Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reelism (REELISM-X2.1_.pk7)

by "The Kins" and "300 Pounds"

Reelism has been around awhile (released right around Christmas in 2011) and has had two "expansion packs" since its initial release, with more potentially on the way. Which brings up an important question. What is Reelism? Well, The Kins started it, and has since added the talents of a handful of contributors in various aspects of its design. It's a spinoff of "invasion"-style gameplay, something I'm not familiar with outside of as it's carefully choreographed in regular PWADs. Reelism is my first proper experience with this dedicated mode of play. If you didn't already know, invasion mods involve throwing monsters at the player in waves. Reelism spices things up with irreverent semi-randomness provided through its major hook, triads of wave elements dictated to the player through slot reels. It doesn't necessarily require the Doom II IWADs (Doom II, Evilution, Plutonia), but if you don't use them, you're going to be seeing some checkerboard nightmares.

At the start of each round, the reels spin and tailor the experience that follows. The first reel dictates broad gameplay changes. You might get helpful effects like infinite ammo, always a favorite, or muddled enemies, where your opponents just walk around confused and not attacking. You can also get annoying stuff like low-friction floors (one of my least favorite reels) or ambiguous modifiers, like classic Duke Nukem crates that can provide fun prizes or sneaky grenades that explode on contact. Other examples include enemies exploding upon dying, which is annoying up close but great when they gather in packs.

The second reel slot bestows weapon loadouts on the player which spawn in at preset locations. Spawns aren't guaranteed, though, and neither is weapon quality. Kits are themed in some way. You might find yourself with the Wolf3D, HACX2.0 or Duke Nukem 3D weapons to draw from, or maybe items that exclusively use plasma ammo or do explosive damage. Some slots are more esoteric, like blue magic, which lets you use enemy attacks, or the unreliable kit, with bizarre behavior like a plasma rifle with errant projectiles that summons in exploding cyberdemons and causes the appearance of dangerous "glitches".  Don't say I didn't warn you.

The last slot determines what kind of opposition you'll be facing. Like the weapon slots, the waves are themed, and feature plenty of different sources of opposition. There are classic Doom zombies, of course, and baron / hell knight waves, but you might also find yourself chased by Wolf3D dogs, guys named Larry wearing jetpacks, bronies, outlaws, aliens that shoot fire, floating eyeballs, guys named Bob that aren't wearing jetpacks, firebug robots, knights and archers, the spooks and kooks wave (chainsaw zombies, former scientists wielding knives, and super-deadly skulls), and...the Jerk. You don't want to get the Jerk.

So mix it all together and presto, instant gameplay. There are some snags, of course. Getting three identical numbers results in a jackpot, which I haven't experienced yet but has some interesting effects. The other thing I sort of glazed over the transformations, specifically the tank and RoTT's dog mode, which make you invulnerable to conventional weapons and turn you into a killing machine, be it mechanic or organic. I like both but I prefer dog mode; the sonic bark is great for taking out droves of monsters. There are also health, armor, and item drops. I recall the pushback device, a pogo stick (radical!), droppable barrels, and grenades. I also found a super-lethal wine bottle; I don't remember what that was a part of.

Those are your gameplay elements, and they come at you in four different modes. The standard mode lasts five monster waves before throwing a boss at you who comes from a pool of malcontents including El Cybredemon, a wizard driving a badass monster truck, and the now famous dog pope, who barks and shoots bees out of his mouth. Endurance mode is the same as standard mode, it just lasts five more rounds before the big badass. Infinite mode has no boss, as far as I can tell, while boss practice lets you test your might against your betters in a more controlled environment. I suppose it's also a nice alternative to seeing content if you can't hack it in the normal modes (or just want to see all the cool stuff lying in wait).

All of this madness takes place on a number of maps. Some, like "Gutrot Island" and "The Internet Machine", are very large and open and while you may not have a lot of cover, given the speed some of the enemies can hit, you're probably better off running than getting swamped in choke points. Others like "JRPGville" and "Creature of Chaos" feel more cluttered with monsters with grabbing supplies to deal with them being less than straightforward, at least, as long as you start out getting used to them. Some have...unusual gimmicks, like "Abridged", which is just a big ol' bridge with cars that run across. The cars will take out nearly anything they hit, including you, so look both ways.

I love the look and feel of Reelism. Every map comes with its own glut of music tracks, randomized and appropriate to the situation. "JRPGville" is loaded with all kinds of JRPG music, for instance. I only recognized the Squaresoft tracks, but it was pretty neat blasting monsters to themes from Secret of Mana (and more!). It's also loaded down with jokes; every bit of text has been crafted to inject some humor into the situation, not that you'll have enough time to read it, and Reelism shies toward the comical in its overall arcade action. You can light the humanoids on fire a la Blood (though more panicked) or hit monsters with explosions and watch them sail away like a home run.

The best part is, there's probably more to come than what's already included in this, the base game plus two expansions, supposing Kins can be bothered. It already has user-made content and the sky may be is the limit. The breadth of potential addons is virtually limitless given its mash-up approach, though I like the fact that it's a pretty focused mod, keeping away from the excesses of the now bloated Aeons of Death. The latter was at one point uncontrolled blenderizing of anything and everything, then forced into whatever WAD you decided to pour it in to. If the authors of AEOD are still kicking around, I'd love to see them take some notes from Kins and 300 Pounds; I think its glut of content is far more suited to this kind of approach. Well, minus Reelism's hooks, like the actual reels. My point is that Reelism is excellent, and if anything I'e said at all has piqued your interest, you should grab this and go a few rounds. Just make sure you have someone on standby to pull you off the computer.

