Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Express Elevator to Hell (TEETH.WAD)

by Sverre Andre Kvernmo

The Express Elevator to Hell is perhaps the most notorious map contained within id's Master Levels for Doom II, if not for its difficulty then for containing the only secret map which Kvernmo apparently snuck under the radar, judging by Shawn Green's comments. TEETH.WAD replaces MAP31 and 32; 31, of course, is the main event, the elevator ride. MAP32 is "Bad Dream", a fairly well-documented secret map that will be covered at the end of this review. The story so far: The Cabal has realized that you're a force to be reckoned with, human or not, and elects to ambush you on your elevator ride to the deepest pits of Hell.

Ambush is right. No moment better crystallizes the tone of this map then on first entrance. You're dumped into the trapped elevator shaft which begins to move, giving you no time to react to the commandos and hell knights that block off all eight exits from the elevator car. Kvernmo has thoughtfully given you reams of shotgun shells and a modest amount of health, but you won't get anywhere running in half-cocked. Consistently navigating the first fight is one of the most important milestones you'll reach.

As mentioned, there are eight stops on this tower of terror. Each floor from bottom to top must be dealt with to gain access to the next successive bit. There's a bit of intermingling, of course. A teleporter on the second floor places you in a structure in the middle of the fifth floor, and there are a few secret sections that take you to previously inaccessible alcoves in earlier areas. There are also traps, an institution Kvernmo maps wouldn't feel right without. Your very first trap is a time-delay door sealing off the first floor and forcing you to make some headway against the opposition in the main shaft. There are other things, too, like a fountain of chaingunners boobytrapping the second floor's hallway, or the crossfire clusterfuck on the third floor.

Really, virtually every floor packs some kind of a challenge that's somewhere from not so tough to quite tough to navigate on your first experience. Critical thinking is a must have when tackling stuff like the third floor or the very opening salvo. Other bits are fairly easy to rush through with floor seven being one of the most transparent encounters, apart from the very first level. And, of course, there's the final encounter on floor eight. This trap's one of the nastiest, though it's much easier to navigate if you've grabbed all the secrets.

And you'll need all the secrets if you want to take the map's alternate exit, barred behind three key doors (all keys being hidden). It's not very well-obscured; in fact, the only trick is the means of locomotion by which you access it. I think the secret exit is pretty well-known by now, requiring an arch-vile jump, preferably under the influence of the invulnerability artifact, also a secret, located behind one of two arch-viles released by the end of level trap. It's an interesting end to a damn fine level, loading you up with health and a BFG before sending you off to the next deathtrap.

Aesthetically the map's pretty plain. Some of the rooms have a dash of interesting architecture but it's mostly techbase flavored with some offwhite / green tiling on the walls. The true star is Kvernmo's devious encounter layouts, keeping you on your toes at all times, never knowing quite what to expect for the next sucker punch. Thankfully they're the kind of encounters that, should they prove lethal the first time, lend themselves pretty well to learning on subsequent attempts. Once you get past the third floor, you're probably good if you managed to get any of the more obvious secrets. It's a fine, ultra-hard addition to the Master Levels, and with a little assistance from an arch-vile you can reach...


It's you, 34 Cyberdemons, and some other bullshit. This is basically nothing but a puzzle map and it's pretty easy to solve. Sverre has also quite thoughtfully given you the bare minimum amount of tools to complete your operation. Sure, you'll have to chainsaw a revenant, but you get a megasphere out of the deal. The hardest part is getting the Cyberdemons to create enough of an opening to grab the invulnerability. After that, it's all over but the crying. There's not much else to say, really. Enjoy your super secret level.

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


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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