I could just be mature and admit that it's my fault these are late, but instead I'm going to blame Sonic Doom and the KS series because they really took me a long time.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these reviews everyone, cause they're going to be my last. For now, anyway. Due to some time conflicts, I've decided that I'm going to need to give up on reviewing every third week. You may see me do a few here and there in the future, but I won't be one of the regulars.
Anyone surprised by this? When I announced this in the newstuff forums, the only comments I got were "You're late again" I guess that's bad news for me because it either means my coming or going is not really a concern, or it means that nobody really reads what I have to say :P.
It's been really really fun, people. Thanks to everyone who has read and enjoyed my reviews in the past. And thanks to those who shared their difference of opinions with tact and maturity. And most of all, thanks for releasing all of the really crappy wads on Deathz0r's weeks instead of mine :p.
- UAC Teleportatation Labs - Samuel Horwitz (insertwackynamehere#)
69k - doom2.exe - SP/CO-OP -
Well, this seems to be the author's first release (besides Barbershop Doom, which wasn't a level) so I'll try not to boil him in a vat of emu grease for any more than twenty minutes. Some parts are somewhat impressive for a first-try. I liked the arrangement of cubicles in the first major room, and some of the wires across the ceiling of one of the rooms is a nice effect. But on the other hand, there is a rather large number of simple errors.
Doom 101 for me was how to make doors. The first door you'll notice in this wad is way too wide and the walls are not unpegged, for instance. A few graphical glitches are also lying around, most likely from bad nodes or unclosed sectors. But what really gets me is some little tricks that seem to make no sense at all. In the first room, for instance, is a teleport that takes you to another spot in the exact same room. And once you've landed, the floor on the teleport raises to the ceiling to prevent you from using it again. I don't know about any of you, but I'm baffled as to what the point is.
Another part that took me a little while is a bloodfalls texture that's walk-through, leading to a big blood river. There's a narrow corridor just to the right of where you enter, but it took me a few retries to notice it as I was standing in a damaging sector with monsters shooting at me, with the view obscured by a masked 2-sided wall with hot tea being spilled on my lap by a baron of hell who held me in a choke hold while feeding me slowly into a wood chipper.
Ammo is plentiful here, and most of the monsters are zombiemen so it's not that hard, particularly if you go back and forth for the health lying around at the beginning. Most of you won't have much trouble.
Teleportation Labs is not the greatest of wads. But I will say this much; The gateway looks pretty damn cool.
- Timelessness - Andy Leaver
113k - Ultimate Doom - SP -
Timelessness is a very fun, and quite addictive doom wad. The first time I played I became so emersed that I forgot to take screenshots. Loads of action, a nice not-too-linear walkthrough, a few tricks and traps, and piles and piles of small monsters to feed to your shotgun.
The detail is extremely average, I found. Nothing ugly, nothing breathtaking. Or maybe it's just that I was so into the game that I didn't stop to notice the background. Personally, I think the fact that the architecture doesn't draw much attention shows how well it fits the theme of the level.
Don't expect many puzzles or whatnot. Not many brain cells are required. It's just a mindless shoot 'em up. But a very good one.
- 4way - Guy
177k - Doom2.exe - SP -
This is the part where I make fun of the text file. First, the author puts his name as "Guy" and second, under Misc. Author info, he puts: helluvafinefellow
Well, this almost seems like a mockery map to me. Not quite, but almost. My first indication is that he puts in the text file, and I quote; ...I tried to make sure there were no "dead-ends" or anything secret that would prevent you from getting through the level if you don't find them... but in the very first room, you have to run up to random walls to try to open them to be able to get out. The first room!
It starts out okay, with maybe a little too much emphasis on barrels. But there's one room where it's very easy to get trapped in a corner, with many chaingunners firing at you in the distance. If you don't think that's impossible enough, it wasn't too long before I ended up stuck in one area where the only way out was a teleport, which promply took me to a small room with a spider mastermind and clearly not enough health or weaponry to be able to beat it, nor enough room to possibly get away from it. I don't know about you, but for me that's the point where I say, "I'm not playing any more of this."
- ks1.zip - Cory Banket
146k - Doom2/Port Recommended - SP -
Challenging, nicely detailed, and fun. Not much else you need to know, is there?
Well, it's not quite that simple. It focuses heavily on tricks and traps, which often adds a little fun to wads if done right. For the most part, the traps are used very well. In some parts, however, I did get annoyed with some switch searching. Most of the time though I think I was just annoyed at how obvious they should have been and I just didn't find them.
There were some bad ones, though. At one point after searching several rooms several times, I found a switch. When I hit it, it activated a crusher on a low ceiling directly above me that was impossible to escape even if I had known that it was a crusher and the element of surprise wasn't there. And to make things worse, there are a few secrets that are necessary to beat the level. I personally do not like having to use the automap a lot while playing, just so I can figure out where I'm going.
