Well, we have a few records broken this week - the highest number of wads (28!), the highest number of maps (51!), the highest number of screenies (38!), and the biggest file ever uploaded to newstuff (19.2 meg!). We also have one of the smallest maps ever, one of the biggest maps ever, and the Doom marine is unmasked for the first time! The maps are mostly vanilla Doom 1 and Doom 2 (including some old wads uploaded by our resident antique wad hunter, Grazza), with a bit of ZDoom action thrown in (including my Super Sonic Doom demo , which I've updated with bug fixes, improvements and new features). And all before I head off on holiday for a couple of weeks. On your marks, get set and I'll fire the starting pistol to get this marathon underway. BANG!:
- Alleys by Simo Malinen
60kb - doom.exe - SP -
Here we go - 16 separate wads uploaded by the same author. We start right in the deep end with a fast-paced city map. Plenty of ammo here, quite a bit of health too, and a ton of monsters crammed into this small-ish map. Watch out for the cyber doing the long-range stuff, which also adds to the challenge of this map. Detail wise, it's not too bad, although the choices of texture seem a bit odd (red brick buildings with grey thrown in) and would look much better if it was E3M1 not E1M1. Definitely worth playing if you like a blast.
- Box by Simo Malinen
15kb - doom.exe - SP -
Don't let the name put you off, it's not like canthide.wad - it's a small but hectic map with an msi (monsters per square inch) count that could rival the Blind Alley maps. Plenty of ammo, health and monsters, and the open nature of the map means a lot of dancing is required. Another good map then, the screenie will show what it looks like.
- Dark Base by Simo Malinen
30kb - doom.exe - SP -
The carnage continues, with what could be described as Blind Alley for Doom 1. Tons of monsters and ammo again, but this time a linear layout. The detail is low and the texturing is mostly dark brown stone or grey brick. Not a patch on the Blind Alley maps then, but still a blast. Oh, and there's virtually no darkness whatsoever.
- Drilling Station by Simo Malinen
42kb - doom.exe - SP -
Now, this is a good one. Set on board a drilling rig, this industrial map is both good looking and good playing. Detail is appropriately done, with plenty of walkways outside and some tech rooms among other things inside. Monsters are crawling everywhere, and once again the pace never lets up. And all the locked doors are at the start/end, meaning you can roam wherever you want to. The best of his maps.
- Downtown by Simo Malinen
36kb - doom.exe - SP -
I'm beginning to like this author - another fast-paced map, this time in an ultra modern-looking city. Lots of tall imposing buildings, streets and pavements give a sense of being in a big modern city - and there's plenty of monsters to chase you round the streets. There's also plenty of ammo, but the health is concentrated in a few places, so be a little careful. Most of the buildings are solid (and low in detail), but there are a couple of indoor areas which you'll visit once you start rooftop hopping. Enjoy.
- Nuclear Research - Reactor Rooms by Simo Malinen
112kb - doom.exe - SP -
We're now in a more traditional Phobos-style setting with this nuclear plant map. Lots of tightly packed rooms and passages, with quite a few reactors along the way. The action is non-stop once again - there's monsters round every corner, behind every door and plenty of them to spring you by surprise. Detail is actually quite good compared to his other maps, but the STAR****-based texturing is a bit over-used throughout. Another good map, though.
- Polar Station by Simo Malinen
83kb - doom.exe - SP -
Despite the lack of icy textures in Doom, this small-ish map somehow manages to pull it off, with the Phobos sky helping out a lot. A remote base that actually feels like that, both outdoors and indoors. The buildings are impressively detailed, and the outside doesn't look bad either - although it is spoiled a bit by the occasional red brick ledge. Gameplay is not quite as fast as in previous maps, but still fast, and you will be under siege at the end. Easily the best looking map so far, so here's a second screenie.
- Shades by Simo Malinen
37kb - doom.exe - SP -
Well, there had to be a weak map in there somewhere, and this is it. A monotonous industrial base made up entirely of unaligned ickwall textures and completely bare rooms/passages. However, it's crammed with monsters as usual and it doesn't last too long. Not a good map...
