Let's try Caesium
As you may recall, we had a bit of a mishap last week when a guest reviewer failed to report for duty. That means we have a rollover, but still no jackpot: while there are two weeks' worth of wads reviewed here, they have both been rather quiet weeks, with only a few new maps uploaded. Last week's stuff is reviewed mostly by DD_133 and Cyb, while I am taking care of the 'real' #210 material.
Cyb says: And yes, we skipped #209, now let us never speak of it again.
Last Week's New Stuff
- Apprehension by Jay Reichard (Silent Zorah)
73kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - (img) - (img)
Here's a decent Zdoom SP wad. However the detail on this is a bit bland, but it is still acceptable, the gameplay is fun and action packed on the harder levels, as on skills 1, 2 and 3 there's what you might call a overstock of health. The bright point of this wad is the puzzles are pretty neat and I found that some color-coded doors are hard to spot due to some hardly-noticeable details compared to other wads I've seen. The problem here is that after reading the text, and playing the wad, the story provided by the author isn't even followed by the level, no mention of a "secret weapon capable of explosions twenty times more powerful than a standard nuclear warhead". However, this is a good play. (DD_133)
- Ogro Power Facility by Stephen "SoM" McGranahan
1,114kb - Eternity 3.31 Prealpha 2 + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - (img) - (img)
Now here's a unique level; a gothic-style lava generating facility level for Eternity. Difficulty is challenging, somewhat too challenging for less experienced single-player doomers, but overall this level offers great challenge. The health and ammo supply is in good capacity, and is sufficient to encourage you not to shoot and waste ammo on every monster you see. Detail is great, not too much to interfere with the gameplay, and not too little to look bland. The level is a bit dark in some hallways so be careful, as some shotgunners may be lurking in the shadows. Overall, great level, and a worthy play. (DD_133)
- Variations on a theme by Woolie Wool
146k - Misc.
Another submission by Woolie Wool and this time it is kind of confusing. The .txt says they are prefabs but not the kind you might take for granted. These are entire rooms, 11 total excluding a texture wad for them to work correctly, although the detail isn't on par considering today's standards. And not only that, these aren't the .dbp files Doom Builder uses for prefabs, so don't try to get them in without copying and pasting them into a map. (DD_133)
- Cold As Hell (patch 1) by Gray Lancer (Jon Washburn)
871kb - Zdoom 2.0.63a + Doom2 - SP - patch
It seems funny to see a patch that is bigger than most wads, but there you go. This modifies the maps in an attempt to address various specific issues that seemed to have been causing slowdowns, such as the snow. (Grazza)
- Cold As Hell (patch 2) by Gray Lancer (Jon Washburn)
7kb - Zdoom 2.0.63a + Doom2 - SP - patch
A further patch, this time small, again to help with speed issues. This one "will get rid of all trees in the game, as well as greatly reduce the time that ejected shells are on screen". (Grazza)
- Final Doom and the Master Levels - Comparison of Game Versions by Ledmeister
13kb - textfile
This is the latest update of one of Ledmeister's FAQs. This one makes a comparison between the PC and console versions of these official releases. (Grazza)
Last Week's Re-releases
- SIU-Doom - Phil E Bute
49kb - Ultimate Doom - SP - (img) (img)
The filedate of this map is September 7th, 1994 just to give you an idea. Mapping sure has progressed a lot in the last ten years. Mapping and player skill. I only say that because there are a ton of invulnerability spheres in this map but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone with even sub-par skill who would have a hard time with this map. As for the layout and architecture. Well, it screams 1994. No detail of any sort to speak of, everything lit at the highest possible light level, zero texture alignment and so on. As such, there aren't really merits to it unless you really like old wads or something. (Cyb)
- Blood letting. - Matt Simmon
26kb - Doom 2 - DM - (img) (img)
Ugh. This map is also from 1994 and it's pretty shitty as well. This is a DM map with no detail at all, walls that are all at 90 degree angles and a shitload of barrels everywhere. I didn't have time to test it in DM, sorry, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't play very good, and you need something to look at, and this map lacks even that. Seriously, it's like the anti-Gothic99 or something. (Cyb)
- BLEW.WAD - Eric Olivares and Doug Hodges
22kb - Ultimate Doom - SP/DM/? - (img) (img)
I'm, uh, not entirely sure what the purpose of this map is. The text file seems to insinuate it'd be good for DM (which I'd disagree with), though it does sort of have a progression if you play it in SP, though the exit switch is actually in the second room you go into... though you'll probably mistake it for a door like I did. The layout is somewhat interesting, but nothing beyond that really. To get the blue key you need to find an unmarked secret door but there's nothing of worth behind the blue door except for a column with a BFG which I couldn't figure out how to get. This is also from 94, by the way. Skip it. (Cyb)
