Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ESW2 (ESW2.WAD)

ESW2's official title is "imagine a good name here". I'll just refer to it as ESW2 and forgo any mean-spirited jokes. This mapset replaces levels 1-10 of Doom II. Its authors hail from Chile, if the names and email address are any indication. David Jander, aka ESW, made seven of the included maps, with three of his friends (I'm guessing) supplying one each of their own. The total package is... not good. The maps are distinctly sub-par with the occasional flash of brilliance, as documented in the individual notes.


Part of this is due to them being simply beginner maps circa 1995 (well, very close to 1994 given the file's timestamp). Architecture is generally plain with little or no detailing and plenty of texture alignment errors as well as combos that just don't work well together. Monster encounters are underwhelming, with a few exceptions. Finally, the maps were constructed with a nodebuilder of Jander's own design, BSP2DO. I mention this as a bad note because, uh, played as is there are a lot of curious rendering errors on top of moments where you just plain walk through visible walls. It's one of the easiest series of flaws to fix, of course.


Bitching aside, there are some neat moments. Jander comes up with most of them. Some of them are memorable architecture, or lighting, or just a neat sequence like the opening of his MAP06, which I'd say is worth seeing once. On the whole, though, it's hard to recommend this to anyone unless you're a fan of very amateurish WADs that manage to play okay regardless. I initially discovered this as part of a compilation Doom Legacy advocate Jive put out. While I'm sure he made some welcome fixes, he also inserted his own midi soundtrack which was less than inspiring.



ESW2
imagine a good name here
by David Jander, Stefano Villanueva,
Felipe Figueroa, and Juanjo Sierralta

by David JanderMAP01
Fairly standard opening level in a plain wood and mortar theme. Best (and really only) detail I can laud is the use of lighting. Most of the map is fullbright but there's some nice shading that goes on, though it isn't 100% consistent. Standout encounter has Jander turning off the lights and unleashing some spectres on you. Familiar, but a nice feature, and it gets the job done. Also worth mentioning is an interim section that cribs pretty heavily from Doom II's "The Crusher".

MAP02by David Jander
A pretty ugly techbase with a mix of different textures. My personal worst offender is a a brown metal wall that doubles as a door, fairly close to the beginning. There's also a room choked with walkthru brown windows. On the positive side, it has a nice outdoor area along with some decent firefights and a bit of detailing, like a blinking wall light. Nothing impressive, though.

by Stefano VillanuevaMAP03
Stefano's sole offering is a jumbled mix of themes that thankfully keeps the action up with a constant stream of demon trash, which is good considering the amount of ammo he dumps on you. The single constant theme of his map's style is the drop. By that, I mean the map flow forces the player to step into a position he or she can't immediately back out of and then deal with the current monsters. Architecture is mostly boring but I like the greenmarble / granite monument thing as well as the initially shadowed Romero structure. Standout encounter is the invulnerability-led slaughter, though you'll be pressed to be efficient given you only have the SSG to work with.

MAP04by David Jander
A fairly boring level kind of in the "Downtown" style, except more linear and less action-packed. Many of the few monsters present are so tightly packed they can't even move or attack, most notably in the penultimate building. At the very least, Jander attempts to liven things up by warping a few hardbodies in after you've grabbed the blue key. The final room itself is very tricky, but it's due to bad encounter design more than anything. Have fun navigating it, especially with the inadequate ammo Jander has seeded around the map. Make sure you utilize all the infighting you can.

by David JanderMAP05
Four areas connected with a teleporter crossroads. You'll need to visit three to get the exit keys for the fourth. Take the southern teleporter first; the fight is pretty easy and will set you up with enough rockets to last the rest of the map. It's a shame that the room is otherwise so uninteresting. The western teleporter leads to a pretty unimpressive wooden area decorated with a few imps. It's kind of like a larger, emptier version of the segment at the end of "Industrial Zone". The northern teleporter takes you to a giant canyon that dominates the map. While the canyon looks passable, it's sparsely populated and fairly featureless. Not good, but some neat ideas here. Standout moment is playing barrel dominoes in the Cyberdemon room.

MAP06by David Jander
A larger offering from Jander in a mostly techbase style. There's a neat opening in the opening area where the marble walls reform themselves as you move through a tiny ankle-high maze. The first major bout of fighting occurs in some flashing tech tunnels a la E1M2, but there's a neat sequence with a megasphere. The rest of the map is dominated by a large outdoor area that seems understaffed, though there's a nice firefight eased along with an invulnerability artifact. Nothing really threatening, though. The tech tunnels are riddled with secrets. In fact, there's a chain about six deep.

by David JanderMAP07
Medium-size canyon / cavern level that plays fairly fast. It's mostly gray concrete but there are a few change-ups, like the not-so-toxic cavern early on. Action steps up a little bit with a few arch-viles but the action is pretty predictable. At the very least, it rarely lets up. A few very ugly texture errors, particularly after entering the southwestern penultimate room, but it's something I've come to expect with this series, along with the mangled nodes.

MAP08by Felipe Figueroa
Figueroa's sole contribution is an absolute jumble featuring a boss shooter wall (but no shooter), a number of SS Troopers, and a Wolfenstein elevator for the exit switch. It's not a bad play, but the architecture is very basic, with only a few drop elevator traps spicing the action up.

by Juanjo SierraltaMAP09
Very short, very ugly map with a scattershot texture style. At the very least, it's not nearly as annoying as the first time I played it. Maybe I just got lucky with the strange door triggers. The most visually interesting area to me is the strobing staircase leading up to the exit switch. Encounterwise, eh. Maybe the red key trap.

MAP10by David Jander
Short, ugly and boring. Most of the 175 monster count is made up of zombimen stuffed into rectangular rooms at the end of long, winding hallways. When you kill one particular imp they all start moving toward you, but as long as you're armed with your trusty chaingun, you have little if anything to fear. The climax of the map pits you against a shooting gallery of three Spiderdemons, tedious to take on at range. If you're adventurous, of course, you can get them to take each other out, after which it's safe to battle a neutered demon spawner. It's a fitting climax, though not in a good way.

¡CHAO PESCADO!

2 comments:

  1. How the hell do you beat level 10? I can't reach the John Romero head.

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    Replies
    1. You have to depend on autoaim to do it. There's a sweet spot involved; what worked for me was standing directly in front of the opening and one terrace down from the entrance.

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