Friday, May 18, 2012

Base Ganymede (BGCOMP.WAD)

Base Ganymede has been a long time coming. Adam "Khorus" Woodmansey released the first episode near the tail end of '09, the second around the same time in '10, and then finished the trilogy in early '12, after pushing out KSSHT for Doom II at, again, the tail end of '11. Base Ganymede "complete" is a megaWAD for the original Doom, featuring twenty-seven levels of OG Doom action based on Jupiter's largest moon. Jupiter is no stranger to demonic activity; Chris Klie and Bob Carter put their works together to create an exploration of Callisto, Io and then Jupiter itself in the infamous Lost Episodes of Doom. Base Ganymede, however, is a much better work than the Lost Episodes in every conceivable way.

Someone on the archives left a comment that this should have been titled Khorus's Speedy Shit 2. The comparison is inevitable; many of Ganymede's maps play very fast and have similar instances of map flow and progression. They're usually much larger than KSSHT, though, and the more restricted bestiary leads to an entirely different method of challenging the player through encounters. You're going to be mobbed by tons of monsters. Expect to see lots of imps, whether hunting for you in packs or camped out on ledges. You'll also be on the lookout for zombies and sergeants, which inflict difficulty through attrition, much in the same way Ralphis and RottKing used them in Double Impact, but on a smaller scale. If I were to single out any one monster for being the most threatening, it would be the cacodemon. Khorus isn't afraid to throw them at you in swarms. They're hard to maneuver around, especially in the tighter locations, and soak up ammo like it's nothing, creating tons of pressure.

Each episode of Base Ganymede has its own progression of themes, as opposed to the Doom standard of "EP1 = techbase → EP2 = corrupted techbase → EP3 = Hell". Every outing begins in a techbase and ends in Hell; the later the episode, the more time you'll spend running around in explicitly infernal surroundings. EP3 goes so far as to return you to include a jaunt to a normal-looking base in the middle of your campaign against Hell. I like that the look of each episode's bases is different from the others, which helps to give each one a distinct feel, given that all bets are off when you cross the boundary into Hell's domain. Ganymede also looks very good. It's clear time was put into each map with the apparent level of detailing and especially lighting. Khorus often evokes the care of authors like Ola Björling with the way shadows are cast and lighting diminishes from its sources.

Base Ganymede is a nice contrast to another 2012-period megaWAD released this year, Doom the Way id Did. It's modern, pretty straightforward, and contains a lot of difficult gameplay, where the other deliberately sticks to IWAD aesthetics, heavily favors exploration, and is generally (but not always) an easier play. Ganymede even adopted the unofficial DTWID soundtrack by Mr. Freeze. Certainly, it's been a good year so far for Ultimate Doomers. If you're dying for another great OG Doom megaWAD, you should play Base Ganymede. It looks great, plays great, and has plenty of fight in it. I hope just as much as Khorus that he eats his words in the .TXT; I like his style.

by Adam "Khorus" Woodmansey

This is a small yet nonlinear techbase with several areas inundated with nukage. There are plenty of different ways to go about exploring so you can approach many of the enemies from a variety of positions. They're all E1 trash, of course, but the mix of demons along with hordes of imps manages to put a decent amount of pressure on the player. The architecture is evocative without being obtrusive, like those overhead beams in the red key area. A good intro.

Here's another short base, this one with a lot more nukage. You'll have to run through the stuff a few times, but there's a rad suit provided for each instance, so you won't suffer much (if at all). Nothing much to distinguish the fights from the others except the influx of monsters that appears once you grab the blue key, where the free-roaming enemies constitute a threat. The blue key door off the main chamber is a nice touch.

Khorus lets things out with a map numbering 249 monsters, quite a jump compared to its predecessors. This time he's mixed in some subterranean areas that dip into Ganymede's aquifers. This particular level emphasizes wide-open courtyards with enemies on higher tiers as fixtures that harass you while you deal with the monsters on the low ground. After making it to the toxic walkway, you can investigate the base's compounds at your leisure. The northern area requires a daring jump into nukage with roaming specters while the others take care to introduce cacodemons and barons, rounding out the bestiary. Honestly, with all the rockets hanging around, I felt more threatened by the gasbags. Cool level.

