There's quite a disappointing crop of new wads this week, certainly when compared to the last few weeks, many of which brought some major releases. Nevertheless, there are some wads here that should be of great interest to Doomers, especially those who are active in the various websites that make up our community and were affected by the bizarre events of 6th and 7th January. And for those who are just looking for some good old fashioned Dooming fun, there is one new episode that will keep you entertained for a few hours at least.
- Legions of Hell 2 by John Gaughan
692kb - Limit-removing port - SP - 11 maps - - - -
A good set of 11 maps. On the whole the gameplay on UV should be fun rather than taxing for veteran Doomers. All the maps have a plentiful ammo supply, and the player is given enough room to outmanoeuvre the bad guys. I found the difficulty a little uneven: after a rather gentle start, the difficulty picks up significantly starting with map 06, except that maps 07 and 11 are extremely straightforward. Map 07 is especially disappointing: it is a standard mancs and trons affair, but far easier even than the original Dead Simple. A map like this really has no bite when the player has so much room to manoeuvre. There is also the same potential bug as in Dead Simple: if the last arachnotron dies while the penultimate one is still in its death frames, the platform raises too much, and here I don't even see a way to jump across to it. Anyway, maps 09 and 10 more than compensate - they are the most interesting and challenging maps of the set, and I found myself needing to use a few savegames in them, and ran low on ammo towards the end of map 10 (I was playing from pistol starts). Map 11 fails to provide a grand finale though. Note that there is a bex patch; the only gameplay change is to adjust the amount of ammo you can carry.
Overall, Legions of Hell 2 is a well-made set of maps with good design and an atmosphere that is largely in keeping with the original game. I feel that with a bit more tweaking it could have been great, rather than merely good. It gets the wad of the week award, albeit in a rather quiet week.
The next two wads are both based loosely or otherwise around the recent problems that befell Doomworld and Newdoom. They both attempt to account for the timing of these events. In case anyone isn't aware, Doomworld was down for most of a day due to a server failure, and a few hours later, Newdoom was hacked, and the whole of its forums deleted. Coincidence, or something more sinister? Insert dramatic music here...
- Doomworld Forums 3 by Anonymous
1,595kb - Zdoom 2.0 - SP - 1 map - - - - - -
The text-file for this anonymous creation claims: "This WAD tells the true story of what REALLY happened in the recent episode at the NewDooM forums. My sources are infallible, so don't even try to dismiss any of this as false, because it is the cold, hard truth and it will hit you like a speeding bus in the middle of a rainy night. It's that powerful."
Er, OK. I won't give any spoilers here about the plot. Style-wise, this follows on from the previous dwforums wads, and borrows areas from each of those - logically, since part of the action occurs in Doomworld and #zdoom. However, there are also some rather grandiose new areas, representing Telefragged (tech-themed) and Newdoom (classical). We get a movie-style intro (which can be skipped if you're impatient), and cut-scenes for dialogue or narrative that are mostly short and to the point. As normal with this type of wad, if you don't know many of the people involved (or at least who they are), much of this will fall rather flat. On the whole the battles are all rather easy; the focus is on telling the story, rather than presenting the player with an enormous challenge. In the later stages, you have a friendly monster to help you - and his name is deathz0r. I must say that I found it quite odd having to protect deathz0r, and the first time through I didn't make a very good job of this, and he died rather quickly. Strange. Anyway, the ending is better if you keep him alive, but try it both ways.
There are some nice touches of humour. I especially liked the way when we are on our way to Newdoom, we pass some apocalyptic-sounding warnings that suggest we are about to enter the very deepest pits of hell, but when we arrive there, it turns out to be a beautiful building with pillars and classical architecture, and classical music piped to all areas.
In case you have problems working out how to handle the final battle, be assured that it is the standard "Icon of Sin" set-up, and the lift you need to ride up may not look like a lift, but it is pretty much where you'd expect it to be, and it is in plain view. I'd suggest not having autoaim on for that scene. Jumping is not required at any point. On the whole, I can recommend this wad, but I'm sure everyone would have played it in any case.
- The Community is falling!! Oh No!!! by Samuel "Kaiser" Villarreal
671kb - Zdoom 2.0.57 - SP - 1 map - - -
The shadow of deathz0r also lingers over this wad, as its name is clearly based on one of deathz0r's maps in Mock2. This is a rather more fanciful account of recent events, and also rather less tightly focused, as it features Quake3world and Doom Connector in addition to Doomworld and Newdoom. I imagine that for almost everyone there will be places where you have no idea who the characters are; on the other hand, I suspect that everyone who plays this wad will have at some point been grossly irritated by at least one of the people depicted in it.