- Stone Base by Simo Malinen
36kb - doom.exe - SP -
...and this map isn't much better. Another boring base, this time of grey stone and brick. Once again the detail is nonexistent, except in a couple of places. Plenty of monsters though, and some traps to go with them. Still, another one to miss.
- UFO by Simo Malinen
48kb - doom.exe - SP -
A tiny tech map, but this time crammed with detail instead of monsters. It really feels like the inside of a cramped spaceship, with bright and dark parts together with many a flashing light. Not many monsters though, and consequently the easiest of his maps so far. But it doesn't half look good though.
- Wood Base by Simo Malinen
28kb - doom.exe - SP -
The Doom 1 chapter ends with another low-detail base, this time made out of wood. This makes it feel slightly better than the other two crappy bases, but it still isn't up to much. At least the monsters are back up to scratch, with plenty of them around and a few traps to boot. On the whole, these 11 wads are quite good - so it begs the question "why were these not made into an episode?". It could easily work - ditch Shades and Stone Base and put the others into a 9-map episode with UFO as the secret map. Well, you can always do that yourself if you want to.
- Computer Center by Simo Malinen
228kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Onto the Doom 2 chapter, and we suddenly go up in size and monster count. A huge, complex tech base with some decidedly dodgy texturing (LITE5 and LITEBLU4 generally do not make good walls). Detail is good in some areas and bad in others, with a lot of other styles thrown in. There's plenty of monsters, with many of them doing the sneaky thing, so there's plenty of carnage to be had. But the bad texturing in a lot of areas means that the carnage will be the only real reason to play it.
- Maintenance Complex by Simo Malinen
566kb - doom2.exe - SP -
If playing through the other 15 wads wasn't already a marathon, then surely this map is! A huuuuuuuuge base cramming in over 1000 monsters and every known industrial/tech style, plus many other non-tech ones. The layout is complex and irregular all over, yet surprisingly easy to follow for a map of this size. One or two bits will confuse you though, usually when you've just got a key. Detail is high throughout, but a lot of the architecture is random and irregular like the layout. Gameplay wise, there's 1000+ monsters to play with and all the ammo and health needed to do so. Traps are aplenty, although I was disappointed by the final trap and the lack of a spider mastermind (and only one cyber). By now, you should be able to decide on whether or not to play this (based on the rest of his Doom 2 wads), but if you do, set aside at least 90 minutes and bring along the longest midi's you can find.
- Desert Base by Simo Malinen
290kb - doom2.exe - SP -
This is a pretty big map set in the desert, hence the orange TFC sky (although there's no RROCK09/ROCK5 to be seen). This one is mostly industrial/tech, with the odd gothic bit thrown in (which I don't really like in base maps). The detail varies throughout, but it's never bad - a lot of the time it's good, some parts are impressive, and there's even some fake 3D bridges. Monsters and ammo are plentiful as always, with some really good battles here (including one of my favourites - the caco invasion) and although the layout is quite lengthy, it's not too complicated. In short a very good map with a good fun factor, and is quite good looking too. Play.
- Oberon Base by Simo Malinen
156kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Another base map (he really seems to like them) and this one is a little irregular in design and texturing (mainly around the start room). Despite this it's relatively easy to follow, and the red key area is fairly nice. Gameplay wise, there's tons of monsters, sneaky traps, blah-blah-blah. While not the worst of his Doom 2 maps, it's still pretty average fare.
- Waste Refinery by Simo Malinen
419kb - doom2.exe - SP -
And finally....another base map, this time masquerading under the title of refinery. Like the rest of his Doom 2 maps (bar one), the layout and texturing are completely random and the detail varies from really good to average. At least the gameplay is consistent - tons of monsters, traps, you know the rest. And this map will confuse you a bit, too. Once again, pretty average stuff. So, what's the overall opinion on these 16 wads? Well, most of the Doom 1 maps are pretty good (some of them excellent) and if action and carnage are your thing then they're definitely worth playing, but most of the Doom 2 maps are formulaic, a real slog and lacking creativity. If you can't play them all, play the Doom 1 maps and the Desert Base.
