty good for awhile. There's an incredibly rude awakening after getting the red key. Given the liberal plasma ammo I managed to skate by my first time. There's barely enough scratch around to off the mobile turret, though.

Stein und StahlMAP25
by Brandon "Catsy" Bannerman
Hell-castle themed and begins with a more cramped, labyrinth feel situated around nearly identical circular rooms. The detailing is superb. I love the way the main floor lowers to create an entirely new environment for gameplay. I'm not sure the mancubuses are very effective where they're placed, but I'm not sure there's anything else that fits there. All in all, very fun, especially compared to some of the clusterfucks I've had to endure.

by Richard "Cycloid" Hardacre
As indicated by the title, it's a green marble textured level. Very fun and very doable without the secret, surprisingly. Two arch-viles here; the first one isn't that tough and the second one is pretty easy to negate given its location. I like how the map gradually opens up with health and ammo rationed out for each encounter Hardacre throws at you and the slog through the blood river stands out as my favorite sequence.

Tower of HadesMAP27
by Ian "The Flange Peddler" Cunnings
Arena-style Hell level that puts you on a tower square in the middle of four Spiderdemons. The dirty secret: you can complete this level without firing a single shot. It's loads easier that way, though not entirely ethical. Just activate the crushers after the single imp gets taken out by crossfire and sit back and wait for the dust to settle. Played as intended though, it's a huge rush, with wave after wave of enemies, liberal use of infighting, and prayer. The hardest wave in my opinion would be the revenants, though I may have just been lucky with the Cyberdemon.

MAP28A Bridge too Far
by Ian "The Flange Peddler" Cunnings
Hell themed level bisected in two by the aforementioned bridge. The toughest part of this map is sorting out your first move (after taking care of your buddy). Once you've gotten a toehold the rest just falls into place. The bridge guardian seems intimidating at first but it's an easy task to warp onto the bridge, pump him full of ammo, and then strafe right off when it gets hairy. I will say that the opening of this map is about par for course in Congestion's intensity. I'm also fond of the architecture and the rather cute bridge-raising puzzle.

by Brandon "POTGIESSER" Potgiesser
Green-marble/Hell-castle level that's cramped with an extraordinarily high body count. The main problem is getting past the first few rooms of bullshit with your trusty SSG. After that, it becomes a slaughterfest of epic proportions. The final room is especially memorable, as is the red key trap. I love the detail in each section, mainly on the floor and ceiling, particularly those little crosses in the first room. It really shows the care Potgiesser's poured into the map.

MAP30Nullified Departure
by Ian "The Flange Peddler" Cunnings and Thomas "Lutrov71" Lutrov
Basically MAP27 on steroids, which only figures. Really, there's way too much bullet hell going on here for my comfort. The opening segment isn't too bad (though I hate the revenant wave). The final section is a progressively wackier boss shooter with you constantly under fire from mancubuses and cacodemons as well as imps and hell knights in the back. All you really have to do is survive, but with all the shit being slung around, good luck. When you've finally hit the end, though, and flip the kill switch, it's satisfying beyond belief.


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