Sunday, December 25, 2011

Plutonia Revisited Community Project (PRCP.WAD)

The Plutonia Experiment was a megaWAD created by the Casali brothers for id Software as part of the Final Doom package. In the years since, it's enjoyed a more favorable legacy than its sibling, TNT Evilution, so much so that it's had two unofficial sequels, Plutonia 2 and the WAD which this review covers, Plutonia Revisited. Plutonia Revisited's scope is a bit narrower than Plutonia 2, however, as the PRCP focused on vanilla compatibility (the trend of 2011). The only flaws you'll encounter when playing the original .EXE are a few maps that invoke the savegame buffer overflow (hooray for source ports!). In fact, this project has a few instances of mapping tricks that require vanilla emulation in source ports (notably some linedef hoodoo in MAP31). Redacted 05/01/12.

Plutonia Revisited's story begins where the original left off (or, well, whenever you last killed a traditional demon shooter). During your six-month long crusade against Hell (a joke referencing Plutonia's development cycle) the demons possessed "the eternal architects of reality" and used them to mould your world into some kind of personal Hell constructed from your past experiences. You unthinkingly enter it after rushing into a portal that opens in the wake of your last battle, a mere distraction to prepare your subsequent ordeal. Distressingly, the mastermind behind your suffering has focused its assets, typically employed toward world domination, on its vendetta against you, the wrench thrown into so many plans gone awry.

So, does PRCP measure up to its predecessors? I can't speak for Plutonia 2, but yes, yes it does. It's more or less what I'd expect if a group of talented individuals got together and made a crop of maps using Plutonia as a blueprint. It's a bit harder, understandably, and some of the maps are quite larger. Each author has their own individual touches that gives the mapset a character distinct from the Casalis (and, of course, Plutonia 2). The Plutonia textures return again, along with others, namely some eye candy courtesy of Thomas Van Der Velden. I particularly enjoy the pulsing stone wall graphics, used to great effect whenever they appear. My only caveat is that the brown to green stone texture jerks all over the place, which is kind of distracting. Most maps show a fusion of aesthetics from previous Plutonia maps, including bits that are similar but differently implemented. You'll also see the occasional homages to Doom and Doom II.

As mentioned, Plutonia Revisited is hard. Actually, I think it's a fair bit harder overall than the original, which comes as no surprise given fifteen years of gameplay progression from the Casalis' no-nonsense approach to mapmaking. One of the saving graces is that the maps are blessedly short due to vanilla limitations, excepting the few that give the savegame buffer the finger (MAP11, 15, 19). Not that I'm at all bitter about having to play such atmospheric gems as "Will You Be My NME?" or intricate masterpieces like "Enigma Helix". The main difficulty element I found curiously absent was the Casalis' trademark instant teleportation hordes; I don't know whether to be pleased or disappointed. Otherwise, it's textbook Plutonia, if Plutonia packed its own pair of knuckledusters.

Plutonia Revisited may not be a carbon copy of the Casali classic, but it's a worthy successor to its lineage. It's challenging, playable in the original .EXE, and features quality mapping all around. I would recommend it to anyone excepting those individuals who were never fond of the Plutonia style in the first place. Also, looking at the author info, I can't help but express amazement at how international Joshy's assembled team is. I suppose it's a testament to The Plutonia Experiment's universal appeal.


by assorted authors

by Josh "Joshy" Sealy
Beige brick keep surrounded by water. Nails the feel of "Congo", more or less, with several recognizable homages (rocket launcher trap, cargo area with SSG and arch-vile, courtyard crossfire) but has its own particular feel. There are two clever secrets, one of which involves a berserk trap that may fool you once, and the Plutonia textures look fantastic. I particularly like the two waterfront areas. Standout encounter for me is probably the blue key trap just for its cramped nature and its simple yet elegant waterfall layout.

