Monday, 26 May 2014

Old School Villain of the Week: Arch Vile

We are moving towards the end of the month and I haven't done one of these articles for a while. I had to get this one off my mind though; maybe just to exorcise it. There are quite a few enemies from Doom I could have chosen: Pain Elementals are a nuisance, Cyber Demons are tough, Lost Souls always seem to eat your rockets when they are right in front of you. But this mongrel has been on my mind, gnawing at the edge of my conciousness. The Arch Vile.

Sure, there are harder things to kill in Doom (well, three things…). I have discussed this with my friends previously and some of them just shrugged it off and said "...a couple of double barrel shotgun shots...".

Yeah, well. They still give me the creeps.

There are only a few creatures that give you that instant panic, that staccato voice in your head that says "kill it, kill it, kill it, kill it." Chrysalids from UFO/XCOM come to mind, as well as most of the special critters in Left 4 Dead (BOOMER!). But the Arch Vile. He sets off some kind of panic cascade in my head as soon as I hear him. I can remember loading a Doom .wad file that changed a whole chunk of the Doom sound-scape (I think it was called “meganutz”). The plasma gun sounded like the plasma weapons from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and Arch Viles said “G’day Moiiiit” when they woke up.

“G’day Moiiiiit.”

Kill it, kill it, kill it, kill it…

Name: Arch Vile

Background: I did some research into the Arch Vile on the Doom wiki and found some interesting things about them. Conceptually, they have a dualistic nature. They roast things with sorcerous flames, even other demons, but when they have killed their prey they go around resurrecting the demons that got caught up in the collateral damage. When they die, their death sound is actually a recording of a young girl calling out “WHY?!”  (in post-production, the recording was saved as a sound file on a floppy disk and then dropped into that well from “The Ring” for a few years). The idea is that the Arch Vile can’t fathom why someone would kill it, as it only wants to do good for its fellow demon-kind. And it likes warm hugs.

Weapon of Choice: Golden flames followed by a massive blast that lifts you off your feet. The shot automatically hits at any range, unless you break line of sight with the Arch Vile. Good luck if there are two of the mongrels, and/or no cover. Two hits is usually enough to take you down, though one will weaken you enough that something else will probably pick you off.

Claim to fame: Arch Viles resurrect weaker demons, which is a real problem in Doom. I always found the game to be a constantly evolving algorithm of ammo expenditure, health preservation and expedience. An Arch Vile messes everything up by making you expend precious ammo on demons you have already killed. They force you to move for LOS breaking cover or risk a devastating attack you cannot otherwise dodge. Additionally, you can’t get other demons to fight them, which is usually a good tactic for saving ammo and distracting big uglies. You end up using your more powerful weapons to take it down quickly and save you the trouble, but that leaves you short changed when something truly big knocks on the door. Seriously, I hate these guys so much.

See you across the table,