Monday, May 7, 2012

Alkylation Episode 1: Handle With Care (ALK-EP1.WAD)

Alkylation is a work in progress by Italian Doomer "UltimateLorenzo". It's for Doom II, running in ZDoom, with this first minisode consisting of five maps. The plot is simple, reminiscent of 1997's STRAIN - a UAC base has been invaded by a new breed of Hellspawn, and it's up to you to stop them. This new wave of monsters comes carefully handpicked from Realm 667's bestiary. None of the originals feature in this outing, and a number (mostly Doom II beasties) do not have corresponding replacements. The new guys carve out their own niche in the team. The important thing to remember when playing Alkylation is that the young bloods wield vastly superior firepower.

The weaponry supplied seems inadequate with what feels like increased health across the board. The shotgun becomes the new pistol and the pistol is worthless (accordingly, you always start near a shotgun). The chaingun still has utility, if only for pain stuns, and the rocket launcher continues to swing its weight around. The two new weapons are a plasma shotgun and a nailgun. The plasma shotgun is an interesting failed experiment. Its power lies between the SSG (which it replaces) and the normal shotty, which is only fair since any player can cock it to fire faster than the shotgun. While it can't compare to the SSG, I'm not sure I want to get close to many of the new monsters. The nailgun feels alright, kind of a plasma gun replacement but not as damaging.

Lorenzo succeeds in introducing a new set of dynamics to the Doom experience. Everything is more dangerous, especially when many of the enemy projectiles are faster and slightly home in on you. You won't want to get anywhere near the Caco Lich if you can help it; ditto for all the new zombies, which turn you into meat faster than the originals. Hell Warriors have about the same HP as the knights, but their shields make combat potentially tedious. The Cyber Baron demands respect. I'm comfortable with the Vulgar (which has a neat poison effect) and the Nightshade, and the Rocket Trooper is a nice cameo from Obituary. Still not sure about the Supreme Fiend. It's ridiculous, but pretty easy to manage.

ZombimanRapid Fire Trooper
Shotgun GuyShotgun Soldier
Heavy Weapons DudeMajor Chaingunner
DemonBlood Demon
Lost SoulNightshade(?)
CacodemonCaco Lich
Hell KnightHell Warrior
Baron of HellCyber Baron
+ Rocket Trooper (Revenant?)
+ Supreme Fiend (Boss)

I do like the particular aesthetic theme Lorenzo has conjured up with his mix of textures. It's like a brand new Dystopia 3, or STRAIN, and I think he manages to nail gorgeous yet largely unobtrusive detailing, in part due to a lot of cool mounted on the ceiling as well as lighting and the wide-open areas with give you plenty of maneuverability, the better to deal with his new breed of Hellions. There are some great scenes to visit (which look a lot better when you're not dodging enemy fire) and plenty of outdoor views to break up the bases, whether you can wander them or not.

I'd like to see more of Alkylation, though I'm sure Lorenzo could do some tweaking to make these guys less punishing (and give a suitable powerful weapon for more economic monster removal in the early-game). I'll draw yet another comparison to STRAIN, what with many of the monsters acting as bullet sponges on top of their dangerous attacks, making crowd fighting perilous. While I'm not opposed to this dynamic, which demands much more cautious gameplay, I can see where some (especially those married to Doom II's standard action) may be put off. Regardless, I hope Lorenzo continues this interesting experiment.

by Lorenzo "UltimateLorenzo" Davia

Short but simple techbase map that forces you to get used to Lorenzo's different balance. The opening crossfire can be quite an opener, but you'll probably be more surprised by the cacodemon replacement behind the first door. I like the look of the base with the textures he's put together; the basement in particular, crawling with baddies, has some decent atmosphere. My standout encounter lurks right behind the blue key, made a bit desperate on account of the map's spartan ammo ratio.

MAP02Wicked Flowers
Larger map in a similar techbase style. Introduces the plasma shotgun and some more new enemies, like the very annoying Hell Warrior. It's not too terribly tough, but handling the high-HP enemies with the PS feels weaker than handling them with the normal shotgun, making the most intense moment by far when the doors to the blue key chamber open, ushering in a wave of the high-HP Blood Demons. There are a lot of large, open areas showcasing Lorenzo's pleasant architecture, which looks nice without being obstructive.

The Nameless InstallationMAP03
This is a larger, expansive techbase has a ton of enemies to fight and quickly stresses just how dangerous Lorenzo's added monsters are, especially the standout encounter, which pits the players against several groups of enemies teleporting in while several of the caco liches (and an easily-missed rocket trooper) attack from the outer area. The only real way to make it through is to sprint back to the entrance door and carefully pick the enemies off. There are some neat environments, though, like the exterior area and the dangerous, cramped warehouse.

MAP04Under Pressure
Very neat map, filled with all kinds of computer monitors and consoles. I particularly like the large central room with the eight monitor display. "Under Pressure" is pretty apt; from the onset, you're in a cramped location with some dangerous enemies, and each door you open tends to usher in a new group of monsters you'll have to be careful around. Segments like the yellow key room (perhaps my standout encounter) lock you in an area with no chance of retreat, forced to battle your foes before earning a reprieve. This level also features the debut of the discovered, at the last 25%.

Infested StarportMAP05
More of a boss map with a long approach and decent denouement. The starport itself looks very nice, with the lighted runway and control tower. You can grab every weapon available along with some significant ammo stores to be found. The only memorable encounter is understandably the boss, R667's Supreme Fiend. I'm not fond of it as it's the ultimate circle-strafing monster (BFG attack), with some added threat from those little drones he throws out. If they touch you, they explode, but they blow up like popcorn and take each other out in neat little chains. I will say that the ending sequence is pretty neat, with a nice train effect, and the way the metal plates in the tower have curled back to reveal the marble Baphomet is aces.



  1. This was a cool zdoom wad, and it was a nice break from the doom 2's usual cast of monsters. I agree that the new beastiary monsters feel a little overpowered compared to the player's weaponry (perhaps if he had made it to where the weaker imp and zombie-like monsters could be killed with a single shotgun blast like the regular monsters most of the time, it would have been a bit more fair).
    Also, there was some strange bug with the knights, where they would occasionally become invincible regardless of whether they had their shield up, until they did another shield projectile attack.
    Regardless, pretty enjoyable, I hope Lorenzo releases another episode.

    1. Yeah, I wanna see more of Lorenzo's "Akylation". I liked the maps and the new monster dynamics (though that plasma shotgun suuuucks).

    2. this wad is pretty darn good. I hope Lorenzo make more in the future.

    3. yeah for all its faults I really liked the style of this one. too bad it looks like the second release is more along the lines of kicking some old stuff out the door