Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Number One Kill The Next Generation (1KILLTNG.WAD)


Angelo Jefferson loved Doom, but it's also clear that he loved Star Trek. Number One Kill The Next Generation is a Doom II megaWAD released in 1997 clocking in at twenty-two levels. Jefferson claims it's actually twenty-three, with one of these maps actually counting as two. That's probably "Entryway", which has a massive secret annex. Anyway, Jefferson promised a Number One Kill The Final Frontier to round out the ending episode, but after about seventeen years it looks like it'll remain an Undiscovered Country. It's a curse, since Jefferson clearly had some talent when it came to map design, but a slight blessing, since many of the big fights in these levels don't seem remotely fair. As with his previous #1KILL, there is no story, just a lot of demons to kill.


Jefferson cites a number of influences and they're fairly evident. Well, maybe not Heretic and Hexen, but Angelo wears his Final Doom influence on his sleeve from the visuals to the soundtrack to the intermission pic (more Evilution than Plutonia tho), and there's a certain sensibility about the architecture and fights that reminds me of the work of the Moellers, as hinted at in the Obituary nod. In spite of his influences, though, the core gameplay and architecture are distinctly his, and somewhat advanced compared to his stint with the original Doom. Jefferson doesn't use a whole lot of custom graphics, and what ones he does appear more in the latter sections of the PWAD. They add an... interesting feel, though, especially that odd stone that appears to flash purple with your gunshots.


1KILLTNG's difficulty settings have a progression that should be similar to fans of ultra-hard WADs like Hell Revealed. ITYTD / HNTR targets UV in Doom or HMP in Doom II. HMP corresponds to UV in Doom II and HMP in Final Doom. UV is, from there, more monsters and less health, which I guess explains why I felt so rough while playing. I don't know how the levels feel on lower difficulties but on UV, the execution feels like the original Number One Kill's horde-based gameplay with the added lethality of the new Doom II monsters, occasionally careening into the nastiest depths of Hell Revealed but lacking its sense of scale and balance. When I ran into my first brick wall, I checked out the DSDA to see if any speedrunners could shed light on a solution. What I found, though, is that this mapset has been left relatively untouched, and having played it I believe I know the reason why.


If you're playing with carryovers, you'll have a much easier time. The BFG appears rarely throughout the set for pistol starters but if you tote it in to some of these nightmare scenarios, it should go a long way toward helping you clear out the teeming hordes. Altogether, it ain't bad, but if you're looking for a more playable experience I'd think about dialing it down to "Hurt Me Plenty" before clamoring to break yourself on the rock that is Angelo's encounter design. Given how much he improved over the original Number One Kill, I wish he'd gotten around to "The Final Frontier".



NUMBER ONE KILL
THE NEXT GENERATION

by Angelo Jefferson

EntrywayMAP01
A map in two parts, the pretty easy if grindy shotgun portion and the fairly hard and grindy SSG section that has, among other things, a paean to Star Trek. It's got a slight Plutonia vibe with the brick ruins but it's slow going with all the drag-ass shotgun action vs. pain elementals and cacos and then the massive Hell knight and arch-vile teleport ambush to round out the secret area, which is a bear to plow through for 100% kills. Of course, you can just AV jump to the megasphere and bypass it completely, but that's not very sporting.

MAP02The Abandoned Mines
There's a bit of an "Underhalls" reference with that brown brick compound with a red key you have to jump to but "Mines" is quite different. It's also completely flush with monsters, which I'm guessing will be a common occurrence. The enemies are thick and your trusty shotgun and later SSG can hold them back. Ammo is kind of tight in the early game but once you bust into the red key fort and steal all those dropped shotguns you'll be swimming in it. Pretty much every fight here is tricky, but none feels quite as rewarding as the SSG grab after the blind elevator, though fighting for the red key is incredibly action-packed.

Space PortMAP03
The interesting layouts of the previous two maps are tossed aside for this pair of courtyards. The opening fight is a crawl as arachnotrons patrol the yard while the surrounding hallway is staffed with reams of hitscanners. It's mostly about pacing yourself so you aren't riddled with bullets. It ends with a Hell knight stomp that's more of a time sink than anything with all that area to move around in. The second section is way more fun once you grab the key as there are a few pain elementals and cacodemons inserted into the mix that add some legitimate pressure.

