Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Riot Control (RTCTRL.WAD)

Riot Control is a four-map minisode for Doom II and Boom-compatible ports by Doomworld forum superstar Ronald Lubellinkhof, aka "Dutch Devil". The project started out with him playing around with textures from the original Quake, only intending to make a few maps, but he was inspired enough to round the set out at four (the whole set produced over more than two years). They're not very long, with even the largest of the four feeling medium at best, and not too terribly difficult, the main limiting factor being health. Dutch has included no story, with the action speaking for itself. You're a marine infiltrating a series of outposts located in a mountain range.

Dutch Devil's style of base is impeccable, as demonstrated elsewhere (his "Substation" in Doom 2 Unleashed). The lighting and detailing are magnificent and keep your eyes busy without being distracting. The only real problem is that the internal consistency of the man-made structures is unerring, though wonderfully detailed. Suffice it to say that the bases themselves aren't that interesting; the architecture that makes each map distinct to me lies in the outdoor areas. Don't get me wrong, they're very well designed and pleasing to the eye. The character of all these Quakebases is pretty much the same, however, as if constructed from the same palette of hallway segments, snapped together like wonderful lego bricks.

It's trademark Dutch Devil gameplay, with enemies lurking behind every corner and crate, and a healthy dose of teleport ambushes. They're generally the combat highlights of each map as your initial clears feature mostly incidental combat while exploring. Weapon progression is pretty solid, with Dutch introducing weapons as secrets in the map prior to where they become normally available. The changes in armament match the gradual introduction of enemies, beginning with the old standbys and ending with a cavalcade of Doom II's enemies, excepting the big two, who were probably booked for Slaughterfest 2011.

If you like Dutch Devil's maps, or like WADs that use Quake textures, or just want to play some nice base WADs with a different appearance, Riot Control is a nice, quick set of maps that will calm the shakes. If you hate the color brown, then you should probably sit back and wait for the release of Back to Saturn X. If you're undecided, it couldn't hurt to try it! Unless you're playing with broken hands or something, in which case, why are you trying to play anything?

by Ronald "Dutch Devil" Lubellinkhof

Short base-style level that's two outdoor areas connected by two tiered hallways separated by a blue key door. It's mostly zombimen, sergeants and imps, with a few demons and a pair of commandos sitting in command chairs near the end. Texturing and lighting are quite gorgeous. The only encounter that sticks out in my mind is a trap sprung when you've grabbed the blue key, where you can't make a clean escape. Kind of tough, only because of the zombiemen / health ratio.

Same style of base, except with an intermediary sewer section that's aided along by conveniently placed rad suits. You'll have to fight back several Dutch Devil-style assault waves at predictable moments, with one of the better ones involving demons and spectres. Both secrets cause an inundation of Hellspawn as well. I think the health is a bit more plentiful on this map, making it a bit less difficult. Also, you get the SSG! (And the rocket launcher if you're clever.) The outdoor areas are kind of fun to play around in.

The defining feature of this techbase is a giant lake of molten lava with a ruined tower in the center. The rest of the base isn't so interesting, though Dutch introduces strange jail cell-esque rooms. The coolest bit involves climbing up the side of the mountainous terrain to the blue key, after which you jump to the lonely tower. Flipping the switch unleashes a pack of monsters back where you came from, but more importantly calls three mancubuses to pin you down at various spots around the rim of the lake. The revenant debuts here to great effect; the corridors give you plenty of room to dodge, even if you're surprised. Just don't spaz out too much.

The big one! Well, it's still a medium-size level. The star attraction of Dutch's finale is a large canyon in the center of the map. It's not exactly choked but there are plenty of enemies stomping around the outside that you'll want to keep cover. A cavern opens up at the end for the push to the exit which takes you to the volcanically active underground. Combat is a step up as well, with some cool traps like a spider in a wall (which you can use to take down the rest of the ambush!) and several arch-viles to make things interesting. One of the tougher encounters involves two revenants in a semi-circle hallway with not a lot of room to maneuver. It's very good fun, with plenty of ammo to cut down the invading demons. A nice finale.


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