Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Flay the Obscene - Part Two (FLAYOBS2.WAD)

by Christian Hansen

Hansen eventually collected the pre-2014 portions of Flay the Obscene into one concrete episode but he originally released its maps as separate, discrete entities. The publications spanned from 1999 to 2001 and were interspersed with his work on 2002: A Doom Odyssey and his own CH Retro Episode. The first outing involved a little introductory level to set the scene and transitioned into 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. He moved it from the MAP14 slot, though, which means that 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. The .TXT portrays a lack of demonkin knowledge, suggesting that the player character is not Doomguy. I say this because the vile veteran would be 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 guess if you're willing to use a teleporter to access a hostile dimension containing some form of intelligent life then you're well aware of certain... hazards... specific to your line of work. Your brief compared the alien level of technology to the 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. You find yourself wondering if your employers weren't entirely forthright.

Part Two has pretty much the same visual style as the first; it even cribs the spiral wood and metal staircase. There are about twice as many monsters and the placement is much more dangerous, though, starting off with one key feature that's guaranteed to irritate some players. These people will rage at the chaingun snipers but Hansen has gone a step beyond and borrowed the immortal commando trick from The Plutonia Experiment. This results in four watchdogs overlooking the western ramparts who 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. This results in at least one teleporter cheap shot when blinking to the other side of the courtyard's north wall. You might also find yourself 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. To make matters worse, 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 you'll probably have but 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. Chris appears to love the bruiser brothers given how much I've seen of them in his past few maps. The author is always keen to ensure that a moderate threat remains with a restricted playspace to require 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 while you brandish 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 involves a cacodemon ambush and the second has you handle 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 confront, provided that 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 given 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 out of a blood-drenched sewers - is a real treat. Some of the lights and shadows, like the beams crossing the alley prior to the spiral staircase, are rather striking. 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.



  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

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

  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!