Monday, February 25, 2013


by JC Dorne

Apart from Survive in Hell, JCD's token one man megaWAD, his only other solo release as of this writing is Titania, published in 2012 for Doom II. It hasn't graced the archives, but it's interred on the Doomed Speed Demo Archive if you want to take a look. (EDIT 12/22/13: JCD uploaded it to the archives on 12/17/13!) He describes it as a small map inspired by Ultimate Doom, but if that means upwards of 250 monsters with a layout to match, he has a very different sensibility about level size. Titania has no given story. It's clearly a UAC techbase complete with a front desk, but that's it.

It's easy to see where this PWAD departs from the material JC worked on in virtually every level of SiH. It's a techbase map, drawing from the layouts of the classic episode in terms of connectivity and progression. It's considerably more spacious, with wide hallways and even larger open rooms, so you'll rarely if ever feel claustrophobic. JC knows how to use monsters to make you feel pinned down, though. The hitscanners make early gameplay a war of attrition unless you're super-careful and if you don't nose around for the room with the plain chaingun pickup you're liable to feel the squeeze on your ammo stash as you run and gun.

There's at least one major slow spot, of course, a token "baron vs. shotgun" moment which is undermined by the amount of room JC gives you to move. The rest isn't painfully paced but your limited arms might give you some trouble, like the ambush with the cacos and pain elementals or just clearing with the shotgun in general at first. The sewer surprise may be predictable but it's pretty good fun for what's essentially mindless imp-blasting (or punching). The monster closets are a bit beefier than UD's but JC misses one of the essentials of E1 layouts, where enemies are let loose on a different end of the level and eventually sneak up on the unwary player, not that he's aiming for that kind of engineered survival horror. He does manage to pull a bit of it at the end, but I won't spoil that.

I'd like to see more levels in this genre from JC. It's nice when he tackles levels not Hell-bent on killing the player with hordes of revenants (still the imps, though). Titania is a very clean if not visually stunning map with some pleasant gameplay. About the only thing it could really stand for is some more height variation; most of the action takes place on what is effectively a flat plane. Looking at Survive in Hell, it's clear that he's up to the task, and it'll be neat to see what he puts out in the future.

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