Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Memento Mori II (MM2.WAD)


Memento Mori II, released in 1996, is of course the second outpouring of mapping effort from the Memento Mori Crew, though I should note that this Memento Mori Crew is not exactly the same group that made Memento Mori. Indeed, a number of mappers did not return for a second outing, while a number of authors stepped up to bang another quality megaWAD out. It's 31 levels of Doom II, 1 level of Doom, all specifically tweaked for coop. Both members of TiC - Thomas and Denis Moeller - return, alongside Jens Nielsen, David Davidson, Mark Klem, Orin Flaharty, Alden Bates, Florian Helmberger, Michael Rapp, and Andy Badorek. Some of these guys would even go on to work on Requiem, kind of a Memento Mori III, if you will.


The text and associated info file give a blurb for every map detailing your missions, the storyline, etc.. It's based after the original, where you ended another demonic uprising on Earth after crusading through a megaWAD of disconnected levels. In Memento Mori II, you're clearing out an incursion of Hellspawn from Io, one of Jupiter's moons, as written by Alden Bates, who also did the "story" of MM. There's not much else to say, except that each of the maps is a disconnected "sector" with an objective you're clearing, so that early run of sewer maps isn't tied together any way except thematically.


Memento Mori II is a bit more polished than its predecessor. There's a certain kind of '95-era naivete that gets lost in the jump in quality, but it's worth it. The WAD is still engineered for co-op compatibility but I assume that it's just as playable solo, because that's how I originally did it. It's still...really difficult at times, harder than the original, with more of an eye toward speedrunner knowledge when it comes to pistol starts, but it's a different sensibility, and if things get too rough you can always turn the dial down. There's also a glut of added textures, some returning and many new ones, that add a lot of character on top of the outstanding soundtrack from David "Tolwyn" Shaw and Mark Klem.


MM2 is a super cool PWAD that you should definitely play if you think you're at all into the older stuff. Its notions about gameplay and traps may seem antiquated to modern players but there's a lot of worth to be gleaned from this perspective. I might hazard that I enjoyed the original just a smidgen more, even though it lacks a solid storyline (hah) and an overall cohesiveness beyond the texture pack. I can't really say why, but all the same, Memento Mori II is a solid play and will push you to your playing limits. Unless, of course, you speedrun stuff like Sunder, in which case you're probably a bit beyond this.



MEMENTO MORI II
by the Memento Mori II Crew

OutpostMAP01
by Dennis Moeller
Fun, tough opener that explodes with the new textures to create a gorgeous, bloody red. I think a wise man once said what separates a good Doom WAD from a great Doom WAD is use of new textures, and these really make the level pop. I'm kind of sad MM's new textures weren't as prevalent. Nothing really exciting here otherwise, best moment is that kickass stained glass ceiling.

MAP02The Feeding Pit
by David Davidson
Some nice architecture here and more of the new textures to create a strange level that takes place around an elevated crossroads. The encounters aren't all that inspiring but David makes each little area unique, standing out by the mapping alone. The demon arena is a little plain, and a little light on ammo by that point, but unless you fall off the columns in the red key room it's straightforward and easy. I can't figure out how to open up the exit chamber, though.

...And Hell BeneathMAP03
by Matthias Worch
Pretty fun level. More gorgeous textures, a marriage of stained glass and light brown, and difficulty ups a notch. My biggest caveat came from the way ZDoom handled Worch's trapped switches; in vanilla and other ports, you would have to break the plane of the cubby to trigger them. That behavior has since been reintroduced to ZDoom. It's got a clear objective. The story plays out pretty well and there's some nice puzzles and the catacombs traps are kind of neat, if telegraphed. Standout moment, ehhh, dunno.

MAP04Rattamahatta
by Florian Helmberger
Very cool level with fun use of multiple paths. Probably even better on coop when everyone gets to do their own thing and you can help your buddy out. Standout moment is the "RIP Green Marine" grave, I mean there's just so much fun stuff going on here, amplified by the schizoid sound track, though there's a lot of chaingunners. Honorable mention: That cool tiered warp platform puzzle.

Rites of PassageMAP05
by Paul Noble
Kind of cool. Most of the level feels pretty underdetailed but cage traps and those strange two-sided floating stoneface graphics help flesh this level out. The rad suit section is the most memorable portion of the map. You've got more than enough time to blast it out, but the fact that you're constantly baking adds a slight undercurrent of necessity to the whole endeavor.

