Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Titan Anomaly (ANOMALY.WAD)

THE TITAN ANOMALY
by Jim Flynn


The Titan Anomaly is the second map in Flynn's freeware Titan series (and possibly the fourth in line overall). Following the destruction of Titan's mining facility, it turns out that the UAC (an organization rival to Flynn's Federation, apparently) discovered an alien structure on Titan, dubbed the Anomaly. A security perimeter was established around the area, one your employers want you to break into to see just what is going on. Your briefing points out such areas as the Security Holding Area, Visitor's Center, Science Admin Building, Security Headquarters, and Guard Barracks before the Anomaly Research Center proper. Looks like you'll have one Hell of a time.


Titan Anomaly is a relatively simple affair compared to some of Flynn's other work, and while it's a large map, exploration is quite straightforward. The beginning action takes place in a hexagonal enclosure, surrounded by a larger hexagonal ring divided into four sections. You're immediately under fire from cacodemons, setting the tone of the map, which is a fair bit more aggressive than the Mines of Titan. Getting out of the inner circle is pretty easy, leading to the Visitor's Center, as indicated in the .TXT. It's a small building decorated with murals of level screenshots a la Oracle, except nothing pictured is a clue, more a preview of things to come. At the very least, the blue key puzzle is explicitly hinted at.


This action leads back to the center and then bounces you out toward the north (the Science Admin Building). Things start out pretty sedate but there's at least one wicked trap (and one not so wicked trap involving the secret rocket launcher). Then you bounce back into the center hub, this time pushing out either east or west. You're better off heading east to the Security Headquarters and Guard Barracks. There's a nice dual ambush involving a lot of Doom II toughs (virtually the works). The Headquarters look pretty cool with the marble foundation and tech columns. Once you snag the red key, you can move on to the Barracks. Things look pretty innocuous at first... and then, if you're anything like me, you'll get splattered against the wall.


The whole Barracks segment is one of my favorite points of the map, putting you into a mess of Hell amplified by the grand, ominous staircase and two of the nastier traps the game has to offer. You're better off just rushing by, however, and then letting both elements take each other out before you make off with the yellow key. You can immediately access a library annex from there, which is a nice extension of the marble theme, though entirely superfluous. You can then proceed to the Anomaly Research Area (west) secure in having all three keys. Otherwise you'd bump into one of three key doors put successively in place to halt further access. It's a good idea to investigate the little guard towers for some much-needed armament, which leads to another great moment, a tricky close-quarters brush with two mancubuses followed by an epic firefight of mancubuses, cacodemons and revenants, a veritable swarm. There's a few powerups that can trivialize the encounter, but you may miss them in the heat of the moment.


Finally and with all the other bullshit out of the way, you wind up at the Anomaly proper. It's very well guarded and has a large courtyard where you're assaulted with a stream of projectiles from mancubuses, barons and revenants. Stepping up to the prominent switch unleashes a second wave of cacodemons and an arch-vile that could make things quite messy. It's overall a great fight, with the grand architecture and skylights serving Flynn's purpose. There's a quick timed switch puzzle before you can move on to the final area. It's a vertical climb up wooden steps through several marble towers. It's not very difficult, compared to the shit you just cleaned out of the UAC base, but some of the stairway fighting can be a bit tricky as Flynn's staffed the later towers with Doom II toughs and he's got several artillery platforms of mancubuses to dirty things up, never mind the free-roaming cacodemons.


Architecturally Flynn has some great stuff here, though as usual it's lightly detailed. I particularly like the Anomaly, though the grand staircase in the eastern section is also quite memorable. Puzzle-wise, this map is a bit light, leaning more toward challenging the player with tough firefights. Combat-oriented players should really enjoy Titan Anomaly. That's not to say, though, that Flynn left more exploratory Doomers in the cold. Anomaly is just a much tighter map than Flynn's usual fare, feeling well-staffed at 255 monsters (to begin with, anyway). I heartily recommend ANOMALY.WAD to any Doomer, whether you're a fan of Flynn's work or just want to pump rockets into packs of hardbodies. Once again, the Titan series delivers.



IT'S ALWAYS AN ANOMALY


This post is part of a series on
Jim Flynn's Titan series

Titan ManorTrapped on Titan
Mines of TitanTitan Anomaly
The Farside of TitanTrouble on Titan

2 comments:

  1. Jim Flynn had such a bizarre combination of texture use, but for some reason I feel that kind of added to the abstract nature of the maps and their layout. These reviews are really fun to read; keep up the great work! ~vf

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  2. It stuck out as weird to me at first, but with every map of his I played cemented it as his particular style, which given the consistency with which he uses it, doesn't bother me at all. Just another great artist in Doom's collection of authors.

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