Friday, July 25, 2014

The Authoritative T_DUNNxx.WAD Series - For Doom 2 (T_DUNN02.WAD)

Travers Dunne gathered up his scraps up to his '97 work and sent them off to the archives in three separate packages, presumably washing his hands of them and moving on to such projects as The Darkening E1 and The Classic Episode. Where he described his early Doom levels as "Definitive", his Doom II levels are "Authoritative", making this The Authoritative T_DUNNxx.WAD Series. Like Definitive, Dunne's levels fit into several different slot sections, so they're kind of spread out. Here, you've got MAP01-07, 17, and 21-24, for a grand total of 13 Doom II levels to suffer through. As before, I'm ignoring the pure deathmatch maps (MAP18 and 32).

T_DUNN02 starts out feeling like your usual alternate universe Doom II map pack (where the levels are based on the names) and then kind of meanders off to more freeform things. It's early Dunne all the way, though, with lots of packs of monsters in small areas, usually leaving levels with a highly congested feeling that's heavily action-oriented. MAP21 and MAP22 are more experimental, with one fielding huge homogeneous monster packs and the other with six Cyberdemons and six Spiderdemons in a familiar arrangement. I think there are more gems here than in T_DUNN01, in spite of several with balance issues. As before, enter at your own risk. Survivalist Doomers should have a lot of fun.


by Travers and Alister Dunne

Barely any more than a map fragment, two techbase watchtower-esque areas linked together by a staircase. There are a few Dunne slaughterpacks, noticeably a progression from zombiman to sergeant to imp in the secret area. Lots of opportunities to eat bullets. I think there are some monsters in the northwestern yard, but I couldn't figure out how to get there. Fast and fun.

Well, now, this is pretty fun. It's a retake of "Underhalls" with a lot more monsters and less compelling scenery but there are some neat features like an overlook behind the blue key door plus some computer panels requiring key cards that open up different secret areas. The blue key secret has some dickish but clever surprise cacodemons. The SSG makes an appearance, too, but there are a lot more monsters to justify its inclusion. Raw action.

Well, the teleport to the red key door might look like a familiar element. The rest of the map has more in common with Hell Revealed's early techbase levels than anything else. It's incredibly cramped and bloated with monsters; you've got to fight through an army to reach the red key and then slay another one to get out, and that's including a pain elemental. You're not lacking for ammo, especially if you can find the unmarked chaingun secret, which should help push things in your favor. Not very interesting, just a lot of bodies in square rooms. I guess the crusher kind of works.

This gray cement playground feels more like a virtual reality battleground than anything. It's pretty tight and fields almost 150 enemies in big packs. It's usually better to play it safe and use the funnels of death, but I can't help myself when I see a combat shotgun - I must have it! To his credit, Dunne does head off that kind of behavior near the end when you have to fight off Hell knights from two different directions. There are also less situations where you open up a door and then slowly kill everything behind it, thanks to the open layout and ledges.

Very tough underground level with some slag pits or something. Every time you poke your nose somewhere, you wake up more monsters. About the best you can do to is wake them up carefully so as not to be overwhelmed and then pick them off. Both key rooms are a pain in the ass, and you're running on empty in terms of ammo right when you're about to run bang into some revenants followed by a horde of spectres. If you can survive, there's a secret plasma rifle past it all, but you've got to get there first. The finale is a clusterfuck crossfire that requires quick action and - probably - a speedy soulsphere grab. I do like that mancubus reveal in the blue key room.

Interesting opening but, in ZDoom at least (but not in Chocolate), the teleport to the blue key sends you INTO THE FLOOR. Once you get past that it's extreme resource starvation in some tech areas separated by pools of water. The arachnotron is a great help in taking out the cacodemon swarm (well, softening a lot of them up) and you can save some ammo by instigating a fight between the Hell knights and revenants, but I was still way lower than I'm ever comfortable being, at least until I grabbed the plasma rifle, which is a nice bone to throw except for the two commando alcoves that open up to guard it. Wish I hadn't blown my rockets on the arch-vile! Interesting, but flawed.

This almost seemed like a good idea. That is, until I found out that the exit room is stuffed with Hell knights and a pair of arch-viles, and me with but 100 bullets to my name. Dunne sends you through three rooms with identical layouts, building a bridge back to the exit after tackling rooms of increasing opposition, including everyone's favorite, mancubi and arch-viles. I guess you just need to get the Cyberdemon to do as much work as is feasible, including that huge wave of revenants that comes marching down the catwalk. That should leave you with plenty of ammo to regret having to kill a bunch of Hell knights and arch-viles in such a stupid situation, as there is no rocket launcher to be found.

This is actually a deathmatch level but Travers took the time to place some monsters so I'll take some time to talk about it. The opposition is light, just under 40, but it's a quaint little castle level and it's nice to have this breather after so much of the stuff that feels barely playtested. Not too much exposure, though there are a few commandos perched on the road to the plasma rifle. I like the pillars that lead you there, looking quite ominous, and after crossing some lost souls rise up to do battle. 

A simple slaughter map that takes place in a giant, artificial crater. It isn't that compelling, with the corners revealing giant packs of demons, arachnotrons, and a Cyberdemon surrounded by mancubi. The swarm of cacos near the end is more interesting, but have a good run of it if you don't find the secret stash of ammo.

A mash-up of "Dis" and "Tower of Babel" with six of each boss monster. You don't have to kill them to exit, but why not? There's plenty of ammo after you let them murder each other through infighting, and the soul spheres and blue armors give you a bit of room for screw-ups.

Cool layout and just enough ammo to skate by in this level. It's got a lot of jumps and is centered around a fortress set in a crater. The texture scheme has tones of "Circle of Death", which is neat for a Hell-slotted level. It's got a lot of heavy monsters and Dunne has positioned them in such a way as to leave you feeling very exposed. Infighting is a boon, like getting the row of revenants to duke it out with the mancubi behind them, and if you don't use your living assets you're going to be trying to berserk punch things that you can't. The finale is a rush of monsters that boils out of the exit teleporter. You can stick around, but you'll want to do some berserk fisting or at least save some rockets for the arch-vile.

A simple but difficult map that's mostly outdoors with high, cobbled walls. It's a huge clusterfuck from the onset pack of commandos, which will fortunately kill itself mostly from infighting. Once you drop down you'll wake up the pack of pain elementals (x3) and cacodemons which when coupled with the lowly SSG, chaingun, and open space, makes for quite an event, especially when a lot of the yard is taken up by a pit with a Spiderdemon in it and running through the arch for more ammo wakes up a bunch of enemies plus a pack of cacos in the distance. Once you've finally gotten all that shit sorted out, though, you're golden. The rest doesn't really compare except for maybe that arch-vile near the exit that raises a bunch of monsters for you to waste ammo on, but it feels like Dunne has more than enough scratch lying around.


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