MAP02Temple of Cetza
by Paul "pcorf" Corfiatis
This one's set in some kind of waterlogged ruin. Corfiatis uses packs of demons as the dominant motif. There's not enough ammo to shoot them down, which figures as pcorf supplies you with a berserk pack at the map's beginning. Since health and ammo are a bit spare, it's helpful to know about the map's secrets, though I still have no idea how to access the SSG. My personal favorite encounter is the red key sequence, which involves a tricky fight to get to it followed by one of those demon ambushes that proliferates the WAD. Fun stuff.

Escape from the Ghost TownMAP03
by Lorenzo "UltimateLorenzo" Davia
In loving memory of "Ghost Town". Three large circular courtyards compose the opening area; each one has a ledge ringed with hitscanners (commandos and sergeants). From here you have two decisions, one of which leads to an area requiring the blue key, the other with the blue key (and a plasma rifle if you're at all aware!) as its final reward. To Lorenzo's credit, he sets you up with a SSG regardless of which direction you pursue, but things are obviously a lot easier in the long run if you clear the blue key wing first. It's got all the advanced weaponry and a nice fight with a Spiderdemon (reminiscent of its inspiration) whereas the exit path is swamped with monsters, including twin arch-viles and an organic foyer liberally sprinkled with chaingunners. Tough but fun once you have it figured out.

MAP04Emerald Pools
by "C30N9" and Josh "Joshy" Sealy
As mentioned in the .TXT, this map is clearly inspired by Plutonia's MAP16, "The Omen". It's got a much tighter and less open layout, though. The first half is a gauntlet of enemies that dumps you at a toxic waterfall / lake area. The descent down the stairs is a little tricky but you get a cool bit where the lake drains revealing the teleporter to the yellow key. The following courtyard is pretty straightforward; there's a Cyberdemon galumphing in the background and two teleport waves you'll have to conquer in semi-isolated areas. The second is the more dangerous wave tactically while the first may be tricky if only because of the way the teleporter plays out. A nice, clear diversion.

That Flooded PlaceMAP05
by "Keeper of Jericho"
A fun, fairly open jungle ruins map, with light yet fitting detailing. It's not that linear up until key collection, which takes place in already-cleared rooms and comes with interesting encounters, like the yellow key hell knight fight or the dual arch-vile trap at the blue key door. Which isn't to say that clearing the incumbent beasties out isn't fun. The opening in particular stands out in my mind with its varied monsters, obscuring vines, and limited armament. Jericho's chosen theme, the flooding, isn't that pervasive in the map, but it gives a few nice areas (like the yellow key room) or the water cascading down certain connecting tunnel walls.

MAP06Stony Halls
by Matt "Mista_T" Tropiano
More non-linear jungle ruins, the chambers of which are connected via a network of quarter-spiral staircases. The big draw here is the state of things upon triggering the red key trap, which happens very early on. Virtually the entire map wakes up and you're outgunned with your regular shotty. You'll have to go through either side in order to get to the red key (and exit the map) and the direction you choose determines which weapon you acquire first – the SSG or the rocket launcher. I myself went for the SSG side; it's a bit less intense and the SSG is a more universal weapon. After you manage to grab an upgrade, things ease up. The only other moment I'd consider actually tough is the exit trap, which puts you between two arch-viles plus six hard places and slayed me dead with my lack of foreknowledge. Side note – I love the lighting in the yellow key room.

by Josh "Joshy" Sealy
Joshy steps in to ratchet the ridiculousness up a bit with this somewhat novel "Dead Simple" map based on a lonely island. The opening is a close plasma rifle dance around two rocket-spewing towers with a few unsavory elements crowding the floor. The real challenge is not getting stuck on the few bits of intruding architecture while you're frantically dodging rockets. Each Cyberdemon is replaced by a mancubus upon its death, and once you deal with the fatsos you're treated to a wave of arachnotrons. There are a few snags, of course, like the arch-vile platforms that make venturing outside a dangerous proposition. Just don't squander your ammo. The yellow key trouble gave me a little trouble at first but I guess I was just trying to be too fancy with it. A great, small map.

