Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Overheat (OVERHEA1.WAD)

by "Memfis"

Memfis has tried on a variety of different WAD themes. Some of them, like ICARUMEM and RELIVEX2, were explicitly based on classic-era releases if not in the absolute content then the texture schemes represented in them. Others e.g. Kurogane are more vanilla but each one tends to have its own little twist. Overheat was originally published to the Doomworld forums in 2012 but, like so many other things by Memfis, only found its way to /idgames in mid-2014. It's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II and is theoretically vanilla-compatible but an engine bug restricts it to limit-removing ports that have squashed the "Medusa" effect.

OVERHEA1 isn't a very large level, much in keeping with the author's string of project-opener hopefuls. It has a couple of artistic changes that give it a slightly different identity compared to the average stock-resource PWAD, too. The overall theme has a sort of STARTAN / techbase / toxin vibe but you may notice the existence of futuristic-looking waste containers, infinitely resilient compared to Doom's hazardous explosives. Memfis also decided to change the default color of the space marine uniform to red. The package doesn't have any indication as to why these alterations were made; maybe the suit is an attempt to add some more color variety to a nukage-heavy set which would tend toward green.

This is in some regards a typical entry for the author and my 2011-2012 tour has reinforced a few of the stereotypes that I had heard when we were choosing Kuchitsu for the 2013 Cacowards. Some of the blame can be placed on his portfolio of potential megaWAD openers. Overheat is true to type and features pistol and single-shotgun action against a mostly-shareware bestiary. The sole exception is a revenant who appears very late, basically in a sort of mini-boss role. The encounter is interesting because when it's unleashed the player is exposed on a narrow ledge. Depending on your playstyle, though, the level layout essentially thwarts your bony foe.

Memfis maps encourage pistol use by restricting the amount of shells found early on and weighing encounters toward incidental, low-tier enemies. This level feels more generous in the amount of afforded ammo but the prevalence of hitscanners exacerbates the other half of the author's resource austerity, that being tight health. Overheat is a tricky level because its layout rushes or drops the player into immediate conflicts where you're more prone to eating sucker punches from monsters, particularly shotgun guys. The first big step accomplishes this twofold by making you jump down to a lower level so you can't retreat and then coating a large portion of the yard with toxic damage floor. Later moments include a dark, two-front alcove / monster-closet and sprinting across a platform into the final area. Health may not be as much of an issue if you find the secret Berserk pack, of course.

Hitscanners tend to do well in Memfis's levels because he tends to make maps that are highly interconnected with windows and even passages to facilitate free movement. Overheat is no exception but you can also use these apertures to do some prime pistol sniping if you take your time. The start tries to play against this strategy by forcing the player into exposed positions but it isn't overbearing in its execution. Certainly, plinking away at shotgun guys at a distance is better than rushing in to shoot at close quarters, particularly when you don't have any idea what's going to be in the corners behind you.

Altogether it's a pleasant, moderately challenging level. Memfis as always is very good about getting the most of a small slice of Doom II's core gameplay. This quality has made his catalogue fun to blast through and easily to recommend.

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