A slightly smaller chronicles this time, as there isn't such a huge backlog of WADs needing to be reviewed any longer. They always keep coming, though, and I'm sure you guys will get right on that. Right?
Unknown Project - Morbid DooMer
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 268906 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is a 2-map set for Doom 2. It's apparently designed for Doom 95, but it works fine under doom2.exe. The maps are a bit short, but very challenging. You can definitely tell a lot of thought and attention was put into the gameplay and scenarios the player is placed in. The map layout is well designed with lots of interesting stuff going on. It's a blast to play, and getting through on UV without dying will take more than a few runs! It's a good thing the author decided to release this, as it would be a shame if it was unknown forever. Definitely check this one out!
The Way of Illumination - JS
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 83237 bytes -
Reviewed by: prdarkfox
I know it was made recently, but it really feels like it was made thirteen years ago. The map layout overall is very uninteresting, except there's this one room with the swastikas. I had no idea that the gimmick of rooms in the shape of something were still around. Couple that with the random mix of SS guards and it's overall just a mess.
At least ammo and health were balanced, but the fights were not grabbing enough.
I didn't like this. Don't try it even if you're bored.
SMEDLEY - TimeOfDeath (Chris Balch)
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 2493593 bytes
Reviewed by: prdarkfox
A loose remake of Entryway from Doom II in layout only, featuring exclusively Quake textures, and Alien Vendetta-styled gameplay. Obviously the combat is fast, furious, and murderous, but if each battle is taken in chunks and not all at once this really is a walk in the park. The BFG will probably be your best friend here so long as you take smart cover.
Considering what you're up against in the beginning, it was probably smart that you get to practically start with an entire arsenal of weapons and ammo, as well as 200/200 health and armor. Because you will end up facing some of the nastiest battles especially early on.
I was however disappointed to find that you only need probably 25% kills (this is still roughly 250 monsters) to complete this. A side room netted me an additional 25% but I was still let down at the absolute minimum this had to be completed.
If you love AV or HR I would certainly recommend this, but otherwise I really don't think you're missing anything.
Grid 32 - Guest, Shadowman, Wraith
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 1286947 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is a 6-level set for Doom 2. The gimmick with this mapset is ... all the maps were made with the grid size set to 32. Wow. All maps were played on UV, from a pistol start.
Level 1 is a dark forest, with a lot of trees. And I mean A LOT - enough to slow down the frame rate my fairly beefy PC (Athlon X2 4200+). There's only a handful of monsters, mostly imps that you can shoot through the trees ... if you can find them. It's tough to see even the trees in front of your face. I should also mention the entire map is set to 'Hidden', so the automap is useless. It's easy to get lost, since there are no real landmarks and everything is too dark to see well. Ammo is also extremely tight.
Level 2 is a tech base where the map is shaped like a giant spider of some sort. There's not much detail, but the layout is still interesting enough. The style reminds me of maps from Doom Episode 2. Gameplay is pretty straightforward, with ammo being the biggest factor. You need to save every bit you can find.
Level 3 is a dark, underground sewer. The author of this map apparently took 'grid 32' a bit too literally. There's not a single non-90° wall in the entire map. Most of the map layout is pretty boring as well, almost no height variation. It's hard to tell one area from another. It's almost like a Wolf 3D map ... except really dark. Most of the fights aren't too interesting, but it's tight on health, so be careful.
Level 4 is a large and very challenging underground mine. Lots of caves, lava and chaingunners. There are a few 3D bridges, but they don't add much to the gameplay as they are all over pits of lava you wouldn't want to be running under to begin with. It is murderously low on health, to the point where you'll be lucky if you see a single stimpack lying around. The chaingunners that slowly chip your health away don't help very much either. There are huge, wide-open rooms that just looking into will get chaingunners firing on you. I'd say this is the best map in the set, but the lack of health really kills it. If you want to beat this one without save/loading all over the place, be prepared to memorize the entire thing.
Level 5 is a plain ol' techbase. It's definitely one of the better maps in the set, if only because it's not really low on health and has a decent layout. Play this map if anything.
Level 6 is by far the biggest map in the set. Unfortunately, it's another 90° angle fest ... like Level 3, except much, much larger. Anyone who can play through this whole thing without going nuts from how same-y it is deserves a medal. I got halfway through, used the Minimap display cheat, and just gave up. Oh well.
Overall most maps in this set are promising, but there's something wierd or meh about them that brings it down. I'd recommend it if you don't mind maps that are a little on the plain and simple side.
