Monday, August 22, 2011

The Hive (HIVE.WAD)

by Christen David Klie

Here it is, the last of Klie's twelve submissions to id's Master Levels for Doom II. And, in retrospect, the Master Level project represents Klie's final work for Doom II. While the BF_THUD! review is forthcoming, it's really more a compilation of a series of three WADs he released in 1994 (entitled THUD*, subtitled CHRISK.WAD for DOOM ][). While this isn't the last WAD of his I'll review, it's a fitting conclusion to his Master Levels submissions. The Hive is a large map divided into two sections. The inner circle is a frenzied free-for-all which gives way to a quick key hunt. The outer circle is an obstacle course that more or less directly to the map's finale.

Like many of Klie's other maps, The Hive is more or less in a wood and earth theme. The inner, starting area has about seven structures, not counting the central one, floating in water. It's also stocked with a number of enemies that wake up fairly soon after leaping into the water. I'll admit it's about the only time I've felt genuinely excited playing Klie's maps as even with the small monster count I wasn't quite sure what I was going to run into as I frantically tried to clear some breathing room. After you make the noises stop, it's some light puzzle solving as you access the structures one by one to reach the exit.

The outer ring follows up with a particularly wide berth. It plays like a gauntlet of separate situations you must conquer in order to proceed further. Most amusingly you can BFG a veritable horde of imps before moving on to the rest of the challenges, which include dodging mancubus fireballs and a precarious walk over some lethal lava while you're fired upon by mancubuses and revenants. The final encounter pits you against a Cyberdemon with plenty of room to dodge, so you shouldn't wind up splattered unless you get careless (or gutsy).

I think The Hive is my favorite of Klie's rejected levels. It's actually slightly challenging though I didn't end up eating dirt at any time, and I enjoy the architecture and layout of both the inner and outer rings. I think I may even prefer it to most of his official Master Levels. I recommend it heartily to anyone looking for a quick romp through Doom II and would hold it up as one of my favorite works of Klie's.


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