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NaZa

NaZa's WAD Reviews! [23rd April - #1 Ultimate Doom]

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Posted (edited)

I've asked what the best possible place for this kind of thread is - I was told Doom General is the best place so here we go! Reviewing WADs from IWADs later in time etc.

 

Keep in mind these are just my ratings and please be civil if you don't agree with them. You are invited to post your own reviews in the comments, or react to some of my thoughts and opinions on individual maps.

 

23rd April 2019 - #1 - Ultimate Doom

It's going to be graded as the game that started it all so I'll be a bit more lenient. Played the set continuously without finding the secrets to see what a first-time player would most likely find and expect, as well as pistol-starting each map (but finding secrets) to see how it would play to the modern players. Sit back and enjoy as I write tons of text and sum it up in one sentence.

 

EPISODE 1 - KNEE-DEEP IN THE DEAD
 

Spoiler

 

E1M1: Hangar (Romero)
------------------------------
This level is a really good way to introduce you to the game. The way the game introduces enemies to you is also worth noting - on any skill level the first enemies you encounter are far away from you and unlikely to damage you while you're still getting to the grips with the controls. The design is very good as well - the armor room being a landmark for its verticality and nice detailing (as well as the armor!). Two out of three secrets aren't really difficult to find, and they reward you nicely. The layout is mostly linear, but that's to be expected in the opener. Still, it loops around in a good way, and the added switch in UDoom just makes it more open. The only problem I have is that you can exit the level with full shotgun ammo, and nearly all the gameplay is sniping opponents from far away. 

 

A great opener into a fresh and new world of demon infestation.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 5/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 6.63/10
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E1M2: Nuclear Plant (Romero)
-------------------------------------
An exciting level that starts up quite differently than Hangar - this time the monsters are in a tiny area together with you, and if they (or you) shoot a barrel, you can greet death in seconds. This isn't a problem when playing continuously due to the shotgun, but on pistol start it can be quite a terrifying experience as the health drains fast and even faster when charging for the armor. The stairway area to the key gives you a much better taste of verticality than Hangar's armor room, but also gives you danger in the form of incredibly accurate shotgun guys. Despite that, the level isn't really difficult. The optional computer maze is nicely done, and it is kinda scary since you can hear all the zombiemen growling but you can see none, and to make you jump out of your chair there's also a few inactive zombiemen that will wake up only when they see you. The ending is the first time you're shown something considered difficult and it's definitely a step up. With the chaingun the whole level is a cakewalk, though. The layout is also linear as with Hangar, but there's more bonuses in visiting the (more abundant) optional areas. 

 

A step up from Hangar gameplay-wise, as well as containing more effective optional areas.
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LAYOUT: 6/10   GAMEPLAY: 6/10   LOOKS: 6/10  OVERALL: 6.00/10
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E1M3: Toxin Refinery (Romero)
---------------------------------------
If you thought the last level was terrifying, this one isn't worse at all. Again, it's the same stuff; kill all the monsters. However, yet again their distribution changed and now the map isn't populated with wimpy zombiemen, but rather with demons, imps and shotgun guys while it suddenly became much more claustrophobic. You are given much less room to manouver and outskill these guys so it's a change in pace. Pistol start is especially difficult in the first 2 minutes or so. It's a really tense map, too - I'd say it's one of the most difficult maps in Ultimate Doom, at least when only the first three episodes are considered. The sheer monster density is very frightening. I am especially fond of the encounter right after the donut hallway - you peek behind the computer and if the sergeant chooses to fire, you'll probably be counting the remains of your guts as the barrel next to you explodes. Also, the infamous lamp which doesn't appear on Ultra-Violence is a great touch. The optional yellow key computer room is chock-full of enemies too, and it makes for a dense encounter. I did feel like there was way too much shotgun action in this one, though; both the chaingun and the rocket launcher are in a secret, forcing you to take demons and everybody else out with just the standard shotgun (and the pistol). It wasn't such a problem in Nuclear Plant because the enemies were feeble in comparison to these fellas here so you could plonk them away with the pistol. Not here, though.

 

A change in pace and focus on close encounters, but still keeps a sense of continuity through its design and sprawling layout.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 8/10   LOOKS: 8/10  OVERALL: 7.67/10
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E1M9: Military Base (Romero)
-------------------------------------
Another change, this time not in pace, but in layout. This level has a central hub, but aside from the beginning and end of the level, I doubt you'll ever going to come back to it. It's a fairly nicely interlocked level, requiring all three keys; however, it's a very boxy design, one easy to get tired of. The design is, as I've said, different than any other map so far, focusing on brown textures and aesthetics as well as avoiding the STARx textures. It definitely works well enough while not seeming out of place. Maybe there's too much BROWN1 but that's like saying there's too much STARx textures in KDiTD, especially for a texture with such versatile usage. Anyway, gameplay is kinda meh, the start is dreadful on pistol start and without finding the secrets you're, again, left to shotgun the baddies away. Luckily, there's a rocket launcher on an extremely noteworthy setup involving teleporting monsters. I think it's the only time we see that in an id Software IWAD (bar Suburbs) and it's really effective, even if slow. Oh, and you can straferun onto the end platform without raising the bridge. And I'm not going to keep playing continuously after the secret map because it's a secret, so I'll rewind to my older save from the end of Toxin Refinery.

