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Urania

   (36 reviews)
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You need Plutonia IWAD for this. Plot: Urania - a planet that suddenly appeared in the solar system. Many years ago there lived advanced civilizations, and now it is teeming with monsters. You were sent to Urania as part of the international battalion, in order to eliminate the cause of the monsters spawning from portals which terrorize the population and prevent us us excavate on the nearby planets. But now your comrades are killed and you are left alone face to face with an army of monsters on an alien planet.


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Hells Kitchen

  

Everything you hated about Plutonia magnified 1000x. 

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Demtor

· Edited by Demtor

  

This is a quality wad but prepare to die unless you heed the warnings about the difficulty settings. HMP will in fact, hurt you plenty. UV is for those looking to have more of an extremely frustrating time. That said, there are a handful of gems to be found in this map set along with a few down right mean ones. On the average though, this is really good quality stuff if you don't mind having to spend a little extra time looking for switches/keys in sometimes obscure places. Beware of hitscanners in small places at odd angles. This is a Plutonia inspired affair so buckle up. It's not exactly my cup of tea but I found the creativity of this one man creation to be inspiring. If you want a detailed look into each map, I encourage you to go through the Wad of the Month write ups as we all learned how to cope with it's originality and peculiar design choices. Or, skip to then end to get a fully thought out summary of this wad.

 

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CapnClever

  

Playability notes: It is designed with vanilla limitations in mind, but avoid Chocolate Doom as I found multiple game-crashing VPOs over the course of my own playthrough: other than that, pick whatever flavor of source port suits you (prboom-plus on -complevel 4 for Final Doom). Though the maps have pistol start in mind, continuous play is recommended, as the former adds yet more challenge that may be undesirable.

 

Urania is a mapset that is difficult for difficulty's sake, and while it is incredibly good at doing this it simply does not know when to let up. The visual theme is that of Plutonia, using the very same textures and a few others, and crafts an intriguing architecture that is reminiscent of both it and TNT: Evilution. Many clever twists are included that extend vanilla gameplay far more than would otherwise be expected, producing maps that are quite long to get through in spite of their apparent size. All of this, however, is overshadowed by the intensity of the gameplay, best likened to a jigsaw puzzle of which each piece must be meticulously and carefully selected, arranged, and combined to form the full picture. While this is a valid, though uncommon, means by which Doom can be constructed, to fashion this in nearly every map becomes desensitizing, and when combined with its dense difficulty curve the experience is depreciated.


It's difficult to briefly describe what Urania provides as a mapset other than density, which itself carries undue connotations. I would do better to instead submit some overall patterns relating to said density witnessed over the course of playing:

  • Ever-present turrets, usually hitscanners or Revenants, placed in small holes or along the walls or within towers; occasionally obscured by midtextures that make it difficult or unable to see the enemy; and distinctly though infrequently exposed in an intermittent or random manner, either brought up and down using slow elevators or scattered on long walkways, capable of messing with the player's relative safety for long periods of time
  • Monster closets or teleportation activated by unnoticeable linedefs such as stairs or short jumps, or as a result of unintuitive sound sector-joining, or placed far beyond the current location; often managed in such a way that requires retreat on some level (though which direction is not always apparent)
  • Progression that requires simple yet thorough exploration, with switches hidden behind typical purview, lifts that must be followed to all destinations, and plain walking into nooks and crannies that lower a wall; as well as key-markings that don't necessarily indicate the requirement of a key, occasionally used to allow for more than three effective key-use pairings (though at times the visibility/intuition aspect is outright ignored); and repeated handling of key-switch-door triads to increase length between key points of progression
  • Enemies, often Barons or Hell Knights, placed so as to certainly delay progression: sometimes as an ammo tax, sometimes as a weapon requirement, but most often to allow the player to be inflicted by the rest of the encounter should it not yet be handled
  • Recurrent use of compact space, mostly in the form of hallways, giving the player very little room to navigate and easily bump into walls that negate speed buildup; combined with variations in height that tend to give enemies the advantage rather than the player, or sector detailing that trips up both player and monster alike
  • Occasional intermittent platforms, used for lifts or walls, impeding the ability to progress in the face of enemies that simply cannot be dodged

If several of these things sound bothersome and unenjoyable to you, then I would say that Urania is not a set you would want to play. If they do sound enjoyable and interesting to you, then you will be delighted to hear that this is how Urania is structured at its very core.

