Thursday, April 12, 2018

Mortiser 4: Chemical Plant (SWMORT4.WAD)

by Sam "Metabolist" Woodman

Woodsy's greatest lasting legacy will almost certainly be Plutonia 2, even if it took a more Slavic turn in order to take it to release. After that, probably the Freedoom soundtrack debacle, which seems less surprising now since I've read the liner notes for Omega Facility. But then there's the Mortiser series, whose resource pack - MORTRES.WAD - was pillaged for at least eleven other PWADs on the archives. Sure, it's actually Nick Baker's work, but Sam compiled this particular selection and properly credited it. Chemical Plant is the fourth level in the set and occupies the MAP04 slot. While it was released in 2002 during the source Boom, it should be playable in any port like most of Woodman's works.

Doomguy doesn't have a motive for this particular mission but does he ever need one to forcibly vacate some Hellspawn? His first act was to take over the Lookout Base and use its teleporter to leapfrog to Ice Station Alpha. Afterward, he hiked across the inhospitable tundra to the Supply/Shipping Depot in order to take its tram to the Chemical Plant, after which Woodman abandons any pretense of a narrative. Mortiser effectively ends at SWMORT5 without any fanfare whatsoever. I guess we'll never know what the final objective was.

This entry is a bit of a hard turn from the previous outings, ditching the visibly arctic theme and open air for some dingy tunnels that are about as close as you can get to having a sewer level without actually stepping through muck. It looks pretty good and while all the computer screens seem out of place in a brick and metal shithole they add some contrasting silver to the rust and grime. The hydraulic stuff on the walls makes for a neat atmospheric detail. The lightcasting in the central room containing the blue key tower looks top notch, as usual with Sam's visuals. I also like the toxic falls in the northern section that appear to fade upward into oblivion. The layout itself is still pretty flat, though.

The combat feels good. There's a big initial rush that forces you to do a lot of shotgun work in the beginning and you'll probably get several nasties sneaking up on you in the atrium. There's another big ambush later on in the level but it's purely for bragging rights as you don't need to trigger it in order to obtain the red key, an interesting decision. Or maybe Metabolist just expects players to flip every switch they come across the moment they find one. It brings some heat to the initial group of imps and Hell knights and should be interesting since the only weapons you have to handle the multi-pronged assault consume shells, thus drawing out the conflict.

Mortiser 4 is another small, fun outing from Woodman and is an easy recommendation, especially if you're some sort of weirdo who can't get enough of filthy sewer maps. Will this be the best that the series has to offer, or does SWMORT5 hold untold delights? There's only one way for me to find out.


1 comment:

  1. You forgot to tag this as part of the Mortiser series.

    I played through this series myself and liked it a lot. I don't always play on UV but I found the levels not taxing to get through on that level--just more of a shotgun grind at times. Maps 4 and 5 were the standouts (though map 5 has something obvious missing...).