Cygnus IV


Fact Sheet

Authors John Bye
IWAD Doom 2
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 1997/4
Levels 14

Review by Colin Phipps

"Cygnus IV - Version 2.0" is a 14 level episode for Doom 2. There is a strong plot to the episode; the levels all have new names, descriptions in the text file, and an optional dehacked patch is included to change the intermission texts to match the plot.

screenshotThroughout, the levels have a distinctive feel. There isn't piles of little detail, but instead nice features like crates and machinery according to the style of the level. In particular there is good attention to lighting. All this goes to make the levels very sinister and threatening.

In a few words, the plot is that you infiltrate the enemy infestation, destroy their factory, then run for freedom. The gameplay is matched to this; the levels are generally quite linear, and there aren't a lot of traps. The opposition are generally not that concentrated; the tough aspect to this episode is that there is little health or armour. It's a change from the more usual massive-fight-followed-by-tons-of-goodies style of levels, but some people might not like the less intense action.

There are new sounds, and new music for all the levels. The music for the early levels really added to the spooky atmosphere; later ones maybe not so good. The sounds I was unsure of at first; the most noticable change is that the weapon pickup sound is "It's payback time". I generally don't like these wordy sounds, but in this episode it somehow fitted; there is a great feeling of loneliness in these levels, and it just felt good for the marine to start muttering to himself. There are some new graphics too, such as some arches used in the acid tunnels, which are quite good.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on each level as I played through:

  1. The Park - A strange level, centred around a large empty park, with various weird features at the corners. The level certainly creates an impression, even though it isn't very detailed. The starting fight is very sharp, certainly wakes you up; after that the enemies are pretty thinly spread, but health is limited and there are some tricky bits.
  2. The Sewers - Very sinister level, as you wade through dark sewage tunnels, hitting switches to reveal more tunnels, etc... It's a wander-around-until-you-find-a-way-forward level, but the spooky atmosphere, good lighting effects, and features like pipes and machinery make it interesting. The monsters are thinly spread, a few tricky fights but nothing hard; in one place there is a real annoying bit where you have to drop down into a pit with a couple of spectres, takes ages to get a chance when they don't block your fall, or you can shoot them. Nonetheless the level feels great, with the new music and great atmosphere, so I liked it.
  3. The Treatment Plant - Like the last level, this one was dominated by one texture and style; in this case metal text. Like the last level, the quality comes from the sinister atmosphere and lighting, and use of acid. The monsters are again fairly spread out, but there are some good tricky fight included, and health is limited so be careful.
  4. The Settling Tanks - Another very metal-textured level; the name says it all really, a collection of large open acid pools, with small walkways between them. Again parts lacked detail, but the main area had great atmosphere, and the control building had nice features like computer screens etc. The opening fight is very good, the narrow walkways give you little space to dodge the imp shots.

    Once that is over, you begin clearing the control building; the layout gives some tricky moments here. That's about it, you then exit, falling down into...

  5. The Pipes - This is a level to really give you the creeps; it's a network of long, dark, narrow acid pipes. The decorations in the pipes are good too, make it more interesting. There are no ememies or anything, it's just a spooky transition level, nicely done I thought.
  6. The Factory - screenshotAnother fairly small level, again a metal theme, with lots of rusting machinery around which sets the style nicely. You are finally given the powerful weapons, for the big fight that ends the level - the hellspawn have converted this factory to produce monsters, with a boss spawner setup. The setup was less than perfect I thought; I know how boss spawners work so I just shot until I located the spawner, but some kind of machinery graphics there to mark it out would have made this better I thought.
  7. The Warehouse - Again a short level, one big box room and a couple of other rooms. Monsters were thinly spread, but health is limited; also, there seems to have been no armour for ages, so every hit counts. Not a lot to say about this level really.
  8. The Railhead - Another sing-feature level, this time a train (not moving). Stylish, but the lack of detail was very apparent in the outdoor areas here. Once nasty moment at the start; the enemies are thinly spread. There is a bug, because you can bypass even the short visit to the train, since a keydoor is not tagged right.
  9. The Subway - Undergroung brick tunnels, and some good lighting, stick in the mind from this level. Nice details like the little boxroom. Monsters thinly spread, but some nice little fights against sergeants and chaingunners. The subway tunnel itself it not bad too.
  10. The City - A level that's large in scale, with large buildings and wide roads. The city is pretty empty, inevitably looking bare compared to say Downtown (Doom 2 MAP13). The level is pretty linear, most doors not on route can't be opened, and the level takes under quarter of an hour.
  11. The Cathedral - You leave the last level by entering the large city cathedral; this level consists of one large fight inside the main part of the cathedral. It's one big room, light fading towards the edges, lots of giant pillars. A tricky fight, but since you get plenty of ammo and health afterwards the only real danger is the archville. The stained glass window at the end is nice, but the rest of the place is rather dull.
  12. The Tunnels - The earth tunnels with wooden pit-prots theme here, pretty nice and with good attention to lighting, but the tunnels were a bit rectangular I thought. The darkness of the tunnels means the enemies can surprise you, but usually you know where they're coming from and it's no big problem.
  13. The Living Maze - The name was enough to have me woried at this level, and I was right to be. It's a concept level, a rectangular grid of rising and lowering pillars that form a maze. And full of monsters. The fighting is tough, even with the ammo given, since you lose a lot of ammo to the rising pillars. Amazingly I didn't get stuck until right near the end of the level; alas I did have to cheat to exit, I got completely trapped by pillars. Another thing I didn't like, this was probably the longest level so far, but easily the least detailed and most boring visually - only 1 texture is used in the maze, no details, and rectangular walls.
  14. The Castle - The Finale - The big showdown, except it isn't. I had limited ammo after the previous level, but this level has only weak enemies to start with, and then you make a break for freedom with an invulnerability past the obligatory cyberdemon. There's some not bad rooms in the start area.

Overall, I found it hard to rate this episode. Levels 2 through 6 I found really sinister and engrossing; places had me on the edge of my seat. I felt the later levels were not so good, the lack of detail and linearity seemed more obvious there. Anyway, even if only for the first half of the episode, this is definitely a wad to play.


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