MAP06Trapped
by Adam Williamson
I find it rare that a map has a single secret influence the rest of the map's gameplay, but the SSG secret turns it from a single shotgun slugfest into some nice run n' gun action. Most of the traps here are pretty handily dealt with but there's a particular courtyard with a teleporter in the center that feels somewhat cheap as there's a band of hitscanners, shotgun guys and chaingunners, sitting under the ledge. The map also feels too spacious in most of the areas, and by that I mean what great space it has feels incredibly under-detailed, the key room being the large wooden-textured room with three platforms.

FrustrationMAP07
by David Kuykendall
Very fun level. I admire the criss-crossed by piping sewer architecture and the bouncy track gives it a bit of a "romp" feel. There's plenty of traps to be had, and a lot of revenants, used intelligently. Also very rewarding and mostly intuitive secrets. The room with the sewage blocking the door is a very nice touch, probably my favorite part of the level. There's a bit of switch porn in the third quarter of the level, but it doesn't get out of hand. The flaming barrels toward the end give it a seedy, lived-in look. Oh, I should also mention the door that opens at apparently random heights. I'm guessing it's opening to the height of some crusher in some far off corner of the map, but it's a neat effect that adds a bit of verisimilitude.

MAP08Stigmata
by Dennis Moeller
A nice underground map with some nukage. Detailing isn't much but the basic structure is nice to look at, especially the outdoor areas. None of the encounters are very memorable except for the final fight, where a number of monsters teleport into the map and assault the switch point. It's not that hard, all things considered. You get a bunch of hitscanners but a few revenants and cacodemons are the only other points of contention.

Sabbath SewerMAP09
by Mark Klem
Large open level with a lot of back and forth, zipping about, etc.. Dominated by a sewer theme, but there's actually plenty of nice encounters. Klem manages to make the individual areas pretty distinct though the linking tunnels are fairly banal. Favorite encounter, not sure. Probably the teleport battle with the Invulnerability sphere, though the false yellow key room has its share of out and out slaughter.

MAP10Clear for Death
by Matthias Worch
Another sewer level. It isn't particularly long and it has some nice fights, like the yellow key trap or the switch room with dueling traps. Also good secrets / detailing, enlivening otherwise banal room construction. Biggest complaint is a really late chaingun and a fairly late (and secret) rocket launcher, dragging the length of the fights out considerably.

Sewer ShutdownMAP11
by Eric Sargent
Fun sewer map with lots of subsequent, rewarding secrets. The majority of the action takes place in two distinct areas, a hive of smaller rooms and a much more open token sewage area. The later portion is dominated by a large circular room full with a short teleporter maze to open up the end of level exit which is actually a fairly tough but standard firefight. Favorite sequence is the secret sequence that involves raising the ruined bridge early on in the level, though the large circular area in the northwest section is a close second.

MAP12The Waterway
by Orin Flaharty
Fun, short level, one of those giant underground cavern layouts. There's some good firefights and snipers to retard your progress but nothing really stands out as difficult. Best moment in the level is that strange "core" structure by the mancubus walkway, though the blue armor thing is fairly surreal for a Doom map. No real standout fights, maybe the aforementioned mancubus walkway. I actually bypassed the Imp / Baron room by using the handy teleporters by the blue door platform. Intentional speedrunning trick? Reminded me of Orin's levels from Memento Mori which had a similar theme.

Devil's ParadiseMAP13
by Rhys Hughes
Tough little level with some nasty firefights. There's a lot of hardbodies and some tough sequences, and no SSG (which really hurts), so this is all Dances with Shotgun. About the trickiest firefight I can point out is the blue key path which has a lot of ways to go sour but clearing the ramparts around the opening area is a distant second. The end of level sequence has a not particularly interesting spectre maze but keeps things interesting by slapping in a few windows to other areas so you aren't terribly bored, which is a pretty big plus. The biggest detraction I have is the soul sphere secret requires you to go back to a hidden switch in the beginning building. Granted, it's more or less a hub, but once you leave the main building there's literally no other reason to go back outside of hoarding health.

MAP14A Question of Time
by Matthias Worch and Thomas Moeller
Pretty tough. You have two different instances of two routes, both of which you have to do, but which can be performed in either order. Generally, one route is far more advantageous than the other. In the first instance, you begin with ample ammo to tackle the sister route. In the second instance, you have a vital SSG to deal with the horrors of the other. Each fight is unique or memorable, with some nice little puzzles. The standout encounter for me is the SSG route, which has you deal with a horde of insurgents attacking from the point at which you entered, though there's also a dirty trap with revenants where the closet you THOUGHT the ambush would come from is full of gibs. Good stuff!

