Monday, August 12, 2013

Mayan Temple (MAYAN667.WAD)

by Paul Turnbull

Paul Turnbull's major claim to fame is the authorship of TNT Evilution's MAP23, "Lunar Mining Project", a level noted for feeling out of place in the scheme of the megaWAD being as it's a pretty concrete man-made level in the ostensibly Hellish third episode. It's also noted for having a few of those odd custom textures that some people find questionable. His other contribution to the Doom community is Mayan Temple, an E1M1 replacement released back in '94, which being a standalone work doesn't fall prey to the first complaint. The second, though, is fair game as Turnbull has included a host of brand new textures to help establish his theme. It's some kind of Mayan temple, of course, or more accurately a block of Mayan architecture with conflicting inclusions of Egyptian iconography.

MAYAN667's layout is somewhat more suited to the deathmatch Turnbull geared it toward rather than the single player he kitted it for. Most of the area is a large, rectangular open space with some step pyramids and an ancient ball court, presumably the one where they played ōllamaliztli. Turnbull built some enclaves in the cardinal directions for you to explore, though the flat walls that surround the courtyard and ball court aren't at all interesting. The cave is alright, definitely reminding me of "Lunar"'s northern complex, and the largest step pyramid has an engaging if psychedelic interior. The Egyptian stuff comes as a questionable addition; I am guessing that he knew the difference but found the internet circa '94 lacking when it came to getting appropriate resources.

Because it's so open, it's not the most engaging of levels in terms of firefights. What interior sections he's made aren't that demanding except for the finale in the throne room. Most of the action takes place in the courtyard, with two large fights. One is a game in the ball court triggered by grabbing the chaingun and the other is a two-sided ambush waiting for you outside. The former is easily handled if you scoot up the stairs; it wouldn't take much to make a more engaging firefight, maybe by raising some barriers at the entrances or teleporting the baddies to the tops of the stairs. The latter is more threatening as Turnbull lets loose some lost souls and cacodemons into a wide open space and if you're anything like me you have a tendency to lose track of those screaming skulls. I do like the baron / lost soul fight in the main pyramid, even if you can just run around and shoot through the windows from relative safety.

Mayan Temple is a decent '94 level and a no-brainer if you are a fan of the pioneering days of user-made Doom maps. It's no feast for the eyes but there are certainly some textures you won't see anywhere else (and some you will). I'd avoid it if you're at all interested in levels that represent the modern standards the community expects from current releases. As for me, I had fun with it. Maybe you'll have more fun playing deathmatch.


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