Friday, March 9, 2012


by Alamain

Believe it or not, Alamain (a mapper since '94) continues to sporadically release maps for Doom, with ALOHA4U2 (for Doom II) showing up on the archives in 2011. Actually, there was a flurry of bugfix releases; 4U2 is the final version, with the others being removed. It's...pretty much what you'd expect, really. Alamain rarely mixes monster types, as is his style, though there are a few exceptions. ALOHA4U2 is very large, somewhat mazy, and very brown, with very little detailing. Actually, there's been some care to line some parts of the map with some flair, but there's hardly any eye candy.

The architecture is pretty neat, though. Alamain has rendered an abstract gauntlet that is at times cavernous and at others claustrophobic. You actually get the first three keys before investigating between 3/4 and 2/3 of the map, which is loaded with plenty of surprises, like cacodemon swarms and packs of demons / spectres you'll have to berserk fist. My favorite moment from this early section is the rocket launcher / arachnotron room, which has an air of desperation as your predicament is laid bare. There's just enough ammo to get by, thankfully. Not that fond of the pitch-black imp hedge maze, though.

Once you leave the key area, things get weird, more like a puzzle map. There's a Cyberdemon you have to arrange a playdate for, a decent hedge section with some random imps showing up, and a bizarre series of platforms and barons guarding switches. Given the megaspheres, I have to assume Alamain wants you to fist away without fear of death. After a cool mancubus shocker, you plunge into one of the worst sections of the map, uniformly featuring chaingunners. It's got a nice payoff though, with a teleporter that warps you back to a pit previously filled with nukage, now with a nasty encounter. It's the highlight of the map, the only downside being the walk all the way back to where you were teleported from.

There's one last ugly bit, with some false walls obscuring commandos, before a switch to gray and the final battle, which is actually kind of nice, just some arachnotrons on an exposed, raised walkway with some chaingunners harrying you. Dare you flip that final switch? Don't be stupid, stupid. Congratulations on making it to the finale; you've made your way past several traps made to engineer your guaranteed death, not to mention inescapable slime pits. Alamain is nothing if not an old school WAD fungineer. The fact that several of these pitfalls occur relatively late in the level should only add to your caution should you decide to play.

ALOHA4U2 is a massive deathtrap rendered in brown with little respite. Its geometry constantly changes so as to open up new avenues of exploration and new challenges to confront. If you want a straightforward shootout with Doom's bestiary, look elsewhere. If you consider yourself a master of the berserk fist, you may enjoy this work from one of Doom's oldest institutions. Loving the exploration of labyrinths would be a plus. I recall someone saying that it...was refreshing the word? It was interesting, at least, to see some people making WADs today as though it was 1994. While 4U2 may not appeal to the average Doomer today, it's great to see someone who's been in the hobby for so long still making maps. I enjoyed it. Well, most of it.


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