Saturday, June 11, 2016

rf 1024 (RF_1024.WAD)

Exquisite Corpse begat Congestion 1024, which begot the now maligned 1024 fad of Doom mapping. Jason Allison, aka rf`, was on the train back in 2006, adding an additional constraint. Now, ten years later, he's created a whole megaWAD for ZDoom and Eternity (make sure you have infinitely tall monsters off) - rf 1024. If you didn't already know, the premise of a 1024 map confines the area available for player movement to a size of 1024 by 1024 map units. The map itself could be as big as you wanted, and indeed many 1024 levels involved copious amounts of teleport coffins to turn a tiny level into a full-fledged slobberknocker, or various ledges and elements outside the playing area for detailing, world-building, and monster perches.

Jason went a step beyond his peers as far as constraints go. The ENTIRETY of these levels, including all the behind the curtain shit like monster teleporters, fits inside the 1024 grid. On the one hand, this means that there are no cheats to absolve the levels from feeling cramped, not that it's anything other than an illusion whether it's a wall or a guard rail. If anything, allowing monsters to attack the player from outside the playing area creates a feeling of exposure. On the other hand, confining all of the machinery to the 1024 area means that there is no possibility of drawing things out with endless monster teleports so that the player spends as much time in the level that they would in something of a more normal size. What you see is mostly what you get, and you can generally tell what's in store since the arch-viles and other things are thumping around in pillars and stuff, waiting for their big break.

rf 1024 has a host of gameplay changes that accentuate the punchy claustrophobia of 1024 levels. Most of these are to the player's advantage. Many of your weapons, from the lowly pistol to the rocket launcher, have a faster rate of fire, making them that much more apt to pull you out of a bad situation. Both the double-barreled shotgun and rebranded machine gun become God-tier skirmishing weapons, particularly the SSG. I'm not sure if the plasma rifle's been tweaked, and I'm not cool enough to puzzle out DeHackEd to figure it out, but the sound is way less grating. The BFG received an overhaul, though, becoming the BFG 1024. You won't be able to pull off any of that BFG zerg shit, since it sends out three super-explosive projectiles that will blow you the fuck up.

For some reason, I had this feeling that the enemies got some tweaks (like, unusually consistently low revenant rocket damage and super-powered commandos) but by the time I finished the megaWAD I was pretty sure that that nothing was touched beyond the stuff that was outright replaced. I think the new sounds threw off my hardwired Doom reflexes, the price of hardcore conditioning. The SS Nazi is swapped out for some sort of tough cyber-zombie dude who is usually outclassed by his demonic peers and all but vanishes in the map's later levels. There are two iterations of the final boss monster (MAP15 and MAP30), taking the physical threat of the Spiderdemon and Cyberdemon and giving them the mobility of a Baron for the Overlord of Hell. Also, a fairly authentic Nazi Guard appears in the super-duper-secret MAP33, a cute touch from a dude who loves his shareware-era PC games.

rf 1024 has no real story and no concrete themes beyond the grid, preferring to posture itself as an exercise in cramped firefights that makes for fun, frantic gameplay. The only strike I could level against it is the bracingly regular usage of arch-viles as level finales, swooping in to let you know that the map is pretty much done. I've got nothing against archies, and I know that the 1024 setup doesn't really lend itself to varied firefights given the inability to create battlegrounds for orchestrated encounters, but there's only so much one can take before encounter fatigue sets in. The new sounds might be a bigger aesthetic change than you're prepared for, though. They didn't really bother me aurally, but I suspect that my Doom reflexes are so utterly attuned to what I normally hear that I was stumbling a bit when starting out.

All that aside, this megaWAD is rollicking good fun. The action is constant from "Go!" to the exit switch. Sometimes the difficulty is in establishing some sort of foothold a la Swift Death, where the opening moments are the toughest. At others, you're gritting your teeth and waiting for the inevitable swarm of arch-viles after clearing out yet another entrenchment of Hellish fiends. Of course, if you're not into congested gameplay, you probably won't have much fun. Then again, there's no better time to learn how to dodge and surf than when you have no available alternative; I got my close quarters wings in Congestion 1024, after all.

If you're looking for bite-sized action, rf 1024 shouldn't disappoint. The weapon changes tip the balance pretty hard in the player's favor, making clearing faster and hastening monster pain chances through the sheer volume of hitscans. All in all, I can think of few better WADs to serve as an introduction to Doom trench warfare.