Kaiser is well-known as a skilful and creative mapper, and this is in evidence here; he clearly put a lot of effort into some of the finer details, despite the obvious time constraints under which he was working. For instance, you get to choose (and rechoose) the music in-game, and there are plenty of scripted events. However, it also exhibits several of the flaws that dwforums3 deftly avoided. Cut-scenes tend to be overly long and simply boring. Several of the battles are extremely tough, while others are trivial. There are several autosave points, but I nevertheless found myself saving manually quite often, if for no other reason than to avoid having to sit through another repetition of the flat dialogue. While the Quake3world enemies are toothless and cartoon-like, many of the other baddies we face are marines (generally with a splash of colour) packing powerful weapons and quite a lot of hit points. Manga Male Marchelle has a BFG, for instance. Others have an SSG, a railgun, a rocket launcher or a superchaingun. The final boss can take a phenomenal amount of damage; when he finally crumpled, I was almost out of ammo - and there had been a very generous supply indeed.
This is a flawed creation, but worth playing nevertheless.
- Dark City Oblivion by Kim Vidal
196kb - Any port - DM - 1 map -
Rather an interesting deathmatch map. It reminds me to some extent of the UT map DM-Morpheus, in that you are running between raised areas, and if you fall into the lowest area, you die. Teleporters provide transport between these areas, and the principal weapon is the rocket launcher. There is considerable variation in height, and all in all it should make for fun play.
- The Demon Castle by Jimi (also known as Jow)
273kb - Doom2.exe (port with dynamic lighting recommended) - SP - 1 map -
This is very nearly a good map, but I think its flaws will put most people off it. Firstly, it is needlessly dark. It's true that the author does recommend a port with dynamic lighting, and when I tried it with jDoom it was certainly easier to see where you're going, but this is quite system-dependent, and for most people it will probably still be too dark anyway. The other problem, and a more fundamental one, is that ammo is too scarce, and there isn't enough room to allow for large-scale infighting. In his text-file Jimi states: "Sometimes it's good to beat some imps or demons with fists. It's not really that difficult...". True, but that doesn't stop it getting pretty tedious when you're non-berserking your twentieth spectre in a dark corridor. I'm pretty tolerant of maps that require the odd bit of non-berserking, but this is too much. I tried HMP to see if that was any more fun than UV from that viewpoint, but the style of gameplay (thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thud - repeat) seemed largely unchanged. Still, if you're prepared to sit through all that tedium and ration your ammo carefully, it is quite feasible to complete the map. Just before the exit you release rather a lot of arch-viles, so be ready for that - and perhaps save your game before you use the red key.
Those problems aside, it's quite a pleasant map, where we are inside some sort of castle (we don't get to see the outside, though we do look over some fortifications), with a rather odd transition to a tech-base style near the end. There is also some odd texture use, most notably one switch that is totally screwed up - you'll know what I mean when you see it.
- WhiteKnuckle by Jason December
34kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 4 maps -
These are four small newbie maps. It probably isn't worth downloading unless you want to provide the author with some feedback on how he might improve (on that note, I can suggest that he cuts down on the number of teleporters in a small area unless there is some coherent logic to them; he could also try playtesting his maps). There isn't much in the way of interesting gameplay, and some things strike me as deliberately silly. It might be an attempt at a joke wad, except that there doesn't appear to be any attempt at humour - or is the fact that you can exit map01 without even moving or firing intended as a joke? Anyway, downloading this wad would be a waste of your time.
- American Idol by Zany McSteve
12kb - Boom compatible port - n/a - 1 "map"
This is hardly a map; it replaces map01 with a single room that has no exit. It also features a poor graphic replacement for the shotgun. Don't bother with it.
I uploaded three old wads this week. As normal, these are more descriptions than reviews, and I hope that they help you to identify which ones you might find most interesting.
- Choke On Your Guts As They Spill From Your Mouth by PROLIFIC dEaTH WORKSHOP (Mark & Nik)
117kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
What a great name for a wad. Wow. It's quite a good map too, but is let down by the fact that there are a few more-or-less unmarked doors (the first one is fairly near the start), so unless you enjoy randomly humping walls, feel free to use IDDT or else watch my demo (it's at DSDA). Once you know your way around, it shouldn't take more than ten minutes to play this map. There is quite a mix of styles, but nothing that seems too out of place or implausible.
- Lunatic Of Gods Creation by PROLIFIC dEaTH WORKSHOP (Mark & Nik)
141kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
This is rather a larger and tougher map by the same two guys who hadn't quite got the hang of cRaZy CaPs. There's plenty to see and do, and generally it is fairly clear where you're meant to go next. Some good battles, especially towards the end, and it is quite easy to get yourself killed early on.
- Splatter by Doria
120kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 3 maps - -
Like Zoo (see /newstuff Chronicles #150) by the same wadster, this is a three-map episode with quite large and challenging maps. Another similarity is that map03 is most likely impossible from a pistol start; it is also rather less fun than the first two maps, which are simply a blast. The architecture is nothing special, but it's not atrocious either.