Saturday, September 7, 2019

icarumem (ICARUMEM.WAD)

by "Memfis"

Requiem, Memento Mori II, Phobos - Relive the Nightmare... and then Icarus: Alien Vanguard. It would be neat to see Memfis continue to check boxes of classic-era megaWADs after experimenting with their resources. It's something that I've actually thought of doing. Until then, here's icarumem. This one was published to the Doomworld Forums in early 2012 but, again, didn't make it to the /idgames archives until the 2014 June powerdump. It requires the actual ICARUS.WAD since it's used as a texture resource and should work with essentially all limit-removing source ports. Apart from the PWAD dependency it's also important to note that icarumem occupies the MAP24 slot of Doom II. It isn't thematically linked with "The Haunting". The author presumably enjoyed its slot's track, "Ghost In the Machine".

I like the idea of more spacefaring levels but this doesn't really follow any aspect of the Alien Vanguard format. It isn't on a spaceship and it lacks the simulator exit, nor does it contain the pod for away missions. It is a nondescript UAC outpost that bears the ICARUS logo on its interior, built into a nearby cavern and having a small graveyard out back. The latter has a cute Easter egg done through careful manipulation of the headstone resources, originally used to credit TNT authors in MAP22, "Nightfall". The other clever element has a super shotgun in plain sight but locked behind a red key door. The key is found in a secret that I only figured out while writing this review.

The SSG isn't necessary to win but it might give you an edge in the level's two major firefights. One of them is a substantial teleport ambush, involving imps and demons with a few sergeants thrown in for good measure. It's a great moment of player pressure but the opposing force isn't so thick that you can't dance through while thinning the horde out. The other significant encounter is against an arch-vile. You have a fairly broad computer panel to block its line of sight, though, so it's mostly about not getting cocky while cocking your shotgun. I didn't really feel Memfis's typical ammo austerity here but this might be a result of training myself to slay basic zombies and weaker enemies with the pistol when possible.

The level design is clean and effective, just like the texturing. The author uses the ship's silver panels for the outpost structure, saving the grimy Doom II stock stuff for the portion within the cave. The awning around the SSG is a smart architectural detail that makes the backyard view really pop. Memfis also picked a great sky slot; the blue nebulae and three moons contrast well against the irregular rock wall texture. I enjoyed the embellishments like the graveyard and the nook on the northern border. Just fun little things to explore and add to the character of the map without feeling as though it's forced to serve a vital purpose in the level's gameplay.

I guess that I already got a space adventure out of Memfis mem_old1 but it's great to see these resources get further use when most folks are content to bounce Evilution and Plutonia back and forth. Maybe we'll get a full-fledged tribute in the Icarus format. I might also be surprised to find something like a little ICAR2015 lurking in the rest of his back catalogue. Stranger things have happened!


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