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Icarus: Alien Vanguard

   (155 reviews)
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About This File

Icarus is a whole new set of 32 DOOM II levels from TeamTNT. It is now available on ftp.cdrom.com and its mirrors. See below for the exact path.

Icarus has 32 levels that are excellent for single and cooperative play, but we didn't forget the Deathmatchers of the world, either!

We've taken extra steps to make sure that every level is an exceptional Deathmatch level so that after you're done playing it alone, you can go through Icarus again and waste your buddies. Some maps have special features, and others reduce the level size for Deathmatch. In all cases, though, you'll know we had Deathmatch in mind when we made Icarus. And no more days of filtering through all the junky DM levels on the 'net.


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GuyNamedErick

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So with many old classic WADs not aging so well or have their gameplay styles improved by modern WADs or even WADs that came only a few years later since their initial release, I begin wondering on how TeamTNT's other megawad, Icarus: Alien Vanguard, hold up today. Of course it's hard to not bring up TNT: Evilution when bringing up Icarus so I'll try to focus on Icarus in of itself for the most part. I played through with ZDoom 2.8.1 on Ultra-Violence with no freelook, jumping, crouching, etc.

 

First things first, the levels in Icarus are far more consistent than that of TNT: Evilution. As much as I like TNT: Eviltuon, the levels in Icarus carry a consistent theme with them (for the most part) and they all feel put together with a design flow in mind rather than a random compilation of levels. The worst levels of Icarus aren't as bad as they seem, and given that most levels are short and quick in action, you won't feel so dreaded on a level that seemingly drags on. There are some exceptions, some levels are longer and more difficult than others, and there's the occasional "where do I go" kind of level, but for the most part, you can play this WAD casually and enjoy it for what it offers.

 

Much like TNT: Evilution, Icarus experiments with some of its levels, MAP20 has one part of the level be an upside mirror or an earlier part of the level, only now you walk on the "ceilings" instead of the "floor", and MAP24 includes the ghost monsters bug as an intentional part of the map, there's even a small tutorial on the start of the map to tell you how to kill them, quite nice. My personal favorite levels are MAP11 and MAP22, but there are some other levels in Icarus that have a good variety of levels, both visually and gameplay-wise. Some textures do use the same textures over and over, especially silver textures early on, but they don't distract too much from the WAD, if anything it benefits some of the levels instead.

 

There's also a full complete soundtrack, with every level having their own unique track, compared to Evilution's smaller soundtrack that uses the same tracks for multiple levels. The music helps in making some of the worse levels more fun to slaughter though, MAP31 being my favorite out of the bunch, it builds quite an atmosphere for a level that I wouldn't expect to have any. All in the all, the music is great, but knowing TeamTNT, that is to be expected.

 

Regardless, Icarus is also pretty flawed, and some little annoyances can ruin a level. One of the notable examples like MAP20 have this lift that has a very tight space to stand on and very little room to straferun to the floor to enter that teleporter to leave the upside down area of the map. You can't stand on the lift for too long as then your head will supposedly hit the ceiling and the lift will go down again. It took me far long than it should to just get up that lift but because of how it worked, it ended up making an alright map to one I don't want to play without thinking about noclipping next time I play it. Some maps seem promising but end up not being so great or even frustrating to play. MAP18 didn't have much to offer other than a ton of Barons and Hell Knights in a big crate room with a Cyberdemon at the end (also a map-breaking error with the yellow key apparently). The two secret levels, MAP31 and MAP32, were pretty disappointing and were lacking compared to the main levels, with large spaces yet not so many enemies to nor much to look at.

 

The final map is the weakest map out of the bunch, but I guess that's expected. Anyways, the final map is your usual Icon of Sin boss level, and it doesn't seem so bad until you find out that you can just run all away to the other side of the map, shoot a switch, and shoot a target and kill the boss in less than 30 seconds. Not even any kind of lift like Doom 2's final map, you can stand where you are no problem as it is. It's strange how despite having three people making the map, it felt like it was made in five minutes by just one person.

 

Flaws aside, Icarus is still a good WAD to play and managed to age well (to me) despite some design choices that won't appeal to everyone. There are some bugs (like the one mentioned for MAP18) and some maps having inaccessible secrets (MAP15's shotgun secret), but for the most part, you can play Icarus problem free. Funny how I didn't liked Icarus initially and after this playthrough it became one of my favorite megawads to play through. Overall, Icarus is solid and still worth playing through.

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Agent6

· Edited by Agent6

  

Alright, another wad finished (moments before writing this), played through GZDoom 3.2.5 in Software.

 

So what do I think? Well it's damn good in my book. The gameplay is solid and fun for the most part, not very challenging though, and the levels are consistent in general, except perhaps MAP15 which is my least favorite due to the confusing design and the fact that it's a simply boring level (and ugly). Another one would be MAP18 "Cargo Bay", a rather simple and tricky level, but which offers very little and apparently also suffers from a game-breaking bug, the first time I played the map the yellow door was inaccessible even with all the switches pulled, I had to restart the level, after which it was fine. The tech based levels rely mostly on simple gray-ish textures, but they all look pretty good in general. 

