Monday, November 7, 2016

Toxin Refinery (PE1_TOX.WAD)

by Paul Corfiatis

Before embarking on Simply Phobos in 2004, Paul Corfiatis was no stranger to kickin' out the love for KDitD-themed maps. Some of these ended up in The Twilight Zone and TWZONE2 megaWADs but this map marks Paul's first standalone Romeroian excursion. Toxin Refinery is an imaginatively-titled remake of the original Doom's E1M3, released in 1999 along with a bunch of other odds and sods. Like a "Bad Dream" it also has a secret level for the hidden exit - more fun in the Martian sun. I'm guessing that the bonus entry's name is "Magna" since it's written into the map's geometry.

As one of the /idgames reviews succinctly points out, Toxin Refinery is more or less a mashup of elements belonging to both Doom's E1M3 (which this owes its name to) and E1M6 ("Central Processing") with perhaps a bit of E1M9 as a garnish. They're not cut and pastes and Paul has added his own particular interpretation. The toxic crossways from E1M6's southeast area factor heavily into Toxin's southern section, for instance, but Paul has used the corners of the chambers as staging areas for an organic invasion by demons, perhaps my favorite encounter out of the whole level since the pressure is very real.

The great outdoor walkway from E1M6 joins the E1M3 section up with the southern crossways. It's the scene of some light action but your return trip opens up several balconies sporting crowds of imps. Not the sort of thing you'll want to stick around to whittle down using the shotgun or chaingun, but you might walk back after grabbing the glut of rockets from the secret exit. The "Toxin Refinery" portion includes the starting area - the raisable walkway now leading to the normal exit - and a remix of the donut / key segment from E1M3's north. The pit is now the centerpiece, though, brandishing the yellow key, and the area is the scene of a massive demon slaughter.

I'm talking true horde shit, like whip out the chainsaw and back into a corner until you've weathered the storm type stuff. I actually forgot about the chainsaw during my playthrough; the monster closet caught me off-guard and I was just wiggling with the shotgun until I could break free. Breaking the key plane only makes things worse since there's a teleport ambush to add insult to injury but if you manage to thin out the first crowd then you should be able to easily handle the next. The rest of the monsters barely register due to the ubiquity of the demons, even the Barons.

As a Phobos remix level I like the cut of Toxin Refinery's jib. All the moving sector parts to get to the secret exit are pretty cool - like the timed door hidden area with the tech guts closet locked by the yellow key. "Dang," you think. "Must be important." There's also the bit with the soul sphere where the columns lower to form a sort of impromptu staircase. I'm so used to seeing things raise up from the floor to make stairs of any kind; doing it this way is a nice change of pace. I am hoping that Simply Phobos offers some more Things Not Yet Seen but PE1_TOX is a pretty fun diversion. I also dig the music, penned for this occasion.

"Magna" is secret level to the core. It has a lot of Barons, a handful of zombies, and a bunch of barrels strategically placed as spoilers. The action is actually pretty intense in spite of all those soul spheres lying around since opening the first door and firing a single shot will cause just about all of the monsters on the map to head toward your direction. The hesitant marine won't pass. There probably won't be anything left in the toxic tunnels once you're done but given the free-flowing layout you never know what might sneak up on you. E1M9's music is silly, as described in the .TXT, careening back and forth between a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace" and "Overworld Theme 2" from Super Mario Bros. 3.

If you're looking for a little Phobosian adventure but don't want to commit to a full episode then I think that you'll get your fix from Toxin Refinery. If you can't stomach seeing E1 "homages", well, I'm sorry. You could always try the secret level!


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