Friday, April 5, 2013

Lord of the Flies (FLYMAPS1.WAD)

Sam Ketner may be fondly remembered as the author of Assault on Tei Tenga, but did you know that his first release was 1996's Lord of the Flies, authored alongside James "[thantos]" Jennings and luminary Adam Windsor? This nine-map episode for Doom II's main selling point was a mess of new monsters culled from the shovelware discs of the time, which the new maps were allegedly balanced for. The story is bizarre, of course. There is a colony on Gamma Hydra IV (the setting of a Star Trek TOS episode no less). Apparently the ice caps started melting and after the colonists' bid to deal with the rising ocean levels failed, they aligned themselves with "Belzebub" and have since disappeared off the grid. You're strong-armed into dealing with the threat after the UAC's recon droids reveal a demonic presence.

FLYMAPS1 is pretty rough. Ketner's work clearly improved between this release and Tei Tenga and Jennings isn't any better. Adam Windsor manages to make things work, a testament to his sense of gameplay balance. The main saving grace is that the levels are on average quite short, the main exceptions being MAP03 and 09, by Jennings and Ketner, respectively. There are some semi-interesting moments but levels are either too plain or repetitive for the quirks to carry the WAD as a whole. I will say that Jennings has some cool ideas for "Water Treatment Plant", like the above / below water effect.

The other thing dragging this mapset down are the new monsters. They don't really fit with the rest of the crew, let alone each other. You've got a sergeant that resurrects as an angel after he dies, imps with jetpacks (okay, ONE good fit), flying faerie women that speak like Nazis, eyeballs that summon self-destructing death bubbles, and Star Wars spy droids that shoot rapid-fire beam streams. One of the other major changes - zombimen drop SSGs instead of clips. This is a bit of a Godsend given how much ammo the new sergeants take to put down for good vs. what they put out (nothing). I understand that this is the best Ketner had to work with, judging by the .TXT, but I would rather have seen little, if any, of these alterations.

I would not recommend Lord of the Flies to others except for purely historical reasons. Tei Tenga, while a bit dull, is a much more consistent offering, and Windsor has made tons of excellent levels you may not have already played. If you really want to see what these DeHackEd monsters can do, I guess load up Windsor's maps and put them through their paces, as his levels play better with them than either of his comrades'. Otherwise, I'd sit this one out. NOTE: This PWAD's .ZIP contains an ancient install process that loads the new sprites into your IWAD. Just use a modern port that can handle dragging files to play so you don't hack your stuff up.

by Sam Ketner, James Jennings
and Adam Windsor

Pumping StationMAP01
by Sam Ketner
Water-themed map that introduces a lot of the new monster types you'll run into. It's actually very open and very rectangular which makes it uninteresting to explore, though the sheer onset of monsters at the opening makes things a little hectic, mainly with the rush of "fem-nazis". The water level indicators go a little ways toward grounding the level. On the other hand, some very questionable arch-vile placement at the yellow key.

MAP02Angel Island
by Sam Ketner
Still water-themed but something of an inverse "Mt. Erebus" feel. The sheer number of platform shotgun guys is annoying but when you finally clear the outer ring and work on the island it's kind of decent, though it's so dark you might not notice the shoot switch that raises the bridge between the two halves. Those suicide drones are really annoying, especially having them thrust on you at the beginning of the level.

Water Treatment PlantMAP03
by James Jennings
A huge turnaround from the previous two maps, Jennings delivers an enormous map packed with 300 enemies to start. It's very rough with some memorable areas and ideas but ultimately a pain in the ass with the winding trap-happy maze to the computer map, the (optional) clusterfuck of eyeballs firing death bubbles in the plasma rifle area, and the unforgivable final room which corrals the player while popping out revenants at every turn with a terribly placed arch-vile to finish. Those pain elemental replacements are out of control. On the positive side, I liked the plunge from the above ground area to the underwater zone and you're pretty much going to be spraying the plasma rifle like a firehose.

by Adam Windsor
A very short but very tight level from Windsor who does not disappoint. Monster placement is tailor made to their abilities with the first area devoted to dashing about, trying to avoid popping the death bubbles while picking off the troopers and making the area safe. The finale isn't pretty but it pits you against the arachnotron replacements - Empire recon drones - in a memorable fight. Much appreciated.

Temple of IceMAP05
by James Jennings
It looks like it's balanced for a pistol start at first, but after you confront the massive hordes of recon drones on the north and south sides, you'll realize just how little Jennings cares in either balance or gameplay. The most fun you'll have will be clearing the bedrooms found in the temple, which are loaded with the ammo and guns that would have been great to have earlier, and clearing the penultimate room is fun once you're kitted out. Too bad the rest of the level sucks so much. Nice looking fountains, though.

MAP06The Furnace
by Adam Windsor
Another super-short level from Adam. It's got some cool setpieces like the deep water and the eponymous furnace. It's also a bit rougher than "Reservoir", where your first challenge will be in grabbing a combat shotgun without getting too roughed up. Of all the fights, the furnace room is my favorite, where good enemy variety plus placement makes for a somewhat dynamic encounter.

The DamMAP07
by Sam Ketner
An almost comically short map from Ketner that has a lot of moving machinery, primarily in the imp room. The only really threatening fight here is the one in the final room where you'll face three eyeballs from afar. Figuring out how to open the exit might be tricky... Not sure what was going on with that lowering room in the opening area.

MAP08Drown Town
by Brian Vannatta (ed. Sam Ketner)
This map kind of fits the theme but it's plain to see that it's a deathmatch level (converted from MAP15 of DANZIG1, thanks TGH!). The playing area is a band of low water stuffed with SSGs while the interior is a tower that's mostly safe. A bunch of recon drones will make your life a living Hell as they crunch around the exterior like langoliers, waiting to devour the unwary Doomguy. If you want to make it as painless as possible, you'll need to speed for the plasma rifle and just hose them down, after which the exit door will open.

by Sam Ketner
Ketner's finale is an unusual switch-heavy map with three horizontal layers. There's an outer ring of rooms and an inner sanctum, separated by a circle of water. It's basically switch hunt 101, though maybe half of the effects are obvious as they open up alcoves around the edge of the map that have enemies vying for your blood. The other half is a confusing mess that will set the teeth of Eternal Doom haters on edge, though a select few might find Ketner's network of linedefs fun to unravel. Remembering where each of the teleporters sends you is a pain in the ass, though.



  1. As much as I like reading through the reviews for classics like AV, its cool to see the blog unearth some of the more obscure wads like this and Ragnarok. Keep on.

    1. Thanks! It's cool to roll the dice or do something more along the lines of my Master Levels for Doom II page where I reviewed practically every single level from the associated authors, finding whatever I may.