Sunday, October 30, 2016
by Paul Corfiatis
Paul Corfiatis has made a ton of Doom levels. PC_PLAN has the earliest beginnings of any of them, but was released in 1999. That's because it was the first level Paul ever designed; the medium, however, was paper. This MAP01 replacement owes its existence to its sentimental value, then, since PC_PLAN is pretty basic when compared to the maps from The Twilight Zone, which Paul had released in 1998. I suppose he felt honor-bound to commit his plan to WAD. According to the author's notes, the thing placement has not been tinkered with in any way, bringing the pencil sketch to life exactly as conceived.
PC_PLAN is very short, fielding a scant 36 monsters, counting the initial lost souls. A pain elemental in the penultimate room may inflate that count, but it won't change how quick the level goes by. You start off with the BFG, rocket launcher, and shotgun, but the opening room has two windowed compartments each three cacodemons deep, so you can either blow your cells trying to ice them or grind through the line of zombies and demons that's tough to kill without the chaingun, which you get in the next room. It's also got a pair of arachnotrons but your firepower should be able to off them before anything dangerous makes its way into the room with you.
After that, it's up a lift to an invul-fed Spiderdemon showdown and a small pack of lost souls. Paul claims that there isn't enough ammo to kill arachnomomma, but the BFG cell should be more than enough to score the two point-blank shots needed, maybe one if you're lucky. The pain elemental and cacos in the final area are worse, since your immunity will probably have worn off by then. There's one final "Gotcha!" when you move to the yellow key door, revealing among other things a Baron. Not the scariest of things in a relatively open room, but I'm guessing that early '96-era Paul had more respect for the bruiser brothers than most players today.
It's very small, but Paul had more fun with room design on paper than with Big Boy, which was among his earlier DoomCad experiments. BIGBOY is mostly right angles and rectangular rooms minus a few tiny areas. Here, things look pretty decent, even before you exit the zombie chute. The second room has some light chambers in its southern corners and the Spiderdemon area opens up at a 45-degree angle, with a connecting angled hallway to the finale and its little toxic pit. It's kind of interesting, but barely distracts from the gauntlet-style layout and "Entryway" size.
I appreciate that PC_PLAN was important to Paul. I wouldn't recommend it myself unless you're looking for just about any sort of short level. I suppose that the origin has some novelty value, but that quirk rarely if ever translates to the map itself. I wonder if he has any other paper tigers crouched in juvenile jungles? Maybe he could turn this into a goofy slaughtermap a la "Go 2 It". "Plan 4 It"?
I'M A PC_PLAN