 

A very concept-driven map with a change in design - a hub in theory, but its interlocked layout and inventive gameplay (including monster teleports) keeps it from being too backtracky.
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LAYOUT: 5/10   GAMEPLAY: 5/10   LOOKS: 4/10  OVERALL: 4.67/10
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E1M4: Command Control (Hall/Petersen)
---------------------------------------------------
We have the first map that isn't by John Romero, and it's kinda felt gameplay wise. Decent use of height and monsters on higher ground, especially at the tech lift area where there's a group of hitscanners shooting you from up and away while battling it out with the demons that are distracting you, forcing you to get hit at least once. Again, there's a central area, but you'll really only come to it for the blue key, another hub-in-theory as it connects all the vital areas of the map. There's also one maze in the end which isn't quite as mazey as E1M2 (but it can be tense with all the meatier opposition running through it); however it can be completely bypassed because of a clever design choice that was intentionally left in the game. The ending really seems like a tiny scale copy-paste from E1M3 with less opposition. Less enemies than in Toxin Refinery but less resources as well as the meatier opposition makes you play very conservatively on pistol start unless you go for the start secret (which doesn't help much, all things considered). At least there's a non-secret chaingun so you can plonk away, the first one in continuous play to me.

 

A fun map with good height usage to force constant exposure on the player, while having less ammo to deal with the monsters means that you can't afford poor accuracy-induced misses too much.
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LAYOUT: 6/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 6.67/10
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E1M5: Phobos Lab (Romero)
-----------------------------------
This map is extremely interesting. It kickstarts the awesome trilogy of great KDiTD maps in my opinion, and it really shows what you'll have to go through in the next two maps. The difficulty is really cranked up in this one - a lot of barrels near light zombie opposition a la E1M3, however this time accompanied with spectres and imps giving you a run for your money. This is especially apparent behind the yellow key door. You go in after killing the demons down the stairs, you see a lot of zombies. You blow the barrel up, but you hear a door open behind you! Oh no, there's enemies. You run away to the other side but there's some there too, so you're pushed into the toxic pool, when the pillars lower and reveal more enemies. An extremely well done setup, and a standout encounter. Rest of the map is more or less E1M4, shotgunning distant enemies that don't pose much of a threat, though there's enough windows to make you feel very exposed to the powerful hitscan shotguns. Layout's pretty constricted but well interlocked, especially near the end. The blinking maze at the end is a bit redundant I thought but it works well nonetheless.

 

A map that packs all the good things about the episode in a fun and suspenseful environment.
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LAYOUT: 8/10   GAMEPLAY: 8/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 7.67/10
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E1M6: Central Processing (Romero)
--------------------------------------------
Possibly one of the most tense levels in Doom. The music pumps you up at the beginning and it really lets you know things won't be any easier than in Phobos Lab. Oh, no. This map relies on yet another different style of combat, set-piece encounters. In two areas of the map, you enter a room, complete a key objective. The doorway closes and loads of monsters swarm in. It can be extremely difficult to manouver around because of an abundance of barrels as well as shotgun guys. There's little to no run-and-gun combat in this one - for the most part enemies are conglomerated in either their closets or in a large room. It's also the first proper hub level, as most of the level is connected by a room in the center. The red key area felt a bit unfinished, but it had welcome secrets all around it so it can be forgiven. There is also the maze which has the least amount of action, but it's similar to all the mazes so far - there's a couple of monsters running around, and a couple is still asleep, so you never truly know what's behind the corner. The end is really great, especially if you gamble with the rocket launcher as it can quickly dispense the horde. However, keep looking around unless you want a demon to come around the corner while you're shooting a rocket in close proximity. Ouch. Gameplay is the best of UDoom in this one, imo. Oh, and it has the most enemies out of any UDoom level. Yeah. Nearly a favourite of mine, but...

 

Another change in combat, focusing on well made set-piece encounters building up the tension.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 10/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 8.00/10
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E1M7: Computer Station (Romero)
-------------------------------------------
...this is quite possibly one of my favourite Doom maps, and certainly my favourite E1 map. It just has it all - sniping distant enemies, close encounters 'round the corner, barrels to satisfyingly blow up former humans, a very nicely interlocked and built layout, coupled with the STARx design we've seen so much this episode. It's a conglomeration of everything that makes this episode feel the way it does. It's a fitting real finale to the "normal" maps. Secrets require a bit more thinking than in the previous levels. Also, it's probably one of the only levels in the episode to make you consistently backtrack to places you've visited before, but it's made better by having monster closets open up and having monsters wandering around the map, unbeknownst to you (probably). Due to the openness of the base, when you shoot your first bullet, the whole map can possibly become alerted, and you will feel tinier than a grain of sand. There's also a lot of possibilities to shoot enemies before you get to the area you're shooting at, which will make your life a lot easier.

