We have a bumper selection this time, with masses of both variety and quality. The main highlight is the long-awaited first hub of RTC-3057, but there is also a remarkable quantity of other excellent wads. While the number of maps this week isn't a record, the total file size certainly is: the files reviewed this week weigh in a total of a whopping 91 megabytes - and most of them are worth downloading too.
- RTC-3057: Blue by Team Future
54,013kb - ZDoom 2.0.63 + Doom2 - SP - 7 maps - - - - -
Review by The Ultimate DooMer: First of all, it needs no introduction. A 7-map hub that uses ZDoom in ways you never thought possible. Set on board a 5-deck spaceship, this plunges you into a dark future far more intense than in any other wad seen before. Using characters, a deep storyline and Unreal-style logs that are infinitely longer, the complex and almost novel-like story is pieced together and develops as you go along. The 7 maps are of a dark futuristic nature (with lots of grey metal, pipes and computer stuff) and boast the finest detail out there, with nearly every nook and cranny having something intricate. Each deck has a different function (e.g. bridge, personnel, engineering), and great attention is paid to the theme on each one, making the whole thing appear very realistic. The great atmosphere is enhanced by the music, a futuristic set of ambient, breakbeat and goa tracks by everyone's favourite Frenchman. ZDoom features and scripting are second to none, with interactive consoles and scrollable log books leading the way in innovation. Onto gameplay, and the puzzle side is well thought-out but complex at times and might annoy some of you. However, if you look everywhere you shouldn't go wrong. The monsters side is where the weakness is, as it comprises almost exclusively of basic enemies and is not too challenging, except during the big fights (which are pretty good, especially one of them). In fact it seems to be following Daedalus in the action department, with no changes to the monsters/weapons and resulting gameplay that I feel suffers in a TC environment such as this (it could really use that new decorate stuff to create some new enhanced monsters, thus freeing up the tougher of the original ones for the earlier stages - that's my 2p anyway). When you're on low health though, things change - as you'll begin to worry about facing any monsters, let alone a bunch of them (and the atmosphere is very good for this sort of situation). Health is a little off-balance, so tread carefully and obey your thirst (hint). But the monsters and the lack of ambient sounds are the only weaker points, the rest is close to being flawless. A huge amount of effort has gone into this, and it looks professional in every way (when can I pre-order the registered version?). Even if you're on 56k, grab a download manager and spend 2-3 hours downloading this - you'd need to be pretty insane to leave this wad alone. And indeed, not to like it either.
(56k'ers download here (42,650kb) and use WinRAR if don't already have a RAR archiver)
- Nuclear Waste by David J. Finnamore
455kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 3 maps - -
Three clean-cut and fun maps. As the name suggests, nukage plays a major role in all three maps, and we see a convincing array of areas where the stuff is being processed. Gameplay is nicely balanced - none of the maps are easy, but the player has a fair chance of getting through without prior map knowledge. Each map is playable from a pistol start, though the complex map03 is then quite a challenge (though the author's estimate of half an hour for that map is still a bit much - I'd say 10-15 minutes, depending on how well you know your way around). Anyway, I highly recommended this fun mapset. I'd go on about it at more length if there weren't so many other wads to get through this week.
- Yesterday's Nightmare by Ray Schmitz
407kb - port + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - -
Ray Schmitz is at the very top of my list of "excellent but little-known mappers", so I was delighted to see a new map by him appear. This one does not disappoint: gameplay is balanced on the usual knife-edge, and the design is great. At first I was thinking he had reduced the difficulty somewhat, but sure enough I got knocked down to single-digit health, and stayed there for quite a while through some tricky fights. It is as if the fights are choreographed to make even the small monsters a threat. The ammo supply is sufficient as long as you don't waste much. The design uses medieval themes (and some gothic/hellish touches), and the architecture is on a grander scale than many of Schmitz's earlier maps (some of which verge on the claustrophobic), with some battles in wide-open areas. A highly recommended download.
