Let's try Caesium
We have yet another week where single-player wads for Doom are in a small minority. We have instead a treat for "Zheretic" fans, and a couple of very interesting multi-map deathmatch wads with a total of 41 maps between them. And no week would be complete without a few resource wads of various types - most notable of which this week is a major set of new textures by Nmn.
- Hordes of Chaos IV by Christopher Emirzian (Udderdude)
2,291kb - Zdoom 2.0.63a + Heretic - SP - 5 maps - (img) - (img)
As I said last time I reviewed an HOC instalment, if you enjoyed the previous wads in this series (which I personally did), then you'll like this one too. These five maps offer several hours of very solid gameplay. Once more, the base is Heretic, but you will be using the Heretic weapons and power-ups to face (courtesy of Zdoom) monsters from Doom and Hexen as well as Heretic itself. If you play on skill 4 (or 5), then you battle large numbers of monsters in often rather cramped circumstances. The basic advice is the same as for the earlier HOC wads: use infighting extensively to your advantage, and make good use of the powered-up gauntlets to gain health and save ammo (and probably use a few savegames too, especially since the gauntleting can be a bit haphazard). E1M1 and E1M5 are most reminiscent of previous HOC instalments. E1M2 seemed quite low on health, and I felt the maulotaur you had to run past several times was a bit much. Note that all five of these maps are based on earlier creations by either Udderdude himself or Vermil, so you may recognize them, and use this knowledge to your advantage.
Anyway, this is recommended, and an easy pick for wad of the week.
- Tei Tenga Refinery by john cartwright
555kb - Zdoom 2.0.63a + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - (img) - (img)
Here is a moderately large techbase with liberal use of Zdoom features: slopes, cameras, some minor scripting, and a random sprinkling of stealth monsters appear. It also uses (and requires) humans.wad from the ZDoom Monster Resource Wad, so expect to meet some fairly unfriendly lead-slinging (and other) human foes. Health is quite sparse for the most part, so you'll probably need to play quite cautiously or else use a few savegames. With stealth monsters including barons and revenants fairly commonplace, a big hit on your health can be lurking around every corner. Personally, I didn't feel the gameplay flowed too well, and found it easy to get lost, with areas and doorways that didn't provide much in the way of landmarks. I also found the use of teleporter switches a little odd. It's quite an atmospheric and well-made map though, so I'm sure many of you will enjoy it.
- BIG DEAL!!! by Paul Corfiatis
28kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map
Our third and final new single-player wad this week can be happily ignored. Paul Corfiatis has created some magical wads, but sometimes he just offers up a piece of dung. This is a repetitive, uninteresting maze where you just need to find one key and then exit. The only good thing I can say is that once you know where the key is, you can just make a run for it, and exit in less than half a minute. Tip (if you really insist on playing this map): stay pacifist at the start - that way only one hell-knight gets in your way.
- Just Doom It by Jules "julz_d" Spindler
1,540kb - Zdoom/Zdaemon + Doom2 - DM - 23 maps - (img) - (img)
The small number of new single-player wads this week is compensated for by a couple of multi-map DM releases. This is rather an attractive 23-map affair. I was immediately struck by the music and ambient sounds, which really bring these maps alive. Design is not generally complex, and textures not inordinately varied within each map, but the appearance is pleasant, and there isn't any extraneous "gameplay-obstructing detail" (to use an expression that will doubtless annoy some people). The maps vary in size, but they are for the most part medium (or medium-large) by DM standards. Themes vary greatly too: you won't get bored quickly with this wad. The map names display some wit and humour: "unhappy camper" no doubt has more than one meaning. Themes include: rooftops, underwater base, space ship, disco, variable gravity, outdoors, and of course tech-bases. Gameplay should be quite interesting, and reasonably well balanced. Several of the maps make use of voodoo dolls, which adds an interesting twist. A lot of work has clearly gone into this wad, and it can definitely be recommended.
