Welcome all to the Super Doom 13th Birthday Mega Spectatular /newstuff Edition, and I am your host, deathz0r! A certain person by the name of DomRem was supposed to do his reviews at the end of last month, but didn't do it because he's a lazy bastard and made up stupid excuses in #dmclub about not doing it. I made him an offer to include his reviews in this December 10th, 2006 edition of everyone's favourite top story news item (though I'm sure those incredibly biased Cacowards will be up there for the whole week instead of this) which he couldn't refuse. Not only that, but I decided to be a nice guy and offer a myriad of WADs to review by random people, which are all underneath my section of reviews. So first off, we'll have DomRem's reviews as they were supposed to be done two weeks ago!
Blowup - didy
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 2056 KB -
To me, dark lighting and constant exploration through a non-linear layout sounds like the formula for an inevitably bad WAD, but it couldn't be farther from the truth with this map. The author has crafted a beautifully convincing and dank techbase which only complements the interesting and complex layout. In a way, it resembles a darker version of Suspended in Dusk. The only thing missing was custom music - hearing D_RUNNIN playing in the background took away from the otherwise well-done setting.
I was a bit disappointed with the gameplay; it's alright, but nothing fantastic. Rather than relying on frequent fighting, the level makes a shift towards exploration and uses many mild switch searches as progression. After finding many of these switches, a mass teleportation of monsters occurs throughout nearby areas. There is actually frequent and tricky combat at the beginning, but these switch hunts become the norm by the end, and therein lies the problem: the teleportation traps eventually become overused and easily predictable as the map goes on. Adding on to this is that before they are activated, the surrounding rooms and passageways tend to be completely devoid of any enemies. While the shift to exploration isn't bad, the lack of action through most of the level is underwhelming. By any means, this is still quite a good WAD despite the gameplay letdowns.
Diaz: The Last Hours of Purity - wildweasel
ZDoom - n/a - 1480 KB -
The first of six (yes, you read that correctly) wildweasel weapon mods this week, who starts off on an OK note with this collection of pistols, shotguns and automatic weaponry. The majority of the mod has no glaring problems and is well-balanced, working well with the Doom 2 levels I tried it in. On the stronger spectrum, though, the weaponry gets a bit less perfect. The railgun is simply a terrible replacement for the BFG, while the changes to the rocket launcher leave the player without a moderately powerful weapon other than the grenades. I also don't see the point to the berserk replacement at all - it simply speeds you up, which amounts to nothing more than making level skipping easier. I'd recommend it to weapon-mod enthusiasts, but if you dislike them, this won't do much to change your mind.
Dolphin's Dream - Aluqah
ZDoom - Solo Play - 2271 KB -
Going into this, two things immediately deterred me: the bizarre title and the MSPaint TITLEPIC. Signs were pointing to a really bad jokewad, but, luckily, the rest of the outlandish theme is much better. It takes place on a green metal fort floating in a color-changing void, and includes "water" that acts as gateways to different parts of the level. Despite imps that resemble candy and circus music in the background, the gameplay stays contrary to the theme and plays like a normal fun level would, with some tricky archvile and revenant fights thrown in, and overall nice placement of monsters. It's too bad that all of this is thrown out the window once you run into the abysmal level progression after the yellow key. Even if you can make your way to the exit, the disappointing final boss is nothing more than a powered-up Afrit from the Monster Resource WAD.
Dyna Mace - Ruba
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 32 KB -
If there is a mapper who you can count on to make notoriously bad WADs that aren't named Gamarra, it's Ruba. Frankly, he doesn't disappoint in his latest release. Playing through it, I could not find a legitimate reason why someone would release a level like this. With its basic, boring, and pathetically short gameplay and layout, it feels like one of those small levels a mapper makes to test out something, then throws away.
