Saturday, February 13, 2016

Celestial Site (CSITE.WAD)

by "DooMSkeR Scratch"

Tormentor hosted a competition in 2015 for some actual prizes. The goal - take a sort of generalized layout of Doom's E1M7 ("Computer Station") and turn it into something...else. Each author approached this in different ways, of course, and the few levels I've played so far are vastly divorced from one another. This particular entry is DooMSkeR Scratch's Celestial Site, named I believe for the fact that it occurs on a space station, you having just arrived by shuttle. The text file has zero setup for the action, but it doesn't really need any. It's about as simple as a big fuckoff starbase that's been invaded by Hell.

For starters, most players will want to kick this off on the HMP setting. From what I could see, it's much more livable than the grueling clusterfuck that is UV. Celestial Site has its open spaces, but most of the level is an exercise in claustrophobia and limited mobility. This makes it ideal for controlled skirmishing, like the combat shotgun, but you don't dare slip up or you'll find yourself looking around for the precious little health that abounds. The difficulty to me is best summed up in the conspicuous super shotgun ambush south and a little bit east of the starting area. On HMP, it's mostly trash monsters and the trap lets in about nine imps. On UV, it's got some heavy hitters to start with and the imp ambush turn into Agaures, which are roughly four times as tough and have two different attacks that are much trickier to avoid.

Other difficult monsters you'll encounter are the dreaded vampires, though you're usually free to isolate them with a nearby corner and punctuate them with your boomstick, and Cybruisers, which again are even easier to pillar hump to death, though the price for failure is pretty steep. The big boss fight is along very similar lines, though with BFG projectiles, the margin of error is even smaller. Along more mundane lines, there are a lot of really nasty traps you'll have to endure. I'm talking about literal "chaingunners spawn behind you" stuff or, in the tech hallway approaching the exit, "chaingunners flood the entire room in front of and behind you". While I know that the initial enemy placement gets nerfed on HMP, I don't know that the scripted spawns follow suit at all, so if this is the sort of thing that makes you ragequit, you might want to sit this one out.

All that aside, Celestial Site is a big, intricate space station. I mean, ostensibly. You see a few flashes of the cosmos at the beginning and every now and then you'll see some of the purposeful vacuoles to remind you, but it's otherwise indistinguishable from any infested techbase. You'll find a lot of dead ends that you'll eventually open up from the other side, some by way of the yellow key. It's nice that the level becomes more interconnected as time wears on, but I didn't really have anything but dead air following me as I took the red key from the corrupted portion to its given mechanism, and likewise for the blue one. Given the author's penchant for host, rapid death, I feel that the gore-littered remnants of action are the lesser of the two evils.

Among the cooler stuff... There's an early secret that takes you to some sort of chemical storage room, a motif you'll see again and again. The colored vials feel like a nice Easter egg the first time you see them, but as I found out, they're not a unique occurrence. I also dug the backpack room / command center right off the opening area. I think the level has the strongest sense of identity at the moment you step off the shuttle and then gradually dissolves into a sort of abstract assemblage of hallways and rooms that works as a tech labyrinth but doesn't strike me as particularly distinguished.

Still, Scratch has some decent use of 3D floors (love that little crawlspace in the starting area!) and I love picking levels apart. It isn't often that I get a chance to play a space base. So, if you want some futuristic Doom II action and don't mind a liberal sprinkling of spawned chaingunner ambushes, you might want to give Celestial Site a try.


This post is part of a series on
Realm 667's Doomjá-vu competition

Mouldy Old VoidPut Up Your Dukes!
dead.wireBlack Magnetic
The Heart of StoneCelestial Site

1 comment:

  1. I have a feeling this map might be best played on a lower difficulty, with fewer monsters.