There's a lot to get through this week, so I'll dive straight in. Or at least I would if there weren't a need to write some more filler text here... This week there are several large and interesting single-map wads, a few slightly less exciting multi-map wads, and some rather imaginatively themed DM maps. To round this off we have a whole slew of weapon replacements and some quirky dehacked patches.
- The Attraction to All Things Uncertain by Samuel 'Kaiser' Villarreal
291kb - Boom-compatible port + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - -
As usual, Kaiser does not disappoint - you can always download and play his maps safe in the knowledge that you will not be wasting your time. This large map looks good and presents a fierce challenge - from the start you will be running for your life, and will need to make good use of your resources. There is plenty of blood (not always obvious whether it is damaging), green marble and wood. Perhaps a little more ammo early on would make things more fun - as it is, you might want to get to know your way around the map (with -nomonsters) before tackling it with all the bad guys present. Even then, you might find yourself needing to take out a few demons with the non-berserk fist. Architecture is good - mostly on a grand scale, with many wide-open spaces (made dangerous by distant chaingunners and revenants), but there are no especially bare areas either. Kaiser clearly put a lot of work went into this map. I'll call it wad of the week.
- Tremor: Part I - Genesis by Ross "zarkyb" Mathieson
852kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map - -
Previously, zarkyb's output has been mostly restricted to joke maps, but here he has decided to show his real talent. This is an intense and large map that I imagine most Doomers will enjoy playing. The ammo supply is quite generous, and health is certainly adequate, even if you take a few risks here and there. The style throughout is tech-base, with a fair amount of nukage too. Each area looks good and has a distinctive feel to it. The battles are fierce, but with the right strategy they can all be handled in reasonable safety. The last big battle is a real BFG-fest, and I'd suggest giving some thought to when to pick up the invulnerability sphere. There is a bit of backtracking to be done here and there, but on the whole the gameplay flows well enough. Actually, having killed everything, collected all the keys and pressed all the switches I had seen, I couldn't get the walkway to the exit to rise. I'll give zarkyb the benefit of the doubt and assume I had missed a switch. Note: Although the textfile claims this map works with most Boom-compatible ports, as far as I can tell, it is in fact Zdoom-only due to some steps not raising - the first such case is the one to get out of the yellow-key area, and there's no way around that apart from cheating.
- I.C.T.O.A.N. by Xaser
983kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
Wow, a normal wad from Xaser. It's quite nice design-wise (a convincing little spaceship), though the gameplay is a bit of a disappointment - very linear (even though you can still get lost due to the similarity of many of the passages) and not very challenging. The most obvious Zdoom features used are scripting, swimmable nukage and slopes. The early battles are quite one-sided, and in general there aren't many places where you should lose much health. You have plenty of time in the nukage to find the right way out. I thought the map was about to become really cool when the security alert sounded - I thought there lay ahead a battle in the dark against bigger enemies around those same passages we had previously been picking off the little guys. (Like in the mothership in Unreal.) But no. :( The final battle is straightforward. I guess I expected a little bit more from Xaser, whose imagination seems to go into overdrive when he is trying to annoy us. Overall though, it's definitely worth taking a look at this map, and I hope Xaser makes more non-joke wads.
- Option - Denied by Pawel Zarczynski aka NMN
168kb - Limit-extending port + Doom2 - SP - 2 maps -
Here are a couple of excellent little tech-styled maps from NMN. The second map is especially reminiscent of E1, but with bigger enemies and more of a challenge. They look great and have excellent balance, with just a bit more ammo than you need to get the job done. The only thing I can fault them for is their size - they feel like the opening areas of large (and very good) maps, so when we reach the exit after just a few minutes, we are left wanting more. That's better than wishing they had been shorter of course, and no reason to skip over them. These maps could well be interesting for demos and are certainly recommended.
- Dreadful Change Upon us.... by Pawel Zarczynski aka NMN
155kb - Limit-extending port + Ultimate Doom - 1 map -
Another good little map by NMN, but this one is rather different. It is extremely non-linear, with lots of little side-areas and passages. Apparently it is inspired by the original UDoom maps, but it felt like a more modern map to me - much "busier" design-wise. I think there should have been a bit more resistance offered if the player decides to run directly to the exit - both UV Pacifist and Nightmare can be done quite easily in under 30 seconds. The music is k-rad, and overall this map is definitely worth playing. Note that in some ports you can get stuck if you return to the starting area. You've no reason to return there though.
- The Lost Gateway by hobomaster22
277kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
A rather large and challenging map. The design features a lot of detail - perhaps verging on overly fussy. Clean lines can look good too. Vines occur often throughout the map. The difficulty varies considerably. The encounter with the cyber is not at all simple, and comes after a relatively sedate start. I was very low on health by the time I reached the spider, but survived OK from there. Archies pop out at various points, but there are ways to handle them without too much pain. The final stages are something of a BFG-fest, but you'll need to watch your health. Zdoom features used include monster deaths triggering events and some swimmable water. Overall a fun map.
