Sunday, April 10, 2022


by "Memfis"

This Doom II MAP01 replacement was initially published on the Doomworld forums in July of 2013 and was only uploaded to /idgames in June of 2014, nearly a year later. It's theoretically Boom-compatible but, in order to listen to the provided music track, the engine must be capable of playing mod tracker files. Memfis didn't have any contextual information to offer that would help clarify the choice of title, Mega Tear, and a cursory search doesn't reveal anything obvious like a manga. In the community, "mega" is more often than not associated with megaWADs, something that the author often started but never found the wherewithal to complete. One could argue, then, that it's named in deference to Memfis's practice of publishing megaWAD fragments. Would a reject removed from such a project be a "mega tear"? Or is it more of a reference to the author's regret in having so many "incomplete" productions, each one eliciting a salty "mega tear"?

What we do know is that a significant portion of this level's development was highly experimental, at least in terms of how we assume maps are made with the then-available DoomBuilder 2 and now its derivatives. Specifically, Memfis declined to use the editor's 3D mode until the thing was almost complete. This was a psychologically rewarding process for him as he was not so overwhelmingly familiar with the look of his architecture when he finally got around to playtesting. I assume that this experience partially bridges the gap between the experiences of the author and player, with the caveat that the former would still know the general location of any traps. Of course, such information might be temporarily forgotten while you're immersed in seeing your level geometry in the flesh for the first time.

Mega Tear is basically a techbase level with a familiar base infrastructure theme. The majority of the geometry is dominated by a deep sluice that runs from the northeast portion of the level down to a large, outdoor cistern to the southwest. There are a handful of small, offshoot segments like the starting alcove but most of the traditional playing area consists of the track-like walkway that loops around the sluice and exterior pool. I'm vaguely reminded of the first two levels of his Download minisode with their peripheral walkways but neither of those maps featured a complete circuit. The fully-connected route, mancubus roadblock excluded, allows the player to go on a real mega tear.

The tropes are emblematic of Memfis's encounter design. The main playing area has a race track route but the author has at least one major obstacle in the mancubus roadblock in order to keep the player from steamrolling through. Combat is limited to "small arms", by which I am referring to the regular shotgun and chaingun, and the player must venture into hostile territory in order to secure either. It will otherwise be difficult or at least ponderous to remove ol' fatso . The majority of the monsters consist of Doom II trash like zombies and imps with a couple of Hell knights thrown in. The majority of my difficulty with the set came from the chaingunners but the mancubus and cacodemon make for an interesting opening scenario. There is a Berserk pack available in one of the optional side areas and I suppose that you could use it to mega rip and mega tear. It's more helpful I think for its HP reset property. I was more interested in how Memfis arranged the room as it's a one-way drop into the unknown.

Overall, I liked this simple layout. The side areas - some of which are optional - make for welcome additions to the world-building factor. The fact that you start in one and must exit by another (which you can check out first) makes them feel like natural extensions of the main playing area. The cistern comes with a prominent platforming setpiece and it didn't even occur to me that it has a giant, floating column of water that tries to crush you. It's such a wonderfully weird detail, though I suppose no stranger than the hydro-elevator that takes you to the sluice level with a teleporter, since they're cheaper for the UAC than a staircase or ladder. I also enjoyed the look of the southern annex with its broad, steep stairs descending toward an alcove. For some reason it makes me think of Tony Sideris but I can't back up my intuition with a specific example. It's definitely evoking some cool '94-'96 style feels. Contrast this against the more detailed and relatively realistic tech room found north of the Berserk room.

Mega Tear is a short and fun blastathon that would have been a fun-sized delight in a larger mapset. Enjoy it, here, as another demon-slaying vignette that gently challenges player movement with a dash of resource austerity.


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