Christian N. Hansen · Doom II
Christian N. Hansen (site)
Enhanced sourceport required
Map(s) replaced
Download it (568 KB)
10 out of 10

The Review

Inside the factory in a long corridor

Helpyourselfish is the latest creation of Chris Hansen, who has created such Doom classics as the Flay the Obscene series.  The present level is set in some kind of abandoned factory, on a barren Earth overrun by demons.  It's a moody, dark, industrial level.

You start off on the outside of the factory, getting attacked by several monsters with little room for cover!  Once inside, you must travel through the factory and the surrounding ruined buildings.  The factory processes hot lava from the earth and produces several toxic products, so you will on occasion have to wade through tunnels of slime or worse.  There are three keycards you must find, which will allow you to escape this place.  Throughout, all kinds of monsters will be attacking you from all sides, and it's a fast-paced battle till the final "big" showdown.

The first thing that strikes you when you load up this WAD, is the extremely realistic look of the whole thing - the factory and ruined buildings setting is realised very well.  The level is very detailed, but it's not the flashy, colourful kind of detail, rather, a lot of attention has been paid to simply achieving an immersive environment.  That's probably the most praiseworthy aspect of the level - it convinces you that you are in a three-dimensional world!  You will at times open a door to find yourself high above a building, looking down at several structures below.

A nice view

The level is a pretty expansive one.  Therefore, the layout of the map is made in such a way that it is not too difficult to navigate.  Actually there was one point in the beginning of the level where I got stuck - I had got the red key, and then I was simply running around wherever I could, trying to progress.  Then I realised that I had already picked up the automap a little earlier, so a quick look there solved the mystery of what one particular switch did.  After this point (you'll know when you play the level), the progression was fairly straightforward, with little confusion.  The layout is well done, and as I mentioned, the player is taken through a variety of high and low locations, all contributing to the true 3-D feel.

Players will also be quick to notice that this is no easy level - in fact, due to monsters constantly attacking you from every direction, and the often tight ammo situation, it is extremely difficult on higher skill levels - and is likely to present quite a challenge to even experienced Doomers.  Personally I played on Skill 1, where things were a little more relaxed and the ammo was more readily available.

The level makes use of only the regular Doom II texture set, but creates a very unique looking environment with it!  Although the level is meant to be moody, using largely brick and metal, it is still never dull-looking.  There is also a sky replacement.  This is a sky featuring a Quake II landscape (made by Steve Clark a.k.a. The Ultimate DooMer), and it really goes a long way in enhancing the entire setting.  The sky is not used just for the sake of having some extra colour in a scene - rather it is used here as an integral part of the environment, and the built structures in the map blend in very well with the sky's own background buildings (see the screenshot below this paragraph).

Another nice view

The music used in the level is a piece by Paul Corfiatis, and you might remember it from the soundtrack of 2002: A Doom Odyssey.  It's just perfect for Helpyourselfish, and it has the right downbeat but fast paced sound.  There are also two tree graphics imported from Eternal Doom and Batman Doom, and they are used in certain spots in the level.  I thought they weren't as good looking as the original Doom's graphics, but they don't detract from the look of the level either.  There is a decent enough titlepic replacement and a nice looking intermission background too.

I do have some minor complaints about the level though.  Firstly, I felt the extreme difficulty combined with a tight ammo situation, on higher skill levels, detracted from the enjoyment of the level (lower skill levels are OK).  Also, there are certain pits of lava in the level which are inescapable - fall into them and you'll have to restart the level unless you cheat.  These two things though, are very properly noted in Helpyourselfish's documentation, so I can't say I wasn't warned!

On higher skill levels, there is quite often the use of "respawning" chaingunners (this might be considered a Christian Hansen trademark), which I found (and have always found) particularly irritating.  Often these guys will be happily sniping away at you while you're struggling to fight bigger monsters.

Also, you should note that since this level will take you some time to play, you will hear the music repeated several times over. It didn't bother me much, but it just might seem too repititive for others (however, ZDoom users can do something about this, see the Other Notes section on this page).

On the subject of complaints, you'll notice that all of them are basically there because my personal feelings contradict conscious choices made by the author - NOT because of bugs and such.  It's like a technically flawless movie made by an experienced crew - the only things that are likely to raise complaints are the personal opinions of the viewers!

It's pretty much the same thing with this level too, so I shouldn't really make much of an issue of the things I didn't agree with.  The end product is exactly the level that the author wanted to release, and I respect that!

A dark interior area

Small criticisms aside, this is a superior level, which any Doomer would be crazy NOT to download!  Even casual Doomers and gamers who happen to get their hands on this level would notice the difference between this and a typical Doom map.  Being an editor myself, I particularly admire and appreciate this map for it's amazing visuals.  Careful thought has been put into the composition of every scene and it really makes a difference.  And like the best kind of movie visual effect, you won't even consciously notice this difference!!  A fantastic job overall!

Other Notes

Those of you who inspected the WAD file might have noticed that there is a second music lump (also by Paul Corfiatis) in there.  This is a softer song than the default one and it also goes quite well with this present level.  If you are playing Helpyourselfish with ZDoom, use the console command changemus d_e1m2 to have this play in the background instead of the normal music (changemus d_runnin changes it back).

Helpyourselfish also includes an HTML file as documentation aside from the usual text file, and there's even a story authored by Chris.  The name comes from a song by D-A-D (I haven't heard it).

Ratings Info

I rate all movies or game add-ons on a scale of 1 to 10 points.  1 is the lowest score, 6 is barely above average, 8 is good, and 10 is excellent (this score doesn't indicate something that is perfect in every way — it just means that I enjoyed it a lot).  You'll find that I tend to give ratings of 8 and above often (that's only because I enjoy whatever I'm reviewing!).  Reviews are updated as felt necessary.  Of course, everything said in these reviews is my humble opinion only.
Review Date 29 May 03
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The Author

Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

Email: karthik82 -AT- gmail -DOT- com
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