 

A perfect combination of all the good things in the episode to end off the normal levels and to lead onto the finale.
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LAYOUT: 9/10   GAMEPLAY: 9/10   LOOKS: 8/10  OVERALL: 8.67/10
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E1M8: Phobos Anomaly (Petersen/Hall)
-------------------------------------------------
The moment you press that switch you're probably confused... why are there so many demons and barrels? And you shoot the barrels and kill almost all of them. This is how the level opens up, and it immediately tells you it's unlike anything you've seen so far. The build-up to the lift is very nicely done, as there's little to no enemies around in a pretty large series of rooms. There's a lot of ammo, pointing that it's bound to get real. Then, the weird red textures appear and the Barons of Hell as well. Now, this is a pretty dull final battle - nothing too much for a first episode, obviously. But beware of using the rocket launcher, because you might kill a spectre that was an inch away from you, causing you to, well, die. After the smog clears, rather easily, you hop onto the teleporter hoping to see Earth again, but... yeah. It works extremely well as a cliffhanger and makes you buy Doom if you're using shareware. Atmosphere is good throughout the map, which is linear, but that's quite normal with boss maps. Doesn't look good, has a fairly linear and uninterest short layout, but its atmospheric gameplay gives it higher marks.

 

A finale that isn't too thrilling itself, but post-battle leaves you with a solid cliffhanger.
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LAYOUT: 3/10   GAMEPLAY: 5/10   LOOKS: 4/10  OVERALL: 4.00/10
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KNEE DEEP IN THE DEAD - FINAL THOUGHTS
-------------------------------------------------------
Your basic introductory episode and clearly the best among the original three. Gameplay is clearly the best asset for this episode, while the looks and the layout are not that far behind - complementing each other and just adding more. M6 and M7 are a clear favorite of mine, with M5 close behind and M9 the opposite. It does its job well of making you buy the game and proceed more into it. I really liked how the level designers varied the main gameplay style each map - from a run-and-gun to window sniping to set-piece encounters. Great.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 8.5/10   LOOKS: 7.5/10   OVERALL: 7.67/10
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EPISODE 2 - THE SHORES OF HELL

Spoiler

 

E2M1: Deimos Anomaly (Petersen/Hall)
--------------------------------------------------
It's incredible to think this map was started by Tom Hall, because it's definitely unlike anything he's done prior, or after this map. I mean, the automap is condensed in a very squarish space, but it's just so fluid you'd never tell it's his map. Anyway, it's a nicely laid out map, which introduces teleports as a main mean of transportation, and it heavily relies on them. There's a couple of sections in the map that are accessible with only the teleporters (most being secrets), but there's no confusion, as every room stands out from the rest. There's a funny skyhole in the big loop where the ceiling of the room is higher than the sky, but this is pretty much hell - nothing makes, or should, make sense. It's got very cleverly hidden secrets, with nice goodies such as the first plasma rifle or the secret key which gives you more goodies, and some more enemies in both instances. Very nicely interconnected level that builds up nicely to the final surprise, a close quarters battle with the beast you just killed last room in a feeble position, the cacodemon. Looks and gameplay aren't really that interesting but the layout is top notch.

 

A map with nearly a perfect layout for an opener, but the looks and gameplay are average at most.
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LAYOUT: 8/10   GAMEPLAY: 5/10   LOOKS: 5/10  OVERALL: 6.00/10
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E2M2: Containment Area (Hall/Petersen)
---------------------------------------------------
I can understand why people would love this map - it's got crate mazes, no hitscanners, very expansive gameplay, moving machinery, hellish influences. Hell, there's even the first Berserk back, and it becomes apparent this map is centered around using it. However... I don't find it that good. The looks are average for Doom standards (I was a bit lenient on this one for introducing new concept philosophies, but I won't be later on). The gameplay takes an interesting turn in the berserk pack, forcing you to use it wisely as there isn't a whole lot of ammo otherwise, at least not as much as in the past maps. Layout is all over the place - the crate maze works nicely and it's difficult to find the end and all that, but the whole other "area" of the map feels huge and, really, bare to me. The secrets were nice and really rewarding, but I just don't find the map as compelling as nearly most do, which is a shame. In the end, it does about everything we've seen so far, and it introduces new stuff, but nothing really outstanding, bar the crate maze and berserk.

 

A jack of all trades but master in none. The berserk pack helps, though.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 7.00/10
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E2M3: Refinery (Hall/Petersen)
---------------------------------------
I know this is an earlier map, but I don't think this map is IWAD material. If I'd play it in company of a lot of 1994 PWADs, there probably wouldn't be anything outstanding about it, while for most of the other IWAD maps there's clearly something that makes them shine over the early PWADs. First of all, the layout is incredibly boxy and at times unfinished. The metal hallway that loops around is unnecessary, the Baron area leads nowhere so you don't even have to go there. The whole map was made just to cram as much into one trapezoid (which is exactly how it was made), and as such feels really tiny and cramped. It also looks ugly, the tech area not even warranting any comments from my side, really. The flesh platforms were kinda cool, as well as the only instance of BROWNWEL we'll ever see. Gameplay is really tense, though. I died on pistol start twice, even the secrets didn't help much. It's really not an easy map, among the most difficult ones in Shores of Hell. The maze is alright, and the usage of Cacodemons (as well as the appearance of a Baron! Startling.) is alright. I mean, the gameplay is above meh, but not by a whole lot.

