Fact Sheet

Authors Roger Ritenour
IWAD Doom 2
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 1998/8
Levels 10

Review by Colin Phipps

"Earth" is a 10 level episode for Doom 2, based not surprisingly on Earth. You have to battle through a series of levels modelled on such things as ancient ruins, a pyramid, and lots of underground tunnels.

screenshot The first thing that strikes you at this episode are the amazing sea views. These are some of the best scenes in Doom that I've seen, complete with waves crashing on the rocks below. New textures are imported for various places in the episode, most notably the new sky texture which suits the island mood very well.

Much of the episode takes place in underground tunnels though, where again the author does a good job. He manages to make the tunnels always look rough, instead of the rather cuboid tunnels that most levels have. Also the little beacon lamps in the tunnels and the lighting done with them is very good. New graphics are imported to give tunnel openings a more rounded feel. My main complaint however is that these tunnels were usually not that interesting to play - they often were made to not show on the map, and usually the monsters were not that powerful, and playing level after level with tunnels like this got boring.

The gameplay of the episode was varied; some levels were mostly big fights with you fighting hordes of monsters and given tons of ammo; others were more roaming the tunnels, with badies occasionally, trying to find a way out. Here are my pre-level comments:

  1. screenshot The Ruins - This level starts and ends on the cliffs above a beach, looking out to sea; clearly a lot of time was taken to get this just right. You explore the old ruins on the island; new graphics are imported to enhance the very roman feel to the ruins. There are lots of dark rough tunnels joining areas, which are maybe a bit too dark but certainly very well done. The stone and marble textures make the areas feel very Roman. The fights are tricky too, with a good mixture of enemies throughout the level. You are always have just enough weapons and ammo, but the fights are all fair.
  2. The Tomb - This level starts outside with a large pyramid which you have to get inside. This area is rather boring, the pyramid is just a pyramid, and there isn't any other features or fights here. Once inside there are plenty of fights, quite tricky with monsters being released and teleporting in behind you. There was one strangely large and empty area which was a big anticlimax, though. There were some good features but generally the areas lacked detail and were pretty boring to look at. There was a good sinister atmosphere though.
  3. The Mines of Moria - I hope you're not clastrophobic, because it's tunnels all the way at this level. They're dark, and gloomy, and parts of the map are disabled; I didn't find it too hard to find my way around though, and it certainly makes it pretty scary running around these tunnels with monster noises all around. There isn't a lot of detail at the level otherwise, but nice graphics are imported to give a more rounded feel to tunnel entrances. There are some good fights, but mostly the enemies are too thinly spread to give any serious trouble.
  4. The Chasm - It doesn't take much to guess the style of this level; the fights take place in 2 large chasms, with lots of major badies around. There isn't much detail, but there is a good bridge over one chasm that looks good. The fights are tough, but there is plenty of ammo and health.
  5. Strategic Defense Command - This level is a mixture of high-tec areas and underground tunnels, which all connect up quite well. There isn't much detail though, but there are nice touches like the lighting in the tunnels. The level has a lot of overpowering hordes of monsters, which you just have to grind your way through with the tons of ammo provided; you can get them to fight each other a bit, but basically it's super-shutgun all the way. The atmosphere is good in the main areas though, dark and sinister in the tunnels and the high-tec parts.
  6. Observation Station - A fairly long level, with lots of fights against overwhelming or large groups of monsters. You can often get them fighting each other, or just rnu past though. There were several frustrating 'fall-off-and-die' places in this level too. The indoor areas are fairly good, but the outdoor areas lacked detail.
  7. The Emerald Tower - A short level, just 1 big fight. You enter via a winding dark tunnel, and enter a large marble hallway, where hundreds of demons are released; you have to sit in a corner and chaingun through them. Then there are a few mancubi to rocket and it's over. There isn't much else, the architecture is basic, and the emerald tower at the end is just marble with the textures made into a hideous shade of green :-/.
  8. The Ammo Pit - This level has 2 main features, the first being a large network of dark earth tunnels which make up most of the level, which were all to easy to get lost in. There are powerful badies scattered through the tunnels, and very little ammo or anything else for that matter. Secondly there is a pit full of monsters and archvilles at the start ("The Ammo Pit") which acts as a source of ammo (they fight each other, dying sergeants drop ammo, then get resurrected, etc...). Nice idea, but there wasn't really anything else interesting for the player to do at this level. There is a nice glass lift at the end, and some nice views out to sea, but little else.
  9. Islands - This level is based on a nice idea, 2 islands in the sea linked by teleports. The sea view is good, only slightly spoilt by the complete browness of the islands and the large number of dead trees on them, which slowed the game up a bit. But there is little else to see in a level lacking detail. There is just one big fight that is interesting, teleporting onto the larger island and fighting the hordes of monsters on it, quite tricky to get it right.
  10. The Hill - The final showdown or this episode is as much an anticlimax as its name. It is a big hill with 2 buildings; the hill is covered in big badies which I ignored, one building is empty. The only hard part is in the other building, where there is a steep staircase which monsters are released onto behind you, and it's too steep to fight them, so you have to run past. The exit room is the only place which looks good, but since it's empty and there's a cyber shooting at you, I'd say just hit the switch.

Overall I have mixed feelings about this episode. There are some stunning graphics at times, but you can't help noticing that a lot of areas are done in only a single texture, and look pretty dull. There are also a lot of long lines, which mean that standing at the far end can cause the line to jump around a lot. The fights are often good, but every so often an annoying or stupid fight would spoil things; there are too many fight where big badies are just thrown at the player to be mown down with the fast amount of ammo you're supplied with.

Having said that though there are plenty of interesting fights, and some of the levels were very enjoyable to play. It's worth playing through, but I just think it could have been a real classic if it were better in some ways.


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