Wednesday, March 5, 2014


by Kurt Kesler

KBOOM_4 is, understandably enough, the fourth level in Kurt Kesler's KBOOM series, a sequence of levels developed that stand distinct from his vanilla maps - designed to run in the original Doom II .EXE - and the limit-removing levels, which merely took advantage of the removal and raising of various hardcoded Doom limits. Then there's KZDOOM, which is an entirely different beast, but beyond the scope of this review. As always, Kesler cares little or naught for the prospect of framing stories when it comes to his levels. He just wants you to know that this MAP01 replacement, released in 1998, is in a different style, at least when compared to the techbase maps that dominate so much of his work.

One of the main things you may notice when comparing KBOOM_4 to its progenitors is how short it seems. It clocks in at 122 monsters, many of which are quickly-slaughtered imps and zombies, not to make light of the tougher enemies lurking about. Honestly, hitscanners are about the most dangerous thing here. They have the easiest time of surprising you and while there's some health lying about it won't help you if you play too recklessly, especially against that hilarious one-way duck shoot at the beginning of the level. Once you step outside you're treated to a rapidly-moving poison river that carts zombies, plus a few other surprises, past you and to its end, where they might creep up on the side if you're too enraptured by the shooting gallery.

The little canyon with the river is about the only major level feature, with the eastern end housing a little gate you'll run across (love faux-3D) and the north containing a rocket launcher that calls in a modest pack of cacos that are quickly dealt with. The rest of the fighting is blase. To get back to the beginning and the red key, you'll have to chew through a bunch of arachnotrons in a setup that doesn't play to their strengths and the finale with a handful of mancubuses in a line plus a Cyberdemon with plenty of room are quick work with the provided BFG and glut of cell ammo. It's not exactly fish in a barrel, especially if you don't eat, sleep, and breathe Doom, but it's not that exacting, either.

If you want a nice little stroll down poison rapids that flush zombies past you and shoot a bunch of rockets and shells at your favorite Doom II enemies in the span of a few minutes, KBOOM_4 is a pretty good choice. The architecture isn't as huge but it's beginning to look more ornate, slightly straying away from the Krause-like tendencies of some of his other maps. Maybe that's a downside if you like the more vast playgrounds. Me, I like it.

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


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