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The Top 100 WADs Of All Time: 2003

2003 seems to have brought back source port domination as eight of these ten maps require some kind of source port, four of which require ZDoom, and one (the first on our list) needing jDoom to run. The 2003 wads are interesting because a variety of them, even if they don't alter Doom's fundamentals, look to other resources. Wheather it be the temple textures of Brotherhood of Ruin and Doom Raider, the Hexen feel of Void, or the conversion of Doom into, well, another version of Doom, most of these will alter your perception of Doom in one way or another. What exactly does the future hold in 2004 and beyond? Only time will tell, but comparing these ten maps with the ten of 1994, it's anybodys guess.

Phobos: Anomaly Reborn - Chris Lutz

Since its release, PAR has been cited whenever someone wants to know about a wad with excellent detail and the effects possible with Boom. In fact, some parts are so detailed that they cause performance issues on some machines. With lots of faux 3D, tons of instant movement sectors, and plenty of voodoo dolls on conveyer belts (one of the earliest Boom tricks), PAR's levels are nothing short of spectacular. Sadly Chris overlooked gameplay at some points, so the levels can drag in the gameplay department sometimes, but even so, the amazing look of the maps is certainly worth the price of admission. (Cyb)

Void - Mike "Cyb" Watson

Mike Watson's latest effort, Void is basically nothing like Doom, and probably like nothing you've ever played before. Inspired by the third person action game Alice, Void throws the player into a bizarre, confusing world, where you walk on ceilings, grow and shrink, and navigate crumbling hallways hovering within a, well, void. The work continues Watson's experiments with turning Doom into something different, and while you do run around and blast monsters with a shotgun, there are also twisted new weapons and enemies, some strange puzzles, and a battle with a space marine doppelganger. The difficulty ramps up at the end of the level, but it is well worth it. (Ling)

Scythe - Erik Alm

One review of Scythe called it, of all things, "cute", and I am inclined to agree. Created primarily by Erik Alm, Scythe is a megawad which doesn't rely on sprawling levels, though the difficulty increases quite a bit as you progress. The levels are mostly small with exceptional flow, and throw at the player a steady stream of challenging but situations ranging from you against a couple enemies with only a chainsaw to you against a couple hundred enemies with a full BFG and lots of health. It's a welcome change of pace from large, complex maps that can take an hour to complete: the whole megawad itself can be finished in a handful of hours. Additionally, it is one hell of a co-op megawad, as I can attest to personally. (Ling)

Brotherhood of Ruin - Kristian Aro

Brotherhood of Ruin is some good stuff. With use of new temple-like textures and maps set in rock temples and rocky landscapes, Ruinbros has a very unique feel to it which is unlike the majority of Doom maps which are mostly tech base or hellish themed. The gameplay is also something to take note of. Most of the time you'll do battle in cramped areas where monsters are sprung on you with relatively little room to move around initially. However, Kristian has taken precautions to allow the player to back out of these areas, so there may be some tight battles, but there's always a method of retreat. A small side note, you may be wondering why Ruinbros is in 2003 when it's release was 2001. Our somewhat liberal method of placing wads allowed us to do this because it was uploaded to the archives in 2003. You could complain about it if you wanted, but instead why don't you play the maps? (Cyb)

Doom 64: Absolution - Various

Doom64 was Doom's trip to the Nintendo 64 many years ago. Unlike most other console Doom ports, Doom64 featured new sprites, new maps, and even some new monsters and weapons. The Doom64 TC, as you may have guessed, is an attempt to port Doom 64 to PC using the Doomsday engine. Was it successful? Very much so. It seems jDoom is perfect for emulating Doom64 which features a variety of colored lighting and some very basic scripting. While the sprites and sounds are taken right from Doom64, the levels are emulations of the Doom64 ones made from scratch (a very impressive feat) and there are even some TC-only additions such as some new monsters and alterations to some of the maps. While many think it doesn't feel exactly like Doom should, it certainly is an interesting change to Doom, and well worth checking out. (Cyb)

Massmouth 2 - Mike 'Cyb' Watson

Massmouth 2 is the sequel to, well, Massmouth 1, where you took control of a one-eyed alien being who had to run around collecting rare items for his worm boss. Massmouth 2 picks up afterwards -- the worm is kidnapped by John Romero, and as Massmouth you are on a quest to save him. The partial conversion sens you to various alien worlds where you do such things as order around scientists at gunpoint, be led through caverns by a British-sounding floating orb, and squish miniature John Carmacks. As you might imagine it is extremely tongue in cheek and its author manages to balance interesting gameplay with crazy, funny plot twists. (Ling)

Doom Raider - Russell Pearson

2003 is a good year to cite when you think about ZDoom maps that really started to show just how powerful ZDoom has become, and Doom Raider is an excellent showcase of that power. Loosely based around the Tomb Raider games, Doom Raider puts you into a tomb that would make Indiana Jones soil himself. You'll face off against sinking floors, poisinous gas, airborn spikes, insane jumping puzzles and that's just in the first part of the map. After all that you'll face some impressive (and formidable) arch-vile bosses and escape the tomb in the true spirit of a cunning archeologist by running from a deadly boulder. The level, which uses some excellent new textures, is one of the best looking and most fun I have played, and is a beautiful change from standard Doom gameplay and breathes new life into a ten year old game. (Cyb)

Helpyourselfish - Chris 'c-cooper' Hansen

I might be a little biased since I was a beta tester for this map, but I think I can safely say that this map is excellent. Chris Hansen's third offering on our top 100 wads list, this map is big, mean, detailed and overall great. The map's main theme is brick and metal, however the theme varies enough (using different textures) that it never seems repetitive but not varied enough that it seems disjointed and random. Normally I'm somewhat put off by large maps since I tend to get lost in them, but this map, despite the size, sets out a pretty linear path for the player, so you could call it a huge map for people who hate huge maps. It's not, though, a hard map for people who hate hard maps, as you'll need a good amount of skill to beat this even on skill 3, and also some more skill (and some luck) avoiding the numerous ambushes. (Cyb)

RTC-3057 Demo - Many

The RTC-3057 demo is deceptively short: the zipfile is nearly nine megabytes, and yet the level itself can be beaten in under five minutes if you know what you're doing. But all this space is put towards making Doom feel like a modern game. There's a great deal of scripting, an entire opening sequence, lots and lots of custom sounds and music, tons of new textures, and so on. The text file calls it the "future of Doom" -- while this is debatable, it certainly is reminscient of many of the current crop of FPSes with its well-crafted level design, scripted sequences, puzzles, and so on. I shudder to think of how big the final version will be. (Ling)

Space Station Omega - Ethan 'GooberMan' Watson

Space Station Omega is one of those ZDoom maps sets the bar just a little bit higher. It's no question that right now ZDoom has the most powerful scripting system which allows you to manipulate a multitude of things within a map. Once you know that it's just a matter of seeing how far exactly you can take it. As a level alone, SSO is a good map. It's set on a space station (as the name might imply) and makes good use of slopes, skyboxes and various scriptings. However, where the map really shines is the story line. Perhaps inspired by Deus Ex, GooberMan has implemented an extensive conversation script which allows you to not only talk to characters you may meet, but also choose what you say to them (sort of like those Choose Your Own Adventure books you may have read when you were a kid). Along with that the map is pretty non-linear, with the various choices you make at one point having some effect on the path you take as well as events occurring later. Excellent stuff. (Cyb)