Friday, November 22, 2019

The Tyrell Corporation (TYRELL.WAD)

by Brad Spencer

The Brad who goes by "Vorpal" has a fair bit of prestige. His Atomic Tomb, released in 2000, was named one of Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 2000. He was also one of the main not-Anders Johnson voices behind Alien Vendetta, responsible for part of the character of its second episode. He had a bit of a hiatus but he's still making Doom maps. His pre-AV career consists of a roughly even mix of single / coop levels and deathmatch. Something missing called AMBUSHA was his first released level but it isn't on the archives. Instead, we have 1999's The Tyrell Corporation. It's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II and is recommended for ZDoom. I see that the actual geometry is probably limit-removing but Spencer makes use of MAPINFO and MOD music files so you might as well.

The name obviously comes from Blade Runner / Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (as does the glorious pyramid megastructure on the titlescreen) but this doesn't figure into the plot of the PWAD. I mean, there's no reason that the corporation couldn't also be dabbling in interdimensional portals, but replicants have zero bearing on the story. It's a post-Hell on Earth narrative and someone in Tyrell is sticking their nose where the UAC used to. This triggers an invasion of the research complex, killing both those involved and not and prompting a cursory police investigation. You're part of the two-person patrol unit sent. If you're wondering what happened to the other officer, well, this PWAD was actually a co-op birthday present for one of Spencer's friends. Find your own partner! Play some Phil Collins. Can you feel it in the air tonight?

TYRELL is a real blood tornado as befits a multiplayer adventure. I've only ever played low-difficulty PWADs like DTWID with my son but I can see where an extra gun would be indispensable here. The key, as TimeofDeath points out on /idgames, is a hidden ammo cache near the level start. It isn't an official secret, probably because it's a sort of cool stock area for Brad to gear up with his buddy, but you will need its ammo in order to weather the first few storms. The best moment to have a friend is the invasion. The inner recesses of the northeastern bunker trigger a two front battle featuring a ridiculous amount of meat. Barons, revenants, and a few cacodemons make up the fixed interior force while a cavalcade of creatures appear from the direction you came. It would be cool to have someone who is watching your back or doubling down on your current attack front.

The level itself has a simple layout. The opening area gives you a taste of exploring an industrial complex but you don't have far to wander. Much of the playing space is given to the massive outdoor yard that spans from west to east. Its spirit is similar to his work in Alien Vendetta but you aren't moving between successive pitched fights. The action is front-loaded with an absolute clusterfuck of a teleporter ambush featuring mostly imps but also demons and revenants. The super shotgun room has a bit of that punchy action feel but you don't really get the high-HP swarm until get outside. There's a huge parking lot brawl where you can get your infight on but the fireworks don't truly start until you reach the red key.

It seems as though Brad has always made good-looking levels and he shows here how to create a great atmosphere through lighting, specifically keeping it dark with the occasional spots of contrast. The dingy sewer / tech basement has the most complex detailing and I enjoyed the room shapes. The outdoor portion has some cute light gradients and even a striped, concrete road leading to a free-for-all parking lot. I like the use of the starlit sky to distinguish the exterior visuals. Vorpal's big blood style is most evident in the innermost recesses of the red key bunker with its symmetrical alcoves full of Barons and the parking lot army that you just sort of stumble upon. The Spiderdemon / skeleton lead-in is pretty flashy, too, but not really meaty in the way that I'd expect.

The Tyrell Corporation is a fun level but it will mostly appeal to folks who love beating back entire armies of Hellspawn. The early teleporter ambush featuring some fifty-three monsters ought to set the tone. If this appeals to you or you enjoyed Brad's work in the mid-range portions of Alien Vendetta then you ought to give this a look.


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