Friday, February 28, 2014


by Kurt Kesler

Kurt Kesler's KBOOM series doesn't get the love the rest of his works have, mainly because 1) they weren't collected in a megaWAD for easy enjoyment a la his vanilla levels into KMEGA1 and 2) KZDOOM was the stuff that got mentioned in the proto-Cacowards. They're just as good as his other works, though, if not better, since all of them were made or at least uploaded after his last map for the original Doom II. KBOOM_3 is the third installment of this series by name, though it was released on the archives exactly the same time as numbers four and five, and only a few days after one and then two - all in 1998, and all MAP01 replacements. All I can conclude is that Kesler was a fucking beast when it came to making maps.

KBOOM_3 is a very spacious outdoor level in breaking with his favored base theme. There's a huge outside area to run around in that comes with a deep-water river that hides some monsters and that you yourself can hide in if you really feel like it, not that you'll be dodging a ton of fireballs. There are a handful of outposts that make up a larger structure in the west of the map; to finish, you'll have to visit all of them and endure some more congested fights in direct contrast to the airy flitting about that makes up the rest of the gameplay. It's not heavily scripted, though he throws a few waves of enemies at you from glorified monster closets, mostly cacodemons and imps from afar. There's at least one instance where pain elementals get sneakily inserted, maybe the only time you'll end up panicking.

Or maybe not, because you begin with a full loadout - shotgun, SSG, rocket launcher and plasma rifle, and plenty of ammo for all of them. You might pick up a chaingun from a commando, but who cares? It's not like Kesler wants you to spend your time shooting bullets. The combat isn't that demanding, though you might find a few hairy situations, like getting railed by Hell knights on top of the battlements if you don't check your elevator, and unchecked hitscanners will definitely incur some attrition. Once you get past the Spiderdemon in the cool eastern section, though, you can pretty much just hold down fire with the leftover plasma rifle ammo and call it a day.

It's fun playing this more relaxing and natural-feeling level compared to Kesler's less organic murderboxes. It's not quite as loaded with Boom features compared to the previous outings, but engine features do not make the map - the author does. It'll be interesting seeing how things improve in future works.

This post is part of a series on
Kurt Kesler's KBOOM series


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