After the last two weeks, I've realized that we may never get caught up by only posting about a dozen old WADs at a time, so here's a few more than that, ranging from last year to this year (December to January). There are some older ones that still need to be reviewed, so if you want to help, as always, see the bottom of this article.
A DARK PLACE - Sam Stackhouse
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 138610 bytes -
Reviewed by: LordK
A dark place is Sam Stackhouse's first level and it's a fairly good one at that. The level reminded me of Malcolm Sailor's Chord series. It's dark, small and difficult. It pits you against hard enemies in tight spaces from the very beginning. Ammo is tight throughout the level. Even though gameplay is king here, the looks are decent enough. The level is pretty short and the ending is a little abrupt, but otherwise this is a fun ride and a recommended play.
Vermilion - Robby DeCandia aka: r_rr
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 311865 bytes -
Reviewed by: Edward850
There are many things that annoy me. Random use of the icon of sin boss, annoying/useless/annoyingly useless cut scenes, and wads that look like the maker just found out about ZDoom and did whatever they could to use stuff from it and upload the wad to /idgames thinking it's cool.
Today is my lucky day, because all three are shown in this wad. The detail needs to be improved (however not all that bad, I have seen worse), there are useless cut scenes placed everywhere, and for some odd reason, the mapper tries to make the player scared using random messages such as "Your soul will soon fall into the stone pit of sins" (which sounds kind of stupid, mind you). The mapper also added random sounds to the SSG and other things, and made us use a BEX file for some odd reason.
Now, I can't completely complain about this wad. The mapper has tried to be creative, and the use of ACS isn't completely bad, but I honestly think that he or she could try and look at other ZDoom wads to see how ZDoom should be used, not abused.
Demon Aquarium V1.2 - Stephen Whittaker
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 36734 bytes -
Reviewed by: master lockwolf
The map description says "Your in a marble tank with lots of demons." One thing to point out is that it doesn't say anything about there being any weapons or health. I found myself battling the first half of the map with a shotgun and 7 rockets which went pretty quickly to deal with the 4 barons of hell, a cyberdemon and many other smaller baddies that would waste a lot of my ammo and time. The detailing is very bland and is full of "marble" as the description kindly points out.
If you're a fan of undetailed map with tight corridors, lots of monsters and nothing in the way of weapons, this map is for you. Otherwise, don't waste your time!
Eclipse - Axel
GZDoom - n/a - 2645860 bytes -
Reviewed by: GreyGhost
Eclipse is a weapon, monster and engine mod specifically for GzDoom. The monsters are from a Doom 64 TC and there are some Hexen sprites that don't appear to serve any purpose - they're neither new or original so I'll ignore them - that leaves the weapons, armour and engine mods.
Let's start with the weapons - listed by slot number.
1 - C-616 Beam-Sword. It's a stealth weapon - looks dumb but works well.
2 - Handgun. Fires standard or dum-dum rounds and ejects casings. Can be upgraded to auto-fire.
3 - Tactical 12-Gauge/Sawn-Off Shotgun. The 12-Gauge is hopeless at medium range or beyond until it's upgraded, the Sawn-Off - on the other hand - is very powerful. Two or three volleys will drop a Baron.
4 - Ice Shard Cannon/Cerberus Blaster. Ying/yang weapons - one cuts enemies down with a hail of ice, the other incinerates them. While ome monsters are immune to Cerberus fire the Ice Cannon made short work of everything I used it on.
5 - Missile Launcher. Same old graphics - fires standard or homing missiles.
6 - Matter Accelerator Cannon. Same old graphics - fires a six-shot burst or one big blast.
7 - BFG 3.14. Same old graphics - now occupies more of the screen.
There are four types of armour (two are dropped by monsters) with different levels of protection and special bonuses. Unfortunately only one bonus is active at any time. The Icarus Armour flight bonus can carry over to the next map.
Engine mods I noticed include animated clouds, crosshairs for each weapon (except the sword naturally) and more ammo counters.
Eclipse isn't without it's problems. A maximum-sized screen is needed to see the crosshairs and display the new ammo counters properly. The crosshairs - once visible - also show on the automap. Several weapons and ammo pick-ups have shrunk, I sometimes had problems spotting/identifying them. The Soul Sphere is now just an ornament.
The main issue I have with Eclipse are the new weapon sprites. Compared to the originals they are under-detailed, unconvincing and several occupy more of the screen than I like. With a bit more work this could be a good mod - as it stands I can't recommend it.
