Friday, January 25, 2019

World's End (AP_001.WAD)

by Alex Parsons

Besides kicking off a Doomworld institution, the original Community Chest is notable for including levels that had been previously released on a serial basis or were intended as such. Alex Parsons was one of the big three and his particular solo series shares its title with the opening level - World's End. This is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II and can be presumably played in any limit-removing port, even if the folder inside its .ZIP archive is labelled "zdoom". The only guidance offered on that front is "advanced port needed"; the author hints at potential visplane overflows. I can vouch for it running fine in modern ZDoom, though, and I didn't see any sort of exclusive features.

If there is an overarching plot then Parsons hadn't nailed it down at the beginning. Looking ahead, I doubt whether he really had one in mind. World's End isn't an event - it's a place. Sort of like the edge of a map where things get really rugged and dangerous and basically unexplored. It's not a particularly big one since it also borders locations like The Outlands, the Foul Ruin, and The Highlands. On the one hand it doesn't make a whole lot of sense since I initially assumed that it would be one big location. On the other I'm looking forward to a high adventure tour through potentially exotic places.

There's nothing special about World's End, though. At least, not on its face. The presentation is a brown morass of broken earth and mud-water trenches and nearly all of the monsters to be fought are imps. There are at least two Hell knights, maybe three, but the other 120-some enemies are cocoa-colored devils who appear to come from every crevasse and cranny. It's one of the few times where a level felt truly infested to me and the ammo balance is tight enough at first that you feel right on the edge of being overwhelmed. You don't realize just how swamped you really are until you find yourself uncharacteristically running into fireballs.

The layout is really cool. It's basically a tight, three-dimensional maze and looks wonderfully organic. You don't have to do a lot of platforming but it's required in a couple of sections. Most of the threat is in clearing yourself out some space before you get mobbed by imps. There are a couple of big stashes of shotgun shells but most of the ammo you'll find is tucked away in the many nooks and crannies. It's too bad that the imps constitute the entirety of the opposition; it makes the action feel very one-note. It's good to see them as a real threat for a change, though, and the level design makes them relentless opponents.

It's too bad that the best aspects of World's End are buried beneath a beige veneer. The core design is promising and has me looking forward to the rest of Alex's output. You'll know from the description whether this is the sort of map that you might enjoy. I definitely took to its limited appeal.


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