It has been a quiet week for stuff that is new. However, while there have been no really major releases this week, there are several interesting new wads, covering a variety of styles, ports and game modes. I also managed to track down some classic old wads that were missing from the archive, so there is plenty to take your mind off the fact that Doom3 wasn't released this week. Or hang on, maybe it was...
- Floating Buildings v1.1 by LogicDeLuxe
112kb - EDGE + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - -
For some reason, EDGE maps have been appearing relatively often in the last few months, and this is one of the best that I remember seeing. I didn't experience any great slowdowns when playing this wad, and the only annoying thing from EDGE was the excessive degree of bobbing. Floating Buildings shows off EDGE's features very well - there are a lot of 3D and other visual effects. Having said that, I'm sure a lot of people will find some aspects of the gameplay frustrating. There are some very well-hidden switches, some of which need to be shot at. In the text-file LogicDeLuxe states "This was originally a contribution to the "Wad-in-a-Week" contest in 2000 at newdoom.com. Though, as they couldn't figure out how to play this, they decided not to release it at all." I can believe that they couldn't figure it out (it isn't especially obvious even how to get out of the first room), and I might well have given up if I hadn't been reviewing it. However, my perseverance paid off and I eventually tracked everything down. One interesting feature is that as you complete the various tasks, more and more of the word NEWDOOM appears in great big colourful letters. Ammo is quite tight - first time through, I ended up having to berserk an arch-vile, but if I'd tackled the areas in a better order that needn't have happened. Note that you repeatedly need to kill all monsters of a certain type in order to progress, so don't bother trying to play this map pacifist style.
Verdict: A very interesting but flawed creation.
- Invicity by Dia Westerteicher
414kb - Zdoom 2.0.xx + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - -
Firstly, note that this wad requires the Return resources. If you fail to use them, the map will look very odd indeed. Secondly, this is not a final version of the map - apparently it has been released just for testing purposes. You may therefore wish to wait until the finished version is ready.
However, the current version of the wad is certainly playable, and rather impressive in many respects. This should not come as a great surprise - Dia Westerteicher was part of the team that made Eternal. Invicity is quite a large level, and will most likely take the best part of an hour to play if you don't already know your way around it. There is a good deal of scripting of events and battles. Jumping and mlook are needed, and you will sometimes need to take a good look around in order to make progress. I found myself using the automap quite a lot - I didn't think that there were good enough landmarks to help navigation. The scripting doesn't always work very well. Firstly, one of the standard and most serious problems with scripting rears its ugly head: a message appears on screen and we are shown events elsewhere, but meanwhile the action around the player is not frozen - with the consequence that a monster can take potshots at the player while we can do nothing about it. This happened to me towards the end, and while it didn't actually kill me, it left me with about 100% less health than I should have had for the final battle (and the message that was given at that point was a rather banal one: that the spidermastermind that we had already seen by that point had woken up - this was apparently meant to come as a surprise). Other pieces of scripting are a bit loose. For instance, there is a switch that deactivates a cyberdemon. If you press this switch again, after the cyberdemon is dead, then the same message and 30-second countdown come up again. By the way, don't panic if you are too late with that cyber the first time around - you can try as many times as you like.
Towards the end of the map, there are several events that release extra monsters, more often than not archies. However, one group of monsters is released in a way that is very easily dealt with, since you can easily get them to walk under a highly effective crusher. I would have thought that releasing a bunch of archies simultaneously in various parts of open ground around the map (and giving the player an appropriate amount of extra health and ammo to deal with them, naturally) would work better.
Overall, it's worth playing, despite the ease with which it is possible to get lost. Remember to save often though; while it's not a difficult map, it is easy to die instantly through no fault of your own.
- Perdido03 by J.S.Graham (aka psyren)
83kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
This is rather a plain-looking map. The predominant textures used are somewhat unexciting and there are a lot of bare walls. However, the map offers quite a good and well-balanced challenge. Gameplay is fun rather than an ordeal; experienced players should not find themselves dying too much here. Most of the danger comes in the early stages, where the player is running for his life. It is quite a large map, with plenty to do and lots to kill. There are some secrets that are a little tricky to find, though the automap provides useful clues.
If you like old-style maps, this one should appeal. NB: It runs on map01, despite what it says in the text-file (which for some reason psyren failed to include in the zip).
- System Check by Todor "Curunir" Pichurov
168kb - Zdoom2.0.xx + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
This tech-base style map makes modest use of Zdoom features: slopes, walkways, and some marines as bad guys, carrying an assortment of weapons. These marines are the biggest threat you face in this map, since some of them can damage you very quickly. Health and ammo are a little tight, and you'll need to judge carefully when to pick up the berserk: taking it early on will reduce ammo problems but might leave you short on health; taking it later on might mean needing to Tyson some bigger monsters. Overall, the difficulty is only moderate though. I'd recommend keeping a BFG shot or two for the final room. Note that jumping is clearly intended to be used.
