Friday, March 7, 2014

#1Kill (#1KILL.WAD)


Some PWADs get "canonized" through the Top 100 WADs of All Time and Cacowards. Others avoid the oblivion of time by word of mouth. Angelo Jefferson survives in the public conscience through his Number One Kill The Next Generation, which usually comes up when people talk about lesser-known PWADs they think deserve some praise. Less recognized is the Original Series to #1KILLTNG, that being plain ol' #1Kill, an E2 replacement released in 1997. It's full, at nine levels, but I wouldn't say it's in the Deimos style. Rather, it's some kind of vague mixture of wood and green marble, kind of suggesting Thy Flesh Consumed, except Angelo is not there at all.


#1KILL starts out with small levels with fairly tricky bits and eventually moves to bigger body counts. E2M7 has almost 400 monsters, and the density for each map is quite high compared to the OG Doom levels I'm familiar with. Angelo is certainly not afraid of putting pressure on the player. He's also not afraid to dump you in mazes, whether they're kind of trippy 3D or just intermittently flashing light, and he apparently loves shotgun play because you have to tackle the first 200 or so enemies of the aforementioned E2M7 with shells alone. Actually, expect to do a lot of monster grinding with the boomstick.


There are flashes of excitement in this, and some neat architecture and ideas, but there are a few major trappings that hold it back. It sucks getting tethered to the shotgun for most of the level action, especially when the body counts rise as high as Angelo drives them. Also, eye strain-inducing mazes are rarely if ever cool, especially when they run pretty long. Still, you could do a lot worse when picking an episode for the original Doom. There just needs to be some more weapon variety to liven things up. I think I see why Angelo Jefferson's other two PWADs - #1KILLTNG and 1KILLXTR - are more highly regarded by PWAD historians.




#1KILL
by Angelo Jefferson

E2M1
Short, simple marble level with a high population density. Shotgun guys, cacodemons and imps abound, with your only weapon being the classic boomstick. It's fast and furious, though killing the cacodemons - which can't really threaten you unless you enter the secret area - drags the level down a bit as far as tedium goes. I like that exit fight better, where the bodies are put to good use in terms of pressuring the player. 

E2M2
Marble and tech, here, and pretty violent with one major bitching point. Angelo starts you out in pitch black, through which you have to kill a good number of enemies (admittedly alleviated by the secret in the starting room), and then move into a strobe section with demons in the pits. It's an eyesore. After you get back, though, the lights are on and the contrast looks pretty neat while you continue to power through the masses. It's shotgun slow going but if you're willing to weather a pair of bruisers (and a simple maze) you can grab a chaingun. It probably takes more time to kill the barons than it does to walk back and forth through the maze, though.

E2M3
Straightforward marble and wood outpost. The west half is mostly symmetric, which sucks, but it's loaded with monsters. You wait way too long for a chaingun, though - all the ammo is loaded in the blue key room and the gun itself is behind the blue door. The yellow key is "secret", but not really, and leads to a puzzling watchtower with enemies stuck below you that you can't kill, as far as I know. Pretty slow for a map this small.

E2M4
Well, you at least get the chaingun relatively early, though you'll have to dance with a baron for it. A pretty meaty level with a lot of cacodemons and some barons. Most of the barons are in a secret exit that's a pain in the ass to get to. There's no way that shooting the left side of the normal exit switch alcove is an intuitive decision. It's pretty simple, otherwise.

E2M9
Holy wow! This is an enormous castle map, which has a big moat surrounding it. There are a few monsters outside the boundaries but most of your time will be spent mopping up the jerks on the inside and on the battlements, which includes a slightly awkward baron fight in every corner. It's projectile Hell as you quest for the red key; once you get inside the keep, though, it's pretty straightforward. The only weird part is the yellow key, located right by the exit switch. It lets you access an ammo / weapons cache if you run back into the building, but that's your prerogative.

E2M5
A trappy marble warzone ringing a lake of nukage, opening with a pretty cheap shot at the player pincered between two pairs of shotgun guys. Angelo experiments with automap obfuscation; lines are progressively hidden the further you explore from the entrance until they all but vanish, as though the marine's most helpful bit of tech is malfunctioning. It's a slug fest with tons of shotgun vs. cacos and barons, though you do get to use a slow crusher on a few of them if you so desire. Save you some ammo, anyway. 

E2M6
Starts out pretty mean then gets super weird with three-dimensional lift-based mazes that make up the map's early portions. Once you break through and get the plasma rifle (and dust some barons) you're into the real meat, which is a collection of densely-packed wooden areas, big on both crossfire and congestion. That southern concrete area is an odd inclusion, feeling something like an E1 homage, albeit vaguely. The Spiderdemon is a nice inclusion. Not really sold on that imp-infested "Get Smart" door sequence, though.

E2M7
This level has some very cool architecture but it overstays its welcome by leaps and bounds. Half of the monsters, including plenty of cacodemons and barons, are killed with the shotgun alone. You don't get a good supply of rockets 'til about the same time you grab the chaingun - a must have in terms of weapon variety. At the end, you mop up the rest of the beasties with a freebie BFG, so the other hundred or so aren't even challenging, and are slow to teleport. Plus the blinking maze that dominates the level's eastern half. Best moment by far is the northeastern marble area and fight, even if it is a total dances-with-shotgun clusterfuck. Oh, and don't enter that passage to the yellow key door without the yellow key. You'll get stuck and have to reload.

E2M8
At least Angelo doesn't fuck around. He drops all of the normal weapons for you plus plenty of ammo to speed through everything with the plasma rifle and rocket launcher. You'll have to kill a Cyberdemon, Spiderdemon, and Cyberdemon in that order. The first two aren't hard to off but the third is very tricky as there appear to be an invisible wall that you have to navigate around and be wary of lest you waste all the rockets and plasma he has stashed for you (and maybe splash yourself to death). Nothing crazy, but not as rote as your average Doom finale.

MAKE IT SO, NUMBER ONE

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