Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Three Kick Ass WADs (3PACK_1.ZIP)

by Malcolm Sailor

Rule the World!Omelet FaceTEKRKBRN

The boy who would go on to create the CHORD series to much critical acclaim spent a long time cranking out short single levels, many of which were released as part of collections bundled inside .ZIPs. 3PACK_1 was the first; uploaded in 1995, it contains three such offerings. Rule the World! (RULER) was published a few weeks before and found its way into this compilation because Malcolm wanted to update it. The others, Omelet Face and TEKRKBRN, are unique to the archive. Each one has more to offer than Sailor's debut (DARKER), though its emphasis of the contrast between light and dark would go on to be an important feature of his better-known works.

None of the maps in Three Kick Ass WADs are particularly long or short. The inclusion of RULER gives it a slightly stronger character because both it and OMELET are derived from pairings of Doom II IWAD levels. The former utilizes "Gotcha!" and "Nirvana" while the latter sort of sows together "The Living End" and "The Spirit World". TEKRKBRN appears to be a more original offering but the author designed compelling architecture better with the works of Sandy Petersen and John Romero in the back of his mind. It might be interesting fodder for an analysis on the prevalence of corridors and simple, square rooms in the works of beginning authors.

I was initially amused at Sailor's apparent enthusiasm for his own work, believing it to be a product of his age, but in later .TXTs it's clear that his unreserved exuberance was an attempt at getting other people to play them. I also see him cooling to these early releases as he grew older and showing himself to be conscious of this development. The contents of 3PACK_1 are among the more palatable pieces produced during the early stages of the Doom community. If you're looking for a few short adventures to blast through, well, you could do a lot worse.

Rule the World!MAP01
Opens with a micro-"Gotcha!" sans damage floor, moves via teleporter through a couple of "Nirvana" knock-offs, and concludes on a boss shooter gauntlet up a staircase that forces you to wait it out for thirty seconds before the exit switch opens up. The final fight is pretty cool since the area is guarded by chaingunners in order to check your advance. Otherwise you can just cut loose with the plasma gun. The MAP20 area sort of reminds me of Chris Klie's BF_THUD! series.

MAP01Omelet Face
The opening chamber is almost right out of "The Living End" and the cavern that follows is sort of like a fun-sized MAP29 with training wheels. When you successfully navigate it you'll get the opportunity to step into a glowing rock cavern replete with arachnotrons and a few Spiderdemons... kind of like "The Spirit World". The platforming contained in the initial part is way more fun than the rocket-fueled mechanical walker gauntlet; its visuals are just as monotonous as its combat, though a few arch-vile surprises do liven things up.

Named because it's equal parts tech and rock and mostly brown. There's sort of a format here of narrow hallways linking small outdoor areas but Sailor's emphasis on tricks and traps elevates it above bland room and corridor clearing to dungeon crawler Doom. Quite literally in the final moments, actually. Most of the fights don't stand up to scrutiny but the last third has the best combat, from a maze-falls-down ambush to super shotgun jousting revenants on pillars.


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