It seems like ages since I last did this (which is probably because it's true). I've come back at the right time though, as there's a half-century (!) of maps, including old, new, big, small, easy, hard, Heretic and JDoom. Oh, and that community megawad that took 8 months and spawned the biggest ever thread (not to mention 1200+ posts) has decided to hit the cyber-streets. So, without further ado, open the chest and enjoy the treasure...
- SargeBaldy's Speedmapping Compilation #9 by Various Artists
225kb - doom2.exe - SP -
This appeared last week but was not (properly) reviewed, so here it is in full. The theme was to build a map taking place somewhere in the trashiest part of a town. This could be something like a junkyard, an abandoned run-down factory, somewhere with a lot of alleyways, etc. 5 maps to show for it, and they're the best speedmaps I've seen yet. Map 01 isn't up to too much, but map 02 is impressive - it even has a 3D bridge in it! Map 03 is also good looking, map 04 is made up of city blocks and map 05 is authentically dingy as well as detailed. There's also some good gameplay on offer too - while the first map is fairly straightforward, the next two are a bit tougher, map 04 plays like a dream (quite literally a speedmap) and map 05 also plays well. However, you'll need to be pretty good and tactically aware to clear the last two with 100% kills. These maps are fun, and well worth the 100 minutes work that went into each one.
- Dis 2000 by pagb666
125kb - doom2.exe - SP -
This also appeared last week but was not reviewed at all, so here it is now. This was meant to be map 24 of the dead/alive/maybe/not Hell Revealed 2 - cue monster tonnage, insane fights and all the usual challenges (see screenie). While not as extreme as some of the HR maps, it certainly packs a challenge right from the word go. You'll need to be quick and agile as well as accurate, given the ammo and health are balanced pretty finely until the final fight. If you're a HR fan, you'll enjoy this, if not, you'll probably not (unless you cheat).
- The Crypts by Robert Eckhardt (Ichor) and DoomBoy
255kb - heretic.exe - SP -
OMG, a Heretic map! This is a remake of E1M7, and is somewhat larger than the original. The detail is in the classic Heretic style, and is quite good despite the fact it was built to vanilla limits. The addition of a few Hexen 2 textures adds to it as well. Gameplay wise, there's certainly plenty of monsters to magic to death, with a good ammo balance and E1 weapons only to keep it authentic. There is plenty of health, but don't get complacent as some areas of the map are fairly challenging, despite the presence of E1 monsters only. If you're a Heretic fan then definitely play this, if not then play it anyway - you never know, you might become one. Source port required if you want to save game (tested with ZDoom 2.0 v47).
- Poetic Doom by Andrew Hunt (TeamKill)
6200kb - JDoom - SP -
OMG a JDoom map! More precisely, a group of maps, replacing E1M1-3. Although I don't really understand the point of these maps, as they're tiny and have no monsters whatsoever. Supposedly a form of poetry (see text file), but you'd have to be into art and poetry (or studying them at school/college) to understand. Weirdest idea for a map ever, though.
- The Wicked and the Damned by Rex Claussen
120kb - doom2.exe - SP -
An industrial/tech map with an interesting concept - there's no monsters around to begin with. Instead you wander through the base until you find the power switch - and then the monsters appear. And then more appear as you complete each puzzle, until you reach the exit. The map is impressively detailed, and there's enough ammo and health to go round, but IMO this map is a bit easy. The neat concept has been somewhat under-used by a low monster count of 83 (most of which are weak monsters) - at least 2 times below what would have made the idea reach it's potential, given the deathmatch-friendly layout and the potential battles possible. A good map, but IMO more (and tougher) monsters would have made it better.
- Perdition's Gate by Alex Mayberry
665kb - doom2.exe - SP/DM -
Another one of those old legal/illegal/commercial/freeware wads that appears in the archives, this is a 6 map wad with some decidedly offbeat music. The maps are medium/large, have seemingly random themes/texturing and aren't that detailed, although there are some neat features and lighting effects here and there. There's a fair spread of monsters, but with too much ammo and particularly invincibility powerups (this is a fine example of how not to place them). This is a mid-90's wad though, so (like the Lost Episodes) it appears to be aimed at lesser skilled Doomers (hence the excess ammo and invincibilities), despite some of the tougher battles. Nostalgia hunters will enjoy this, but on the whole it's nothing special.
- The big, bad 'n' ugly one by Dennis Meuwissen (Exl)
62kb - doom2.exe - DM -
A big, bad 'n' ugly deathmatch map. Well, it's not that ugly, as some parts of this map look quite nice - in fact there's only one area which is a bit bare. The theme is gothic, but there's a fair variety of texturing for this theme, and overall it's not bad in the looks department. Weaponry is limited to chainsaws, supers and rockets, with plenty of blue armour, a supercharge, a few meds and a small string of potions to keep you alive. Given that the areas are in general quite open, expect a high-speed battle with plenty of wild aiming and dancing (and fragging). Good map.
- Community Chest by Various Artists
4360kb - Boom/ZDoom - SP/CO/DM -
Well, here it is - the Doomworld community megawad, headed up by Cadman of TeamTNT. 17 mappers (including myself) have made maps for this project (many of whom are up-and-coming mappers), and the quality shows throughout. There's something for everyone here - early/mid/late id, industrial, tech, city, gothic, hellish etc. but no particular theme dominates. All of the maps are good looking, some impressively so (and map 29 is an extraordinary feat of Doom engineering). The gameplay is hard - only a handful of maps are easy, so skill 4 is only recommended for the skilled Doomer. The health balance varies from map to map, but the big surprise is that, for a megawad of this kind, the ammo balance is extremely good - not too much and not too little (despite the varying ammo balances in each map), although get your chainsaw practice in for the later maps, and the more ammo you conserve throughout, the more chance you will have in map 29 (which, if you haven't guessed, is a [i]huge[/i] challenge). The only possible downers are that some of the maps may be familiar, some might seem out of position (theme-wise) and certain maps may seem impossible to some Doomers (note: if using ZDoom, turn wall running on for map 29). But aside from that, this is a must-have, as it's an impressive, diverse and challenging collection of maps that should be the wad of the year so far.