The Hidden Warehouse - Joe Kaminski
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 73673 bytes -
Reviewed by: Remiel
An old map, thereabouts of '96-'97 in origin according to the person who recovered it. The second room in the map has a small array of crates, more like a crate path rather than a crate maze, although very shortly after entering, the player rides a crate elevator to the top of the maze, gunning down enemies as he maneuvers from crate to crate. It's a very nice start, especially for such an early map.
From there on out, though, the map becomes less interesting, instead opting to be interesting in a slightly antagonistic manner. There's a death trap; having the audacity to hit the wrong side of a pillar with four switches in a room towards the middle of the map makes most of the room's ceiling into a crusher. As well, unfortunately, the player will be banging on the walls a lot, as from as early as the crate room at the start a lot of the doors that get him further in the level don't actually have door textures. At least, most are misaligned, or textured differently than the walls around them, but there are some that aren't, resulting in confusion. There are also a couple of weird doors and small spaces inside sets of bars that the player can simply walk right through.
This map follows what seems for all intents and purposes to be a formula for its author, regarding gameplay and the like. The encounters and item placement are good, and the layout is cramped in parts but succeeds in being functional. The map gives the player enough ammo to use whatever the hell he wants; even the BFG9000, really, considering how many cell packs there are throughout the map. Overall a solid work from '97 (Or '96, or whatever.), though Water Reclaimation Facility and Hell's Mine of Saturn were instances of better from Mr. Kaminski. ...Not to say that that makes this map one you wouldn't want to play.
Ode to M.C. Escher - Cary Maucere
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 77912 bytes
Reviewed by: Ed
Maurits Escher was one of the early founders of the modern-surrealist art movement that currently dominates the decor of Dave Matthews tribute band's jam-spaces world wide. This map however, has little to do with the Dutch artist. Instead you will find a dank, dimly lit catacomb, rich with claustrophobic halls that bend and twist like tangled arteries.
This map will not consume a large portion of your time. I managed to breeze through on Ultra-Violence in under 8 minutes. It seems this would be better off in a set rather than standalone. The amount of health and ammo provided a relaxed playing experience, being provided with Med Packs and an infinite amount of shells at any given moment. The amount of sergeants paired with the low-level lighting can be a bit pesky, but with each room you're welcomed with storage spaces stocked with health and ammo as if you were taking on a small pack of cyber-demons.
The detail level is a bit middle of the road; I didn't find the design displeasing to the eye, nor did I find myself ogling over anything specific. The exit came a bit sooner than expected, leaving me feeling a bit underwhelmed. There's certainly nothing here to cry home about. It's a fun little map from 97, reminiscent of TNT or the original Doom 2 levels.
The Water Reclaimation Facility - Joe Kaminski
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 87944 bytes -
Reviewed by: Remiel
A single map belonging to the early part of 1997. The gameplay is steady enough, with no difficulty settings - the map sits at a roughly HMP-level... level. There are two detractions; one being a room with a door-textured switch that triggers a deathtrap to blow the player up using his proximity to a hidden barrel-crusher. It can be survived by running away quickly enough, but on the first playthrough the player won't even know it's a danger until they've already been incinerated, so if you don't save/haven't saved in a while, tough. Secondly, the yellow key, needed to complete the map, is behind a secret wall. At least, to the author's credit, its holding is in plain sight, giving the player an idea of where to look for the wall.
Moving on, the layout is simple and sometimes cramped, but the encounters have actually been built around the space shortages, making it so that they're never a bother to the player. The item placement is competent, though it can sometimes be a little wonky, see: medikit placed on a damaging floor. There's plenty of ammo throughout the level, so players can fight their way from the start to the finish using their favourite weapon.
There's nothing else to say; this is just standard '97 fare (including the instant death trap, hyuk), although it's definitely an all right-enough sort thereof. Worth one's time.
AARGH_2.WAD - Bruce Day and Brian Easton
doom2.exe - Deathmatch - 34472 bytes -
Reviewed by: prdarkfox
Excuse me while I delete this worse-than-Ass 1995 Deathmatch file from my hard drive. However, if I have to say one good thing about it..... uhm..... I got nothing. Save your bandwidth.
THE FRAGPACK- Unbelievable Deathmatch Wads for Doom II - Scott Swigart and Aaron Clutter
doom2.exe - Deathmatch - 119438 bytes
Reviewed by: Black Metal
I hate doing this because the author claimed it was his best work, and he said "He is tired of shitty wads"; not to offend... but these wads aren't good at all. They're probably cool to DM around a bit in, but they don't really hold too much fun. I mean, if he put all the energy from all seven levels into making one nice one, that'd be way better. Well, at least there is no bugs that me or my friends encountered.
