Crabbet Park House


Fact Sheet

Authors John Bishop
IWAD Doom 2
Engine Boom compatible engine
Date 2002/01/03
Levels 1
Other Various new textures, also some sounds taken from other projects

Review by Colin Phipps

WADs based on the author's college or workplace were very common back in the days when Doom editing was really popular, but the resulting levels were rarely of much interest to anyone but the author. Crabbet Park House is based on a workplace (of the same name), although at least it's not a dull office block: apparently it's a Queen Anne style mansion built around the end of the 19th century. On the other hand mansion levels don't always work that well in Doom either.

Still, if it must be a mansion level then Crabbet does just about everything right to make it interesting. Firstly there are lots of windows, in fact these are the main decoration in most of the rooms in this level; and there are a number of internal courtyards and a large park in front of the house to look out over. There are multiple levels to the building; Boom silent teleporters are used to create the illusion of three floors and a basement, and this is carried off quite well (if not entirely seamlessly, but then it's never going to be perfect in Doom).

There are a number of features in the rooms on the ground floor, including some fireplaces, and bay windows. The internal courtyards are nicely done with grass divided by gravel walkways and a scattering of tree stubs. On the other hand, there are some rather questionable decorations: there are piles of boxes decorated with a new graphic with a logo on it (looks like an overlayed M and 4 or something like that, perhaps the company logo?) which looks rather cartoonish. There are also large imported graphics of former company employees; think passport photo blown up to cover an entire wall panel. This definitely falls into the category of bad workplace level material — having these grinning suits staring down on the carnage is rather bizarre.

screenshot The mansion sticks with the wood and plaster Doom 2 textures throughout, so there's not a huge amount of variety in that department. And at the higher levels of the building there is a tendency for the rooms to become rather empty, with only a few windows for decoration; most of the interesting bits at the higher levels are either internal courtyards or views down to lower levels visible from the rooms or corridors, rather than the rooms themselves.

This brings me to another important point about mansion levels, or rather domestic building levels in general. The rooms tend to be small, so one finds the monsters are broken up into lots of small groups, which when funnelled through a narrow doorway are easily gunned down by the player. Crabbet does suffer from this in some areas, but in general it avoids this problem quite well: the windows to internal yards add an extra dimension with the player being sniped at through the windows at the same time as clearing the rooms. The author also sticks to large numbers of former humans, and denies the player much chaingun ammo, turning these fights into a single shotgun battle between you and the sergeants and chaingunners, which at least forces the player to be nimble and take cover between shots or take a lot of punishment. Also a lot of action focuses on the corridors of the building, with imps and sergeants wandering around at lower levels, barons and revenants further up.

The best part of the level is outside the mansion, though. There is an excellent fight in one of the gardens, where lots of sergeants and imps are released onto the ground and lots of lost souls into the air, and you have to use the windows of the house to control the flood of monsters and pick them off in single file as they enter. There is also a strange area built in to the wall down one side of the park, a network of brick tunnels which have a sinister atmosphere, and contains a lot of switches and traps to negotiate. The park itself is fun for slaughtering hordes of zombies. The big final showdown against a pair of cyberdemons and a bunch of cacodemons is rather irritating however: there is a massive excess of cells that would turn the fight into a joke, if it wasn't for the large number of tree stumps and such littered arond that make it a pain to strafe; personally I don't find running into a tree while trying to dodge a cyberdemon's rocket much fun, but perhaps others disagree.

Oh and the basement deserves a mention too; this is a nice change from the rest of the building, with some good machinery and stuff making a nice change from the rest of the level. There are some good fights here, with a more open layout allowing the chaingunners and revenants to chase you around.

Overall, I was tempted to give this one a 5 for gameplay, because I love an opportunity to mow down tons of former humans, and there are some really good traps and fights particularly outside the mansion. These are only a part of the level though, and some of the mansion itself is rather basic stuff with few opportunities for the enemy to outmaneouver the player. Unless you can't stand the Boom silent teleporter tricks, I'd say its worth playing for the outside parts and for the tricky fights with monsters sniping through the windows of the mansion.


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