RF 1024
by Jason "rf`" Allison

rf gets your blood pumping with this cramped toxin facility. Well, that's sort of misleading; the theme is sort of toxic, but "Gunk" is more abstract, with reality unraveling and revealing FIREBLU. It's a good taste test, allowing you time to get used to some of the weapon and monster changes. The enemy placement is weighted toward fairly easy encounters, with the zombies feeling the most punchy. The bigger bads are more easily handled with the machine gun's faster rate of fire. The windows from which you can sneak attack a few imps helps to make it feel more interconnected.

MAP02The Gallows
A tiny wooden fortress with some hanging bodies - its namesake - in the final area. There's more room for the monsters to move around in at the beginning, and the lost souls are clever enough on your own that you'll really want to check around to make sure that nothing sneaks up on you. The fast rate of weapon fire really helps in these claustrophobic scenarios. rf` switches a few things up with some pseudo-teleport traps, that is, sending a monster you've just seen to a nearby but different place. I dig the big fuckoff ankh in the starting building.

Blood For the Blood GodMAP03
A bloody blastathon that handily demonstrates the new power of the double-barreled shotgun, feeling a higher rate of fire. The level itself is twisted and congested, like coiled-up entrails. It's easy to run out of ammo if you get pushed away from the early box of shells, but the improved pistol is enough to get you by until you correct your mistake. rf`also gives you a rocket launcher, but given the confines, you'll want to be careful about how you use it. Very fun.

This time, duking it out in a tight-looking UAC facility with a nice courtyard area for you to stomp around in, and rf` obliges by using teleport lines to send stuff like Hell knights, demons, shotgun guys, and Barons for you to dance with. The plasma wave disruptor makes its debut, looking cool (cribbing from Obituary) and sounding less grating than the plasma gun. A real treat to blitz through, taking care though not to get fried by that mancubus in the wings.

Starting to heat up with this brown, dingy base. The author begins by teleporting monsters from the stairs to your starting position and later has a bunker fielding a commando and probably a few revenants, not to mention the skeleton dancing on the super shotgun pillar. I guess you also see the first pain elemental, but the meatball is a joke when the marine's arsenal has been so upgraded. The revenants and mancubuses make for a pretty punchy feel, but the action still clips along at a good rate. Just, watch your head.

A matryoshka doll style base level that gradually opens up the floor, introducing new monsters each time. The first fight is pretty good, since you're dealing with your initial loadout, but once the ball starts rolling the worst you'll have to deal with is the big reveal with a bunch of demons, zombies at your sides, and a small squad of Barons. The last will go down pretty fast with the given rocket launcher, but as long as you're careful, you won't have much to worry about. The supercharge secret is pretty cute.

Jason puts a little heat under this sucker. You'll be scrambling for some sort of purchase with the congested opening area, including some very persistent cacos. The rocket launcher alcove is a little safer as far as attrition goes, but getting out will be trickier, whereas the tiered zombie area has more risk but greater reward with a little health and, more importantly, gunsnammo. Just don't skip that super shotgun at the beginning. The Baron and his Hell knight entourage offer some pressure, but the SSG is just too damn good.

MAP08Stolen Tech
The author starts you off with a nice kit, including the plasma gun, which I'm now realizing I should have used to clear out that spectre / imp morass in the toxic pit. Oh well! The author also stops fucking around, sticking the knife in the player's back with that revenant-teleport-from-behind ambush that is sure to fuck up many a player their first time through. The Baron / pain elemental / revenant trinity at the top of the stairs gets the benefit of some solid pressure with the imps teleporting onto the opening ledge and at the bottom of the staircase you just came from. The bright white wall / floor lights look wicked cool.

The InfectedMAP09
Some rough terrain located in the infested bowels of some nameless facility, with plenty of blood and organics. The setup kind of reminds me of "Titan", insofar as the author keeps sending monsters back to the beginning area, but the hefty heavy presence feels stronger. Part of that's due to the large number of skellies lurking in the upper area, and part of that is no doubt due to the more constricted feel. The rocket launcher isn't quite so safe to use, but you'll definitely want to. The commandos have a fairly strong presence, adding another element of danger.

Whoa! I really dig the stalactites; they add to the earthy feel without getting in the player's way. rf` shoves a hojillion rockets at you which makes all of the Barons fairly easy to plow through, and which might tempt you into doing some dumb things in the less open areas. What it's really leading you up to is an arch-vile showcase, though, with one stalling you in the opening area while the other starts resurrecting monsters in the exit area. Don't let that falling slop fool you - it's worthless when you're looking to block the sorcerer's nukes. A real thrill ride.

