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Best Map in All of Ultimate Doom, Doom II, TNT Evilution, The Plutonia Experiment

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For Ultimate Doom, my favourite maps in rough descending order are:


E4M1: my favourite IWAD map. Yes, really. The combination of brevity, oppressive atmosphere and decent challenge makes this one an instant classic in my eyes. It also establishes the E4 theme, which is my favourite of the IWAD themes.


E4M2: what can I say, short, brutal maps with high verticality are my jam. While lacking E4M1's good looks, Perfect Hatred is a longer and more sophisticated map with a unique layout and style, emphasizing clutch gameplay and spatial awareness. Also offers a decent challenge without being annoying.


E1M2-7: everyone and their grandmother likes or at least respects E1. Nothing more need be said, moving on.


E2M2, M4 & M7: these maps all have one thing in common: they were started by Tom Hall and completed by Sandy Petersen. The fusion of Hall's semi-realistic layouts with Petersen's lunacy creates a unique and interesting feel of un-reality, which I enjoy.


E2M5 & E3M4: large, oppressive, mysterious, in my opinion, these two represent the height of Petersen's solo efforts in the original trilogy, lacking the unpolished feel that drags down his other contributions.


There are not many maps I don't like in UD, but E2M9 & E3M1 both suck, and the first three boss levels are all extremely underwhelming. Also, E1M1 is pretty much objectively good, but I find it boring as shit.



Doom II:


MAP15: Probably the most memorable map in the game to me. Extremely vertical, with many devious traps and secrets, Industrial Zone feels like an epic adventure. I have yet to play a community map that captures this one's magic.


MAP17, 26 & 29: I like Romero's Doom II maps quite a bit, of rather, I like some of them. These three maps constitute the closest thing to a uniform style he would ever create in Doom II, with MAP11, 15 & 20 having some common traits but lacking any sense of cohesion with each other or the rest of the IWAD. The METAL/ZIMMER texturing, with some WOOD and ROCK for variety, along with high verticality and limited space to maneuver define this trio in my eyes. These maps are exciting, attractive and quite challenging.


MAP02-6 & 14: American McGee is underrated, in my opinion. His maps are just incredibly solid and have a sense of place that is not often found in Doom II. When I think of Doom II, his maps are the first to come to mind.


MAP16, 18: Much as I appreciate Petersen's work, his Doom II contributions are not my favourites. Interesting for sure, with a huge amount of potential, but not especially fun. These two maps break that trend, prioritizing fun over high concept, which is much appreciated in an IWAD as experimental as Doom II.


Like with UD, there are not many maps I dislike in Doom II. I suppose MAP30 is an annoying disappointment, and the secret levels are utter dogshit, though they were intended mainly as callbacks, so I shouldn't be too harsh.



Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to playing all the way through Final Doom. With TNT I got bored rather quickly, and I found Plutonia's MAP02 & 3 extremely annoying. Not hard, just annoying. I was going to play it for the DWMC, but decided against it due to this. I might give both a go later on, for historical reasons.

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I'll give my favorite for each:


Doom: E1M6, Central Processing. Just a well-mapped gauntlet of hitscanners, Imps, and Demons arranged in just a way to be challenging but not overwhelming at this point of the game. The map itself is very well-structured and slightly complex but not designed to make you feel deliberately lost. It's the whole package for an early Doom map.


Doom II: Map 16, Suburbs. A very strange map but a memorable one, the real-ish houses that Sandy based the central buildings off of lend to the overall bizarre construction. It's got a little bit of almost every monster and the somewhat high amount of jerks that flood in when you grab the blue key gives you more than enough space to rocket them into puddles of blood. It's a good medium between exploration and combat, and it's just weird enough to stick in my mind.


TNT Evilution: Map 07, Prison. This oddball starts out oppressive before opening up into a hostile roaming territory dotted with various monsters over a lava lake. Reminds me of Suburbs in that it's a fair mix of combat and exploration set in an odd semi-wide map, but it's almost good enough to feel like a map that was made later than 1996. (Also, I would put Mount Pain as my favorite, but I still can't forgive that very last assault with the Revenants and Arch-Viles on raised plateaus, blegh.)


Plutonia Experiment: Level 23, Tombstone. It's a fairly challenging level that throws a bit of almost every monster at you and does require some backtracking to locked doors, but there are several exciting fights that makes the breathers feel more appreciated and it grazes the edge of being harsh but ultimately doesn't overburden you and feels refreshing to get through. And yes, the Dean of Doom was right, Bucket's track "Plug Ugly" for the MIDI pack is friggin' awesome for this level.

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Underhalls is the best map I would say. It's short but it has something in it that's always nice to come back to. Though honestly they are all quite unique in their own way and don't stand out above the rest in terms of quality.

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I always have a controversial answer to this question.


TNT Map 20 - Central Processing.


Followed by TNT Map 12 and 31. Honorable mention to 07.


I really loved TNT and these were the maps I played over and over (via passkey "save and load") when Final Doom was released on the Playstation, before I got my first PC (I had first played Doom in '94 on PC but wouldn't get my own machine for another four years). Crater (map12 on PC) was on the PS version and I loved its non-linear layout and mining theme, with watery underground passages cutting through the map and making it feel genuinely three dimensional.


When I finally got Final Doom on PC, via the id anthology, it sealed the deal. I find the Evilution maps really atmospheric and unique. They were more mature, more sci-fi than Doom 2, more like the original game .. evolved, which I suppose was the point, and that appealed to me as a kid, and still does. They are also a bit nuts - map 20 doesn't make much sense thematically, but it has a kind of architectural grandeur - it's a much longer, bigger map than pretty much anything from the previous games. I enjoy the distinct sectioning and the long paths around barbed wire fences in the final stages. Map21 has that feel, too, when it breaks out into the final grand arena. The sky texture and music are spot on, and same goes for map 31. These maps felt like epics back in the day. I look at Pharaoh and can't help but think it must've inspired Kim André Malde's Misri Halek, for me possibly the greatest map ever made.


They have since, of course, been surpassed in most ways by third party megawads, but they were really great maps in 1996 and I'm still very fond of them so many years later.

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