The Top 100 WADs Of All Time: 2002

Our 2002 list showcases a good amount of large projects with eight WADs containing multiple maps and even a project with its very own source port. The major release of Alien Vendetta along with releases like CH-Retro Episode also proved that vanilla Doom maps were very much still coming as the count of total source port maps goes down to six this year, from seven last year and eight before that. Quite a few 'classic' type sets were also released this year, perhaps showcasing that some wanted to return to Doom's original roots, which includes four maps requiring Ultimate Doom to play.

Alien Vendetta - Various

Alien Vendetta can probably be considered the last great classical megawad. In the tradition of Memento Mori, Requiem and Hell Revealed, Alien Vendetta was crafted by a number of different level authors, showcases some of the finest maps seen at the time, and all while being able to run on doom2.exe. Perhaps AV's single downfall is its high difficulty level. Playing it on Ultra Violence is suicide for most Doomers, and even on the lower settings some of the maps may prove difficult for some. Still, when taken into consideration overall (and be sure to run through a couple maps with nomonsters on one day) AV is simply an amazing effort and indeed deserving of a place here. In fact, I (and many others) would go as far to put AV in the top ten wads of all time. Even if the gameplay isn't your thing, you will simply not find a better collection of 32 maps, and you probably won't ever again. (Cyb)

2002: A Doom Odyssey - Various

2002 A Doom Odyssey: You're Ticket Back to Hell. I'm a ticket! All joking aside, ADO is an Ultimate Doom megawad which replaces all 36 maps. The maps mostly stick to the theme of the original Ultimate Doom, though episode 2 deviates to a hellish theme for a few maps, and episode 4 is more of a hybrid between episode 1 and episode 4 at times, but for the most part they're themed after Ultimate Doom. The maps are quite nice, though the detailing is simplistic (it's no Vrack2 or P:AR), but not simple enough that the maps look bare. Gameplay for the most part isn't too tough, though there are parts that will challenge your skills. Overall, this is an excellent (and rare) Ultimate Doom megawad, and well worth the time it'll take to play all those maps. (Cyb)

Caverns of Darkness - The Chaos Crew

Caverns of Darkness is best known for exhibiting Chris Lutz's insane lust for detail that later came to fruition in Phobos: Anomaly Reborn. CoD, as it's called for short, is a 12-level partial conversion taking the player through a series of well-rendered levels that range from outdoors to tech-base to freaky-hellish. There are lots of faux-3D constructs and other architectural flourishes to keep the player engaged through the hellish battles encountered. CoD also makes use of a source mod to add in ambient sounds and even a new weapon, a rarity in such efforts. Overall, a very nice play. (Ling)

Dark 7 and Mission Pack - Bryant Robinson

Though Dark 7 and the mission pack are technicaly two wads (you don't need Dark 7 to play the mission pack) we're including they both because they just seem to fit together. Dark 7 is loved by many, and considered to be one of the best (if not the best) ZDoom mapset ever made. The Doom gameplay remains and it enhanced by scripting where you need to run various missions such as switching off a reactor, gaining access to locked out locations or shutting off grid lasers. Dark 7's signature is the snow-filled landscape it takes place on, which I think is an excellent contrast to the dark, cold base areas (which are very remnisciant of Quake 2) that you spend most of your time in. The mission pack is even better, with enhanced scripts, better looking maps, and even a cutscene at the beginning. These are two wads any avid ZDoom fan should not be without. (Cyb)

Nimrod - Unholy Software

I feel almost guilty right now because I've never done a single thing to deserve getting to play Nimrod. I haven't had so much fun playing not just Doom but any FPS game in a long, long time. If somehow you don't know already this is a ten map (Map01-Map10) Doom 2 partial conversion for Doom Legacy that gives you the role of a half-machine warrior 30 years after the happenings of the original doom games. 'Oh no, I detect a hint of plot!' Yes, there'll be a twist or two... coupled with the awesome dark, apocalyptic atmosphere, Nimrod would make a swank comic book. As for the maps themselves, they're well, simply beatiful. Legacy 3d is used expertly to create complex architecture and scenery and lighting levels are used excellently to add that 'creepy' feeling where it's needed. The gameplay borders on the line of an adventure game, with puzzles to solve next to the classic shoot'em'up gameplay. All in all, Nimrod is frigging amazing and you should download it now. (Liam the Bard)

