|Phobos Revisited - ReX Claussen
In the present day Doom modding scene of OpenGL, detailed polygonal enemy replacements, and powerful scripting languages, it's not often we see "Vanilla" mapsets anymore. This past year saw the release of Phobos Revisited, which for many was a beautiful example of just how well the original Doom 2 exe can still be stretched.
Phobos Revisited is a complete Episode 1 replacement that attempts to recreate Episode 1 in a new light, while keeping architecture similar, yet trying to give the player a new gaming experience. For many it was a way to relive the same emotions they had 11 years ago when they first played the Episode 1 shareware. Filled with secrets that fill you with a sense of accomplishment when you discover one and monster traps reminiscent of classic Romero Episode 1, it's no wonder this episode inspires fond memories.
Hell Revealed 2 - Various Authors
Do you remember when you first played Doom and the onslaught of enemies that swarmed you? Well, that was nothing. Hell Revealed gave new meaning to "hordes" when 32 levels of great architecture pitted you against 74 Cacodemons, 30 Revenants, and a slew of Imps... and that was just on I'm too Young to Die. Now that same level of carnage is back with Hell Revealed 2.
Hell Revealed 2 picks up right where Hell Revealed 1 left off, killing thousands of monsters per level. For many the HR series is either a hit or miss in terms of gameplay; some enjoyed fighting their way through dozens of denizens of Hell, while others found the sheer number of monsters and BFG frenzy tactics too much. Many demos prove that the levels are possible, but not to be attempted by casual Doomers. Still others found Hell Revealed 2 to be not up to snuff when pitted against its older brother. Gameplay aside, it's hard to argue with the beauty of the levels, and just as impressive all this runs within the confines of the vanilla Doom2.exe.
Even if some believe HR2 doesn't hold a candle to the original, it is definitely welcome in the legacy of Doom mods. Doom purists and casual players alike should both be able to enjoy it.
Community Chest 2 - Various Authors
Don't let the title pic fool you, this is no joke wad. Community Chest 2 follows in the footsteps of the original, and does not disappoint... with the re-release. The purpose of the Community Chest megawads is to give lesser known authors a chance to make their name known and to inspire them to map. This does not mean there are no big names to be seen in the roster; the likes include Kaiser, Chopkinsca, and even community staples such as Linguica were brought out to complete this massive undertaking.
Community Chest 2 wasn't without its own faults in the beginning. Released uncompleted at first, it was finally reworked and finished to the point where it should have been during the first release. With so many artists, it's not surprising that the levels have little semblance to one another. Sometimes they can be a mixed bag of simply stunning maps, and then some mediocre levels. Fortunately there are no real drags on the megawad, and as such it is definitely one of the year's best.
ZDoom Community Map - Various Authors
Collaboration efforts are all the rage this year. From obscure, experimental projects like Exquisite Corpse and the popular Community Chest, we've seen a wide variety of maps from the community. Now it was high time the ZDoom community showed what a subsection of the Doom community could do. And show us they did.
The ZDoom Community Map project is a massive project and must have been quite an undertaking. The amount of sectors and level space that one used to divide into an episode has been crammed into a single level and takes full advantage of what ZDoom has to offer. Pulling out all obstacles once holding Doom back, the ZDoom community employed every feature ZDoom has added to good effect. Deep water swimming, massive explosions, slopes galore, and dozens of new hideous monsters from the Monster Resource Pack litter the massive level. I use the word massive without fear of overstatement; this level will take upwards of a couple hours to complete and fully absorb the richness it has.