 

A map full of nice action, but let down by remarkably poor visuals and possibly unfinished layout.
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LAYOUT: 4/10   GAMEPLAY: 5/10   LOOKS: 3/10  OVERALL: 4.00/10
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E2M4: Deimos Lab (Hall/Petersen)
-------------------------------------------
The beginning of the map shows you it's different. And once you step through the teleporter, things changed yet again. From a small Refinery, you're in the architecturally striking Deimos Lab. It gives off an extreme vibe when first enter, with the rooms being so huge. Granted, it isn't really the most beautiful map in the set, but compared to some other E2 maps it looks alright. Layout is alright, fairly linear but there's some rewards for going down the optional routes. Secrets are extremely rewarding, as I found out during my continuous run (where I nearly ran out of ammo!) and my pistol start, where I was having more ammo and a berserk pack. Ammo is really scarce in this one, too - you'll be relying on the accuracy of berserk shots or, if you miss the secrets, pure infighting luck and crushers. There isn't a lot of those though, but there's a few crushing floors in this map, the only time they appear (bar E4M3). The music realy shines, though, creating a very ominous atmosphere in this map where nothing makes sense. A lab with nearly no computers? Nukage everywhere? Rooms changing height and opening up? It just leaves so many questions, and it's so different from anything else in Doom, really. A fine level.

 

A great atmospheric adventure through an illogical lab, combined with ammo scarcity and fluid environments, figuratively and literally.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 7.00/10
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E2M5: Command Center (Petersen)
-------------------------------------------
If I tell you I'm thinking about a map that doesn't need keys, you'd probably think of Hangar first, maybe also the episode enders (bar Unto the Cruel). However, would you believe that this map actually has no keys? Yeah! It takes a bit less than 10 minutes to clear, but it has no keys. It has a fairly complex layout and there is no direct route to the exit. I mean, there is, but you can approach it in a number of different ways. There's a few surprises in the map, such as Cacodemons and Barons becoming more regular threats. Zombies return in higher numbers than the past three maps, and the pistol start is kinda difficult because you can panic when you see some monsters around. If you get the berserk on time, you should never run out of ammo. It's set in a facility out of stone and wood, very unique-looking and a bit different from anything thus far. It also keeps these materials throughout the map, except the few red marble blocks here and there to emphasize on the demonic presence. The map speaks through the layout best, though.

 

A very non-linear map without any keys, but convoluted enough to make you wander around for a good ten minutes, coupled with tense gameplay and a consistent thematic unity.
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LAYOUT: 9/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 7.67/10
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E2M9: Fortress of Mystery (Petersen)
----------------------------------------------
This map brings yet another gameplay idea into play, and that's monster infighting. It basically forces you to infight as there's not enough ammo otherwise. It's also hinted at with the corpses of Cacodemons in the Barons' room and vice versa. I don't have much to say about it. It's an incredibly short map, taking 2 minutes to kill-max, and less than 10 seconds on a speedrun due to a possible grab. Not much to say about this map, as it can be finished fairly quickly and it consists only of two rooms and mass infighting. Yeah. I'm not sure why this is in an IWAD but I respect it for what it is - a practice in infighting. Also, the exit is behind a secret door, so... that's an interesting idea I guess?

 

A concept map relying on a new gameplay idea, but isn't on par with most of the other IWAD levels.
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LAYOUT: 2/10   GAMEPLAY: 3/10   LOOKS: 2/10  OVERALL: 2.33/10
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E2M6: Halls of the Damned (Petersen)
-----------------------------------------------
I'm going to really state my only negative in this map - it isn't too beautiful. It's kinda average for an IWAD map, really. Most of the early map is really not that outstanding, later areas help to fix it but it's not enough to stand out. But the gameplay and the layout is excellent, once again. The music unsettles you as you go to explore the dungeons and the bunker beyond the slime river formed as you grab the berserk pack. It's got its share of mazes, with two of them appearing. They're very dark so light visors are a welcome addition, but there might be a bit too much of them around (there are FOUR of them). The atmosphere is excellent, especially when the monsters are let loose near the end, and the demons/barons can make your life hell if they go out of their cubbies prematurely. Again, it's extremely non-linear, you can choose which key to pick up first (yellow is needed both exits in the map), and you can also intentionally spring the blue skull trap earlier than intended to get rid of the trap in an easier way, which is very welcome. 

 

A map relying on its sense of claustrophobia and fear to build a scary environment full of surprises.
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LAYOUT: 8/10   GAMEPLAY: 8/10   LOOKS: 6/10  OVERALL: 7.33/10
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E2M7: Spawning Vats (Hall/Petersen)
-----------------------------------------------
Hall's magnum opus, and Doom's first map, is a fitting finale to Episode 2, ending in a techbase warped by hell. This level continues the trend of this episode, where every level has its distinct theme. There was nothing that would make you say "this is a techbase" other than maybe E2M4 but that's a stretch. It's very clear it was made early in development as there is a single intentional teleporter in the map, and it looks like it was made later in development as it seems "tacked on" without much thought. Also, it doesn't have a lot of actions, I think the only ones used relate to doors and a bridge raising. It's pure gameplay, without too many hellish influences. The lab area looks great, though that aching floor is a controversial choice, as with E2M2. The visuals otherwise are nothing spectacular, a bit average for E2 standards really, especially the gray area which looks unfinished and just added to fill the blank space. There is some substance in the map, and I don't think it's bad, but it doesn't stand out too much.