- Reborn Epidemic by Derek Braun (AKA Dittohead / aliceschain)
100kb - any port - SP - 1 map -
While this is by no means a bad map, I must admit that I found it rather uninteresting to play. The gameplay isn't especially challenging - the large amounts of ammo and health always keep the balance stacked in the player's favour, and there aren't any large battles to negotiate. As far as I can tell, two of the secret sectors cannot be triggered, and also you can get stuck in the berserk secret. The map looks OK overall, and the style is largely in keeping with Doom 1. There is some poor texturing, particularly for crates and doors. The map crashes Doom2.exe, but works with everything else I have tried. Presumably jumping is needed if you wish to get some additional ammo near the start, but this is not at all critical to completing the map - it just adds to your surplus.
- Somehwat Evil (sic) by Ninja_of_DooM
373kb - Legacy + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
This moderately large map uses Legacy's 3D capabilities in several ways. There are quite a number of bridges - although these could have been done with fake 3D bridges, they wouldn't have looked anything like as good. There is also a spiral staircase leading down to one of the keys. This is overdoing it, I think, since it winds around what feels like a dozen times before you get to the key. Overall, the architecture looks pretty good. The map is fun to play, and poses a reasonable but fair challenge. The main criticism I have is that I twice found myself on the wrong side of a door that I couldn't open. On one of these occasions the monsters opened it for me, but the second time I needed to IDCLIP my way through. Unless I was missing something, this seems a bit careless. I wasn't trying to break the map or anything; going back through these doors just seemed a safe way to tackle the monsters on the other side. Anyway, the map ends shortly after a rather one-sided battle with a cyber (ample room to manoeuvre, and plenty of plasma and SSG ammo).
- Open Spaces by The Marlboro Man
80kb - Legacy 1.41 + Doom2 - DM - 1 map -
Rather an interesting deathmatch map for Legacy, featuring many 3D effects. It would be interesting to see more SP Legacy maps using these features so well. There are multi-level walkways, winding staircases, a ladder you can climb, an explosion you can trigger, a swimming/diving pool, etc. There is also a switch to activate low gravity for a short time. I'm not sure how good a deathmatch it would make, but it is certainly fun. If I had to criticize anything, it would be the underground passages, which are rather bland. Perhaps they are meant to be darker than they were on my machine. The on-screen messages are in Spanish, but they don't pop up often, and you should quickly work out what "gravedad lunar" means.
- fwfcargo by thefwf
51kb - VPO-removing port - DM - 1 map -
A smallish and fairly simple deathmatch map, set on board some sort of spaceship. Connectivity doesn't seem quite as good as it should be in such a compact map, and the BFG is easy to get. There are also some poorly aligned textures in a few places. On the whole it isn't a badly made map though.
- Smeldeth by Smeldeth
90kb - Doom2.exe - DM - 1 map -
Another smallish DM map. This one features a stone and wood building of some sort inside a featureless rectangular area. The BFG is again rather easy to reach, which might disrupt the balance of play somewhat. The text-file can't quite seem to decide whether a port is needed: it first of all claims that Legacy 1.41 is required, but later it says that it runs with Doom2.exe. In fact, it doesn't need Legacy at all, and the only problem I noticed with Doom2.exe was a bit of tutti-frutti around one doorway. The design is quite competent, though on the whole not too ambitious, without much variety in the use of textures. The windows look good though. For a newbie mapper, it is not a bad start. One odd thing: the music is claimed to be by Scorpions, but it sounds to me very much like a remix of Iron Maiden's Two Minutes to Midnight.
- UAC_DEAD patch for ZDoom by LogicDeLuxe
2kb - Zdoom + UDoom - SP - a patch, not a map
A useful little file, making it possible to play the classic map uac_dead in Zdoom. The problem was that uac_dead used the fact that in E1M8, sector 666 would be lowered when all barons were dead, and also when all cybers were dead. However, this was changed for Ultimate Doom, and so the map no longer played correctly.
Note that you can play uac_dead using (surprise, surprise!) Doom2.exe (copy it to your Doom folder, and launch with "Doom2 -file uac_dead") - you don't need to downgrade your Ultimate Doom exe. You can even use Doom2.exe to watch demos recorded on uac_dead using Doom 1.9. As far as I know, there aren't any ports that can play uac_dead.wad correctly though.
If you have never heard of uac_dead (Doomsday of UAC), then this was one of the best maps of 1994. It introduced the invisible walkway, featured a truck on its side, and had plenty of other cool stuff. It's a piece of Doom history.
- WTF Clan DM 1 by Shawn Huckabay
38kb - Skulltag - DM - 1 map -
This is rather a plain-looking medium/large DM map spiced up with Skulltag items. The themes are a bit random, and the mix of water and non-damaging nukage in one area will probably offend some people. However, to compensate, the layout has been well thought-out - connectivity is good, and it isn't very simple to get the bigger weapons without taking some risks. However, the text-file doesn't say exactly which version(s) of Skulltag it was tested with. I noticed that with version 0.95i some things didn't seem to work correctly (or at least the way they do if you run through this map in Zdoom - some doors don't open, and you can't escape from the "nukage").
