Saturday, April 11, 2015

KZDOOM3: The Alien Water Theives (KZDOOM3.WAD)

by Kurt Kesler

Kurt Kesler made a lot of maps spanning from 1997 to 2000. The dude was pretty much a wizard when it came to Doom mapping, but was more of a single-release author; KMEGA1 only exists as something of a vanilla career retrospective, not that he stuck to any set of design specs for long enough to make a cohesive megaWAD. There are seven KZDOOM levels, all of which were made toward the end of his career, when he started earnestly polishing his maps before release. KZDOOM3 is, obviously enough, the third level in the series, released for Doom II in 2000 alongside KZDOOM4. This time, the demons - err, aliens - have set up some kind of a water pumping facility and it's up to you to shut it down.

In what's become an established trend for Kurt, KZDOOM3 is a mix of techbase and rugged wilderness. You don't really bounce between outposts, it's more like outdoors - indoors - outdoors to finish. Some new ideas crop up, and, well, you've got to take the good with the bad. Kesler finally sets D_RUNNIN aside for a different selection, "The Demon's Dead". On the other hand, Kurt has moved beyond traditional teleport ambushes to scripted, silent spawns, so you can watch the monster count balloon up from roughly 200 to nearly 300. It's not all that bad, especially after a taste of silent teleports during Kesler's KBOOM run. These guys are at least delivered asleep so that you can hear them wake up. Most of them are zombies with some imps so the chaingun is a definite favorite provided you have the ammo for it. You'll have to be careful, though - health is in short supply.

All the usual bells and whistles like spinning geometry and polyobject doors are in, plus some neat 3D floors. There's also some cool ACS scripting, as if the monster spawns didn't clue you in. Most of it is saved for the escape sequence, following a fairly big firefight at the river on the north side of the level. Once you exit out the previously closed side door, shit starts to fall apart, and if you don't have enough health you won't likely survive what feels like a mandatory explosion, or that barrage of rockets that occurs if you linger. The cave you duck into starts to transform with a few memorable ambushes in the dark (like that caco lava pit) before you move on to the final run, another fine example of why rockets and trees don't get along.

The final area ducks the claustrophobic trappings of the pumping station for another naturalistic valley that has a big ambush of hardbodies lying in wait. The imps and revenants on the cliffs might be annoying but the real danger is in trying to shoot around all that flora when you can't be sure when the trees are safe to use for cover. I'm just not used to considering them, though, and such source port follies don't detract from what is still a cool experience, though I'm not sure what I did to make the pumping station blow up the way it did. I'm sure that big ol' reactor was involved.

This article is part of a series on
Kurt Kesler's KZDoom series


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