Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tunnel Run (TUN-RUN.WAD)

by Russell Pearson

Russell Pearson was one of several authors to come to the forefront with the advent of Doom's silver age resulting from the release of source ports like Boom and ZDoom, but where guys like Kurt Kesler and Ed Cripps were playing around with The New Technology, Russell remained to hack it out in plain vanilla. At least, until he released Crypt of the Vile. His first big project was supposed to be a TC called DoomTown3, but he doled out two of its planned levels - Tunnel Run and Blastem 2 - as single level releases before publishing the other three as Doom Town proper. This review covers the second release, Tunnel Run; released in late 2000, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II.

Tunnel Run is unsurprisingly an underground map with a ton of tunnels. The most open area still limits the player to a forked catwalk while imps on the ledges fling fireballs at you from afar; the only one with any significant maneuverability is a rectangular warehouse cave that still harries your movement with a healthy amount of demons on the ground and mancubuses that make for awkward dodging. The opening network of passages is the map's least linear moment, and kind of inspired as far as combat goes since your maneuverability isn't so hot and all of the doors open at once, allowing for multiple angles of different attacks, but nothing too threatening.

I kind of like the gunsnammo gimmick. Your stocks start out pretty limited, with a fairly narrow margin just starting out, but you occasionally run into supply lockers full of various goodies, in fact just about the only place you'll encounter supplies. The plasma gun is a showcase you might forget about, at least I did until I hit the northwesternmost room and realized that I was being given ammo for it. It's probably less about the time between seeing it at first then acquiring the blue key and more about not paying any attention to what was in the blue bar cage when I passed by it.

The level looks alright; it's detailed in a very clean way as opposed to aggressive greebling that sometimes comes with trying to distract from awfully plain hallways. My favorite visual is early on in the room in the center of the western catwalk complex, looking like a platform built into a vast mineshaft cut deep into the earth. The final approach has a less focused look of lights and conduits running zig-zag down the final gimmick passage where you have to give Barons and Hell knights a respectful berth while also avoiding the clearly marked grates that will usher in one arch-vile a piece. There's no clean way to kill them all, though, so if you want 100% kills then you'll have to methodically trigger and slay them all... I imagine some of them with the berserk fist!

Tunnel Run is a decent level with plenty of action that cashes in on claustrophobic confines and sells me on its status as some sort of underground complex. Some players will delight in knowing that there are no pain elementals, revenants, or big bads, and the only arch-vile that you have to engage is ridiculously easy to trap. Your mileage may vary, but I enjoyed it.


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