 

Not the best possible way to end the episode, but it's still a good combination of every theme in the episode while remaining unique.
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LAYOUT: 6/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 5/10  OVERALL: 6.00/10
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E2M8: Tower of Babel (Petersen)
-----------------------------------------
It's a boss battle, really. Not much else to it. You're fitted with a rocket launcher and loads of rockets, with full health and armor, to fight the cyberdemon. The baron corpses will unsettle you, as will music. Now, the gameplay isn't really inventive, nor is the layout. But, the layout can be your enemy. How? Well, you're more than likely to get stuck on the columns if you don't watch your step. Or, alternatively, if you're too close to one, you might receive a lot of blast damage, so I think the layout is generally a success, even though it's too short but it's an arena fight. Same with gameplay - rocketing the Cyberdemon would have been extremely boring, but there's a few lost souls that have a tendency to charge in the way of your rockets, so it could make things interesting. Looks are pretty minimalistic, though I understand why due to the vislimits.

 

A very short ending level, but one that uses the layout as the player's enemy.
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LAYOUT: 5/10   GAMEPLAY: 4/10   LOOKS: 4/10  OVERALL: 4.33/10
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THE SHORES OF HELL - FINAL THOUGHTS
---------------------------------------------------
Unlike Knee-Deep in the Dead, I found layout to be the most developed aspect of the episode. This is mostly due to M1 and M5, maps which had mad layouts. Looks were passable for the most part. What brings this episode down is mostly the bad apples that are M3 and M9. Oh, and don't get me started on how M2 is overrated. It's not really the best followup to a shareware episode, but considering it is nearly fully made by one mapper, it's obvious that Petersen would get tired eventually. Weakest episode.
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LAYOUT: 7.5/10    GAMEPLAY: 7/10    LOOKS: 6/10    OVERALL: 6.83/10

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EPISODE 3 - INFERNO

Spoiler

 

E3M1: Hell Keep (Petersen)
----------------------------------
I mean... All the openers so far did a really good job in letting you know how this episode will feel. I think Hell Keep tries to do the same, but... it turns into one of the worst maps in the set. It's very boring to play through, it's linear, it's shotgun action all the way, except pistolling cacodemons at the start. It looks alright I guess, but the layout and gameplay are nonexistent in this one. Collapsing bridge, and weird paper cut-out building may add onto the "creepy" factor, but it's just a filler level to me. Nothing noteworthy about it, except for its negatives. I can't say much more about it. Thankfully, Slough does a better job.

 

A level that tries to make you feel like you're in hell, but it doesn't do it well enough to earn the player's (dis)trust.
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LAYOUT: 3/10   GAMEPLAY: 2/10   LOOKS: 4/10  OVERALL: 3.00/10
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E3M2: Slough of Despair (Petersen)
--------------------------------------------
I did say Slough does a better job at welcoming you to hell. I didn't say it's a particularly good job, though it does feel like natural hellscape. The gameplay is very tense at the start, both pistol start and continuous, and will make you run to the berserk pack... if you can find it before you lay on the ground dead! A fantastic opening. Gameplay is generally good in this map, but fairly standard for an Inferno map - there's only a couple of oddballs. I am still kinda shocked that Sandy made the layout a hand, and still made it work. That takes mad dedication. As for the looks... it's samey all the way, but that's what happens with a limited texture set. Still, it doesn't look really bad - it's just average. The music is pretty short and loopy but it complements the insane tone of the beginning rather well.

 

Our first foray into the hellscape does not disappoint, with monster density and cruel layout punishing the slightest mistakes.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 5/10  OVERALL: 6.33/10
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E3M3: Pandemonium (Hall/Petersen)
----------------------------------------------
This map was made for Episode 1 initially, but it was retextured as an E3 map. Makes a lot of sense when you think about it - it's unlike anything in the whole episode, and switching E2M5 and E3M3 would make more sense, at least to me. Alas, this is how it was done. An incredibly hectic opening is very noteworthy - again, as in Slough, you're left running around the level, looking for weaponry - only this time it's perfected as there's no immediate weapon around. You have to rely on your reflexes a lot. Even the secrets don't help as much as you'd hope for. On my continuous run I wasn't as troubled about the weapons, but it was definitely stingy. Gameplay was among the best of E3 in this one. As for the layout, as I've said, it'd definitely fit more in E2 due to its base look and boxy layout. It's apparent it was an early map, so Sandy's changes were required, and luckily he made the level look memorable. The flesh tunnels were incredibly weird the first time you see them, and seeing ceilings made of animated water and nukage was an incredible twist and a deviation from anything so far, yeah it could've been less bare but it's still a great adventure!

 

A map that puts us back into a Refinery-esque setting with shocking hellish twists ensuring a pretty tense level and an outstanding environment.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 8/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 7.33/10
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E3M4: House of Pain (Petersen)
---------------------------------------
This is a very interesting map. Why? Because it is chock full of monsters. The first rooms are overwhelming on pistol start unless you make a daring run for the shotgun and the chaingun. There's also a lot of monsters nearly everywhere you go. It's just a very tense map, that also has some atmosphere to it as it's really weird in the beginning (shaped like lungs and bowels, pillars with dead people etc). It's somewhat of a slaughterhouse, or a pre-Abattoire. Its progression is weird at times - there's this techwall that you must go through because it houses the exit and the mandatory keys. The layout is simplistic and a bit confusing, although it's fairly linear - moreso than any other E3 map. There's a huge optional area with a proper slaughter horde, and a BFG9000 in a not-so-hidden secret (marking the first time you're likely to stumble upon it, as the one in Pandemonium is hidden better). It's a very fun map with great gameplay for Inferno standards, but with the shotgun prevalent it can come across as a grind so it loses a point there. Shame, as it's a really nice map. 