13 years of Doom - Various
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 733882 bytes -
Reviewed by: Edward850
This wad seems a bit late don't you think? (Ed: No, it was uploaded on December 26.) But the wad itself makes up for this. I really can't think of any criticism for this wad, which rather surprises me. This wad is perfect.
The text file says that you're playing through letters, but what I didn't expect is more then that. The letters are a gimmick, because each part of the level is far bigger then the letter itself, using some rather cleaver Automap tricks to portray this.
I'm rather impressed with the puzzles with this, they get a bit confusing at times but you can never get easily lost. They work well with the game play and there's nothing all that confusing.
The detail is brilliant. For this kind of wad, it's differently visually appealing.
The battles are tricky and you will need some skill to prevail. These will differently get harder as time goes on, and it gets very tricky at the first O.
This wad provides at least 30 minutes of game play so it's well worth the play. In fact, I recommend you to play this wad right now.
Freedom Fighters - Walter "Daimon" Confalonieri
Limit Removing - Deathmatch - 860993 bytes -
Reviewed by: magicsofa
Here we have six decent deathmatch levels. I would recommend playing with at least six players, excepting map02, because they tend to be somewhat large.
The first map is by far the worst, and it's surprising that it is included. It's basically a huge cave which isn't unpleasant to look at but provides lacking gameplay. It is so open that I can only see this map being fun at 16+ players.
The second map also stands out for being the smallest. But even while going against the trend of the other five maps, it's a lot of chaotic fun, as well as being well-detailed.
Map03 was odd. I wouldn't call it a particularly bad map, but it wasn't as action-packed as map02 and the following three. I do like those weird things sticking out of the water :P
Number four is one of the best. It has a nice layout, good spatial balance, and pleasing visual scheme.
Five is once again too wide open and bland.
The last map is a plasma fest, which not everyone appreciates, but the layout certainly works with the weapon choices. It also has some awesomely corny techno music, which not everyone appreciates (but you should).
Overall, this mapset shows a lot of potential. The author talked about making a sequel if it got a good response, but I say make a sequel anyway! Actually no, what I really say is this: Make a new edition. Keep map02 and map04. Get rid of the rest. Those are the really solid maps, and I would enjoy playing them online, but it would be great to see more in the same vein.
LightDasher - Light Dasher
Skulltag - Deathmatch - 188098 bytes -
Reviewed by: The Green Herring
Apparently a Sonic Robo Blast 2 fan's personal Skulltag skin. Internally, the author used RottKing's Jon skin as the base; it uses the same name for the sprites, and even the same gib sound! The skin itself is a white, cross-eyed, Sonic-style hedgehog in a jacket (which can be recolored,) shirt, and pants with a handgun. He floats motionlessly through the air, and has only one real death animation, in which he fades away, briefly breaking up (as if he were a digital being) as he does so. His gib animation uses the same frames, only he breaks up twice before vanishing. To the author's credit, not only are the sprites original (or at least don't appear to be based on anything,) they're pretty decent, too. If you want a Sonic skin that isn't Sonic or any of his friends for whatever reason, and don't mind playing as somebody else's avatar, this could be just what you want.
No Relief - Pat Tyson
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 275410 bytes -
Reviewed by: myk
This "mini-episode" of four levels seemed somewhat annoying in certain parts, which is what may have made some previous review attempts end up being relinquished or expired. It starts in E2M4 with a tech base level with relatively tight gameplay. Health is not very abundant (although not too tight) and there are a good number of zombiemen and shotgun guys in it, which may catch you in crossfire situations, and lighting varies considerably, including some relatively dark areas. Still, it is a "moody" level, because of the music, the lighting and the general texture usage, and it does become fun to play through eventually because of the decent opposition. It also shows, however, that unlike the text file says, the WAD is best played using something with some limit removal, as the game may terminate due to a VPO looking out towards the courtyard beyond the chaingun. Doom95 will not close in that area, but will instead display some HOMs. There are a couple of additional problems of lesser importance; the chaingun area mentioned previously has some tutti frutti effects on the stairs, and it is possible (but unlikely) to get stuck in the room holding the blue key.