Continuing with the earthy feel, but on some sort of... mountain peak / chemical plant with the puffs of burning vents adding some neat ambiance on top of functioning as an environmental hazard. It's a tough level since everything tries to cram into the starting room, and the abundance of cacodemons and lost souls makes this a credible threat. They're also pretty good about moving over the wall blocking off the pit to the northwest, which might fuck your plans up. Apart from this, the biggest surprise is an arch-vile who may not be a threat for players just looking to leave, since he just teleports back to the starting platform and away from the exit.

MAP12Burn Me
A wicked cool foundry sort of level with cascading molten metal and constant pressure from monsters waiting in the upper reaches and potent teleport ambushes from skeletons, mostly. It's a nasty start since you've got to run some fire jets, which forces you out into the open. While neither direction is immediately appealing, one of the two routes nets you a super shotgun, which will be indispensable. The blue key area is full of meat, including a cacodemon that might be tricky to work around if you're in distress. The big showdown involves a pair of arch-viles, but this fight is more cinematic than anything since just letting them run you down would be pretty unfair as they could build up a skeleton vanguard. There's an alcove and some monster-blocking lines; use them.

Smash MeMAP13
Changing out the industrial setting for more good ol' marble Hell. This time, the gimmick is crushers, though I'm far less concerned about these old friends. You'll definitely want "Smash"'s semi-secret Supercharge, since rf` has you do some things like jump into a nuke pit populated with Hellspawn - albeit with the plasma gun as a reward - and the blue key circle is a potentially nasty situation if you haven't yet killed the Baron overwatch at the exit. The arch-vile is an unwelcome surprise since his platform almost certainly has some big red gasbags to reinflate.

MAP14The Aqueduct
rf` carries over one crusher but switches things up to a slightly purer setting, a good ol' water treatment facility. While there is a glut of gunsnammo at the beginning, you're immediately trudging uphill. The central platform is occupied by hitscanners, there's a pain elemental mucking about, and one of the "safe spaces" has a corner of revenants that are more than happy to greet you. It's designed to keep you out in the open trying to deal with something, anything, so it's no wonder that the author has provided a handy Supercharge as the level's secret. A brutal beginning.

First ShowdownMAP15
Don't blink! This is an infernal brick keep with some light platforming and combat shotgun action before the eponymous encounter in the northern area (looking very cool), which has a few roaming monsters that are handled easily before focusing on the robo-Baron. I was waiting for an errant rocket, but he seems to be a high-HP hitscanner. A more mobile replacement for the Spiderdemon? There's plenty of cover to play peek-a-boo with, but you don't need to kill him unless you're looking for the secret exit.

MAP31Five Twelve
A tiny muck pit with some marble architecture. The significance of "Five Twelve"? 512, of course, the next step down from 1024. The ammo balance is pretty tight, so take your time and don't fuck it up unless you're up for some bare-knuckle boxing. Of all the fourteen monsters you're going to fight, the Baron is probably the most dangerous, because your only weapons are the shotgun and machine gun and neither is particularly good at keeping impatient Doomers in the safe zone. You might think it's the revenant, but you've got plenty of time to land a few cheap shots, and most players have a healthy respect for the agitated skeleton.

1024 NutsMAP32
A silly level, stuffing some 200 plus monsters into the 1024 space. Secret players get their first taste of the BFG 1024 mechanics, which are kind of awkward as all the floors are sloping toward the central pillar, so the balls have a tendency to fly over the monsters' heads. Since rf` is kind enough to give you three invuls, provided you knew to look at them in the adjacent corners, this should be a breeze as long as you root out that arch-vile. Afterward, it's all clean-up. I dig the power crystal thing.

MAP16Dark Tower
Verticality, beginning at the bottom of a tower. The monsters are pretty good at getting in some cheap shots, since you've got a fair number of fliers and snipers, so look out. There are a couple of arch-viles on trodden ground that you'll have to contend with, but it's nothing as serious as all those hitscanners and other jobbers hanging out on all the tiers above, especially since you probably saved the plasma gun for moments like these. Raising and then walking across the fire jets on the highest floor is a pretty cool sequence.