- Vortex by Mutt Man
141kb - Doom.exe - SP - 3 maps - (img)
Three fairly large maps, competently made, without much variety in design. The third map looks the best of the three (most variety), but also has some areas where you can get trapped, and most of the map can be skipped - go straight to the teleporter marked IV if you want to exit as quickly as possible. Maybe worth playing if you like 1994 maps and have nothing better to do. (Grazza)
- Gothic by Kevin Cornett
110kb - Doom.exe - SP - 2 maps - (img)
This wad from 1995 offers two maps with quite a good level of design. The second map follows on from the first, and both feature consistent themes. The first map is some sort of green marble cathedral. It looks attractive, but the gameplay isn't too exciting, and you'll probably need to take a careful look at the automap on a few occasions. The second map takes place underground, in some sort of blood sewer system (or something like that). The gameplay is quite tight here, and the marine is under real threat in places. (Grazza)
- Blood key - Mark Marusak
Doom.exe - SP - 12k
Another 1994 wad submitted to the archives, but unlike some of the others, this one is actually somewhat good, although the architecture is basically the same as all the others, with misaligned floors and textures, the gameplay in this exceeds most other wads submitted in its time. The problem I found with it early on is that if you aren't careful where you are firing, you can end up fighting a baron (or 2!) with 50 bullets and 5 percent health easily. Otherwise, a good wad. (DD_133)
- DOOM IN GRACELAND - Hunka, Hunka Burnin' Love - FanDuke
Doom1/2.exe - SP - 312k
Don't let the name fool you! This isn't adult oriented, much to the disappointment of some who read this article, but this is none other than a Elvis Doom! Where you fight a army of Elvis' with their bullet shootin' guitars. All fun bashing aside, this is a quality TC, with complete sprite animations, texture ensemble and many sounds. Unfortunately you can't wield a guitar yourself, so no luck there. This is a good average play, and deserves a look at, whether it be a joke wad or intentional TC, is up to you to decide. (DD_133)
This Week's New Stuff
- Hollow Minds by Kristian Aro
522kb - Port + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - (img) - (img)
Kristian Aro is one of those guys who never seems to make a bad map, and this is absolutely no exception. Initially, it looks like it is going to be a gentle romp in attractive surroundings, but you'll soon be running for your life. The first major trap (the red key) gives you a taste of what is in store. Throughout the map you will be facing difficult odds, with barely enough resources to deal with the surprises that are constantly thrown at you. You get all the weapons, in most cases a little while after you would really have liked to obtain them. Design-wise, the themes are convincingly implemented, with lots of blood and yellow stone. Definitely recommended, except for those with a weak heart.
- Hell Beneath by John Cartwright (Bejiitas_Wrath)
48kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This small and quite attractive map is intended to pose a severe challenge, but in my view doesn't quite deliver. The monster count is high, but their positioning is distinctly unimaginative, and it is easy to provoke major infighting. If you just want to run for the exit, then it should only take about half a minute, if you know where you're going (in fact, even Pacifist can be done in under a minute in reasonable safety). The main weapons you receive early on are the SSG and the berserk, so if you want to get stuck in to the bad guys, you have the right implements. There is one place where you can quite easily get stuck (near the archie). This wad is not a must-play, but is worth a look.
- Nuts Lite by John Cartwright (Bejiitas_Wrath)
39kb - Boom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - (img)
"A revival of Nuts, but actually playable." according to the textfile. An odd statement, given that Nuts is playable, and that this map bears little resemblance to Nuts, except for the superficial point that there is a big room full of monsters at the end. So what is it? It's a fairly large and somewhat ugly slaughter map. However, unlike most of the popular slaughter maps, you don't get big weapons and huge amounts of health and ammo from the outset, so a cautious approach is needed. I doubt that many Doomers will be excited by this one.
- SvStrife Final Beta 4 by Samuel Villarreal, Janis Legzdinsh
938kb - Port for Strife
This is the latest update for the Strife port based on Prboom 2.2.3. The source is also available.
- MagnuM got Banned by Xaphan
618kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - DM - 4 maps - (img)
For some reason, MagnuM decided to celebrate his banning by releasing a four-map deathmatch wad, with some graphical changes and weapon replacements. The name of the wad is not reflected in the maps in any way as far as I can tell; there is no point where you need to press a "report to mod" button 20 times, for instance. The maps are rather crude in design, and the new graphics are more curiosities than anything one would want to use for a prolonged period.