 

Being made by TeamTNT it's unavoidable to answer the question "How does it compare to Evilution?" And my answer is that, overall it is superior, even the bad levels. TNT was much more experimental and it didn't handle non tech based levels very well, and the maps that sucked, sucked really, really bad, whereas this one does a much better job, my favorite maps being MAP14 "Fortress of Evil" and MAP19 "Blessed Are the Quick" . Despite being well balanced most of the time, there are some maps which do troll the player, MAP16 "Bootcamp" being one such offender. A Cyberdemon in a very cramped space? How about no, I preferred to run away.

 

There are also some dumb design decisions in some levels, for instance, in MAP20 "War Temple" you have to take a lift to access a teleport which takes you back to the starting area. Now the problem is that, that lift is very small and in its middle is a red pillar which makes the movement and entering the aforementioned area very, very difficult, and for no reason. But, it's poor choices such as this that can ruin the entire experience, an otherwise very good map which is also challenging. Other bad maps, despite actually looking nice, have, well, absolutely terrible gameplay, one such example being MAP28 "Excavations". As good as it seemed to be initially when I looked through a window back at the starting area, I was quickly let down. There's a sheer amount of enemies in this map overall, but the area to the right of the starting zone that is reached through a short section of tunnels is the worst by far. It becomes infested by Cacodemons and Pain Elementals which will teleport immediately after killing the only Shotgun Guy there, and all you can do is hide in the tunnels and use a powerful weapon of your choice to obliterate the large wave of enemies, I used the BFG. This is nothing but detestable... why? Well, I understand that it is supposed to be challenging and catch you off guard, this area makes it very obvious that it's nothing less than a nasty trap, but there's a night and day difference between challenge and poor gameplay, just like the Cyberdemon in Bootcamp, those are obstacles which only serve as a means of artificially increasing the difficulty and not making the player do something intelligent to beat the area, or map, and contribute to frustration.

 

The final map is unusually easy, quite possibly the easiest I've played to this day, needing to destroy a reactor this time around but since the area is very large everything goes very smooth and you don't even have to bother with the enemies at all. In fact, I daresay it's not challenging at all.

 

The music in this wad is solid, there's not much else I can say about it, TeamTNT surely has a good ear for quality music which helps creating the overall atmosphere of the levels.

 

I have only ever run into one but major bug (see the second paragraph), but beside that, no other technical issues encountered. All things considered, I very much enjoyed this. It could've been a little better, yes, but it's solid for the most part, so I give it 4 stars.

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Spie812

  

TeamTNT's second effort at a megawad. Overall, I like this a bit more than Evilution, being less hit-or-miss as far as general level quality goes. Icarus has its own share of poor and experimental maps (Map08, Map12, Map24 for example), mostly in the 'simulation' category, but the good parts more than make up for that in my opinion.

 

There are definitely some must-play maps here. Map01 has stunning effects for its age, even more impressive coming from the creator of Habitat. Map23 and Map27 are fun, probably the highlights of E3. Map20 has you pass through a cleverly designed arena twice where the second time it's flipped upside-down. The list goes on.

 

Also, the soundtrack is fantastic. The statement didn't really fit anywhere else in this review but it should definitely be said.

 

Overall, Icarus has its ups and downs. If you are the sort of person who hates Evilution, you probably won't like this either. Otherwise, it is an excellent WAD for its age and is definitely worth at least a try. 4.5/5

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galileo31dos01

· Edited by galileo31dos01

  

Done on HMP/continuous/saves.

 

Thematically is interesting, you must grab the red keycard in order to exit each level. Exit rooms are built the same in every map, which is cool. Visually, it has some interesting ideas, like kitchens, ping pong tables, a graveyard with the names of the creators of this wad. Planet maps were the nicer imo. But there are also maps with bland visuals and too many long corridors.

 

Music is cool. Difficulty is mostly easy, some maps like maps 18 and 28 have tricky traps as well as tough monster placement. It really doesn't look hard to replay on UV/pistol-start, though I'll admit there were several maps where I didn't have much fun. Map 24 and its ghost chaingunners can [insert curse]. Also not very convinced of secret placement in general, a lot of "wall-hunting" ones, there were even untaggable or unreachable secrets. Not that the rewards were bad, many BFG/megasphere/berserk ones that were fine.

 

Overall, for a 90s wad, I think there is some good material to see how people used to map before. Between so so/ok/good wad for me, I'll give this 6/10.   

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Spectre01

  
This wad's pretty bad, even compared to something like Evilution. Lame custom textures, very rough map geometry and some really crappy gameplay. 1/5 for some good music.

