Top Ten - Page 2
ZDoom Community Map Project: Take II
With the second release candidate arriving days before the deadline, the Cacowards Conscription Bunker demanded an immediate inspection of Gimmer's latest and a report card to go with it. "Not a problem," I said, cockily. "I've got some time before lunch. How long will it take?"
The map was bloody massive and the problem was not being helped by my addiction to PDA logs, which are stuffed in nearly every corner and reveal the plights of Dr. Oliver and Technician J. Paddock, amongst others. Clearly I'm still hung over from the days of Community Is Falling, and seeing people embroiled in petty struggles with boxes and shipping contents. Add to this the wealth of new goodies and easter eggs to search for and lo! I would go on to finish the map within 180 minutes.
And what a 180 minutes it was. I have often remarked on the way in which the size of a map can provide a sense of journey and accomplishment alone (see the in-development Vela Pax by Mechadon for example), but the added factor of community collaboration – this project's unique selling point – makes the affair more interesting. Not only does one further appreciate the success of the map as a whole, but also the way in which the vision of the map can be retained through mitigation of problems inherent to multiple authors. The problem of having "too many fingers in the pie," so to speak. ZDCP2 is clearly a project that has undergone a keen and regimented development process to help tackle this issue, and with a scope of ambition that, in the hands of a less experienced leadership, might have given way to a mess of misused resources and horrible excess. Such was not the case, however, and I am pleased to report a map that shows how better to use an extended bestiary and arsenal without getting carried away.
This is a great looking level, at times very striking, that plays better than you might think and is crammed to the roof with treats and replay value. And a story! A level that is just as if not more impressive for the way it suppresses its flaws than for how few flaws it has. You owe it to yourself to give this level a spin... and to the many tens of folks who procrastinated on its completion.* Thanks, guys!
- Archi & C4tnt
Fuel Devourer is one of those releases that sneaks on by you. Archi isn't as prolific an author as his compatriots, especially when it comes to solo releases, so it's cool seeing him grow through his participation in the Russian Doom Community. He and C4tnt whipped up this massive
base map for the First Try Demo Contest, the first time anyone else had seen it. The quality leaves me wanting to see what else the RDC has hidden up its sleeve. I'm an unabashed lover of enormous, tricksy, exploration-heavy maps, and they're doubly fun when they're fully staffed with staged encounters and switchbacks and geometry changes as things gradually open up.
The authors have added a few concrete real-world fixtures to give the level some character apart from its open-ended layout, complete with a dazzling finish at the spaceport within the rocky wilderness that surrounds the base. Nothing you've seen before so much as suggests it, so the ending comes as a great surprise, a nice complement to the map's otherwise intricate design. I could binge on stuff like this for the rest of my Dooming career, but since it comes around so rarely I have to give credit where credit is due. Fuel Devourer is quite the hidden treasure.
Memfis has dropped a number of small releases over the past few years, with Kuchitsu sitting larger than most at a modest six levels. It doesn't have the pomp and circumstance of many of its contemporaries, with no grand architecture and a fairly restrained difficulty. It's just
easygoing fun, much like they did back in the 90s. You'll see a lot of green as you fight your way across the overland, through a modest city, and the starport that heralds your escape. There's even some elevator music for your in-flight egress which you'll hear in between levels.
A lot of authors have tried to hearken back to Doom's formative years, either in projects like TWiD that went directly to the fountainhead, or others trying to mimic the more distinctive traits of '96 and '97 era mappers. Kuchitsu stands apart in channeling that happy-go-lucky attitude that makes the earliest PWADs so charming to me, something decidedly not serious while still having the professionalism in design we come to expect from modern outings. It looks nice, is challenging enough without being overbearing, and has some assets not native to Doom that will catch your eye, though not necessarily for sheer beauty. Here's to you, Memfis, for keeping that torch burning.
- Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement
Top Ten - Page 1
- Back to Saturn X: Episode 1
- Doom 2 The Way id Did
- Unholy Realms
Top Ten - Page 2
- ZDoom Community Map Project: Take II
- Fuel Devourer
Top Ten - Page 3
- Forsaken Overlook
- Stardate 20X6
- Pirate Doom
- Swim With the Whales
- Eon Deathmatch
- Best Gameplay Mod
- Mordeth Award
- Mapper of the Year
KEEP ON RUNNIN'
Every good runner up deserves another... uh... set of runners up?
I didn't exactly think that sentence through.
Z86 stunned just about everyone with gorgeous screenshots from his Hellbound, and when released, players were able to frequent his massive, beautiful levels - all done with virtually vanilla textures. There's a major flaw in this jewel, though - the combat bored me to Doom depression, partly a function of the unflinchingly grand architecture. Hellbound's cityscapes and bases and journey through Hell look great, but the mapset itself is a grind, which is why it earns a runner-up in this year's Cacowards.
High / Low 5
In yet another year packed with large releases, it's sometimes easy to miss a gold nugget like High / Low 5. Another impressive effort from Hansen, HL5 is a no-nonsense beautifully-decorated town-esque single map that occupies a comfortable niche in the "not-too-hard, not-too-easy" difficulty zone and warrants a lot of hyphenated adjectives. Though the intricate layout sometimes leaves the player wondering where to go next, the adventure never grows stale and includes some of this year's best Dooming moments: a darkened slime-filled cavern where the player must navigate a harrowing series of jumps, a tense fight with a cyberdemon on a narrow ledge, and a devilish scene with a cage and a horde of ravenous pinkies. All in all, a blast of a map that deserves a playthrough. Props, Chris!