Some annoying things are the textures. Seeing blatantly unlined textures all over the place doesn't look good. If he just ran this through Doombuilder, went 3d mode and clicked "a" everywhere it'd look a lot cleaner. Sometimes I found the guns placed badly. I'd run through an area and pick up at least 4 to 5 guns, ending with the BFG... which sort of defeats the purpose of the other few guns since usually in these type of maps the BFG will rape anyone.
Now, there are some cool looking parts... for sure! Just the shitty parts outweigh the amount of cool parts that were visually pleasing. Lighting was sort of cool, nothing special but added some cool elements. The problem for most people is this is designed for early Doom, when there is not really much to do except kill. Nowadays this map wouldn't stand up to much. If you go and get Skulltag you won't even need these. This would be good for 94-96 though, but it's 2008.
Lastly, I didn't include screenshots because, well... all the places look the same. There is more detail and coherence in regular Doom 2 maps that I'd be wasting time taking picture of huge unalligned rooms or massive huge spaces. I think you get the point ;)
Oh and one more thing: Putting 2 cyberdemons in a room where the only good rifle is... is not great. I understand the goal is to go along some middle path to get the good gun, but its pointless because once you know the path, the cyberdemons are useless. So, all in all, this is not great. Don't listen to the hoax of "Unbelievable deathmatch maps", because this would only be unbelievable if you released it as Doom 2 itself came out.
Ten Community Project - Various members of the ZDoom community
ZDoom Compatible - SP/Co-op - 15840218 bytes -
Reviewed by: Wills
OK. This is another one of those community projects where some kind of limit is imposed on the mapper. Here, the levels have been restricted into a 2048 by 2048 space. Oh yeah, and they can only have ten textures each. One might think that such a texture restriction would create bland, uniform levels. However, about half of the maps turn out much better than expected, just as most 1024 maps (1024 by 1024 is a very small space, you know) rise above expectations and force mappers to be creative and make good use of their space. The other half of these maps, well...
Before I begin with the game proper I'd like to point out some general things. First of all, the palette is the one featured in Sapphire by T667 and countless (read: one or two very popular) other wads. It's nice but in my opinion overused. A second note - mappers, there's a handy little ACS function called "Spawnfacing" that lets you spawn monsters in the direction you want them to be looking toward. A few times, monsters were spawned only to be facing toward a wall and not noticing me, where I could easily blow them away unchallenged. Thirdly, Fuzzballfox seems very eager to take credit for coming up with the idea. His (her?) name's plastered right before the title screen and comes first in the textfile, which is very careful to explain that he was the project creator and original project leader. But, not that there's anything wrong with that. Credit goes where it's deserved.
And one general complaint. Stealth monsters. They should have been taken out of ZDoom long ago and wiped off the face of the earth, compatibility be damned.
After an opening sequence that's ridiculously reminiscent of KDiZD, it's on to the maps! The first one is a techbase area and it's, quite honestly, a horrible way to start the project. It's basically a bunch of empty rooms with semi-detailing around the edges and a very bizarre layout. It's not that Morpheus is a bad mapper (he also did Map17, which is flawed but much better than this), but the level looks like someone took a 1994 wad and tried to fancy up the edges without fixing the fundamental problem - the map itself.
Map02 is quite obviously more than a little bit influenced by Vader's "Thunderpeak Powerplant" from the recent ZPack. Everything looks okay (dark) but gameplay is awful. Fighting Mancubi on narrow walkways, Revenants on tiny little platforms, and invisible - not just stealth, invisible - Hellknights on a slightly bigger platform: all ingredients for disaster. Plus the zombies on the moving columns just made me laugh. Seriously, why?
Fortunately, Map03 is where things really get better. This map is by, suprisingly, Daimon, who I associate with bad jokewads more than proper maps. In terms of Maps 1 and 2, it's light-years away - detailing is much better (still not great), but it's the layout that's astronomically improved. Much less linearity and thus more interesting. Not very challenging though.
Things get even better with Map 04. Kind of. The map itself looks great in most places, but it's the gameplay that takes a step backwards. Things go pretty well until you get to one of the first Hell Knights. After that is a nasty trap with shotgun sergeants and a Baron of Hell. Then more Hell Knights teleport in. All in a tiny little room, barely enough to fit all those baddies. And this is the primary flaw of Map04 - lots of fights that would be fair in plenty of space, but instead get cramped into tiny niches. There's also endless monster teleportation, where you stand still and shoot imps/zombies as they teleport into the room. Later on there are two Hell Knights in what I swear to god must be a 128 by 128 room, and a Spider Mastermind in a larger area barely big enough to fit itself.