The Devil's CoterieMAP15
by Adam Windsor
Wow. This level is quite the experience. Each fight you encounter, with a few exceptions, is difficult and meticulously laid out, with one of them, the fight for the red key switch, being fairly impractical. Other standouts: The red key trap, the mancubus basement fight, and the cacodemon swarm for the yellow key, with the ambush at the level's end being the final sharp shock, and possibly the worst to sort out. I, for one, am not ashamed to run. The architecture and secrets are top-notch with some interesting layouts to surround the killing fields and weapons are introduced at a steady, gated pace. All in all, a tough map, but very fun to play.

MAP31Deja Vu
by Orin Flaharty
You got your E1 in my Doom II! It's quintessentially E1, plus a plasma rifle and a baron. It's not difficult at all and the entire level can be conquered with the shotgun with little difficulty. The mass hordes of zombiemen outside the level and the other pack with demons don't really add to the level in an atmospheric or utilitarian manner; they simply add to the bodycount. It plays pretty well otherwise, though.

Dances With DemonsMAP32
by David Kuykendall
Semi-amusing arena level with a few staggered waves of toughs before dealing with two Cyberdemons. There's enough cover and enough area to run around in, though, such that you're rarely in danger unless you happen to grab either of the partial invisibility spheres, which will cock up the Cyberdemons' aim.

MAP16The Nephilim
by Dennis Moeller
Fun map with stunning use of criss-crossing pathways and some really cool moments, like the appearance of the room beyond the blue door, my standout moment by far. It's loaded with hitscanners, though, so you have to be quick on the draw and fairly anticipatory. Some mancubi and revenants spice things up but the end of level trap is pretty uninspiring.

No OneMAP17
by Michael Rapp
Not too hard. Health is pretty spaced out, there's a lot of neat traps, and Rapp uses a "gimme" automap powerup to betray your expectations, revealing some of his traps but not all; indeed, some of the bigger surprises lie within hidden sectors. Conquering the blue key wing is by far the toughest portion of the map and surprisingly there is an entirely optional section of the map, the yellow key wing. It's got some neat construction.

MAP18Regulate
by Matthias Worch
Cool semi-sewerish level with some wide outdoor touches. I feel like they missed an opportunity in that large outdoor area with the plasma rifle given how little if any action goes on there. Whatever Worch did to make the engine noises when you grab the berserk pack is quite ingenious. There's other cool touches, like the cacodemons emerging from the nukeage vat. Also like the final trap. There's a number of traps that surround you with something unpleasant, but in retrospect, they're not that bad.

The ShaftMAP19
by Jeremy Statz
Very fun, long level. You start out conquering individual wings, eventually ending in a hub-type setup with four different challenges, one of which is a very memorable descending platform-style fight featuring powerups hidden in the alcoves. They're kind of rough to get to without knowing they're there, though, so I missed out on the only plasma rifle of this level as the descent goes but one way. While that's my standout moment, all of the other wings of the teleporter section are fun to play through. The only running undercurrent is a lack of ammo, highlighted with a couple of archviles and the aforementioned plasma rifle. Well worth playing.

MAP20The Experiment
by Alden Bates
This map is not fun to play and feels like the epitome of Doom as Dragon's Lair. The opening fight is pretty rough, featuring a number of hitscanners, some hidden in shadows plus some hardbodies, you with little more than a shotgun. None of the fights including the yellow key or after are all that pleasant. In one particular situation, doing the wings in the wrong order resulted in me getting shorn apart by commandos. There are I believe two cyberdemons in this map, though I didn't bother waiting around for the second one as I doubted I had the ammo. The detailing on the map is very bleh, being the most abstract of these levels so far with little if any payoff. A couple positives: The light effect as the player steps into the darkened alcoves at the map's beginning is pretty cool and I like the use of that strange lift to achieve a jump-like effect.

SanctuaryMAP21
by Andy Badorek
Very fun, long level with plenty of twists. The necessary route is never difficult to figure out and there's an adequate amount of ammo and health to deal with everything. Badorek makes most of the monsters in this WAD threatening, with plenty of fun encounters, especially using pain elementals. The architecture is fun, with a lot of fights on elevated outdoor walkways at the beginning of the map, leading to more cramped interior fights. Lots of pain elementals, but they're never annoying. And spectacular use of the new textures, I might add.

