Thursday, October 27, 2016


by Paul Corfiatis

Paul made a fairly big splash in 1998 with the original Twilight Zone megaWAD, but it wasn't the first thing he'd done in an editor. I'm not sure that Big Boy is, either, but it was among the first of his works pre-TWZONE that he deigned to release afterward. It also apparently began life as a big Doom II level with a ton of Wolfenstein 3D textures and SS Nazis, a detail that doesn't really surprise me given what I've seen from most of Paul's other, larger projects. As published, BIGBOY is a single level for E2M4, so all the Doom II resources are no longer present. Some of the Nazi stuff is still baked into the level's architecture, but both details are very easy to miss.

Big Boy has the very feel of those early, unfocused acid-trip Doom levels. It spans a pretty big area but each section / room is very distinct from the others and has very little interconnectedness via windows besides a few token moments, the major one happening early on with the small storage room you can peek into from its access hallway and which looks into a little alcove accessible from the zone behind the blue key door. So, in keeping with the Wolf3D ancestry, it's got that huge-mess-of-orthogonal-hallways-and-rooms sensation with most of the height variation coming from DoomCute sector furniture, my favorite bit being a "mirror" that uses the hall-of-mirrors effect. Cheeky; I like it. I missed the "3D!" helmet-o-gram on my first visit.

Paul has a couple of other warnings for prospective players. There's a lot of health and a lot of ammo; you'll be tripping over shotgun shells for the entire adventure. That's not a bad thing, especially since the only weapon you'll be doing all the heavy lifting - if you don't locate any of the secrets, only one of which has any hints as to its location - with the shotgun. At least, until the big showdown, where Paul gives you all the ammo, health, and weapons you would ever need, PLUS six invulnerability spheres. All this for two Cyberdemons and two Spiderdemons. No; Big Boy won't be much of a challenge for Doom veterans excepting attrition via all those massive packs of shotgun guys. It may test your patience, though.

While shotgun guys figure heavily into your future, you'll also encounter a ton of Barons and cacodemons. You're never in any real danger supposing you can float like a butterfly and sting like a gecko, which means that Big Boy's action can't help but be a grind. For example, there's a Cyberdemon located near the yellow key door whose positioning makes him pretty naff at hitting you with a rocket and completely unnecessary to completing the level. Were your eyes to glaze over as you grind him down, though, you'd go SPLAT from a lucky shot. Given the almost complete lack of pressure, the main attraction is the psychedelic patchwork of rooms that you traverse.

Only a few of the rooms themselves really stick out in my mind. The open-air silver-ribbed red-rock outdoor area is my favorite, even if you can see the bottom of the sky out the eastern window. As mentioned, there are some segments with sector furniture, including one area with a sort of dorm room / single room apartment feel. The network of octagon blood pits to the north is quite a speedbump as the five architecturally identical rooms are joined by hallways accessed by lifts and picking the wrong direction will eat up the enviro suit, not that it's such a big deal with all the medikits lying around. The shotgun guy-infested dark blue zone that dominates the west is okay, and I like the little marble annex off its northeastern area that show Paul's imagination beginning to work.

BIGBOY is pretty much what I would expect from any author just starting out with their first big level. It's a very slow play but has a few cool areas and plenty of zombies and beefy Hellspawn to gun down, alas how sluggish. Thanks for not throwing this one in the recycle bin, Paul.

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