Map05 shows what can happen if you don't choose your ten textures very carefully. The layout is interesting and everything is quite honestly fine, but it's all brown, brown, brown. Map06 had me angry for a second - I thought it was going to be one of those levels that have you riding up an endless lift as monsters teleport in. But thankfully that part ends quickly, and then it's a rather challenging, if uninteresting, fight.
Map07 is a remix of Doom II's Map02. The layout has been changed a little bit and more baddies added, including a "Dead Simple"-type showdown at the end with Mancubuses and Arachnotrons. Everything looks good, but the map tends to be a room with monsters, followed by another room with monsters, etc. Kind of linear. There's a vent that has windows in it, which is really weird considering the vent's in the middle of the map but the windows open out into an endless sky. Huh.
Map08 hurt my eyes. Red fog with the red-yellow rock textures = not fun. Climbing up that slope at the beginning is frustrating, then just to throw dirt in your face the map teleports you to the bottom once you make it all the way to the top. What the fuck. Map09 is much better. The name is "Pueblo" but it's more of an underground cave settlement (maybe that's the guy's idea of a pueblo? I dunno, lol). This is definitely one of the best maps in the entire pack - good detailing, great layout, and, like Map04, I couldn't tell there was a texture restriction.
Then JESUS CHRIST IT'S MAP 10. This map is fucking crazy. You teleport in and there's a Cyberdemon, like, right next to/above you. Then you have to flip some switches as you avoid the Cyberdemon's rockets. And there are, like, Mancubus fireballs shooting out of the wall completely randomly. Dude! Oh yeah, and one of the lifts is kinda broken so I just skipped to the next map after that. Bugtesting, people!
Map 11 is a little underdetailed, but the gameplay is better than most of the maps so far. It's kinda like the un-Map04. Map 12 has crazy detailing and some seriously great gameplay. Not really much to say other than it's an awesome map. Map 13 is another sudden drop in quality. The entire map is underwater, which would make killing monsters interesting except that they're all Lost Souls. And Spider Masterminds, too - there are six of them at the end of the map, and you fight them all one-by-one in the same room. Really bad, it reminded me of that Mock 2 level. Map 14 is by Daimon too. It's not bad. It looks nice but it's kinda cramped. There's some weird stuff too, but you'll have to play it.
And finally it's the end. Map15 is the boss fight, which you know they had to make good - everyone likes epic endings. Turns out that it's is a colossal failure. It's ridiculously dull and insanely bad, and I wonder how the team members let this godawful bore-fest into the general public. They're a bunch of pretty mixed mappers, but you'd think at least one of them (most are rather intelligent people) would catch this disaster and throw it into the "reject" pile. Unfortunately, they had to end the project with what I honestly think is one of the worst maps I've ever played. It's basically a bland, featureless marble arena in a big black void with some MARBFAC2-textured columns. There must be at least ten waves of monsters, which in itself is not bad except they all seem to be zombies or demons with a few Hell Knights thrown in. What's worst is that right before each wave, a bunch of stuff gets teleported in - rockets, plasma, a megasphere - and you think, "Oh good, I'll get to fight some really tough monsters now! This is about to get better." But it doesn't. It's more fucking zombiemen for you. Then in the final confrontation everything gets red, and you kill a couple of Cyberdemons. That's all, folks! Roll credits.
There's a coop episode included, which I struggled through (kind of) by myself. The maps here tend to be mostly good with the exception of some terrible skull token hunt or something which actually might be the secret map. Map16 is a jungle temple. It's fun but a little cramped in places. It's also very good looking. Maybe Phobus should start making more jungle temple maps. Map 17 is the other map by Morpheus I mentioned earlier. It's much better than his Map01, but it reminds me of Catharsis 2 by yours truly - lots of boring, empty rooms with pretty walls and ceilings. Gameplay is much better than Map01, though. Then there are a couple of other coop maps, one of which I quit when I got insta-gibbed with no warning, another of which I played for several minutes before it got too hard, and a really boring scavenger hunt dealie thing.
I know what some of you are thinking. "Jesus Christ, another overwrought review slamming a ZDoom community project. I'm going to go argue about it on the forums! RAAAAAAGE". Well see, this project isn't awful - it's only half-bad. The other half of the maps are actually quite nice, and I enjoyed playing them. It's probably just my incredibly negative review of Map 15 that left you with a bad taste in your mouth. And quite honestly, the map left me with a bad taste in my mouth. But if you can stand the 15 MB filesize, it's worth downloading just for the good maps. And besides, there's nothing here that'll make you regret life... except maybe that last map.