MAP22R.R.F. Refinery
by Thomas Moeller
Long, tough techbase level meshed with the Memento Mori textures. The architecture is great, with a few of the typical TiC pseudo-3D pathways, and there's plenty of toughs. The biggest challenge is just navigating the opening of the level, and when you're given a plasma rifle at the onset, that's saying a bit. There's lots of switches, though, opening up more demonic hordes, and plenty of nasty traps, including a Cyberdemon who you can nastily execute. The biggest encounter to be ready for I'd say is the ambush beyond the blue door. I'm not sure about my favorite encounter. Thomas trickles the enemies in at such a steady rate.

No Way OutMAP23
by Eric Sargent
Haha, fuckin wow. This is some high octane shit. The music score works perfectly as this constantly mounting tension that mimics the raising stakes in the fights. You start out at a hub of sorts. The direction from which you approach the teleporter determines which wing you fight. You gradually accrue keys in wings slowly mounting in madness. There's some really insane fights here, like the blue key fight (mitigated by a telegraphed powerup), the BFG fight (pretty well-hidden), the pain elemental clusterfuck, and even a nice Cyberdemon fight. The first teleporer room after the blue door also has a pretty tense battle. Really, there isn't a single encounter here that I'd scream bullshit on. The architecture is okay, it's mainly laid out in tons of secrets and successive switches. Texturing is pretty benign, too. Really, this is all about the battles, and I love them.

MAP24Io Lab
by Sean Birkel
It's like someone took an E1 techbase and threw in some Doom II monsters! Well, it's more thoughtful than that. It's a shorter level than some of the stuff in FAVA.WAD, but with a high bodycount and a few toughs. I like it more than say Orin Flaherty's "Deja Vu", but that's probably because it feels less like a jaunt to E1 and more like E1 style architecture with Doom II things. Nothing's hard, indeed the rush of revenants at the map's end can be handily mitigated, especially with a bit of exploration. The fights are entertaining though, giving the pain elementals plenty of room to do their stuff and a particularly awkward section with a mancubus that I should have seen coming.

Forgotten TownMAP25
by Dennis Moeller
Very fun layout that gradually opens the main courtyard until you're swamped with demonspawn. There's a few memorable fights, like the revenant / HK trap near the opening, or several of the archviles. The standout moment, however, would be the Cyberdemon arena, where pressing switches assembles a pentagram line by line in lava until you awaken the big bad himself, who thankfully is deftly handled with some nearby cover, or possibly the BFG if you snagged it before. There's also a really clever moment where approaching the exit from the opposite side snags you a soul sphere secret.

MAP26Base Exposure
by Mark Klem
Where the fuck is all the ammo in this level? Seriously, don't hide the SSG, especially in a secret sector that isn't even secret. I wouldn't dare call it beatable without it. Okay, there's a lot of crazy shit in this level, including many courtyards, one in particular with tons of hanging bodies, and a lot of faux-3D walkways. There's several Cyberdemons and Masterminds, never in particularly hard locations, but there's some order to stuff, like don't try to take on the first Cyb without clearing the silver base, this level's Achilles heel. It's okay gameplay-wise, but the silver is garish and the crusher section bogs the map down and is tricky to navigate. It's by far the most memorable area of the entire level, but not for a good reason. My favorite encounter would be the yellow key battle, which is all sorts of fun that quickly escalates. Hiding the SSG and the silver section of the map are two big strikes but it's worth persevering.

The SilosMAP27
by Paul Noble
Fairly nonlinear and fairly hard techbase level. You can tackle either the yellow or blue key first, and e'er the twain shall meet. The level is dominated by "silos," circular constructions that are either raised out of the ground or deep in the earth. You must activate all four silos in order to complete the map. There's some large courtyard battles, nothing awful. A few nasty archviles, but nothing you can't handle. By far the most attrition I suffered was by the pain elementals found in each silo and in the middle courtyard battle, though that hell knight fight in the main entrance gave me a bit of grief at first. I honestly like the nonlinear nature of the map, though it tends to drag the fighting out quite a bit. You also start with most weapons and loads of ammo, so no worries there. Secrets are good, too. The nastiest part of the map is beyond the blue door, really. Activating the right console first is far easier than activating the left, in my opinion.

