Sunday, January 15, 2017

Deleted Scene (DELETED.WAD)

by Russell Pearson

Russell Pearson released his seminal Null Space at the tail end of 2001 but not before nixing a portion of the material. Where some authors would be content to just slash and burn, though, Russell took the extract and released it on its own as a sort of extra. Deleted Scene is thus just that, plus a few small sections from the originating work in order to make it a fully functional level. The end result is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, released in 2001 for any vanilla-compatible port. Its origin as an outtake is the closest thing you're going to get to a story but it's interesting to read Pearson's author notes. They detail why he cut it but also posture it as a sort of teaser for the impending Null Space.

The main problems with Deleted Scene are inextricably tied to its origins as an extract of the originating level, particularly the reasons why it was cut in the first place, offered in the author's notes. Russell's main misgiving owed to its origin as a relatively linear section of map. Ultimately, it failed to represent the kind of layout he was looking to make in Null Space. It's also a relatively short segment. Pearson offers a scant sixty-some monsters as resistance, many of which are caged imps on the walls. A lot of the beasties are located in the opening courtyard, a cool area that was copied from Null Space to serve as a starting location.

It's definitely... linear. Pearson sealed off all of the branching passages with Do Not Enter blockades, which definitely helps to frame the artificiality of it as a "deleted scene". There's a little back and forth in the starting spot but once you start your walk it's basically one long corridor shoot to the exit teleporter. It works as a romp and if you wanted to think of it as rooted in some kind of actual narrative, it has a sort of dimension-romping Time Bandits feel like a brief sojourn in a much more massive world. I don't have a lot to say about the combat; the best stuff is in the beginning in spite of the focus on the regular shotgun but Pearson gives you enough room to get gutsy with at least one of the mancubus fights.

Deleted Scene is a curiosity, certainly not the most developed Doom level I've ever played but considering the context I'm glad that it wasn't consigned to the void unlike so many other author works not found up to their snuff. If you're still dying for Null Space themed adventures and won't be offended by its brevity then you definitely need to give this one a shot.


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