The second level, E2M5, has more varied (and sometimes sloppier) texture usage, using green marble and wood areas with a more demonic styling as well as UAC base sections (resulting in something less attractive than the previous level), and offers a somewhat less demanding opposition but also a more complicated progression. The keys are relatively hard to get (I even skipped the blue key by using an unexpected trick, and if you ask me how to get it, I still don't know), and you can get stuck in the outer area with the large pool, either in the pool itself, or on the lift mechanisms on either side of the area (if they are deactivated). The level also includes a maze of sorts, to add insult to injury after you've spent a good deal of tome finding how to get the necessary keys (or how to ignore them), but at least doesn't hide the secret exit in a very arcane way, so it is not hard to reach E2M9.
The secret level is military base styled, and offers straightforward action, but does not last very long. Near the end there's a fight against a good number of opponents, although there is a lot of space to maneuver in, which makes it pretty easy. Only the rising pit with monsters in it is more clearly dangerous, but not excessively so. An issue occurred during my first session in the level, where the pit did not rise when I jumped into it, so I was stuck once I finished the monsters off. A switch to lift it within the pit would have been optimal, as linedefs can sometimes fail to trigger when you walk over them.
The last level, E2M6, is again of the more demonic variety, using green marble and fleshy textures once more to this effect. It feels perhaps a bit more challenging than the previous two levels and, like E2M5, does not have a very intuitive progression, if to a lesser degree. I spent a good while locating a couple of switches partly hidden in the shadows, to progress beyond the altar room. I liked the way the area after the red key door needs to be opened, though.
In general it's okay, although the second level kind of ruins things, the various issues mentioned above may put people off, and a progressively steeper challenge all around would have been desirable in the later levels, with a bigger focus on fighting. Aside from glitches that are better off fixed (especially the ones that allow the player to get stuck), I have the impression that the first level promised more than the later ones provided.
Sphagne Elidor Resources - Sphagne
ZDoom Compatible - n/a - 43063188 bytes
Reviewed by: GreyGhost
Sphagne's latest and possibly last contribution to the Doom community are the graphic resources from his unfinished Elidor project. That's over 1,000 textures (many of them hi-res) looking for new homes, plus a demo of the menu system.
Doomguy's pimp ventures III: Cybie Dreams - Randy & Mandy
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 674054 bytes
Reviewed by: Wills
The third installment of the "Doomguy's pimp ventures" series takes place in a rather large, rainbow-soaked field with a grinning, sunglasses-donning sun above. You have to run around and get the keys while being chased by a horde of cyberdemons, who now shoot some kind of love juice instead of rockets. For health you can eat the mushrooms that are scattered everywhere, even underwater. Places to go includes a mountain of cyberdemons, a hotel room (from D's pimp ventures I & II), and a magical pink castle. Pictures of nude cartoonish women are scattered here and there, one of whom apparently has four arms. There's also plenty of imp sex to go around, in both Doomguy and Wolfenstein SS forms. With all the rainbows I thought there might be some gay porn too, but the only thing I found was a cum gun.
The super-bright colors got a little annoying after a while. I also found the electric dildo weapon to be too weak; it's much easier to grab a tub of Vaseline and use your fists instead. I was also disappointed by the lack of fightable enemies - you mostly just dodge cyberdemon love juice, and there are a few jellyfish (and grabbable condoms) in the lake.
Other than that there isn't anything really wrong with the wad. I didn't get lost as often as I thought I would. The wad keeps a constant level of being fairly amusing, which I guess is better than being funny occasionally and lame the rest of the time. Certainly not a keeper, but good to waste ten minutes or so.
WolfenDoomed - Paul Corfiatis
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 367362 bytes -
Reviewed by: Edward850
As a general rule, you can't remake one game to another, without using the features from the new port to add to the remake, and this wad is no exception to the rule.
Basically, you play through remakes of Doom levels in a Wolfenstein styled wad in Doom. Strange isn't it? To add to that, you would expect new resources, but there's nothing new apart from the maps.
The concept is rather flawed, because then we basically get the same kind of map repeatedly throughout the whole damn wad, without seeing anything new being added, so all we get to do is blow through Nazis. The mapper should have thought about it, because then we are faced with demons from time-to-time, and that's rather out of place. Who wants to face a Baron of Hell in a Wolfenstein themed map/wad?
The maps are just as bad. Every single map is 128x128 blocky madness using only the Wolfenstein textures in Doom 2, just to fit the rest of the theme for this wad. I can't blame the mapper here, sort of, because it does seem to me like a cover up for laziness.
All in all, it's not the wad that's bad, it's the concept. So I would give this a miss, unless you're bored and have nothing else to do.
