Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Assault on Tei Tenga (TEITENGA.WAD)

ZDoom has a long and colorful history of being the most feature-rich Doom sourceport. Assault on Tei Tenga, released by Sam Ketner in 1999, stands alongside others at the forefront of this legacy, being one of the first mapsets to take its target port's features and run with them. It's six (very small) levels for Doom II in a hub arrangement that tells the same old story of another UAC colony that's gone to seed. You've been in cold sleep when your shuttlecraft is diverted to the Tei Tenga settlement after a lack of communications. After arriving at the orbital station, your goal is to reestablish contact with the colony and assess what condition the condition is in.

Tei Tenga is primarily a story-driven PWAD. I say that because there is very little action over its six levels. Only three of the maps (one of which is secret) feature any significant amount of combat, and the last is essentially a boss map. I can't really say a lot without spoiling its "story", but you do get a named arch-nemesis to pursue as your ultimate goal and there is some rudimentary hub interaction between MAP03 and MAP04 with switches performing functions on the sister level. On the other hand, any story elements delivered with strings of text take way too long to complete. What's disheartening is that the plot is pretty weak and almost nonsensical at times. Dialogue delivered at the "Nuclear Plant" leads the player to believe that there is a group of uncorrupted marines sympathetic to his cause but they have a fair amount of Hellspawn mixed in with their ranks which makes you wonder just what the Hell your first attacker was talking about.

Another feature often touted is Tei Tenga's objective-based gameplay. Each level has some rudimentary goals, the most interesting of which are found in the first two maps. This suffers from the fact that what you have to do to accomplish your goals is rarely obvious, mitigated by the fact that the small maps means you'll rarely have to go far to figure out what you've changed if it's not clear when it comes to things like unlocking various doors. There are some security cameras to give you some pointers but I didn't find them that helpful. I basically walked around and hit unmarked buttons until I got a positive response.

The gunplay isn't that interesting. It's a lot of work with the shotgun and chaingun until you grab the rocket launcher near the end of MAP04, which you're better off using on the final boss. There are a few nice scripted bits, like getting shelled by rockets at several points in MAP03 and MAP04, but they only serve to distract from the sloggish combat. The big exception is MAP05, an alternate route to the finale that shows the source of the base's troubles. Stealth revenants are bad enough, but completely invisible skeletons takes the cake as one of the most frustrating encounters I've had in Doom-related engines. The final boss is a departure from the norm, but as he's a slow-moving railgunner, you're reduced to corner-popping and rushing him with the provided invincibility sphere.

ZDoom modding has come a long way since 1999. Tei Tenga shows the potential in the building blocks provided by ZDoom at the time, with hubs and scripting and the ability to portray story elements in a less restricted manner, but I'd be hard-pressed to recommend TEITENGA to anyone that isn't interested in it from a mainly historical perspective, unless you want to see just how wide a gap there is between proto-ZDoom mods like this and much more recent efforts, like Winter's Fury. Still, it's an interesting if not compelling entry in the "canon" of Doom, kind of to ZDoom what Doom maps in '94 were to the original engine.

by Sam Ketner

MAP01Orbital Deployment
Can you say...infodump? In what I'm sure is  mainly due to the PWAD's age, information is fed to you in sentence strings that take forever to appear. It does manage to set up some intrigue, though any suspense is undermined by the tinny-sounding X-Files midi. You have two objectives to perform, neither of which are at all difficult unless you suck at exploring or working elevators. There are zero monsters to be found, and zero secrets, though you can score some green armor. The little exhibits that explain the purpose of the colony are easily missed unless you habitually hump murals.

Planetary DeploymentMAP02
Uh, still pretty unremarkable. You do get a dialogue with a computer that's gone Event 9000, but the worst it does is summon a couple imps after you witness the massacre it's helped to perpetrate. A single shot will remove a threat and get you an audience with the big bad, who asks you to come play. Here the hub diverges between "Polar Hydro" and "Nuclear Plant".

MAP03Polar Hydro
Not exactly sure what "Polar Hydro" is - maybe their way of getting coolant to the reactor? The water-windows are kind of cool and there's some serious combat here, along with scripted rocket-strafes of the compound, complete with little craters. It's all shotgun play of course, so nothing too exciting. Cacos and hell knights aren't all that enthralling at six to eight shots a body. The water pumping scripting in the central chamber looks neat.

When you return from powering down the reactor, that ice you were running around in before is frozen solid. Which is cool.

Nuclear PlantMAP04
If you come here before MAP03, you'll be blocked by a laser fence and several locked doors. There's a scripted sequence where an idiot rapid-fire rocket launches your position and ends up blasting himself in the process. The exchange with the commando makes zero sense from a story perspective. I think you need to use the door unlock to open up the entrance from "Polar Hydro"?

When you return you get to grab the rocket launcher that they used against you (a neat touch). The reactor shutdown is kind of neat.