MAP08Rules of Death
by Franck "franckFRAG" Livolant
This feels so familiar and yet so alien. The opening yard looks very nice, as does the cool water bridge effect to the north. The stairway leading down to the more hardcore map section sticks out in my mind in particular. It's a bit lower-key than some of the previous maps with only a few chaingunner popups. The main attractions are a devilish hallway lined with hell knight-filled stands and the dangerous walkway immediately following, at the end of which stands a Cyberdemon. Of course, most of the difficulty can be brushed aside with a strategically-placed secret BFG, which leaves you to a shooting gallery whose sole wrinkle is an arch-vile you may have some trouble taking out safely. Excellent map, and gorgeous as well (particularly the room with the blood pool immediately before the hell knight gallery).

Ruined KingdomMAP09
by Tatsuya "Tatsurd-cacocaco" Ito
Ito's "Ruined Kingdom" is a welcome mix of stunning architecture, gorgeous eye candy (check out all those cool vistas), and great combat. The opening has you hoofing through some ominous flooded mine shafts before hitting the elevator and the start of the map proper. After a short but welcome gauntlet to earn your SSG wings you get to the more difficult areas. You'll have a few challenges at the main chamber, the second of which is quite a shooting gallery. The eastern segment has one of my favorite outdoor sights along with a nice mancubus trap that feels very much like Plutonia. The western area has perhaps the trickiest encounter (heralded by a few marine bodies), emphasizing restricted movement while dodging enemy projectiles in a funnel of death. An excellent outing.

by JC Dorne
JCD's sole contribution to PRCP is a pair of stony battlements in the middle of a bloody caldera. Action is both open and cramped with a few tough nuts to crack, like the shootout across the central blood pool or the blue key trap (love the latter sequence). Explorers will find plenty of supplies with which to conquer the fortress, including an invulnerability artifact and a neat plasma rifle grab. The only other tricky bit is the red key room, which involves a fairly obvious trap that puts a lot of pressure on the player and as far as I know has no easy route of escape. It's all over but the crying at that point. Quite fun.

Will You Be My NME?MAP11
by "Darkwave0000"
Apparently this pulls from Plutonia 2's MAP11, which I haven't played, but looking at some videos is fairly comparable, if a bit more open. Darkwave's take is large and visually interesting, using the new texture pack to great effect, particularly the walls of stone that turn dark green and back. Appropriately, you'll be bumping into more arch-viles than you can shake a shotgun at, some hidden in cubbyholes while others teleport to holding pens until they're unleashed upon you. The rest of the crew are mostly landbound Doom II monsters – revenants, mancubuses, arachnotrons, and commandos, with a token few imps and demons. For a map that's so large Darkwave keeps you on point pretty well, and scouring his vast, blood-filled ruins is an experience you shouldn't miss out on. I mean, unless you hate fighting arch-viles, revenants, and mancubuses. Then you should probably sit this one out. The ending sequence is my standout encounter, particularly the final fight around the exit pillar.

by Charles-Aurelien "K!r4" Goulois
Unmistakably draws from such works as Plutonia's "Speed", featuring wooden architecture overlooking deep pits of blood. Goulois leaves you little room to breathe with your first step dropping you onto a shotgun in the middle of a pack of lesser enemies. As you press on you'll greet a Spiderdemon that takes care of most of the peanut gallery for you; a tricky pillar dash between two Cyberdemons (followed up by a very personal encounter with some revenants); a BFG pickup with some lethal security; and an opportunity to put a Spiderdemon to work, yet again, while you sneak around back and surgically remove Hell's most troublesome sorcerers. If you want action, well, you've got it.