- E1M3: Reincarnated by Agent Spork
339kb - Zdoom + UDoom - SP - 1 map
This is an update of a wad reviewed in T/nC #176 with some fixes and improvements.
- CDoom v2.05 by Carlos Guariglia
243kb - It's a port
"CDoom v2.05 based on MBF 2.03 is a objective engine preserving only the essential MBF, Boom features." It has a number of additional features compared to MBF, including "true 3D" gameplay (optional), jumping and flying, better demo compatibility with v1.9, and it works in Windows NT. It also seems to work under XP, though I haven't got the sound to work (maybe it's possible though), and it often generates an error message (harmless, I think) upon exiting. I haven't tested it extensively, but the demo compatibility looks good: pn22-123, 30uv1617, 30uv1441 and 30nm3413 all played back OK.
I don't intend to give anything resembling a full review of this port here, but it deserves further investigation if these features are of interest to you. The source has also been released, but on the negative side the documentation is very limited (one short text-file). What is also unclear is whether it offers anything useful that isn't already covered by existing ports.
- CleanWAD V1.10 by Martin Howe (based on source by Serge Smirnov)
87kb - It's a wad tool
The description reads: "I just took the source code of CleanWAD that was released way back by Serge Smirnov and updated the program for today's DOOMing standards. No longer do you have to remind yourself to 'never run a WAD cleaner on anything with GL_* entries, BEHAVIOR resources or BOOM colormaps, etc.'! You'll probably know from that whether this is going to be useful to you.
I uploaded six old wads this time. They include an award winner (with trains), a Christmas level (also with a train), and Doom3. Well, it was meant to be released mid-April, wasn't it?
- Copenhagen Central Station by Jesper Christensen, Michael Gylling Nielsen, Stig Voege and Niels Langkilde
607kb - Doom2.exe - SP and DM - 1 map - -
For some reason, this award-winning wad was absent from the archive. It is a realistic portrayal of the central railway station in Copenhagen, complete with trains, platforms, shops, ticket machines, etc. Some artistic license has of course been used here and there, but anyone who has been to this station will recognize it for sure in this wad. There is some gentle humour in the sound effects, but you'll need to know some Danish to appreciate it.
Note that you need to install this wad before playing it, even if you are going to play it using a port (otherwise the sergeants won't be wearing hats, and the ticket machines will be standard Doom barrels, etc.). The batch file worked OK for me, but if you have problems with it, then deusf ought to do the job fine (the resulting file size should be about 5.47 megabytes).
The gameplay is not too bad, although inevitably it suffers a little since the layout is dictated by the need to mimic a real place. Design-wise, the only thing I found disappointing was the insides of the trains - they were very bland: no seats, or indeed any detail of any kind. Every other aspect of the design is impressive though.
- Ziffnet 1994 Christmas DOOM II Level by Stephen Baldwin
100kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map - -
This Christmas wad was originally made available in December 1994 with a "may not be distributed" instruction in the text-file. However, it seems that it was reissued in March 1995 with distribution allowed. The Christmas angle won't be obvious until you look at the automap. The most striking feature of the design from "ground level" are the rail tracks.
This is rather a challenging map - health and ammo are very tight to start with, but the supply improves later on, assuming you survive that long.
- DOOM ]I[--The Forgotten Realms by Tom "Timon" Grieve
368kb - Doom2.exe - SP/coop/DM - 11 maps - - -
Finally we come to a multi-level wad. And it's the "original" Doom3! This pwad continues from where Doom2 left off, with the player standing over the remains of the Icon of Sin. The eleven maps that comprise Doom3 vary considerably in size, challenge, quality and originality. Some, like the first and last, are very small and easy, while others are heavily based on maps or ideas from the original games. Where Timon has used his own ideas from scratch, the maps often feature narrow passages or walkways, sometimes with the player under attack from all angles. The creator, Tom Grieve, was a TeamTNT member; he contributed Map07 (Sickbay) to Icarus.
- Henge by Bob Back
70kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
This map offers a good challenge - it is very easy to die at many points throughout it. Architecture is mostly on quite a large scale. There is, as you'd expect from the name, a Stonehenge-type area. A "henge" has been seen in several other Doom maps, but it is nicely done here.
Good luck if you try it. NB: runs on map03.
- Nowhimps by David Pletcher
58kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 3 maps -
Here are three fun maps by the sadist that brought us Deus Ex Machina. These maps are far less weird though. The first map offers the biggest challenge, though once you survive the start, the generous ammo supply should ensure a clear passage to the exit. Map02 is bags of fun, with some bigger monsters to dispatch (and some suitably big weapons with which to do so). For some reason I find the central area with the walkway and pillars very memorable. The third map is kind of trivial though.
- Kingme by Ryan Mahle
76kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map - -
A weird map, but quite violent and with cool music. There are a couple of odd maze-like areas where you're well advised to use the automap to avoid stumbling into a teleporter (it's certain death if you do so). If you just want to run to the exit then it is quite easy to do so, but if you want to kill everything first, some fancy footwork is needed. I'd suggest saving as much plasma as you can for the cybers.