MAP05Archaeological Site
Accessed via a secret exit in "Polar Hydro", MAP05 is its own private Hell, a pit with four squat buildings that is staffed almost solely by revenants. Some skeletons are visible, some are stealth monsters, and a handful are completely invisible. The second bit isn't so bad but the last grouping is completely unforgivable. You don't have to use the given SSG to clear them out but it's more than likely the intended method of progression given the huge row of shells lining the entryway. At the very least, suffering through the whole ordeal gets you direct access to the final area.

Colony SiteMAP06
Uh, showdown with the big bad, I guess. The dude taunts you a few times forcing you to do some corner popping - he uses a railgun - but if you're fast you should be able to make it to the main arena, which has some neat floating platforms. You can pretty much just take him out by grabbing the invul and then hosing him with plasma and rockets. Then you're home free for the exit!


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


  1. What story-based WADs would you recommend? I greatly enjoyed Tei Tenga, probably because I value narrative over a nicely designed arena and gunplay.

    I've heard great things about Winters Fury but haven't yet reinstalled Doom in months.

    1. I think narrative is a great thing to have but if I'm getting narrative in Doom I'm not going to salivate at just the hint of something interesting; I'm going to look for something substantial even though the medium isn't at all geared for it. I'm not talking about something with the depth of Dostoevsky, just something that meshes well with the game and serves the work as a whole.

      Story is not my primary care in a PWAD. If I want any kind of narrative, I'm happy to get an implied narrative through level progression, themes, and object placement. Something like CCHEST4's MAP21 is more than enough but I'll settle for nothing at all as I mostly just want to play the work the author released on their own terms. It's more about the virtual playground than anything; I'd be happy with something along the lines of Manhole every now and then.

    2. But, uh, Winter's Fury is worth playing and probably has more narrative than Tei Tenga, but it's delivered before / after levels so it doesn't intrude on the action too much. I would fast forward through the major boss fights. My personal favorite is Strife (as delivered in ZDoom) but it's not a Doom WAD and its narrative is pretty shallow. Still, I like it way better than Tei Tenga.

    3. try this one: http://www.doomworld.com/idgames/index.php?id=11101

  2. I'll have to add Trust to my list :P

    I really enjoyed Winters Fury, goddamn tough boss battles aside. I play on the weakest difficulty setting for most mods, and I'm STILL reaching for the IDDQD code in the vast majority of the mods I've played.

    I suppose thats probably a byproduct of any mod community - since the levels are designed for the fans, they lean towards sadistic difficulty.

    I tried Cold as Hell as literally got stonewalled on the second level - with a puny two weapons to take out a gigantic horde of enemies? No thanks. I could do it with enough perseverance, but I value my sanity.

    That said, I have found quite a few mods that had what I was looking for - Epic 1 and 2 kept my interest all the way through, even with the occasional difficulty spike. Batman Doom never felt unfair, and Chosen gave me a good run (the weapons are particularly well designed) while it lasted.

    I guess what i meant by "I value narrative over gunplay" is more "I don't have the required skill for the vast majority of these mods, and narrative driven titles tend to be a bit easier and manageable."

    1. There are difficulty settings, of course, though not all authors attempt to utilize them.

      Some recommendations:

      --two single levels in that order, they have movies too you can watch before and after)

      --a jokey map set but with some cool quirks...and a mandrill's ass

      The rest of these are all vanilla / boom (very little outside the box stuff) but still attempt to tell stories.

      --if you haven't already played it, it's got text on every title card telling you the story

      --same as the above but with a stronger story progression

      --easy but kind of homely

      --kind of atmospheric / storyish

      --two very cool atmospheric maps

      -- play MAP20 and 21 back to back. They might be a bit rough but you can dial down the difficulty for a pretty cool ride.

  3. Funny how the review was posted in EXACT same day I played this wad and finished. What a strange coincidence!

  4. This was was sooo hyped back in the day. And now it's almost completely forgotten. A victim of fashion, you might say. Not the best Zdoom WAD, agreed. I didn't play many but of those I did I liked Valhalla best.

    A few corrections for the article.
    First paragraph:
    It's six (very small) level -> It's six (very small) levelS

    Third paragraph:
    There are a fair amount of security cameras
    There IS a fair NUMBER of security cameras
    The plural would be appropriate if it were "A fair number of security cameras are out of order". "There is a" requires the singular, however. Cameras are countable, so "amount" doesn't fit.

    The fourth paragraph has a dangling modifier:
    The final boss is a departure from the norm, but as a slow-moving railgunner you're reduced ->
    The final boss is a departure from the norm, but as HE IS a slow-moving railgunner you're reduced

    HTH and sorry for the caps, couldn't think of another way to highlight the differences that wouldn't be too cumbersome.

    1. I'll avoid grammarizing your typos in return :P Thanks for the corrections; I've executed them in my own particular style.

      As for ZDoom stuff, yeah, I look forward to it but few people are willing to spend the time and effort to make using the ZDoom engine exceptionally worthwhile.