A steady week this time, and quite a lot of interesting stuff. From old to new, small to big and dark to bright (then back to dark again), there's plenty to keep you going:
- Castle Phobos by David G. Shrock
253kb - doom.exe - SP -
Ah yes, a classic wad. 4 maps (E2M1-4) each with a different style or a mix of them. The first is a castle with bright grey on the outside and a mix of brick and gothic on the inside, the 2nd is a warehouse and sewer, the 3rd (best one IMO) is a sprawling grey complex that will hurt your eyes if you play in the dark, and the 4th (worst one IMO) is a gothic complex with a big room at the end. As with many wads of it's time, the detail is a little sparse, although there's enough variation in heights and sizes to counter this. There's plenty of nooks and crannies to get lost in, but it can sometimes be confusing to work out the next way to go. Gameplay is pretty good, especially with -fast (in fact this was only the 4th wad I played it with) and some of the battles work really well with it. Ammo is plentiful, health is less so, and there's an interesting choice-of-weapon secret in the first map (if you can find it, as many of the secrets are a bit obscure). It's more castle than Phobos, but it's worth playing, especially if you like the classic stuff and/or a -fast challenge.
- Degeneration I by Brian J. "Blazkowicz" Rowan
49kb - doom.exe - SP -
Another classic map (IIRC one of the better ones on my D!1000 cd). A Deimos-style E2M1 wad with a variety of areas and texturing, but all kept within the theme. Detail is a bit basic and many textures are unaligned but it doesn't detract from the Deimos feel (in fact it enhances it in some ways). Gameplay isn't too bad either, although -fast is still recommended (where it can be challenging). Good.
- DOOM: War Games by Emil Eisenhardt
46kb - doom.exe - SP -
And another one off my D!1000 cd, this map was perhaps the earliest one to be built around in-fighting. The main showpiece is an arena with 4 different monster pens, switch them open from the outside and watch them fight. The rest of the map is a few passages and stuff, all with low detail and easy gameplay. This concept can be done much better now of course, but this was done in 1994 so credit for the idea. But there's nothing else really to get excited about.
- The Unofficial Hectebus Concept by TheDarkArchon
686kb - ZDoom - SP -
Another of the newest type of wad around, the decorate monster. Basically a recoloured giant mancubus (heh, I've got one of those) with a devastating blue/purple fireball attack, comparable to some of the Duke bosses. Tough to take on, and could prove very useful to mappers.
- MoDDM2 by Alex Mowery (MasterOFDeath)
265kb - ZDoom - DM -
5 small deathmatch maps with a number of modern themes. The layouts are designed for low-turnout fights, and in fact they work well like that. Map 01 is a night base that gives you a choice of weapons, map 02 is a tactical 1-on-1 affair in a bright base with a loop-shaped layout, 3 weapons and 2 medkits, map 03 is an interesting night hunt in a town, map 04 is in a brick warehouse with various weapons/tactics and map 05 is a cross-shaped power station with 2 weapons in each part. The BFG is easily accessible in all maps, but those who are interested in fighting with and against all weapons will like it. The maps also look quite good, too (although some parts are a bit bare). Those who hate BFG's might want to stay clear, but aside from that it's a good 2-4 player fragfest.
- An Affinity for Pain by David Shaw (Tolwyn)
236kb - source port - SP -
The music man returns with another big wad, this time with a tune. It's a brick/stone/wood affair, and is pretty complicated - some times you will wonder where to go next. The detail is impressive right the way through, and the gameplay is quite good as well. Plenty of tough monsters, and the ammo is pretty tight for most of the map so you could end up using your fist if you're not careful. However, one key weapon is hidden away in a secret, meaning you won't be able to handle the latest fights in it. Still, an impressive map that should be played.
- Slime Pit by ToxicFluff
492kb - Legacy - DM -
An impressive-looking DM map. Legacy's 3D floors are used aplenty, so the action takes place on multiple floors. There's also some coloured lighting and a sludge pit. New textures give the map a cold industrial feel and the detail is pretty good in the tight areas, although a little barer in the open areas. Gameplay-wise there's not many weapons around, so you might end up shooting peas at each other a bit. The similar level of health and armour makes this map a tactical manhunt with less players and an exciting prospect with more players. (pity I couldn't find out for myself, as Legacy's bugs make it impractical to run a server on). Still, a good and promising map.
- Gothic by Jason Benson
46kb - doom2.exe - SP -
A dark, dark map - so dark in fact I could only find one place to take a screenie without giving keys away. This one is also very tight on ammo, so you need to use that chainsaw to it's full potential. There's plenty of health though, if you find the secrets (which aren't too hard). There isn't really much to look at if the lights were on, so you can focus on the rather different challenge posed by this one. Not bad.
- Waste Filtration Facility by Ian Ferguson (Scrum)
105kb - doom2.exe - SP -
A nukage base set in the mountains, one that throws you straight into the action. Once you've cleared that up it's off through tech rooms, sludge pits and a couple of outdoor bits. Detail is mostly bare, but there are some lighting effects and two rooms with quite good detail (shame those rooms are way too bright). After the instant start, the action is ok but you'll have to watch the health if you miss the early secrets, and don't be too wasteful with the ammo. It's ok, but nothing special.
- The Island by Jason Farlow
3030kb - ZDoom - SP -
There's been quite a few good outdoor wads this year, and here's another one. Set on a tropical island, this one takes full advantage of ZDoom's features to make a truly realistic one. Slopes are everywhere, from rolling hills to steep mountains, there's a trail meandering through it, and there's also a lake about halfway through. Finally, the island has a realistic day/night cycle, where it gradually gets darker with time (=neat). A number of missions have to be done, which basically involve getting to a base, blowing a computer up and escaping. Detail is pretty good, with the mountains looking great (sloped as opposed to vertical) and while the base has some bare areas, using coloured lights and other stuff makes up for it. The gameplay has it's flaws though. The first half will be a big slowdown to many of you (affecting gameplay), the trees are nearly all sprite-based (leading to line-of-sight problems with monsters), there's hardly enough ammo early on and the fading light will make things annoying later on. On the plus side there's some new monsters (no prizes for guessing what), some good battles, a few tricky moments and a big boss monster. Health is finely balanced and ammo is better once you reach the lake (but search everywhere). In short, an innovavtive, impressive map that is surely one of the better single maps this year - not to be missed!
(If you have <1GHz it's not recommended, those on <2Ghz may have to change resolution in the first half, the rest of you should be ok with the framerate)
- The ZDoom Community Map Project - Take 1 by Various Artists
6410kb - ZDoom - SP -
Finally, here's the first big project of the ZDoom forums. Unfortunately not a clean-up there, but instead it's one giant map that 12 people have added areas to. The style is mostly modern/tech, although one or two hellish areas exist, too. The detail is exceptional, particularly on the smaller scale. Slopes, coloured lights, scrolling, lighting effects - you name it, it's here. There's also a number of puzzles, but mainly in the earlier stages and nothing too hard (plus a few in-jokes). Gameplay is fairly good, with new monsters (some from Heretic/Hexen), new weapons, a mostly good ammo/health balance and it's pretty challenging too. The only flaws are in the sewer (annoying bats), the open arena (chaingunners with no health and no cover) and the last section, where the gameplay really breaks down (no ammo, no health, annoying bats). Oh, and watch out for the extra weapon in slot 5, as it looks the same as the rocket launcher and will catch you out many times by appearing first when you press 5 (= flaw). But don't let that spoil it, as it's a highly polished affair, and one that is quality right the way through. Set aside a couple of hours for this, it's recommended.