Slaughter ZoneMAP13
by Paul "pcorf" Corfiatis
Corfiatis's other submission is a rather intimate affair taking place on a series of raised walkways in a fortress flooded with toxic blood. The architecture is good, with some neat bits like the five metal beams on the western side. Most of the difficulty is based on your semi-limited mobility while pcorf throws cacodemons and pain elementals into the map after grabbing the keys, on top of a few revenants and mancubuses to keep you on your toes. The biggest shock comes at the end when he throws a few arch-viles into the main floor, who proceed to run about undoing all your hard work. All in all, a pretty tough map. You'll want to grab the secrets, or you'll be critically short on health and ammo (and a whole other weapon!).

by James "Phobus" Cresswell
Phobus's PRCP entry is a tough as nails battle in some misbegotten brick construct inundated with murky water. The opening trap is quite memorable, pitting you against a horde of revenants with very little breathing room and a few demons to mix things up, after which you have to surgically remove a couple arch-viles. The next big to-do is a free-for-all in a pillared causeway featuring a ton of monsters, the most obnoxious of which are pain elementals waiting in the wings to spit a ton of lost souls all over the place, ruining your greatest advantage – maneuverability. There's a Cyberdemon stomping around, too, but he's not that dangerous. In fact, you'll want to keep him around after clearing out most of the trash, as Phobus isn't about to let such a great battlefield sneak by with only one use, and exploiting the infighting (post-pain elementals) is the best way to save yourself an embarrassing defeat from the yellow key ambush on account of having no rockets to best an arch-vile with a revenant vanguard. Great gameplay, but very exhausting.

Enigma HelixMAP15
by Xaser Acheron
Xaser shoves a jalapeno up this WAD's tailpipe with a map boasting more than 400 monsters to start that resembles, well, a lot of things, most recognizably "Neurosphere". Helix is crammed with tough beasties that leave you feeling like your back's against the wall. Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon is the "running of the arch-viles" when you first arrive in the southeast spiral tower. You don't have the firepower to take on the sorcerers at your heels but you're hard-pressed to push on through the packs of monsters further up the spiral until you snag a desperately-needed rocket launcher. There are several other memorable ambushes, most notably the northeastern assault. It's also not lacking in visuals, with the northwestern "keep" area perhaps the most striking. The secret exit is a little tricky, of course, requiring a change in your angle of assault when you're already committed in motion. I think Xaser knocked this one out of the park (though it dwarfs most of the previous maps in comparison).

MAP31Cyberdemon Vertigo
by "Whoo"
Well, there's still a ton of Cyberdemons to confront. The playing field is much smaller this time and there are a few more regular monsters gumming up the works, including an ample assemblage of arch-viles. Thankfully, the ever-useful BFG is available from the onset. Whoo has some sneaky design decisions, like inserting sergeant riffraff in front of a Cyberdemon to instigate a weapon-switching trap. The only other encounter that really sticks out in my mind (the Cyberdemons aren't all that memorable on their own) is the staircase ambush prior to the final sequence. Fun, short, and challenging. Note: This map doesn't work correctly in ZDoom due to some linedef sorcery regarding the door to the first Cyberdemon annex. Redacted 05/01/12

by William "[WH]-Wilou84" Huber
Here it is, folks, the brass ring. An unholy assemblage of various recognizable bits of Doom maps (including "Hangar", "Entryway" and "System Control") with of course brand new interconnecting bits, it's a slaughtermap to remember. I started out with 755 monsters and ended up with 1257, to put things in perspective. Granted, most of that's due to lost soul inflation (encountered at the end). Up until the brain-splattering finale, the only real wrinkles I encountered were a few fights in the main courtyard, one of which involved a cadre of arch-viles, the other of which came directly after. The whole northern section is just a bloodbath, with infighting galore and more than a handful of Cyberdemons. Things get intense fairly quick and if you're not careful you'll be boxed into an untenable situation, with no ammo to speak and rockets shoved down your throat. I think Huber succeeded in matching the disparity between “Go 2 It” and the rest of the original Plutonia. Hats off to you crazy bastards that demo this thing.

by Matt "Mista_T" Tropiano
After MAP32, Tropiano dials things down a bit with this amusing diversion, a network of caves connected by wooden bridges and a few brick buildings to round things out. The intent of the level is to present the player with situations you pretty much have to avoid until you acquire the tools with which to overcome them. First and foremost, there's a dangerous few rows of monsters at the onset that, when ignored, will defang itself through infighting after just a little walking about. My favorite bit here involves a teeming horde of revenants that chases you through a cavern network. You arrive at a dead end, of course, but that's where Tropiano has laid some rockets and a plasma rifle down so you can effectively confront them. The final sequence beyond the blue key door has some nice fireworks and is a good way to end.