Field in the Orange FutureMAP17
Orange brick, fading to red in the darkness in this little cell of Hell. There's the high road and the low road, the latter of which is chock full of beasties and drenched in thankfully non-toxic blood. My first handful of attempts involved brazenly grabbing the SSG and trying to muscle my way into that clusterfuck of monsters on the other side of the window, ignoring the far more sensible option of dropping into the trench at the northeast point and then picking my way through the now less immediately dangerous nasties. I love all the verticality going on in this level.

MAP18Icy Contempt
Doomguy takes a trip to the meat locker... but the meat's still pretty rare. The opening assortment of monsters isn't too bad to take on, but when you open up the fridges and release the imps, there's a sucker punch that follows that drops in a bunch of revenants, Hell knights, and a Baron. Enterprising players will figure out which of the closet switches raises the stairs to the super shotgun, which you can then use from a superior position to whittle down your clever foes. There's an arch-vile, but I think that it teleports to a seemingly-random location, since the first time he wound up on the main floor, the second play appearing on the red key platform. There's one final skeleton brigade right before the exit, but you shouldn't have much trouble with them at that point.

A chaotic, toxic cistern with a few cool surprises. The chaingunner Swiss cheese at the beginning leads to a big staircase down and then back up through sniper-infested territory, with a mid-point Supercharge for your efforts. The big show, though, is activating the elevator in the room behind the yellow key door, which lowers the entire starting floor and unleashes a few final monsters (revenants, of course) while also revealing the exit. There's an arch-vile, too, but you ought to have plenty of rockets to shell his ass into oblivion.

MAP20Napalm Gardens
Arch-viles abound in this cramped, winding garden. This also marks the regular debut of the BFG 1024, where you'll learn that its mechanics are a bit more straightforward than the 9K. Specifically, it will also blow you the fuck up. Most of the action is super shotgun skirmishing with imps and skeletons, leading toward the former and the latter during the front and back halves of the levels, respectively. And, every now and again, rf` throws a few arch-viles where the bodies pile up to spur you on to some damage control.

Corrosive AgendaMAP21
Shifting gears again for a relatively open firefight in a nukage pit that turns dire on those few occasions when the arch-viles teleport down onto the main floor. The nukage makes area control slightly more difficult, though the three or so rad suits you get should offer enough mobility to get the worst of the work done. Don't forget to grab both those shotgun shell packs before you jump down, because there's no going back until you reach the exit. The slow crushers in the exit room were a bit of a surprise, but they got a death - and a laugh - out of me.

MAP22Slough of Dismay
Really putting the screws to the player in this granite deathtrap, with glistening Satanic runes cut into the cliffside. The monsters are thick throughout most of your trek and you'll probably have to take most of them on again when that pair of arch-viles runs back through and undoes everything you killed at the chokepoint on the north end of the lavafall. Speaking of the chokepoint, you'll probably spend a lot of time in that opening cave, especially if those cacodemons behind the metal bars decide to come play with you. The Hellish ambiance is pretty cool, what with the flaming fissures.

Barrel o' LaughsMAP23
A clean-looking techbase map with barrel tracks for compact moments of explosive joy. The big surprise for me was the northern area, battling demons in a grid 64 hallway... lined with barrels. You can't afford to get reckless with your gunfire, and while it's pretty much a no-brainer to whip out the machine gun and tap them down for the relatively safe but speedy option, there's always that lingering threat of whether or not Jason ups the stakes. (He doesn't.) I guess there's an arch-vile mosh pit fight after you leave, but I'm getting pretty wise to such nefarious tactics.

MAP24Writhing Squalor
Back into Hell with this bloody, red-rock cascade. You open up fighting your way down the garbage chute before reaching the area of main action. Don't get too careless as health is at a premium, which you'll feel when you have to descend into the pit that makes up the northwestern area. You're in no danger of running out of ammo, though. Per usual, rf` has stuffed a few arch-viles to throw you off. My favorite bit is the three-part intestinal staircase, going up, then down to the blue key, then WAY up to the exit, which is accessible thanks to a bloody torrent.

Skynet OvertureMAP25
Looking again to that technolgical blue theme for an action-heavy map. The enemies feel packed in pretty tight so that you start out fending them off from two different locations and the arch-viles are really good about getting up a vanguard, in one instance using spectres and in another revenants. In another, he comes with his own assault force. The only environmental hazard is an electrified trench which might make a handy shortcut, but you'll need the red key from the southern passage one way or another.

