Friday, September 23, 2011

Osiris (OSIRIS.WAD) and I, Anubis (ANUBIS.WAD)

Osiris is a partial conversion (well, by my now rigorous definition) for Doom II, replacing MAP01-08. It's loosely based on the 1994 film "Stargate" in the same way that "Stargate" was loosely based on Egyptian mythology, the TV series in turn being loosely based on the movie. Players are treated to a mixture of "Stargate" techbases and Egyptian-style ruins creating a science-fiction romp throughout some never-was mixture of Egyptian and Hell that's spooky, ominous, and thrilling.

Osiris was presaged by another partial conversion, a minisode entitled I, Anubis. They share the relationship of a finished product and a demo, respectively. Osiris uses Anubis, released late 1995, for its first three maps, all of which have undergone a significant tuneup. Thing placement is a bit different, and they've erred on the side of throwing in even more monsters. They've also improved upon the sprite replacements found in the original PC and added some more, as well as some architectural and texture changes that are definitely for the better. The soundtrack is also much better, enjoying greater consistency.

Being a partial conversion, there's a host of new textures Bostwick and Payne have included to flesh out their concept. Most of it's Egyptian style stuff like hieroglyphics and wall reliefs, but there are a few new tech textures used throughout to hammer in its "Stargate" setting. There's also a bunch of sprite replacements adding in new columns, obelisks and braziers; new images for most of the pickups; and some thing replacements that generate instances of ambient noise like creepy Egyptian voices that help add to Osiris's alien atmosphere. They've also replaced a few weapons, specifically the fist (with a knife), the chaingun (with a machine gun), the rocket launcher (with a flame thrower), and the plasma rifle. I suspect that the plasma rifle has been slightly increased in power, but I'm not sure. The flame thrower is functionally a plasma rifle that shoots slower but hits harder.

There are a few monster replacements for you to experience. Shotgun guys have been replaced by blue marines with Egyptian-style headdresses. Imps have endured a quite radical sprite edit, resembling very much Anubis, and throw cacodemon fireballs. Demons have been replaced by sergeant sprite edits wielding scythes (functionally the same). I think they move a bit slower than their originals. Lost souls have been replaced by bats that screech, swoop, and are slightly less durable than their originals. Lastly, the arch-vile has undergone a makeover. He now shoots fast, super-powered fireballs and is capable of provoking infighting. He's also incapable of resurrecting friends, an interesting departure considering the Egyptian subject matter. Present in I, Anubis and missing from Osiris is a phantasm (I believe it replaced the arch-vile) that screams when it initially sights you, after which it spams you with plasma until it dies (thankfully having very little health). The whole gamut helps to differentiate the conversion from Doom, though I can't help but wish there were some more extensive changes.

Osiris is a nice PC episode with some neat changes. Atmospherically it's a bit different from Doom II, maybe more in line with the original simply by virtue of its emphasis on horror and claustrophobia. It's well worth a playthrough and moderately challenging (despite what the .TXT suggests). You'll find more than enough resources to conquer its alien world. Note for players: the DEH and WAD files included in the zip will likely run fine in most source ports (it works in ZDoom), but you may have to use the original install program to work it in source ports like Chocolate Doom. It'll work perfectly fine, though (as long as you have the original EXE and WAD).

by Marshal Bostwick and Glen Payne

Stargate SystemsMAP01
This is a short introductory map that leads you through a small, cramped techbase. There are some new textures that help illustrate its difference from a normal techbase (like the stargate itself or various console things). The base itself is in a blue and silver style, with some sewers and more importantly some nice tech areas to keep it from looking like some generic starbase. Once you pass through the "Stargate", you get a lovely interlude with a poke at the player before it drops you into a moody Egyptian exterior rife with ruins set against a starry night sky intruded by pyramids. Difficulty is pretty easy though there are plenty of hitscanners to harry the player on top of a few traps that will leave you in the lurch.

MAP02The Crypts Defiled
Did I say the previous Egyptian area was moody? Well, this level does it better. MAP02 is a tense trek through some ancient crypts, including some large ruinous architecture (the western area), a nicely-structured subterranean Hell (perhaps my personal highlight), and a number of caustic underground pools that lend a more cavernous feel to the level. The opening crypt area looks kind of bland but after you head north you'll have some much nicer vistas to feast your eyes upon. Difficulty is knocked up a notch with the addition of chaingunners, hell knights and cacodemons along with normal demons and their semi-invisible brethren. The trickier navigation is due to clever use of lifts and teleporters to keep the player slightly unsure of just how the map fits together.

