There's nearly two weeks' worth of wads this time, so there is more than one reviewer. We used an incredibly complex algorithm to decide who reviewed what. We could explain how it worked, but then we'd have to kill you. Anyway, the highlight is undoubtedly Deus Vult, a product of more than 600 hours' work by a newbie mapper, believe it or not. However, we'll start with the leftovers from last week, reviewed by The Ultimate DooMer and Cyb...
- D-Gun Weapon Set #1 by Ralph Wueltener
69kb - source port - n/a
A wad that replaces 4 weapons, but has a little trouble with the firing sprites (ie. not replaced). Oh, and one weapon is invisible (until you fire it). (Review by The Ultimate DooMer)
- Dropzone by r.e. lubbelinkhof (dutch devill)
58kb - Doom2.exe - SP/DM - 1 map -
A small brick map from a new brick (not really, heh) mapper. Detail isn't too bad for a first attempt, and it goes nicely with the sky, too (atmosphere). However the map is as easy as they come - nothing tougher than Phobos (except for a pair of hell knights) and more than enough stuff down to help you out. Not bad for a first attempt, but a bit lightweight. (Review by The Ultimate DooMer)
Nym v1.0 - LogicDeLuxe
ZDoom - SP - 90k -
This is a quick little wad which will probably annoy you a bit unless you love 'trivial mathematical pseudo-games' as Grazza put it (where's Fredrik?). The map is small and underdetailed and revolves mainly around two areas, one with a couple cacodemons and a cyberdemon, and one where you play an old math game called Nym (or Nim) which may be familiar to some of you computer science folks out there. Once you know the trick to the game it's impossible to lose, but if you have no clue what you're doing then the little marine guy will kick your ass unless you get really lucky. After that you kill the cyberdemon and exit the map. Nothing too exciting or pretty, and the gameplay is kind of weak, but if you have nothing to do a nice game of Doom Nym will fill the time nicely (including when the marine takes forever to kill his demons). - Cyb
Doom: The Heresy v0.07 Alpha - John "DrFrag" Mullins
ZDoom (but works with others) - SP - 90k -
Uh. Okay I'll be honest. I didn't play this wad, and frankly I don't really give a flying crap. Apparently it takes your Heretic iwad and makes the Heretic episodes into Doom episodes, I assume by replacing textures and things (it includes the util DM2CONV.EXE which does exactly that I believe). If you check the screenshot the archive includes a crapload of files including a bunch of batch files and some scattered wad files. I'm sure it could have been made a lot more compact, and as such I'm sure a lot of people (myself included) won't bother playing this because we simply can't be bothered (that also said, I detest batch files). On top of that, uh, I honestly don't care. Now since I totally pulled a deathz0r feel free to flame away (that's a joke of course, you should all blindly agree with me and then send me money). Just play Deus Vult instead. - Cyb
- Deus Vult by Huy Pham, AKA Converted Doomer
6,198kb - limit-removing port - SP - 4 (or 1, or 5) maps - - - - - - - - -
Deus Vult is certainly extraordinary. This would have been an ambitious project for a team of experienced mappers, yet this is Converted Doomer's first ever wad. Six months ago, he was a newbie mapper, asking newbie editing questions in the Doomworld forums. He states that he has spent more than 600 hours making Deus Vult, and I suspect that is not an overestimate.
Most of what I had heard about Deus Vult revolved around it being the biggest map ever made for Doom, as if its principal aim was to bring everyone's computer to a grinding halt. I therefore got a pleasant surprise upon downloading it - it had been split into four manageable-sized chunks, and they are surely among the most beautiful maps ever made for Doom. Map03 and Map04 in particular are breathtaking. If you do nothing else with Deus Vult, watch stx-Vile's demos on these two maps (they are included in the zip file) - it will only take half an hour of your life (while he takes the lives of about 2000 monsters...), and provides a first-rate guided tour through these extraordinary creations.
