Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Flay the Obscene - Part Two (FLAYOBS2.WAD)

FLAY THE OBSCENE
PART TWO
by Christian Hansen


While Hansen eventually collected the pre-2014 portions of Flay the Obscene into one concrete episode, its maps were originally released separately, spanning from 1999 to 2001 and interspersed with his work on 2002: A Doom Odyssey and his own CH Retro Episode. Where the first outing involved a little introductory level to set the scene coupled with the main event in devil-land, Part Two is a MAP01 replacement, originally released in 2000 but only uploaded to the archives in 2013. It had been kicking around as part of Chris's Flay the Obscene compilation, but for whatever reason he elected to make it available on its own, though he moved it from the MAP14 slot, which means you'll hit the ground D_RUNNIN.


FLAYOBS2 picks up right where the original left off, with Hansen spending just a bit more time fleshing out the threadbare narrative. There's a lack of familiarity with demonkin expressed in the .TXT that suggests that the player character is not Doomguy. After all, Doomguy is pretty well-versed in the infernal technologies of his foes. Rather, it looks like you're some UAC secret soldier who got roped into a mission with a few unknowns. I mean, I guess if you're willing to use a teleporter to access a hostile dimension with some form of intelligent life, you're well aware that your line of work carries certain... hazards. Your were apparently briefed that the aliens were technological neanderthals, which suggests a lack of critical thinking on your part. If they're so "primitive", then why does the UAC consider them a threat? Your notion of a sure thing begins to evaporate as you realize that science exists alongside gothic brick, marble, and metal in this strange world, and you find yourself wondering if your employers weren't entirely forthright.


Part Two has pretty much the same visual style as the first, even cribbing the spiral wood and metal staircase, but there are about twice as many monsters and the placement is much more dangerous, starting off with one key feature that's guaranteed to irritate some players. Some people will rage at the chaingun snipers, but Hansen has gone a step beyond and borrowed the immortal commando trick from The Plutonia Experiment, resulting in four watchdogs overlooking the western ramparts that cannot be permanently killed because there is no way to dismantle the arch-viles that power them. They are thus a source of attrition when operating the yard, complicating an already restricted amount of health and resulting in at least one teleporter cheap shot when blinking to the other side of the courtyard's north wall, and perhaps another when you're hemmed in by a pack of imps and having to let one or the other chew your ass.


It's a pretty rough start, since the commandos were able to chip away at my head no matter where I was at in the trench, and you've got to deal with two mancubus towers and a squad of imps before you can press forward into the more forgiving sections of the fortress, and probably with a modicum of health. Among the returning motifs from the first level - fast becoming a mainstay of Hansen's work - are the pairs of Barons that you must fight, the "boss" encounter culminating in four. I believe that Chris really loves the bruiser brothers, given how much I've seen of them in the past few CH maps, and the author is always keen to ensure that a moderate threat remains with a restricted playspace that requires just a bit of deft maneuvering to stay away from the green shit. You actually get a warm-up to these fights in another memorable battle where a pair of Hell knights files into the tiny blue key room, you with your trusty shotgun, ready to tango.


My favorite area of the level is the waterlogged section to the northeast with the yellow key switch. It's a nice, open back lot thing and the scene of a couple of decent firefights, the first involving a cacodemon ambush and the second dealing with a squad of four revenants. It's just a fun setting after being pinned down by commandos and waltzing with Barons while timing your combat shotgun bursts. Thank goodness the shock of the yellow key grab is easy to deal with, provided you don't lock up or something. The rest of the map is pretty standard clearing, but the layout is a bit tricky to navigate what with all the teleports, some of which leave you rife with chaingun fire. The quicker you get away from the west, the more fun you'll have. Well, maybe not if you really hate those Barons.


Since it's a larger level, there's more neat architecture to enjoy from Hansen, and the opening sequence - which has you emerge from the blood-drenched sewers - is a real treat. Some of the lights and shadows are really striking, like the beams crossing the alley that leads to the spiral staircase. It's a neat experience; the only major hurdle is the sequence that begins the moment you poke your head out the front door. If you can stomach those pesky chaingun sentries, then you'll have it made. Just, uh, be careful. You won't exactly be tripping over health.



FILET-O-SCENE

3 comments:

  1. Awesome reviews! Thank you so much, I still feel very honored and humbled about this thorough investigation into my past ;)

    Back when I made these levels I was still learning a lot about making maps and I borrowed from left and right whenever I saw something interesting! FtO2 is actually one of the levels I still have vivid memories about! Fun fact 1: The western ramparts on screen 2 were originally made to be much more open to give the illusion of being on a mountain side. But the area drowned in VPO's so it had to be closed much to my disappointment. Fun fact 2: The structure that makes up the exit area in screen 6 is inspired - or maybe even imitated - by an IBM G51 monitor which I used to look at from the backside from where I was sitting opposite a co-worker :)

    And sorry about the AV/CG douchery! That's not something to be too particularly proud of in retrospect :D

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    1. it's something any Doom player worth their salt ought to be able to work around. thank you for the insights!

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  2. Beautiful architecture, also I have fond memories of playing Flay the Obscene (first one) back when I found out about Doom wads, great mapset, and talented mapper whose works I should explore a bit deeper!

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