In an attempt to offset the daunting scope of the last two WADs, this month I’ve got something short and sweet: rf’s Wire Brush.
As much I enjoy single-level WADs, they don’t usually stick with me the same way bigger megaWADs do. They don’t leave that indelible impression on me the way the Suspended in Dusks do, or the Memento Moris, or the STRAINs. So the fact that I remember this one years later is a pretty good indicator of awesomeness. (Disclaimer: It may also have something to do with me just really, really liking rf’s stuff, and also also that I played Wire Brush around the same time as his magnum opus, Mapgame.)
It doesn’t get much more unadorned than Wire Brush. rf didn’t waste his time on sector counts or unnecessarily details. The four brief hours of work that went into this level were, from the looks of it, spent almost entirely on flow and polish. Clean, tidy texturing prevails throughout. Each area flows naturally into the next, and each key leads you right to the one that follows. You aren’t being dragged around by the hand, but you always know where to go.
rf’s real talent, on display toward the end of Wire Brush, is how he creates dynamic areas in his maps. They shift and morph to create new zones of gameplay or allow access to new areas in the same rooms and corridors you just fought through.
If there’s one gripe to be had, it’s an encounter toward the end with two barons (which are, by their nature, damage sponges). The problem crops up a lot in maps for the original Doom, since one of that game’s shortcomings (or at least something unfortunate for map creators) is the lack of mid-range enemies. With the exception of the cacodemon, there’s nothing that falls between the demon’s two-or-three-shotgun-blasts-to-the-face 150 hit points and the baron’s will-this-thing-ever-die 1000.
This is, of course, right before you get the rocket launcher to level the playing field, so you can either circle-strafe the suckers for ages or just grab the key and leave the room. The encounter isn’t difficult, just unnecessarily drawn-out, and that’s probably the best combination to make a fight feel like a chore.
After that, though, you’ve got a pretty hectic ambush to fend off. And the dash for the exit involves blowing up some more barons — this time at a delightfully rapid pace.
The map is perfect coffee break material, if you happen to play Doom on your coffee break, which nobody probably does. The whole thing will take you about five minutes, so it’s over almost before it begins, but every moment is fine-tuned, classic Dooming.
Oh, and it plays on Episode 1 Map 1, even though the readme says otherwise. Don’t believe everything you read, kids!
Wire Brush requires DOOM.WAD and will run on vanilla Doom or on any source port under the sun. If you’re not sure how to get it running, this may help. And for more awesome WADs, be sure to check these out!