This Week's Re-releases
- The Tower by Jim Flynn
202kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This and the next two are the original Doom(1) versions of maps that ended up in Jim Flynn's Enigma episode, which was included in Doomworld's Top 100 WADs Of All Time feature. The maps were modified significantly for Enigma, mostly for the better, but these earlier versions are certainly interesting maps in their own right, and some players may find them more fun, due to the lighter opposition, and the generally lower complexity. Having said that, The Tower thing is colossal. One of the standard features of Jim Flynn's maps is the use of major height differences, and sure enough, this isn't a map for vertigo sufferers. I noticed a few interesting possibilities for long-distance jumps, but even with them, the map remains a lengthy and complex adventure. Also, if you like fractal images, you'll probably want to check these maps out too.
- Wack by Jim Flynn
87kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This is a slightly odd one, since it is a large map, fully of tricky puzzles (some of which are frankly over the top), but none of the keys are needed to exit, and it is even reasonably clear that this is possible, since you get the computer map at the start. Odd. For the Enigma version, this was fixed slightly - but even then you only needed the yellow key. Anyway, it's a fun map if you go the long way round, and explore every little nook and cranny.
- Peano by Jim Flynn
52kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This map starts off with a rather repetitive sequence where you meander down through a sequence of hexagons, but quickly improves. The map consists of three separate areas which you visit in succession. For the Enigma version, there was a new and rather swanky starting area from which you teleported to these three areas, and which also included the exit. I think this was a significant improvement, as the exit area in Peano is not overly impressive, and I believe it is possible to get stuck there too.
- Legion Down Under by Jim McColm
123kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This was the subject of one of Doomworld's Old Stuff Chronicles features, and it's certainly a good map: well-balanced, and tricky enough to keep you on your toes throughout. Warmly recommended.
- Brundle's Revenge by Scott Harper
83kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
A moderately large map where it is possible to get into trouble if you are careless, but it should be quite manageable for most Doomers. There's a fair amount of nukage about, with plenty of the smaller monsters, and nothing bigger than the odd baron. Occasionally you'll get teleported into a sticky situation, but this depends on what order you tackle the areas in - the map is fairly non-linear. Design-wise, in addition to the nukage, you get a lot of stone, and plenty of passageways, but nothing claustrophobic. Scott Harper is a mapper I've heard of before, though mainly because he co-authored a map with that guy Jim Flynn.
- Painless by Patrick Hipps (aka Patrix)
85kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
This is one that I uploaded. It's nothing too elaborate or difficult, just a medium-large map that flows quite nicely, and is well balanced in terms of health and ammo. There's a poison pit from which (I think) you can't escape if you fall in. So, like, don't fall in.
- Break-in by Bob Minnick
30kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map
Drab architecture and gameplay. The textfile claims it is a tough map, especially if you go for 100% kills. However, it isn't difficult, whether you seek to kill everything or just make for the exit, as the map is heavily over-ammoed, with plentiful health, and it's low on surprises/ambushes.
- My first level : it's a long and difficult one by Francois Lamoureux
105kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
Well, here's someone who didn't understand what "title" meant. It's a large and reasonably good map, but with rather too much wall-humping needed to find your way out of rooms and areas. The passages are not completely unmarked, but obscure enough to be annoying, I think. Otherwise, the map offers a reasonable challenge, though a little uneven in places, and too much of it is just mowing down cannon-fodder, with imps seemingly taking the place of ettins from Hexen. Don't get too complacent though; at one point there is a cyber to greet you when you enter an area.
- Fearless by James Wilson (aka Shade)
36kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
Made by one of the better-known mappers from the early years. Gameplay isn't too bad, but a fair bit of the "challenge" comes from the overuse of exploding barrels, and some very dark areas. It's a medium-large map with reasonably good flow.
- The Final Conflict by Cliff Pennock
139kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
A very good map. There isn't great variety in textures, but they are used well, and the architecture is good, with some nice touches of reality - we appear to be in some sort of town, with houses, a medical centre, and other typical sorts of buildings. It's all quite simple, but nicely done. At one point there is a little puzzle, where if you look closely on the ground you will find a helpful numeric clue. It reminded me somewhat of the Coke Machine Debug code, but let's not get onto that. The only odd thing was the finish - the four cybers seemed out of keeping with the map's rather gentle gameplay up to that point. For the most part, you're fighting shotgunners and imps in fairly easy environments.