Very short map that's basically a courtyard and two attached buildings. Khorus dumps you in the middle of a nasty crossfire that you can either tough out or just dash into the occupied but less exposed northeast building. The western area has some nukage and feels more like an obstacle course with all the imps mounted on pedestals. It's the standout encounter as rushing through leaves you with a pack of lost souls on one side, a wave of cacodemons and other things on the other, and you feeling pretty low on ammo.

This is another level that will take you awhile before you feel comfortable, mostly because of ammo, forcing you to rush deeper into the base to find something you can use to take out all the enemies you've blitzed past. The outdoor approach isn't too troublesome, it's just dealing with all the new baddies, especially the specters which do a good job of getting in your face. When you're ready you can hit the outer bridge to the exit, which is riddled with monsters, but the main threat isn't what's on the ground – it's what's above you. I like the architecture in the room divided by the sluice – it's built for ease of navigation.

Stepping things up several more notches, this dense techbase with three outdoor areas features both a Spiderdemon AND a Cyberdemon for your pleasure. It's a bit more forgiving in how Khorus gives your supplies to you, but you'll still have to fight for your right to bear them, like the plasma rifle. Actually, sorting out the central room (with its imps) and picking a route is the hardest part this map has to offer, though I'll admit I was surprised when the Cyberdemon came out to play. My favorite architectural oddity is the toxic drain to the northeast; great use of texturing.

Taking things in a bit of a different direction, Freeze's soundtrack really aids this techbase that's showing signs of demonic corruption. Several times you'll return to previously-explored areas only to find entire sections of masonry missing, revealing infernal elements signaling the invasion. There's also a jaunt into a completely different area, perhaps the dimension of Hell itself, which houses my standout encounter. You're handicapped by a tight, uneven area, which makes the typical strategy of circle-strafing difficult to execute. Great stuff!

Another smaller but packed map full of nasties, ditching techbase entirely. You've got some neat features like a lake of fire and a subterranean keep guarded by cacodemons. Khorus has a few memorable ambushes which outshine most of the encounters you meet head-on. The lost soul / imp pack on the winding staircase is probably the first but my favorites are the one lying in wait for you in the starting room and the huge surprise that pops out near the end. Slaying the barons on your way there is a little tricky; they are so many and your rockets are so few.

Here's something interesting, a puzzle-infused obstacle course rendered in wood that you have to run through in order to telefrag a Spiderdemon. It's going to be able to shoot at you for most of it, so plan your cover wisely. The map is short if you know what you're doing; the two trickiest parts are creeping around the edge of the Spider's cage and figuring out how to raise the blockade to the final teleporter (durrr).


In this small techbase, much of which takes place outside, Khorus exercises total control over weapons and ammo. You'll put in a lot of work with the pistol before you even grab a chainsaw, which is used expressly for mowing down demons (in particular one huge horde in a desperate moment). It's a relief when you finally grab the shotgun, but it represents another escalation in difficulty with imp snipers replaced by shotgun guys and a few memorable ambushes on the toxic catwalk that will send you spinning. Pretty tough!

A much larger level in keeping with the toxic theme. You're not quite so strapped for options as far as weapons goes but this is another map where Khorus throws you against hordes of enemies. Pretty much every time you round a corner, expect to see a ton of imps and other things to mow down. It makes for some exciting gunplay, especially when he uses dirty tricks like enemies popping up in front of you instantaneously. Perhaps my favorite encounter is the finale, where you have limited time on your radsuit while having to take down an enormous pack of imps while several cacodemons attempt to flank you. With your best weapons being the shotgun / chaingun, you'll actually feel overwhelmed.