Gutrot Islandby "The Kins"
I tended to play this map more than the others. It's a fairly safe semi-ruined city surrounded by water with a docked ship you can step on to and a two-story mall that's under construction. All of the shops have store signs but most of them are empty. You -probably- won't fall off the map unless you get greased. You can explore a few of the buildings for goodies but you're generally better of sticking to the city streets, where you can be the speed king. This is probably the best starter level for new players. It's wide open, straightforward, and has zero hazards. It's also not much to look at, but it serves its purpose handily.

by "The Kins"The Internet Machine
A vibrant, virtual-reality landscape that, excepting the texturing scheme, could easily be an island floating in the sky. It has a few visual hooks for you to explore to. There's a platform floating off in the distance which you could easily get to with one of the flying reels. There's also a primitive-looking house at one end complete with a pond next door. Falling is the greatest danger; I had one encounter with the dog pope cut short by a strafe into one of the island's holes. As far as things that annoyed me, the landscape layout makes the tank much less effective if you're caught in that dip on the main island, which I found frustrating, and the same dip makes the island even trickier to navigate than it already is with the limited real estate.

Municipal Transpoby "The Shadsy"
Ride the "R" train! "Transpo" is, of course, modeled after some kind of metropolitan train station. There's a parking garage, waiting areas, train tunnels, and convenience centers. There's also at least one way to get to the outside world, which will summarily result in your execution. While it's technically an indoors level the major areas are so wide open that it hardly matters and the major hallways make great choke points for explosive spam. The downside is that enemies tend to surprise you from all angles unless you've backed yourself into a corner.

by "FireSeraphim"Creature of Chaos
If the music doesn't clue you in, maybe that opening hallway will. It's a take on Castlevania in Doom, with some castle gardens, a hedge maze, and more importantly Dracula's tower on an isolated spire you can only reach via bridge, and it's even got the secret upper chamber which has become such a staple of the series. The main downside is that all of the action is gated behind doors in rooms or certain outdoor areas, which makes it less fluid to run around in than the previous levels. On the plus side, the castle looks kickass. Oh, you've got to go to Dracula's throne if you want to take on the boss monster. I imagine some enemies are easy (like the monster truck) but others would be UnReel.

Continuum of Discordby Xaser Acheron
Xaser's level is a bizarre mix of...lots of things. I kind of get the feel of non-euclidean Hell from his Lost Episode, but it's less reality getting warped and more about unreality, with the see through floor and floating windows, all of which is compounded by the loopy Earthbound soundtrack, which earns a thumbs up from me. It's kind of structured like "Transpo", with larger, circular areas connected via tunnels, but it has a more organic structure. It's pretty fun to run around in; just be careful when you're running through the detritus-clogged passages.

by "FireSeraphim"Candy Planet
Killing demons in candy land with gumdrops planted in the frosting-coated ground and diving through whatever illicit syrup constitutes the water in this level. There are gingerbread houses to traipse through but they're pretty small; "Candy Planet" is effectively some kind of outdoor canyon level. Except, it's coated in confections. At the very least, it's easy to choke off enemy advances with the landscape, or use the pogo to get on top of the houses for some goodies.

Abridgedby "The Shadsy"
Very straightforward level; it's a bridge. If you cross past either end you'll get executed, so stay in bounds. Of course, cars are trying to make their way across the war-torn structure, with tons of other potentially explosive vehicles scattered about. The cars are a neat hazard that plow through both your enemies as well as you. I've seen them spin out of control, too, crashing into the bridge's sides, so be extra careful when playing around here.

by "PsychosesMan"Flesh Palace
A big ol' love letter to Doom, complete with a rockin' remix soundtrack. As far as Reelism levels go, there's not a whole lot of ground to cover, and very few passages to explore, which makes the action pretty intimate. It's got great topiary, though, and some good height variation, which can make the combat more interesting (even if most of it is just a few paths stretching around the level's edge). There is a little bunker for you to hole up in, but nothing special.

JRPGvilleby "FireSeraphim"
Another super-cool theme level, this one exploring the JRPGs I grew up with, channeling the SNES era (dig the music selection). There's a nice little town to explore complete with coastline and watch tower which has a section of caverns, leading in to some ruins which give way to a psychedelic battleground deep within the level. Some areas (namely the city streets) are a bit too cramped to hang out in but the rest of the map readily serves as your killing fields. Neat stuff.

by "The Shadsy"Astrolab
Straightforward and symmetric space station for you to tool around in. It's elegant in its simplicity with three major tiers of play and no extraneous areas to duck into, just the outer ring, inner ring, and the pit, located in the map's center and which tends to gather monsters as you wipe out the guys on the other floors. A pure if not exactly compelling arena.


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2012 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Doom the Way id DidWhoDunIt?Beyond Reality
Strife: Absolute OrderBest Gameplay ModMasters of Chaos
PutrefierRussian OverkillFrozen Time
5till L1 ComplexMordeth AwardPlanisphere 2
Community Chest 4Community Chest 4Coffee Break Ep. 1
The EyeCall of Dooty II
Combat Shock 2Mapper of the Year
Winter's FuryKhorus
Base Ganymede: Complete

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