- Decapitation by Mephisto
3,268kb - Skulltag 0.95k + Doom2 - DM - 18 maps - (img) - (img)
Actually, quite a few of the comments about "Just Doom It" apply here too, as this is also a quality product, this time with 18 DM maps for Skulltag (with, as you would expect, the Skulltag weapons used liberally). Here though the maps are a little smaller (medium or medium-small for the most part), and there aren't so many ambient sounds. A little more attention has been given to making the maps look "cool", but the layouts and themes are a little more of the "tried and tested" variety. For instance, map32, "Tron" looks pretty with a variety of bright coloured areas, but the layout is simple and repetitive. Design is generally clean in appearance, and there are very few areas that could be called bland or bare. Again, a wad that is well worth trying out.
- HellKnight's Deathmatch #1 by Axem King
2,067kb - Zdaemon + Doom2 - DM - 1 map - (img)
A fairly large DM map. Theme-wise, it's quite a mix, with areas not appearing to follow on from one another with much logic. There is a sort of track, while there are water passages, and open areas with some sort of structures in them. It's all quite bright and colourful though, with a good selection of weapons available. It is easy to exit the map accidentally, as there's nothing labeling the exit switch as such. The music is taken from Unreal Tournament, but the text-file nevertheless claims that permission has been obtained for its use, and for its further distribution. Hmm.
- ACTION Revolution! assembled by Xaser
368kb - Zdoom 2.0.63a + Doom2 - weapons mod - (img)
Xaser has put together a wad featuring the weapons from Action Doom, and a few miscellaneous others. Not much more to say really, except that I noticed that imps will fight one another, and that picking up a BFG doesn't actually give you any ammo for it. The Plasma Rain Inducer is cool - it's a similar effect to the powered-up Hellstaff from Heretic.
- NMN Corporation Texture Set Part 1 by Pawel Zarczynski aka NMN
552kb - Port or Doom2.exe - texture set
Here is a resource wad, and rather a good one by the looks of it. Nmn has made available a wealth of textures that he has created himself. They look very Doomy (or Quake2ey), and will no doubt be most useful for tech-base maps.
- HERETIC downgrade patch v. 1.3 --> 1.0 by Funduke
3,945kb - Heretic 1.3 - downgrade patch
As the name suggests, this downgrades Heretic 1.3 to Heretic 1.0. This is useful for those who want to see how things behaved in the earlier versions (you can use upgrade patches once you have downgraded), to play wads that included herehacked patches for them, or to watch demos recorded with early versions (not that there are many Heretic demos of any type out there).
- THE SHE DEVIL OF DOOM (pwad-version) by Funduke / Carl Steinhilber
98kb - Port or Doom(2).exe & deusf - monster graphic replacement
Funduke for some reason decided to convert an old and crappy graphic replacement to an easier-to-use format and upload it to the archive. You may notice that this is in the x-rated section of the archive, and it does indeed feature boobs. However, I'd say that it totally fails the all-important stiffy test, and just about everything else too.
- Operation Silver Hammer by WildWeasel
549kb - EDGE 1.27 - weapons mod - (img)
A weapons mod for EDGE. Most of the replacement weapons are guns, and the smaller ones have quite a poor rate of fire, while the bigger ones tend to be rapid-fire, with a neat flamethrower as the top weapon. As far as I can tell from the text-file, WildWeasel did not actually make these weapons himself.
- NoBlock v1.1 by Josh Simpson (EarthQuake/Seismos)
2kb - Zdoom - noblock add-on
A little add-on for Zdoom to enable the player to walk through stuff.
Quite a number of old wads have made their first appearance in the archive recently. Some were uploaded anonymously, while Funduke submitted several, of rather variable quality. I'll just make a few quick comments on each of them.
- Poisonous Prison, or Get Poised by Jon Landis
59kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This is definitely the most interesting map in this batch of rereleases. Jon Landis is quite a well-known mapper, who was part of the STRAIN team. His maps were often highly inventive - he was always looking to produce something that hadn't been done before. This sometimes resulted in quirky and even irritating maps, but they were always memorable. This one features some monster-activated secrets, meaning that you can't access them without monster assistance. Gameplay is tight and tricky, but not overly hard, especially if you're willing to use the berserk. There is one room with some switches on pillars, where I'm not completely sure what the intended method is, but I just pressed them when in mid-air, running between them. Apparently, Landis recorded a demo on this map (!poisdem.lmp), but I haven't been able to track it down.
