Sunday, October 9, 2011

Eye of the Storm (STORM.WAD)

by Sverre Andre Kvernmo

Eye of the Storm is Sverre Kvernmo's sixth map in his freely released Cabal series, a replacement for MAP09. The storyline places you in the middle of the ruins of the cacodemon empire, which collapsed 665 years ago. You don't anticipate much resistance, but it suddenly dawns on you that it's New Year's Eve, and we all know how much the Beast loves his numbers... Architecturally and aesthetically the map's pretty bland, with a very symmetric circular layout in a techbase style. There's a raised, inner area with stairs leading downward in the cardinal directions, and an inner ring that facilitates access to the outer ring, an alternating series of roofed chambers and small, outdoor yards.

While the map isn't much to look at, it's a great, tough play, and fairly tense. You'll pretty much need to find all the secrets to make it out alive. Kvernmo puts you on the run the moment you step outside the safety of the inner chamber and keeps you on your toes for the rest of the map, more or less. While you could definitely pepper the roaming demons with the rockets strewn across the map, there are better uses... Much better uses. Kvernmo has also placed revenants on four pillars around the map's outer ring, with more lining up to take their place should you blow them away. He's gone out of his way to make each individual challenge fairly difficult to bypass.

The first phase of the map's activity requires you to find each key and flip a corresponding switch that opens up another segment of the level. The resistance isn't that strong after catching your first breather, and there's at least one neat moment with fast building stairs erupting from the ground on both sides of the exit catwalk. Really, you're just making sure to clear the map out for the second phase of fighting. Hopefully you found the (rather obvious) secret room containing bunches of goodies, including a BFG, because you'll find handling Kvernmo's intended standout encounter rather tough to handle.

It's a BFG frenzy vs. an army of cacos that virtually floods the map. He's made the area incredibly open so as to facilitate their movement. Indeed, in the .TXT he mentions that this single encounter drove the design of the entire level. With the BFG and some rockets, your main concern will be avoiding ball lightning as the map has Kvernmo's trademark stinginess with health, and Hellspawn come at you from virtually every direction. It's not over if you survive, though. He's got a few more surprises in store along the lines of some pesky arch-viles that may prove difficult to handle depending on your ammo stores and when you wake them up. There's one final series of jabs at the player in the exit room that could certainly leave the player demoralized depending on how they're handled.

Like most of Kvernmo's other maps in the Cabal series, Eye of the Storm is short and to the point with plenty of challenging gameplay for the more experienced Doomers among us, though hardened veterans will likely find it passe. It's got boring visuals but the actual encounters more than make up for it. I believe Kvernmo has succeeded in his intent in producing a map that facilitates its showcased encounter, with the trimmings less offensive to the player than some of his other works (namely Temple of Death). It's always interesting to party in caco country, especially with such an imaginative host.

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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