Well, it's another busy week with 12 wads packing a total of 45 maps (so busy in fact that it caused me to be late for the first time ever). We've got small, big, deathmatch, classic, silly, fun, frustrating and the most hyped wad since RTC. Will it live up? Read on...
- Time Labs by Dark Soul
45kb - doom2.exe - SP -
I actually reviewed this last week thinking it was my turn, but dropped it when I realised it wasn't (if only I'd kept the review...). Anyway, a small and cramped base map. Detail is ok on the ceilings (with plenty of lights and grilles) but a bit bare on the walls, save for wall consoles. The remote base atmosphere is touched up a little by the dark light level and the normal sky. However the gameplay is deeply flawed - questionable archvile use right the way through (lack of decent weapons, cover and ammo are confronted in turn) which means that a lot of luck and quickloading is mandatory. Add to that a general lack of health, and you have a map that is not recommended unless you like cramped battles and F9.
- Purgatory by James Wilson (Shade)
91kb - doom.exe - SP -
Two Doom 1 maps, covering E2M1-2. Although you're better off ignoring the first map, as it's a small low detail affair that ends in a damage pit surrounded by imps. The second is a big heavy affair, with plenty of monsters. In fact this map is quite tricky at the start, as a lot of evasion is required until you get your ammo up, and the rarity of rockets and cells makes things tougher later on. Detail-wise it's mostly average with some poor areas thrown in, and the texturing is random. You'll enjoy the second map for it's fun factor, although it is a bit of a slog.
- Return to Purgatory by James Wilson (Shade)
497kb - doom2.exe - SP -
And here's the sequel, a 7-map wad that curiously starts at map 11 and finishes on the secret ones. Detail is often quite nice, with lighting, giant structures, plenty of pillars and wall decor but is quite bare in many areas, and many rooms from the original Purgatory appear in here as well. It has the traditional random layouts, themes and texturing that most classic-style wads have, but the gameplay is something else. Think Blind Alley, but with bigger maps and a gradual rise in the type of monsters and the difficulty throughout. There's also some really neat set-pieces too, including the entire last map. There's plenty of ammo, but you may start to run dry in the later stages. It is quite a slog though, so don't try to play it all at once. Overall a pretty good wad, perhaps lacking a bit in creativity (apart from a cracking map 14) but making up for it with creative traps, good gameplay and sheer fun. Enjoy.
- The Wasteland Series by Alberto Barsella
295kb - doom.exe - SP -
A compilation of the three classic wads Deadbase, Mntfire and Sndsdth complete with titlepic. Consequently I won't go into too much detail, but if you haven't played them then the first map (Deadbase) is an all-time classic remote base map with a city layout, the second (Mntfire) is a red rocky volcano map with a lot of winding corridors, and the third (Sndsdth) is an outdoor map with an E2M8 look, a unique scorching desert sun and a confusing where-do-i-go-next setup.
- Sadhus Chauffer Trio by Blake Stoner
1000kb - source port - SP -
A 12-map silly wad that is a picture of complete madness - from the textures/flats through to the insane monsters and set pieces. All maps are the usual vanilla mockery format, crap architecture with HOM's everywhere (try map 11, heh). However it is playable for the most part, and the moving trees are pretty funny - I think they deserve an outing in the next ZDoom mockery wad, if it ever existed. Apart from that, it's as you were with silly wads. (btw if you are interested in playing it, you need to remove the player definition from the dehacked patch so you can move)
- Helavator by Chris Bourke
9kb - doom2.exe - SP -
A simple map with 4 octagonal rooms and a passage round the outside. 50 basic monsters is all you get, but with an airtight ammo balance and no health.
- Deep Pit of the Damned by Jimi
9kb - doom2.exe - SP -
A rocky canyon with some but not much detail, and gameplay based around a few tricky archvile moments. There's plenty of ammo but no health, so watch it. Dowload if you like those type of battles (it's only 9k) avoid if not.
- Action Boom by Max Augustus (BlackFish)
469kb - ZDoom - SP -
A parody of the wad below, with silly graphics, crap level design, a whole load of missing textures and not much else.
- Action Doom by Stephen Browning (Scuba Steve)
14350kb - ZDoom - SP -
Well, was all the hype justified? It depends on your preferences, but fortunately I didn't see most of the hype so I got to play it without expectations. 4 maps, one of which has 2 different routes that also take in different parts of the next one. The first is a city with incredible detail on the ground and in the special effects, the second is a forest with some revolutionary set-pieces (depending on route) the third is a lab gone wrong with a great destroyed feel to it. Plenty of nods to various things, (both on and off DW) and many innovative sideshows can be found, too. The gameplay is a new but old concept, that of 2D platformers where everything (including you) takes one hit to kill except bosses. This is quite different to tackle in the FPS view, and while certainly challenging can be downright annoying too, and many of you will get frustrated at it (which is just like the old 2D platformers, really), particularly in the last two set-pieces (where one is impossible and the other is the final boss). Most of the graphics are new, some are taken from regular sources and others are normal. The music has the authentic 80's game feel, and it changes all the time for various things. The ZDoom features and scripting are some of the most impressive ever seen, and the only problems with it are the frustrating gameplay and the fact it's way too short. But you need to play it anyway.
- Dream Duel by Spunkman
4900kb - Skulltag - DM -
An impressive set of 5 Skulltag maps. With themes comprising of a tech base in a lava sea, an underwater base, a medieval castle, a floating base and a mine, they look good regardless of the actual detail in the maps. There's a few Skulltag weapons and many ZDoom features, including an underwater section. Ammo and health are kept to a minimum, so you'll be scrabbling for new weapons fairly often. The maps are fairly small, so you won't need too many of you to have some interesting battles in some interesting environments, and also the mod music is excellent. So go get it if deathmatch is your thing.
- Destiny by GiNGE3
247kb - ZDoom - DM -
A gothic deatmatch map that looks quite good. Using some gothic textures, some brick and the TFC sky, the detail is pretty nice all round. It's mostly buckshot and rockets, but with optional plasma weapons in secure places. Ammo, health and armour are present too, so you shouldn't run out, at least before you get blasted. The layout is a little larger than in many maps, so if there's less of you some chasing may be required. Recommended.
- Nilla Doom by Use3D
746kb - doom2.exe - SP -
Another 7-map wad with action at it's forefront. As with his CC maps, the texturing is random, with many things looking out of place and some unusual combinations (often involving zimmer7) that sometimes work and sometimes don't, but some of the designs and concepts are quite neat and some feel Plutonian in nature but the layouts are confusing, especially in the last three maps. But gameplay is the winner here, as you might expect. An unusual weapon setup is present through the first four maps, and there's no backpack here at all. It's fast and furious from the word go, and tremendously fun until the last map, where the confusing layouts together with lack of ammo and health will annoy you. Plenty of revenants give it a Plutonia feel, and every time you open a door or go down a lift you'll feel like there's a bunch of monsters waiting for you. Great stuff, and it had better not get overlooked by other wads this week. (hype is fine, but too much is a bad thing IMO for any wad)