MAP04Country Side
Simple level with a few large rooms that spring ambushes on you plus a large outdoor area, unfortunately bereft of monsters. The opening is one of the toughest sections as you chew your way through a ton of hitscanners and demons and not a whole lot of ammo to back you up. Taking a wrong turn toward the exit and that mass of monsters guarding the blue door might put you out, but the only other way is through a barred-up hallway as revenants take potshots from afar. Just run to the SSG as fast as you can and then grab the megasphere secret and you'll be ready for the rest of it. A fun slaughter.

Radioactive Substace ControlMAP05
Can you say POISON? Angelo plays with nukage in a big way, incorporating one big open-air fight with flying monsters in it, one nuke maze a la "Tenements" with the forked hallways, and a trickier battle with a lot less real estate to move in and hitscanners from several different angles. The redundancy maze is boring but the rest of the map is pretty cool with the nuke suits giving you a tangible timer to get your work done by. He also sneaks in a few unusual bits of architecture like the metal-barred darkzone in the computer area to the south.

MAP06Central Command
A huge gray base level with tons to explore, kind of in the vein of works like Polygon Base. The scenery isn't much - there's a lot of gray - but Angelo works in some larger areas to make things more recognizable and less a mess of hallways, like the storage area that ultimately leads to the plasma rifle (which I found once I'd killed about everything else) and the enormous blue computer corridor to the southeast. Just be wary - every larger area you enter is liable to have a squad of pain elementals and cacodemons in it to ruin your day. Funnily enough, you can skip a lot of the brutal red key trap with a key bump. I returned to look for a hidden area, only realizing that it wasn't actually secret.

Gateway to HellMAP07
It's frustrating to play a level only to find out that at several stages you've played it "the wrong way". The only way to avoid soaking too much damage during the mancubus battle is to muscle your way on to the berserker platform, okay. Once you cruise past them and the massive monster wave you're subjected to a two-pronged assault of arch-viles that you'll want every bit of cell and rocket ammo for because while you busy yourself with one squad the other is coming from across the map through all that horrible shit you just cleared out, nevermind that 20% damage floor you have to cross over to hit various switches.

MAP08Hell's Welcome
Hell bellows out a mighty "Fuck you!" with this crazy brick-laden map. Starting out is pretty tricky with all the monsters in the opening room but if you can wrestle some weapons and punch your way through to the SSG you should be alright for a while. The defining feature is the secret plasma rifle which has ammo throughout most of the map but isn't available until you've already killed just about everything. You do start with a berserk pack, so if you're a tyson master, you can save a lot of precious ammo for that yellow key area which is a bear to conquer. The layout is kind of stringy but coiled up on itself to disguise its appearance, plus a few windows here and there to make things seem less linear.

The PitMAP09
Another big tan brick map, but this one starts you off with the SSG and a ton of ammo plus a backpack, so no start-up woes as far as weapons go. You do have an opportunity to miss the plasma rifle if you just grab the blue key and go back to the door, but you can actually skip most of the level if you jump straight into the pit and head through the toxic maze if you know the route. Yes, there's a toxic maze, but hear me out. If you clear all the keys, the yellow one will open up a megasphere and several radsuit stations through the labyrinth so that you can wander around with a little leeway. There are a lot of clusterfuck ambushes in this map, but the only one that messed me up was that red key grab, after which (or during depending on how you handle it) you get a rocket launcher.

MAP10The Wicked Metal Garden
Something a little different with more marble and metal than the past reliance on plain ol' brick. That SSG fake-out is a nice little wake-up call. Angelo does good on throwing monsters at you from all directions as you proceed through his wonderland, starting off at the garden proper. Monster placement is a bit sneakier too, and there are some nice, open-air fights, especially the stuff centered around the northeastern courtyard. Mancubuses and arachnotrons followed by cacos, pain elementals, and a backup arch-vile. The northwest area has the nastiest ambush, opening up with a combat shotgun grind against barons and cacodemons before all Hell breaks loose with a shit ton of demons flooding the marble hallways. Nice architecture, I like the entryway to the north.

