It's a fairly unconventional week, as we have several different concepts - old, new, loved and hated. There's also a record-breaking variety in monster counts (record-breaking 'cos I don't count the Nuts.wads, as they're not playable), which range from 0 through 100 and 1000 right the way up to 2003! It's three big wads among eight smaller ones, making a total of 28 maps. Nothing special this week, but plenty of fun to be had nevertheless:
- XASER's SHiTWADS! by The Masters of Insanity
843kb - ZDoom - SP -
Before you all groan and go "oh gn0! not another mcokery wad!!!", this one is a cut above the rest (apart from the great Mock 2 of course). 10 maps, some of which are standard silly fare (ie. pointlessly crap) but others with some neat concepts (particularly the secret map). But the real reason why you shouldn't pan this straightaway is the gameplay - definitely has shades of Mock 2 in it, and is certainly playable, and challenging to boot. In fact some of the maps have shades of Hell Revealed in them, and consequently will be enjoyable to the HR freaks among us. The maps themselves look ugly as you'd expect, although some of them are strongly themed, and these look better despite the lack of fine detail. And this is also the first wad ever which forces you to start each map from scratch, which definitely makes things harder as well as more interesting. Be warned though - some of these maps are extremely difficult from scratch, and you'll need to be on your toes throughout. Not surprisingly, ammo and health are unbalanced (mainly in favour, although in some maps against) and I'll leave you to make your mind up about the music. There are some surprises, notably one notorious joke and a teleport maze that's actually quite user-friendly (shame about the gameplay in that one). If you're a challenge freak who doesn't care much about detail, then play this. If not, I leave it up to you to decide whether or not to play.
- Winter Themed Deathmatch by Marcin Tyler Szot (MarchWhelp)
654kb - ZDoom - DM -
Ho ho ho, here's a novelty fragfest for all you deathmatchers out there. A set of 9 wintry maps, complete with grounded snow, decorations and even falling snow! There's a variety of themes, including a remote fortress, a library, a snowy village and a base in the middle of a frozen lake. Detail varies with some areas looking quite nice (particularly the village) and some completely bare (the caves) but the theme generally lessens the impact of low detail. Most of the maps have all the weapons, a bit of ammo, some health/armour and the occasional supercharge, which should make for some interesting battles in the mixed open/confined layouts, and the mostly fast-paced soundtrack should see the pace pick up a bit too. It's a shame these aren't single player maps, as they could easily have been so with a few small modifications and a load of monsters. But if you're a deathmatcher then check it out, even if it's just for the novelty value.
- Abyss by Craq Addict
34kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Three rooms, three silly battles, some weird use of textures and, err..that's about it. Oh, and the author was probably on his self-titled addiction when making this wad.
- Finality by Craq Addict
23kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Just one room this time, but a small open arena with a bit of detail and a cyberdemon in it. The battle is quite challenging, although many of you will find it annoying, especially when leaving the side rooms and coming face-to-face with a rocket. The cyber's assistants are a pain, too.
- The Wicked City by MrRampant
2170kb - doom2.exe - SP -
The author's 'getting back on the horse' map, this is a somewhat unusual city map - it's dark, cramped and mostly indoors. It goes through a variety of places, but these are generally not that well done, particularly the sewer area (not helped by the darkness either). Detail is ok in the main section (where the outdoor bits are) and some connected rooms, although there are some alignment issues and other parts of the map are found lacking in detail. The new sky does fit the darkness though. Gameplay wise, it's a bit hit-and-miss - ammo/health are fairly well balanced, but there are some questions over monster placement, with some monsters stuck in walls and each other, and a cyberdemon that's extremely difficult to kill or evade. Aside from that it's ok, with plenty of chainsaw action and monsters to kill, although those who don't like cramped battles will be better steering clear. Not bad, but not great.
- Marbelum by Blackheart Lee
55kb - source port - DM -
This is a great-looking deathmatch wad set in a marble temple of some kind. Great attention has been paid to lighting, and the outdoor bit in particular looks good. All weapons apart from chainsaw and BFG are here, but a bit of work is needed to get the heavy ones (particularly the plasma gun). Plenty of ammo is around, together with some health and armour. Battles should be fast-paced, as the outdoor bit is quite open and even the passages are quite wide. Should be fun, although annoying to the non-speedrunners (especially if they're fighting a speedrunner).
- SargeBaldy's Speedmapping Compilation #12 by Various Artists
142kb - Boom port - SP -
Yes, speedmapping is back and what a way to return - a whopping 8 maps, where the theme was to make a complex of any sort that has been overrun by nature. Cue bases of various kinds, although not all are. The first two are forgettable, but the maps are pretty good after then (except one of them). Some of them are quite well detailed for maps of this kind, and some have really good gameplay, too. Ammo and health are excellently balanced, and in fact this compilation hits the difficulty right on the head, as the maps get tougher as you go along - including a bunch of loose imps in map 04, a massed battle in map 05, a really tough map 06 (despite 6 faulty traps with a dozen revenants between them) and culminating in a tough map 08 with a cyber battle at the end. Nice.
- Dark City Oblivion by Kim Vidal
196kb - source port - SP -
I think this is a converted deathmatch map, but I'm not sure. In any case it looks like a deathmatch map, with it's layout and the way the weapons and powerups are spread out. It's a high-rise city in a void, with teleports linking the various islands and skyscrapers. Eight monsters (two cybers and six mancubi) await, and you have to use the tons of rockets (and some cells) to kill them all. Simple, and not too difficult.
- Library by Martin Mikaelsson
72kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Not surprisingly that is the theme, and the opening part of the map looks the part, too. But once you leave the library areas it becomes your usual average fare, with a few seemingly random themes and texturing. Detail isn't too great except in the library areas, which have some appropriate detail in them (including fallen ladders). It's not that hard to beat either, although ammo is fairly tight. Nothing to shout about.
- LC-Tunnel system at planet Tee Hoo Cee by Jimi
24kb - doom2.exe - SP -
This is one of those maps that is made up of 10 sectors only. Even though I know how these maps are built, it's still an impressive feat of engineering. It's a sort of industrial/tech thingy made up of letter-shaped areas that spell out a political message, so it's a close-quarters affair. Detail is quite nice given the sector count, as both ceiling-based oscillating lights and wall-based static lights are used a lot here. But the fun factor is what's great here, with plenty of monsters and some tricky battles. Ammo and health are really tight through most of it, so keep those punches coming. In fact the only downers are the completely linear layout and the fact that this map will annoy those who hate close-up fights. This is a fun map that's worth playing.
- Tien by Dennis Meuwissen (exile)
22kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Another 10-sector map, this one is completely different. A sort of gothic/brick thingy, but a lot shorter and not as cramped. It even has doors, too. Detail isn't bad, as there's plenty of water and switch-like decorations, but the walls look a bit bare given the theme. There's no ammo trouble this time, and there's a few revenants to make things harder but the presence of an invincibility makes things a bit easier. Not as good as the previous one, but not bad anyway.