Monday, March 24, 2014

Eye of the Beholder II (EOB2S.WAD)

Jon Landis is somewhat notorious for his unforgiving, dickish gimmick maps for the original Doom, most of which appeared in his hard-to-find Eye of the Beholder. Eye of the Beholder II, released in 1995, is a set of seven maps constructed for Doom II, somewhat in the same vein, but Landis has tightened up his design to make this a very short series of brain-teasers, and somewhat defanged, to boot. You won't have anything approaching the level of !PIPE! in here, anyway. There are still some moments of frustration, but EOB2S is a different beast. There's still no story, and the DeHackEd lump wouldn't work for me in ZDoom, but from the description of MAP07, I assume it makes specterized Hell knights or something of the like.

Anyway, I don't have much to say, because it honestly feels like two larger, intricate levels followed by five scenarios that could work as "Tricks and Traps" encounters for one big map. If you're a fan of short, overbalanced gimmick maps with an interesting, original soundtrack and a cool new sky, you'd do well to give Eye of the Beholder II a shot, especially if you at all enjoyed the original EOB (or any of the levels it collected). I just wish it was a bit longer; Landis was great at experimenting within Doom's confines and he only got more wild at the tail end of his career. Check out STRAIN's MAP06, "Launch Control", for a great example.

by Jon Landis

Landis comes out swinging with this terror drive. It's a good thing there's a berserk available early because I couldn't figure out how to get to the rocket launcher / shotgun secret. Ditto for the blue key - an imp hopped on the elevator, so I had to make the climb twice in order to get the lift to lower. The actual gameplay isn't especially crazy; there are no dead ends, though there is a cage you have to shoot out of, and possibly crushing bars, I don't know. It's pretty exciting doing it Tyson style.

MAP02The Pool
This Landis level seems to send the message that you need to keep your head down until you have the firepower to wreck house. This is mostly accomplished via that commando crossfire in the central area, but there are a few monster ambushes - admittedly easily sorted out with some deft maneuvers and infighting - that seem to point toward moving around until you grab the rocket launcher to start cleaning house. If you're great with the berserk pack, you'll have much less trouble cleaning out demons, imps, skeletons, and Hell knights. Those commandos in the dark corners are a threat anyway you spin it, though.

Back to instant death traps and damage floors. There is only one monster in this level, and he's at the very end. The rest is navigating the radiation traps Landis has placed everywhere. Like the mighty Mogwai, stepping into the light can slay you dead quickly. The hardest part is just getting started, so I'll give you a break. The first archway you walk through is actually an elevator that takes you down. Good luck!

A super-short map with barrel traps and a corridor full of imps that can get very messy if you hit the wrong button while unprepared (arch-vile madness!). The northern barrel trap is pretty cool. There isn't a lot to say, but the two main secrets are something I haven't seen before. You have to time the crusher stop and start lines so that you get them high enough to walk under and have the secrets open up so that you can get inside. I couldn't figure out the SSG.

Ring of FuryMAP05
Another short, action-packed map. It's a tricky pistol start; once you open up the outer ring you'd better find the secret ammo and semi-secret rad suit quick or end up smoked by all of the flying balls of death or the dudes in the caged room, including a friendly arch-vile. Actually exiting is the hard part, unless you either grabbed the automap or are just a secret sniffer who likes jumping places for the sake of it, like a cat.

MAP06Leap of Faith
I'm surprised at how short these are turning out to be. This one starts off with a collapsing bridge run before running back over a RISING walkway, collecting the SSG and then navigating a short blind-drop maze. The height difference makes it impossible to figure out just by looking at the automap but it's short enough that you shouldn't have any trouble besides killing those revenants in close quarters. The lead-up to the finale is switch magic, including a death trap that may irritate those who've come so far.

"Tricks and Traps" meets "Dead Simple". The fights aren't tough, straight-up, and grabbing the plasma rifle will help you out a ton, but you have to contend with Landis's trickery, most notably the chamber of death to the east. It's a voodoo doll trick that punishes slowbies; if you make it across, though, you're golden as you've got a berserk pack to help you out. That's, uh, pretty much it. A decent finish, but I wish Landis had made more crazy concoctions.

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