Circle of DeathMAP11
Some cool areas here like an outdoor garden with a bunch of monoliths you'll have to walk across to reach your objective and the eponymous circle, the site of an initially hazardous firefight and later a mass battle with monsters including most prominently arch-viles and revenants. Duck and cover. The environments are pretty badass, even though I'm not a huge fan of the 64-wide library lift station. Angelo uses ornate windows in a big way, here, and there's a super-secret courtyard that's stacked with ammo that isn't much use unless you bring it with you to the next level. Still, it's cool that it's there. Lots of fun monster-blasting.

MAP12Strage Universe
Strange indeed. Angelo takes things in a different direction with the use of crystal sectors and teleport tricks to create a confusing, challenging level, one whose very opening moments can be very unforgiving if you take the wrong path. A lot of the bits are pretty cool but some of the features are puzzle-rich, like that scrolling light teleport maze, the watery outlands with the BFG, or the return to all of the previous sections to access new teleporters to switches that together grant access to the exit. The combat is hard and heavy with quite a few blind teleports you'll have to fight your way out of. Neat and tough dimension-bending map.

City of HellMAP13
Starts out as a cool city map with you coming up from the sewers and then runs you through a few nasty crossfires before the big enchilada. There's a lot of cool architecture in the various sectioned-off areas and some typical hitscanner-controlled movement in that big courtyard in the main area of the level. There's also a completely optional fortress to the northeast that's surrounded by some tricky enemies and has some hilarious crusher action. The only thing I disliked - and I really hated it - was the yellow key ambush. There's no BFG to muscle your way through a mass of arch-viles, mancubuses, demons, and barons in the claustrophobic dark, not to mention the pain elemental and other nasties that arrive. You can't even see what's killing you half the time and when you're just about ready to kill one of the archies something steps in your way. Thankfully, you can bypass it since the monsters aren't immediately woken up, and that's what I did because fuck that noise.

MAP14Pain
A mixture of stuff in this cool map with the unfortunate inclusion of some nasty 20% damage floors you'll have to skip over and which may sap a lot of health. The latter half of this level borrows a bit from "The Inmost Dens" but the rest of it is distinctly Angelo, with lots of the layout coiled up on itself so that you have a good view of where you're going to. I don't really like the lava sewer to the northwest and if you squander the rad suit you're in for a painful yellow key grab but the combat is way more forgiving than the nastiest parts of "City of Hell" if you can forgive all those window snipers that chip away at your health. Standout fight, that big wave of cacos and pain elementals at the blue key.

Lair of the BaronMAP15
The ammo balance is pretty tight for the first part of this level, but if you can beat back the two mancubuses you'll be set for a little while. "Lair" is another large Jefferson map, with some unusual new textures like tan marble and off-white walls that flash purple when you fire your gun... or stand next to them. It also has some Angelo-brand encounters, like the arch-vile / hitscanner clusterfuck at the rocket launcher to the east or that arch-vile / hitscanner / arachnotron mess to the northwest. Expect to feel the pain of the arch-vile, is what I'm trying to say. As usual, health feels a little thin, but I can't tell whether I'm just clumsy or the layout is just that harsh. The secret exit is pretty clever; you're too busy killing monsters to notice it the first time it opens up.

MAP31On Earthen Soil
The blue sky comes as a bit of a shock but it brings a unique aesthetic to this secret level, which is kind of Hellish but... different. It's got some great architecture and some TNT as fuck sections like the caverns to the south with the exposed walkways and megastructures like the marble / blood cross and the baron blood cage. Getting things started is a total terror, especially with that dual arch-vile backed demon pack. It's more or less forgiving after that, though, as long as you remember you're packing a plasma rifle, which you'll really want for that huge clusterfuck starting with the yellow key switch. The baron / cage fight is incredibly cheap but like all good things you can cheese it if you're willing to wait a bit before hitting that switch. Very cool, pretty tough.

ArsenalMAP32
"Arsenal" is another odd Jefferson level with a neat layout mimicking its namesake and some batshit insane firefights. It's basically a techbase with some outdoor areas pinned down by mancubuses and arachnotrons. The rocket launcher and plasma rifle are visible at the start but the doors blocking access won't open until you hit certain areas of the level. You will want to have the RL before you pick up the blue key, which comes with a congested as fuck nightmare where I had to quick clear a demon alcove and then lay down rocket suppression fire until it was relatively safe. The northeast section has a cool progression of battles that slowly opens up more and more room but it's pretty tame compared to the finale, an absolutely retarded revenant / arch-vile fight with teleporters that has homing rockets flying every which way and is frustrating as fuck. Have fun with that.

