I do see the humour in a mod sneakily changing my title
Ever since I bought Final Doom for the Playstation, I had wondered about the Master Levels. I originally thought they were made exclusively for that port, especially since all but the last three had special music tracks. When I found out what they really were, a badly organised collection of PWADs, I made several attempts to get my own copy, never could get a legal copy till this year's Steam sale.
Previously a friend gave me them from his own Steam directory, but I wanted my own copy. I did have a (disastrous) personal project to combine them, as some miiiight remember, but more on that sort of thing later
Using the really cool Master Levels Menu frontend for ZDoom, I finally completed the full level set after all these years, and its something I really wish had gotten more care and time. Very few were made especially for the project, and there are many clear cases of "Here, have these levels from my series" or "Have this map I had lying around"
Five maps from the Cabal series, five from the Inferno series, two from the Titan series, with the remainder being individual maps from Chris Klie, Tim Willits and his sister, and Tom Mustaine. This annoys me, because those series were doomed to incompletion, Cabal in particular had a lot of promise, all of Sverre's Master Levels were very atmospheric, and really got that feel in the level notes across.
Overall I found the "series" maps to be the best, with Black Tower, T.E.E.T.H, Bloodsea Keep, Titan Manor and Trapped on Titan being the top five (All of which I had never played before, as they were all cut from PSX Final Doom), with Klie's maps being easy time sinks with interesting map philosophy, with nothing binding them together. Its amusing how he pretty much always puts keys on display, in open mockery of Doomguy's inability to reach out his hand. Dr Sleep's maps were good, but the various bugs in a few of them killed the feel, and Vesperas has the stupidest Yellow key I've ever come across. I had to youtube that! I really liked Paradox, seemingly the only level truly made for Master Level's design goal, and Canyon was pretty nice too. Attack though, is terrible and should only have existed if there was going to be a proper progression.
Too bad id couldn't communicate that across, Romero knew it was going to be random pile of PWADs from the beginning, yet Shawn Green, the bloody project coordinator, either didnt know that or failed to communicate it, as nearly everyone thought it was going to standard-fare episodes. As such many levels end with items to prepare you for the next level, Catwalk has two big secrets at the end that are practically armouries to raid for example. If they were a combined file, Attack would be level 1, with Klie's maps following (Maybe Canyon at 5), then Paradox, Bloodsea Keep and the rest.
What do you all think of the Master Levels?
Side note: Mephisto's Mausoleum is creepy at the end with Doom Expanded. Also, fuck that level, seriously.