The Unholy CryptMAP17
by "evocalvin"
I could have mistaken this for a Plutonia outtake! Well, it's got a few different touches, like the map room secret (pretty cool!) or that bizarre BFG shrine, but the action should be familiar by now. "The Crypt" is some kind of overgrown brown stone construction with a lot of blood pouring in from different locations. Gore is a prominent motif. It's a bit more easygoing then the rest of the WAD has been except for a few choice moments. There's a pretty nasty battle at the end of a chute drop that will have you scrambling for cover, and the red key sequence, which comes in several phases and is absolutely madcap. Of course, when you're done, you're left wondering where the Cyberdemon disappeared off to... Excellent map.

MAP18Phantom Silence
by "evocalvin"
A very cool level, something like an outdoor "The Living End". Most of the action takes place on the tall ruins of some derelict civilization. There's not a lot of platforming, per se, but your movement is fundamentally restricted while enemies have a pretty good bead on you. There's plenty of cool sights to see and a few good fights in the key wings. I like the southern area in particular with its Cyberdemon battle followed up by a courtyard populated for the return trip, though the northern Spiderdemon fight followed up with a cramped red key fight is just as good (if a bit more dangerous). The true highlight is a "Hunted"-style pursuit through some caverns with a refreshingly-different color scheme. A great play.

by Matthias "Waverider" Johansson
Johansson throws in the last map to break the savegame buffer with this dense, monstrous outing. It's a fusion of various themes; the central section is wood, there's a large network of caverns to the north, some sewer tunnels and installations to the east, and some more brick installation to the west. Tying everything together is the constant threat of toxic blood, to which the author has scattered a number of enviro suits. It's a good thing too, because you'll be doing a lot of walking. The toughest encounters for me were the blue key trap (very tricky) and the yellow key trap (an incredibly obnoxious Cyberdemon fight). Things slow down a little when you acquire the yellow key; you'll have to go back to all four of the map's yellow doors in order to get to the red key. The ending sequence is pretty cool, and I see Johansson has put some bamboo sticks up for speed runners (good luck!). Very cool map, but pretty cerebral.

MAP20Sinister Daybreak
by Tatsuya "Tatsurd-cacocaco" Ito
Tatsurd's ode to "The Twilight". It's kind of refreshing seeing a map with a heavy techbase theme (and some more brick and mortar annexes). There are plenty of homages to the original, of course, but it's got plenty of twists to differentiate itself from the source material. It's pretty rough, with chaingunners galore, and the regenerating sniper pockets return. The red key sequence is pretty good, thrusting you into a deadly melee with little cover and lots of toughs, while the end portion is my favorite moment. The Spiderdemon seems pretty tough but if you're quick, you can instigate some very lethal infighting while snagging a sweet megasphere. All you gotta do then is wait out the ugliness, afterward enjoying a nice simple Cyberdemon fight.

Asmodeus' CircleMAP21
by "Keeper of Jericho" and Przemyslaw "Belial" Woda
Perhaps the single most obnoxious map in the set so far. All of the action occurs in a small area that's fairly reminiscent of "Circle of Death". There are walkways in the cardinal directions leading to additional areas and important weapons sitting in the drink, most notably the plasma rifle and rocket launcher. They also function as desperately needed ammo stores. It's just a very unforgiving level is all. The two megaspheres (one involving a neat little bridge battle) don't feel like much help when you're constantly in crossfire and subject to three waves of enemies teleported onto the walkways, the last of which being arch-viles that will both unravel your progress and leave you even more desperate for ammo. The final round of action (after grabbing the red key) is tame in comparison, but depending on how rough a time you had, you may be hard-pressed for ammo. Note that a very nifty closet in the northwestern pit houses three enviro suits you'll need to avoid squandering too much health and armor.

