Monday, April 8, 2013


by Malcolm Sailor

There's something about loading up a Malcolm Sailor map - particularly the CHORD series - that evokes a sense of dread and impending loss of all self-respect. Sailor nailed a very distinct style on UV play that I'd label as, I dunno, scavenger. They're super-hard for a variety of reasons and the monster count has little do do with it (sitting at a little more than seventy to start with). The levels are often claustrophobic with Sailor acting as an authoritarian when it comes to things like weapon and ammo placement. If punching revenants with the berserk pack isn't your bag, well, too bad! CHORDG is the fourth level in this mapset, occupying the MAP29 slot in Doom II.

CHORDG is all about two things, looking great and - at least on UV - getting your ass spanked raw. It's great to see how far Sailor's come as an author, with as usual excellent lighting and architecture everywhere. You may find yourself backed into some of the nicest rooms to be rendered in vanilla Doom II. My big favorite is the split level between marble font and cavern to the west, though there are some other neat gimmicks like the otherworldly green pillars that make up the rocket launcher alcove or the layout of the murderhole that comprises the map's southern section. The underworld aesthetic kind of limits the eye candy - CHORD_NG had a lot of cool if not playable stuff you could see through the windows - but that just puts all the focus on the playing area.

Sailor isn't one to let up. CHORDG isn't as carefully orchestrated as CHORD_NG but that leaves it feeling that much more insane as everything goes to shit around you with barons and hell knights and revenants teleporting in. This is a level where the least threatening things are pain elementals, to put that in perspective. You will find no shortage of ammo sponges on your quest to rid this corner of the universe of Hellspawn. While any Sailor level is full of tense moments, my favorite two are the dual arch-viles fought in the aforementioned area to the south or the moment he starts dumping hell knights on top of you with a wall lowering to expose you to some skeletons.

CHORDG has everything that the CHORD series is known for in an airtight package that will leave you feeling paranoid about Doom II, just like when you played it the first time so long ago, and it's so compact that the only thing to get in the way of its normal gameplay is some particularly intense congestion. If you like getting spanked in gorgeous Doom II levels, you should give this level a try, or you can dial down the difficulty for something more appropriate to your skill. The only losing move is not to play.


This post is part of a series on
Malcolm Sailor's CHORD series


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

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