Fact Sheet

Authors Magikal
IWAD Doom 2
Engine Doom Legacy
Date 2002/04/23
Levels 1
Other None

Review by Colin Phipps

I once wrote that the "monster level" is a style particular to the early days of Doom 1 editing. By a "monster level", I mean a large, rambling level, usually the author's first, that has clearly grown from a small start level with more and more areas being added on as the author gains more confidence in editing. The end result is a strange collection of different areas each bursting with ideas, but without much overall coherence or common style. I have been proved wrong of course: INDUSTRIAL is a very recent level for Doom 2, but it definitely fits this description.

screenshot Architecturally, this level is a strange mixture — even in the same room you sometimes find two contrasting styles, as in the start room which is a kind of mini-maze opening into a store room. Expect the unexpected — there are computer rooms next to marble halls leading to large underground nukage stores. Then, just when you thought the level had done everything, the action suddenly branches out in a totally new direction with a massive sweeping corridor leading out into a giant plaza (see left), which looks like a cross between a colosseum and a gas works — I guess you can say I was impressed but also completely lost :-).

In some places the level's good ideas are let down by poor situation. The main areas of the early part of the level are either too crowded to really see them properly, or too sparse and brightly lit showing up a lack of detail. Lighting is a problem in some areas of the level, with dazzlingly lit main areas contrasting with some near pitch-black side rooms which become a real pain to work in. This is a pity, because where the side areas are reasonably lit they prove to be the more interesting bits of the level with some nice features.

Moving on to the fights, the level is certainly not short of ideas. Early on the level is tricky due to a shortage of ammo — you had better find the chainsaw secret early on or you are going nowhere. The level is dependent on traps for most of the action, and there are a huge range of traps throughout the level to keep players on their toes, from secret doors popping open in pokey rooms through to hordes of monsters teleporting into the main plaza. There are plenty of neat trick fights as well, particularly in the side areas, where doors closing behind the player and tricky combinations of switches and trip-lines can get the player in all sorts of tight corners, and there are some wonderful little fights here. Some of the bigger main areas, however, are a disappointment by comparison, relying too heavily on traps alone — some of these end up using the same trap three or more times in a row.

INDUSTRIAL advertises itself as a puzzle level, so I'll set aside my usual disapproval of levels where you are required to find secrets to complete the level. But take it seriously — there are some hard secrets in this level, and even secrets inside secrets that are required to complete the level. If you're not a puzzle level fan then turn away now.

Most of the secrets inside INDUSTRIAL have some kind of indicator. It follows the same principle that I used back in my level editing days, that no space inside the map should be wasted, so if you have any space visible on your map you should probably try pressing every wall around it. Also, it uses the fact that east-west and north-south walls are given slightly different lighting by Doom as a trick to indicate a secret — although I was a bit caught out by this because it didn't immediately occur to me that someone would be intentionally using this. Some of the indicators are very small though, so be prepared to face some frustrating searches; watch out for the obscure shootable switches too.

The main problem with INDUSTRIAL is that you can expect to have to hunt around for the way ahead — but the level is very hard work to get around at all. The level has almost no doors, and even doors between the main parts of the level, which aren't really secret, are indicated only by a slightly different texture. Worse still, some only show up at all on the automap (making me rather glad that I accepted that automap overlay feature for PrBoom, but a bit sorry for people lacking that feature). There are maze-like long winding passages and some tough jumps to test the player's dexterity as well. To make matters worse, the author does almost nothing to ease the player's way around the level once they do get access an area — no helpful teleports opened or stairs raised or anything to make it easier to get back to the same area later on, no, you have to go through all the same tricks with hidden doors and switches and shootable walls every time. Even going back in the level to collect health or ammo becomes a chore in this environment, let alone searching for the way ahead when you are lost.

When I finally did get within arm's reach of the exit, I found that it was impossible to complete the level — using PrBoom anyway. The author does say that the level was only tested with Legacy, so perhaps I should be pleased that the level had no problems until the very end. The exit is a doorway high up above the final area, only reachable via a teleport followed by an extremely narrow ledge — unfortunately, there is a torch against the wall below this ledge, and since the player cannot pass over or under decorations in classic Doom, you can't actually walk along the ledge. I talked to the author, and although he thinks it might be possible to strafe-run it (I'm not convinced...) he is likely to upload a fixed version soon.

This level takes the idea of giving the player no guides around the level to new extremes. There's nothing wrong with a puzzle level, although they aren't universally popular, but making just getting around the level into a puzzle is likely to put off all but the most dedicated. Which is a pity, because there are some really good ideas contained in here.

PS Make sure you get the updated version of this WAD, not the original April release which is missing some hints for the secrets and so is even harder than the newer version. I started playing the original, hence the dates on the review, but I later got a pre-release copy of the updated version which is significantly improved, so I adjusted the review for that.


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