Monday, June 24, 2013

Containment Area (CONTAIN.WAD)

by J.C. "Sailor Scout" Bengtson

Doom has had no shortage of tributes since its release. Most players attempt to echo the designs of Knee Deep in the Dead, the episode most memorable to them, but there are others... Containment Area is an unmistakable homage to the E2M2 level by the same name, a MAP12 replacement for Doom II by one J.C. Bengtson, aka Sailor Scout. CONTAIN isn't for OG Doom; it's a massive remake for Boom-compatible ports, mainly for some moving floors and the six key setup. Actually, there are some SFX for ZDoom that you'll miss out on if you use something else (the steps sound eerily like crunching bones), but the ambiance is a sideshow to the 666 monsters on UV. It should prove to be a test of several aspects, patience for some and skill for others.

Containment Area is pretty hard, at least to me. Most of that is due to the war of attrition inflicted on the player over what feels to me to be a fairly restricted health pool given the handful of Cyberdemons - among other things - you'll find in the level. Ammo is generally okay but it can get tight at times; it's mostly shells and bullets with rockets and cells at a premium. Actually, most of the monster placement felt fair to me, but there was something about that Cyberdemon in the central northern hallway that got me good. Dodging the rockets was pretty easy but not getting cooked by the splash damage did me in more times than I care to admit. I guess I couldn't just leave well enough alone.

Bengston's E2 retread evokes the original fairly well. It has a ton of crates (crate haters gonna hate) and monsters laid out in such a way that I found myself getting surprised by attacks from behind on more than one occasion. There are callbacks to the more memorable bits of E2M2, like the hall of crushers or the machine pits, and you'll traipse through a few sections of techbase gone to seed...more than once. Like I said, Containment Area is huge, with six different key doors, a few of which are superfluous, like the revenant bunker to the north which simply houses another key. On the other hand, the major areas you'll run in to are definitely distinct so that the whole base doesn't feel like "crate storage x 100". You might get a little lost navigating the crate forest, though.

Favorite encounters... The yellow skull key Cyberdemon was actually a nice surprise, way easier to handle than the one to the north (which you can admittedly just skip). There were a few ambushes in the main crate area that did a good job as far as making the player think where he or she is going to fall back to with revenants, actually feeling underused here. I also liked that cloud of cacos in the red skull key room and the shootout in the section immediately prior is a nice stab at challenging the player's awareness with all the beasts strategically laid out to wake up as you gently probe the area.

If you like big exploration-style Doom II levels, and also love Doom, then why not play Containment Area? It'll suck up a lot of your time as quick as you let it and differs enough from its source material so as to give you a nice re-imagining of a classic level. Too bad Bengtson didn't make a pass at the rest of the Doom canon.



  1. This was probably the biggest and most epic tribute map to an original Doom I/Ultimate Doom level at the time it was released, and IMO still holds up pretty well. Since then of course it's gained competition among some other epic scale direct tributes/remakes: all of Knee Deep in ZDoom, Tormentor's Refinery (but I feel the Containment Area reigns supreme over that one still), and the recent 20 Years of Doom. Phobos Revisited/The Phobos Directive are strong re-interpretations of KDitD, the former being mainly vanilla stuff, the later a hub for GZDoom but with similar map designs. There have also been at least a couple levels that have tributes to many levels at once, the couple I can think of off the top of my head would be a super secret/bonus level from Knee Deep in ZDoom (M10), Decade by Russell Pearson, Map18 of the vanilla/limit-removing Doomworld Mega Project of 2013 by Z86, and another map around 2010 by Jimi that I can't remember the name of but I'm pretty sure you've reviewed it already. I still always appreciate and enjoy good big levels that pay a strong tribute to the original maps without degenerating into 'copying' them per se. :)

    1. i just like big, exploratory levels, but if they are wrapped up in a badass doom tribute i cant say no. it would be neat to see an entire megawad with levels built like this, but im pretty sure it would drive people up the wall