 

A map with a pre-slaughter tone to it and very interesting progression.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 8/10   LOOKS: 8/10  OVERALL: 7.67/10
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E3M5: Unholy Cathedral (Petersen)
--------------------------------------------
One of the more interesting maps in the episode (but not the best one), Unholy Cathedral goes in a whole different direction, relying on teleporters to get you out of the central courtyard. It can prove troublesome as there's only one actual teleporter, but it's nothing huge. There's a huge hallway going around it, it's the focal point of the level. A lot of rooms in it, as well as the first non-secret BFG9000, and a huge horde to fight once you grab it. Gameplay is alright, there's a couple of interesting encounters such as the demon fight after exiting the courtyard, where you must quickly grab the berserk pack. Also, the BFG horde is satisfying to destroy. As for the looks, it's a really beautiful map - following the looks of House of Pain, it's a marble cathedral I guess, but it's got some burning symbols in walls which make it a lot more atmospheric. The dark outdoor sticks out, as it's different. Certainly a scary setting. The theme stays consistent throughout, which is welcome.

 

A map with a confusing, but unique layout that manages to strike a huge horror vibe upon the player.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 6/10   LOOKS: 8/10  OVERALL: 7.00/10
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E3M6: Mt. Erebus (Petersen)
-----------------------------------
As far as Inferno maps go, this map is pretty much spot on with its gameplay. It takes the best out of Slough and Pandemonium's rapid openings and mixes it with the tension seen in House of Pain and Central Processing, and monster closets from all the way back in E1. The combination of best gameplay in the three episodes, it does just fall short from the perfect score due to there being way too many Cacodemons and Lost Souls, which can really be grindy and unfun near the end, but the rest is great. Layout is really incredible, it's an open ended hellish island and a completely new environment done well. The whole map is open and it really helps the gameplay, too. Every area has its main encounter, and I really love the secret hunting for the blue key that changes its location depending on the skill level. However, the map isn't really beautiful and that's where it lost points. The buildings look ugly from the outside, but at least they're made more beautiful inside so it's not a 4. That's what happens when creating an open-ended map in Doom, I guess - as with Slough, I guess the limited texture set as well as static limits prevented it from looking better. Which is a shame, as it's definitely a classic.

 

A map with an open layout and constantly repopulating areas that keeps the player on the edge of their seat throughout the map playthrough.
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LAYOUT: 8/10   GAMEPLAY: 9/10   LOOKS: 5/10  OVERALL: 7.33/10
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E3M9: Warrens (Petersen)
---------------------------------
This is Hell Keep. Until you finish the map, when it becomes Tower of Babel. After that you're left going back to the beginning with a repopulated map. While the layout is still painfully simple and linear, and the looks are a-okay, gameplay gets bonus points because of the new fresh idea of backtracking with a twist. Also, the hitscanner hallway is a great thing, especially if you manage to keep that invuln heading into that area. It's things like those that make it stand out. A seriously good idea, perhaps made on the wrong map... but at least it works in a way.

 

Retains the same problems as Hell Keep, but tries to keep it fresh while adding new gameplay ideas. It worked in a way.
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LAYOUT: 3/10   GAMEPLAY: 6/10   LOOKS: 4/10  OVERALL: 4.33/10
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E3M7: Limbo (Hall/Petersen)
------------------------------------
My favourite map in the episode for many different reasons. First off, the atmosphere is really perfected in this one. The player seems so small going through this gargantuan map filled with little to no monsters. The ambushes will surely catch you by surprise, as they're very unexpected. In a way, the game really throws away the established run-and-gun setting of the previous three normal maps and just focused on exploration. Especially on pistol start, this map you're on edge. Very difficult to find resources. I exited the level with red in every single bit of ammo from pistol start after grabbing every possible ounce of ammo (except cell ammo). Most of the enemies are demons (though there's a questionable lot of zombies in the map as well). Quite definitely a great layout in that it makes you feel so little, it encourages you to explore with the teleporter gates. I think it's a great map. Others might not be so fond of the layout, but to me, it's king. I couldn't even tell Tom Hall started work on this one, which is saying something...

 

An underpopulated map which relies solely on atmosphere and an incredibly sophisticated layout to convey fear into the player and lead them onto the final battle.
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LAYOUT: 9/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 8/10  OVERALL: 8.00/10
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E3M8: Dis (Petersen)
--------------------------
It's yet another arena fight. The arena looks good, the layout is pretty interesting (X form), but if you're playing continuously, you're definitely feeling that it's way too easy when you power your BFG towards the spiderdemon... and it dies really quickly. Where's the challenge? Luckily, from pistol start the map is much more difficult. I beat it on my first try when playing through to write this, but it was far from easy. You have a megaarmor (which will wear down quickly because hitscan), limited plasma gun opportunities and a rocket launcher. Now, plasma gun might be the safest choice, but there isn't a lot of ammo, so you'll use the rocket launcher, but it's a boss so it isn't affected by blast damage. 

