Z-Arena V1.0 - Dave Billing
GZDoom - Deathmatch - 5802848 bytes -
Reviewed by: Wills
Now here's a treat. This is a set of 20 DM maps for GZDoom that make liberal use of graphics effects (reflective floors, ambient lights) and also includes some new powerups. The maps are all great-looking, with good use of lighting, height variations, and detailing. But even more important, the levels are just interesting design-wise and very creative in their layouts. The author seems fond of traps, which I've always liked, and camtex usage, which is a little strange. Themes range from Quake-styled dungeons to tech stations in space to magma-filled volcano valleys; they all play well and range from tiny to complex and winding. Give it a go with your friends; highly recommended.
Community Instagib Mappack - Brett "Mechadon" Harrell
Skulltag - Deathmatch - 43052756 bytes -
Reviewed by: Xaser
"Community Project." These words have made many a potential player quake with fear regarding the contents within. With a mixed bag of insanity from all sorts of locales and psyches, it is nearly impossible to know what to expect. Usually such projects wind up looking like a mishmash of maps and a mixed bag of sweets and sours that seems to fall short of the sum of its parts.
Thank the heavens that IGPack is not one of them.
To be perfectly honest, this entire project struck me as a surprise despite its size. I was taking a leisurely surf through the Skulltag server listings in IDE when I spotted a most curious server hosting an even... uh, "curiouser" gametype: Instagib. I followed a link, siphoned the wad, and gave this "IGPack" a whirl.
Within a few minutes, I was hooked.
The wad came as a complete but pleasant shock. Instead of just another silly mapfest, I was treated to an amazing spectacle of 33 high-quality maps wrapped up in a professional-looking package. IGPack sports brand-new menus and intermission screens, a well-done new font, some catchy new sound effects, an adrenaline-pumping soundtrack, and a slick modified palette to top it all off. But what's a spiffy menu without some pulse-pounding action to justify it all? What about the part people care about -- the maps?
To put it simply, the maps in IGPack are none short of brilliant, and coming from some of the greatest minds and talents in the Doom community, it's no surprise. From tight corridors to massively vertical splatterboards, from constricting caverns to voluminous, and from normalcy to psychotic secret maps -- There's something for every playstyle here, provided said playstyle involves shredding foes into a fine red pulp, that is. And speaking of red pulp, did I mention the new gibbing effects? Oh, yes. When you blast someone, you get treated to a satisfying spray of... well, you get the point.
For those who may not be fans of Instagib, never fear. The maps are also optimized for traditional deathmatch, if that's your thing. The authors took great care in not only making their maps look great, but play just as well. As with any map pack, there are a few maps in particular which seem to dominate the set and others which don't seem as polished, but regardless, the amount of effort in this pack shows and shines.
Although they've taken much of the spotlight so far, the new maps are not the only trump card IGPack has to offer. The real highlight of the pack is the Karasawa, one of the slickest weapons ever formulated in the Doom universe. This badass souped-up plasma gun fires a lethal charge of energy jam-packed with scorching death. It bounces across walls for a couple of seconds before disappearing, but during that time will rip through enemies like a hot knife through thin air. After blazing through a few choice Instagib matches using this new weapon, I must say that it provides the perfect counterpart for the traditional railgun -- it may be slower-moving, but its bouncing ability makes it a force to be reckoned with.
And that's not all: two additional weapons grace the stage of traditional DM: whip out the Nailgun to shred your foes into piles of putrid debris or use the Prox Launcher to lay out an intricate pattern of perilous mines that reduce the unsuspecting opposition to a river of liquid death. They may be only a small part of this balanced breakfast, but they add huge boost to the traditional gameplay.
Of course, no project can escape the development process unscathed. Though the project is decked out in professional flair, that is not to say that IGPack isn't without its flaws. A few of the levels seem to be a bit on the large size for the average playercount (though I imagine they'd work at the rare mass-frag meet), while others are filled to the rim (literally) with slippery edges to perilously plummet from. Also, there are a couple of maps (namely from a certain author whose name I won't mention) that suffer from what I like to call "Mechadon Syndrome." Namely, those who sport slightly-less-than-cutting-edge computers may have a bit of trouble running these due to the sheer amount of detail. They look very nice and play well when applicable (the visual goodies don't hinder player movement unlike some other wads *coughgothicdm2*), but the noticeable slowdown may take a slight toll on lower-end CPUs... and their owners' fragcounts.
However, these fleeting minus signs are counteracted in full by their positive counterparts. Most maps are a solid blast to play, and breathe lots of love and life into a gamemode that has been largely ignored over the years. In fact, the wad's biggest shortcoming is the lack of players. IGPack is desperately in need of the attention it deserves, so find a friend and start your own fragfest if you need to! Nothing to be disappointed about, eh?
In short, if you're a Skulltag player, there's no excuse not to download this now. Even if you detest Instagib, IGPack's multiple gamestyles and wonderful presentation make it an excellent addition to any multiplayer junkie's collection. Grab it now before the railgun police bust down your door and slay you with style. You have been warned.
Ghouls vs Humans - Cutmanmike
Skulltag - SP/DM - 25833487 bytes -
Reviewed by: Wills
It's arguable that Cutmanmike's most famous creation is the Ghoul's Forest series of wads. Many players have stumbled around its dark forests chasing, and being chased by, hideous spectres and demons. Whether you love it or hate it, you've got to agree it's one of the more unique wad series in the Doom universe.
Cutmanmike's latest creation is an expansion on the Ghoul's Forest series but takes gameplay in a completely different direction. Rather than hunting in the woods (though there are woods), you can choose to be either a human or a ghoul. The two sides then battle to the death for the most points or the last man standing. As you might expect, you're able to play as (pretty much) all the characters from the Ghoul's Forest series, and then some. Each class has its own advantages and disadvantages, and often completely different playing styles.
