Fact Sheet

Authors Richard Wiles
IWAD Doom 2
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 2002/02/02
Levels 15
Other Imported music

Review by Colin Phipps

screenshot The Slayer is a collection of new levels for Doom 2. It's a bit of a strange selection, with a few DM levels, a single player episode of 10 levels, and a bonus secret level not connected with these. For the purposes of this review I'm just covering the episode.

The architecture of this episode is really good. Having seen so much of Wiles' style from Crusades, it is interesting to see similar design translated into an industrial setting in Slayer. There is excellent use of outdoor areas, with excellent use of lighting and shadows to enhance areas, and good use of windows to the sky, particularly high up windows in rooms which give a very 3D feel to areas. The levels are quite open, something like the Plutonia style with one or two major areas at each level from which most of the level is visible, with lots of windows between areas.

  1. Human Processingscreenshot This is the sort of first level for an episode that makes you wish there had been a warm-up level. It's tough from with word go, with a lot of quite mobile former humans for the player to keep an eye out for in the start area, and archvilles early on. The level is a mix of styles; early on the Icon of Sin music and grey/rust metal style reminded me of an industrial level, IRONHALL I think, by Michael Krause that I played many years ago, but the level moves through several styles including some Shores-of-Hell-like corrupted base areas and an outdoor stone causeway that was more like Doom 2 in textures. I kept waiting for a bit of a breather in this level to get some health and ammo behind me, but I got none and was struggling for everything throughout the level, short of health and dying a lot, and against the increasingly heavyweight enemies even the presence of most of the weapons didn't save me from running on the limit of my ammo. Good monster placement is used, with heavyweight monsters thrown in close to the player with cramped conditions making barons and revenants dangerous, with sergeants and chaingunners strategically placed in more distant locations to snipe at the player if they expose themselves carelessly. Some good massed traps and fights generally designed to hem the player in.
  2. Get the Gun!!!screenshot A small but very tough level, set in a bricks and metal base. The main room is very stylish with a deep red sky visible through windows and gratings high up around the outside, and a walkway for the player surrounded by nukage. The start area is very stylish too with some good use of textures and decorations. The ledges and cages around the outside are packed with hell knights, chaingunners and mancubi firing down on the player from a distance while they try to deal with the barons, imps and pain elementals in front of them. The crossfire in this room means it takes some thought and tactical play to beat. It's an unforgiving level, where you should expect to die half a dozen times just experimenting with tactics for the main area, and can expect a few more deaths due to a number of traps where hordes of monsters are added to the fray as you progress through the level. The only downside to this level is that the previous one had made me paranoid about conserving ammo and health, whereas this level turns out to have them in abundance and just staying alive is the problem. There's a cyberdemon but you get the BFG and can take him out with a bit of luck.
  3. Gethsemane — A Plutonia style level, with a brick and stone base set in a rocky valley. The player arrives in the middle of the level, a blood river which comes through a tunnel into the central courtyard of the base, overlooked by mancubi and imps. There are some very tight fights in the early stages of the level, with lots of pillars in this yard and overlooking monsters, and monsters teleporting, leaving the player dodging in and out of the pillars trying to avoid being cornered. There are some good side areas off of this central yard, with a large outdoor yard with a giant gallows and lots of gory remains, and a nukage river leading to a kind of chapel. There are some good traps later on, including a massive fight against a horde of cacodemons; ammo and health are plentiful though.
  4. Old Town — The brick theme continues, with this level set on ledges around a U shaped lava lake. The level is cleverly constructed with some good outdoor areas and a lot of windows between areas. The gameplay is tough, with a series of big fights where the player is forced to commit to a new area and then make use of very limited cover to survive; some of these fights take many attempts to beat.
  5. Arena — A small level with a few courtyards overlooked by walkways and ledges. Lots of tricky fights, with cacodemons and pain elementals in particular flying into the enclosed areas and giving the player very little space to dodge.
  6. Psycho-Mania — Reminders of some of the early Plutonia levels here, with a lot of use of stylish curving stairways and Final Doom textures. It's a compact level with just a couple of major rooms and a few outdoor yards for side areas. Good use of lighting and windows and a nice layout. Good monster placement, traps and some big fights to test the player out.
  7. Into the Light — Another tough little map, packed with some powerful monsters. The fights require a lot of tactics, so expect to take a few tries at several of the big fights. A nice bricks and metal hell base with nice use of flaming barrels and computer panels for variety.
  8. 10 Secrets — A rather larger brick and metal base level here. Once again a lot of switches and false doors, and plenty of features including nukage channels, barrels and computer panels. Good mixture of monsters, with some crowds of heavyweights to grind down, some lighter fights with lots of imps and former humans, and some mixed fights. The interesting layout keeps the player looking in many directions and takes you on an roundabout tour of the level.
  9. Techbase Terror — A nice and spacious base level, with a mixture of styles. The start room is a large hall overlooked by windows and ledges patrolled by hell knights. Then there is an outdoor part with some nukage tunnels and more hellish areas. Nicely interconnected level, with a lot of barons and hell knights to grind through but excellent monster placement makes it fun and tricky. There is one dud trap though, where the player crossed a bridge to get a key and imps teleport in behind — they can't pursue the player and there is cover, so they are easily sniped at from a distance.
  10. Staircase to Heavenscreenshot This one reminded me of The Twilight (Plutonia MAP15) due to the dank brick and rusty metal style, lots of monsters behind gratings and on pillars, and the proliferation of staircases. There's a lot of good action here, with a mixture of distant chaingunners and hell knights to watch out for, monsters on ledges overhead shooting down, and cacodemons using their greater mobility over the various platforms.

Early on, I didn't get on at all well with these levels. Partly it's because they are full of traps and lots of fights where you're likely to get killed; some of these required good tactics which I normally like, but for some reason I kept getting frustrated here. Partly it is due to the first level, which is really tight on ammo and health, so I assumed the rest of the episode would follow suit — but after a few levels it became clear I was being paranoid about injuries and ammo use for no reason, the other levels are all generous. And finally, the early levels manage to really get on my nerves with a load of minor irritating things — putting armour and health in the middle of entrances so you're forced to pick it up even if it's wasted, piling ammo boxes on top of each other so you accidentally waste some, all pet hates of mine. Fortunately, the episode got more generous while using less ammo piling toward the end, so I began to enjoy it properly, and it built up enough goodwill that I'm prepare to write off the earlier frustration as a personal gripe.

Picking up MAP01 again, it really doesn't seem to fit this episode at all; whereas the rest of the episode moves towards the knockabout Plutonia style with lots of ammo and such. Whereas MAP01 is a gruelling battle and an adventure in its own right.

There is changed music for all the levels, pulled from a variety of sources, all quite reasonable.

Overall, these are certainly excellent levels, even if there have faults. But the architecture is superb, and there is plenty of fun gameplay provided you don't mind some nasty traps.


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