Valleys of Bereavement - Sausage
GZDoom - Solo Play - 1031977 bytes -
Reviewed by: MasterOfPuppets
Many aspects of this short single-player level seem to showcase the author's experimentation with GZDoom features - and to a nice effect.
You start off in a cave surrounded by stalactites/stalagmites, lit with an eerie orange glow. Right away you know that this map isn't building upon Doom's architectural traditions. As you emerge from the cave, you'll immediately notice the sloped landscape across the valley from your perch. I really liked this particular vista, it reminded me more of Half-Life era landscapes than Doom. The new rock textures helped with this, of course. While the layout is nice and technically admirable, it isn't beautiful. The valley floor is bare and boring, and the highest peak of the level affords the player an opportunity to look back and see a column of sky cutting down through the horizon. The new textures are nice, but sometimes in bad combinations with each other or stock textures. The level never does completely shake the aura of experimentation also, which lends some lenience to the aforementioned flaws, but also mires the whole map with a feel of being unfinished.
In the game play department, Valleys of Bereavement is merely acceptable. You will be challenged sufficiently, but frustrated with a lack of ammo - so make use of monster in-fighting. For the most part this is a straight-forward slaughter, but the nicely done ambushes will deliver you some interesting battles.
In short, I would recommend this level on its architectural merit. It's not amazing, but it showcases some very nice ideas.
PUTRICE - Howard Baumgardner
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 151369 bytes -
Reviewed by: myk
This is Howard's first release, although according to the text file he's mapped for Duke Nukem 3D beforehand. The single player level included does show competence in the general architectural design, as it manages to deliver a relatively grand atmosphere by using comparatively simple structures to produce expansive areas, starting you off in an interior area surrounded by lava from where you must fight your way out into a landscape specked with monsters. The overall result is old fashioned, decent and more or less non-linear, and if the level has any weaknesses, it's that, while apparently formidable under a first impression, the challenge wears thin as you progress, mostly because the more challenging monsters are placed peripherally, so you can take them out from safe positions within the main structures (either the initial brown stone and brick fortification or more so the wooden interior of the rocky "Parthenon" after the wood and stone bridge) while they in-fight or wait for you, or otherwise you have a lot of space to maneuver in. There are some occasions that can be trickier, such as a trap by barons of hell or moments of crossfire, but nothing an experienced Doomer can't scrape away from in triumph. There is also plenty ammunition and weaponry, which makes things easier, even starting you off with the SSG. One thing that weakens the opposition further is the placement of many lost souls at the end, rendering a hapless pain elemental totally powerless in any engine (or setting) not removing the lost soul limit. A different issue is that it does not specify whether you require an executable with raised limits, yet it does (due to various VPO opportunities). It does however at least state that it was tested only with ZDoom (not that there are any "ZDoomisms" or the like), which should make those attempting to use Doom2 or Chocolate Doom wary. An okay start at DOOM II mapping, worthy at least for having a quick blast-through, but nothing to go brag to your sweet momma about.
Eternal DOOM IV: Return from Oblivion - TeamTNT
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 16182818 bytes -
Reviewed by: Creaphis
So, it turns out that Team TNT is still alive and kicking, and has released this demo of seven maps for their next megawad project. This is old news of course; I'm sure everyone reading this played this demo months ago. But, if you're a fan of Eternal Doom III, and if by some bizarre circumstance you haven't already heard of this project, then you're in luck! The tradition of massive, sprawling, puzzling, and gorgeous levels has been continued, and now seamlessly adds the abilities of ZDoom.
But, be warned: these maps make Eternal Doom III look like Scythe.
As if one of these maps isn't big enough alone, Rex Claussen built his three maps (8 to 10) into an interconnected hub. These maps are loaded with vast, tall, beautiful spaces; in fact, the small rooms and tight hallways are exceptions to the rule. Slopes have been integrated well into every room and archway - there's hardly any post-and-lintel construction to be seen. But, complaints can be (and have been) raised. The gameplay seems to be an afterthought at times, as the architectural shapes tend to repeat themselves, and they rarely add much to the specific fights. Many areas are spookily devoid of monsters - this isn't necessarily bad, but certainly isn't the gameplay that we're used to. When I see a nice room, I expect that I'll get to have a nice fight in it. Also, the extreme non-linearity of this hub system forces Rex to give up the architectural goods too early. That doesn't make sense, but let me explain: the first areas that the player sees are already about as epic in size and scope as any areas in the whole hub, so the later areas never really outdo the first. It won't take too long for you to stop gasping in amazement.
