About nineteen more old WADs for everyone this week, taking us all the way to March of this year. I don't know what else to write for this intro, so just click "More" and start reading the actual reviews, if that's your sort of thing.
From the Ashes of Fear - Rex Claussen
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 697114 bytes
Reviewed by: Traysandor
Here we have a three level mapset that makes use of Map 15 and the two secret maps. The first map is a blast through a techbase, the difficulty starts out easy but gets pretty tough in a hurry. The second map has you blasting through a fortified Nazi castle (without the Nazis), and the third map is a pretty straightforward arena fight with 8 doors to go through (imagine the start room of Doom 2 Map08, but much bigger than that).
Health was a bit of an issue on the first map playing from a pistol start, the second map not as much, and the third map was pretty plentiful with health. Ammo is pretty balanced, you should have enough to deal with the demon population from a pistol start. The difficulty is a bit on the high side for the casual Doomer, but experienced vets shouldn't have too much trouble dealing with these three maps, with the first map being the hardest of the three for the close quarters fights and tight ammo supply.
This wad makes pretty good use of lighting to hide enemies, but the detailing leaves much to be desired. It's passable, but nothing that stands out as worth mentioning. Overall, it's worth a playthrough, but definitely won't be winning any Cacowards anytime soon.
Reloaded - Robby DeCandia -aka: r_rr
GZDoom - Solo Play - 49207 bytes
Reviewed by: GreyGhost
Playing Reloaded was an unusual experience - like wandering around inside a black and white movie that's been partially colourised. Despite being a fairly short map you need all three keys - the first one's for the front door. Overall difficulty would be medium without the shadow cacodemon, Reloaded's custom monster. They're tougher than usual, and with few opportunities to get them infighting, ammo conservation becomes a necessity. Difficulty settings are not implemented, but traps and ambushes are.
The modified palette isn't perfect - two keys are shades of grey and barons are hard to distinguish from knights (barons are paler). On a larger map, the novelty of greyscale would start to wear thin after a while. The search for the red key takes place in one of the maps colourised areas which looked washed-out on my monitor, though the lack of contrast might indicate a problem with my GL settings. I'd recommend this map for a quick blast - it's a small download - but just make sure GZDoom is setup for swimming.
Inhuman Rampage - Aaron
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 76474 bytes -
Reviewed by: GMan
While dated as being from 2008, this map feels considerably older. To be fair, the author does state that this is his first effort, and there are moments during Inhuman Rampage that show promise.
The mapping overall is very basic, and there's nothing but the most bare-bones detailing. One of the biggest issues I have with the map though, is the balancing of ammo and health. In some places there just isn't enough - I've played through this map a few times and I've never had enough ammo to finish off every monster in the map. I suppose this isn't necesarrily a major problem, but it does rather quash any chances of doing a 100% run through the level. With a little more time spent playtesting though, this could easily be sorted.
And there's the issue of the slime maze. Almost pitch black and sorely lacking in ammo, this was by far the most irritating section. It's not that these sorts of mazes can't work, but this particular example is just an annoyance, requiring several attempts - or possibly some blind luck - to get you through.
However, the graveyard room and final battle are tense, tight, and feel edgy without being unduly punishing. It's these two sections that particularly shine through for me, though it isn't quite enough to wholeheartedly recommend the map.
THE DEMON OF THE OPERA - Simon Manton
doom.exe - Solo Play - 69101 bytes -
Reviewed by: StupidBunny
This is a decent map, with a steadily progressive challenge level and an interesting layout concept: it was designed around the template of a theater, complete with stage, orchestral pit, box seating, ticket windows and so forth. The map is dated 1996, and the age is visible in the rather limited decoration and texture misalignments. As a result, the level is visually repetitive in parts, especially with the extensive use of computer wiring and wood floors.
The gameplay is better, although this also gets repetitive after a while. This map handles Doom's limited bestiary fairly well and is well-populated with monsters, which keeps the player more or less engaged throughout the whole thing, but much of the level consists of wandering around lots of similar-looking halls looking for doors which haven't been opened yet, which can get grueling. I've never been a fan of mazes, and although this isn't quite a maze it's a bit repetitive for my tastes.
