Monday, July 28, 2014

The Indespensible T_DUNNxx.WAD Series - For Heretic (T_DUNN03.WAD)


by Travers and Alister Dunne

Travers Dunne has had a long mapping career; his T_DUNNxx.WAD Series encapsulates the various scraps of his work from 1994-7. The Definitive T_DUNN01 was for Doom, and the Authoritative T_DUNN02 was for Doom II. Interestingly enough, T_DUNN03 isn't for Final Doom or any of that, but for Heretic. Yes, Travers Dunne has a Heretic level to his name, and he even preferred it to his Doom levels from around the same timeframe! T_DUNN03 is a single map in the E1M1 slot that has no real attached story beyond Travers bemoaning the fact that he couldn't stay interested enough with Heretic mapping to make any more levels.

The initial influence looks pretty strong, like a rewrite of "Docks", but Dunne quickly moves past the origins of Heretic and into something more like his later Doom II levels. The main playing area is a high-ceiling cavern with an attached upper level that looks something like a storage platform. There are some explodey-pods and a few undead knights up on an alcove, but nothing too intense, especially if you found the crossbow back in the starting area, in a not-so-secret secret. The action doesn't heat up until you reach the upper floor, where some brazen play might end up with you choking down a horde of gargoyles, golems and knights in addition to the beasties already present.

The biggest challenge is, interestingly, the green key area. Unfortunately, if you don't have enough health to hack it, you might as well start over because you're going to have to fire walk if you want to make it. Stuff opens with a tightrope fight vs. a couple of undead warriors. You'll want them gone because when you teleport to the central platform after hitting the switch behind the phoenix rod you'll be pretty vulnerable and it only gets worse. When you finally fight your way out of THAT, the rest of the level is basically a victory lap. The singular green key jail cells are pretty uninteresting (the trap didn't really catch me with all the weapons you have at that point) and the battles to the exit are just crowded rooms to be spammed with the Hellstaff or dragon claw. Well, there is a trick exit room, which caught me by surprise. Well played, Dunne. Well played.

As far as item balance goes, I didn't really need all the added firepower to the tune of three tomes of power or the morph ovum. The armor was appreciated, though; it seems so rare to find in Heretic. The only thing I didn't really care for was the lava pit, but I guess I had five quartz flasks to burn through that I completely forgot about. Sploops! Anyway, if you are in dire need of more Heretic (as all Heretic fans are) then I sincerely recommend T_DUNN03. It isn't the best Heretic level I've ever played but that isn't some sort of equivocation on my part.


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