Gene-Tech: Before the storm - Review

Enjay is a rather prolific author in the Doom community; most notably many of his projects incorporate ideas and elements from various games, meaning each one is different and has it's own style (However Enjay's mapping style is fairly recognizable) His BGPA Missions Liberation is one of my favorite mods (and will eventually get reviewed here at some point) and inspired the AMC TC in various ways. While Gene-Tech is a different style of game to that mod, it's a fun SiN/Quake 2 inspired romp that will take you about an hour.

Gene-tech starts without too much fanfare; you're dropped into the headquarters of Gene-Tech Corporation which is based on Mars. There's rumors of dubious research and alien collusion which is against various international laws (Enjoy always sprinkles little realistic tid-bits like this into his mods and it's always a neat touch) Your job is to go in and find out what's going on. Pretty simple stuff so far. The level design is fairly crisp and uncluttered, with the level interconnecting to resemble a somewhat real facility. A teal and orange colour palette is used consistently throughout the mod (even enemies and pickups match it) and gives it a really distinctive art style. The texture work is near perfect, and sprinkled throughout are new 3D enemies and pickups.

The guns are all lifted from Quake 2 with the exception of 2 guns from SiN; they act nearly identical to the originals apart from the Hyperblaster which felt fairly sluggish compared to Q2's, and the Railgun which felt like it fired a bit slower. They have new skins to fit the colour palette though, and I didn't mind taking some old friends along for another battle even if it was in a different engine. They're fun to use and take care of most enemies quickly enough, which is good enough for me.

The enemies are retextured enemies from SiN and Quake 2 - the human enemies are fine to fight albeit with the annoying tendancy to all be hit scanners, like most of Enjay's other projects. Don't be afraid to drop the difficulty down a bit if you're having problems. Alongside them are robotic droids and spiders, ala Strife. There's also civilians dotted around the map - most of them run and cower and a few can be spoken to, revealing little bits of the plot. There's no consequence for killing them, but I always avoid hurting civilians in a game where you're ostensibly the hero so it creates a bit more of an interesting dynamic when fighting enemies whilst avoiding the civilians (It stops being interesting if a gameover results though, which doesn't happen here thankfully) There's a lot of secrets in the level, and with the well-connected layout it's definitely replayable.

About half way through the map, the plotline reveals that the aliens are none other than the Strogg from Quake 2 - that's not a sly chip at reused resources, they are intended to be the one and the same alien race with the finale of the map revealing it's set before the events of Quake 2. The enemies act fairly faithfully, but as someone who played a ton of Quake 2 in the past they're still easy to tell apart from the originals. The plot revelation was pretty interesting, but ultimately the map is light on story and concentrates more on the action side of things. The initial fight with them was a bit difficult if you don't think ahead about a certain pickup granted to you.

Usage of ambient sounds is fairly rich, with lab machinery humming and automated systems chugging along. Music is a mix of System Shock 2 and Quake 2; however there's a bit of clashing going on when the heavy rock of Q2 music stops to play a slightly more ambient piece. The music isn't especially standout - it's not bad either of course, it just does the job and nothing more.

Gene-tech is an enjoyable level from Enjay; whilst it doesn't do anything new that stands out it's still a well-crafted experience with a really nice colour palette and solid level design. The 3D models also work fairly well and don't really clash or standout poorly - whilst it's a shame Enjay doesn't have as much time to pump out doom wads anymore, this wad shows he still knows what he's doing well and hopefully we'll see more in the future.