Overall, I would give this map an average rating: parts of it are really neat, such as the monster count and the stage area, but a lot of it is just too fatiguing and repetitive. Not at all something to avoid, but not anything to go nuts over either.
ENTER IF YOU DARE - Simon Manton
doom.exe - Solo Play - 78179 bytes -
Reviewed by: GreyGhost
[NOTE - if you can't stand under-detailed wads from the mid 90's - skip this review]
Enter if You Dare is a wad from 1996 that's based on a real-world location - the medieval walled town (Ville Close) in the French town of Concarneau. While it's not a bad facsimile, obvious changes have been made in order to accommodate the 200+ hellspawn residing there. Built on a small island, the town is mostly grey brick surrounded by green marble battlements. Apart from the starting point on the docks, the modern town plays no part in this wad and is hidden behind a high vine wall - presumably built by the demons to keep tourists out. The map sits in the unusual slot of E1M5 - possibly for the music track.
Gameplay is non-linear - apart from the order in which keys are collected. The town has plenty of bad guys hoping you'll get careless so they can ruin your day and is littered with ambush points, several of which can be defeated by approaching from the wrong direction. Almost all weapons are available, the BFG can be picked up early once you know where to find it. Difficulty levels are supported.
I couldn't find much to complain about - a pointless secret near the main gate, two monsters stuck in walls, a few texture errors and most of the Barons are confined to platforms. Overall I found this to be a fun map.
DM2EGG.WAD - Gerd Meyer zu Hoerste
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 81350 bytes -
Reviewed by: myk
This is a WAD from early '96 salvaged by RL. Gerd, the author, states he was the best deathmatcher in the area back then, and at least it's clear he was fond of challenges, as while the level may not be particularly exceptional in how it looks, it does show attention to enemy placement and balance. In general it's themed with green marble block texturing, with some distinct well-defined side areas using wood or irregular mossy stones (to name a couple), offering a roughly "Gothic" setting in general. There aren't really large amounts of enemies, but they are usually placed in non-trivial locations, using convenient positioning, ledges, traps, or shadows to enhance their effectiveness in attacking the player. A couple of places can be deadly, especially till the player familiarizes himself with the areas, and mostly nearing the end. The spacious Egg itself (as described by Gerd) can be dangerous too, as it exposes the player to attacks from to and fro. Various sections are pretty large, but the level can be traversed relatively fast for its size, and due to enemy placement and the presence of hazardous fluids may be easier while breezing through than when making sure every monster is killed. Various powerups and a surplus of ammo do ease the task a good deal, though. If you like old-fashioned levels with something of a challenge, you should find "DOOM II: Egg" decent, as I did. Talking about eggs, there's an easter one at a certain point (I won't spoil it completely, though). The ZIP archive also contains a v1.666 demo of the level, presumably recorded by the author, as a walkthrough. To watch it use v1.666, a PrBoom engine, or edit the demo header appropriately (to make it for v1.9). The demo itself is somewhat slow, but shows that with enough caution the level can be done max-style by a keyboard-only player without quick movement skills.
The Citadel - Max Parokonny
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 119608 bytes -
Reviewed by: Creaphis
Here's another one of those '95 wads that only just made it to /newstuff. It's old, but it certainly isn't obsolete. Despite the limitations of the era (the level author praises DEEP as the best Doom editor around), the level looks very good in a classic way - it looks like a Doom 2 level would if the makers of that fine game had a little bit more time to practice putting levels together. Gameplay-wise, it feels like a Doom 1 pwad at first, as all monsters in the large external area are former humans, shotgunners and imps. The player will need to use cover effectively to avoid being eaten away by hitscan attacks. Inside the castle area, the player will remember that he's playing a Doom 2 wad as larger monsters start to be unleashed on the player via well-designed traps. The level is a fun and not frustrating challenge on UV, and is made easier by finding the advanced weapons in secret areas. Several of ID's classic level constructs make an appearance; namely, the room-full-of-square-sectors-that-rise-and-fall-for-no-reason, and the crooked-balance-beam-above-a-damaging-floor. 100% secrets seems to only be possible if you remove unused sectors in an editor. Recommended.
