A set that comprises an entire 17 maps, but only one of which is worth playing (map11). Everything else is barely even worth loading up. Disappointing. :/
J/k lol it kicks ass everyone's a winner excellent job folks :]
Some maps are almost enjoyable. Some, like m2, are dull and repetitive to the point of utter boredom. All suffer from needless complexity, secrets that are either impossible to find or ones that simply don't register in the secret count. All of these maps are trying to reach a point of greatness that I doubt the author is capable of delivering. There is an old maxim - K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. This could have been a classic wad. Sadly, it isn't. Replay value is nil. Off to look for something that actually is enjoyable I guess.
*** Note: Levels were played in UV-continuous with pistol-starting upon death. No saves. ***
It may not be fair to say that a review for one Paul Corfiatis project is a review for all, but I would be hard-pressed to conduct similarly substantial articles for each of his major works without writing in circles. 2002: A Doom Odyssey seems like a good place to build a cornerstone review because it is considered by many to be the crowning achievement; a full four-episode replacement for Doom that, until the advent of Needs More Detail, DTWiD and other community-based efforts like Switcheroom, dominated the Ultimate landscape as one of the choice selections for nostalgia junkies. This, despite the fact that Paul's contributions amount to just one half of the set.
In fact, if there's an irony to this WAD's distinction, it is the story of its guest contributors — Chris Hansen, Rory Habich, Sam Woodman, Anthony Soto, Joe Pallai and Virgil the Doom Poet — and how their unique works offset and affect the evergreen standards of Paul and Kristian (the latter of whom I'm almost comfortable in naming as a guest, anyway: he mostly goes missing after E1). Throw a stone in any direction from 2002 and you're guaranteed to hit something Paul-shaped with levels that handle much the same as the ones here, or at least conform to a highly distinguishable set of tropes, and so a player that is somewhat familiar with his tendencies will search for differences to champion. In other words — by dint of familiarity — this is a WAD that is known to be Paul's and yet is renowned for its Others. Hansen, especially.
2002 paints itself as a pretty conservative take on Doom for themes and progression, yet with every episode the picture garbles and warps, eventually ending up as a very confused transmission that feels like the half-way point between different products; one good and one bad. Episode 1: Deep into the Code is like some customary re-run of an ABC mid-nineties sitcom; indistinct and far too comfortable in its skin. Its Phobosian skin. The combat is pedestrian, front-on and tied together with "hub-spokes;" the traps are betrayed by Team Paul's telltale design and are rendered useless; and the player is more likely to drown in the oceans of shells provided than be challenged by any one encounter. Identical in many ways to Knee-deep, as intended? Perhaps, but it is a dirge all the same, and continues uninterrupted until Hansen is brought in to upset the practice of using ammo and health as decoration. Throughout Episode 2: The Road to Eternity and Episode 3: The Evil Unleashed the introduction of more authors leads to some standout levels, even as the cohesion established between Paul and Kristian (there is an off-kilter charm to their pairing, for all grievances) begins to break down and the set loses some of its identity. The now pockmark entries by Paul are at least distinct enough on this scale, surrounded as they are, and some bolder design choices begin to appear in a few of them (Caves of Bosnia is perhaps his greatest departure, here), to his credit.
Stealing the show from right out of the hands of this weak-gripped megawad is the middle stretch of levels in Episode 4: Torment Ultima. Specifically, Anthony Soto's Back to Base X through to Hansen's Odious Grounds, although Paul's efforts in the new E4M1 and 8 aren't too shabby, either. These adopt from the Consumed handbook a crafty and devious dearth of ammunition and safe spaces; the tried and tested (and feared!) paradigm of peak difficulty in Ultimate Doom. They are the best maps by some ways, and also look a cut above the rest for their more intricate lighting and level of detail; the murky, latticed entrails of Pallai's Dementia a particular highlight.
