Sunday, November 2, 2014


I don't really think of Archi as a slaughtermapper, so imagine my surprise when he released Rush, an episode that had once aspired to be a megaWAD that is full of low-grade gory goodness. After an initial release in 2013, he tacked one last (huge) level in 2014 and released it as a twelve-map episode for Doom II, to be played in Boom-compatible ports. Everything works fine, up until MAP12, though. There are some nasty nodebuilding errors that bomb Eternity out and the exit doesn't work in ZDoom. The rest of the package as a hole is perfectly functional, though.

There may have been some kind of story involved but it's more or less implied in the finished package, with you awakening from stasis just as your base is rocked by carnage. After that, you trudge through a bunch of frosted landscapes with an unusual detour through some waterlogged ruins before the point where the forces of evil thaw the snow, the "chaos heart", after which you go deep into the very bowels of Hell. Your journey culminates in a cryptic ancient citadel whose vast network hides many secrets and no less than a thousand infernal denizens. If you're not hooked by that description, then why are you playing Doom?

Rush is mostly what I'd call "budget slaughter" to differentiate it from the newschool madness evident in stuff from authors like dannebubinga, Ribbiks, ArmouredBlood, TimeofDeath... The list goes on. I can see some echoes of it here and there, especially in the Hell levels, but even then the arrangement and crowds are far more forgiving. That's not to say that you can just waltz through this mapset without a care, though. Archi has some fights that will definitely involve some finesse, whether it's in arch-vile zerging or careful crowdshaping as you weave in and out of traffic.

The overall effect gives enough room for less slaughter-centric players to breathe and, judging by the reactions, enough leeway for veterans to really cut loose and choose just how dangerously they want to live. It's nice for me to cut down big packs of enemies and not have to trial and error too many times, so Rush came as a nice surprise that wasn't too demanding while still being far from a walk in the park. MAP11 is about as hard as it gets, I think, with MAP12 being more exhausting just for its sheer size. Archi does have one major gameplay addition, the dark mancubus, which is about as tough as a baron and shoots double the amount of fireballs every volley.

I wouldn't exactly call Rush a masterpiece, but I had a ton of fun with it and as always would love to see more stuff from Archi, one of a very talented crowd of Russian authors. Who knows? He might dust it off a year from now and pull a Resurgence. If the current crop of slaughtermaps has got you down and feeling neglected, try bridging the gap with this.

by "Archi"

Stasis ShockMAP01
This is a cleverly disguised Tyson map. There's plenty of ammo and weapons in this shelled-out base to take care of all the baddies here but any experienced puncher should be able to speed things along by knocking out the hordes of imps and demons that occupy the base. Archi's layout leaves plenty of room for maneuvering, leaving most of the difficulty up to the player. The coolest moment for me was realizing the premise - you're woken up from stasis right as Hell starts tearing apart the base.

MAP02Chemical Imps
Things get harder. Now, Archi isn't one to lock you into a fight, but if you want things done quick you'll have to confront them head-on. There are some nasty rooms to navigate, like the revenant / mancubus ring, the cacodemon / Cyberdemon extravaganza, and the arachnotron ledge ambush that sits more or less between the two. The super mancubuses don't get much time to shine; the room they appear in is a natural choke point, though you'll have to deal with the fatsos outside if you want to cheese it. Fun level.

Frozen TechMAP03
Plowing on through a frozen techbase theme. The vast majority of this level is about holding choke points, but Archi isn't stupid and is more than willing to subvert your expectations. Take that lowering platform of arch-viles after the opening, which distracts you from that bunch of nastiness right behind the door. The teleporting revenants are another nice touch to keep you on your toes. The finale isn't quite as challenging since rocket suppression works so well but anyone who has trouble with Cyberdemons in close quarters might find themselves checked.

MAP04White Fields
Back in the open, winter air with this slaughter. Crowd control is the most important technique, which when applied will let you manage the infighting blobs into manageable massacres that you can then clear out with ease. The first of these, which guards the cavern, is the hardest to do with your limited space, but pays off handsomely. The only other fight that felt particularly challenging was the storm of revenants with teleporting imps inside the cave, but moments like the archies that arrive after you kill the immobile Cyberdemon are a nice touch, and taking out the arachnotrons on the winding catwalk is less than straightforward.

Vile HouseMAP05
Archi branches out into more claustrophobic fighting with the occasional arch-vile or two poking its head in to make sure you're still on the lookout. The layout of the main hall makes circle-strafing a little more labor intensive but the only time you're going to have your playing field flooded is toward the end, and that's mostly a flood of imps and spectres. I think that the arch-viles are the nastiest monsters, personally. Neither of the normal boss enemies feel like a legitimate threat.

by "Archi" and "Demonologist"
This one's quite a doozy for such a small level. It's some kind of ruin complex out in the middle of a lake or something, but the open air layout and emphasis on height variation makes it tricky when remembering where you have to go. It took me a minute or to to figure out where the red skull key bars had been, and that's after having already been there once before. There's also a bit of binary exploration involved, though one of the worst situations can be sort of bypassed if you sprint by it. The dual Cyberdemons after using the red key switch are part of a very tricky dance, with an arch-vile in the center.

