As Doom's 10th birthday looms over the horizon, we get a bunch of old wads just for the (pre)occasion. In fact most of newstuff population this week is antique, but there is some new stuff in newstuff too. A nice big 53 (!) maps in total (including a ZDoomGL wad of all things) to get you in the mood for next week's celebrations.
Cyb says: Good thing deathz0r wasn't up this week, we know how he loves old wads.
- Classix Deathmatch by Various Artists
710kb - doom2.exe - DM -
This appeared last week but was not reviewed (by our resident antique wad evader), so here we go. Basically a collection of old school deathmatch maps, which are all tiny. The detail and lighting is mostly poor throughout, but there are some nicer areas in there (some of which are screenies). The themes vary, but are mostly gothic or brick-based. There's a variety of layouts - simple and complex, open and cramped, outdoor and indoor, all of which should keep you entertained for a while. However, quite a few of the maps are modified versions of earlier maps in the megawad, leading to repetitiveness in places. It tends to be weapons only (with no extra ammo around) and usually some health and armour is there, too. There's even some single player content - 3 of the maps (01, 24, 31) contain a cyberdemon, which can be interesting to play from a pistol start on. If old school deathmatch is your thing then grab this, if it's not then ignore it. (unless you want a crack at the 3 cyber maps, which are tough)
- Schlagwerk by Christopher Emirzian (Udderdude)
1060kb - ZDoom - SP -
This also appeared last week and didn't get reviewed, so here we go again. A fairly small tech map that is very deceiving in terms of size. Detail is ok but not great, although the hellish bits are nicely woven into the map, partially giving the impression of a recently overrun techbase (further enhanced by the accompanying breakbeat tune, which fits both the theme and the gameplay). But the monsters-per-square-inch (msi) count rams home the overrun base feel, as it makes a Blind Alley map seem sparsely populated by comparison. The areas are pretty cramped, and there's a trap round every corner nearly (some of which are particularly nasty). Most of the ZDoom features used have an effect on the gameplay, and ammo/health are balanced finely too, so this makes for a pretty damned hard wad. A lot of you will be annoyed by the gameplay here, and you'll need to be a good dodger and tactician to survive. But if you are like that then you'll enjoy this, although you'll really need to be on your toes. Not for the faint-hearted.
Note: this is a review of the original Schlagwerk, which may not be in the archives anymore. An updated version is out now, but I didn't get chance to play it.
- The Huntdown by Taisto Valdlo (Mephisto00)
57kb - ZDoom - SP -
A set of 4 tiny maps, which should take you no time at all. They're all of a different theme (with suitable, well done texturing), and low in detail but have some ZDoom features to spice things up (particularly with lighting effects). They're also easy as pie, and any self-respecting Doomer should be able to do this with their eyes shut. However the author is fairly new to mapping (from what I gather in the text file) and it looks like a good effort given this fact.
- Mortiser 05: Toxic Waste Dump by Sam Woodman (Metabolist)
98kb - doom2.exe - SP -
The 5th in this series of maps, this one is set in a toxic waste dump full of waste that isn't actually toxic (hmm). It has a distinct Plutonia feel, from the architecture through the difficulty to the amount of supershotgunning needed. It is quite dark throughout (a sharp contrast to the bright sky, used well in some places) and this leads to some tricky battles, particularly around the blue key (hint hint). There's plenty of shells about and nothing else (that doesn't come off a dead body) and health is balanced quite good, too. It is pretty hard, there's lots of monsters (msi=high) and some nasty traps (one of which is nullified by ZDoom, advance warning there). It's not suitable for all, but recommended anyway. Requires the Mortiser resource wad (1420kb).
- Army of Darkness by Various Artists
3230/2990kb - source port - SP -
An old wad, but one I haven't played so it gets done. A set of 9 maps (plus a bonus DM map) with monsters, weapons and many items replaced with new sprites. The maps are of a gothic nature, with a cool night sky to boot. Trouble is, that while many of the outdoor areas look great with this sky, some of the maps are way too bright, leading to a poorer look about them in the outdoor areas. And the indoor areas aren't very detailed in most places, and one map has a huge maze (who would make a maze like this?) although they do create the gothic atmosphere that's present throughout (except in the last map which is way out of place). It would've been better if the new weapons/monsters were actually new and not re-badged versions of the old ones, although there's no pistol and the shotgun is a bit faster - leading to a quicker pace. (that doesn't disappear after the first few maps like in Strain). And it's by no means easier either. Ammo and health are balanced quite well and the music is a gothic collection that really fits well and enhances the wad, and the sounds are good too. The lack of an end boss is a downer, but on the whole it's not bad and it's quite fun to play. Comes in identical Doom 1 and Doom 2 flavours, the only difference being the order of the maps. (so the Doom 1 version is recommended)
- The Citadel of Fear by Taisto Valdlo (Mephisto00)
77kb - ZDoom - SP -
A fairly small green gothic temple with a great focus on lighting effects - there's plenty throughout and they are nice to look at. Some of the other architecture is nice too, although there is extensive copy/pasting which can make it look repetitive after a while. ZDoom features are also restricted to particle fountains only (although they are used well). Gameplay is fairly easy with one or two scares, although jumping is required to keep the ammo going and you won't be able to kill everything anyway. Still, it's not too bad for a small map.
