Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Polygon Base (POLYGON.WAD)

by Rick Lipsey

Polygon Base is an incredibly vast and incredibly nonlinear techbase map by Rick Lipsey from 1996, the sequel to The Final Geometry, published back in 1995. It's for Doom II, but if you play on Hurt Me Plenty, he's seeded the monsters as if it were an OG Doom map. There are a few cosmetic changes, namely the new title graphic and a sound replacement for the plasma rifle that's about as obnoxious. You have a lot of ground to cover and a lot of baddies to kill. No teleportation traps, just monster closets and lighter fare. None of the toughs are really thrown at you in hordes, so the difficulty is fairly low-key, which is nice considering how big it is. There's a lot to see, with several outdoor areas (all accessible) and several rooms tracing the path of a nukage river.

While texturing is internally consistent from wing to wing (and indeed, every branch of this level can be separated into a completable wing), the only motif I'm able to glean from Lipsey's mapping style is the way he creates computer consoles, very idiosyncratic compared to all the others I've seen. Well, that and a bunch of minor secrets, like columns that when lowered contain a single stimpack, but aren't flagged as secret areas.

There aren't many memorable enemy encounters, and that's alright, because the focus of this map is exploration. Among the few I'll point out one of the first large areas, a concrete room with two mancubus platforms and hitscanners on either side. There are several pain elementals hanging around but never in an area that maximizes their damage. Revenants are used sparingly and cleverly, though, usually causing a bit of a surprise. Really, the meat of your opposition is an assortment of troopers, sergeants, commandos and imps. arch-viles and the big two never make an appearance.

As mentioned, most of this map is really about exploration and "puzzle solving", which of course really means puzzle solving via exploration. It's not an epic switch hunt, though. Anything you do only affects a nearby location, probably a few doors down. So just explore, clear, and pull every switch. There are a few completely optional areas to hit up that aren't considered secrets, like the southwestern outdoor area, but you'll do good to visit them for some early increased firepower. I really can't point out any significant areas besides those mentioned, and maybe the exit sequence, which isn't as tough as I was expecting but nice all the same. It's satisfying hitting all the switches in sequence after having grabbed all three keys. The nukage area is probably my favorite area of the map atmospherically, and includes a nice stroll through the muck in order to access the northeastern section of the level.

It's not exactly the most memorable map I've ever played, but that's because it's got (I'm exaggerating) like a hundred rooms with some nice token detailing. The coolest areas are the large rooms and courtyards if only because their layout demands different architecture than the rest of the level. That said, I'd definitely recommend Polygon Base, along the lines of other large Doom levels like Nostromo's Run or Redrum. It's a nice experience and will keep you busy for more than a few minutes.

This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1996

Memento MoriMemento Mori II
Dystopia 3: Re-Birth of AnarchyAll Hell is Breaking Loose
Army of Darkness DoomIcarus: Alien Vanguard
Polygon Base99 Ways to Die
The Troopers' PlaygroundA Hidden Mountain Factory

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