CH Retro Episode - Christian 'c-cooper' Hansen

CH-Retro is quite possibly the best episode 1 ever made. The maps are all great, and give off that episode 1 feel (unlike Classic Episode, which sometimes deviates) while being more detailed than the original episode 1. The architecture is pretty simplistic for the most part (mainly to keep doom.exe compatibility), but even so it still looks great, and of course an over-detailed episode 1 just seems odd. The maps aren't too tough, all keep up with the regular episode 1 theme of being mainly populated by former humans and imps, with a few demons thrown in and of course a baron of hell battle at the end. Overall, quite an excellent piece of work, and if you're at all a fan of episode 1 then you ought to check this out. (Cyb)

Ruma - Espi

Set mostly in a canyon and some base areas in the surrounding parts, Ruma is an all around solid map. The majority of the map consists of the canyon area, which houses some good fights and also may be the source of some frustration as it contains a good amount of monsters that can swarm and snipe you. Once you clear out that spot the rest of the map becomes fairly easy, though as you progress through the base areas it will fill up with more monsters (usually revenants). Ruma also showcases an excellent looking suspension bridge made of rope, which is one of the coolest looking 3D bridges I've seen in Doom (if not the coolest, usually they come across looking somewhat corny when they use one of the step textures). Sadly, Ruma kind of got overlooked when it was released, but overall it's quite an excellent map, and easily one of the best single map releases of 2002. (Cyb)

License to Spell Doom - Stephen "The Ultimate Doomer" Clark

Ultimate Doom episodes seem to get more and more rare as the years go by, so any that come along are pretty welcome additions to Doom. Well, LTSD is not only for Ultimate Doom (replacing all of episode 4) but also specific to ZDoom. The episode starts off a little weak, with the first map being pretty bland and also annoying (the ambient wind sound is not fun to hear), but after that there are a series of base maps which are quite strong. Most are nicely detailed (though there are some sparse areas) and make good use of slopes, and a good amount of faux 3D floors are used throughout. The scripting, while not really 'cutting edge' (and even a little dodgy at many points) add some nice enhancements to the gameplay, and you always have a mission so you feel very busy the entire time, especially during one of the many 'escape before the base explodes' sequences. Aside from some minor issues the episode is quite nice in terms of looks and gameplay so if you haven't yet you ought to check it out. (Cyb)

Rip It, Tear It, Smash It - Chris 'c-cooper' Hansen

From author of CH Retro Episode comes another excellent wad, this in the theme of episode 2. The maps are very well laid out and remind me very much of the style of episode 2. That would be, not quite as techy as episode 1, but nowhere near as hellish as episode 3. I think Chris nailed it right on the head with these two maps. Going into each one slightly, the first map is pretty short and straightforward. However, it's not easy in any sense since you don't have enough ammo to miss too much. The second map is much larger and more of a challenge with cacodemons thrown in many places and two barons in a fight at the end. The architecture of each map is beautiful and the textures all work very well together. Grab this one. (Cyb)

Congestion Control - Karthik Abhiram

As the title of the map might suggest, this map is all about the congestion. If you're a fan of tight-space fights (as I know some of you are) then you'll absolutely love this map. Of course, even if you aren't a fan of them, you might still want to check out this map, just because it looks so great. This is one of those maps that doesn't quite stick to a single texture theme, but the author somehow manages to make it work, so you're left with a map that's pretty colorful. It's also an excellent challenge on UV with some great fights and rarely a dull moment. When you finally get to the exit of this map (which doesn't take too long as it's not a gigantic map) you'll probably feel like you've accomplished something. (Cyb)