MAP22Suicide Mission
by Michael Jan "Valkiriforce" Krizik
valkiriforce provides a map in the vein of "Impossible Mission". As such, it's a predominantly sewer-based affair with a few appreciable wrinkles. Most of the map pegs that eerily familiar feeling with my standout encounters being the whole outdoor / ravine slog (pretty fun) and the tricksy maze in the northwestern area. Things get a little ridiculous in the final moments, though. There's an unfair chaingunner ambush where, say, 25% health lost is unavoidable (those just scraping by may have to restart). The mancubus crossfire is a bit more easily handled and the final battle is pretty deftly handled as Krizik has been kind enough to leave some lines that block monster movement. I like it, but that chaingunner ambush had me pretty peeved.

by William "[WH]-Wilou84" Huber
Huber's more sensible offering is a vast interior cavern much in the style of "The Living End" (or, more specifically, Plutonia's "Anti-Christ"). He puts the new textures to excellent use, creating a gorgeous system of tunnels and ledges. It's surprisingly non-linear, allowing you to explore the map up to the key-barred sections in any manner you prefer. There are a few notable encounters that take place in the vast darkness. The one involving a bevy of pain elementals is great in putting pressure on the player, especially if he or she isn't packing a ton of rockets, and the yellow key room has some neat touches like a revenant swarm and a Cyberdemon fight. The moment I loved the most however is a secret battle in a pitch-black void that awards a soul sphere. Very fun.

MAP24Terra Incognita
by "4mer"
It's another underground cavern, though 4mer draws from a broader selection, including Dario's "Diehard" (from Memento Mori) and Hell Revealed's "Post Mortem". It also uses a more traditional texture set. If anything, it feels a little empty, actually, except for more crowded bits like the yellow key fight and that aerial swarm near the end of the map. It's no less challenging, though, with the toughest bit being the whole ledge northwestern ledge system, which puts you under constant harassment up to and including Cyberdemon rockets from quite a ways away. The southeastern cavern is pretty cool as well, with a cadre of arch-viles surrounding the blue key which are immediately followed up by a crowd of familiar skeletons. The whole situation is pretty easily handled due to some key cover and an easy retreat.

Wicked GardenMAP25
by Xaser Acheron
On the one hand, I love the look of this map. It's some ruins built into a mountainside stuffed with overgrowth and flooded with blood. On the other hand, it's pretty brutal. Your armament is limited early on outside of secrets, making up-close fights with barons and hell knights quite tricky. Things take a turn for the worse beyond the red key door, where the lack of a combat shotgun becomes insufferable as you're budgeting rockets for tougher enemies on inaccessible ledges while being forced to take on demon hordes and, more importantly, a handful of barons with a single barreled shotgun. Combat just drags, making the margin for error as you're dodging a flurry of mancubus fireballs, revenant rockets, and fast-moving demons incredibly slim, especially when you factor in the bits cluttering up the battlefield. Xaser absolutely nails the finale, though, from the rising teleport gate to the return to an altered central hall (choked with vegetation), and a final battle with two arch-viles that feels delightfully arcade-like.

MAP26Poison Ivy III
by Josh "Joshy" Sealy and Przemyslaw "Belial" Woda
Joshy and Belial present a very large sewer-ish map with plenty of outdoor areas to give you some breathing room and hundreds of monsters (and, thankfully, the "poison" isn't actually toxic). It's quite jam-packed and starts off at a blazing pace, putting you in a compromising situation with a free arch-vile and numerous imps and revenants shooting at you, as well as a Spiderdemon down at the other end of the yard. Things rarely let up, too. I find the nonlinear aspect interesting. You can clear out to the exit as soon as you get the easily-acquired red key, which snags you a BFG, very useful for cutting your way through the eastern wing. The big brawl (evocative of the central room in "The Sewers") is more easily handled with some bravado, as you can unleash a special friend on the teleporting hordes so as to save yourself some ammo with all the infighting you can drum up. Award for most obnoxious room goes to the spectre-filled basement housing the red key, but it's perhaps the one annoying wrinkle in an excellent level.