Demon Asylum - Jaime Fields
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 48395 bytes
Reviewed by: Traysandor
You're not really missing much here. A pretty bland 5 minute run-through of a single level that definitely smells like copy-and-paste, a nukage maze that doesn't hurt you, and lava pits placed in pitch black areas that DO hurt. Too much ammo laying around too. Avoid.
Anvil 2 - Mobile Nukage Research Lab - Stefan Setchell
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 160686 bytes -
Reviewed by: hardcore_gamer
This map is suppose to be from 1995, but it's not a very good one!
The layout is bad and confusing, and it left me running around in circles trying to figure out what I am suppose to do/go to. The layout is just an ugly mess (see screenshots).
The gameplay is not very good either, enemies just pop up all of a sudden, giving the player little chance to react (some people might find that to be the hardest part of the map), and the fighting is not very fun since the stupid layout and architecture keep getting in your way (like tight or cramped places where you can't really doge or strafe, for example). The only good thing is that there seems to be enough health and ammo on the map.
Unless you just can't live without playing more Doom 2, skip this one.
The Field - Carlos Richards
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 420790 bytes
Reviewed by: Cutman
I think it's ironic that I stumbled across this one. It's essentially the exact same thing as a joke wad I previously created called "Face your fears". You start in a small house of some kind with a very open and dark field. The automap doesn't show much other than the fact there's a 0/0 monster count... You can probably guess what happens next. Play it once if you're interested in this "scary wad" thing that's going on and then shut it off, because it's impossible to kill the thing that appears (it has 100000000 health points).
Star Trek Sounds - CHPAlert
n/a - n/a - 480404 bytes
Reviewed by: StupidBunny
When I saw the title for this, I had hoped that it would be sounds from the OLD Star Trek, because at least that way there was a chance it would have been funny. Unfortunately, as it stands this really isn't very exciting; it replaces the sounds for some of the monsters and weapons (but not all) with random and obscure sound clips from TNG. Most of them cut off in mid-sentence and have nothing to do with whatever they tie with. Worst of all, it did not even try to work in "THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS," so all in all it was a horrible waste of my time. Don't bother.
bsdmidi - Simon Howard (fraggle)
n/a - n/a - 12832 bytes
Reviewed by: myk
This is the source code Simon wrote to produce a non-proprietary GENMIDI lump from the instruments information used in the OPL MIDI driver from OpenBSD. It was prepared for Freedoom, which needed a free GENMIDI lump for engines supporting OPL music playback (such as the original executables, CDoom, and so on).
A crate of pickles - PUN1SH3R
Skulltag - Deathmatch - 24921 bytes -
Reviewed by: The Green Herring
It's a novelty skin which is exactly what the title says. And not only is it small, but it faces only one direction, so nobody can tell where you're aiming. I guess if you like fragging people as a pickle box that glides across the floor, this will be right up your alley. At least the sprite's edited well.
Deus Vult II - Doom Marine
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 79416381 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
Deus Vult II is a highly anticipated 32 map megawad (really 13 maps when you subtract the "skip map" levels.) The maps are all made in Boom format, but are meant to be played with newer less-limiting ports, due to their size, and the amount of things in them. The megawad features tons of new graphics, a couple of monster replacements, a couple of new weapons, and new music (which consists mostly of mp3s.) Does the megawad live up to the hype? Here is my take:
The architecture: This, in my opinion, is probably the best point of the wad. The architecture in the maps is designed on a large-scale, which can really make you feel small sometimes. You usually find yourself ascending in a map as you progress. Themes vary greatly. The first couple of maps have a general tech-base theme, but soon after the theme changes from oriental, greenish castles, Vrack-style, egyptian, hellish, and even heaven. A lot of neat design tricks are used in the maps, my favorites being in map 19 "Stargate" which makes some very creative use of Boom's animdefs and scrolling textures. There are also numerous easter eggs to be found in the wad. The only downside I can find is that the maps may cause some lag on older machines, but most of you probably have machines that can handle these maps in this day and age.
