Monday, February 18, 2013

Jägermörder - 01 : Chemical Lab (DMDJM01.WAD)

by Derek "Afterglow" Mac Donald

Derek Mac Donald, otherwise known as Afterglow, is more known for his deathmatch works than anything, so it's interesting to see such a dedicated author take a run at the single player side of Doom. Mac Donald wouldn't release the second Jägermörder level until 2005, but in 1999 he published this single level - Chemical Lab - for Doom II, to be run in Boom-compatible ports. It's a short MAP01 replacement in a techbase style. The supplied story describes a Hellish invasion in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where UAC computer anomalies were ascribed to ever-infamous Microsoft malfunctions. The oversight allowed the demons to slip in, so it's up to you to fight to the teleporter technology they used to enter and slay the source on the other side.

It should go without saying that Jägermörder is a gorgeous level, but I'll say it anyway in case you didn't know. What you'll notice most of all is Mac Donald's subtle approach to lighting, comparable to contemporaries like Ola Björling but lacking the stark contrast usually found in their maps as the DMDJM01 techbase is a much brighter place. It's still more noticeable than Warren Marshall's work in 99 Ways, carefully balancing effort against spectacle. Which isn't to detract from the architecture - each room has its own identity while being connected enough with bits like the blue key drop back in to the main courtyard or that red key loop that lets you pick how you want to fight off some insurgents. Actually, loops figure pretty heavily into the level, making flow between areas very fluid so as to keep the action moving.

Chemical Lab isn't that difficult in the combat department, at least when compared to the average single-level release. It's only got seventy or so enemies and there's a nice, steady grade in terms of difficulty, focusing on shotgunning imps, hell knights and revenants to start and switching to the SSG with the second half, where you battle the heavier monsters from Doom II, including a nice supply of barons. I do like the more deliberate pacing of the latter portion compared to manic revenant dodging, but there are some other panic moments, like one arch-vile in particular. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the whole set was the method of opening the exit door, something I didn't expect from a level this streamlined.

I wish Mac Donald did more single player levels; his catalog is unfortunately quite brief. In any case, Jägermörder's first iteration is a solid PWAD you should have a go at, unless you're unreasonably biased against playing individual levels. It looks great, is fun to play, and doesn't overstay its welcome. Download it today!


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1999

Batman DoomThe Darkening
Chord GJägermörder
Twilight WarriorDemonfear
Tei TengaHerian 2

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