Gamarra's story: Part 7 1/2 "Gamarra is bad" - xbolt
GZDoom - Solo Play - 140 KB
Speaking of Gamarra, someone obviously has a lot of time on their hands, but absolutely nothing to do with it. What other rationale could there possibly be for creating a wooden box with a BFG and spawn shooter, then justifying its public release by calling it a spoof of Gamarra? Jokewads don't have to be funny as long as they have good gameplay, but this manages to lack both. Also wins the award for "Most Ridiculous Reason for Requiring GZDoom or Legacy."
Monolith: Part 1 - Richard Wiles
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 43 KB -
This is a very nice five-minute map to play. Everything about it is well-designed - the monster placement, ammo distrubution, and layout are all top-notch. Enemies are placed cleverly throughout the layout, with hell knights in ambush positions and chaingunners in various sniping posts. Most importantly, the level was very fun to play, and never too frustrating while still offering a good challenge. The texturing is just as excellent, emulating the theme of Slayer, and making a nice mesh between oldschool and modern styles. Just one question: why did the author place this on MAP19? With resource editors floating all over the place, a sky isn't really a valid excuse.
Noob Project Part 3 - Chase in the cold - Lupinx-ressurected
ZDoom - Solo Play - 2066 KB -
Right after the well-needed relief of Monolith, we run into a typical case of a mapper who has made an all-around bad map with ZDoom. The snowy landscapes and predominantly silver techbase are extremely bland; where did all the color go? Furthermore, the ZDoom features aren't used very well: the player speed is altered for seemingly no reason, the deep water transitions suck, and the surveillance room is useless. There is a noticable lack of traps - and difficulty, for that matter - in this plain map that includes a pathetic final boss which failed to hit me once.
The Stranger - wildweasel
ZDoom - n/a - 7042 KB -
This really can't be just called a weapon mod; while there are plenty of gun-related replacements and additions, it also has a new palette and four monster replacements. Despite all the extra work, I preferred Diaz to this one. The problem is that much of it just wasn't very impressive or fitting for something like a modification. The weapons are set up in a double-tier system for each weapon slot, which includes a weaker weapon (normally a weapon placed in the level already) and a stronger alternative (obtained from zombie and monster corpses). I didn't like this system, maybe because it allows the weaker ones to be either a complete waste of ammo or skippable, depending on the level. The weapons are somewhat balanced, but it only gets worse as they get stronger: for a paltry price of 10 health, the strongest weapon can toast a cyberdemon in one shot.
Then there are the replacements for four monsters (the spectre, archvile, lost soul and pain elemental). I actually didn't mind most of these, and in particular liked the new flamethrower marine. They don't really work in existing levels, though. I think something really good similar to Zen Dynamics could be created from all of the different additions, but as a modification, it just doesn't work well.
TurboCharged ARCADE! (Demo) - Xaser
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 1173 KB -
The first noticable deviation that this "different" WAD takes from normal ones is that the included eight levels are selectable from a menu before the game starts, similar to choosing an episode in Ultimate Doom. Among the good things about this new layout is that it allows you to skip the first six levels, which are a mediocre bunch. Whether they are extremely easy or just plain frustrating, many are severely lacking in creativity, and use the double-speed gameplay as an excuse for difficulty. In fact, the last two levels feel out of place in this WAD, because they completely lack the faults of the first six. The bullet-time segments of the Matrix parody are outstanding and surprisingly tough, and the Hitler showdown features a variety of fun, challenging and hilarious battles. They at least give hope for the final version, which could be excellent with more levels like these.
Trippy Skrill - Erik Lindahl
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 81 KB -
A notice to all aspiring mappers out there: if you want feedback on your first few maps, talk privately to someone before releasing them to the archives. This map suffers from large, oddly-shaped rooms with bland architecture and texturing; the only positive thing is that it follows a coherent theme. Gameplay was okay in some parts, with some interesting traps and a good layout. In the end, sloppy mapping was prevalent: numerous rooms appeared to be developed with freelook in mind, the ending battle relies on the discovery of the SSG and RL secrets, and an inescapable nukage pit in the exit room doesn't harm you.
