Well, happy 4th (though slightly belated) to our American readers, and a slightly more belated happy Canada to our Canadian readers. Happy regular day of the week to everyone else, now let's get drunk! But first you should read t/nc for there are many wads this week, and some of them are actually good! Wowie! The maps this week include gems like Classic10 and 8Pack, a crapload of rereleases and even Nuts 3 (yes that is nuts3 to the right, and yes, those are all monsters)! I am using too many exclamation marks! YES!! On to the reviews!!
8Pack - Alexis Neuhaus
doom2.exe - SP - 364k -
Well, I'll be honest. When I read the text file and it stated that the author of these maps (there are eight of them) was 13, I was expecting a newbie crap-fest. I was wrong. These maps are quite excellent. They're a lot of fun, and also a great challenge.
As you'd expect from a mapset, they start off fairly easy and progressively get harder until map08 which is frickin' hard. Actually, even the earlier maps will be a bit of a challenge if you aren't careful since there are hitscan enemies aplenty. Ammo will never be a problem as there is usually an excess, but you will need to watch your health, so no running into battles like a nutball.
On top of that, as you can probably tell from some of the screenshots, many of the maps are heavily inspired by id maps from Doom and Doom2 (and I believe some more by Plutonia and Evilution, but I haven't played those two quite as much), and a lot of times you'll be in the map and know right off where the author got his ideas from. Overall, the maps aren't super detailed, nor are they totally void of it, but they are a lot of fun (and I don't say that often), so I'd grab this one if I were you.
The Library - Rubén Alonso
doom2.exe - SP - 53k -
Unless I'm a total idiot (which is possible), this map has a red key card but no red door. There are however blue and yellow doors. Uh, the first part of the map is a library (a very tall one) with some nice smoothed lighting on the stairs, but not much else is around. If someone finds the red door or the blue or yellow keys, please feel free to tell me, because I searched for a while but came up empty handed. Screw it, libraries make me nervous anyway.
Crossing Acheron 2 - John W. Anderson
doom2.exe - SP - 58k -
This is Crossing Acheron by Dr. Sleep. It's a classic. It was released back in '94. I presume this was uploaded by a caring citizen who noticed the idgames archive was missing the Doom 2 version. Anyway, if you've never played this, it's quite good, in fact it's excellent for something so old. It's set in a marble and green brick fortress of some kind, with assloads of lifts and doors that you aren't sure are doors (if you can't find a place to go, just press on a bunch of walls, usually one will open). Good map. Classic. Download it. Unless you already have it.
Duse Ex Machina - Andy Leaver
doom.exe - SP - 111k -
Normally I like Andy Leaver's maps, and this one, while not a bad map by any means, has a lot of misaligned textures on the x-axis that really annoyed the crap out of me. There were a bunch of poles and rocks and bricks that used quite a few linedefs due to details and so on, and they were all aligned just fine on the y-axis, but they just looked weird and, for me, ruined the feel of the map, which is actually a very interesting marble-hell type theme with a lot of neat looking architecture. In fact were it not for the misalignments (which I'm sure won't annoy anyone else, but I tend to be rather picky about these things), I would have absolutely loved the looks of this map.
Gameplay is nice, but not hard, though ammo is tight at times and there isn't too much health, and what there is is usually limited to stimpacks. Also, on my first run through I was able to sneak past the bar blocking the exit, exiting the map with only 53% kills (I believe that is only possible with ZDoom however). Good map either way, but if texture misalignments give you aneurisms or something you may want to skip it.
Blind Alley W., "Redemption" - Gene Bird
doom2.exe - SP - 118k -
This is the 12th map in the Blind Alley series, but the first one that's been released on a Cyb week (even though every week is Cyb week). The map is an odd mishmash of themes that sort of fit together, though I would have preferred more of a general theme myself (I'm weird like that) or at least a different transition between areas. It starts off dungoney like and then changes to marble and green brick and then to wood and then back. The themes do fit together, and it's not like it suddenly switches from hell-themed to tech base (which annoys me to no end), so it's all good.