MAP26Viseral Waste
Another outpost of red rock and Hellish flesh. "Viseral" is a slightly tricky start, since you'll have to grab your first weapon from the dead, but it kind of mellows out afterward, excepting the obligatory end-of-level arch-vile rush, mixed in with a few Barons. The skin, metal, and phantasmal faces come together for a pretty cool theme. The layout has a solid low road / high road hook to divide the action, but the only high road enemies you'll really have to look out for are the hitscanners.

Cathedral of HateMAP27
This grungy green stone sewer is a tight little level with a natural choke point between the balcony of the eponymous cathedral and the twisty, grand staircase that leads up to it. Action revolves around making your way up the stair and then dealing with the fallout from investigating either the cathedral or the catwalk that leads to the level's exit. While one of these certainly involves an arch-vile, the open space and the rocket launcher means that he's got his work cut out for him. Look out for a very devious secret switch to open up the alternate exit.

MAP33Escape From Wolfendoom
Nazis! I hate Nazis. "Escape" has a really cool aesthetic that's a sort of turquoise and gray. Rather than throw SS Nazis at you - I mean, those guys have been sort of repurposed for those android troopers - he throws the brown-uniform guards at you, basically a faster version of the basic Doom zombie. It's a shotgun / machine gun / rocket launcher level vs. mostly Doom trash with the occasional Hell noble and, you guessed it, surprise arch-viles leading to the end. The layout's pretty cool.

Requiescat For the DevilMAP28
A real hornet's nest, this time. The central chamber is a cool metal-structure-protruding-from-a-giant-pool-of-blood thing which has a bunch of monsters lurking in the back, including three pain elementals. That's a lot to have active at once. The periphery is a greenish stone two-tiered pathway, the bottom granting access to the coveted BFG 1024, the top granting access to other sundry delights, including eventual access to the blue key. The big finish, after picking your way through all that entrenched opposition, is a wave of four arch-viles, at least one of which will show up guarding the exit switch itself.

MAP29Omega Anomaly
A sort of coiled, rf 1024 homage to E1M1, but with a bunch of Doom II monsters. You should be able to recognize all the main landmarks. It's claustrophobic action galore, with the author fond of teleporting monsters behind you to create multiple battlefronts, most memorably in the toxic catwalk area where the arch-vile teleports first to throw you into full panic mode. There's another one guarding the exit, but you've got a bit more cover to go around at that point.

Final ShowdownMAP30
A long cavern climb through entrenched forces. When you reach the top, the switch transforms the area into a full-blown arena for your proper battle with the "Overlord of Hell", who is has swapped out his machine gun for a proper Cyberdemon-style rocket launcher. It has the potential to be a rough fight since all those torches are great for getting hung up on, but you can cut a ton of time off by snagging the secret BFG 1024, which will cut down on time spent trying to dodge rockets. After that, the ineffectual Icon falls with the greatest of ease.


  1. The music is all from Descent games except on the Wolfenstein level, did you notice?

    1. seeing as how i have never played descent in my life, it was indistinguishable from most doom custom MIDIs to me

    2. I think Jimmy's Jukebox has the Descent soundtracks (just mentioning it for what it's worth).

  2. Currently on Map 20. Great WAD... my favorite in quite some time. I'll admit I'm one of "those" guys that tends to prefer Project Brutality as a default go-to. Maybe that's why I really, really appreciate the greater firing speed of the SSG and machinegun: playing through the WAD without any gameplay modifiers really accentuates how fast and engaging the gameplay is here. Also, I might eat my words on this, but thanks to RF for actually knowing how to design teleporter ambushes in a way that actually feels fair. It's all the more impressive given the itsy bitsy maps.

    Also agreed with regards to the Archie traps being a little overused, but I can forgive the small misstep. By about Map 8 or so I had learned that you needed to be ready to switch to your most powerful weapon and sprint to the beginning of the map before the resurrection party got too far underway.

  3. Does anyone know if this is compatible with Brutal DOOM? I never know if using BD with any of these WADs that change how "things" and weapons work will break it or if they'll properly disable BD stuff when needed.

    1. I always play with modded Project Brutality (heresy, I know) and as long as you load the mappack pwad FIRST everything should be fine.

  4. Looks like the official link hath croaked.

    1. Jason updated rf' 1024 back in 2017. You can find the new link toward the end of the thread or just see it here

    2. That was uncharacteristically unthorough for me. Thanks.