This journey takes you through the caverns beneath the base, which is succumbing to demonic taint. You have plenty of monsters on higher tiers to be smited, not to mention a group of barons near the beginning that you have to save for later. E2M3 isn't short on ammo, and both the rocket launcher and plasma rifle make a solid showing. I'm not sure what I'd rate as my favorite encounter; probably the wave of cacodemons that appears upon stumbling into the yellow key area. Love that nukagefall effect in the sewer area.

Well, looks like you're in Hell! This fact is further compounded if you hate Tyson style, because that's pretty much this map in a nutshell. Khorus doesn't even see it fit to start you near a berserk pack – you'll have to steal it from the imps near the beginning. Expect to punch a lot of imps, a few demons, and maybe a baron. You get a shotgun in there somewhere but it's best used to take out the imps in the Cyberdemon room. Like the boss of E1M8, he must be telefragged, though the challenge here is more one of risk than puzzling out how to get there. Pretty cool stuff.

Things get HARD. The level clips along at a good pace until you hit the major intersection with blue and yellow key routes. Each puts you into a series of congested firefights where maneuverability is paramount. One particular encounter pits you against several barons with the ideal weapon being the rocket launcher; you have to watch them to make sure you don't bump into the others as you weave around the columns for safe shots. The other route has a dead end that ambushes you with a pack of cacos. The red key ambush is brutal, but thanks to the limitations of Doom, you can trip the trap in several stages so that you're not completely overwhelmed. The overall design is very nice; I especially liked the Cyberdemon battle area.

Back to the underground theme with this long and winding cavern with a few (rather large) hiccups. It's a very straightforward level, with the initial approach through a pitch-black tunnel obscuring some progressively more dangerous monsters. Eventually you reach an area stocked with ammo, clearly prepped for a brawl, and you get one. It's my standout encounter, next to the finale, which illustrates the importance of splash damage with regards to ammo conservation, given that it's a pack of toughs. It's a nice map, but I wanted just a little bit more health.

Here's another Hellish fusion of rock and fortress, this one boasting 279 monsters. You start out near the exit teleporter that you'll eventually return to, with a Spiderdemon nearby. You've got plenty of cover, though, and you don't even have to deal with him until you're nearing the end. E2M6 is full of more Khorus-style ambushes. You'll be carpeting the floor with imp corpses before too long, especially in the eastern area, which is the longest annex of the level. My favorite moment is the bloody canyon shootout with a Cyberdemon and a bunch of imps, though that sneaky cacodemon in the western wing elicited some surprise.

Quick, straight obstacle course map that begins outside of an infernal ziggurat. It's got the typical dodgeball element with sidebar enemies, but a fast teleport trap will send you scuttling off into the nearby cave for protection. More typical room clearing, though I think the spiral staircase is a really good fight. You'll have some catwalk antics in the final room before returning to the pyramid. Short and sweet.

Pretty inauspicious beginning loading you with guns and ammo. In a flash, you find yourself on the upper tier of an arena with marble pedestals between which two Cyberdemons teleport. They also end up on the ground, and that's when you hit them hard, as long as you can avoid the imps and barons slinging fireballs your way. Neat twist on the old Cyber standard!


Fiendishly difficult techbase that's swarming with baddies. It feels like every step you take, you're waking up something else, and health is in short supply. I feel that the zombies – especially the ones in the eastern half of the base – are a true threat here, constantly chipping away at your health before you can silence them. Also some baron action to be had here; blowing up the bridge full of barrels is oddly satisfying. I like the southwestern section of the map, which is a nice facsimile of an area flooded with nukage.

A bear of a level, already digging into the fusion of Hell. The opening sets the tone. After you mow down a horde of imps with your chaingun, you'll note a Spiderdemon standing outside the main gate, which you have to bypass. The northwest section of the base, which loops in on itself and contains most of the activity, has some great lighting and neat areas like more flooding nukage and a very dangerous blind run through poison (I assume there's a powerup nearby that mitigates this). The true showcase, though, is in the final shootout, where you warp straight into the open arms of a demonic army. Making it out alive involves either a lot of luck or tactical rocket strikes to remove the greatest threats, after which you can sort of make a decent stand. Excellent map.

