Monday, November 20, 2017

Crossfire (CROSFIRE.WAD)

by Joe Pallai

PUREDOOM was going to be a Doom II megaWAD released piecemeal by the author, Joe Pallai. Only three of the levels were actually uploaded to the /idgames archives with a fourth submitted to the initial draft of the Plutonia 2 project. Crossfire was the last of these maps to be published but it is the intermediate one in terms of the intended running order, the MAP04 to Entryway's MAP01 and The Gate's MAP08. As was the case with the others it saw itself uploaded in 2000, laying the ground for a select pedigree that gave way to a distinguished issue including 2002: A Doom Odyssey, End Game, and the aforementioned sequel to The Plutonia Experiment.

The overall narrative is essentially Doom II deja vu. Everyone on Earth was absolutely certain that they would never see another invasion, not the least because of a new invention of the UAC described as "dimensional seals". Those sound like an interesting plot point but the vanilla executable limits the meat to be found in such an element. In any case, you're resigned to the reality of Hell's dogged determination and it ultimately gives way to a repeat event though the specifics are left to your imagination. CROSFIRE has a bit of a story blurb but it's pretty barebones compared to the other installments. In your quest, you've arrived at an unknown location and a switch on the wall appears to be the only way through.

Crossfire is a very simple level and can be broken down into two major areas, each one featuring a thematically appropriate battle. The first is the starting zone where you're jammed between two curved cages full of imps with the entrance doors guarded by a Hell knight each. I like the non-orthogonal architecture of the room as it runs diagonally and has curved side chambers. The second eponymous encounter uses commandos stationed in between the slats and must be navigated by a small network of catwalks meeting at a central platform with a pillar that hides a revenant, which might be difficult to take on just due to your limited maneuverability.

Because of its small size and push toward action, Crossfire is a fun and fast play. It feels like a tiny gauntlet of surprises that sort of peters out in the final leg which is a fairly bog standard hallway with nodules / rooms using imps, spectres, and Hell knights. The finale is relatively straightforward and has little to do with the spirit of the gameplay, which is dominated by a pair of complex fight setups that build off the title without feeling like it's slave to a gimmick. CROSFIRE is still a solid diversion, though, and shows that PUREDOOM would have been a kickass megaWAD had Joe ever completed it.

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