Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Go Away (GOAWAY09.WAD)

by Malcolm Sailor

The man who composed the CHORD series had a pretty meager start to his authorship (DARKER) but by his third major release - DS-61-3.ZIP, a collection of six PWADS packaged in a .ZIP file - he was making maps that would have easily fit among the Master Levels for Doom II. GOAWAY09 furthers his trend. Originally uploaded alongside the beginning of his NOSUN series in 1996, this MAP01 replacement eschews the Quick is Good philosophy made manifest in the previous release and aims at something a fair bit larger if not just as challenging. He didn't abandon his direction toward short bits of action; more on that later in SHRTHARD.

The level actually has a tiny little framing sentence: "Some aliens invaded your town and you want them to goaway!" It almost certainly takes place on Earth but it's anyone's guess as to whether Sailor is attempting to differentiate your foes from Hell's, is part of the crew who insists that Doom's monsters have no affiliation to an existential evil, or just calls anything not native to Earth an alien whether it's a demon or a species from another planet. It certainly fits as a standalone adventure but could also be easily inserted into the action of the "city" episode without raising any eyebrows. Maybe a pit stop through the particular borough you call home.

Sailor ratchets the stakes up pretty high early on in the level. There are copious amounts of arch-viles and they are thick in the earliest stages. You'll face down five (potentially six) before you're through with the first 20% of the level so it may come as a bit much if you're the kind of player who can't stand Hell's sorcerers supreme. The alternatives in descending difficulty are revenants and then imps if HMP or HNTR / ITYTD strike your fancy. The monster density remains thick up until the very end including an elevated Cyberdemon showdown. Your obtained ammo eventually outweighs all of the hardbodies - mancubuses, Hell knights, cacodemons, etc. - but some of the more entrenched monsters may not be worth clearing out until you've picked up supplies from elsewhere. The fatsos overlooking the northern staircase, for instance.

GOAWAY has a confluence of combat styles and the pull between the three twists the player into uncomfortable positions. The opening reads simple cover shooter, considering tactical decisions as far as the best avenue of attack vs. available architectural protection, and then quickly spirals out of control during the compressed sequence of arch-vile reveals. While some areas have enough room to just run in guns blazing the setups seem to punish this behavior more than it rewards it as evidenced in the nukage room within the fortress. The monsters are all too strong to just jump in given the limited mobility afforded by the upper and lower tracks. Squeezing past the arachnotron to reach the teleporter requires both the favor of fortune and for you to be already familiar with the path of progression.

It looks pretty good. The brick and metal style and clean design as already mentioned reminds me of the Master Levels. If you want to go one further then Sailor recommends you pull John Anderson's starry sky from one of his PWADs. He specifically mentions Dante's Gate but neither of the two versions that I played have the twilight sky. I recognize it as showing up in his commercial-bound Inferno series maps (Virgil's Lead, Minos' Judgement, etc.). Maybe an old hand can dig a little deeper; all I'm drawing is a blank. The sky tangent draws comparisons to Dr. Sleep's work but Malcolm favors geometry that feels a tad bit more organic than the former's often orthogonal layouts. What little lighting work that he's done is easy to miss since the light level is relatively high. The biggest flaw with the presentation is the sky bleeding in rooms like the northeastern yard.

I had a lot of fun noodling through GOAWAY09. It's another example of Sailor's rock-solid if unremarkable Doom II craftsmenship; I'm eager to see what other moderate morsels are hiding in his overshadowed back catalogue.


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