Wednesday, May 28, 2014


by Eddie Nguyen

Eddie Nguyen started the UCA series conceived as an episode replacement for The Shores of Hell, released on a level-by-level basis. I think he ran out of steam, though - SAPIDUSB is the finale, the last level published. It's a single map for the original Doom, occupying the E2M4 slot. If you haven't been keeping up, the demons built a base in the Uca Crater on Deimos from stuff they scavenged from Phobos. The UAC sent two waves of marines to inspect the goings-on. You were part of the squad sent to rescue them, but it turns out the demons have a "pulse cannon" capable of taking down starships and after the rest of your team dies, it's up to you to infiltrate the base and shut down the cannon for good so that your ship, the Gateway, can rescue your ass. This time, you have some objectives - disable the four power generators in the corners of the base and then eliminate the massive computer brain in the center so that the pulse cannon is gone for good.

So, SAPIDUSB is a big ol' techbase. The layout is pretty simple; long corridors join the four corners, where the generators sit. All but one of the generators are guarded by key doors. When you enter one, the doors seal off, and you have to hit the switch to shut them down. Jumping back over the panels the demons guard lowers the walls, which on return you'll notice are now sealed off in FIREBLU, like the death of all. It's a neat visual cheat. So when you kill the generators, you can't use them to go direct to the adjacent hallways. You have to travel through the network of rooms in the center, where you'll also find a series of blast doors sealing off the main computer. The finale is a 2001-esque finish where you blow open panels and flip switches until you can pull the plug and escape.

As far as fighting, I'm sure it's a harrowing journey on UV, but playing through as the author intended and carrying over the plasma rifle from DIOPATRA means it's pretty much a walk in the park, excepting the open hallways full of hitscanners. It's even less challenging with its whacked-out REJECT table where monsters fail to see you until after crossing through the door you just opened. This isn't always the case, but it happens often enough that you'll scratch your head a few times. The finale is a conga line of cacodemons, deftly handled with your cells, but easily peppered with just about anything else you brought, unless you tried to start this from pistol only. And, well, why not balance your maps for pistol start? If you don't, it's usually a cakewalk, for me at least. Unless you're just hosing the player with monsters, of course, a la Hell Awakened....

SAPIDUSB is a nice finish to an imaginative, if not fantastic, series of '94 PWADs. I think the first and the last are my faves, with some great concepts executed adequately. Nguyen ranks among the more competent '94 authors; it's just a shame that he was so repetitive with his themes, like all the corridors he's used can attest to, and his monster placement doesn't lead to the most compelling of gameplay, especially in this particular base. Still, you could do a lot worse with '94 levels, even if these are really, really flat.


This post is part of a series on
Eddie Nguyen's Uca series


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