MAP28Corporate Hell
by Stephen Watson
Augh, this techbase level. It's got a very nice layout but soooooo many annoying chaingunners. The port into the archvile room is a particularly rude awakening, too, though Watson at least lets you assess the challenge before you confront it. Finally, the double doors separating the blue and red doors either slow map progression to a stand still or trap you in with certain death. The main level is quite clever though, with switches in four towers raising the maximum height of the elevator until you can access five different floors, including the ground floor. Each floor has its own particular challenges, but most of the heavy action is in the top floor. The pistol start here is pretty brutal, but manageable. It's not like Watson went stingy with the health.

Kings of MetalMAP29
by Jens Nielsen
Yeesh. 100 monsters never seemed so tough. There's no point at in this level where you should feel safe. From the opening arena fight, hemmed in by revenants and archviles, to not one but two Cyberdemons, as well as a hellish atrium decked with nukage at the very bottom, it's a non-stop thrill ride. Both Cyberdemons also come as quite the surprise. Like Jens's maps, there's plenty of switches to flip, all of which lead somewhere, and a few classy secrets to keep you on your feet. The level itself is a nice collection of square battlefields, ringed with demon pockets, with heavy use of wood textures. It's simple, but it gets the job done.

MAP30It
by Jim Wraith
Pretty fun final level. It's a hodge-podge of textures featuring among other things a techbase Cyberdemon arena, but the individual rooms look very nice. The entrance to the Cyberdemon battle is the only major clashing point. The final fight itself is pretty easy since there's no timing to do and when you're finally in the tower, you're pretty much sacrosanct. The hardest part would be the tunnel leading to the second teleporter. Due to the quirks of MAP30 the supplementary forces warping into the map telefrag each other, funnily enough.



...But that's not all! If you download the Memento Mori II info file (which is pretty cool), pull out the .DAT file and change the extension to a .WAD, then run it in Doom II with the normal MM2.WAD, you'll find two super secret levels.

Secret Operation 1MAP01
by Steve Towle
It's pretty boring to play, using a texture style similar to MAP01 of the main WAD, but it isn't horrendous and has a few cool ideas, like the cage elevator separating the two main portions of the map. The detailing is fairly minimal except for that and some flair around the edge of the room with the building.

MAP02Secret Operation 2
by Thomas Moeller
This techbase level has the distinct violence of a Moeller map, but it feels unusually bland. There's a few clever bits, like the darkened hallway slowly lighting up, but most of the fights feel like hordes of shit thrown at you with none of The Innocent Crew ingenuity to back it up. A pack of demons here, a pack of cacos there. My biggest misgiving is that the hidden plasma rifle, an untagged secret, is all but mandatory in order to complete the final leg, as the end of level sequence is particularly nasty.


REMEMBER THAT THESE PEOPLE WANT YOU TO DIE...
A LOT!


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1996

Memento MoriMemento Mori II
Dystopia 3: Re-Birth of AnarchyAll Hell is Breaking Loose
Army of Darkness DoomIcarus: Alien Vanguard
Polygon Base99 Ways to Die
The Troopers' PlaygroundA Hidden Mountain Factory

6 comments:

  1. There is an SSG on MAP13, hidden very near the start. This map is still tough when you get, but at least you kill the enemies faster. Thanks for the review, I never get tired of reading about my favorites. vdgg

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  2. Oh lord please spare me from those awful hidden SSGs

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  3. I'm currently playing this with AEOD 5.29.1. It's awesome! So far I'm on MAP15 and I only died once (in MAP11). However I realized today that I shouldn't have played all these classic megawads (Memento Mori 1&2, Requiem, Icarus, etc) with AEOD. Should I stop playing and play them in Vanilla Doom? But I can't stop something I started, I will re-do these megawads with classic Doom. Anyway I haven't started Requiem and Icarus with AEOD yet.

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    1. If you think playing the levels without AEOD is fun, then you should do it. If you are too bored by Doom's standard gameplay, keep at it with AEOD or something. Your fun is worth more than the sanctity of ancient Doom levels. Just think twice about a map breaking if you're using a gameplay mod.

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  4. I finished this last evening. The last few levels were damn hard, I died quite a few times. I also played through the 2 bonus maps as well.

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    Replies
    1. MAP29 is the harder map I meant, the rest weren't that hard. I got angered a lot in this one because I kept dying (at least 5 times in an area) and I also swore a lot. I really hate these kind of maps.

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