Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Combine (COMBINE.WAD)

by Christen David Klie

Christen David Klie had the good fortune to work on Blood as a contract designer with John "Dr. Sleep" Anderson early on in the project's history. When id contacted Anderson to contribute to their Master Levels for Doom II product, he made Klie aware of the situation, and I'm assuming Klie got in touch with id. While Klie made a grand total of twelve maps for inclusion, only six were accepted, The Combine numbering among them. It's a small, compact techbase-style level that show a marked improvement in mapping quality compared to Klie's earlier levels, showcased in CHRIS_K.WAD.

Difficulty is pretty easy. The level is mostly hitscanners and imps, with a few spectres thrown in the mix. The hitscanners compound difficulty when most of the rooms are fairly open, but there's enough health and armor lying around for things to run more or less smoothly. There aren't really any traps, just a few tricky sequences. One of them is a narrow trail over some nukage which is inescapable if you fall on the wrong side. Another is the nuke trail running to the blue door, but that's more or less a sequential quibble.

The biggest improvement over Klie’s earlier material is a series of nice landmarks that help give each room some individual character. The water pit in the opening room, for instance, or the bizarre slope sloughing off into toxic waste in the southeast corner. It also demonstrates that Klie hasn't lost his propensity for puzzles. Depending on your avenue of approach, you may have most of the baddies cleared before you start hunting for keys, which may involve some rooting around. Finally, there's a gorgeous night sky the readme indicates comes from John "Dr. Sleep" Anderson.

The Combine is a nice, short level from Klie. Playing through it, I'm beginning to see his style, which some Doomers often laud, but which I found to be buried beneath the inexperience of his earliest outpourings. The contracting (and about a megaWAD worth of experience!) really helped to bring out the best of his talents. It's just one of twenty reasons you should have the Master Levels, you freebooter.


This post is part of a series on
id's Master Levels for Doom II



  1. One of the worst levels I've ever played. The straw that broke the camel's back was picking up the plasmagun I think it was, and getting crushed in the little square it was on. Completely appalling. Worst mapper in Doom history, hilarious that this trash was published.

    1. i am gathering that you are incredibly agitated by crusher traps

    2. Very true, but maybe they could have put a warning label on it. I thought I was just playing a Doom map, not a surprise you're dead in a mundane area map.

    3. i think that the very nature of a pwad should serve as a warning label. i am not expecting some sort of a professional product when i load it up; i am expecting to experience some sort of faux-3d wonderland constructed by a person and then rendered in a doom engine. and maybe that's where the disconnect is. then again, these Master Levels For Doom II reviews are about four years old. damn, that's a long time, now that i think about it. nowadays i think that i am pretty good about pointing out stuff that would set the average player off. and i think that gets explored in my paragraph on klie in the main article - "The smaller size allows Klie to get away with gameplay elements that would typically result in a smashed keyboard or thrown mouse, among them being certain death traps." i think that BF_THUD was a lot worse about this sort of thing, so if you really disliked klie's stuff here, you would be well served by avoiding the rest of his work.