Let's try Caesium
There's a grand total of 52 maps this week. Not all of them are worth playing, and you may well have seen some of them before. However, that still leaves a good number of top-quality maps that you won't want to miss. There's plenty of variety too: a castle, a tech base, a Limbo remake, ... we even have a good Vavoom map, showing off the features of that somewhat neglected port.
- Castle Nevermore by Björn Ostmann
1,219kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map - (img) - (img)
Björn Ostmann is the creator of The Rebirth, a top-quality one-man megawad released in mid-2003. This is the first map he has released since then, and it does not disappoint. He offers us a rather realistic-looking castle, with some good and challenging action. There is plenty of stone, some wood, lots of fortifications, courtyards, etc. Like I said, it's a castle. Most of the action takes place inside the castle, though we do see the outer walls. Gameplay-wise it's a tight and tricky map, where it's quite easy to get into trouble. You'll need to ration the ammo carefully, though if you find you keep running out no matter what you do, try tackling the areas in a different order and/or provoke a little more infighting. You'll definitely want to get the rocket launcher early on. And don't forget to look for the chaingun near the start. For the most part the player is given a fair chance, but the double-archie trap is a bit nasty, and the final room is quite tight for a cyber battle (though you should certainly be OK if you've found the megasphere secret). The map appears to work in Doom2.exe - there's a bit of a HOM at one point, but I didn't get any VPOs (though I didn't check it systematically). Definitely recommended. Let's be daring and call it wad of the week.
- Crusader by Samuel 'Kaiser' Villarreal
258kb - Boom-compatible port + Doom2 - SP/coop - 1 map - (img) - (img)
Kaiser is one of those mappers who never seems to release a bad map. This map does not buck the trend; it is an attractive map, with a good layout and tasteful themes (mostly tech base, but with some outdoor and cave/tunnel areas). The gameplay is fairly standard but fun, with a good variety of battles. There is not much chance of dying unless you're reckless. The BFG near the start can be grabbed - I don't know if that's deliberate (it doesn't make all that much difference though, since you don't get many cells under much later in the map). The map is somewhat over-ammoed - I didn't use the berserk or the BFG (I was saving it for a big finale that never came!), but still had enough to kill everything quite comfortably. The teleporting megasphere was a nice touch. Recommended.
- Quake2Doom by The Solution and Bryant
4,774kb - Vavoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - (img)
Here's another Vavoom map from the guys that brought us Southern Cross and Dark 7. This time it is Quake2-themed, and I must say they have made rather a good job of it. The looks and atmosphere are spot-on, and the Vavoom engine copes with the task admirably (at least it did on my computer). If you liked Quake2, you should definitely check this out. While it's not a walk in the park, the gameplay is not too difficult, though health and ammo are a bit tight near the start (especially if you don't find a useful secret), and there's an archie that pops out at what may well be a somewhat inconvenient moment. There aren't any complex tasks to perform, just hitting switches and then finding what has opened up, etc. Recommended. (Note: This is a substantially updated version of a wad that first appeared in 2001. The text in the /idgames database does not yet reflect the change.)
- Crimson Tomb by Christopher Emirzian (Udderdude)
176kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - (img) - (img)
Udderdude has released quite a number of maps by now, and you no doubt already have a view on whether they appeal to you or not. This map is a little smaller than normal for Udderdude (it's only medium sized), and features the rather tight situations we have come to expect: little room to manoeuvre, and a fair degree of challenge - health and ammo are limited and you fight middling enemies mostly with weapons 3 and 4. There are no stealth monsters this time (yay!), and there aren't monsters teleporting in behind the player (a few of those might have made it more interesting though). On UV you face several arch-viles. They aren't such a problem in themselves, but I found that often I'd get snagged on some "gameplay-obstructing detail"(tm), such as a lantern, and get blasted as a result. That's one complaint; the other is that I think it is possible to get stuck if you don't press all the switches you're meant to before leaving an area. Overall it's an enjoyable map though. The design features a lot of stone, marble and blood, and quite a few scrolling textures. Recommended.
- Space Marine Goes Sleeping by Jimi
5,823kb - jDoom + Ultimate Doom - SP - 3 maps - (img)
Jimi has been supplying us with a regular stream of wads, most recently ones that are made only to work with jDoom. This one features 3 maps, the main one of which is a map based around the original E3M7, Limbo. The first map is a short and simple intro map, while the third map is a Dis-based affair, though some dehacked work (or rather the jDoom equivalent) means that the spider can take a fair bit more punishment before it goes splat. The Limbo map is quite large and challenging. It is in keeping with the original, but not a copy - some areas look similar, but there is plenty of "added value" too. Some of your weapons are modified, which will take some getting used to. Note that this wad is actually supplied as a pk3 file. This can be inspected and modified using Winzip - and in fact I needed to do just that, because I kept getting a crash at start-up until I removed LIMBOSKY.ded from LIMBO.PK3.
- the odessey of evil by r.e.'the dutch_devill' lubbelinkhof
1,240kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 11 maps
This is a compilation of 11 maps previously released separately (I reviewed 9 of them in /newstuff Chronicles #183). Putting them all into one episode makes sense, given that many of them were barely playable from pistol starts. It's a shame he didn't check the spelling of "odyssey" though.
