Fact Sheet

Authors Rex Claussen
IWAD Doom 2
Engine limitless source port
Date 1999/6
Levels 1

Review by Colin Phipps

PUGILIST is the first in a series of levels. As explained in the accompanying plot, you are landed on a haunted island with little more than your fists to work with. Yes, this episode is a fist fight (as those of you who know some latin will have worked out from the name). You get the beserk pack in each of the levels; but in the first two levels you are made to fight for it, punching the weaker enemies, dodging the stronger ones.

These are the author's first levels, and it shows mostly in the architecture: there is definite improvement during the course of the 3 levels. Texture choice was generally good, and there are many good features, like the box room at MAP02, and an clever spot in MAP03 where a wall made of marble blocks has a very realistic hole in it. However, other areas lacked the same attention.

With only fists to work with, I was surprised how little different the opposition were to a normal level. MAP02 takes pains to try a range of monsters, and some traps, and throughout the episode you have to get the enemies fighting amongst themselves if you are to have any hope of surviving. There is a lot of health throughout, though I must admit I needed most of it, and mistakes are expensive with fist, so save often. I did find I was leaving health, and a lot of armour (there seemed to be far too much), behind at each level.

The text file makes clear that there is a puzzle aspect to these levels. It comes in two sorts. First, there are lots of switches, often opening a door some distance away, which you have to identify and run to before it closes again. Particularly at MAP01, these are pretty tight runs. Secondly, there are secret doors required, often only marked on the map. I don't mind puzzles in a level, but the trouble here was that these switches and doors were essential for moving about the level, or for getting back for loot, so I was forced to do these runs many times.

Here are my comments on each individual level:

  1. You start outside on the island, with a good view out to sea, and a graveyard (nice, but could've been spookier I thought). The main building is a big church: the pews are ok, but the head of the church is rather plain, and the asymmetry of this area seemed wrong. There are texture mismatches and misalignments. The initial fights are interesting, but the level progression was often unclear, especially when I hit a switch which wasn't meant to be revealed until later, and did part of the level out of order.
  2. screenshot Now underground, you work your way into a nazi base. I liked the way almost the full range of Doom 2 textures were used, with stone dungeons, computer rooms, wooden store rooms, and stone corridors. You have to go a while before getting the beserk pack (punching a cacodemon with unbeserked fists is tricky), and this was the only time in the episode I was really pressed for health. Once you find the goodie rooms things go smoother, but there's plenty of action still to come, including some traps, and the heavier Doom 2 badies (it's amazing what you can actually fight with fists when you try - the archville was easier than I'd thought possible).
  3. Having explored what it's possible to reasonably kill first with bare fists, then with beserked fists, the final level of the episode lets you see how much you can kill without even those. The main areas are two big courtyards, one with a cyberdemon, one with a spiderdemon; for each, there are monsters specifically placed so you can get them fighting each other. There is one grand outdoor area, a tower surrounded by an acid moat, which looked totally unsuited to fists at first sight, but turns out to be a good fight.

I don't know, I seem to be going soft as a reviewer. It might be this author's first work, but I liked the latter 2 levels. They show you the range of what's possible with to beat in Doom with just your fists and brain, and there's plenty of health so non-Tyson-experts like the rest of us can get through. On the other hand, the architecture could be more refined, the first level is poor, and the puzzle aspect was frustrating later on. I'm glad I played this episode, but it's definitely a mixed bag.

Download pugilist.zip

File List