Zen Dynamics - Xaser
ZDoom - Solo Play - 20529 KB -
We've all seen plenty of ZDoom weapon modifications around while looking through different Doom WADs, but nothing like this at all. This isn't just another weapon mod, but an entire project featuring 9 levels, as well as new monsters and powerups, all based around the weapons.
The vast array of weaponry may not have worked in a mod, but in this new pack they are balanced perfectly. Even the weakest weapons in the batallion maintain their usefulness all the way to the final level, and hardly any of the alternate fires feel tacked-on. The new monsters are mostly taken from resource WADs - all of them tend to be tough in one way or another, the bosses in particular. In fact, the entire pack is no walk in the park, but manages to stay well-balanced, especially if some players actually bother with lower difficulty settings at first. Zen Dynamics also has quite a bit of content dedicated to a story. In most cases, storylines should be strongly discouraged, but this one ties all of the WAD elements together in an excellent manner. The only catch is that none of the mid-level cutscenes can be skipped, which can begin to grow annoying after a few playthroughs.
The levels themselves, though? This is the most inconsistent part of Zen Dynamics. Xaser did not create all of the levels in the pack, instead opting to use some maps from other WADs in the archive. Thus, the quality varies; while some are well-designed and look great, others are bare and boring. Luckily, no matter how ill-designed some of the levels may be, the gameplay manages to stay exciting and fun thanks to all the new additions.
G-Shrimp's G-String - Ruba
doom2.exe - SP - 68kb -
DOES NOT WORK IN INTENDED SOURCE PORT
Portal Gun - Cutmanmike
ZDoom - N/A - 164kb -
Holy crap, this is automatically my choice pick of this week. Cutmanmike, you fucking rule.
Seriously, I've always wanted to see that damn gun from Portal in Doom, and Cutmanmike delivers the goods with this weapon mod. The only thing I have to bitch about is the delay after teleporting (wtf) which would have made this WAD ten thousand times more fun.
Primary - Kevin "SMG" Meeks
GZDoom - SP - 890kb -
This map is a massive piece of work by SMG. Seriously, this level will take you a good half a hour to beat but I find it extremely repetitive with the same texture theme prevailing through the majority of the level, and the detail feels rather sub-par for 2006/2007 standards. The gameplay is almost excellent, but there isn't much health laying around to pick up and the battles are largely open with a fair amount of hitscan enemies and very little defense for the player.
The TechWars - Moti
ZDoom - SP - 33kb -
This megawad feels like a really bad rush job. All of the maps are mostly consisted of square rooms, and the monsters (shamelessly taken from the Monster Resource WAD) just feel like they were thrown in. Not only that, but the last level is screwed up. Try beta testing WADs before uploading them, please. It makes my job less painful.
Death of An Emo - Wills
ZDoom - Solo Play - 114kb
Reviewed by Hobbs:
I'm just going to tell you what happens in this wad so you don't have to waste those 2 minutes of your life. The latest jokewad by Wills, this explores an emo in the ZDoom community who commits suicide because nobody likes him. The gameplay revolves around you deciding how you want to kill yourself, be it by shotgun, sleeping pills, or out the window. If you like playing 2-minute interactive cutscenes, this is for you. Otherwise, it's junk.
Gamarra's story: Part VIII "Questions in front of a mirror" - Giulio Galassi
ZDoom - SP - 57kb -
Reviewed by Whiteboy567: (note by deathz0r: holy fucking shit tl;dr)
A typical idling session in irc was abruptly stopped when my highlight went off. Deathz0r had asked me to review a wad and gave me a list from where I could pick a lucky winner. While I was unfamiliar with previous installments of the gamarra series, the new "Gamarra8" sounded interesting. I had no idea what I was in for.
I dragged the WAD over to the zdoom.exe, and not a second later, I'm greeted by the crappy MSPAINT job of a title screen. The first five minutes were spent trying to decipher if the wad's title was supposed to be serious or a joke. Once I got bored with that, I started a new game--now we're inside the world of gamarra8...oh boy am I excited! I turned to my left and I got the sub title joke, but there was no laugh. As soon as I start playing, the repetitive texture choices (as well as the excessively random monster placement) became quickly apparent. It was not until I got to a room with more MSPAINT abominations that I noticed different texture usage. These textures had some random trivia that one could hardly give two shits about. I decide to guess and take the right door and notice some lava, so I get ready to run across when I suffer an instant death. Christ Allmighty--I have to start this shit all over again? Awesome!