Five years after the re-release of this acclaimed WAD, this review is not likely to change the mind of anyone who appreciates what is doubtless a nostalgic piece of work. It is, after all, a feeling around which the project was made. A less misty-eyed pass over what's on display, though, reveals a deeply inconsistent and — to a point — deeply ordinary Odyssey.
Bullet-points of Interest:
Initially tedious but belatedly evolving into something more varied, challenging and interesting.
An adherence to Ultimate Doom's progression and ideas that's somewhat muddled by the mix of guest contributors and conflicting new textures.
Upstaging performances by Hansen, Soto and Pallai.
A very enjoyable fourth episode, identity crisis notwithstanding.
A hit-and-miss OST. Some great melodies, but a lot of tunes don't match up with the levels very well.
Very poor end-of-episode levels/boss fights and super-secret levels.
This is a four level mapset with mainly an alien base theme and a little bit of open sky caverns at the end. Detailing is top notch, texture choices please the eye, level design well thought and monsters are a plenty. First and last map are smallish or standard size but the two levels in the middle are large.
Map01 begins as a pretty straightforward techbase. You start in the middle and have to travel to both ends to finish the level. Detailing is modern and you'll immediately get a feeling of the author's style - the rest of the levels must be worth checking out too. The level has a nice outdoor opening at the eastern end but otherwise it's a closed base. There are a couple of secrets and they are quite logical to find. The size of the level is on the smaller side so finishing up doesn't take that much time.
Map02 is my favorite one. It's huge and non-linear. I see two themes in this level. One side of the map is rusty dark metal with lava and slime, the other side is more light with beige panels and desert rock walls. I'm not sure if the author has made some new textures or if it's just a mixture of the originals, the Darkening, and some others I don't recognize but the texture combinations are very pleasing. There's a lot of impressive detailing on this level. I think I stopped at least twice to just look at stairs, how the author used lighting and textures to make them stand out from just another set of regular DooM stairs. I also liked the rocky outdoor opening with the lavafalls. Had to stop again and just look at it. And there are other similar details almost in abundance. Some are not even visual details but functional ones. Like the way the blue key opens up. Or the dysfunctional crusher ceiling in one of the secrets. Speaking of secrets there are a whopping nine of them so that brings replay value to the level too. Even though the level is large and non-linear switches usually open something quite close and there's not much wandering around but you do have to travel from the other side of the map to the other end.
Map03 continues the base theme. Light gray is the dominating color here. This map like the previous one is large and non-linear. Though this felt much less straightforward than map02. I had to wander a while to find the door in the corner that leads to the first key (blue). But after that I didn't get lost again. This map has a few floors that you run up and down. The floors are connected by circular rooms that lead to stairways. In addition to the base theme there are some dark brownish caverns with hanging vines which is a hint to the next level. Overall this level was much darker than the previous one. There were several almost pitch black areas in the map. There are six secrets. I was not able to find them all. I liked the underwater crossing secret the most, it was a nice detail. Also I found myself often looking at the ceiling and sky for nice details - like in the previous level.
Map04 is an open sky cavern with watery floor and vegetation hanging here and there from the ceiling. There's a central area and the main action in this level is jumping through the center from rock formation to another to reach the blue key. I don't usually like platformer scenes in DooM because falling usually leads to frustration but everything was executed so well here that I didn't fall even once. The center hub leads to another descending area where there's a Cyberdemon fight and after that you can reach the exit. So this level is short like the first one and is a perfect relaxing ending to the WAD.
One remark about the skill level. It's noticeable harder than average. You should definitely lower your skill level by one when playing through the first time. Ultra-violence feels like nightmare because enemies are constantly teleporting to places you have already been to.
Also note that this is single player only. No multiplayer starts but despite that I was able to successfully play this in coop, i.e. no showstopper traps. However I think there are not always enough items for coop but it's manageable.
Overall this is a beautiful quality WAD and I definitely want to play more levels from the author.
My rating: 4.4/5