Twelve releases for everyone this week. Generally I write this introduction blurb before compiling all the WADs together, so that's why I can never really say anything about the content of the article you're about to read. I also don't feel qualified to summarize or point out any outstanding releases, because I'm not the one reviewing them!
32in24 7: Return of the Night of Capture the Flag - The 32in24 team!
Boom Compatible - CTF - 11784268 bytes -
Reviewed by: Wills
Once again, the 32in24 team has come together to produce 32+ CTF maps in 24 hours (kind of) and give them very silly names, and the results are quite nice with the exception of two or three maps.
Most of the maps are UBERDETAILED, but it's not the kind of eye candy that you tend to run into or get stuck on ala Gothic99. Texture use is very good throughout; most maps, although done in less-than-groundbreaking styles (see: silver-grey fortresses in voids, metalfests, etc.), are textured very well and look nice. Several of the maps used red and blue themes and contrasting textures/colors to their advantage; I can remember more than once being amazed at the sheer brilliance of color choices - bright reds popping out against gritty brown floors, hellish rocky canyons styled in cool blue, and others. To put it simply, almost all of these maps look pretty damn good.
The layouts are less consistent but are mostly good - the big maps tend to be best in this category. Some of these larger maps amazed me in the way that the corridors and rooms twisted about and were layered around each other almost endlessly, yet were never confusing or prone to getting you lost. The architecture, in the best maps, flows seamlessly from one area to the next, and the mappers used some very cool tricks to pull off certain effects.
The only thing that's wrong with these maps is that sometimes they sacrifice gameplay by concentrating on visuals, and occasionally vice versa. Several of the maps were amazing visually, but I had a hard time learning the layout and getting around. Other (fewer) maps made total sense when moving around through the level, yet the mapper could have obviously done a better job making the level look nice (blank corridors, clashing textures, etc).
The bonus maps are amusing. One is an ultra-small map that no one in their right mind would play on (but would undoubtedly make for some very interesting games), one is a Wolfenstein-based map, and one is based on the Icon of Sin boss levels and features Shaikoten's (apparently) massive face. It's an interesting twist on the original.
There were only two levels that, to me, were failures, and both were made in part by Impboy. This isn't an attack on him (lulz), but he doesn't seem to know what makes a level work well both visually and gameplay-wise. "Speedy Doom" and "Major League Doom" are pretty small, ugly, and boring. The 32in24 team seems to acknowledge this in the text file as well (which, for a text file for a CTF project, is pretty weird and funny in places).
So, in summary: a great map pack, despite minor flaws, and definitely worth your time. Highly recommended.
Evermore - Ruba
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 27396 bytes -
Reviewed by: StupidBunny
I have personally never been all that impressed with the great majority of Ruba's maps, and unfortunately this just isn't an improvement over most of his releases. The level is a network of incredibly repetitive brown stone corridors and, as is typical of Ruba maps, are very square in design. The player is given a super shotgun at the start, and will usually be fighting hell knights one at a time throughout the maze. This is repetitive enough as it is, but it is made worse by the fact that the player is given only about four shells per hell knight, which is barely enough.
At the end, the player finds a baron of hell (big variation there) and, after killing it, teleports into a final room with a cyberdemon, a BFG and cell packs, and lots of Wolfenstein textures. And as if Wolf textures didn't contribute enough to the mediocrity of it, the map ends with the player shooting a boss brain.
If you have absolutely nothing better to do, then this be more interesting than staring at a wall or whatever, but in the end the level is bland, repetitive, and clearly lacking in actual effort.
Newmaps: A Chex Quest Mod - xbolt
Legacy - Solo Play - 6019932 bytes -
Reviewed by: footman
Xbolt brings us a set of maps based upon Ultimate Chex Quest for Ultimate Doom. Now to be honest, I have never played Chex Quest, nor Ultimate Chex Quest, so I had no idea what to expect.
However, what we got here is a decent set of maps, really. It replaces Ultimate Doom's first three episodes. If you attempt to go to the fourth episode, it just gives you a message saying it's not done, and that it will use GZDoom as opposed to Doom Legacy.
The game uses graphics from Chex Quest and Ultimate Chex Quest, if I'm not mistaken. Overall, very colorful, cartoony, and quite wacky. Honestly, I don't know what to say. The graphics are very odd, but they do achieve their assigned task.
The first few levels are somewhat bland, featuring mostly light corridors with some monsters scattered about. Don't be fooled by those, however. The design picks up in the later levels, giving us some nice looking levels with moderate detail. And there's cutscenes!