The Chaos HeartMAP07
A straightforward, simple slaughter that starts out at a cabin as winter turns to spring and quickly delves into the trappings of Hell. The opening area is almost entirely about rounding up monsters and shelling them with rockets, at least after you kill the arch-vile. The interior is way more dicey just due to its congested layout. Once you reach the final area you'd be better served by grabbing the invul, opening a door, and dashing to the switch that summons the Cyberdemon, which should make taking out the hoard of revenants much easier.

MAP08Land of the Demons
Time for a change of scenery with this dark, gothic fortress, with a beige, brick outdoor area. The hardest scenarios in here involve deadly dances with several Cyberdemons at a time; the secret invul is much more suited to taking out the big wave of arch-viles lurking behind the blue key door. Crowd control is primo for that first big fight, since the installed revenants and mancubuses are a major distraction for the horde of skeletons and Hell knights that's clamoring to get through. Don't forget that you're packing a plasma rifle like I did or you might make the cleanup that much harder on yourself. Fun and spooky.

The Lava HeartMAP09
Archi steps up his game with this orange and black masterpiece. "Lava Heart" is full of crowdshaping, infighting, and arch-vile BFG blitzes. There are a lot of crazy fights, some of the most fun happening in the starting room with an arachnotron-bordered battle and then later coaxing two enormous groups (one of which is made entirely out of revenants) into battling each other. There's also a bonus fight for a megasphere in a cleverly contained secret where you have to manage intermittent Hell knights on the ground while dodging fireballs from a peanut gallery up top. I also like that side gallery to the east where you can take out one Cyb with the invul and then work some infighting magic to rid you of the other and a ton of Hell nobles. The big four-Cyberdemon chamber is more intimidating than it appears, and Archi is a classy guy who sets up an obvious telefrag chain to cut down on the bullshit. Cool level.

MAP10Dark Corner
More slaughter madness, though this time I can draw a firmer comparison to works like Sunder and Combat Shock, even if it's way less demanding, due to the megastructure architecture and enormous numbers of monsters. Well, there are actually less here than in the previous level, but the amount fielded per fight is a fair bit higher, especially when you consider that half of them are forced on you in a giant BFG-zerg finale where the invul pairs up nice with the horde of arch-viles that amplifies an already nasty crossfire rife with cacodemons, Hell knights, and a few Cybs. And all that after a neat transformation! I love the look of the amphitheatre room near the level's center, even if it's just a giant rocket roundup, and the Hell knight gates that lower to reveal the depths of Hell are another great moment. The nastiest shock of all is probably that three-vile-deep ambush in the back of the cave... or maybe that quick push into the amphitheater. Blazin'!

Emission of HateMAP11
Fun times with the BFG! This dark dungeon starts off with a big crowd of imps and Hell knights getting worked over by Cyberdemons while you sit in your cage. Once the bars go down, it's all up to you, and I would strongly suggest you off the Cybs before visiting the east wing because on return you'll have to deal with a ton of arch-viles, which you'll have to do again before the level's end. The east wing has a pretty cool setup where you have to THINK FAST and leap into an alcove or risk being roasted between ball lightning and vile fire. The finale offers an invul which you'll need to make any sense of the infernal sorcerers that storm you from both ends.

MAP12The Destination
Rush's finale is utterly unlike the levels that have gone before. It is an immense underground epic steeped in dark wonder, aided by the ominously curious soundtrack. The visuals are top notch so much that you barely notice that the playing areas are a bunch of quadrilaterals, rectangles, but that's the magic of wonderfully imaginative detailing. It's all quite breathtaking, actually, and worth a stroll at the very least in -nomonsters mode. There's more to "Destination" than the scenery, though, This level is shock full of fun, feisty, and fair fights that erase some of the sting of the arch-vile spam that dominated so much of the rest of the mapset. The offshoot rooms have some of the better encounters. I liked the southwest section, where I got to set a pair of Cyberdemons against a whole pack of barons as they diligently traded fire with little input from myself. The locked-in room to the northwest that precedes it is another fun battle, more in the way of threat management. And that's just a few of the fights!

Your twenty-four arch-vile salute returning you to the Doom II IWAD. The scenery is pretty cool, though. Hope you enjoyed!


  1. I wonder if this wad started as Archi's take on Surge (surge and rush are synonyms, after all...)