Monday, January 21, 2019

RRW_D201 (RRW_D201.WAD)

by Richard R. Ward

Rich released a couple of well-regarded levels in '94 and then went through the trouble of converting his very first release (RRWARD01) to Doom II. The end result is RRW_D201, a MAP01 replacement released in 1996. Ward may have eventually intended to bring RRWARD02 up to the same sort of package as his later publications since this "port" includes his common custom status bar and difficulty settings, a few of which appear to contain Monty Python references. He appears to have been done with Doom as of '96, though, after releasing the finished portions of his failed Knee Deep in the Dead replacement.

The story remains the same. You're a space marine in the brig of your particular place of deployment because you punched out an officer for insulting Billy Blaskowicz IX's mom. Except, uh, she literally DID wear combat boots because she was a Sgt. Major. Richard is coy about the purpose of the facility you're interred at but it's been running some kind of an experiment. I'll leave the rest up to your imagination. Things start to get tense and then another soldier busts up in your cell without warning and appears to have cannibalism on the brain. You kill him - on accident - but the whole thing stinks and you elect to follow your nose.

As a general overview, the level is a large base with a couple of cool bits of macrotecture connected by on one end tunnels that are hidden on the automap and on the other rectilinear hallways policed by shotgun-toting zombies. It's not hard to play through but getting winged by hitscanners could add up if you don't watch yourself. Most of the monsters are Doom trash with a couple of cacodemons in the largest locations. It's fun to explore and partway through the invaders start to tear into the infrastructure of the base, coming out of the walls and making for an interesting return trip. Check out my review of RRWARD01 if you want more specific details because all of the comments still apply.

The most tactile changes come down to what appear to be four Doom II monsters who have stowed away into the mapset, not including an odd appearance of Commander Keen. Two of these are chaingunners who appear in the northern area with the balcony overlooking the "Tower of Power" that dominates the large, western room. Another member of the new blood is a pain elemental who replaces one of the two cacodemons on the upper tier of the aforementioned central structure. It ought to come as an unwelcome surprise. The only other thing you'll see is at the very end where you'll encounter a revenant. The rest of the enemy placement is exactly the same... as far as I can tell.

So much of the character of the level remains unchanged that the conversion to Doom II seems mostly pointless but the monsters serve as interesting shocks and I appreciate the new "WANTED DEAD" graphic seen before you exit. RRW_D201 is a nice alternative if you're deathly allergic to the original trilogy or want to play something that's slightly more whimsical.


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