Friday, August 24, 2012

The Final Geometry (GEOMETRY.WAD)

by Rick Lipsey

Rick Lipsey wasn't exactly the most prolific Doom author, but his second release, Polygon Base, was featured in Doomworld's Top 100 WADs. The Final Geometry, published in 1995, is its lesser-known prequel, clearly pointing the way for the latter. It's a single level for Doom II, occupying the MAP01 slot, and it's big. Maybe not exactly as large as its progenitor, but it occupies the same general area, with Lipsey cramming as much as he can into the map's open spaces. As for the story, it's another UAC base gone south, located near a city. Your superiors send in two different teams after a cascade of unusual incident reports. You're an unfortunate member of the third, tasked to clean the base out.

My memory of Polygon Base isn't perfect, but I don't recall it being quite as devious as The Final Geometry. Navigation is pretty difficult unless you figure out all the hidden and semi-hidden switchbacks that allow you to go back to previously-traveled locations (and access advanced weaponry, like the plasma rifle, rocket launcher and SSG). It's not always crystal clear what the switches do; one big thing that threw me off the red key was a button that opened a door in a nearby monster closet, which only opened when you approached it, so after I triggered it, the change wasn't immediately obvious.

Part of the reason the layout is so difficult to navigate is all the one-way passages that turn movement into a sort of complicated roundabout, coupled with the fact that the inaccessible areas you can view are often only accessible after a very long hike. I spent a lot of time looking at the automap, feeling overwhelmed on occasion by the routes I had to take to get from one side of the map to the other. But, that's part of the challenge of levels like this. It's not frustrating or tedious, though you may find yourself cursing Lipsey's name when you're sitting there with the blue key, trying to plan your path to its door.

Combat in GEOMETRY is roughly comparable to its predecessor. There are a lot of weaker monsters that you'll be clearing out in between the revenants and hell knights. Nothing too exotic – no arch-viles, Cybies or Spiderdemons. I'm stretching to think of a standout fight, but the closest I can come up with is the central room, which has a few hardbodies installed on pillars as turrets, but not very difficult in and of themselves. Most of the challenge came from working through areas like the red key room or one of about a dozen other puzzles to be found. It's not that the combat isn't interesting, it's just not the primary feature, by far. It definitely kept me busy.

If you like large, labyrinthine maps that emphasize exploration and puzzle-solving, The Final Geometry is right up your alley, especially if you're more of a tourist than a troublemaker. Rick Lipsey manages to cram an enormous adventure into a single level. Looking at the .TXT of Invasion II, it looks like he had a third level in the works, "Tangent to Reality". That never materialized [EDIT: Actually, it did!], though he released a third map - "Orbital Platform Talon" - in Invasion II. I look forward to playing it.



  1. "Looking at the .TXT of Invasion II, it looks like he had a third level in the works, “Tangent to Reality”. That never materialized"

    Actually it is map12 from that wad. And it kicks ass.

    1. Memfis, is that you? Anyway, clool! I thought Orbital Platform Talon was the only mentioned map he published in Invasion II. Gonna be fun playing that one!