Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vaporware (VAPRDEMO.WAD)

It's been a long time since I said I'd play the Vaporware demo. And, well, here I am! The only time I've used the Eternity engine in the interim is to check bugs across different ports in a few isolated instances, which after playing this seems like a gross misuse of a fantastic product. Vapordemo won a Cacoward in 2011, in part due to the belief that this was about as far as the project would ever progress. I sincerely hope that isn't the case, because this single excerpt from Vaporware (sadly the only Eternity Engine project besides Mordeth I can even name, excepting a few dual-compatible projects and the canceled TC) is a simply fantastic yet all too brief offering from Sarah "Esselfortium" Mancuso. When it was done, I wanted more, so at the very least it's fulfilled its basic criteria insofar as it's designed to get me interested in the full release.

Immediately I was struck by the beauty of the railway cars and the reflective floor. Then the simple sliding doors that usher you into the absolutely gorgeous canyon. There's that ledge base off in the distance – an excellent set piece that stirs my imagination, the perfect visual hook for this adventure. In my first engagement, I see a simple gore mod which adds a nice richness as I pelt the demons and other Hellspawn with my shotgun paired with the smoother weapon animations. And that nice steam effect coming from the piping. The initial experience is a great demonstration of Eternity's aesthetic capabilities, showing off things we take for granted in the port that launched a thousand mods – and then some.

This map isn't all about looks, though. For an opener, Essel pushes the player a bit with the first few traps. The little imp and demon cubby isn't that shocking, but the switch that opens up the map's biggest feature throws two mancubi and two faces from the Realm 667 bestiary I wasn't familiar with, the Catharsi. They add a nice bullet hell element to the encounter distinct from the mancubi, complementing the setup quite nicely. It's even got a good intro with the lights momentarily blacking out (well, not too dark). When you're done, you can take the time to admire the centerpiece of this mapping extravaganza, the crane room, which has several tiers through which you'll explore. Shortly after you'll encounter the map's other two Bestiary monsters, the Shadow (pretty cool) and the Rapid Fire Trooper.

The second floor has a nice traditional firefight with some cacodemons stuffing things up while you try to get your bearings on your enemies, attacking from several different angles. And you'll see a bit of the railing has been removed – no fake room over room. If you jump through, you'll wind up on the bottom floor. The other big fight has basically the same elements as the yellow – err, orange key battle, but depending on how you're caught, may prove to be a more dangerous affair. From there you get the last cool bit, where you can lower the crate with the backpack into jumping distance before exiting the map.

Vaporware's demo is a fast-paced sexy showcase of Eternity's features. I'd love to see more maps in this vein, though I know a ton of hard work has been poured into this level alone. The use of slopes to make attractive ceilings and add little bits like slanted tiles is very nice, along with the carefully constructed pipes that crop up here and there. I'll also mention a very excellent soundtrack. Really, I can see why this won a Cacoward; nothing like it had been released prior, and I hope the work doesn't end with this tiny masterpiece. Thanks, Essel, for showing just what the Eternity Engine is currently capable of. I just wish more authors would embrace it, having now played something exclusively designed for it.


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

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