Sunday, April 9, 2017

UAC Headquarters (TQMAP02.WAD)

by Tommie "Fatal" Quick

Tommie Quick slid in at the end of Doom's Golden Age, releasing a few levels in 1997 before hitching his wagon to Team TNT and helping to crank out a few deathmatch megaWADs. UAC Headquarters is his second publication, but I get the feeling that it's actually kind of old, perhaps a relic of an unreleased portfolio - one he simply felt good enough to push out the door. Like his Flood Mines, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. His first publication was sort of an underground earth / tech split, though, where TQMAP02 is all electronics and while the vast majority of the level does not take place outside, most of it occurs within the titular UAC Headquarters. Why you're clearing out another UAC installation isn't mentioned but any reason should come fairly quickly to the imagination.

TQMAP02 starts out seeming slightly like MANOR since it's got one big outdoor yard ringed by an outer wall sporting some opposition... albeit pretty scant at a couple of imps. Quick points out the level's sense of feeling incomplete and it's clear that the author ran out of gas as you move to the back half, which has none of the monster cage windows, the only defining feature being a ledge with an arachnotron laying down some gentle suppression fire and the complex's back door which contains the key to the front. Roughly half of the level's interior is just as devoid of features; to quote the author, "It was going to be a lot larger, but I started another level and this one was left to rot."

The outdoor section feels kind of drawn out but it has a couple of interesting points, like the rocket launcher and the mancubus booth. Once you get inside you're drawn into a long, linear shootout beginning in the receptionist's office and ending in a cliffhanger, ambushed by Cyberdemons in an E1M8 finish. Some of the points - for example, the arachnotron in the tech center near the beginning - are baffling. Others, like the teleporter secret that lets you get the goods in the aforementioned mancubus staging area, come with clever surprises; the return trip is undoubtedly lethal if you don't take care of a trap that is fairly obvious in retrospect.

It's an inspired bit, showing that Quick had some pretty good ideas brewing in there, also evidenced by the return trip through the long, winding corridor you came down, turned on its head with a clutch of monster closets (imps, lost souls, and shotgun guys) and a flick of the switch to turn the lights off. Of course, you could just give the whole thing a miss and take the secret passage to the BFG, provided you don't mind walking all the long way back. The area immediately prior, a race track featuring bar doors blocking your path at like five different points with one arch-vile in the central isle, is a memorable moment but not at all engaging since the sinister sorcerer succumbs to either rocket or plasma fire pretty quick after which the walkover-triggered barriers feel more superfluous than anything else.

UAC Headquarters has a definite 90s-crammed-together-layout style going for it and some pretty good ideas. It's a pity that Tommie cut it off shortly after the halfway mark; it'd be interesting to see what other kinds of hooks he thought up to fill the remaining spaces out. If abstract techbase layouts are your thing, then you might want to give TQMAP02 a look.


1 comment:

  1. Since this blog reviews gameplay mods (i think), have you though of checking MetaDoom? It's a randomizer mod that brings Doom into Doom if that makes sense: it brings elements from multiple Doom games and tries to balance them for the gameplay.

    It's from the guy who did Reelism.