Wednesday, November 16, 2011


by Malcolm Sailor

CHORD_NG (previously referred to as CHORD: The Next Generation) is one of a few levels in Malcolm Sailor's CHORD series, the maps of which he claims are the only good ones he's ever made. If that's the case, then I gather that Sailor prizes very hard and very fast gameplay, because that's what CHORD_NG (replacing MAP28 of Doom II) is all about, playing something like a Hell Revealed map on a much smaller scale. There's no story, just you and some Hellish battlements isolated in a sea of lava. Alignment, lighting and all that jazz is impeccable. Sailor emphasizes his tower theme by surrounding the main island with four smaller structures in the distance to place the map outside of a void. Enough about the visuals, though.

This map is all about five separate encounters, essentially, divided into the five wings. The first is the major chore, pitting you against four hell knights while lifts in the four corners slowly introduce chaingunners into the fray. You may see a few other deltas, of course, but the main thing is watching your back while you beat away the fireball tossers in the main crossway. From here you can pick which fight you want to tackle first. What sequentially is the final battle is a decent pick, just so you can knock it out and not have to worry about it later. It puts you on a lift that slowly lowers, and while barons teleport into the main chamber, chaingunners are revealed along the sides in barred alcoves. The trick is to ignore the barons and kill each gunner asap or they'll simply snipe you to death. It's my favorite fight in the set, outside of maybe the first one.

The southeast and southwest wings are inextricably linked, the western housing the blue key and the eastern the switch that requires it. The southeastern one isn't tricky; there's a line blocking monster movement from the outer chamber, so you can just dodge from cover and then take things out from relative safety. The southwestern wing is a bit more dangerous, but with some timing you can extricate yourself from the revenant melee and take your assailants out from relative safety. Otherwise, you'll have to go dancing while a pack of barons steadily advances upon your position. Sailor was kind enough to pass you a soul sphere, though. When you go back and hit the switch, you'll trigger two halves of an easily manageable trap. The trick, funnily enough, is patience.

The northeastern wing is the final fight I completed. It's not that tricky. You get surprised by a bunch of revenants which you can either take out then or run for the megasphere, which will bring you into the map's beginning and inundate you with a wave of skeletons from the four lifts. Still, not too tough, after which you can run back and tackle anything you left in the red key room. Finally, there's a predictable surprise waiting at the red key switch, but nothing you can't handle. That is, unless the fight gets out of hand. I can imagine your ammo situation becoming quite unfortunate if you don't get a lid on things.

I see why people love CHORD_NG. It's incredibly challenging and each encounter feels tailor-made to the map, along with the architecture and its very competent layout. There are no incidental monsters; even the spectres you bump in to now and then are pure sneaks, hidden in the lighting and easily confused with the chorus of baron and hell knight groans interjected into the level. Mix it together with its attractive design and SSG play and you have yourself a classic. I recommend this to anyone looking for a palpable challenge. Tourists can turn the difficulty all the way down and admire its aesthetics.


This post is part of a series on
Malcolm Sailor's CHORD series


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1997

RequiemEternal Doom
MordethThe Talosian Incident
Dawn of the DeadHell Revealed
Hell's EventideCHORD_NG

1 comment:

  1. "each encounter feels tailor-made to the map"
    More like SAILOR-made *rimshot*