Chris Couleur's maps, 11-13, look and play the most like classic maps from Eternal Doom III. In fact, the maps revisit and expand some old environments - map 11 has the same beginning as map 9 in its predecessor, but the old house has some nice new siding and some very extensive additions. Instead of heavy use of slopes, stacked sectors, and vistas that would utterly destroy any rendering limit, these maps make more use of the classic textures and sprites from retres.wad. Expect to see brown stone blocks stacked in large and illogical shapes, rectangular cathedrals, and the gameplay that you know and love - if you know and love eternall.wad. These are also the longest maps in the set (or the most time-consuming, if your glass is half-empty).
Esa 'Espi' Repo's map 27 is generally lauded as the best of the set, and I have to agree. I just recently finished Eternal Doom III, and to be honest, it burnt me out on massive puzzling non-linearity - but Espi's map, while being very non-linear and very large, feels more accessible and less overwhelming. The architecture, instead of being a series of grand structures, is a single colossal fortress. Slopes and stacked sectors are used to amazing effect to create a structure that actually seems to be built out of metal and stone instead of assembled in Doom Builder. Every area is a unique shape and style, yet they all feel perfectly unified. Care has been put into making enjoyable fights and traps (though you may find yourself burst-firing distant monsters with your chaingun more than you really want to). The puzzles require careful observation, but once you've finished exploring an area, you shouldn't have to return to it, and traveling across the map is easy - a refreshing change from the later levels in Eternal Doom III. And, unlike Rex's maps, this one will keep you gasping in amazement.
If you liked eternall.wad, you'll love this. If you're not sure whether this is your sort of thing or not, then load up map 27 first. Remember to take a bathroom break before you start. And you may want to play some Scythe between levels to cool down.
Zharkov Goes to the Store - Xaser, "The Conqueror"
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 4681417 bytes
Reviewed by: Wills
I've always been a fan of Xaser's weird sense of humor, so I was glad to pick up Zharkov Goes To The Store. This is simply a weapons and sound replacement, so the "Zharkov going to the store to get something to eat" story is explained mostly in the textfile through quotes from Zharkov. The Copyright/Permissions section especially amused me. The intermission texts and level names ("Store Parking Lot", "This Ain't Kansas", etc.) have also been changed, which convey a vague sense of progression through the storyline. But really, who plays a Xaser wad for the plot?
The majority of sounds have been replaced by voice-acting from Xaser and random snippets from other sources, which really helps with the silly atmosphere. Then there are the weapons, which feature some very nice DECORATE coding. But I hardly know DECORATE, so pretty much anything impresses me. Every weapon has an alternate fire, which ranges from useful (the Freezer's is a punch, which helps to break apart frozen enemies without having to switch weapons) to strange (the Uzey's is a chainsaw that is somehow attached to the gun) to unspeakably awesome (the fist... won't ruin it for you). The weapons are all more powerful than their Doom counterparts, which makes gameplay somewhat easy but which I imagine would come in handy for tougher wads.
For people who really like Xaser's brand of bizarre/random humor this is a must-play. I would recommend downloading it even if you don't like "jokewads", just to check out some of the weapon coding. Overall an excellent release.
Yaggie - Ruba
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 31683 bytes -
Reviewed by: master lockwolf
Yaggie is a low detail plasma whorefest built in "10 minutes or so". For a map built in "10 minutes or so" its actually semi-decent. Though you are basically blasting a lot of easy creatures with a plasma, there is a little bit of eye candy every now and then.
Dual MAC-10 Ingrams - Grapefruit66
Limit Removing - n/a - 9106 bytes
Reviewed by: TheDarkArchon
Replaces the chaingun with a pair of crappy looking MAC-10s. Avoid.
Doom 3 Hellknight - Grapefruit66
Limit Removing - n/a - 33308 bytes -
Reviewed by: master lockwolf
First off, let me say that it is not a Hellknight, it is a Former Human replacement to make it look like a woman. It looks to me like he spent 5 minutes in paint adding black to the hair. A waste of a download.
Doom 3 Imp - Grapefruit66
Limit Removing - n/a - 41130 bytes -
Reviewed by: master lockwolf
A replacement to make the imp look like the Doom 3 imp. The only thing that looks like the Doom 3 imp is the eyes. Don't waste your time.