I repeat the previous steps until I get to the trivia room, but this time I take the left door. I continue on until I get to another room with textures that are filled with foreign pop culture that (yet again) one could not care less about. Only this time with bad Engrish. "Is The Start Of," maybe it's a riddle? "It Is the start of the end?" Your mind wanders off, probably not considering what it is you're supposed to be playing. I decide to take the right path, assuming he might have switched it up this time around.
No such luck.
I die and have to start all over again..Amazing! I again repeat all the previous shit, only this time I decide to take advantage of save states. The diabolical laugh and thoughts begin to roam my mind: "Haha, your tricks can't fuck me over anymore!" After dispatching some Cacos and Barons, I reach the blue key room. I have never experienced nausea in an FPS game, but I guess today was my lucky day. I extend my thanks to you, Giulio Galassi. As previously mentioned, there isn't much variety in anything, so I grab the blue skull key, yellow keycard, and yellow skull key in order to freshen up my experience. I then venture into a pitch black area with spectres. I must admit to having fun chainsawing them. I then grab the red key--Sweet! One more key to go!
Another one of those horrid MSPAINT "puzzle" rooms welcomes me, but this time it asks who wrote some foreign book. Obviously ignorant (read: indifferent) to this particular trivia question, I use my instincts and take the left door, since the previous right doors failed. I walk in and die instantly, but who's laughing now bitch?! I used saves so I just reloaded my game and continued on. Fustrated by this point I just start scrambling for the last key. I begin to avoid monsters because I'm bored. When I finally grabbed that Red Skull Key I could literally hear the "got item" song from Super Metroid playing in my head. I hurry back to that moronic door that asked me for all six keys. I open it up and an army of former humans try to stop me, to no avail--better try harder with Whiteboy, sluts! After that amazing climax we come to the end and what do we get? A couple Cybers that pose no challenge. GG Dood 8) I say. As soon as that intermision screen came up, I discard this piece of shit from my hard drive.
Giulio Galassi: I plead to you...the community pleads to you...Keep your test wads on your hard drive. Thanks.
Whiteboy. (Edited by Chaindude because my grammar sucks)
-Only had to play it once.
-I won a free coffee on my Tim Horton's coffee cup.
Into Sandy's City - Paul Corfiatis
doom2.exe - SP - 36kb -
Reviewed by Hobbs:
This WAD is not sandy, and its not a city. Its also does not resemble Sandy Petersen maps, as these maps play at least 10x worse than they look, and look 10x worse than Sandy Peterson maps. A better name for this wad would be 1994 mapping revisited.
Jakob's War - Ruba
doom2.exe - SP - 36kb -
Reviewed by Hobbs:
I think a partial reason that t/nc exists is to save the common player from all the crap that comes in. And so, here I am to save you by informing you. You fight nazis, and a romero head with a bfg, while looking at random and horrible texturing. Citizens of Doomworld, you have been saved, now go about your business.
Kaneko's Lament - 174-6#-B
doom2.exe - SP/DM - 34kb -
Reviewed by RottKing:
Part single player, part deathmatch, ALL TURD. P.S. what a waste of a good midi.
Super Imps - Ruba
doom2.exe - SP - 6kb -
Reviewed by Tango:
Okay, so I fire up the map and notice that I'm standing in a room plastered with Wolf3D brick walls. Not a good sign. To make things even worse, there's a Nazi, an exit switch, and John Romero on a stick. Don't worry though, it gets even better. Next, I open a door to be greeted by 956 imps and a cyberdemon. I'm sure you can imagine what fun I had after that.
To sum up, this map is utterly stupid and pointless. Don't play this map unless you want to die from cancer.