- Torment and Torture Lost Episode : "Fury of Fire" by Daniel "Tormentor667" Gimmer
6,308kb - Zdoom 2.0.63a + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - - -
If you have played the previous wads in this series, then you will pretty much know what to expect: a large and complex map, with lots of brown Quake-inspired textures and tough battles, often against modified enemies. Tormentor expresses this quite bluntly in his text-file: "Once more, this is brown, quakish and dark. If you didn't like TNT1-3, don't try this one because you will hate it." He also mentions that ammo is in short supply, so you'll need to make extensive use of infighting to have much hope of making it through. To be honest, most players will probably need to use a few saves as well, given the firepower that many of the monsters possess, and the size and length of the map (more than 1000 monsters). It's certainly an eclectic creation, even including a little Wolfenstein area (complete with Hitler) and a rendition of E1M1. If you tackle this wad seriously, it will probably take a good few hours in total to get through - otherwise, you may like to take a quick look around in God mode, since it is definitely worth seeing one way or another.
- Hordes of Chaos by Christopher Emirzian (Udderdude)
1,276kb - Zdoom + Heretic - SP - 5 maps - - -
Wow - a set of Heretic maps. Or perhaps I should say Zheretic, since Zdoom's ability to bring in monsters from Doom and Hexen is used extensively, and this gives the game a rather different feel. It certainly seems a bit strange to be using the elvenwand against an archvile, but overall I'd say that Udderdude has made it work well. The gameplay is fast and furious - you'll need to be on your toes to survive the tight and tricky battles that lie in store for you here - the wad's name is fully appropriate. One major tip is to make full use of the powered-up gauntlets. In case you didn't know (or had forgotten), if you use a tome of power, then the gauntlets (of the necromancer, whoever he is) draw health from enemies, so you can dive straight into the middle of situations that would be suicide otherwise, and emerge with full health (if you manage to keep attacking something most of the time). This both saves ammo and makes up for the sometimes sparse supply of health in these maps. Quick thinking is also needed - in general you are not spoon-fed a route, and so will need to decide whether to run through/past a bunch of monsters and grab some goodies, or else to stand and fight. The design is good, which each map having its own themes; these themes include lava and ice as well as more standard Heretic situations. There's lots of fun to be had here.
- Riverwood Village by CodenniumRed (with help from Ichor)
275kb - Hexen (port recommended) - SP - 1 map -
While Heretic wads are rare, maps for Hexen are hardly seen at all. Personally, I've always found the small range of weapons in Hexen too restrictive for the game to be much fun, but this map is well worth a look. For the most part the gameplay is routine, but the final battle is tough - you are up against the dreaded heresiarch. The design is attractive - it is a convincing little village.
- Phobos Orbital by Fiend
79kb - limit-extending port + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
A sweet little map with simple but tasteful design. The action takes place on board a fairly convincing-looking space station. The gameplay is quite easy; all in all, this map provides a few minutes of enjoyment/relaxation.
- Food Processing by Owen "Sarge Baldy" Lloyd
107kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map -
Sarge Baldy certainly knows how to put a map together. Here he has set out to emulate the classic E1 style, and done so with considerable aplomb. There is nothing too complex, but it is well-balanced and attractive; everything appears to be there for a reason. The gameplay isn't too tough, but it is possible to get low on health/ammo if you're careless. It draws themes from several of the E1 maps, possibly E1M7 most of all. I'm not quite sure where food comes into it though.
- Warehouse of Evil! by Owen "Sarge Baldy" Lloyd
91kb - limit-extending port + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
Many of the comments about Food Processing apply here too, but in this case Sarge Baldy has drawn upon themes from Episode 2 - most obviously E2M2. There is a little more scope for running out of ammo here, and if you don't find the soulsphere, then health could be tight too.
- Blood World by Ivar 'jallamann' Remøy
92kb - Legacy + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
Jallamann is certainly improving rapidly as a mapper. This is his third release, and while the first two showed imagination, there were some significant flaws. Blood World, on the other hand, is a far more polished product. Everything looks good, the scripting works well, and Legacy's 3d features are used to excellent effect. I found one of the switches a little hard to find, but otherwise the gameplay flowed along nicely. Some of the texture choices are a bit odd though - a door texture is used for a wall, while one switch is a bit of a mess. Maxkills would be tricky to achieve, but I imagine it is possible with the right strategy.