Gameplay isn't too tough. There's ample amounts of ammo and health, and you're able to use the ssg exclusively the entire map without breaking a sweat. Except for those goddamned revenants. I swear there's more of them in that map than any other monster. And some of them are placed evilly, so you'll walk into a room and be merrily shooting at imps and sergeants and get punched in the back of the head. Sneaky revenants. All in all a nice solid map that's pretty fun, if a bit overly linear, but nice nonetheless.
Fire Storm - Mutt Man
doom2.exe - SP/Coop/DM - 116k -
No sir, I don't like it. When I read the text file I was actually certain this was a DM map, but it turns out it's an SP/Coop map or something. I dunno. It's not very good. It's way too easy (soulspheres are placed in almost every room) and the design is unorthodox and boring and void of most any detail. Also the sight of seven thousand doors that don't open is a very frustrating sight. It may play decently for DM, but I didn't test it, but for SP, skip it, there are much better maps this week.
Traffic Control - Deathbringer
doom.exe - SP - 48k -
Generally uninteresting and bland architecture without much of a challenge. This was Deathbringer's entry in that Doomcenter E1 contest a while back which I believe was to make an E1 themed map (hard to figure that out, eh?). This map could do with some of that texture alignment I was speaking of earlier (though not as much, and more on the y-axis) and also most of the areas seemed bland, though there were a few nice spots, but in general it could have done with some ceiling or wall detail. Or some lights. SOMETHING. Of course this map also gets the boot because it's released the same week as Classic 10, which is a way better E1 themed map. It's hard to compete with Jan Van der Veken though.
The Lost Mines - Mark Anthony Klem
doom2.exe - SP - 84k -
I'm not sure of the original file date on this but the wad is dated 5/13/1980 which I presume to be an error, unless this is a freaky time traveling map. Anywho, I assume this map, like Acheron, is from roughly around 94, and thus it doesn't have today's standards of detail nor is it overly hard (in fact it's almost a breeze on UV), but it's a nice little map, and the beginning actually had me overly worried that it would be really hard, but it's all just a clever ploy to make you soil yourself. Damn you Mark Klem! Also includes a custom midi by Mark which, as you'd expect from him, is top notch.
Nefarious Chateau - Denver J. Curtis
doom2.exe - SP - 48k -
Arg, I think this is a rerelease too, in fact I'm almost 100% sure as the files in the zip are dated 11/20/94 and the text file has BBS numbers on it. Frickin' a man. I'm starting to see why deathz0r gets so annoyed by these. Anyway, let's get to it. This map is ugly and poorly textured (gotta love midbar textures that float 64 units above the ground, and don't even get me started on the flats in that room with the crates (see the screenshot). Generally I'd prefer that if someone was going to upload missing wads to the archive they would stick to the ones that are actually GOOD (Acheron 2 for example) and leave the ugly and easy stuff like this out. Skip it.
Piazza Dei Miracoli - Luca Mugnaini
doom2.exe - SP - 124k -
An interesting level set in the Square of Miracles in Pisa, Italy. The map is fairly accurate from photos I've seen (I haven't actually been there myself, though I would like to one day), though the leaning tower doesn't actually lean (rather hard to pull off in the Doom engine), but the map is nothing more than something you briefly look through, as was the author's intention. In the text file he even invites you to contact him so you can play a modem game and he can give you a 'virtual tour' of the square. What a nice guy. You'll need to know Italian to read the text file though. Interesting enough to check out, but aside from that there isn't much more to it, and that includes the lack of exit.
Shrine of the Warriors - Daniel "Stormin" Norman
doom2.exe - SP - 124k -
Bah. This is also obviously a rerelease/reupload as the author has one of those old compuserv emails with all the numbers and he thanks Dr. Sleep for help in the text file. The map uses Doom sprites as textures, and it's sort of clever (there's even one humorous moment) but the design of the map is rather bad with a lot of things you need to complete the map hidden behind textures that look like ordinary walls. For instance I was stuck in the imp textured room for quite a while before I gave up and watched demo3 (which by the way is 25 mins long and boring as all hell; I had to watch it on timedemo to keep from going insane) and what I the player in the demo did was hit a bunch of random walls and the like to complete the map. Sorry, having a wall textured exactly like the surrounding walls be a door is not my idea of a good puzzle or secret. Skip this one.