I'd say this would have been one of the best ones this week if not for those few annoying features.
- ks2.zip - Cory Banket
158k - Doom2/Port Recommended - SP -
Well, this level does have some relatively good detail, but the theme and walkthrough are just too weird to be taken seriously. It's a nazi mansion, populated by SS officers. I mean, those levels are always weird, but what kind of nazi mansion has a big weird piano device that lowers weird rectangular crushers from the ceiling? There's also a humongous courtyard with arachnotrons roaming around and a cyberdemon in a big cage.
There's not much action in this one. I got bored of it pretty quickly.
- ks3.zip - Cory Banket
193k - Doom2/Port Recommended - SP -
This one has some nice atmosphere, but once again there are too many secrets and traps and puzzles. I get very tired very quick of wads where it's completely necessary to find secrets in order to progress. This is one of those.
There aren't too many of them, so it's not all bad. I'd say this level fluctuates between frustrating and fun. I'd recommend it for those with a little bit of patience and with a little more time on their hands than I have. (It makes me sad to admit that I no longer have that luxury :/)
- ks4.zip - Cory Banket
129k - Doom2/Port Recommended - SP -
Definitely the best in the KS series; It has the best features of all the other three, and seldom neglects any. It has some great atmosphere. It has tons of good puzzles, using some very nice techniques like having windows next to some switches that show what the switch does in the next room.
The action stays pretty consistent, there's a good ammo balance, it's challenging, and it has some really good architecture. The texture use and lighting are pretty good too.
It's also full of cool effects. Things like a tiny door that opens to a switch once you step into an elevator, and some of the best rising stair effects I've seen. Before ks4 I would have said this author needs a lot of work. Now I say you should all offer up your firstborn. Or maybe a sandwich.
- Tower of Pazuzu - FraGMarE (Ian McPherson)
128k - Doom2 - DM -
Like many other DM wads, this one has some great architecture and some nice lighting effects. (There's also a quite nice music replacement.) But there's not much to it gameplay-wise.
It's very small; a one on one fight would seem a little cramped. While the plasma gun is reachable in doom and boom (and probably other ports I didn't test) in zdoom, it sinks through the ground. That makes it a bit of a problem for playing on zdaemon.
Also, I find the BFG-9000 is way too easy to get. A lift in the centre of the map lowers to a teleport that takes you right to the gun, on top of the main arena. While playing an 4-player deathmatch where everyone has the BFG in a small room might be fun for mockery, I think it doesn't really work in a serious level.
- R.A.V.E. - Andy "FearKeeper" Leaver
53k - Doom2.exe - SP -
A very short but very fun level. The music's nice too. Not too heavily on the detail, but just the right amount of boomstick. It is rather easy, though. Well, at least there's some good old fashioned gratuitous bloodletting. Enjoy.
- Super Sonic DooM - Playable Demo - Stephen Clark (The Ultimate DooMer!)
2368k - Zdoom/Doom2 - SP -
I have mixed feelings on this one. I love Doom and I love Sonic the Hedgehog, but it's very difficult to bridge the gap between the two. While this is a fairly decent answer to that problem, I found myself a little disappointed that the gameplay seemed to emphasize more Doom than Sonic. You still use pistols and shotguns, you still use keys to open doors, and there's not much opportunity to just keep running. On top of this, I found most of the levels hard to follow along. Maybe it's because I was trying so hard to get the Sonic feel that I was just running around and not carefully looking for hidden switches and keys, but then isn't that the point?
Some parts are great. I do like the spring boards, for instance. They really do add some fun, especially when monsters walk into them (See shot #2). But some of the monsters I found to be too hard for a theme like this. I think enemies should be quick to finish off. One shotgun blast or quick chaingun burst should be enough to get rid of nearly all of them, so as not to slow down the pace of the levels. The green imps and demons sort of do the opposite, and the pain elementals really get in the way. And by the end of the level, most of the monsters will be following you around until you're swamped. If the enemies could be confined to their own areas with monster-blocking lines, I think it would definitely help.
Out of the four levels in this wad, I'd say by far the best is map03; "Sunset Forest, Act I". You can follow along a path, grabbing health potions on the way, running past and taking down monsters that try to stop you. It's a very fun level until you have to stop and look for the keys, at which point it gets very tedious as you keep wandering along the same path looking for keys while being pummeled by fireballs. I found the yellow key with a little bit of trouble, and I'm still looking for the orange one. Well, for the most part, map03 really did make me feel like I was in a Sonic level. The other three didn't however. Particularly not map04, where a swamp prevents you from moving fast at all.
This demo is a potential gem. It's good, but not as amazing as I know it can be. When the full version is finished, I think if the third map is kept in mind (before the key hunt) it should do all right. I just wish the levelset in general was more fast-paced.
Well, that's it for me. I'll see you all again once I can get mock 2 finished. Those who I'm expecting work from can now officially ph33r. So long and thanks for all the fish.