- Shoreleave by Bob Reganess
354kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Remember Perdition's Gate and it's offbeat music? Well, this is where they came from. A 5-map wad with a beach-style theme, which has been released just at the right time. The wad is definitely for novelty more than anything else, given the troopers in shorts, seagulls, exploding ice cubes and a sword-shaped map. The maps themselves aren't that good - the first one fits the theme well but the others don't, they're not that detailed and quite ugly in some places (although the tree/plant sprites make for some nice areas), the icy flat has black diagonal lines through it and all maps apart from the first suffer from a bad reject. Gameplay isn't too bad, as the first 4 maps play ok, the 2nd has very little health and there are a few cyberdemon battles, too. It is an old wad though, and worth playing for the novelty value.
- Doomstone by Bob Reganess
220kb - doom2.exe - SP -
A very good city map with realistic streets and crammed with shops, apartments and other buildings (many of which are locked). The light level is just right for the sky to create an atmosphere. The buildings themselves are a bit bare (especially the larger ones), although the door/window graphics definitely improve the map greatly. Gameplay wise, this map is huge and can be confusing to work out where to go. However, the author blabs his mouth off about the solutions, find the building with them in. This is a challenging map, especially at the start, as you search for a shotgun and avoid the spider mastermind patrolling part of the city. The thing placement is quite realistic, as the shops are selling various items. There's plenty of ammo, but you'll have to search everywhere for it, and health is at a premium too. It takes a while to finish, and consequently might annoy those who don't like complex maps, but this is a good map with a good tune as well. In fact it's so good it gets a second screenie.
- Jailbirds by Bob Reganess
653kb - doom2.exe - SP -
A map set on an island with a jail complex on it. As well as the cell block, there's also rivers, caves and the biggest waterfall you'll ever see. The rest of the map is made up of seemingly random-textured areas with some teleporters that just get in the way. The detail is low in all areas, although the island part on the outside is quite nice. Gameplay is nothing special either, although health isn't too abundant on the inside, and the new demon sprites are good. Still, the atmosphere isn't bad due to the bright blue sky (the same one used in Shoreleave) and once again, it is an old wad so some of the detail deficiencies can be expected. Nostalgia hunters will like it, but I don't know about the rest of you.
- Viles and Zar-Cyb's: The Last Fight by anonymous
78kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Two sectors, the biggest pit ever (8192 units deep), the biggest vile-assisted thrust ever (right to the top!) and a humourous texture. Yes, it's silly time again, and to prove it I've taken a screenie of what happens if you cheat. It has a good (and familiar) tune though - kinda reminds me of where this wad should go...
- Desert Horror by Eye del Cul
176kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Ahh, that's better - another decent base map. This is in fact the second desert base map to hit this week, and while the other one was good, this one's really good. Set in two buildings with an open bit in the middle, this map really does feel like a remote base - from the outdoor bits to the storage rooms and all in between. The detail is impressive, with some nice dummy sector effects and suspended steptop beams and a cool missile silo, too! Gameplay is hard - and made harder by a decent ammo balance, a very fine health balance (watch it) and the absence of a super shotgun. Even the SS soldiers are dangerous, and (unlike most maps) they actually contribute to the gameplay here! But I think the Herian/Herian2 guy had the right idea - replacing the SS sprites with recoloured zombie sprites - that would've been an improvement here. Apart from that, there's nothing wrong with this map at all. Recommended!