 

An arena fight with a spiderdemon that's challenging and frustrating on pistol start, but anticlimactic when playing continuously.
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LAYOUT: 4/10   GAMEPLAY: 5/10   LOOKS: 3/10  OVERALL: 4.00/10
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INFERNO - FINAL THOUGHTS
------------------------------------
Golden middle. As per E1, gameplay is best, and as per E2, looks are worst. That does not mean looks are bad - it just means that they were sacrificed to make the gameplay more obvious. M6 and M7 are personal favorites, though M4's gameplay is worth noting as well. M1 and M9 deserve to be forgotten about, and M8 can be really disappointing. Overall, it's a good finale episode... or is it?
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LAYOUT: 7/10    GAMEPLAY: 7.5/10    LOOKS: 7/10    OVERALL: 7.17/10

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COMMERCIAL DOOM - FINAL THOUGHTS

Spoiler

Game which started it all. Obviously excels in its gameplay, which is the main reason people still play it and make mods for it. The looks might have been a bit subpar (compared to gameplay!) because of the various limits creators had to take care for. Layouts were mostly pretty inventive, especially in E2. Overall, a really nice play.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
LAYOUT: 7/10  GAMEPLAY: 8/10  LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 7.33/10

--------------------------------------------------------------------------


EPISODE 4 - THY FLESH CONSUMED
--------------------------------------------
Released a bit later, this episode was an official add-on for Commercial Doom. It did not disappoint.

Spoiler

 

E4M1: Hell Beneath (McGee)
-----------------------------------
Obvious thing out of the way - I hate this map. I absolutely dislike it because it's too difficult for an opener, it's terribly unfair at some points. However, I must say that the map is objectively a great thing. It is a good intro to the episode's extremely different atmosphere, to the more difficult settings, and to the marble/metal hell we all overuse. The looks themselves are pretty nice in this map, with the contrasty McGee shading prevalent. Layout is quite boxy and overall kinda obtuse, though the secret is a nice addition. The gameplay is taken up fifty notches, and it feels like something suceeding House of Pain, or like a closing map to E3 difficulty-wise. There's absolutely not enough HP, and you start with hitscanners and a lot of Barons. An extreme level... and a wonderful shock. It does make you change your playing style!

 

A very sadistic map with extremely tense gameplay and solid original looks.
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LAYOUT: 6/10   GAMEPLAY: 8/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 7.00/10
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E4M2: Perfect Hatred (Romero)
---------------------------------------
Ehh... likewise with this map for me, I find it very overrated amongst the community. Sure, it's a trademark Romero map with a very inventive layout and verticality (completed in six hours, at that!), but... eh. I didn't like the gameplay in this one all too much. The beginning is very rough and difficult unless you're aware jumping is the best solution, and gaggling with Barons on a roughly 80 wide alcove isn't really all that fun. Other than that, it's quite a fun romp. The Cyberdemon at the end is a nice surprise, and I liked the cave area in the middle of the map, for deriving from the new wood hellish theme. Overall, the layout's (un)connectedness makes it difficult to successfully navigate through a bunch of fireballs without falling off at least once, and rad suits are kinda at a premium around here. The verticality is a major bonus as well.

 

A six-hour masterpiece in making the layout an enemy.
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LAYOUT: 8/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 8/10  OVERALL: 7.67/10
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E4M9: Fear (Willits)
-------------------------
Tim Willits always struck me as a very underrated mapper in the official episodes. His contributions to E4 are always kinda under the radar, and I don't understand why, as they're quite fun maps overall. Fear puts you back into a Phobos-esque setting (reminiscent of E1M2 and E1M5), and the gameplay in this one just speaks fun, fun and fun. It's not overly difficult (nor does it look especially great), it's also pretty symmetrical. However, I cannot say I don't enjoy playing this. The backwards guideless glide you can do right at the start is a very fun thing which makes you skip nearly the whole level (if done right with the YK), and, as I said, going away from the theme of E2 is a refreshement. The ability to telefrag the Baron is also funny.

 

A nicely done escape from the gritty marble/wood themes with relatively fun gameplay.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 8/10   LOOKS: 6/10  OVERALL: 7.00/10
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E4M3: Sever The Wicked (Green)
------------------------------
This map's opening hurts. And not just for the player, but also for the eyes. I don't like this map all too much - partly because it's so much easier than the opening two on continuous (on pistol start it's actually quite difficult to gather yourself at the start), partly because it's just so bare. The layout is extremely orthogonal and linear, the looks are incredibly monotone wooden hell, and don't get me started on the DINGDINGDINGDINGDINGDING secret staircase! What I do like about the map, however, is immediately after the start, how you can just chaingun and mow down every monster in vicinity. That is proper fun and satisfying. Gameplay is mostly alright in this map, unfortunately the blandness of it is very apparent. 

 

A pretty bare open map with an uninspired layout, but fun run-and-gun.
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LAYOUT: 6/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 5/10  OVERALL: 6.00/10
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E4M4: Unruly Evil (McGee)
---------------------------------
What an ugly map this is. The beginning especially, it's just so boring and bad to look at. Spectres don't blend in, at all. After the godawful opening (layout-wise too), the map isn't all that bad - gameplay is quite nice (as per E4 standards), except the final cacodemon traps. The map is tiny, which might be a good thing because I don't know what I'd do if the ugly opening was stretched. The outside area is pretty atmospheric, and the dark platform area is unnecessary. For sure a map below the E4 standard, but I do think its gameplay can be considered underrated.