 

Some highlights of the set:

  • Maps like MAP04, MAP13, and MAP19 do a good job of keeping the player under pressure without suffocating them, with a number of ways to approach progression and a steady pace of combat.
  • Then there are maps like MAP02, MAP12, and MAP17 that really close in with specific requirements and goals, in which the player has little agency of their own and must explicitly carry out the expectations of the level.
  • Filling out the spectrum are maps like MAP10, MAP26, and MAP28 in which combat is almost an afterthought, a mere impediment to progression, and the quality of encounters suffers greatly for it.
  • MAP32 tries to be a kind of slaughter map but ultimately lacks dynamics, leading to a map that mostly contains more hundreds of enemies than it does encounter types.
  • There are a bunch of instances where progression feels incredibly lacking, where there is a sense of "one step forward, two steps back". MAP03, MAP31, and MAP22 embody this sensation.
  • By contrast, there are some well-progressed levels, like MAP09, MAP20, and MAP27, consisting of a definite flow from start to finish.
  • MAP18 is a set-piece of a map that fits what Urania does in a small package, showing that the pervading intensity can exist in small sizes, and is an oasis in the desert that comes with the rest of the pacing.
  • The finale, MAP30, is a clever double-take that employs an obvious Icon of Sin setup, averts it, and then reverts the expectation.

 

If these general observations and inferences sound more like a 3 (at least on my scale), of being quite playable while not standing out, then you'd be right. I want to be clear that these maps probably rate higher individually than they do as a single mapset (and why a simple numerical system will always lack the sufficiency of a proper recommendation). Difficulty in Doom can occur from a number of places: non-combat progression, resource scarcity, static and dynamic zones of threat, and so on. Urania excels in balancing all of these things simultaneously, which is its greatest strength but also its greatest weakness: anyone looking for only one or two types of challenge will be turned off by the rest, and while none of the aspects are exceptionally hard, it is a rare player that seeks such a degree of mental fortitude. Ultimately, there are very few moments of brilliance seen here, though also few moments of ineptitude, and as such most of these maps play favorably as far as game design is concerned.

 

What really drags Urania down is the pacing of the set. Even though many of these maps carry some subtle variations in how they are approached and progressed through, it remains that these variations are noise when compared to the enveloping signal of repeated elements, over and over again. Often this isn't felt by mapsets that lack the necessary difficulty to make it noticeable, but because Urania tries (and primarily succeeds) to bring along so many types of difficulty, it becomes numbing to deal with them over time. Every map is a puzzle, every map is a mountain, every map is a walk through the mud, every map is a blitz: with rare exception, this is the story that Urania tells. And while there are still players that will relish such a monotonous challenge, as a point of game design this is a flawed approach that engenders dissatisfaction and apathy.

 

I recommend that this mapset be handled quite slowly, never expecting to go more than 2 or 3 maps in one sitting. Play carefully and thoughtfully, and make use of markers on the automap. Maybe even play other maps in between sittings. There are unique maps to be had here, if not particularly outstanding, and if you like to be challenged then it's worth a try.

 

This was played for the Doomworld Megawad Club, and my reviews of each individual map are available in the following posts:

 

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galileo31dos01

· Edited by galileo31dos01

  

Done with these settings:

 

- Crispy Doom 3.5

- Hurt Me Plenty and Ultra-Violence.

- Continuous and many pistol starts.

- Saves.

 

Amazing megawad. I had a lot of fun, as well as a lot of anger moments, but this is totally a challenging mapset. Won't deny I raged quit several times, you have to be very patient to play this wad. As a mapset that claims to be Plutonia inspired, there are also lots of TNT homages, to the point the gameplay felt like a fusion between the two. That being said, visuals are simply Final Doom-ish, with lots of nice buildings and cool use of liquids, specially in maps 04 and 16.  

 

There are a few confusing switches in some levels, not a fan of that, it didn't really affect my gameplay in a serious bad way though. Some maps do have obtuse progression, while others are a total clear adventure/action pack. Again, patience is required. I noticed that ammo can be a problem for pistol starters, though the author recommends to play in sequence, yet ammo is meant to be used wisely and carefully. When it comes to monster placement, traps and such things, well, did I mention patience is required?. Heavy use of revenants and chaingunners, nasty I would say, annoying objectively talking. Slow approach is the way, and I personally don't have a problem with that, but that's something generally perceived as bad. I remember in map 24, the pace had to be so slow that it became tedious, as I had to be playing hide and seek all the time. Maps 29 and 32 had very brutal starts, didn't enjoy being blasted off constantly or being spitted with flying skulls in pitch darkness. 

