Sunday, April 16, 2017

Trust (TQTRUST.WAD)


Tommie Quick made a couple of vanilla maps back in 1997, took some time to tour with TNT and their deathmatch megaWADs, and then jumped into ZDoom modding with several releases in 2001. Trust came first; it's a Doom II mapset with what technically amounts to seven levels, but the first three are pretty much just iterations of MAP01 that I assume exist due to technical limitations with ZDoom at the time. Trust shares some details with 2000's Paranoia as both of them crib some ideas from Half-Life, then still hot on the minds of FPS fans, but Trust remains much more grounded in Doom's universe.


The plot can blaze by pretty fast in the opening texts; basically you're just an ordinary drone working at the UAC when you make some accidental discoveries regarding their "genetic" experiments involving "alien" organisms. Unfortunately, seeing top secret stuff like this generally means that you either get brought in to the fold or taken out, with the latter a far more common occurrence. You try to be nonchalant, but as you'll quickly discover, the UAC wants you dead. Your only hope is a mysterious fellow marine who saves your life after the first assassination attempt and directs you in a secret maneuver to end the now out-of-control research subjects.


Paranoia was basically a TC, attempting to bring the Black Mesa facility to Doom and throwing a bunch of costumes on the monsters to erase Doom's most recognizable elements. Trust may crib some Half-Life textures, but the only monster it outright steals is the head crab, which will still occupying the Lost Soul slot is much more sensibly DeHackEd. The rest of the cast is pure Doom II with the exception of the assassins, dexterous and durable foes that serve as pretty nasty minibosses and come in both shotgun and railgun varieties. Quick also does a pretty good job at making the arch-vile itself into a decent boss encounter.


Other Half-Life elements... Well, Trust actually has NPCs that you "talk" to, though the healthy UAC guards are represented by the SS Nazi sprites. There's also a fair bit of duct crawling to endure, most perilously in MAP05, which has a pretty good cliff-face section that reminds me of a particular spot of the Black Mesa exterior minus the murderous helicopter. There are no enormously exploratory office complexes to navigate, however. In fact, the area you have to pick through is fairly frugal and never fielding more than fifty monsters, excepting the ubiquitous head crabs which do not actually count for the totals displayed on the automap, which is just as well considering that I think they infinitely respawn in a few sections.


One of the most important aspects of Trust's gameplay is that there is little to no health to be found until the final leg so every sideswipe you suffer inflicts a heavy toll on your relatively limited resources. Intrepid players should be able to get the equivalent of a megasphere for the final few showdowns, though. Ammo is also pretty limited; the chainsaw is an early pickup and should be indispensable, particularly for handling specters and stealth demons. It's not quite so effective for dealing with the head crabs since the chainsaw's action tends to drag you over them, but with a little control it should save you quite a bit of ammo.


As a Doom mini-adventure, Trust is pretty cool. The gameplay drags a little bit since Quick is kind of stingy with the ammo and it's shotgun and chaingun action until picking up the combat shotgun at the beginning of MAP07 and then later the rocket launcher. Facing down the Doom II bestiary with the lower-tier shareware weapons gives more of a survival horror feel since the monsters appear to be so much tougher; it's even worse with the prospect of wasting bullets on the headcrabs and often missing your shots on the assassins who seem tougher to pin down and more dangerous since you can't just hit them whenever they freeze since they're hitscanners.


I like the scripting, though. It's not the smoothest in the world, but this sort of interaction is a relative rarity in the Doomosphere since most PWADs are designed for a format that attempts to accentuate the action of Doom / Doom II, whether it's vanilla, limit-removing, or Boom. Friendly NPCs may take away from the absolute purity of Doom's action-horror experience, shedding some of the lonely atmosphere, but I think that it's good to push the established gameplay boundaries to see what lies beyond. Even if it can't hope to hold up to the in-game "cutscenes" of its biggest inspiration, Half-Life. Just because I don't think it can work doesn't mean that life won't, you know, find a way! Some of the best stuff is of the "blink and you'll miss it" variety, like the assassin that takes out the demon in the cargo bay with the malfunctioning electrical equipment.


Considering that Tommie's next release is one of Doomworld's Top 10 of 2001, I'm quite interested in seeing where he goes from here. Trust may not be an award-winner but it has some things definitely worth seeing, intriguing offshoots from the solid redwood trunk of the core of Doom's gameplay.





TRUST
by Tommie "Fatal" Quick

Intro / UAC Transport StationMAP01-03
An intro technically spanning three levels, presumably because ZDoom was not up to the task of creating the world as Tommie saw it. The action bit is pretty good and the NPC dialogue is functional. The base looks pretty good and I enjoy the classic tram cheat. It's a long, cold open, sort of in the same vein as Half-Life but with a lot less cool things to see.

2nd Trip: Your final run through the hinted-at platform locked with the red key. Enjoy the ending...

MAP04Genetic Research Facility
Finally, a piece of action. The change to a more naturalistic setting is nice though there's no discernible reason why you have to go so out of your way from the tram station to the front gate. The head crab invasion will chip away at your health before the main confrontation where you start fighting some actual Doom II monsters. Hopefully you snagged the chainsaw, since there's a stealth demon afoot, not to mention spectres in the sewers. Again, the scripting is pretty neat, with moments like the caverns destruction and the malfunctioning door.

2nd Trip: A short jaunt through the area just beyond the busted door.

Genetic Research FacilityMAP05
Not many monsters, but when you're on the edge of a ledge in the canyon with barely any health and any misstep will spell D-E-A-T-H, it feels a lot longer. Quick dispenses with the hitscanners, leaning mostly on imps as road blocks and cacodemons as your distant threats. The power switch to the elevator complete with monster invasion is a neat moment that segues into a fairly dry traversal of air ducts that ends in a pretty memorable cinematic battle with an arch-vile that's entirely dependant on how quickly you parse out the one spot of cover.

MAP06Genetic Research Facility
I don't care much for those bunched-up curved hallways but the actual facility has some cool stuff like the promenade of experiment rooms. I also appreciate how Quick tried to dovetail the stealth monsters in with the steam room, looking slightly more natural. Also, the revenants coming out of the ceiling. The bowels of the base aren't much different than any other techbase. The finale seems more designed to soak up your ammo than anything.

Genetic Research FacilityMAP07
This is another action-packed gauntlet but the rooms feel more distinct and with a bit of the organic creep feel. The ventilation duct area is bleh but it comes with the super shotgun pickup, quite a power upgrade. I think the Spiderdemon room has the best action of perhaps the entire level, but it's also pretty satisfying to power through the final assassin gauntlet with full health, full armor, and the super shotgun, especially when they're so eager to leap from the top wall to ambush you.

AN EXERCISE

3 comments:

  1. Dat twist. never saw it coming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ALFRED HITCHCOCK insists:

      After you've played TRUST
      please don't tell your friends
      its shocking secrets.

      Delete
  2. I always remember this one just for the last few words at the ending. I won't spoil them though.

    ReplyDelete