- Hell Downtown by Jens "Skystalker" Smikalla
95kb - port + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
A competent but unremarkable city-style map. The appearance outdoors is a little bland (no custom textures are used), while inside the buildings, any semblance of being in a city is lost. Early on, it is a bit of a scramble to survive, but overall it isn't too difficult.
- BETA: One Nerd And His Doom by Hyena
10,056kb - Zdoom 2.0.63a + Doom2 - SP - 2 maps - - -
The laughing Hyena returns once more to serve up us another joke wad. Unlike many in this genre, this one is worth playing and involves some genuinely creative ideas. Early on, you need to climb up a stack of monsters, and then you need to get to grips with some seriously modified monster behaviour. Later we come to a game of keen space invaders (though there is a trick that makes it quite trivial; I won't reveal it). The music is well-chosen and appropriate. If you're in the mood for something weird, I can recommend this wad.
- S.Q.W.I.R.E.L. Mod by Fiend
1,882kb - EDGE + Doom2 - SP - 9 maps + weapons mod - -
Rather an interesting set of weapon replacements and maps. The weapons are on the whole rather powerful, but some of the enemies you face are also beefed up considerably. The weapons don't seem too well balanced though; the minigun is clearly the best weapon for most circumstances, while some of the weapons ditch their shot into the ground (that was in EDGE 1.28 and 1.28a; in 1.27 it was just totally haywire as far as I could tell). Still, there is enough minigun ammo that you can get by pretty much using just that and the rocket launcher. Anyway, the maps vary in quality somewhat, but many of them are great fun. Map04 takes place on an oil rig during a heavy rainstorm. The action is good, if a little brutal. The second secret level is a great novelty map (I won't spoil the surprise).
- Train Station by Paul Corfiatis
340kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
Given that it is by Paul Corfiatis (2002ADO, Death Tormention 2, ...), I can't help finding this map a little disappointing. It's just one railway platform with a couple of tracks and an assortment of monsters. The design is quite nicely done, but not overly exciting. The gameplay is lacklustre, with a rather routine cyberdemon battle to round things off. If you want a railway station in Doom, then Copenhagen Central Station is still your best bet.
- Temple Of Chaos by Agent Spork
174kb - Skulltag + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
"Temple of Chaos is a pretty lousy SkullTag map I made in a couple of hours to ease my boredom," says Agent Spork in his text-file. If he really put all this together in just two hours, then that is quite a feat, but that doesn't necessarily mean the map is worth playing. The architecture is passable, but the gameplay is just a series of fairly difficult but uninspired set-piece battles with a variety of monsters - once they are all dead, you may proceed to the next part of the map. Note that you don't need the blue key (what look like blue key doors open without it) - indeed, it is far easier if you ignore the blue key and the switch on its pedestal. I needed to use ye olde doore tricke(tm) to get through the final battle. Overall, this wad is quite skippable.
- Bjarne by Bjarne Christensen
8kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
This is really quite a sad wad, and I'd recommend skipping it. Bjarne has simply written his name in a Doom editor, used no variety in texturing, and bunged in a few monsters. And he made it Zdoom-only for reasons that aren't readily apparent.
- Crampy Steel by Maximillian Augustus "BlackFish" Daley
3,197kb - Skulltag 95k - multi-player (CTF) - 1 map -
A relatively simple CTF map, with a symmetrical layout.
- The Thorn Supremacy by Maximillian Augustus "BlackFish" Daley
12kb - Skulltag 95k - multi-player (CTF) - 1 map -
I don't recall ever having seen a CTF map with the flag positions quite so close together - all the action takes place in one room. It's hard to see how much scope there is for strategy here. Apparently though, it is based on a popular UT map.
- Dream Duel by Spunkman
5,115kb - Skulltag + Doom2 - DM - 5 maps - -
Five attractive DM maps intended for duels, ranging in size from small to medium, and with varying themes. The ones that struck me as most visually interesting are the medieval map and the one with floating platforms (see screenshots). The music and skies are well-chosen.
- thefwf's cargo bay DM, final version by thefwf
135kb - Zdoom/Zdaemon + Doom2 - DM - 1 map
The final version of a wad I reviewed in T/nC #177. I wouldn't say it has changed fundamentally, but there is some extra detail, and Zdoom's new texturing possibilities are used to give a better feeling of being in space (but this wouldn't show up in a screenshot, of course).