 

Secrets are very clever, some are good, some can be hard to find. My favourite maps are in the second episode, the blue sky is just beautiful and blends good with the atmosphere. Maps 16 and 19 are in between the best ones in my opinion. 

 

So, I did enjoy this more than it looks like, it was a 9 for me back then, even though I would rate it a 7 nowadays, so maybe the appropiate number is 8/10. (sorry Rider, don't mind my numbers).

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Spectre01

  
A masterpiece of huge, non-linear map design combined with brutal action. Tests both your navigation and combat skills.

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trrobin

  
A challenging and fun wad, once you get into the swing of things. Up to that point it's quite frustrating, but be patient and you will be rewarded. It does have it's problems but it's mostly good throughout. 3.7 overall.

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Zalewa

  
WAD of absolute mental massacre. All 32 maps are long and tough. This WAD will take several days to beat. The difficulty is unrelenting, but fair. You must think carefully about your every step. This makes progressing through the WAD a great fun, actually, if you accept this kind of gameplay. What's not fun is the confusing behavior of switches, running around, and vital progression steps being better hidden than some secrets.

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AnonimVio

  
Terrible hitscan spamfest with no health in sight, ugly layouts, this looks like a broke man's Plutonia. One of the worst megawads I've played.

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Demonologist

  
An impressive one-man megawad comprised of mostly lengthy, complex and nonlinear maps with action being a mix of Plutonia and works of authors like Use3D, exposing the player to all kinds of crossfire and sporting constant desperate search for adequate supplies to deal with heavyweights abound. The difficulty mostly stays on the same [high] level which can be an additional deterrent factor given the general direction chosen, but nevertheless Urania excels in its niche, bravo.

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NuMetalManiak

  
I cannot for the life of me figure out what's good about this. this is the most speedrun-unfriendly megawad I have ever seen: there's lots of backtracking, switches where you don't have a clue what they do, and progression so obtuse the gameplay actually came to a halt sometimes. sorry but this isn't for me at all.

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Firedust

  
Awesome wad, hardcore players only. Not a slaughterfest, just very brutal monster placement.

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Voros

  
Nothing special here. Just a fun vanilla megawad.

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  • File Reviews

    • By NuMetalManiak · Posted
      cannonball is yet another mapper who will probably take some getting used to when it comes to his maps. I remember hating on Return to Hadron when I first played it, but after subsequent plays it got easier. the same can be said for a lot of his other wads.   while this is my first time playing through Sparta 2, I easily got into cannonball's playstyle. his architecture style is always the same, as are his usage of monsters, basically you'll be running around often in the heat of monsters; the space is wide enough to accomodate this kind of playstyle and you just gotta be quite wary of where projectiles are flying. even if the monster count is low the layouts make things rough. but overall, what I like most about cannonball's maps is how well they can be run through. sure, you're gonna be dealing with a fuckload of carnage in these maps, but they all are very speedrun-friendly which is a plus. notable maps include:   MAP08, which is probably the roughest start in the wad MAP12, which has a false sense of security with its monster count. the two slaughter finales which are both well done.
    • By Summer Deep · Posted
      I don't pretend to understand any of the promotional material accompanying this map, relating to wizards and the like, and it just seems like a typically unsubtle early offering, albeit on a grand scale. One of the reviews says you can't get out of the Cyberdemon arena once you've teleported into it near the start, but the bad news is that you can. The final room with the Spider Mastermind is quite lively and entertaining, if you persevere that far.   The version of this I played was a Doom 2 conversion, which ran in the MAP10 slot, with some Revenants, chaingunners and Pain Elementals, but if you download the one on this page you'll probably get the original wad.  
    • By elend · Posted
      I really like this palette edit. I am not sure about the "better visibility on CRT screens" part, since I find it a bit dark at times, but I do love the toned down colors. I don't play everything with this palette, but I noticed that some WADs definitely benefit from it.   Regarding the people who don't like it; Well, just check out the screenshots. If this looks cool to you, use it when you play Doom. If it looks crap to you, don't download this.
    • By Sasha · Posted
      Hard maps with good architecture. I enjoy this wad
    • By Rimantas · Posted
      It just mess up all colors very bad and makes Doom look terrible! If i want Doom look more like on CRT, i reduce brightness in video card settings. 0/5
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