- 57th Street East by Robert La Rosa Jr.
22kb - Doom2.exe - SP/DM - 1 map
Just a small map, with a vague house theme (as the name suggests). There are some relatively big monsters, which mean that if you crank it up to -fast or NM, the map becomes fairly challenging. Overall, it's quite a forgettable map though.
- Adam.wad by Adam Brill
15kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map
A fairly typical 1994 pwad. It's competently made, but bland and interesting - just a series of rooms with monsters in them, without much rhyme or reason. It's fairly small, and quite easy on UV.
- ALAIN.WAD by Alain ARRAULT
44kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
Another 1994 map, but the gameplay has a little more bite to it here, and there was some effort put in to making the areas distinctive. Texturing is definitely on the crude side though. There is a nice easy cyber battle at the end, for which you are provided with an unnecessary invulnerability sphere. I'd say this one is just about worth playing if you like this genre of maps.
- DOOMED to Run Amok v1.1 by David L. Davis
165kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This one is pretty good. The gameplay flows well and is balanced nicely - plenty of enemies, and it's easy to lose control of the battles. The choice of textures isn't too bad for the most part either. BTW, does anyone know where the music is from? It was used in a few other early pwads.
- Gates of Anguish by David L. Farrington
61kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map
A fair large but aimless level, with lots of pointless passageways. There are plenty of secrets, almost all of them unmarked, meaning you need to hump walls repeatedly (or use IDDT). A few of the secret areas are vital to completing the map, but most have no importance. If you play this map, I suspect you'll view it afterwards as a waste of half an hour or so. I found myself trying to play it Tyson style to make it more interesting.
- ASSENT by Mike Albanese
27kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map
This map somehow managed to crash prboom, so I tried it with Doom.exe. Wow. HOMs, tutti-frutti, more HOMs/missing textures, monsters stuck together, appalling texture abuse. The map is actually playable though, albeit too dark and severely over-ammoed.
- YOU ARE MEAT! by Charles Michel
32kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This map isn't too bad. It is only moderately challenging for the most part (and quite well balanced), but the end is somewhat unfair: you need to know to run past a bunch of cybers. If you try to stand and fight, then I don't think you've got much chance. I didn't see a way to kill them all, which is a shame since it could have been a fun map for a Max demo.
- 4Pdeath.wad by Jason Boche
16kb - Doom2.exe - SP and DM - 1 map
A small map that can be used for either SP or DM. The SP is quite fun, though you do need to find some unmarked passages - the automap is helpful though.
- All Skills Required Deathmatch by The Immortal
55kb - Doom2.exe - DM - 1 map
A small and bland arena, complete with bugs.
- The DeathMatch Of The Century! by Paul Johnson
29kb - Doom.exe - DM - 1 map[/i]
This map consists of a number of areas connected by teleporters, and all with the same bland texturing scheme. The terrain varies little - flat with lots of 90 degree corners.
- Amadeus II by Paul Johnson - Aka: Dr. Doom
27kb - Doom2.exe - DM - 1 map
A Doom2 version of the above.
- Volcano Island by Sean Torres
9kb - Heretic.exe - DM - 1 map
Here's something unusual: a deathmatch map for Heretic. Don't get too excited though, as it's just a windy passageway leading to an area with lots of lava pod thingies, and the layout is unlikely to lead to a very satisfying deathmatch. The weapons available are the gauntlets, ethereal bow, and you get a morph ovum.
Finally, I should mention for the benefit of the dissatisfied SP junkies out there that the legendary Kurt Kesler recently uploaded a compilation of 18 of his early maps. It arrived in /newstuff just a little too late to be reviewed this week, but I strongly suspect it is worth downloading.