- Carnage by (unknown)
53kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map
This large map is an example of a good 1994 map, so it's a shame the author is unknown. Navigation is quite easy (just the occasional look at the automap is needed), and the gameplay is well balanced, except for a massive ammo surplus towards the end. It shouldn't prove too taxing for most Doomers, but a cyber may come as a shock (there is a neat way to deal with him though, which I'll assume was a deliberate set-piece). Design is OK, though with a fair amount of random shapes. The most common texturing themes are nukage, wood and some of that green marble stuff.
- Cadet by Peter Grundy
55kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map
A medium-sized map with a rather random mixture of themes. It's not exactly clear what it's trying to be, other than a Doom map (which is fair enough, I suppose). There is a bit of a design flaw in that it is possible to exit the map in less than ten seconds and without firing a shot - it just takes a little bit of easy straferunning to get through a window leading to the exit. Personally, I find it a bit difficult to get motivated to look for keys, and kill the monsters that are guarding them, when I know they are not needed. If you do decide to go the long way round, then you won't face much in the way of serious opposition, and if you want to kill everything, you'll need to wait quite a while for all the buggers to teleport in.
- Light of Day by Dan Norman
57kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map
Let's see: repetitive and drab architecture, no real challenge, linear gameplay, a whole succession of rooms packed with barrels intermingled with monsters, and a final battle where you get so many power-ups that you can't really fail. I'd say it's a winner.
- EARTH SCUM by Guy Stockie
180kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map - (img)
Is this the earliest pwad with a voodoo doll? I know of none with earlier dates. The voodoo doll doesn't play a major role though - it just sits there doing very little, and is very unlikely to get caught in any cross-fire. The map plays reasonably well, but with a few too many unmarked doors and passages that you need to find.
- Bludbath by John "Doominator" Ehde
31kb - Doom2.exe - SP/DM - 1 map - (img)
This is a compact little map primarily for DM, but it also contains some monsters, and doesn't play badly as a single-player map (though you'll probably need to take a close look at the automap to find the exit, unless you happen to stumble across it). All the weapons are available, with the bigger ones suitably harder to reach. It's worth a quick look.
- BootCamp: Combat Training by Rich "Weeds" Nagel
16kb - Doom.exe - SP/DM - 1 or 18 maps, depending on how you look at it - (img)
This is the same map repeated 18 times, with varying monster content (although several of the maps just contain no monsters at all). In each skill level, there are different numbers of weapons and barrels. To be honest, I don't see that there is much useful training that can be done in this (these) map(s). Skip it.
- The Brain by Sebastian Kirke
37kb - Doom.exe - DM - 1 map - (img)
A compact deathmatch map. Players will always be within easy reach of a plasma gun and a rocker launcher, and have plenty of freedom to manoeuvre. Inside the central structure, areas are nicely colour-coded, and the fact that doors open in pairs will cause some fun and games. There's also a cool little visual feature, where a corpse is dipped into a pool of nukage.
- Boxing by Mal Blackwell
21kb - Doom2.exe - DM - 1 map (2 versions) - (img)
This one is kind of funny. There's a boxing ring where the action takes place, but you also get an audience of assorted Doom monsters, which don't attack you thanks to the reject map. I'll admit, I succumbed to temptation and beat all the defenceless monsters to pulp with the berserk. A psychologist would probably have something to say about that.
- Booty2 by Booty
7kb - Doom.exe - DM - 1 map
A medium-sized deathmatch map (although you can play it in SP mode if you like) with the fairly big weapons easily accessible, and the BFG only slightly hidden. Connectivity is good, but there is very little height variation.
- LA GALERIA & LA GALERIA DELUXE by Mad_Alex and his Doom-Enemy Jörg
683kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map (2 versions)
A fairly challenging, medium-sized map with ugly design and dreadful sound replacements. You may wish to use your favourite wad tool to get rid of those sound effects, but you're probably better off just playing a better wad.
- NO MERCY FOR DOOM II by MAD ALEX & DIEBELS
928kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map
The same comments apply as for the previous wad, but the gameplay is a little more interesting here - it's more non-linear, with scope for creative strategy.
- The Un-official Master Levels for Doom II FAQ Version 1.02 by Henrik Larsen
49kb - HTML document
This is a well-known FAQ from a few years ago, providing a wealth of information about the Master Levels. How much work and research went into it is shown by the fact that this is a text-only HTML file, yet it zips to no less than 49kb. Given that it was no longer available online (even via the Internet Archive, oddly), I decided it made sense to upload a copy to the archive.