Spider Mastermind

The Top 100 WADs Of All Time: 1998

In 1998, the number of new WADs began to drop dramatically, and those that were released were primarily single-level affairs -- indeed, our list for this year includes only two megawads, down from five in 1997. The drop in quantity was made up for, however, with a rise in visual quality as people focused more attention on detail. This was assisted by the appearance of the first source ports which removed limits, although only one WAD this year (Run Buddy) requires one.

Gothic DM 2 - Various

I'll be honest. Gothic DM 2's gameplay is, well, sub-optimal. OK, fine, I've tried deathmatch in this WAD on occasion, and quite frankly, it sucks hard. There's little bits sticking out of all the walls messing up your movement and the flow is pretty cramped. So why is it listed here? Set your phasers to shallow: because Gothic 2 was, as still is, one of the absolutely prettiest examples of doom2.exe-compatible architecture ever made. I cannot overemphasize how much influence Gothic DM 2 had on the evolution of Doom's aesthetics. It was really, really, ridiculously good looking. (Ling)

Cyberdreams - Prèsage

Cyberdreams, to this day, is one of the most unique and well thought-out megawads made. Instead of the standard Doom gameplay of 'find a switch, find a key, open a door, kill some monsters' Cyberdreams revolvs around Cyberdemons which you must kill. However you aren't given any weapons, so you need to be quick thinking (and a little lucky) and lure them to crushers or telefrag them all while avoiding incoming rockets. (Cyb)

Phobos - Roger Ritenour

If you've ever felt somewhat put off by Doom's limited architecture abilities, then you ought to play this wad some time and see just what is possible. Not only does Ritenour stretch the very limits of the doom engine (this wad is 100% compatible with doom2.exe) but he creates many, many scenes that are as realistic looking as anything you have seen in real life. These maps will very simply cause your jaw to drop on many occasions with their simply stunning texture work and special effects. From control towers, to power lines, to a sign swinging in the wind, to an airplane that takes off, the visuals here are nothing short of spectacular, and still largely unmatched five years later. The downside? Well, sadly the maps don't play very well. However, you'll probably forgive Mr. Ritenour for that when you see them. (Cyb)

Earth - Roger Ritenour

The original version of Earth was actually released in 97, but it was lost in a file mixup and reuploaded in 98, which is why it's listed as a 98 wad. At any rate, Roger Ritenour has outdone himself with this map. While the gameplay is a bit lacking at points, it showcases some really cool effects and scenery, including an ocean with waves crashing into the shore and some rocks. As you'd expect from Roger Ritenour, this wad is quite awesome to see, though somewhat lacking in gameplay. As with Phobos, you'll forgive him though. (Cyb)

Venom - Ola Björling

When you think of Ola Björling, you probably think about lighting. In fact back in 98 some of us used the term 'Ola-QRAD lighting' to describe the smoothed lighting Ola was famous for. QRAD is the name of a lightmap compiler for Quake 2. At any rate, Venom is Ola's second solo effort (after the original Tantrum) and it not only looks great, but it's quite a challenge, but would you expect any less from Ola? (Cyb)

Tantrum 2 - Ola Björling

This is Ola's third (and most recent) solo effort. Tantrum 2 is actually a revision of the original Tantrum, with revamped sections, better detailing and lighting and some parts have been reworked to be less linear than the original. Tantrum 2 is everything Tantrum and Venom were, and more. The lighting and architecture are nothing short of spectacular, and the gameplay is top notch, if not a bit over the top at points. Still though, this is easily one of the best single maps of all time, and rivals the likes of Alien Vendetta five years before its release. (Cyb)

Dickie 10 - Richard Wiles

Richard Wiles' wads appear on this list numerous times so it wouldn't be a 'best of' list without the dickie series. Originally I was going to include the entire series, but that seemed a bit excessive, especially when a map series spans multiple years (though dickie doesn't, all ten maps were released in 98). So instead I selected what I think is the best one of the ten, and that happens to be the series finale. Dickie 10 is set in a hellish sort of place which showcases some excellent architecture and some very large areas. The map isn't too hard, but it's enough of a challenge that you won't get bored from it being too easy, especially the end area which has a lot of sniping monsters and various other tough situations. (Cyb)

Run Buddy - Michael Krause

If I could pick one word to describe Michael Krause's maps it would be "gigantic". Krause's style is pretty easy to spot as all his architecture is two times the size of the average Doom map. This not only gives you the feeling that you've shrunk, but it makes for some epic maps. Run Buddy is no doubt one of his very best. It houses a consistant theme, great gameplay (which is hard, but you've got pleanty of room to run around), and the massive architecture that is his signature. In a year of GothicDM2, Tantrum 2, Phobos and Earth, Run Buddy is something of a ray of sunshine as it certainly doesn't share their detail level, but without a doubt is one of the most fun and unique maps of the year. (Cyb)

Odessa 14 - Bob Evans

I remember when this wad came out in '98 and thinking how great it was. It looked cool, sounded cool, and played great. I just played it again for the first time in probably close to four years and it seems I knew what I was talking about in '98 (well, at least in this case). While it's no GothicDM2 (but then, what is?) it certainly is an excellent looking map, I especially like the marble pillars area, very cool stuff. The map is pretty challenging as well, with plenty of chaingunners and imps sniping you, as well as a good deal of revenants and a ton of lost souls (which never fail to be annoying). Overall, looks great, plays great, and I really like the use of Hexen sounds and textures. Now if I could only figure out where the other thirteen Odessa maps went. (Cyb)

Crestfallen - Martin "[cocoon]" Friberg

Cresfallen can best be described as a forgotten classic. I remember when this map was released back in 98 and thinking that it was really, really good. Even to this day when I play it, it's still got some excellent detail for a map that's over five years old. Perhaps the only downside to this map is the fact that it's rather short, though getting past it is no easy task. Even so, despite the small size, it's a very excellent map, and well worth checking out. (Cyb)