Sunday, April 15, 2012
Project Ragnarok (RAGNAROK.WAD)
Project Ragnarok's greatest crime can be found quite openly in the .TXT. "Loki" describes it as his first WAD. Whatever, everyone has to start somewhere. And then, "Wolf3D-style". This isn't an adequate description, but for your average /idgames browser, it's damning enough. Project Ragnarok is not really a Wolf3D adventure. The first three maps of this ten-map episode for ZDoom feature a lot of Wolf3D textures and a lot of SS Nazis, but maps 4-9 are Hell-themed with the final level featuring a mix. The story, while not mentioned explicitly, is essentially Doom 3, except with Nazis instead of the UAC (ignoring the usage of UAC textures found here and there). Looks like the Third Reich found a portal to Hell and are researching it (Hell), so you get to destroy two evils at the same time!
As mentioned, Ragnarok isn't really much like Wolf3D. Its architecture and layouts bear a much stronger resemblance to Doom's maps, outside of a few isolated areas, most notably the beginning of MAP02 and what I can only assume is a callback to Wolf's infamous jail cell opening in MAP03. The architecture is generally decent, if uninspiring, with a few major exceptions like Muspelheim and its neat opening. The early, Nazi-centric maps suffer the worst, especially with the emphasis on the garish silver texture found in the base segments. There are some graphical errors, to be expected in a freshman effort, but there's one major bug, encountered at MAP03's exit. If you bump into the linedef, which is actually a switch, it will deactivate and you'll be stuck forever.
Combat is a slog through hitscanners until partway through MAP04, where you more or less ditch the Nazis until the end. Some of the fights are actually pretty tricky, most notably the huge caldera of MAP08, and MAP06 ("Nexus") has plenty of engaging combat scenarios throughout. On the flipside, there are a fair number of puzzles to solve. Keep an eye out for shootable switches in the Hell maps. They might slip by as they don't look like your typical projectile-activated mechanisms. There's another bigger issue with the penultimate map, but considering the size of the area you're locked into, you're bound to figure it out sooner or later. And, uh, some hanging bodies that irritatingly block movement, the worst instance found near the very end of the WAD.
Also worth mentioning - Loki re-skinned a number of the weapons. Most of them are serviceable, even if I think the whole endeavor is pointless. The pistol is woefully off-center, though, rendering it impractical for bullet sniping, and the chaingun looks out of place as it's oriented to the right. Sprite replacements or no, Project Ragnarok is far from one of the best WADs released in 2011, but it got some smiles from me. Loki shows some promise as a mapper and supposing his negative reception hasn't left him sour, I'll be happy to see him join the rest of his compatriots in pouring their fevered imaginations into the mould of Doom. I only hope that he's gotten all the Nazis out of his system; I can't say that they're very fun to fight.