- Mystical Paths by Mephisto
653kb - Skulltag + Doom2 - SP - 15 maps - -
Here we have 15 SP maps for Skulltag, mostly tiny, and some verging on trivial. It is intended as three episodes, and the stats screens are replaced with little bits of intermission text. The individual maps are not intended to be played from pistol starts (that's not to say they are impossible that way, but some of them would be extremely awkward or tedious - you'd need to use extreme ammo conservation on map05, for instance). Thus it is more like 3 large maps, each divided into five areas. There appears to be quite a bit of cut-and-paste, and the gameplay is a bit too repetitive. On the positive side, the maps seem to be free from serious errors (aside from some silly secret areas), but overall I can give it no more than a lukewarm recommendation.
- E1M5: Reincarnated by Agent Spork
373kb - Zdoom + Ultimate Doom - SP - 1 map -
This is a remake of E1M5 with added Zdoom features and effects. Agent Spork did a similar job on E1M3, and if you liked that, this one should appeal too. Compared to the original, there are quite a few little surprises and traps added in, but on the negative side, the map is now much more linear, with less choice about how to tackle each area. I doubt this map has a great deal of replay value. Still, it's nicely executed and it's certainly worth playing once or twice. You'll probably want to make a few savegames, since some of the traps are a bit unfair, and there are some stealth monsters too (boo! hiss!). I noticed one odd bug: if you press the switch after the yellow key door multiple times, the steps continue to lower, to the point where you can't escape from the pit thus created. There's no reason why you should do that of course, but it's still a bit of a flaw. Note: Despite what it says in the textfile, this wad doesn't require Skulltag - Zdoom is sufficient.
- DarkSoul Levels Map1 by Jacob Kastner aka DarkSoul
72kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
This map has rather an old-fashioned feel to it. There is little variety in texturing or design, and it contains both a computer room and a crate room. There are some nice touches, such as the bent railing (or whatever it is) near the exit, but on the whole it is all quite routine, both in looks and gameplay. As far as I can tell, this map is Zdoom-only for one single reason: the red-key door doesn't work otherwise. I wonder why that is.
- Complex by Nick Johnson
42kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map -
A dark and slightly drab base awaits you here. The design and texturing are rather poor - that starting area (see screenshot) looks particularly bad, but in many areas there appears to have been little thought put into choosing appropriate textures. Maybe it's just as well that much of the map is dark. Some areas look OK though. The gameplay is quite routine, so there isn't a great deal to recommend this map. Once more, this wad does not appear to have a good reason to be Zdoom-only; instead, it's due to some sort of error. Near the end of the map, there is supposed to be a crushing ceiling, but it only works right in Zdoom. In some ports it doesn't function; in others, the whole map becomes a crushing ceiling at that point. Messy.
- ROBOTO by ggg The Triple-G Man
323kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 9 maps - -
I never quite know what to say when someone has clearly put a lot of time and effort into a wad, but the results are poor and I am therefore unable to recommend it. Firstly, someone should have told ggg some time early in his mapping career that people don't like mazes. This wad is chock full of them. Most maps contain some sort of maze; a few feature little else (the first map has a different type of annoying gimmick, but I won't ruin the surprise). In these mazes, every so often we gun down some very weak enemies. That's not to say these maps are easy though. Far from it. The extreme lack of health makes it very easy to die, but this hardly adds to the fun, since every monster encounter needs to be approached with a view to losing no health at all. Occasionally there is a good piece of action, and the later maps are relatively more fun - and would be very rough to get through without using a savegame or two. Note for Legacy users: on map11, if you teleport into a tiny dark room, there is no way out - that room is intended to contain a voodoo doll, and to be simply a means of killing the player.
- FearDM by Spunkman
5,448kb - Skulltag + Doom2 - DM - 5 maps - -
Here's something a little different: five deathmatch maps, each themed around a phobia. By far the most striking is the first one, "Coimetrophobia - Fear of Cemeteries", probably because a cemetery is a more visual concept than some of the other fears listed. Fortunately, triskaidekaphobia isn't included, as that might have looked a bit cheesy. Anyway, all these maps are attractive and ought to provide a fun deathmatch - not so much for the layouts (which are mostly straightforward) but due to the atmosphere created. The cemetery is complete with a mausoleum, ambient sounds, and a hand of an undead corpse reaching up from the ground. You may also recognize some of the names on the tombstones.
- Dream Deathmatch by Spunkman
4,286kb - Skulltag + Doom2 - DM - 5 maps - -
This is the follow-up to Dream Duel, and is a good set of five attractive medium-sized DM maps. Some of the maps are surreal, while others are more like real places. There are ambient sounds and well-chosen music to accompany. Nice work.
- Terminator Series: Rocket Arenas by Robert "Zalewa" Zalewski
271kb - Limit-extending port + Doom2 - DM - 10 maps -
Delivers what it promises: ten small and symmetrical DM maps with a plentiful supply of rockets and rocket launchers. The design isn't complex, but displays no glaring errors.
- STWDM01.WAD by Johnathan 'SirTimberWolf' Enright
43kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - DM - 1 map -
A fairly small map offering standard DM play, with RL, SSG and chaingun as the main weapons. It is Zdoom-only, but doesn't appear to use any Zdoom features. The architecture is quite nice in places - the pillars look good, and the ceiling is attractively done.