Shinobi.cl Free-For-All map pack 2nd edition - Wladimir Flores
ZDaemon - Deathmatch - 11932179 bytes -
Reviewed by: Ed
Shinobi.cl is a 44 map pack / weapons mod with ZDaemon in mind. Weapons are really nothing new, most are merely sped up or recolored with the all to familiar rail-gun addition. The maps themselves run the gamut of conceivable themes one could encounter in the Doom universe. Each centralized around a gimmick, typically falling hazzards. If you're looking for a classic deathmatch experience, this set is most definitely not for you.
Where each map excels, it counters with shortcomings in gameplay. In the smaller arena style maps you will find yourself hung up on mid-texture barriers, short lifts and an abundance of jumping situations. The larger maps have the players distanced to the point where an exciting, fast-paced match is an impossibility. More times than not the author's intentions for a cool factor in each map seem to hinder the gameplay. Where hop-scotching across a lava field on meter sized stepping stones seems like a fun idea, it gets old after the fifth or sixth time you burst into flames trying to obtain more sufficient weaponry.
Although I found myself a bit disappointed overall in the flow of the maps, there are some real gems to be found and the occasional frag-fest you feel yourself wanting to encounter. The maps are rich with vision, imagination and provide you with plenty of visual aesthetics that will keep you entertained, if only for a short while. These maps, it seems, are not meant to sustain an hour long frag-fest a piece, but to alter the playing experience of 'boring old Doom' with short-gags and gimmicks. This might not be for everyone, but for anyone who's worn out from romping around Dwango5 and is looking for something a bit more colorful, this will certainly provide you will enough material to hold your attention, but will no doubt leave you wanting a bit more in the gameplay department.
Sin City 3 - Ed C.
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 4486069 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is a SP map for Doom 2, using ZDoom. It starts with an unskippable cutscene, which thankfully isn't very long. Once the map starts, the pressure is immediately put on, as you start off with 37 health. Luckily this is offset by also starting with a shotgun and 47 shells. Health continues to be scarce for most of the map, so you really have to be on your toes and not make any mistakes. The gameplay is well defined, and you never really feel safe. The map architecture is very well done, with lots of height variation and connectivity. There's plenty of detail, too. The one thing I didn't like is the new sound effects - it sounds like they were taken from Resident Evil 1, and they're really muffled and damp sounding. The shotgun in particular sounds like a pop-toy instead of a gun. I would recommend deleting the sounds yourself using a wad editing tool ... it really improves the map with them gone.
Lock and Load v.5 Work In Progress - pilotobombadier
EDGE - Solo Play - 843501 bytes -
Reviewed by: Trasher][
This weapons mod is kind of a mixed bag, to be honest. Let's start with the weapons themselves – they're somewhat overpowered against the standard Doom enemies. The pistol-replacing Magnum, for example, can one-shot Zombies and be dual-wielded. The Automatic Shotgun is exactly what it says on the tin – it needs to reload after a few shots, but it's very fast. These weapons also retain their unbalanced nature in the hands of monsters – if you're in a wide area with a Chaingunner, you're as good as dead.
There are some good ideas here – the RPG system gives you upgrades and improvements as you play, but it's generally unnoticeable until the later levels (the exception being the knife's unlockable Stealth function, which is essentually a right-click Partial Invisibility sphere, and is exactly as useful against the monsters as that sounds).
The graphics have no real surprises – most of the weapon art comes from Scuba Steve's emporium, and the rest come from familiar sources like the Doom 3 conversion and Xaser's mods. The monsters are mostly unaltered, except for some sprite replacements for the Zombieman and Chaingunner, and the Chaingunner trading in his weapon for a ridiculously powerful assault rifle.
Overall, download this only if you're hurting for a weapons mod for EDGE (which I guess is kind of like suffering from dehydration in the bathtub).
Facility 103 - Chevrolet103
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 1226839 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is a SP map for Doom 2, using ZDoom. It's pretty short and boxy, but has some well designed fights and gives a good challenge on UV. It uses a few ZDoom effects like colored sectors and deep water. There are also custom monsters; luckily they aren't the extremely annoying ones you usually see (I'm looking at you, red Demon that moves stupidly fast and has as much health as a Baron). Just watch out for those plasma zombies. Yikes!