A very cavernous and lethal underground, which as usual leaves you scrambling for cover and ammo and dodging imp fireballs for quite awhile. You've got to get the three keys from three different sections of the Hellish trench and then bring them to another room in order to unlock the exit. The general feeling is of being overwhelmed, whether it be from all the fiends roaming around or the yellow and red key traps, which do a good job of pinning you in a cramped area while pumping unwanted monsters toward you. The map has some of the most gorgeous lighting and detailing so far, though it's hard to tell when you're fighting back the beasts nipping at your heels.

Thankfully you're out of Hell. Unfortunately, the techbase you return to is just as unforgiving. You can explore it at your leisure, taking care to avoid getting peppered with rifles and shotguns while you grab the three keys needed to access the exit route. Attrition via hitscanner is the main source of pain, though there are several major ambushes (highly telegraphed) with the northeastern one being the most congested and, perhaps, dangerous. The rush of demons when you trigger the southern fight is pretty cool too, though. What I really love is all the tiers of play to be found here, especially the large, multi-staged outdoor sections.

Back to Hell in this very short but very cool overworld-style map. After a little bit of Hellish topography, you blaze through some ruins before opening up the other segment of the map, which takes a portal to my highlight, a lonely corner of the void with stark lighting and a crossfire that honestly left me pretty surprised, on top of the fact that the whole scene looks great. Most of the map's threat is attrition via hitscanners, with the end ambush failing to present any real threat, and not because you're handed the BFG immediately prior.

A nice, refreshing little stroll compared to some of the more outlandish fights you've had to go through. You'll have to fend off a few cacodemons and barons but there's plenty of health to be had with a lack of congested spaces. The only real teleport ambush is an army of imps, but you're rocking a ton of plasma cells and rockets by then, so you can go hog wild. Mostly, it's the lighting that's striking here, with some great overhead architecture to set it off, particularly in the southwestern annex.

A quick plunge into the very depths of the squicky part of Hell. It's a very low-threat map, with the biggest monster being the demon. Mostly it's running to secure some ammo while dodging fireballs, after which you can take your sweet time to clear the rest of the enemies out. Just don't get overconfident or you'll catch a projectile to the back of the head. I like the look of the main chamber, with that cherry-red rune by the staircases.

Short map in a Hellish ruins style with a big monster count. After the obligatory opening shootout, you explore the Hellish ruins for three separate keys which allow you to open up new wings of the map. All of the vital weapons are available at the onset, and you're hardly strapped for ammo. It's all about health conservation and not doing stupid stuff when you're dodging through a hail of imp fireballs in areas like the U-shaped outdoor walkway. The most threatening battle is probably at the very end, where a huge entourage warps into the main chamber, but a little judicious BFG use (it's impossible to miss) and you'll pull through.

Of all the places to end up, you're back at the exit of E3M1. Something is decidedly different, though. Most of the base is sealed off and flooded with blood instead of the familiar fluids. You'll have to battle through an organic infestation in order to reach a familiar segment of E3M2 (a great touch), after which you can enter the final arena. It's not a hard map, but the three Spiderdemons and single Cyberdemon make for potentially challenging encounters due to their placement, particularly in the final arena where the Masterminds can't be tricked into infighting and can't be BFG zerged. A nice finale.


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2012 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Doom the Way id DidWhoDunIt?Beyond Reality
Strife: Absolute OrderBest Gameplay ModMasters of Chaos
PutrefierRussian OverkillFrozen Time
5till L1 ComplexMordeth AwardPlanisphere 2
Community Chest 4Community Chest 4Coffee Break Ep. 1
The EyeCall of Dooty II
Combat Shock 2Mapper of the Year
Winter's FuryKhorus
Base Ganymede: Complete

1 comment:

  1. A good megawad that combines elements of classic Doom I style with not so classic elements, with each episode having its own thematic progression. With limited ammo and health, it's also harder than most Doom I megawads.