However, you'll have to modify or disable fog when playing episode 3, else, you'll be plunged into pitch black with no hope of knowing where anything is.
Overall, not bad gameplay. Decent balance of weapons, ammo, and health later on. However it's way too easy at the beginning. He practically throws Supercharges at you and on the very first level, there's a BFG right there, so it loses points for that.
Not bad, really. Worth a download, in my opinion, if you can handle the wacky graphics and story (Yes there's a story. Can't be arsed to check into it, though.) or if you enjoy Chex Quest stuff.
chex.exe dehacked patch - Simon Howard
doom.exe - Solo Play - 9250 bytes
Reviewed by: ler
This is a pretty simple dehacked patch that has all the data necessary for a true Chex Quest TC. It doesn't work absolutely correctly via traditional DeHackEd, but using the newest Chocolate Doom (which will autoload the patch and chex.wad when you specifiy -iwad chex.wad) you can play Chex Quest in Windows with as much compatibility as Chocolate Doom has for Doom and Doom II. This even goes as far as providing complete demo compatibility—I've made some speedruns using "Chocolate Chex" that I have confirmed work in the original chex.exe.
Truth be told, though, this will only interest you if you happen to like Chex Quest.
Super Skins - Captain Toenail
Skulltag - n/a - 1191647 bytes -
Reviewed by: Trasher][
A fairly run-of-the-mill skin pack for Skulltag, containing two Doom characters (an unzombified Commando and a Revenant) and two Duke3D characters (Duke and the Assault Trooper). They use sprite scaling to keep the details from the original sprites, and Duke has a number of his taunts from the original game.
It's nice, but there's nothing you haven't seen before.
Rampage V2 (ENG) - Lainos
GZDoom - Solo Play - 3283541 bytes -
Reviewed by: Wills
I'll begin this by saying that Rampage is certainly one of the more interesting, but certainly not one of the best, wads I've played this year. The story goes like this: you're an insane asylum inmate prone to hallucinations who has decided to escape. I'll admit I didn't have the highest expectations for this one (perhaps because the name is very close to that of a certain infamous Doom project)... and in this respect I wasn't completely disappointed. Rampage has an interesting concept, but what it really needed was a better map and execution.
The level starts with a long, unskippable text intro which hardly makes any sense. Your character, who apparently has gone insane, sees ordinary people as monsters (the stock Doom demons). Thus he feels justified in killing them; ignoring the obvious moral conflict here, this comes off as a as an excuse for not replacing the enemies (security guards, doctors, etc. would have been far more appropriate than Imps and Zombies). Seeing the standard Doom demons rendered the author's attempts to create a completely new game experience (basically, not Doom) ineffective.
You have also developed a strange affinity for hallucinations. That is, you'll be walking along and BAM! - flesh, blood, skulls everywhere, as if A Link to the Past, Metroid Prime, and Silent Hill all had a bastard child (don't ask me how that would work). If the change had been more gradual (for example, a red fade-in/fade-out) this effect would have been more convincing. Unfortunately, this effect also leads to a lot of 'shock' moments, where a stealth demon (RAAAAGE) pops out of nowhere completely unexpectedly. I really hate this kind of stuff, and it's cheap scares.
The architecture is... odd. The author is apparently trying to make his asylum semi-realistic, yet everything is out of proportion - desks and doors are too high, beds too big, etc. Parts of the asylum also have very unrealistic design... not that Doom has ever been accused of trying to be realistic. But here the dissimilarity to real life is even more pronounced, as the author tries in many places to make this asylum as close-to-life as possible while other parts are simply bizarre and out-of-place.
But it's not horrible. The level is very much playable, if easy (ammo is tight, though). There are some interesting concepts, though they're not executed too well. And at least it's different from most of the Doom wads out there. There are better maps to be found, even some better "escape from the nuthouse" maps; Asylum of the Wretched, a terrific, atmospheric level, comes to mind. Rampage, though flawed, is worth at least one quick playthrough. Who knows, maybe you'll find a level you really like.
Deimos Lunar - Diana M.
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 46785 bytes -
Reviewed by: Wills
A really short and uninteresting level. According to the text file, "Zombies, demons and other enemies attacked a base in Deimos" and apparently you have to stop the demon threat. It's standard 1994 fare - blocky rooms, bad texturing, odd architecture, way too easy - except that apparently this wad made in 2003. There's also plenty of wandering backtracking, invisible doors, and hidden switches that you have to find. You'll definitely want to pass on this one.