Cloud of FlameMAP03
Essentially an extension of MAP02, except a bit less labyrinthine and even more action-packed (excepting one non-sequitor maze). There's quite a few secrets to be had this time around, including several monsters stashed away in key areas. Areas of note include the central crypt chamber (the map's hub), the northern hallway and its atmospheric lighting, a nasty pile-on trap in the yellow key room, and a molten finale to the south that's got a nice shootout to start with mancubuses on the high ground and some revenants below with followed by a great second wave complete with a wicked cool staircase rising out of the lava. This ends with a retread through the gorgeous "Stargate" approach seen near the end of MAP01 which leads back to a small "Stargate" base encounter.

MAP04R U Experienced?
This map takes place entirely in a techbase style not unlike Doom's E1. While it's got its fair share of interior locations, a large amount of action occurs in some exterior areas dominated by toxic waste (which themselves are dominated by island structures). Really, nukage appears to be a definite theme of this level. Among its highlights include the massive western area with plenty of crossfire (and a tricky teleport ambush in the central structure), a neat sewer grate-ish thingie in the southern segment, and a nice run through the base's lower depths which isn't confusing and which has two large crusher traps you'll have to navigate. It's a little tougher than previous maps with its insistence on some nastier surprises and encounters, but nothing that'll make you sweat.

Osiris OutpostMAP05
More techbase, but this one has a Stargate at the end. It's a bit rough, as nearly all the enemies you will fight are hitscanners, and there's a distinct shortage of health on the map. The most memorable encounter is a teleport ambush near the end that you'll see coming (it's pretty telegraphed). There's a ton of cool stuff, though. Bostwick and Payne have loaded each room down with some distinct architecture so that everything stands out. There's also a plethora of excellent lighting to be had which really makes the level as a whole pop. One good example is the northern hallway near all the key doors. It's just a good map, even if it does tend to kick you in the balls.

MAP06Prince of the Dead
Another Egyptian-style map favoring caverns over ruins. Granted, there are some ruins to be had, but most of the action takes place in a vast subterra where the inferno is right below the surface. This map debuts one of the more dangerous monsters, the arch-vile edit, who is used to great effect. There's a lot of great stuff to see, amplified by some excellent lighting and detail. The opening chamber looks nice and the largest cavern is very well laid-out (though it could probably use a little more height variation). The final atmospheric trek after passing through the Stargate is great as well.

Temple of Amon-RaMAP07
Another Egyptian level, this one opening with a great temple facade and shootout. This moves on into a short beige ruins segment before some great blood and marble before accessing the temple proper from its front entrance (after some slightly rough firefights). Excepting an invulnerability-aided slugfest and a neat outdoors segment, the actual temple isn't very notable except for some excellent texturing. Most of the real action occurs prior, with some sneaky spectres and tricky passageways as well as the surprising appearance of pain elementals. As with the previous maps, lighting and detailing are very nice. The main thing that stands out is more action-packed combat.

MAP08The Last Pharaoh
Osiris's finale isn't much compared to the previous maps. After a short green and marble corridor you end up in a large arena in a circular style with a central winding pillar. There are a lot of monsters that teleport in and wander around so it's a great firefight with two crannies to the east and west where some more opposition (including a few pain elementals) are stashed. The rest of the map is some more ruins with lighter opposition that ends in a fairly simple puzzle leading you to the ominous exit. I was expecting a more epic showdown, but I'll take what I can get. The whole battle in the central courtyard is the standout encounter, as it's loaded with most of the map's monsters, some of which are introduced as you explore.



  1. Quite a nice TC for its time. Perhaps even an overlooked classic.

  2. I agree. If it was a 32 level wad it would be a classic. I keep coming back to play it time after time.

  3. Absolutely loved this! Nothing felt out of place. Great new weapons (though the plasmarifle stays annoying) Maybe not that difficult but i don't mind.
    Was it ever even mentioned with the cacowards?

    Any other Egyptian-style wads you can recommend? I thought Ancient Aliens was great too.

    Great work on this blog btw. I try to catch up with you but with 600+ reviews, i got my hands full. Appreciate your effort!

    1. 1995-1996...

      Forget about the Cacoward-bit. My mistake.