Sunday, September 23, 2012

5till L1 Complex (5L1C.WAD)

by "Lainos"

Lainos is an author of large, exploratory levels. 5till L1 Complex is no exception. Published in 2012, this MAP01 replacement for limit-removing ports with .OGG support continues the "story" of Doxylamine Moon: Overdose, itself an offshoot of Clan [B0S]'s Sacrament. Armageddon has happened, and a man who woke up from an overdose finds himself in the post-apocalyptic aftermath, where the vile members of humanity are twisted into Hellish caricatures that roam the now still earth to feed on the remaining innocents...and each other. Waking up in the ruins, you resolve to trudge through the wilderness and try to survive for another night under the blood-red moon.

L1 Complex is Big. It also features approximately four hundred enemies. Compared to Lainos's past two solo releases, I would peg Complex as something between the much more open and nonlinear Overdose and the more labyrinthine but action-packed Object 34. Enemies are spread out with the combat feeling more incidental than carefully staged, with a few exceptions. Monsters still carry some danger as they're far enough apart that you might find yourself blindsided by a projectile you weren't really watching for, like a revenant rocket from a skeleton far away. Most of the dangerous creatures are the Doom II additions, with surprisingly few hitscanners appearing to ruin your days. It will probably take a little while getting used to the new right-handed weapon sprites, here again from Sacrament.

It's still pretty non-linear, at least, once you get the red key. If you know what you're doing, it's possible to skip the vast majority of the Phoenix colony area by vaulting on to the beach to the east, a surprise that caught me unawares. Actually, there's precious little key hunting to go around, which should be good if you found that a big problem with Overdose and 34. You need to get the red key to get into the base, then the yellow key for the exit, which is located outside with the blue key, which you need to get back to the starting area. Somewhere between the red key and the yellow key is a metric ton of fun time on your own, exploring the colony at your leisure. If any one thing is going to throw players off, it's Lainos's favorite puzzle feature, climbing segments which will be intuitive for explorers like myself but challenging to others.

Complex looks absolutely gorgeous. Where a lot of Overdose was spent on clean but uninteresting city blocks, Complex has one decimated normal city before moving on to a futuristic survival colony with enough eye candy to choke your engine of choice. Actually, that's mostly due to the use of so many wilderness sprites for tall grass and other things, which actually gets some considerable slowdown on the recommended port, PrBoom-Plus. Regardless, whether it's wilderness, half-buried city ruins, or the abandoned outposts of tomorrow, I am astounded by the visuals. One of the most impressive tricks are those soft pulsing light textures that at a distance look like a 3D-lighting effect. Those huge tech towers to the north are another great set piece, as well as the adjacent switch surprise.

Seriously, I can't get over how great this level looks. The fact that it isn't annoying to play is another bonus. Actually, there are a few big bottlenecks that held me up. First was figuring out how to get to the red key. You can't get at it from ground level, so you'll have to drop in. The next was getting back into the map after escaping the beach wall, which I honestly could have had if I was paying a little more attention to the automap. The last is the yellow key door. Make a note of where you find it, because it's not hidden, but by the time you actually find the keycard, you'll have forgotten where to use it, like I did.

5till L1 Complex may very well be Lainos's greatest level, as he asserts in the textfile. I hope it isn't his last, though, as Complex ends on something of a whimper, heading into the unknown in the thick mountain fog. As always, I can't get enough of this stuff, and I hope that if you try it, you'll enjoy it at least half as much as I did. If you prefer something more straightforward and action-oriented, I doubt Complex will change your mind, but it's an excellent level for tourists, if that's where your interests lie. Certainly, it does a better job of "fixing" Doxylamine Moon than Overdose tried to do (supposing you were on the fence with that one). Play it!


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

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