- DTCA 19: Master Lift Access by cyber-menace
749kb - ZDoom - SP -
The latest in the series, this is a huge tech map which takes its influences from a certain ZDoom wad. This time you have to do things like restoring power and gaining access to high security areas. The detail isn't great but it's not conventional either, with plenty of tech features and many a slope, which creates the atmosphere. In short, the detail is realistic to the theme, which is great for a map of this kind. The lighting is a bit bright in places though, which makes it feel a bit less detailed than it is. Scripting is used to create the now-familar mission objectives, some of which are quite good and require a bit of thought as well as observation (and the map's design plays a part in this, so thumbs up for that). But sadly, some of the messages will appear in the middle of a fight, so you end up ignoring them while trying to complete another mission: staying alive. Gameplay-wise it's tough and interesting. Some new monsters are present, together with stealth and recoloured types, and there's plenty of them to kill. Ammo is pretty tight though, so practice your left hook (you'll need it). Half-Life style health pads exist in the first part, and this can lead to an interesting strategy in the corridors there, especially if you're a good berserker (if you are, you can freely fist away and keep running back to the pads). The second part is more normal (in both ammo and health), but watch out for those tiny cybers determined to draw you to F9 a lot. This kind of Doom map is still fairly new, but if you like them (as I do) then you'll love this. If not, it's still a fair challenge so those who prefer conventional maps can still play it. It could've done with a faster tune for the first part as well, but on the whole it's pretty good and certainly a change from the standard type of maps.
The last review is by Grazza, as I was unable to play the wad (ZDoomGL refuses to work on my system):
- ZanZan by Edmundo Bordeu (TC pack put together by Cyb)
4210kb - ZDoomGL - SP -
ZanZan is one of the relatively few genuine TCs for Doom. It has new monsters, new weapons, new sounds and new textures. I didn't notice anything that was the same as in Doom, although the text-file implies that a few of the original textures are used somewhere. ZdoomGL 0.66 is required, since md2 models are extensively used, though hopefully we won't have to wait too long for Timmie to add md2 model support to the current version of ZdoomGL. Note that ZanZan is not brand new by any means; it has a webpage hosted by Doomworld that has not been updated for a long time, and the files are dated June 2000. However, it had never been uploaded to the archive, and since the demise of Doomcenter, it had been unavailable for download. Cyb is to be thanked for making the current package available. He has included all the files that are required - there is no need to go searching for the right version of ZdoomGL. All you need to supply yourself is a computer capable of running it, and the patience to read the instructions.
It is clear that a phenomenal amount of work went into ZanZan. The models all look good, with very few signs of blockiness or unnatural movement. Some of them look rather weird, but we can safely assume that is intentional. The sounds are also very appropriate - nothing really jars. Edmundo Bordeu has created a very convincing little world for us to explore. ZanZan is really nothing like normal Doom. It reminded me most strongly of Hexen 2, with some Unreal and Hexen 1 mixed in. One scene is clearly inspired by Star Wars and/or Half-Life - and the solution is similar to that in Half-Life too. I also found myself thinking every so often that this TC inspired quite a few ideas that Cyb used in Void.wad.
You shouldn't just go around mindlessly killing everything. Like in Half-Life, some of the characters pose you no threat, and can actually help you. Every so often there is a cute little "thing" (sorry, I couldn't think of a better word) sitting on a little pedestal making funny noises. If you "Use" these creatures, they will supply some information. Also at one point you must decide whether to be merciful. I guessed right, but members of the Scientist Killing Club may find it rather trickier. But what about the gameplay? It is certainly varied, with the occasional Lara Croft/Indiana Jones scene nestled between good old-fashioned monster bashing. My main grumble is that the range of weapons is very limited, and that those weapons are all rather clumsy and awkward to use. I was often reduced to cowering behind objects waiting to thump the baddies with a fist or hammer - sadly the similarities to Hexen do not end with the atmosphere. Generally you do not face large numbers of enemies, but health is scarce, and some of the monsters can kill you very quickly given half a chance. I found myself using a lot of savegames (something I always try to avoid if at all possible). Still, I was playing on skill 4, which is called "God", so I can't say I wasn't warned. Having said that, even on skill 1 I'd recommend using a few savegames, as there are plenty of ways you can die pretty much instantly. The difficulty also seemed rather uneven. Some of the enemies are completely trivial to kill (including one early on that seems to be billed as a major foe), while others are a major pain (see the above comment about cowering behind objects). On the whole, I'd recommend a low difficulty setting - the main thing is to experience this TC, and I think it makes sense to do so with the minimum frustration.
Visually, the only aspect of ZanZan I disliked was the over-use of bright white fog. Of course, this is something that depends on your settings and your hardware, but it really hurt my eyes after only a short period of exposure (for comparison, I had no problems playing the fog-heavy Mock2 map39). I think this is a serious failing. ZanZan has a story, but I didn't really notice it too much until the end. Before playing, you may wish to read the comic on the ZanZan webpage if you're into that sort of thing, but I didn't find it very enthralling myself.
Overall, this is definitely a recommended download. Soak up the atmosphere as you explore this beautiful creation (but watch out for eye-strain!). Comes equipped with ZDoomGL 0.66, which is the version required to play it with.