Wednesday, January 18, 2017

DoomTown (DOOMTOWN.WAD)


Russell Pearson didn't start publishing Doom maps until the year 2000 but he was working on his token ambitious TC back during the early days of Doom modding; 1995 by his estimation. DoomTown3 was probably planned to be a megaWAD but Pearson released several select levels from it - Blastem2 and Tunnel Run - as well as a small deathmatch level (Close Kill) before publishing the remainder in a micro-sized map pack called DoomTown. I imagine that the author felt compelled to put his history firmly behind him. Released in 2001, this is a three-map minisode for Doom II to be played in any port owing to its pre-source origins.


DoomTown doesn't have a story and Pearson was more about his insightful design commentary than providing any sort of a fictional framing narrative. If DoomTown3 had a story, it might be loosely patterned after Doom II as so many other megaWADs are. Either that or he just couldn't resist doing a remake of "Entryway" as the first level in the set. The other two levels are cut from the same cloth as his earlier TUN-RUN, being composed mainly of underground passageways that string together a few distinct, larger rooms. It's a trait they also share with Pearson's Deleted Scene, an outtake from Null Space that he cut for being too linear. I wonder if kicking these earlier levels out was just as much a conscious break with his early style.


The opposition isn't too hard; ammo typically starts off kind of tight after which you roll into a sizable surplus as you start to hit the strategically located ammo closets and caches. The author's placement seems weighted toward monsters from the original Doom with commandos, mancubi, and arachnotrons being his favorites out of the sequel. You'll sparingly see stuff like arch-viles and the rare pain elemental. I think MAP03 is the first revenant I've seen in a Pearson map, not counting "Nullspace Junior"! The mancubi tend to shine in Russell's corridors since their firing pattern and broader hallways hit a sort of sweet spot where the straight shooters tend to lag.


DoomTown would be a fondly-remembered mapset back in 1995, I think. Today, well, I can't say that Pearson's affection for long and winding hallways makes for the most enthralling gameplay but it's a definite style all his own and should be great for Doomers looking for smaller, incidental fights. I'm excited to see what he does moving forward.





DOOMTOWN
by Russell Pearson

LEVEL 1MAP01
Basically an "enhancement" of "Entryway". It keeps the same general layout but transforms the northern room into an imp cage crossfire and adds somewhat stiffer opposition, i.e. cacodemons. The landing pad that replaces the outdoor yard is pretty cool and the armored windows facing it are a nice, DoomCute touch along with the little staircases and handrails. The small supply closets featuring in Tunnel Run show up here, too, though you'll also find ammo in conspicuous places like next to dead bodies.

MAP02LEVEL 2
In some aspects the second outing reminds me of Pearson's Tunnel Run, originally from this collection but released a year earlier. It's a network of underground tunnels and while it may not have the arch-vile gimmick that ends TUN-RUN it's still got those supply closets - being more or less endemic of DoomTown - plus a powerful weapon locked behind an earlier acquired key bar, this time being the combat shotgun. The emphasis on trash monsters and healthy supply of shells makes for decent corridor shooting action with the occasional minor surprise like the three Hell knights in the closet off the hexagonal atrium.

LEVEL 3MAP03
Starts off on a Doom II-looking platform in the middle of water before raising the bridge and investigating another vast tunnel complex - but it's not complicated. Excepting the two small branches to the north, it's a stringy stretch of tunnels arranged in a clockwise circuit before spitting you back out at the beginning. The jail section with all the imp / lost soul cages is probably my favorite bit in the entire map since the level hasn't yet got you prepped for the sucker punches. It's kind of a snooze with all the incidental combat but Russell still has a few twists like the arachnotron divide and the Baron / arch-vile surprise waiting back at the opening.

THE GOLD IT'S IN THE...

2 comments:

  1. Hi, will you try to review Urania.wad? Megawad is already on idgames archive.

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    Replies
    1. it's something i've thought about but given everything i know about it the prospect is a daunting time commitment

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