Doom the Way id Did
If you haven't heard about Doom the Way id Did by now, then good news! DTWID started out as a take on the idea of "lost levels", trying to produce facsimiles of maps that could be seamlessly inserted into the running order of the original Doom trilogy. Many long, boring essays were written about the "essence" of the original maps and the styles of their authors, and even some criticizing perceived shortcomings of the finished product. In the end, what we got was a phenomenal Doom OG megaWAD and a boatload of actual "lost" (cut) levels, enough for six more episodes, which if nothing else serves as a showcase of the boundless enthusiasm that keeps this community straferunning.
What I like most about DTWID isn't how well the authors performed when trying to imitate the styles of Romero, Hall and Peterson (which they nailed anyway). It's how impossible it is to stamp out the individual quirks of the mappers. The result is something that feels remarkably like vanilla Doom and yet different; perhaps an alternate universe release complete with episode openers and boss maps. My favorite example is Jacob "ellmo" Zuchowski's "The Inner Sanctum" (E3M7), where monsters appear to emerge from the inky darkness that surrounds the island fortress. This difference in character becomes more marked as you play through each episode, yet it's close enough to keep that classic feel, just freshened up.
The difficulty has been stepped up quite a bit for this mapset, again getting trickier as you play through. This is great for people who've done the original Doom to death to the point that they can sleepwalk through Limbo. Throw it all together with brand new intermission graphics and an optional soundtrack courtesy of Mr. Freeze and you have one of the few WADs that was practically guaranteed a Cacoward this year. Not because it's a carbon copy of the originals, but because of the indelible stamp left by the Doom community on its own works.
Strife: Absolute Order
Even in acknowledging the Doom community's knack for perseverance, I must admit that -- were it not for the release of this project -- I may have come to anticipate its reading of "Strife" as a word merely for bitter conflict, or as a misspelling of one for crab-like movement. The many promotional plaudits made by the author as well as the advances in Quasar's Chocolate Strife did little in my mind to suggest that the game
had ceased its slide into an irrevocable obscurity. However, history would argue against me on this point, waving defiantly in the direction of Curse of D'sparil as proof of a game that had resurged to popularity in a single, deft movement, and I am consequently made to wonder if the revival of Rogue Entertainment's RPG is more a question of "when," rather than "if."
Enter Absolute Order, and one of this year's best releases. Khorus demonstrates an understanding of Strife's gameplay that inherits positively from his experience with Doom, something made evident by his decision to forego interaction and story-driven elements in favour of warfare. The result is a set of maps that is as accessible to the wider community as it is enjoyable to play through. The player embarks on a dangerous romp through steely, waterlogged corridors and gluey-green organics in pursuit of a newfound Order, dismembering all manner of robots and having a damn fun time in the process. What faults arise are mainly due to the failings inherent in Strife's bestiary and arsenal, but perhaps most noteworthy of all positives is Khorus's ability to curb these faults through ingenuity in design.
In fact, one could strike up an endless list of positives and have that consist the text behind the award, but it would fail to remark upon the motive behind the work that demands the highest praise. Absolute Order shows all the signs of a designer who loves mapping (and Strife!), and whose payoff comes more from the process than the recognition. In addition to its representing the frontier of design for id Tech 1, this is what makes the mapset not only an immensely enjoyable experience but an uplifting and inspiring one at that.
Is this the wave forward for Strife's return to prominence? I put it to the community that it is. If it is not, then I am the famed German filmmaker Werner Herzog... and I will eat my shoe.
Before we start, I feel that I should get something off my chest: we cheated. Sorry, guys, but we've given a Cacoward to a map for another engine. By all visible judgment, Ed's 'Putrefier' shouldn't qualify, because it's not actually a Doom map at all. Right, guys?
At the very least, some of you immediately first thought this upon seeing a glimpse. Putrefier, a single GZDoom map for Doom 2, not only raises the bar but megablasts it up to "how the hell is that even possible?" heights. Putrefier is set in an imposing UAC facility filled with shadows, beasties, and architecture straight out of an idTech 3 game. As you descend into the base, things get weirder, with creepy malfunctioning technology and demonic spaghetti crawling out of the walls in a sickeningly cool manner. There are no fanciful scripted cutscenes, but the thick atmosphere of the map suggests that the experience is part of a larger narrative than what's visible on the surface (a notion heavily reinforced by the set-up to a brilliantly-done boss battle). It's a feeling that you'd be hard-pressed to find in most wads, much less a single map, yet I'll be damned if I wasn't immersed fifty feet deep.
Putrefier is more than just a pretty face, of course. The fights are tough and frantic, with the cramped environment adding to the tension rather than distracting from it. While there's a fair bit of running back and forth in a "what did that switch do?" sort of manner, the theming and visuals are so amazing and the actual gunplay tight enough that you just might not care.
Gushing aside, it's rather astonishing how a single man has been able to take an engine developed in 1993 and craft something that looks better than most games did in 2003. To be perfectly blunt, if id were to contract all of Doom 4 to an office full of of Eds, we'd end up with the best sequel in existence. Plus, "Ed Software" has a nice ring to it.
- Doom The Way id Did
- Strife: Absolute Order
- 5till L1 Complex
- Community Chest IV
- The Eye
- Combat Shock 2
- Winter's Fury
- Base Ganymede: Complete
- Best Multiplayer
- Best Gameplay Mod
- Mordeth Award
- Mapper of the Year
2012 has been a great year for releases, so to celebrate, we've chosen a considerably larger number of runners-up this time (five, to be exact). Stay tuned!
Sometimes, crazier is better. Though a bit rough in the mapping department, Beyond Reality cranks the nuttiness to eleven and bombards the player with an insane cast of enemies like micro-demons, flying crates, and living shish kebabs. Complete with a nicely-picked electro module soundtrack, this journey stretches from emerald factories to crate cities and beyond. It just goes to show that while Mockery-style jokewads may be dead, their spirit will always find a way to live on.
Oh, and it includes the kitchen sink.
Masters of Chaos
Caleb & Doom_Warrior
It's not every year someone unloads a Heretic megaWAD, much less one with 31 levels. Masters of Chaos, for ZDoom, features new weapons and new monsters (borrowing from Hexen and the repository) and quite the assortment of playing areas, from foggy forests to snow-covered gardens mixed among the typical Heretic strongholds. The only things holding it back are some occasional but serious missteps in design that give it an uneven quality. Here's looking forward to the next!
THE SKY MAY BE
Though most of us here would claim to be a Doomer for life, the journey for some ends far too early. 2011 and 2012 saw several members of the community, both former and active, leave our ranks for good. 2011 saw the departure of long-time Doomworlder Mitchell "engineer" Keesee and Doom Wad Station staple Jean-Yves "Jive" Delpech. A scant year later, we lost Callum "Phobosdeimos1" Oliver, a relative newcomer and avid DTWID contributor; Joe "DOOMMANN" Abene, record-holding COMPET-N speedrunner; and Kim "Mutator" Malde, known for his Alien Vendetta contributions including the legendary MAP20, "Misri Halek".
This is always a difficult column to write, as the life these good folk poured into this community is worth far more than any words of mine can describe. The best we can do is keep them in our memories as we venture forth. I know I sure will.
Mitchell Curtis Keesee
Apr 19, 1988 - Sep 26, 2011
Dec 3, 1953 - Nov 28, 2011
Callum Guy Oliver
Oct 21, 1993 - Jan 10th, 2012
Sep 25, 1961 - Jun 15, 2012
Kim André Malde
Jun 2, 1980 - Sep 7, 2012