- RubenDoom by Eye del Cul
377kb - doom2.exe - SP -
A stark change from all the bases, this is a 2-map wad with a more hellish theme to it. The first map is a classic green gothic palace with plenty of darker areas and some tech stuff to decorate it as well as the usual scenery, and the second is essentially an outdoor arena with moving floors and two big traps. The detail is good, with some nice lighting thrown in along with some consoles from Unreal, believe it or not. The gameplay is reasonably difficult, but watch that health and conserve ammo in the first map. The second map has all that you need (even if you come in with precisely no ammo like I did) but the combat is tougher there. If you're a fan of gothic maps, you're probably crying out for this, in a week full of bases. If not, you might like it anyway, even if it's just for a change of scenery.
- 50 Frags by Derrick A. Allen (BloodSplatter Inc.)
135kb - ZDoom - DM -
A small, highly-detailed deathmatch map. Ambient sounds create an atmosphere, and there's four weapons to choose from along with a fair smattering of health and armour. However, the layout is quite restrictive, with mostly wide/narrow passages and only one real place to have an open battle. This one is recommended only to those who like to frag in more cramped spaces.
- HELLRAISER! by MoBro
135kb - doom2.exe - DM -
A deathmatch map set in a small hellish arena, with only 4 blocks to hide behind, a stairway and one dead end. With 5 weapons to choose from, battles should be fast and bloody with the onus on getting to the supercharge/blue armour first.
- Welcome to Paradise by Mike Murphy (Zombie Keeper)
87kb - doom2.exe - SP -
The last of this week's many old wads, this is a map of an indiscernable theme. Detail is mostly low, although the graveyard and the chapel don't look bad, and there's a neat thing done with the hanging bodies. Gameplay is tough early on, with plenty of snipers annoying you in the graveyard, but after that it's a doddle. Ammo and health are plentiful throughout, and overall there's not really much to get excited about here. It is an old wad, though (uploaded by the author).
- DoomGuy Variants by Nigel Rowand (Enjay)
303kb - ZDoom/Legacy - n/a -
The only non-map wad this week, this is a collection of 7 skins for the Doom marine, featuring various combinations of green and grey. Now's your chance to see what the marine looks like with his helmet off...
- MassMouth 2 by Mike Watson (Cyb)
19200kb - ZDoom - SP -
So here it is - the biggest file ever to hit newstuff. The comical creature MassMouth gets his second outing, this time planet hopping on a much bigger scale. 17 maps are here, including 1 secret map, 1 training map and 1 epilogue map. Nearly every ZDoom feature going is used in this wad, from the simple to the extremely complex and all are genuinely innovative. The imaginative storyline is impressively woven into each map, there are many characters (both familiar and unfamiliar) complete with comical voice-acting (!) and a wide variety of different planets to explore. The maps themselves are small and are quite bare, although some maps are fairly well detailed and the themes are great. The one thing I didn't like about the original MassMouth was the low monster counts and subsequent easy difficulty. Well, the sequel still has the low monster counts - but it's not easy anymore. In fact, all the monsters (with the exception of the 3 basic soldiers) are quite tough to beat, and together with the evil bosses and the low ammo and health amounts, makes this wad surprisingly difficult to complete. There are also some environmental challenges too, including water, narrow ledges and springs. The monsters, weapons and sounds are all new and the music is awesome - a mixture of guitar-based and electro tunes with a distinct 80's sound, together with some Unreal and Unreal-style ambient and techno tunes. These really enhance the atmosphere and in one case, a scripted event is specially timed to fit with the music! It's also quite funny - there's plenty of jokes, Doomworld references (including one to me) and a hilarious secret map which will keep you laughing right the way through the adventure. There's also one map with 2 different starts and routes to the middle, and the wad has multiple endings, depending on what you do at key points. Those who like highly-detailed maps and lots of fast-paced carnage will be disappointed, but the rest of you should download this now, even if you have 56k (it took me 75 minutes to download this) as it's worth every second. Overall, a phenomenal amount of work has gone into MassMouth 2, and I have a feeling that all ZDoom mappers (including myself) will have to raise their game to keep up with wads like this - as I'm sure this won't be the last. This is one adventure you'll never forget...