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DonnieDark

  
I appreciate what they tried to do here as far as story goes and new textures are always welcome but its rather lack luster even for its time. 2 stars for effort and new resources.

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Guest

  
Enjoyable for the most part, until you reach some cryptic as fck puzzles where you're not sure where to look or go.

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JudgeDeadd

  
A somewhat uneven mapset. Unlike other megawads it contains mostly short, quick levels, which I appreciate. On the average, most maps have not aged well, and despite some interesting moments the gameplay isn't that good, and the looks (maybe apart from map29) are very noticeably out of date, especially these garish colorful textures and the bareness of it all (the all-silver map07 comes to mind). Not as great as other releases from that era (Memento Mori for instance.)

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Guest

  
really ugly mapset, shawn-fest walls, uninspired and boring gameplay

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Guest

  
Pretty good in my book.

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Guest

  
Action was a bit too sparse and lacking for my tastes, but aside from that it's a pretty okay megaWAD.

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Guest

  
Mmm, no. Evilution had way too many samey generic techbase maps, with plenty of them even being obnoxious with the corridors/tunnels. I can only recall two-three maps suffering this problem in Icarus. Icarus displayed more thematic variety with the levels, with a decent number of concept maps to keep things from getting boring. Music also displayed a greater sense of composing skills. Evilution did offer a more challenging experience, on the other hand. But meh.

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Guest

  
^Because Evilution has maps that IMO are quite strong in most if not all aspects while this wad has comparatively fewer maps that could be considered that way. Sure some of the most rotten stuff in TNT is worse than Icarus, but TNT is a wad I can definitely recommending at least cherry picking several good maps from and just ignoring the rest if you please. Icarus, on the other hand, my 'cherry pick' list isn't as big. Meh, but +1 star for its age and a good soundtrack.

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Guest

  
I honestly don't know how people could prefer TNT over this. TNT was a mixed bag, and suffered some of the same issues MM1 had. Icarus on the other hand has a nicer concept, and better overall pacing. Some maps may not be that aesthetically pleasing, but gameplay is still fun overall. Only complaint is that it rarely goes above being a moderate challenge.

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Man, this looks (and plays!) dated. Maybe at the time... But eh, I played it these days. :-P 2 stars for the effort. -FD

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Don't like it that much.

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Extremely good set of maps. 32 old school orgasms in a row

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Guest

Unknown date

  
I liked it, mostly because of the way it alternates high-tech spaceship and demonic planetary levels. There are a few pretty good ideas in terms of level design and new textures. - D!

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Guest

Unknown date

  
I am not impressed. Eternal kept me going, but Icarus: AV didn't.

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Great wad and nice layout, however, sometimes the texture choices for some maps are very bad looking. Still, a solid WAD indeed 4.5 TB171

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Best original soundtrack in any megawad, along with the memento mori's.

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Guest

Unknown date

  
I love this megawad. Completely lacks any unreasonably huge levels we mostly see nowadays. And uses the classic way of making a decent challenge by relying on level design rather than simply monster spam. The music is very enjoyable and quite unique for a doom wad of its time, too. Can definitely hear a number of different genres here ranging from hard rock, to jazz.

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Guest

Unknown date

  
I tried to do this, I tried to like it, but map12 got bugged up the ass and I refuse to noclip. Why can't TeamTNT just make normal map sets like everyone else?

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Guest

Unknown date

  
disappointingly ugly. :(

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  • File Reviews

    • By SeanLeal · Posted
      Dear Doomkid,

      I was involved in the design and play-test of each of these levels. Please know these were created from *scratch* and we spent our time making sure the levels were as playable as possible. We were not terribly focused on texturing, other than to give players positional awareness in different parts of each arena.

      Map 6 -- Offices of Death -- Was intentionally designed to be as accurate a representation of the office we worked in as possible. Admittedly, playability was taken as a second priority. We did manage to create working "elevators" and "stairs" to give the illusion you were going up and down floors. I was pretty happy with how we did.

      Considering it was 1996, and no way to simply "Google" different ideas. Your best bet at the time was to jump onto the Usenet and hope you could find a decent board with active members. Other than that, it was pretty much all self-taught.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the other levels. Yes, they are old-school, big arena, style. We spent a LOT of time trying to make sure they were as balanced as possible, with escape routes, and required risks for rewards.
    • By Summer Deep · Posted
      Excellent stuff for the mid-1990s. Lots of action, good layouts, pretty challenging on UV.    9/10
    • By Meril · Posted
      For 1995 design is ok. But is VERY short. 3 min in slow pace.  Map is easy af.
    • By Meril · Posted
      Square rooms, no details, ugly. Secrets aren't flagged as secret. Only for crappy-wad-lovers.
    • By Meril · Posted
      For 1995, not bad. Some ideas, are really cool, but they're mixed with dumb things. Texture misalignments are common. Overall I had nice time with this.
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