Thursday, March 15, 2012

Doomed Dejá Vu (DDEJAVU.WAD)

by Kimmo "Jimi" Kumpulainen

Doomworld forum superstar Jimi released this gem alongside Doom's 17th birthday. It's a pastiche of the areas in Doom he found the most memorable (with cameos from Heretic and Hexen), rendered in Doom II, with the difficulty dialed up. It's kind of like a "good parts" version of the original three episodes, unless your idea of fond remembrance doesn't include like a hojillion arch-viles, revenants, and other Hellspawn. Seriously, you have your work cut out for you, at least on UV. As you can imagine, the map loosely follows the structure of the original Doom narrative, beginning in a techbase and ending in the heart of Hell.

Jimi hasn't merely copied sections of the referenced maps, but the layouts of many of the areas should evoke a feeling of deja vu among aficionados of classic Doom. The major differences in spirit are increased detail (always a plus) and the explosive encounters. Dejá Vu doesn't pull any punches, particularly around the "boss" segments, where the difficulty sometimes reaches tedium. Things get very unforgiving with the "Phobos Anomaly" rewrite and it rarely lets up; that section in particular best exhibits what I mean by tedium. After a baron / spectre mashup that's great fun with rockets, you have to flip eight switches in the baron alcoves. Each hit unleashes a small wave of monsters with at least one arch-vile, assaulting from two different points. Enduring this eight times with the limited health he's afforded you can be quite challenging.

Really, Jimi's style thrives on spectacle. The homages play into this, with some of them signifying thrilling moments of action, like the storm of revenants lurking behind the "Deimos Anomaly" cross, or the "Tower of Babel". The Tower is another tough encounter; it's got a smaller playing area and four Cyberdemons stuffed into it as well as a number of barons you have to dance around in order to get to the exterior. When you're feeling safe, you can solve a rudimentary switch puzzle, granting access to the upper tier and a passageway of blood that turns into a stairway to Hell with a sizable invasion you'll have to put down with care.

While the map is composed of rewrites of Doom material, I think Jimi's done a fantastic job stitching the various pieces together. The techbase stuff fits quite well with the inclusion of a few Deimos selections to put across the supernatural base theme, especially the iconic "Deimos Lab" (and I love the upgraded cherry red cross from E2M1). He also uses all the keys in the techbase area, a neat way to differentiate between it and the landscape of Hell, which excepting the mini "Slough of Despair" is pretty straightforward in progression.

The final section of the map is a rapid-fire series of references, brilliantly strung together from the opening "Hell Keep" elevator to the closing exit room straight out of "Limbo" (with quite a non-sequitor). There's a boss somewhere in there, of course, but it's not quite as tough as the past ones due to having a BFG and invul available. I like that the arena is (I think) a mashup of "Dis" and "Mt. Erebus", and clearing that enormous hallway of cacos is perversely fun. Really, you'll get a lot of use out of your rocket launcher in this level. Some people despise laying down suppression fire with the boom tube, but I can't think of any other way I'd want to stem a tide of Hellspawn than shelling a choke point with explosive death.

You should play Doomed Dejá Vu. It's a stunning remix of Doom's first three chapters and should provide a welcome challenge, if incredibly long (I finished in a little over an hour, not counting deaths). It's always nice to take a stroll through the original episodes and the added bestiary plus reorganizing makes sure that you never know what to expect in terms of getting your ass kicked. Just watch out for all the handy secrets and get ready to blow your rockets.



  1. This map is not assimilar to one known as 'Decade', by Russel Pearson.