Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Derelict Station (DERELICT.WAD)

by Sverre Andre Kvernmo and Greg "Acoma" Hyne

Derelict Station is another map from Kvernmo's Cabal series, broken up due to the inclusion of four others into id's Master Levels for Doom II. Playing the part of a Cyberdemon ousted from Hell after a coup by your own ruling Cabal (following a previous coup overthrowing Mephisto, who had failed in his invasion of Earth), you decide to take your revenge to them in your now human form. In Derelict Station, a MAP02 replacement, you've just escaped the Sea of Blood and clambered into a not-so-abandoned building for supplies, only to encounter some resistance.

Like most (all?) of the Cabal maps, Kvernmo and Hyne built this level with deathmatch in mind, though the abstraction isn't quite so obvious here owing to some superior (yet subtle) detailing. The attention paid to lighting in this level is phenomenal, from the careful criss-crossing patterns in the silver corridor at the beginning, to the gradient strip lights in the opening clusterfuck, to the use of stark contrast in the soul sphere room. Other great stuff includes the bombed-out portion of the base with its ominous crevasses and exposed tech guts.

Difficulty is actually a bit more manageable than Bloodflood, in my opinion. The main trick is sorting out the opening fight. Like Bloodflood, you start out quite outgunned, and while you could resort to tediously softboxing a pack of demons and spectres, you'd be much better served grabbing the armaments at the map's opening. From here the main challenge depends upon the map's emphasis on tight ammo control. Don't waste bullets or rockets if you can help it or you may find yourself contemplating commando boxing, a dangerous idea indeed. The other major action sequence is the blasted-out section, but compared to the frenetic opening, it's more an exercise in room clearing.

There are also some clever secret bits that really help amplify the fun of the level. One of them leads to a medikit and the level's only source of shotgun ammo, incidentally also an SSG. It's also impossible to access without the blue key, but not in a way you'd typically think. There's a not-so-secret near the map's opening that should help increase your survivability. Finally, there's a secret involved in the only part of the blasted-out base you can fall into. It's also the only way you can get out, but it's fairly easy to solve; you're just under some damage floor induced time pressure.

Two other rooms that look pretty are the exit room (neat looking exit teleporter) and the blue key room. The tech cylinder sloping down to the center looks quite nice. Unfortunately, it's also the one encounter in the level that falls flat. At some point you trigger a teleporter trap beaming imps directly on top of the blue key pillar. If you've lowered it by then you might actually get some pressure. Otherwise, dispatching them one by one as they arrive is a simple endeavor that leaves not much excitement to the player. After the previous blue key trap in Bloodflood I was expecting a jalapeno or two at the end, but no such luck.

Derelict Station is a fun, tough map for Doom II and a worthy (early) entry in Sverre Kvernmo's Cabal series. It's much more aesthetically pleasing than its predecessor, Bloodflood, and while some of the encounters may fall flat, there's enough imagination and ingenuity packed into its tiny frame to make it a compelling, if short, adventure. I'd recommend this map to anyone looking for a challenge on a bit of a smaller scale. The only thing it's lacking is Bloodflood's sense of objective accomplishment, but that's like chocolate ice cream minus chocolate sprinkles. It's still delicious.


This post is part of a series on
Sverre Kvernmo's Cabal series

Bloodsea KeepDerelict StationBloodfloodThe Watchtower
Temple of DeathWe Who are About to DieThe Express Elevator to HellEye of the Storm
Mephisto's MaosoleumBlack TowerThe Image of Evil

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