YEAR 22 A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
by Eric "The Green Herring" Baker
Eric Baker busted out his Year 21 speedmap in 2008 to celebrate his 21st anniversary on This Island Earth. Year 22 was made in 2009 for the same purpose, but due to a comedy of errors wasn't released until the tail end of the year, much like the third and as of this post final entry in the trilogy, Year 23. 22, aka A Rock and a Hard Place, is another single map replacement to be played in Boom-compatible engines. This time, though, it fills the MAP02 slot, with the intent that the levels can be loaded together and played back to back to form a cohesive narrative. Year 22 picks up where 21 left off. You've stepped through the still-active warp gate at a military installation thought abandoned only to find it quite inhabited and the gate fully functional, sending you to some Godforsaken canyon in who knows where. To add insult to injury, the trip seems to have been a one-way ticket.
Year 22 is a speedmap, just like its forbear, but the level is a bit larger and the action a tad harder than TGH's 21st. It's pretty linear compared to "The Vanishing Point", but when the fights have advanced beyond simple Doom trash clearing, it hardly registers, because you're too busy wondering where the next revenant storm is coming from. Yes; there will be revenants. If you suck at fighting kickboxing skeletons, you might want to sit UV out, because you'll have to plow through a good number of them. I like the level's action, as fast and furious as it is, with my only real criticism being how identical the assaults on the left and right canyon walls seem.
It's also a really brown level, where the last one was predominantly dark gray, but that should only bother a certain class of aesthetic sticklers because as it's constructed, the level is quite nice, with some good vistas to break things up. There's a hidden message, too, but you won't find it during ordinary play... Also like TGH's original track, here, feeling more earthy than Y21's "Surf's Up!" feel. Amusingly enough, it's called "Your Time is Long Overdue". The last neat bit I'll mention - the end of Y22 segues very nicely into the beginning of Year 23, so if you want to get a nice leadup, you'll want to use the two together to at least see that long descent into the dark.
Year 22 isn't revolutionary but it's a cool little outing from the impeccable Eric Baker, who should really get off his duff and make more maps for Doom (II). They don't have to all be as slaughterific as Year 23, the last bit in this trilogy; they just need to be.
STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND BETWEEN
A GROK AND A HARD PLACE