Planned OverloadMAP27
by Christopher "ArmouredBlood" Shepherd
A ridiculously tough outing from ArmouredBlood. It's some kind of a structure with basic but functional architecture and loaded with tough enemies. The opening itself involves a snafu with imps, chaingunners, revenants, hell knights, and cacodemons, not to mention the sergeants down the hall and a few nasty pockets of insurgents. Once you've sorted out the opening bit, though, you're mostly there. The rest of the fights are quick and dirty enclosed encounters using mostly homogenous enemies (commandos, revenants). They're tough, while the red key fight is a bit more open and subsequently less threatening with its easily-splattered monster pillar and ineffectual teleport hordes. The final encounter is quite interesting; you can carefully tease out the big dog, take him out, and then handle the other tricky beasties. There's a BFG to be had, which simplifies this a lot, but only if you're capable of wallrunning.

MAP28Dance With the Devil
by Matt "Mista_T" Tropiano
Tropiano designed this map with a particular gimmick in mind. You'll encounter three Cyberdemons at fixed positions to the east, west, and south. They are positioned to harass you at key parts in the map until you acquire a plasma rifle and the necessary ammo to oust each one. Typically this means exposing yourself to rocket fire while trying to hit some key switches. My favorite one of these sequences is the eastern wing, where you're nearly vulnerable the entire time. The western wing is neat just for sheer grandeur, though, and comes with an easily dispatched horde of revenants at its close. There's an atrium at the center which has a more typical shootout with plenty of monsters killing each other. All in all, an excellent outing.

by Brett "Mechadon" Harrell
Mechadon's sole offering occupies the MAP29 slot, a heady task. He succeeds in a map that looks quintessentially Plutonia while distinguishing itself from its influences. As opposed to "Odyssey of Noises", this is restricted to one gargantuan, ancient, overgrown ruin. There are plenty of courtyards and even a giant cavern to the northwest. The main difficulty stems from its nonlinear nature (acquire the keys and weapons in any order!). Tackling all these monsters with the single shotty is kind of tiresome; try to get the SSG as soon as possible. Speaking of, it's involved in one of the most memorable encounters of the map. Flipping a series of switches will introduce three successive waves of monsters teleporting in from the fires, especially with the last wave. Not knowing about a certain secret nearby, I took the coward's way out (still kind of dangerous). I also like the southeastern courtyard fight, a bit more open air but still with some tricky footwork. It looks great, plays great, and even has a bitchin' finale. What more could you want?

MAP30In the Eye of the Beholder
by Thomas "T.V." van der Velden
Starts out looking pretty standard and then gets really weird. Velden handles the break with reality pretty well, then treats the player to a cacodemon free-for-all in the middle of a circle of runes. It's just a delay for the main event, though, showcasing the newest Gatekeeper, who has no less than four Cyberdemons and a Spiderdemon guarding him. The toughest part is making it to the lowered platform in time; slaying the Keeper is just gravy. A nice end to a fantastic megaWAD.

Doom is...

shooting a demon point blank
with a combat shotgun.

This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2011 Cacowards

The Top TenBest Multiplayer
Plutonia Revisited32in24-11: Occupy Doomworld
VapordemoBest Gameplay Mod
LunaticBrutal Doom
Double ImpactMordeth Award
Vanguard1994 Tune-up Community Project
ReverieMapper of the Year
IceboundHonorable Mentions
Mandrill Ass ProjectDoom II Redux
Khorus's Speedy ShitDoom64 EX


  1. Sorry I don't take the time to comment here as often as I'd like to.

    Recently I've been sorting through my copy of the Archives in an attempt to sift out the best megawads, and it seems that I've overlooked this one. Thanks for this review and your others to help remind me of projects that I might have missed otherwise.