- Shadow Pit by Brandon "exp(x)" Del Bel
96kb - port + Doom2 - DM - 1 map -
This one is weird - a tiny map with 100 sectors and 3176 sidedefs. I think that if Brandon really wanted to make a map with slopes, he should have made it for Zdoom - it would surely have been far less work. I can't imagine anyone will be too interested in DM-ing on this little map, unless they really love the music. A curiosity at best.
- The Monster Resource Wad by Several
3,009kb - Zdoom 2.0.63a - monster resources - 2 maps (sort of) -
Here's a bunch of interesting new monsters from a variety of creators, all collected together and available for use by other mappers. They come with scripting for use in Zdoom, while the sprites can be used on their own (though you'll need to add your own deh work to use them outside Zdoom with changed behaviour). Many of the new monsters are rather powerful, so use them sparingly. The two maps included are there just so you can see the monsters easily (there are switches by each that activate them).
- Weapons of Destruction by MasterOFDeath
155kb - Zdoom - weapons mod -
Replaces some of the weapons, mostly with rather more powerful ones.
- MasterOFDeaths GIBS! by MasterOFDeath
13kb - Zdoom - modified gibbing
Well, hello pointlessness! MasterOFDeath now offers us a little file that changes the visual effects of gibbing a little tiny bit, at the cost of making the gibs harmful to other monsters and the player. Berserking monsters can mean instant death with this.
- Grabbag by Z0l0 the WhAle
6kb - a bunch of utilities for Markmenu
I've nothing much to add to the description - it's a bunch of utilities for Markmenu. If that excites you, download it.
There are nine wads this time, including a total of 30 maps. I uploaded all but the last two (the ones by Michael Reed).
- RAGE DOOM ver. 2.0 by Dan Krempel
596kb - Doom.exe - SP - 19 maps - - -
It's surprising this wad didn't become better known. It is from 1994 and contains 19 maps that were surely among the better ones made around that time. In several cases, the maps appear to be based around the themes (or names) of those in the original game, and there are many great fights to be had.
- !wow!.wad by Jon Landis
61kb - Doom.exe - SP/coop - 1 map -
Jon Landis is quite a well-known mapper, having contributed extensively to STRAIN. He had previously made some of the most interesting maps of 1994, including !pipe!.wad, and this one, !wow!.wad, which has been included in several compilation wads but was missing from the archive. It is quite a large map, with some tricky challenges, and a pack of big monsters to deal with towards the end.
- Blood On The Walz Version 1.0 by Tom Walz
258kb - Doom.exe - SP - 4 maps -
Four maps of varying quality - E1M1 is a little crude though not entirely without interest, while E1M4 is really rather good - intricate design and good challenge. In between, we have E1M3, which presumably is not intended to be played from a pistol start; if you play it that way, you'll need to have a route worked out, and have some good fortune. That leaves E1M2, which is an "OMG MY HOUSE!" map, though not a badly done one.
- Escape from Pittston Area by Michael "Slider"
414kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
A large and quite difficult "school" wad.
- Unholy Temple by Josh
104kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
This and the next two are more modern wads that for some reason never found their way into the archive. This is a very tight and tricky map, with little room to manoeuvre. Some strategy is needed in places.
- Marque of the Beast by Sam K. Ellis III
66kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map -
A medium sized map, with good quality in both design and challenge.
- Wages of Sin by Sam K. Ellis III
73kb - Doom.exe - SP - 1 map -
A very tricky and interesting map. You'll want to locate a supply of ammo hidden near the start, but even then it will be quite a fight to survive.
- The Rabbit Hole by Michael Reed
86kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
Michael Reed's best known map is Hoover Dam, but I think this one is better. It's an epic battle where you plunge through a hole into a subterranean environment (caverns, tunnels, tech areas) and emerge a long time later after many battles. The gameplay is neither overly difficult nor unfair.
- The Core by Michael Reed
106kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
Another of Michael Reed's creations, but this one is IMO not especially good. Again it is an epic battle, but this time there are some totally unfair points from a gameplay viewpoint, and these occur late on in the map. There is one place in particular (a barrel trap) that is pretty much guaranteed to kill the player first time around. The design is rather uncoordinated - there seems little logical progression.