Monday, May 2, 2016

UAC Nukage Processing Area (WASTE1.WAD)


by Christian Hansen

After cutting his teeth on a bunch of Doom II maps in 1998, Chris Hansen turned his eye toward the official Doom II expansion, Final Doom. The aptly named UAC Nukage Processing Area is a MAP18 replacement for The Plutonia Experiment released in early 1999. It's kind of part of a series along with his previous release, The Aqueous Rise and Fall, but like his Doom 3: Ad Infernos, there isn't a whole lot tying these maps together apart from the block of narrative text. I will say that WASTE1 has some stronger parallels with Plutonia as far as the combat style goes, even if a lot of it is easily bypassed. More on that later.

While you were victorious against the loathsome gatekeeper that led Hell's invasion to eliminate the threat of the UAC's quantum accelerator, your surgical strike left a lot of the monsters still skulking around the complexes, and I guess given the impossible odds, you've become the de facto warrior for the job. Your previous mission involved clearing out the facility that processed water for usage as the coolant for the gate technology. This slightly less glamorous outing involves the processing station that handles the nuclear waste produced by the operation of the gates. Again, I'd like to know how this works. Another detail that might escape you if you don't read the .TXT - the facility is effectively abandoned, but Hell has no trouble beaming in reinforcements if you make a noise. Are the monsters too dumb to recognize you as a threat if you don't fight back? Or does Hell only understand you by the pain you inflict?

It's a nod toward a pretty neat map gimmick. There are indeed only a few baddies hanging around the facility, but the larger areas are connected to large teleporter coffins that will be awakened by noise. With a slight bit of claustrophobic skirting, you can avoid every teleport ambush, with nary a monster to be seen after the cacodemon encounter. It doesn't really compare to Doom's normal run and gun action, but it's a nice "challenge" for a replay. It's also reflected in the level's two big bonuses. You won't be able to snag the soul sphere without blowing up the barrel that's sitting on top of the trap door, but you won't need it if you're not planning on fighting. Similarly, the plasma gun in the northeast courtyard is only accessible via an arch-vile jump, and such a monster is the sort of reason that you'd want the plasma gun in the first place.

Take away the semi-stealth mechanic and you've got congested room clearing with the occasional moment of panic as the monsters cram up on you, like mixed demons and Hell knights, or maybe the realization near the end of the map when you hear that arch-vile thumping around after it's resurrected a pair of revenants and you having blown your rockets on slow fare like that pair of Barons. The exit area feels like an echo of E1M3's opening, but it isn't laid on too thick, and Hansen has stuffed in some sensible bits of processing machinery and computer panels so that it doesn't feel too much like an ambush gauntlet. The claustrophobia will come, but the bit with the arch-vile is what had me spooked, and when I figured out how and why I was supposed to snag the plasma gun.

UAC Nukage Processing Area is a fun little adventure with more depth than I was expecting, though if you just blaze in like a Doom marine in a china shop, you'll find little subtlety in its linear barrel base and packs of teleporting monsters. I greatly appreciate the alternative route, as alien as "stealth" is to the idea of Doom's normal gameplay, and it makes me wonder what other bits of fungineering Chris has worked into his levels since.



  1. I think this is a very refreshing outing. The idea of creating some manner of non-linearity by offering a "gameplay-choice" as part of the map design sounds like something worth exploring even more.

    I mean, pacifist-runs are nothing new, but those are a discipline in its own right, because levels are not necessarily designed to make them rewarding. The idea of turning the tables, even to a degree which makes pacifist-style gameplay a necessity, sounds very appealing to me. Imagine a map in which you have to sneak through some serious, well placed opposition, in specifically designed rooms and areas, until you find the weaponry to clear the place out... If done right, I would love to get my hands on a map like that. Something between this map and "you shall not pass" from deus vult II would be a nice place to start.

    Thank you for bringing this one up, well worth a couple play-throughs. And thank you very much for keeping this blog up and running, without it, DOOM would not be the same for me.

  2. When I load this wad with zdoom it just plays Doom II. Whats going on?

    1. as noted in the opening paragraph, this replaces MAP18. you will have to idclev or changemap to get to it without playing through the rest of the maps. You'll also need to load it with PLUTONIA if you don't want missing textures.