Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Back to the Fire (BTTF.WAD)

by Simon Dupuis

I've never played the PSX version of the Dooms, and while I've dabbled in Doom 64, I haven't given it good enough of a look to be intimately familiar with it. What I do know is that to some players, both Dooms are the iconic experiences driven by their nostalgia trains, and oppressive ambiance plus colored lighting constitute much of that feel. Back to the Fire, released in 2012 by Simon Dupuis, is a single map for Doom II that uses these elements to I feel evoke that sensation but in a more modern sense. Replacing MAP01, it's meant to be played in the GZDoom engine or Skulltag (now defunct - use Zandronum). Apparently, it's not strictly necessary to play the level in GL ports, but you'll miss out on the colored lighting, and that's a huge part of the level's draw.

Back to the Fire is a techbase, make no mistake. There are a few hints at something more typical of corrupted bases in the detailing but it's of very clean design and with tons of detail motifs, which makes Dupuis at the very least consistent. The architecture isn't anything incredibly eye-catching, but it's serviceable. I prefer the look of the larger areas, particularly the outdoors, though there's one large area to the east that's pretty fetching. The main draw is the lighting, of course, which adds a lot of color to the level and does a good job covering up the somewhat schizoid texturing. I didn't notice it at first while playing but themes seem to change at the drop of the hat, which gives the map a patchwork appearance that the colors help tie together.

As far as combat goes, BTTF is a fun romp, though it ultimately falls flat as far as challenges are concerned. The only fight that really sticks out in my mind involves two arachnotrons, a mancubus, and some other stuff, made difficult through your restricted weaponry, namely the chaingun and normal shotgun. Most of the fights are either entirely incidental (a hell knight here, a few imps there) or threatening via scads of hitscanners, which truth be told isn't that often as long as you take a little care in handling potential threats. I think this level would work great as the starter of a minisode or something but on its own it isn't very meaty.

If you want an easygoing, pretty level with tons of colored lighting, then you'll greatly enjoy Back to the Fire. It won't hold up for anyone looking for a more serious challenge but I had some fun in my playthrough. I hope Dupois plies his talents toward a more substantial level pack as I'd have a lot of fun playing through a set of levels in a similar vein, hopefully with some stronger opposition. As it stands, I think your average Doomer would do well to give it a shot.


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