Clearly, not everyone will like the gameplay. The aim was to make something akin to Hell Revealed and Alien Vendetta, but on an even grander scale. If you didn't enjoy playing the later maps in those two megawads, there's no way on earth you're going to enjoy playing Deus Vult (even then you may find parts of it just too much, maybe the colossal lava cavern in map02). The strongest influence is without doubt Alien Vendetta's map29 ("Fire Walk With Me" by Anders Johnsen) - the whole feeling of the later parts of Deus Vult is similar, and there are some areas that are based on ones in that map. Deus Vult really gets into its stride with the hell-themed areas; the more tech-themed parts early on are less convincing, and have slower gameplay too. If you do want to tackle Deus Vult, then my advice would be the same as for the tougher maps in HR and AV - get to know the layout very well beforehand. In the heat of battle, you need to know where the power-ups are, and where the ambushes take place, and you won't have time to do it by trial and error. Health and ammo are in generous supply, but with such mayhem all around, death is only ever a mistake or two away.
There are new textures in abundance, and they are used very well alongside the defaults. There are some "funneys" here and there, but I won't provide any spoilers. Don't worry, there's no impse, but other long-established Doomworld in-jokes appear. This is just a minor component though; this really isn't a joke wad. Some other images presumably relate to the wad's name; Deus Vult ("God wills it") refers to the idea of evil being done in God's name. Even so, I would have left present-day politics out of it myself.
It's clearly wad of the week, and one of the year's biggest releases - in every sense.
- r.e. lubbelinkhof's maps
This is a series of nine single-map wads by Mr Lubbelinkhof (who appears to dislike capital letters) that appeared in /newstuff this week. The first (dropzone.wad) was reviewed by Ultimate DooMer above. At first, I was going to say that all these maps suffer from much the same problem: very little health and limited ammo, leading to boring gameplay, since extreme caution is needed throughout even when you're meeting relatively weak opposition. Most of the maps seem to be more or less speedrun-only (and even that is hardly feasible in some cases). Then I realized - these maps are meant to be played one after the other, as an episode (of which dropzone is the first, and works well for that purpose). In which case, they should have been released as a single wad! I'd still criticize them on the grounds of poor playability from pistol starts, but at least you'd have the option of carrying ammo from the previous map in that case. So, I loaded them all up together, and played them as an episode, and my reviews are based around how they played in that case. Note that one of the maps (dfortres - map09) was REJECTed due to a bad upload.
- the mokum_xxx by r.e. lubbelinkhof
98kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map (map02) -
First of all I should clarify that despite the xxx in this wad's name, there is no pr0n in it. The map starts with an irritating wait for a 30-second door, though if you strafe-run from the start, you can escape before it closes. This is rather a tricky map even when starting with plenty of ammo, and it really needs more health. The central area is deadly due to all the hitscan enemies, so some care is needed there. Towards the end of the map the odds get more in your favour as long as you find a few useful secrets.
- the guardian by r.e. lubbelinkhof
177kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map (map03) -
I guess this one is just about possible from scratch, but it would be horribly difficult. There's just no health. Otherwise, it's quite an exciting map, but let down by its symmetry/repetition and the many teleporters. It is hard to see much logic in which teleporter takes you where. Some more colour-coding would have been very welcome.
- the bloodpool by r.e. lubbelinkhof
129kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map (map04) -
Like the previous maps, this one features a lot of yellow stone, some green marble and quite a lot of blood. I think it is possible to get stuck without the red key and unable to get back to the area where it resides.
- cursed camelot by r.e. lubbelinkhof
78kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map (map05) -
A change of scene now has us storming a citadel with a moat. It's not quite what you'd call a castle, but it looks OK. I was going to say that you'd have a fighting chance from a pistol start, thanks to a secret megasphere, but looking at the yellow key trap, I think that's still a bit far-fetched.
- the underworld by r.e. lubbelinkhof
98kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map (map06) -
Lots of blood, pain elementals and mancs at the start. If you're lucky you'll telefrag a few of the mancs; you can also make use of the fact that the manc alcoves are inaccessible to the lost souls, so you can provoke infighting from there. It's somewhat tedious though.
- lost monastery by r.e. lubbelinkhof
126kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map (map07) -
Back to the yellow stone look, and an interesting map07. You'll need to carry a fair bit of ammo from the previous map to avoid a lingering death.
baron's lair by r.e. lubbelinkhof
76kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map (map08) -
An attractive map with lots of green marble and some quite intricate architecture. I even managed to complete this one from a pistol start (and no saves), but it needed a fair amount of luck. The start is really rather brutal.
- the hellhole by r.e. lubbelinkhof
85kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map (map10) -
No surprises design-wise here: more yellow stone, green marble and blood. And it's just about playable from scratch. If you like dodging. A lot. A tight and tricky map.