The gameplay: Hard. Very hard. I died many, many, times. Difficulty is actually pretty moderate in the beginning, where you mostly face large groups of weaker enemies, with generous amounts of barrels occasionally placed about, but as you get further and further, the odds against you start increasing greatly. You have to be a real hardcore player by the time you reach the hellish maps. However, if you choose your fights wisely, you will find that you should have enough firepower to make it through in one piece. I admit, I am not the best at dodging twenty revenant fireballs, so I may have gotten a bit frustrated at times after re-loading a saved game for the billionth time, but in the end, I must say that the mapset was pretty enjoyable.
Overall: Many of you may have already played this. If you haven't, I would recommend you go do that when you find the time. This can be a very fun wad if you're a hardcore doomer, but if you suck at Doom like me, you can at least admire the prettiness of the levels, and the obvious effort that went into them.
Simply Dead - Ruba
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 7618 bytes -
Reviewed by: Csonicgo
Oh boy! Another Ruba WAD! I just love reviewing these things. I've always been a sort of a masochist.
It took me 2 minutes to beat this, maybe less. I don't think I've ever seen such a horrible use of textures. Aesthetically, it sucks. Gameplay wise, it... it isn't enough. It feels like a test level.
I don't want to board the Ruba Hatewagon, but Ruba doesn't seem to be getting the message. He needs to learn to put more effort into his maps.
RUBA, if you read these reviews, read THIS : 1 hour 8 minutes build time? after what I've seen in speedmapping competitions and 32in24 crunch-a-thons, it seems like you put no effort into this. How about connecting all your crazy maps together as one big map, or even better, go through and fix the problems of your last WADs, add more content, and try to gain a good reputation?
There's just too little here to enjoy. Commander Keens, powerups out the arse, and a cyberdemon I didn't even have to fight to beat the map - makes me give this a big thumbs down. I want my 2 minutes back, Ruba!
Alpha Map - Maarten Pinxten
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 179222 bytes -
Reviewed by: StupidBunny
This was an excellent map. It was very much in the Doom II style, with lots of stone and metal architecture and big pits and open outdoor spaces. While I generally don't prefer this look, this was executed well enough, and with enough variation in architecture and texturing, to make it fun.
The best part of the map, though, was the puzzles, which met that nice balance of being challenging without leaving the player completely lost/annoyed. I never really felt the sense of not knowing what to do, which leads to prolonged wandering and is very unpleasant. The nice thing about all the progression of the level is that it took place over a relatively small area; the map doesn't cover a very large area, but there's quite a lot of back-and-forth action as new passages and such open up.
In terms of the enemies, this map had a nice balance, and provided a good challenge without being insane. I was caught by surprise a couple of times by a revenant or chaingunner appearing out of nowhere, which is always awesome. Most of the enemies are small fare--they rarely get much more challenging than a few mancubuses--but they're placed in such a way and/or in enough numbers that they are quite formidable. If one prefers lots of battles with big impressive things then they might not enjoy this aspect quite so much, but I personally prefer the kind of gameplay here.
In all, I would definitely recommend this for download. Even if one doesn't like Doom II architecture or the "shoot-n-run" style of gameplay, this will still be a good fun map.
Hellward Bound - Keegan Covey (StupidBunny)
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 699363 bytes -
Reviewed by: LordK
Hellward Bound feels like a level from the early Doom days. It has all the trappings of those old levels: cramped quarters, odd texturing, poor lighting, illogical level progression, low detail and nonsensical architecture. The only thing modern about this level is its length and monster count (over 600 in UV). It's not a terrible level; it has no glaring errors and it gets a bit better towards the end, but its length works against it and I wouldn't recommend it, unless you're bored.
The Hel Caves - Ruba
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 23594 bytes -
Reviewed by: Nuxius
A hell cave (heh) with a megasphere and two backpacks every 10 feet or so to ensure there is no challenge whatsoever. Avoid.
The City of Great Gattle - Ruba
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 40079 bytes -
Reviewed by: Nuxius
Four copy and paste buildings housing switches that open the way to the exit. And that's it. Well O.K., it also has a poorly recolored Doom II cityscape sky and those aforementioned switches open up a monster pen as well, which coincidentally is the maps secret area. Don't ask. And don't play, for that matter.