Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Definitive T_DUNNxx.WAD Series - For Doom (T_DUNN01.WAD)


Travers Dunne has done a lot of mapping for several different eras of Doom. The T_DUNNxx.WAD Series compiles his Doom, Doom II and Heretic levels, with a timestamp circa '97. I'm not sure why he opted to package his stuff together and release it in this format; it almost looks like a scraps and oddities release at the tail end of his mapping career. This one, The Definitive T_DUNNxx.WAD, is for the original Doom, with the levels spanning arbitrary map slots - E1M3, E2M2-M5, M7, and M9. E2M9 is actually a deathmatch map - I'm not covering it here. Oh, these works also list Alister Dunne as a co-author. Probably his brother?


Anyway, it definitely shows some of Travers's sensibilities as they would carry into works like The Darkening's E1, but the craftsmanship is very rough. E2M4 has 20% damage floors everywhere with next to no health or rad suits, and a lot of the ammo in E2M7 is backloaded, which is a bit sad considering that it's got the neatest layout. They're still all playable to varying degrees, with the combat leaning toward Doom horde slaughter where you do the best work you can with the pistol and shotgun (and, occasionally, chaingun). It's really more suited to those players looking for Doom's historical curios, especially with the scattershot map placement. Have fun with E2M4! NOTE: Try playing this in a compatibility-oriented port; E2M2's penultimate room has a floor raising action that ZDoom managed to cock up, even on "Doom (strict)".




THE DEFINITIVE
T_DUNNxx.WAD SERIES
- FOR DOOM

by Travers and Alister Dunne


EPISODE ONE

E1M3
I'm diggin' the layout and the clean detailing, though the level overall feels a bit bare. The opening skylight shows that Dunne is early on a decent hand at making his levels more pleasing to the eye while leaving little to hang up on. There is a lot of carnage with low-tier Doom monsters, and you stuck with the shotgun and chaingun, so the hordes put a lot of pressure on you having to mow through a ton of demons and getting overwhelmed, suffering sheer attrition due to not killing hitscanners fast enough, and some combination of the two. Highlights include the sewer section with a fairly tricky secret (there are a lot of secrets) and the exit room battles, which are sheer claustrophobia.


EPISODE TWO

E2M2
An absolutely grueling slaughter rendered in dark grey brick. Either Dunne thought you were carrying the chaingun over or he just likes pistol-whipping hordes of monsters, including lost souls. You have enough ammo to get the job done, but you'll hate doing it. The nest of shotgun guys and imps underlooking the blue key hallway is pretty problematic, as is the yellow key ambush, where two mixed packs converge on your position. There is a chaingun, but it's locked in a semi-secret area, and once you have it the rest of the level becomes a joke, including the exit room. ZDoom fucks this up, though, raising the floor to just about eye-level with the marine.

E2M3
Okay, way more breathable, and feeling a little more E1-ish. The opening room has a nice look to it and there's a desperate section where you drop into the sewers and have to fight your way out while the radsuit powerups you grab are ticking down. You might actually see the fabled breakthrough damage with all the time you'll be down there - it happened to me at least twice. The tech maze to the east is pretty boring but it doesn't induce any eyestrain, so that's nice. The rest of the level is bog standard Travers horde play with a touch of congestion, getting a bit silly at the return to the opening room with all the monsters you'll be shotgunning / chaingunning down. Don't get hung up on those lights.

E2M4
Ugh. 20% damage floors are everywhere and there isn't a rad suit in the whole house. Prepare to get reamed, because Dunne hasn't made it easy, especially the monsters stuffed in the offshoots of that eastern room, which you'll have to dart in and out of as fast as possible. Getting that yellow key should be similarly tricky with your limitations. Just, ugh.

E2M5
Interesting level, kind of like "Living End" done in a primitive Phobos style. Most of the action takes place on the catwalks and alcoves surrounding a giant nukage pit with a few demons roaming around inside. There are a few leaps of faith and a couple of times where you're dumped into the nukage. The chainsaw is great for carving them up without burning any ammo. Nothing too stressful except for maybe the part just past the yellow door when a bunch of monsters come out of a closet and cacodemons come from a ways away.

E2M7
Probably the best layout of the bunch, but the balance is awful. Partway through you'll completely run out of ammo and have to resort to infighting and bare-knuckle boxing. I hope you're decent at hand-to-hand combat. The odd thing is, once you start working your way back to the exit room, a secret appears that's practically laden with shotgun ammo, and once you hit the final area that side door you've been eyeing the entire time cracks open revealing an area with a ton of goods that would have been great to have earlier, like a rocket launcher. Cool cinematic moment with the barons, at least.

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