In conclusion, these maps have the makings of a rather good episode. But in order for them to be much fun, they need to be joined together in a single wad, extra health added throughout, and a good deal of playtesting done to fine-tune the gameplay. The architecture and concepts (flow, traps, etc.) are already good, though a little more variety in the themes would be welcome.
- Smelnick Deathmatch by Danny Melnyk
159kb - Doom2.exe - DM - 4 maps -
The first of these four DM maps is the same as "Smeldeth", which I reviewed in /newstuff Chronicles #177. It appears to be unchanged. The remaining three maps were, according to the text-file, made earlier, and "a little less good". I didn't notice much difference in quality (the wood and stone theme is consistent throughout), although map04 is certainly rather simpler. The BFG in map02 is trickier to reach than in map01, which should make things more interesting.
- Afterhours by Josh (EarthQuake) Simpson
420kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - DM - 3 maps - -
Here we have three pleasant and clean-looking DM maps for Zdoom. The three scenarios are all rather different: a spaceship, city/rooftops and a natural outdoor environment. A number of Zdoom features are apparent, most obviously slopes. In map01 the bigger weapons are difficult or risky to obtain (the BFG requires a walk along a very exposed walkway, for instance). In map02 it is possible to jump between the buildings in several places - jump pads assist here and there. Map03 is a rather simpler affair (lots of slopes, but little else), though the sky is attractive.
- Brains! Part 2: Monochromatic Stains by Shawn Huckabay
3,798kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
I'll start off by praising Shawn Huckabay for giving full details of the various resources he used, and for including copies of their text-files. All very proper and correct. However, I can't say that I especially enjoyed playing the map that he has used them in. Perhaps it was inspired by the famous "They Hunger" mod for Half-Life, as most of the enemies you face are slow-moving zombies with no ranged attack. However, apart from near the start and at the end, you can dodge most of them quite easily (and need to, since the ammo supply is low). The weakest part of the map, gameplay-wise, is the full minute you spend just running around one area while monsters spawn. There is no reason to waste ammo on them - all you're doing is killing time. If you have explored an underwater area before collecting the yellow key, you should have little problem reaching the exit, despite low health. The map is quite atmospheric, and if you like Quake's brown colour scheme, then you might even like its appearance. Overall not too bad, but the gameplay and decor are both a bit drab.
- MasterOFDeath's Deathmatch Base by MasterOFDeath
18kb - Legacy + Doom2 - DM - 1 map -
A small and rather plain DM map. It is designed for Legacy, but does actually work in Doom2.exe. In fact, it looks a bit more interesting that way. The Legacy features used are a 3D walkway and some water in the passage leading to the BFG. In Doom2.exe, they are both absent, but you can still get across the gap that the walkway spans by using a strafe-50 jump. Either way though, I can't imagine too much DM ever being played in this map - there's just too little substance to it.
- The Supply Base by MasterOFDeath
27kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map - -
This map has a rather serious error: the door to the exit is marked as if it needs the red key, but in fact is opened using the blue key. This, combined with the fact that the blue key can be grabbed, means the exit can be reached in just a few seconds (see the first screenshot). The grab on its own might be viewed as deliberately allowing a speedrunning trick (in fact, it makes it quite a nice level for Pacifist), but the two together are just sloppy mapping. Anyway, if you ignore all that (or are going for maxkills), it's not a bad map. Small and simple, but a reasonably interesting challenge. Plenty of health (if you find a secret megasphere), and enough ammo to get the job done (and the berserk helps). The action hots up nicely at one point too.
Just one this time, but it's an interesting map if you like a good challenge.
- Starport v1.7 by Dave Wilcoxson
173kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map - -
A tricky map with a well-balanced ammo and health supply (i.e. fairly tight but not excessively so). The foes you meet early on include a cyber and an archie, so you need to be on your toes. Good strategy or good luck are recommended, and there are some very useful secrets that you'll want to locate. There is a lot of nukage, but a generous supply of rad suits. A light-amp would have been nice for one area, though you can use the invul for that effect (you don't need to "waste" it for the cyber fight). Even when you know your way around, the map remains quite a challenge, especially if you try to rush through it. The wad contains a number of replacement graphics, and I think they work quite well.