- 99 WEAPONS FOR DOOM by Daniel
6,618kb - port with dehacked support - 11 sets of weapon replacements - no maps - -
Daniel has already uploaded several sets of weapon replacements. This appears to be the motherload. Quite a few of these weapons duplicate ones seen in previous releases. He doesn't make it very clear which of them he has created from scratch and which are by other people. If you're interested in weapon replacements, you'll definitely want to take a look at this. Most of the sets of weapons are sensible: guns, energy weapons, grenades, etc., and many of them are highly innovative. A few are rather quirky, such as the imp weapon set, where you are playing as an imp, with appropriate sound effects too. There's also a set of weapons from the Doom alpha, and a set of very powerful hitscan weapons, etc.
- 1337 Guns by Xaser
163kb - Zdoom - weapon replacement - no maps -
This is a bunch of underpowered weapon replacements. It's intended for Zdoom, but works to a greater or lesser degree in other ports. The weapons look sensible (so perhaps could be reused in a better way), but in terms of their functionality, they have little more than novelty value. Maybe they're OK for maps with a relatively unthreatening monster population. One odd thing: monster infighting occurs easily between monsters of the same type (imp vs imp, etc.). I don't know if this is to compensate for the weapons' lack of power or if it is accidental. There is no mention of it in the textfile.
- 0verp0wer Weap0ns by Xaser
324kb - Zdoom - weapon replacement - no maps -
Xaser says that this set of seriously powerful weapons was inspired by his experience playing "TNT: the Lost Episode", and he has a point: playing it with this set of weapons might well make it more enjoyable. Overall, the weapons are not stupidly powerful, but clearly shouldn't be used in maps that are well-balanced for the standard weapons. Also, the extra infighting (as with 1337 Guns) is present here too.
- Grenades N' Stuff by Xaser
630kb - Zdoom - weapon replacement - no maps -
From the name I expected this to feature mostly grenade-type weapons, but in fact it is mostly "Stuff". Interesting stuff though. The BFG replacement has some very spiffy graphics, and some of the other weapons do some severe damage too. Apparently, this is "the world's first weapon replacement which has more than the standard 9 weapons and works with ANY level", by virtue of the enemies dropping weapons from other games that Zdoom supports. So, you saw it here first, or something. Note that the enemies' weapons are changed significantly by this wad too, so if you're really lucky, some maps might stay vaguely balanced.
- Doom 3 sound replacement by Quast
7,089kb - Zdoom - sound replacement - no maps
As the name says, it's a sound replacement based on the sounds from Doom3. I can't judge how faithful a conversion has been done, but some sound good, while others are a bit weedy. As for the monsters, I imagine some of them sound better in their proper environment.
- CleanWAD V1.50 by Serge Smirnov/Martin Howe
277kb - wad tool - no maps
A new version of this wad tool. The new features are described in the textfile, so I won't repeat them here, but they include features relevant to Zdoom, Boom-compatibles, Hexen, Heretic and Strife. There is also some impressive legalese in the textfile, which I especially enjoyed.
- MoD's fun weird dehacked patch thingy by MasterOFDeath
4kb - dehacked patch - no maps
One of those rare cases where the accompanying textfile is larger than the zip. It is a dehacked patch that basically just pisses about with the weapons and some of the monsters. The rocket launcher becomes quite a powerful weapon - in fact, once you've got that weapon and a couple of rockets, you don't need much else. It's OK for a few laughs, but you won't be missing much if you don't bother downloading it. I suppose it might be kind of fun to see how quickly you can do Map07 or E2M8 with this patch.
- Dissolving Bodies by Abbs
3kb - dehacked patches - no maps
Dehacked patches are like buses, yadda yadda yadda. This one makes corpses dissolve. Well, OK. If that's important to you, then go for it. I'm not entirely sure what the point of this is, but note that it has serious gameplay implications when arch-viles are about.
- crappything by MasterOFDeath
143kb - Zdoom + Doom2 - SP - 1 map
Deliberately bad, unfunny map.
The re-releases this week are brought to you by the letters V and W and the number 9.
- Exit to Hell by Val Galloway
78kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
This action-packed map pulls no punches. From start to finish you are in dangerous situations - there's an archie and revenants to face down with just your (super)boomstick, and by the time you get the bigger weapons, you'll be running quite a gauntlet, and have to deal with a couple of pesky cybers. Design is competent but unelaborate; there is a lack of consistent themes, but no real clashes. A nice adventure.
- The Waterworks by Michael Morrison
58kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
Masses of health and an adequate supply of ammo make this fairly large map a fun romp rather than a major challenge. It stays true to its theme for the most part - there is a lot of water flowing around the map.
- WAYBAC2.WAD for DOOM ][ by Bruce A. Chastain
47kb - Doom2.exe - SP - 1 map -
This linear medium-sized map is quite a struggle until you know your way around it. If you can't get out of the starting area, the screenshot provides a clue.