Tuesday, December 4, 2018


FULL ON is an eight-level Shores of Hell replacement and was originally released by Tim Ackroyd in late 1994 but did not make it to the /idgames archive until 2005. A lot of the time this was because the early Doom diaspora was spread out across tons of hosting spaces; there are still things that are lost to the sands of time because of draconian distribution clauses or no one backing up the servers before they started falling one by one. There's another angle to FULLON, though. The last three levels - E2M6, E2M7, and E2M8 - are slightly modified copies of the original Doom's E1M7 ("Computer Station"), E1M9 ("Military Base"), and E2M8 ("Tower of Babel"). These had to be excised before the patron saint of oldstuff, FunDuke, could inter it alongside the rest of the community's output.

FULL ON doesn't have a story but if you read the names given in the .TXT then you'll see that they basically follow the same pattern as the original second episode. It doesn't really indulge in much if any of the Hellish imagery, though, so if it occurs on Deimos then it's a segment that has been relatively untouched by the corruption beyond the black rainbow. Apart from the infestation of monsters, of course. As to why it has an identical data complex and military bunker, well, it's not like the UAC would let a good floor plan go to waste. Not that any of this has to make sense within a narrative; I've probably put more thought into it just now than the author ever did.

As far as 1994 levels go, I've played worse. The opening is an inauspicious beginning due to its boxy and simple layout but "The Warehouse" (E2M2) steals the show by turning a wide, open space into a virtue both through its simple architecture and the way it facilitates interesting combat. "Refinery" falls down a bit again but the start and finish areas are oldschool cool. "Testing Labs" show even more promise, especially in its beginning, before finishing on a weird note with some strange observation chamber that's crammed full of boss monsters. "Administration" ends the original levels on a downbeat note because its army of square rooms and big open spaces fall more in line with the first of the set rather than the three intermediate maps.

As far as his id remixes go, you're not missing much. Nothing about the geometry nor the progression path you usually take has been altered and I could sum up the monster changes as dropping a handful of boss enemies into E1M7 and E2M8. This means a little more within the context of the first because the Cyberdemon and Spiderdemon serve as tough area denial monsters who keep you from lingering in the hallways that their spaces look into but the additional Barons feel superfluous. There is nothing particularly interesting in having to kill two Cyberdemons as well as a Spiderdemon in the space of "Babel". It's almost fun to orchestrate a little bit of infighting as an exercise but I imagine that anyone who is actually challenged by the original E2M8 will hate this version.

Apart from the over-the-top monster placement, the most interesting bits of the remixes to me are the slight but new re-skin jobs. The E2 sky already changes the way the Knee Deep in the Dead selections feel and the places where you run into new textures - the start of "Station" and the demon ambush room in "Base" plus all the new props and dirt floor around the imp cage - come as a bit of a shock. I specifically sought out this original version of FULL ON to see what it had to offer and while I'm not entirely impressed it has stoked the fire of my interested in Switcheroom. The project's ultimate goal was to take the familiar original Doom levels and then recast them in different episode themes. I now find the idea of replaying them that way more compelling than retreading the same halls with a weapon mod.

There are a few dusky jewels to be plucked from this mapset; you can find the better aspects of 1994-era level design in E2M2, E2M4, and maybe E2M3. As for the others, well, they're playable at the very least and the author gives you plenty of ammo. It's best enjoyed by those who have an eye for the community's formative years.

(check here if for some reason you want to see the half-assed id edits)

by Tim Ackroyd

E2M1From Scratch!
The first thing that strikes me is big, rectangular rooms. It's kind of like a techbase but mostly recognizable through the wall textures. Most of the monsters are easily-slaughtered zombies but there are a few tedious to kill demons if you go for the box of bullets in the crate room. The best portions of this level are the staircase and the upper marble hallway that it leads to and the outdoor area. You'll have to backtrack to the last one and while the door is initially hidden its location is obvious on the automap. The exterior scenery is slightly less dull and the mix of shotgun guys, lost souls, and Baron makes for a more compelling shootout.

The WarehouseE2M2
Much better. The main playing area is still large and rectangular but it's a credible combat nexus with the various crate stacks and support walls. The interior obstacles give the monsters plenty of avenues to use in order to surprise you. This is a much bigger deal when you return to grab the yellow key since closets open around the periphery of the room, making for some highly organic combat. It really is the star since it has all those neat props like the UAC sign and computer kiosks plus a staircase to the observation booth.

E2M3The Refinery
The opening silos makes for a neat setpiece but the rest of the level is a circle of strung-together rooms and hallways that eventually leads you back to the beginning. While bits like the crate maze fail to thrill, the rest of the rooms are fairly interesting. There's some sector machinery afoot and the potential to soft-lock yourself in the yellow key room. My favorite bit is the marble chamber where you get an incredibly awkward showdown with a Cyberdemon if you choose to fight him among the marble columns. I also liked the long hallway leading up to him since it sports a cavalcade of critter closets.

The Testing LabsE2M4
The opening room with the two tiers connected by staircases is probably the best bit of architecture. The layout is a coiled snake of rooms that ends in a ridiculous invul-fed infighting scenario. You either trigger a bunch of big bads including two Cyberdemons and two Spider Masterminds into thinning each other out or just do as much damage as you can while using the secret BFG. Personally, I'd save it for the mop up. Other sights include a weird habitat-like room with a Phobos sky wallpaper where the imps live; a torturous path catwalk that throws two separate packs of lost souls at you; and a classic descending hallway ambush.

E2M5The Administration Complex
Big step backward. The opening consists of a small maze of square rooms populated by scattered trash enemies and the other parts of the admin building are equally banal. It gets a little better once you get outside, though, and while the final arena that makes up the western half of the level looks pretty bland it beats the Hell out of going through more small, identical rooms. There's way too much space (and too many goodies!) for the Cyberdemon exit guardian to pose a real threat but it's fun to get a little infighting going with the Barons.

Computer StationE2M6
by John Romero, ed. Tim Ackroyd
There is an extra little closet with a chainsaw but the general progression and pickups of the original E1M7 are, for the most part, untouched. The monster placement is basically the same, too. The biggest differences are 1) a Cyberdemon standing in the western nukage pit with the blue armor, 2) a Spiderdemon patrolling the eastern outdoor area, and 3) a few squads of Barons stationed at the red key, the switch that opens the door to the exit, and the final hallway. The big bads don't add much to the atmosphere of "Computer Station" but the author certainly placed them where they would make a difference and they serve as potent hazards to be navigated until you can slowly but surgically remove them. The only major aesthetic deviation is the retexturing of the brown starting area with cement, an interesting change. I wish that Ackroyd had taken it a bit farther.

E2M7Military Base
by John Romero, ed. Tim Ackroyd
The differences here are more subtle. The author again does a bit of retexturing and gives the starting area a dirt floor plus a ton of dead tree props that make maneuvering a pain in the ass while painting the demon ambush room in a bluetech theme. He also paved over the toxic tunnel in the exit chamber so that it's not dangerous and uses this very moment to cram a plasma gun and some cells into your hand. The enemy placement is exactly the same, as far as I can tell. The monster counts match, at least, and there isn't anything from the registered version hanging around.

Tower of BabelE2M8
by Sandy Petersen, ed. Tim Ackroyd
Same ol' arena but there are more rockets, soul spheres, and an additional Cyberdemon plus a Spiderdemon. Oh, and a handful of imps. You can actually step inside two of the corner cubes to reveal more health and rockets. All of this is probably a much bigger detail if you're not used to circle-strafing, infight-baiting, or anything else that diminishes the magnitude of these changes.


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