Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reunion 02 (REUNION2.WAD)

REUNION 02
by Ed Cripps


Ed Cripps's Reunion series is only two levels long, both made in 1999 before entering the spotlight with Sin City and parts beyond. For whatever reason, after starting out with the Boom engine Ed dialed it down to vanilla. I assume that, like so many authors before and after him, he was attempting to cut his teeth on a familiar style. Both Reunion levels are patterned after Knee Deep in the Dead in their texture themes. Reunion 02, also like Reunion 01, occupies E1M1. While the map has roughly the same amount of monsters, the number of each is a bit different, and while it still has that angled-off corners feel that makes it feel more organic, Reunion 02's approach to level design has some key differences.


Presumably, the story continues off from Reunion 01; the included .TXT intimates nothing. The UAC was mopping up their installations after the invasion, since their status as experimental research labs meant that they were still full of goodies that meant nothing to the clumsy hands of the demons... disregarding whatever happened to produce nasties like the Cyberdemon, Spiderdemon, and Doom II's metalloid monsters. The recovery proceeded without a hitch... except for the last team, which vanished without a trace. The UAC broke your glass in case of emergency and sent you to root out entrenched enemies in the southeast wing of the Toxin Refinery, this particular adventure occurring in yet another section of the labyrinthine facility.


REUNION2 has a pretty good opening hook: a pedestal with the yellow key on it, the associated door also in the same room. The key's outside, though, and in a classic JRPG twist you can't just climb through the aperture you can see it from, even if you're perfectly capable of shooting through it. Your goal for the entire level will be to finally grasp the yellow key in hand and then use it to open the exit. As you can imagine, there's a bunch of level between the two of you, including both the red and blue keys as well as several beefy groups of monsters. There was one demon and imp ambush that stuck out for me in particular as being a great combat moment, though I also like the room with the two imps in the balconies. Could probably have used a few more demons, though. At least another cacodemon or two in that back hallway. As was the case with the first map in the series, there isn't much of an ambush waiting for you on your way back with the yellow key. In fact, you can pick most if not all of it off from the window!


The level feels a little more interconnected than REUNION1. Both have that sort of vista of the future at the beginning, but REUNION2 has a secret side-passage (with a surprise!) leading back to the darker nukage room right off the opening area. It also abstains from deep-set toxic pools, or maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way and the fluid is actually supposed to be deep but is filled all the way up. In either case, the vertical profile of the map has a more nuanced feel since the non-elevator changes are there but more subtle. I like the sort of ankle-deep sewer feel that results, though I'm having trouble imagining how it would make sense from a Phobos-as-a-real-place perspective. A sump pit station, perhaps?


REUNION2 may not be the coolest or most Phobos level I've ever seen, but it's a fun, fast play with tons of ammo and room to get really nasty. No Barons, either! I wonder what Reunion 03 would look like, some seventeen years later... Thanks for the action, Ed.



FROM OUTER SPACE

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