MAP16Fortress of Fire
There's no fire in this wood and stone fortress, but there sure is a lot of blood. Not the toxic kind, though. No, Angelo is content to whittle down your health in the usual fashion, with super-demanding battles that dump arch-viles in the worst places. Actually, this is way more forgiving than a lot of the previous levels, even if you have to pass up the red key ambush until you grab the secret rocket launcher. The murder in the dark can simply be shelled into oblivion, thankfully, making the infernal crossfire in the northern section the worst area to conquer. Wresting control from the mancubuses can be tricky and the archie in the back demands respect. Use your high-powered weaponry when you can and make sure you snag the secret megasphere - you'll need it.

Fortress of the DamnedMAP17
Starts off feeling like a crib of "Caughtyard" before differentiating itself with a tough-as-nails second fortress that's thick with monsters and has a horrific hitscanner crossfire opening. Dodging bullets is about the worst this level has for you unless you squander all your rockets, which might make the northern teleport ambush a royal pain. I dig the architecture of the Cyberdemon room, which wouldn't be tricky but for the zombies waiting in the wings that will wreck you while you do the plasma dance with ol' Cybie. The final fight is fun and the carryover-boosting secret is cute, if basically useless for pistol start players.

MAP18Outer Mines
Excepting the big teleport ambush near the end, this is one of the most forgiving maps in the set. It's mostly underground and brick / metal, with a great many of the monsters being hitscanners, so you've got that to deal with. The bigger beasts are few and far between, with the more memorable usage weighted toward mancubuses and arachnotrons, though not at the same time. That opening SSG fight is a little tricky but the trio of arch-viles at the blue key trap are pretty much hamstrung. Fire away! The yellow key ambush is the big offender, mostly due to Jefferson's asinine teleport layout that exposes you to a ton of zombies at the same time, nevermind the other enemies that teleport in rather than riddle you with bullets.

Hell's DestructionMAP19
A big ol' gauntlet-style crawl bookended by ruined city-style sandboxes. The opening is pretty laid-back but shit hits the fan when you reach the megasphere / plasma rifle combo; your only real chance is to get up in the arch-vile's face and slay him and your Hell knight buddies before you get knocked off the pillar and then deal with the cacodemons. Entering and exiting the Hell hole comes via two ridiculously long elevators that pad out the playtime and maybe add some tension depending on your mindset. The ending is a huge teleporter zerg with several viles that requires some deft maneuvering if you're to make it out alive. That red key fight is also a killer, though you can cheese it.

MAP20Final
The transformation of the atrium is pretty cool but this level is 100% attrition which means that the enormous wave of pain elementals and revenants and commandos that comes with it might ruin your day, especially when all the ammo you'll need is in teleporter central. The three key areas are nice set pieces, with the first and last being the trickier ones. Lack of health compounds every battle, though, and when you reach Romero, you'll be glad that it's such a simple finale. Well, apart from his force field that you have to get behind.

5 comments:

  1. Very old but somewhat more well-known (for not being in the Top 100) wad. Looks well designed, if you dial down to HMP.

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    1. i wish its reputation was more well-deserved but it probably works great in coop

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  2. I've probably played this WAD 6 or 7 times over the years -- with standard monsters, STRAIN monsters, and a couple custom mixes that get really weird, and the last couple trips all scratch starts (I die a lot, but get through 'em). I've never thought of it as excessively tough (tho you sure gotta be careful if you have unkillable ghosts turned on) -- except for the 2nd part of the first map, that's all out of proportion to the rest, and you're already beat up after the tight supplies of the first half. There are "safe" sniper nests here and there, but they're not real obvious.

    Anyway, now you've given me an urge to do it again. You wicked person you. :)

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    1. to each his own! I would love to see a UV max demo pack with some better strategies than I can come up with.

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  3. The secret exit in Lair of the baron must be very clever... I can't find it. Even with idclip. Lol

    Playing it with carry-overs is indeed easier and I think this was the intention as there are sometimes secrets or ammo-caches right near or next to the exits. Still, some situations give you a headache :)

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