- REANIMATED by Karthik and Varun Abhiram
439kb - Limit-removing port + Doom2 - SP - 2 maps
This wad was reviewed before it reached the archive by Bloodshedder in /newstuff Chronicles #184 - I can only agree with his assessment; these two maps are of outstanding quality and are great fun to play. It has now officially arrived in /newstuff, so if you didn't get it before, it would be a good idea to do so now.
- Baphomet by «º¤PØTG|Ê$§ÊR¤º»
155kb - certain ports + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - (img)
There are several problems with this wad. It crashes Boom and Eternity (but is OK in Prboom) for some reason that could no doubt be fixed, and there are quite a few ways in which you can get stuck and need to use cheat codes (I stumbled upon three, while just playing normally). Gameplay-wise, there are several places where you get shut into an area (sometimes quite a tight space) and need to fight your way to a switch in order to escape. I noticed that in one area of that type (just after the yellow-key door), it is possible to avoid triggering the bars, and so use what I imagine is an unintended shortcut. It's a tough and brutal map; you get a good deal of ammo, a moderate amount of health, little armour and plenty of monsters. The design features a lot of green marble, rivers of blood and some satanic images. The themes aren't terribly consistent though. Overall, I think this is an OK wad, but perhaps more an ordeal than a fun experience.
- MODDM1 by MasterOFDeath
197kb - Zdoom/Zdaemon + Doom2 - DM - 7 maps - (img) - (img)
Seven small-to-medium DM maps with widely varying themes. Some look a bit too simple to be much fun to play, but they are all reasonably attractive if you don't demand tons of this "detail" stuff. The bigger weapons are quite easy to get in some maps, and trickier in others. There's something odd about the 3D bridges - they don't work if you use the compatibility setting "Actors are infinitely tall = yes". The music is taken from various sources (including TeamTNT's Icarus) but is uncredited; I somehow doubt the claim that "Permissions have been obtained from original authors for any of their resources modified or included in this file", but whatever...
- Female Doom by Daniel
7,552kb - Zdoom 1.22 or Legacy 1.30 + Doom2 - SP - 18 maps - (img) - (img)
This is a wad where you go round gunning down chicks. Semi-naked chicks. Those who know their porno wads will immediately be thinking of succubi.wad, but it's more in the style of sirens.wad - indeed many of the graphics are from that. Like other wads by Daniel, the design of the maps is attractive to look at, but the gameplay is rather unexciting - by no means easy, but rather repetitive, and unimaginative. I admit that I didn't have a lot of time to playtest this (it was uploaded late in the week, together with a lot of other wads), so maybe I'm missing something. There are also some soft-porn images, so it is not exactly "work-safe". Clearly a great deal of work went into this (not least on the dehacked changes), but the end product is distinctly cheesy. I guess those who really liked Daniel's wads last week will want to check it out though.
- Three Testing Maps by Daniel
114kb - Zdoom and some other ports(?) - it's for testing deh stuff - 3 maps - (img)
These three maps have been used by Daniel to test the effects of his dehacked work. One map includes every "thing"; another features a firing range to see how far monsters fly when BFGed, and the last one contains a crapload of archies.
- ESCOLA DE MÚSICA DA UFMG (UFMG's School of Music) by Daniel
637kb - Zdoom and some other ports(?) + Doom2 - SP/coop/DM - 1 map - (img)
A wad based on a real place, with some dehacked work and unimpressive new monsters. Overall the gameplay is a little weak, but there are some nice touches design-wise.
- The (7th) Dimension by Alex Meyers (Apothem)
1,807kb - Zdoom and some other Boom-compatible ports(?) - it's a weapons/monsters mod - (img)
This mod changes the monsters to make them more powerful and makes the weapons more powerful too, while also giving them new sprites. It makes various other changes too (e.g. reversing the Icon's wake-up sound). This obviously makes for rather unbalanced gameplay when running maps that weren't designed for it. Technically, it all works well and looks professionally made. I understand Apothem is looking to put together some maps to work with it, and that could be quite an interesting project.
- ARMAS 22 (Weapons 21) by Daniel
361kb - Some ports - it's a weapons replacement - (img)
Replaces most of the Doom2 weapons. Some of the replacements behave rather differently from the ones they are replacing.
- ARMAS DE JOGOS (Game Weapons) by Daniel
1,394kb - Some ports - it's a weapons replacement - (img)
Four separate sets of weapon replacements, taken from "Duke Nukem 3D, Magic (Heretic and Hexen), Quake 1 and 2,Shadow Warrior."
Two pretty good ones this time; the first was uploaded anonymously, and the second by me.
- Rocketeer by Qingshuo Wang (aka piXel reX)
63kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
piXel reX is generally acclaimed as one of the best Doom mappers; he produced a series of outstanding wads (e.g. simpevil) in the late 1990s. Somehow this wad was missing from the archive. I have little to add to the reviews here and here. I can only agree with them, and urge you to grab this wad if you haven't already got it.
- The Pharin Agenda, part 1 - Castle Luna by John Llewellyn
179kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This medium/large map offers quite a challenge, but isn't too tough if you are careful. It comes with a nice long story, for those who are interested in such things. "Part museum, part hi-tech laboratory, on the fringe of the lunar terraformed zone." I guess that's one way to explain the variety of themes in the map. It's a nicely non-linear map, and some routes will work better than others.