 

Easily the weakest map in this episode, not without solid gameplay of course.
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LAYOUT: 5/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 4/10  OVERALL: 5.33/10
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E4M5: They Will Repent (Willits)
--------------------------------
Remember how I said Willits was underrated? This is why. This map is possibly my favorite map in E4, not objectively of course (soon!), but subjectively. The looks are incredibly good, the marble hell theme struck to near perfection. The music fits well in this map, creating a sense of caution roaming through the barren marble blood halls. Blood makes such a great contrast to the green marble, prevalent throughout the level, and it's really nice to see that. Layout is nice and interconnected, if maybe a bit weird near the end. Gameplay is quite fun, and a good breather before the second most difficult map in the whole game... it's just a good map to build up the tension. It might be forgettable due to the next map, yes, but it's striking for sure.

 

Solid marble theme, the best in E4, backed up by a relaxing calm before the storm.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 8/10   LOOKS: 8/10  OVERALL: 7.67/10
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E4M6: Against Thee Wickedly (Romero)
-------------------------------------------------
I can speak all day long about this map... and that is good. One of the best maps in all of UDoom (exclusively beaten by only Computer Station!), and quite possibly the pinnacle of E4, this map has it all. Another venture to the M1 and M2 settings - a more metal incarnation of hell, first with a nice bright cavern. The rampart at the start is such a good idea, but it can also be quite shitty because the spectre in the nukage can block you and you can die. The central teleporter is stupid in my completely honest opinion. That's every negative I have with this map. The Cyber encounter is nervewrecking whatever way you approach it in, the looks are just top-notch... right now I lack words to express this. Verticality is prevalent. Monster variety as well... Ah, John. May SIGIL be like this...

 

A map that represents the pinnacle of sadism and beautiful looks in this episode as well as the layout complexity.
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LAYOUT: 8/10   GAMEPLAY: 9/10   LOOKS: 8/10  OVERALL: 8.33/10
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E4M7: And Hell Followed (Anderson)
---------------------------------------------
Then comes this map, after such a great one you can't help and look at this one as pure filler. Sure, it's a map by the late John Anderson, and it's IWAD material for sure. However, the adrenaline is still here after M6, and to be greeted with such a tame map can be a bit disappointing. Other than that, the looks are stunning in this one. The opening shot is a bit meh, but the more you venture, the more inverted it gets. The pillar room with the red key is the standout point, as well as the sudden Cyberdemon encounter which can really catch you off-guard. Ending is quite surprising - you can kill most of the enemies at the very beginning of the map, and the surprise baron at the very end is a nasty surprise if you're facing forward without seeing him. That can be a horror story. Tame map other than that, not much else to say.

 

A map that will always feel a bit filler, albeit with a strong theme.
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LAYOUT: 7/10   GAMEPLAY: 7/10   LOOKS: 7/10  OVERALL: 7.00/10
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E4M8: Unto the Cruel (Green)
------------------------------------
For sure the most developed finale of all the episodes (the only one being a "proper" map), one can't help but wonder - was this set to be an ending map in the first place? It's a normal map without an arena, and the spiderdemon just seems to be tacked on for extra measure. It looks as if it might have been another cyberdemon initially, or a new boss altogether. Whatever it was, we'll never know for sure. What I can say, though, is that the start is so fun. It's just so satisfying to plow through the former humans so easily with the chaingun... I really love it. Gameplay is quite nice in this one (except the barons in the central pillar - ugh!) and a good sum of the fourth episode. Looks are OK-ish, with the prevalent E3 marble setting taking place of the metal-wood; odd choice for an episode ender. Finally, the layout is as linear as you can possibly get, and crucial things are hidden behind nearly-secret doors. Ugh. Other than that, cool map, probably Shawn's best offering from his three official maps (MAP25 from Doom II was also his).

 

Possibly the most satisfying opening to a map in this set, unfortunately let down by the layout being unfriendly and linear.
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LAYOUT: 5/10   GAMEPLAY: 8/10   LOOKS: 6/10  OVERALL: 6.33/10
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THY FLESH CONSUMED - FINAL THOUGHTS
-----------------------------------------------------
The best official Doom episode in my opinion. Full of very fun gameplay. Looks and layout are quite obsolete here, though I have to commend the new wooden/metal hell thing going on in most of the maps. 
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LAYOUT: 7.5/10    GAMEPLAY: 8.5/10    LOOKS: 7.5/10    OVERALL: 7.83/10
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THE ULTIMATE DOOM - FINAL THOUGHTS

Spoiler

----------------------------------
Great stuff, echoing what I had already said prior to this...
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LAYOUT: 7.25/10  GAMEPLAY: 8.25/10  LOOKS: 7.25/10  OVERALL: 7.58/10
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Edited by NaZa

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2 hours ago, NaZa said:

EPISODE 4 - THY FLESH CONSUMED

 

FTFY.

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Nice , I like people making reviews. I will read it later. :)

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, MFG38 said:

 

FTFY.

Thank you very much. I must admit it was an embarrassing error on my side.

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I hope you review some interesting stuff. Maybe you could provide a few screenshots as well?

 

Why did the ghost of Brandon D. Lade immediately pop-up in my head when seeing this?

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45 minutes ago, Suitepee said:

Why did the ghost of Brandon D. Lade immediately pop-up in my head when seeing this?

Yikes! I actually don't know who that person is, other than that he's banned and impersonated people on IRC.

 

Screenshots will come with lesser known WADs, but with stuff like IWADs, I doubt they're that necessary.

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