Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reunion 01 (REUNION1.WAD)

by Ed Cripps

Ed Cripps is mostly known for wild-ass detailing and geometry that uses the most advanced Doom source ports available, crawling colossi notwithstanding. His level design is usually compared to Quake II's, even if it's a twisted Shores of Hell-styled base (Warp House). Reunion is something quite different, aiming for a vanilla-oriented run of levels for the original Doom. While Ed describes it as a series his interest must have waned because he only released one other level (REUNION2). This initial iteration, Reunion 01, is an E1M1 replacement published mid-1999.

The plot is post-Doom and probably after Hell on Earth considering how closely the two are entwined. The UAC is still A Thing, even in the wake of their apocalyptic apparition experiments. What's more, they are sending investigatory teams into the massacred Phobos base in an attempt to recover top secret technologies. The first four teams managed to scrape by with some success but the fifth burned down, fell over, and sank into the Toxin Refinery. At least, Corporate assumes as much; they completely disappeared without reporting back. That's when they call in their ringer - the last marine - and you're headed toward the hot zone before you even hear what the specifics are. All you need is the tone in the General's voice, a hint of terror given name.

Reunion 01 is a quick but fun standalone level, longer and meatier than most of id's own episode starters. There are a few Barons and cacodemons to round out the roster, along with one squad of lost souls making a later appearance, but the actual threat level is pretty light and more weighted toward zombies and imps. A good portion of the enemies are actually the latter and appear in a secret encounter triggered by snagging a handy soul sphere. Many of the rest are delivered as imps, demons, and then specters in a roundabout that again offers little threat but gives you plenty of action. Your shotgun and chaingun should get a pretty good workout.

As far as the architecture goes it's a bit more pleasing to the eye than the cramped and orthogonal Don't Drink the Water. Cripps uses a lot of 45-degree walls to round off the corners and give some character to the platforms, a welcome touch. The southeastern section may as well be the level's main centerpiece since it has a pit you battle around and must ultimately move to the other side of in order to reach the annex holding the yellow key. The one downside is that there are only a few zombies waiting for you in the northern chamber once you return so for the length of time you spend going back and forth there's a lot of dead air.

It's an okay KDitD-styled level, though, and the scads of ammo and simple monster placement will make it a blastathon regardless of the chosen difficulty. Maybe not the sort of thing you would expect to find in the back catalogue of an author of Ed's prestige but plenty of people have cut their teeth on the original Doom at one time or another. I'm just wondering what the next adventure will look like!



  1. Happy New Year KMX E XII, Hope to seeing more of your reviews in 2017. Also the 20 Monsters Challenge [Community Project]has been out for a couple of days now, I hope to see if you can review it because I got to say its quite creative how the Doom community mappers behind this mega wad pulled it off.

    1. i will probably get around to it but my most important project right now is filling out my review buffer. if I can get to two months of pre-prepared reviews based on my update schedule then I'll be thrilled