Friday, January 26, 2018

Marine Army 1 (M_ARMY1.WAD)

by Vick "Virgil the Doom Poet" Bobkov

When I downloaded this, there were a few givens. It had a huge warning label at the top of the accompanying file specifying, among other thing, that M_ARMY1 (a MAP01 replacement released in 2001) was designed for ZDoom and had neither solo or multi-player functions. The author attempted to shroud it under the cloak of experimentation and even went so far as to command a lack of criticism. All this, and for what? A "nice surprise?" The /idgames comments were characteristically descriptive and the information offered by Virgil himself was coy, to say the least. My imagination conjured the image of some sort of scripted ZDoom event not unlike the opening of Doom 64 where a complement of marines takes on some of Hell's finest.

Reality is disappointing. When you load it up you start out behind a Spiderdemon and two Cyberdemon guardians at its sides. They are facing a large army of 1500 marines arranged into fifteen groups, each fielding 100 soldiers in a 10 x 10 arrangement. The squads themselves are organized five across and three deep. There is no scripting, though. The combatants are actually voodoo dolls so what you see is exactly what you get. Since the author couldn't be bothered to include any scenery let alone some interesting architecture, you're left with someone arranging digital dolls on a code-created carpet. I say this because the only actual interaction you are supposed to have with the set is as an invisible observer; Virgil specifies using -notarget to make sure that the big bads don't go nuts while you inspect his handiwork.

Historically, Marine Army 1 was Virgil's first foray into ZDoom exclusive work, though the only reason apparent to me is the sheer number of visible sprites. I admit that I didn't look too hard; there wasn't much to see. After loading up M_ARMY1 I debated whether it was worth writing a review considering that it has neither gameplay nor an exit but if I can save even one person's time, as little as it may be, then I'll be stoked.


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