La Ciudad Necropolis (Necropolis City) - Omar
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 76354 bytes
Reviewed by: Kyka
[Ed: I would have included screenshots, but he sent a zip file with the WAD and TXT file in it, not screenshots.]
Ok. So what to say about this wad. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be this. "A decent single player level let down by a lack of attention to detail." The Hexen-themed texture selection was interesting, and generally looked pretty good, but there was little variation from room to room. The biggest letdown was the many misaligned textures, which detracted from the overall sense of immersion. A stair immediately behind a door had its face texture move up and down with the door. There was a missing texture on the final staircase. Several sectors had dark gray floors or ceilings, which looked totally out of place and made the level look unfinished in places.
Now to gameplay, which was definitely the highlight of the level. For a reasonably open level, some of the fights were pretty tough, though nothing that a decent player won't survive. There were some nice surprises too: monsters appearing behind you after having wandered across areas you had just cleared, as well as plenty of room for infighting. Packs of cacodemons, chaingunners, mancubuses, arachnotrons and the odd archvile kept the level interesting, as well as keeping you on your guard. I did feel that a couple of the areas could have used fights of their own, rather than being merely areas that you passed through to get to the next section.
Health and armor was appropriate for the level, though ammo was far too plentiful. For example, I finished the level with full plasma and rockets, which was a little excessive given that there are only 113 monsters at startup. Come to think of it, there was enough shells, bullets and rockets that I didn't even end up needing to use the plasma gun.
So to sum up. This level is a respectable effort that was actually fun to play, let down by numerous texture flaws. If you can overlook the sometimes sloppy detailing, you will find yourself in for a diverting little series of fights. If you want the complete package though, best let this one go.
Equinoxio - Ivano Lich
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 349069 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is a SP map for ZDoom, using Doom 2. Most of the action takes place in wide open outdoor courtyards that are very dark despite being chock full of torches. Ammo is very tight; you had better save everything you've got. It's a good idea to avoid killing the imps on cliffs and caged barons until you've cleared the rest of the map, or you stand the chance of running out. The wide-open spaces were only briefly flooded with monsters, and they were easily dispatched. Unfortunately, the author decided to go for everyone's favorite annoyance - chaingunners and shotgunners hiding on the cliffs and in the darkness, ticking away at your health from miles away before you finally manage to find them and kill them. This is offset by two Soulspheres which are easily obtainable. Still doesn't really make it any less annoying, though. It also sports one of the most annoying mine sections I've ever encountered in a map before. The only way it could be worse is if it was full of switch-hunting (I'd better not give the author any bad ideas...) Overall this map left me feeling more annoyed than anything else. I can't really say I recommend it, but maybe someone else out there really enjoys this kind of thing.
Mountain Waste Facility - Ryan 'Blitz' Cook
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 166184 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is an SP map for Doom 2. The level layout is a tech base interspersed with rock-lined passages. Space is also very tight, with little room to maneuver in most areas. It almost feels like something out of Descent. It's pretty flat and linear. You basically start at one side of the map and make your way towards the other. Ammo balance is very loose; I found myself having to play "Dodge the shellbox while carring >30 shells" more than once. I felt the monster usage started out well, and began to drag on by the end. Hell Knights and Barons start being thrown at you, while you've still only got the dinky shotgun, and it takes a bit long to kill them. I felt the rocket launcher could've been given to the player much earlier. Overall it's a decent map that's worth playing through, but it's not going to win any awards.
Masacre 2 - Cabro
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 49029 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is a SP map for Doom 2. The theme for this one is city/industrial factory. It's fairly lengthy, with about 300 monsters on UV. Most of the areas look similar, and the detail level is pretty low, so it can get a bit confusing as to where you are without resorting to the automap. The author gives you the chainsaw, and you are well advised to use it whenever possible, as there are packs of Demons everywhere. There are a few nasty traps, including some Arch-viles that will really toast you if you aren't well prepared. Health is a bit low as well. I felt the gameplay was the highlight of this map. Overall it's a decent map that will give you a challenge if you're up to it.
Intacta - Ivano Lich
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 828106 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is an SP map for Doom 2. This one is quite varied - there's a techbase, ruined city and a mountain pass to travel through. Each section is completely cut off from the others, accessible only by teleports. They're all pretty short, too. Detail level is high, everything looks nice. Gameplay is good, pretty fun overall. The final fight can be a bit of a challenge. Overall it's recommended.