SargeBaldy Speedmapping Compilation #10 - Various Authors
Boom Compatibility - SP - 178k -
Ahh, speedmapping. Fun to do, but not always fun to play. The theme for this set was to make UAC headquarters. Here's a brief rundown on the maps:
MAP01 - Decent enough for 100 mins, but ugly.
MAP02 - Erik Alm never ceases to amaze me. This map is quite excellent quality and also a fair challenge. It's worth downloading the set just to play this one.
MAP03 - Pure hilarity in a can! This also made the set worth downloading, but on a more humorous note of course. zarcyb r0x0rz, lolz!
MAP04 - Starts off cool, but ends with a lot of misaligned and wadauthor default textures, which I presume happened when the author realized he was running short on time.
MAP05 - Not too bad for 100 mins work, though it could do with some better texture alignment and perhaps some light or something, but that's probably too much work for the short time allowed.
MAP06 - Crap on a stick.
MAP07 - Mother of all that is good and holy, this map is absolutely massive. Short and easy to beat though, but the size of it is insane. Mind you there's not a lot of detail or anything, it's just BIG.
MAP08 - Uh. Whatever. The humor fails it in this one. MAP03 is way funnier. I don't think there's an exit here either, but it's okay because it's the last map!
Doom Classic 10: Mercurius Pools - Jan Van der Veken
doom.exe - SP - 78k -
OMG, a new Jan Van der Veken Classic map! New being the key word! Someone didn't just reupload Dawn of the Dead! Hooray! As you'd expect, the map is quite excellent, and in the theme of episode 1 (in fact it puts episode 1 to shame). It's also quite a challenge, even though there's not much bigger than a cacodemon on it (I heard there's a cyberdemon, but on my two playthroughs I never met him). There are also quite a lot of secret areas which contain items that will make the map a bit easier to play. There's not much more I can say, and I'm sure many of you have already played this since it was announced on DW a couple days ago, but if you haven't go grab it right now, it's friggin awesome.
Doom Classic 10: Mercurius Pools without the cyberdemon - Jan Van der Veken
doom.exe - SP - 77k
This is Classic 10 again only without the cyberdemon that I never found in the first one. Other than that it's exactly the same. So if you don't like cyberdemons you may want to download this one. Of course I can't tell the difference because I don't know where the damn thing is in the other map!
Independence Doom - WildWeasel
Port that supports the dehacked lump - n/a - 4k
This is just a simple dehacked patch the author made because he "got frustrated that my state banned fireworks, and got sweet revenge (in doom form)!". What it does is replace bullet puffs and all monster deaths with rocket explosions so when you kill something (or shoot a wall) it explodes and also takes out whatever happens to be close to it. In regular Doom it's funny enough for a couple mins, but it really shines through if you use it to play nuts3.wad (review of that to follow). One pistol shot will clear out almost the entire field of monsters, I kid you not. Also you can do some bitchin' SSG jumps if you turn on god mode. I imagine it would wear thin after a while, but it seems like destiny this was released the same week as nuts3.
NUTS3.WAD - Triple the Nut, Double the Mongoose - B.P.R.D
A Lot of Memory, Doom 2, ZDoom recommended by author - SP - 509k -
From the author of, uh, Nuts.wad and Nuts2.wad, comes Nuts3.wad. What can I say about the Nuts series. It holds a special place in the hearts of many. The first one was an oddity which many a port developer used to stress test their port. The second one was rather hilarious (I thought so anyway). This one is simply unplayable. My specs are Athlon xp2000, 512megs of ram and I was lucky to get 1 fps. That's right, one. I turned on freeze mode in zdoom and I still hovered around 15 fps and it dropped back to 1 if I looked the right way (or wrong way as it were). I dunno. Maybe this whole nuts thing has finally gone too far. Who'd have thought it would take three maps for it to get excessive, though. If you take a nomonsters run through, the map is actually quite nice, with some new graphics and lighting and stuff. Don't expect it to be playable otherwise though. I didn't even bother to wake up the monsters for fear my processor would melt. Enjoy!