Friday, September 15, 2017

Genesis (GENESIS.WAD)


Tony Sideris has left a legacy as one of the community's underrated early authors, churning out all three of his releases in 1996 and then disappearing, no doubt into a career in IT. Most of Tony's accolades in "underrated" WAD recommendation threads are for the curiously-titled Debut for the original Doom and the follow-up episode, Post, published for the 1994 sequel. Before either, however, came a two-level minisode for Doom II by the name of Genesis. There is no indication as to the reasoning behind the title of this PWAD beyond the fact that it marks the beginning of his career; Sideris included no story in the text and implies nothing through his level design. All that's there is a pair of mild-mannered maps.


Genesis replaces MAP01 and MAP02 but both offerings are roughly medium-sized, hardly comparing to the brevity of "Entryway" and "Underhalls", and would have been pleasant if unremarkable single releases at roughly 100 monsters each. For my own part, the first time I played GENESIS it had been collected in Jive's 18th Compilation alongside other lost gems like the Alpha 1 Trilogy and a conversion of Mal Blackwell's REDRUM. Coming back to the set some six years later, I have but the faintest memory of the first level, and even then I think I'm mixing it up with another map.


There is nothing outstanding about Genesis. Its combat is weighted toward monsters from the original game, using revenants as rare elites to signify a step change in difficulty and commandos sparingly. The only other Doom II cast member appears like a miniboss pair a la the Bruisers, but the mancubuses can be sniped while they bumble around their underground island. Your choice of weapons is similarly confined using only the starters and the shotgun. You can grab the chaingun from the chaingunners in MAP01 and the plasma gun available as a late secret in MAP02. There is a lot of Dances With Shotguns and time tends to drag when you're plinking away at typically ineffective Barons.


The architecture is solid and features some interesting structures like the tiered room leading to the stair-building switch in the northwest. It's drab, though, featuring mostly brown and gray textures in something that could maybe have come from MAP12-20 given its emphasis on quasi-realistic features, e.g. libraries. One of the more visible differences between this and the original is some careful lightcasting along the style of Dr. Sleep; an influence, perhaps? Sideris's work would have easily served as the bread-and-butter of a low difficulty megaWAD full of moderate-sized levels. I daresay it would have been more fondly remembered than Genesis, which has faded even deeper into the well of obscurity compared to the following material.


There are plenty of more interesting PWADs than Genesis, but it's so inoffensive to play that I can only avoid recommending it to Doom II thrillseekers. If you like slow-paced action heavily favoring the shotgun and the original bestiary, then this one's for you.





GENESIS
by Tony Sideris

MAP01
Starting off in a sort of castle-style level that showcases a few libraries and a courtyard complete with crenellated wall. Much of the layout works as one large circuit using a one-way door to limit movement from the dungeon section to the northern library. Monsters are mostly Doom II trash weighted toward imps but the author upgrades to revenants later on. There are a few good surprises, like the western library annex where shooting the obvious monster wakes up all of the beasties hiding in between the stacks. I enjoy the look of the main wooden hall, simple as it is, as well as the castle-like courtyard with poolbound platform.

MAP02
More of an indistinct mix of real-ish building (the northern house with the hallway rooms and areas like the small crate warehouse), large outdoor area fielding a tall staircase, and a big underground cavern. The monster placement is pretty much the same but the revenants are deceptively mobile among the crate stacks and there are a few mancubuses to vary up the combat. The plasma gun is available in a late secret so it's more useful if you decided not to snipe at the fatsos visible from the cage chambers. The western tech corridor is more of a trap gauntlet than the realistic geometry that the rest of the level plies but it's good fun, especially the early soul sphere trap reveal.

IT IS MY SAD DUTY TO INFORM YOU
OF A TWO-MAP RESTRICTION
ON PWAD LENGTH

2 comments:

  1. I really love the title screen for this one. It freaks me the hell out.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! The fake titlepics can be hit or miss but I think this one really worked out great.

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