  2. Another fun read. I enjoyed making the one map that made it in, though I admit I think it came out a little too similar in some spots. If I had this to do over again I would make it much more original like the others were.

    It was also the first time I tested anything with Chocolate Doom, and that's when I became a vanilla mapper. ~vf

    1. well, i think i will play this with AEOD 6.

  3. MAP18 was love at first sight for me, as were several others. I'm shocked at how high-quality the maps for this project were considering how quickly the wad was produced.... and many with cool UV-Speed tricks, too!

  4. i like this review!

  5. I really do like this as well as PL2 (don't get me wrong I agree they are great fan made tribute megawads and two more reasons to own Plutonia, not to mention they contain some great aspects of modern mapping as well) but I still don't think either are quite as classic as the Casali brothers' masterpiece itself!

  6. Oh also - Map15 Helix reminds you of Ballistyx? That's a TNT map, not a Plutonia map.

    1. It had been two years since I'd played Final Doom, so had the names for Ballistyx and Neurosphere mixed up. I meant to edit it but obviously forgot. Fixed

    2. No problem, just confused me for a moment, wasn't upset or anything of that sort. :) I agree it has some inspiration from Neurosphere (and thus also The Inmost Dens, given Neurosphere's inspirations itself), except of course it's far, FAR bigger.

  7. I just wanted to note that also, there is one Plutonia spiritual failure in this megawad that sticks out to me a bit like a sore thumb, namely that Map31 should NOT have two exits. There should be only one exit, namely a "secret" exit forcing you to play Map32 (secret being in quotes since it isn't really a secret if done as intended). Even Plutonia 2 remembered not to include a "normal" exit in its Map31.

    Minor, but I'm surprised the PRCP team didn't catch it and/or allowed it to go that way.

  8. I dislike that a couple maps didn't do the Plutonia Teleporter correctly. But eh, its still a great mapset, with plenty of worthwhile stand outs.

  9. Great megawad indeed. Enigma Helix was very memorable.

  10. An good mapset overall in my book. What else to expect, if you consider the people involved in it.

    My biggest disappointments were "undertaker", which I think is just a dickish map for its start, and "cyberdemon vertigo", because I feel this map is "cheap-skating" a lot to be somewhat difficult, other than that, the cyberdemon fights are rather dull. All the stuff flying at you from way up high, along with the first 3 viles, is kinda dreadful. I guess I just can't enjoy these trial and error situations when they are basically your introduction to the map.

    I know, making maps hard and fair at the same time is about the most difficult thing, I've tried many times over and I am still not even close to something I can really enjoy myself.

    I kinda have a fetish for secret levels. For some they're gravy on top, for me they are something to look forward to. Whoo did not quite walk the line this time around in my book, but that does not make him a bad mapper, though.

  11. What a megawad! I enjoyed everything in this levelset (well, almost). I don't really care if it is resembles something of Plutonia Experiment or not (though it did in most levels), but the difficulty is there for sure. One thing that I highly enjoyed was to provoke several massive infightings! Some of the best included arch-viles in the middle (map 32 for example), in maps 20 and 26 I let the archies kill the cyberdemons for me, it started as an experiment and I ended doing that everytime I could... About the secrets, a few of them can be pretty hard to find, especially in larger maps, but most envolve well-hidden switches, which is cool for me. The midis are great too. Some of the maps can be really tough for pistol starters (I'm not one of them), map 8 has the BFG almost at the end, and the Hell Knight trap was too unfair, not cool... There should be a more clear way to know where to go in map 22, because when you are in the left toxic pool where the mancubus were and you take the right path (with the hitscanners and 2 or 3 archviles) you'll find yourself with no way out other than returning to the same pool without radiation suits! (there is a secret but it becomes mandatory if you do what I said), so you must take the left one. Map 30 can be extremely rough if you don't have every cyberdemon dead.
    Hmm, that's all, very good project... Overall it's an 8.5/10 for me