The humans are the land-locked (for the most part) hunters who pack heavy weaponry that kills ghouls real good. The Marine is your standard Doomguy, but he's got a shotgun, machine gun, and dual pistols (and grenades for tight situations). The Hunter, the hero of Ghoul's Forest III, has gotten an upgrade - he runs significantly faster and can shoot fire, ice, or lightning arrows, each which comes in handy against different ghouls. The Cyborg, a newcomer to the series, is armed with a plasma-cannon and a jetpack but is hampered by his weight and slow speed.
On the other side, the ghouls have their own skills and shortcomings. Sjas, the classic spectre from GF 2 and 3, flies around at high speed, screaming non-stop (which gives him away most of the time). He can reflect projectiles and bullets with a high-pitched scream and will turn near-invisible when staying in one spot. The Creeper is back as well and so is his attack - a lunge that sucks out your soul and gives your health to him. What Creeper lacks in health and speed, he makes up for with stealth and the ectoplasm balls he can throw to freeze humans for a few seconds. Just as the humans have the cyborg, Jitterskull is the ghoul power player. He moves strangely but can gib in a single charge; his biggest strength is his ability to span ledges, platforms, and walls with no effort.
You can expect some pretty epic battles to ensue when these two sides clash, but it's important where they fight as well. A map that's too dark will give the ghouls the advantage, and a large open map will ensure victory for the humans every time. Included is a set of maps made just for GvH; they range from spooky castles to techbases to fire-baked fortresses. You can play GvH on any DM map, but Cutmanmike also suggests mapsets on his website (such as Crucified Dreams).
Now that I've spent several excessively long and detailed paragraphs talking about facts, it's time to get down to the actual review itself. Cutman and several dedicated testers have spent months tweaking every imaginable detail of this mod, and I'm glad to say all that hard work has paid off. Both teams are well-balanced against each other, and the classes within the teams are balanced as well. There are enough features to keep battles exciting and unpredictable, and the potential of expansion packs will inject fresh blood into the mod whenever it's needed. And if you don't feel like playing against other people, there's a single-player mode included - you progress through battles against ghoul bots up to the final, climactic battle with - well, I won't spoil it for you.
GvH also encourages smart gameplay, not the "run really fast and shoot everything" mindset prevalent in most multiplayer Doom today. Beginners should start with the Marine, as he's basically just Doomguy, or Sjas, since he's easy to control and not too complicated. But if you want to be any good at GvH you'll have to learn to takes advantage of each class's unique abilities and tactics. It takes some time to learn how best to play as all the different characters, but once you do you'll be a much better player for it.
Of course, GvH is really not like anything made for Doom. As mentioned, it emphasizes skill over firepower, and playing Doom multiplayer in a completely new way is refreshing. But the best part of the whole experience is that it's just really fun. Boot up a GvH server and be prepared for time to slip away completely unnoticed - it's happened to me many times. DM wad of the year? A definite "yes".
The Descent Into Hell's Cauldron - Isaac Rodriguez
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 1600567 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is a HR-themed map for Doom 2. It's supposed to be a "tribute" to HR map 29, and HR 2 map 29. The readme claims the map number is 22, but it's actually 29.
The map itself is poorly textured and laid out, with very little detail. There are bugs all over the place. As soon as you start, there are two lava pits that you can fall into that don't damage you, and there's no way to get out. Some places have monsters stuck together and unable to move due to poor placement.
The difficulty is all over the place, it seems like the author had no clue what he was doing. There's enough ammo to kill everything in the map 20 times over, it's just spammed all over like a bad 1994 map. The "tribute" part of the map feels more like a full-out copy of the original HR map's design, except smaller, uglier and with less balanced monsters used.
Bottom line, why bother playing this when you could go back and replay the original HR maps? I can't think of any reason myself. Also, for some reason, the WAD has a bunch of maps with no MAPxx entry above them. I have no clue what they are, but you can't actually play them as there aren't any map name entries for them.
There's also a bunch of unused music entries and textures. I'm guessing the author just had no clue what he was doing and slapped the keys randomly/rolled his face across the keyboard in a WAD management tool to compile this WAD.
Coop Build - Toke (Dylan McIntosh)
Multiplayer - Co-op - 1441904 bytes
Reviewed by: TheMionicDonut
In its own right, coopbuildlm is a unique wad in so many ways. It is surrounded by both triumph as well as tragedy. For those of you who don't know, this wad's author, Dylan "Toke" McIntosh, was tragically killed in the summer of 2006. At the time, he was working on this wad, releasing betas every few months. This particularly makes coopbuild truly amazing. I don't know if it is respect for the deceased, or the sheer simplicity of this wad, but even now, two and a half years later, it is STILL one of the most commonly played coop wads on the ZDaemon port, despite of being in a permanent beta state, and without a doubt having a certain "acquired taste" feel to it. (Those green Cacos with over 9000 hit points, anyone?)
The maps (there are 26 in this wad) themselves were obviously built for the sake of mindlessly blowing stuff up. As such, they are really nothing at all to look at; in many maps players are just going through endless ickwall texture and hordes and hordes of monsters. There are occasionally "puzzles" that require multiple players to take certain positions in order to progress, further enhancing the teamwork part of this wad. It is actually a lot of fun if you are in the mood to blast demons with some of your buds, and I am pretty sure it works in most every port, and the maps take long enough to keep you entertained for several hours on end.
A colleague of mine once said that "You are not truly dead until nobody remembers you." And while our friend Toke is no longer among us, his work will live on as long as there are ports that support coop. And if that is the case, no matter what people think about this wad, it is probably going to be around for a very long time, and the Doom community is down one of its most influential and recognizable mappers. Rest in peace.
To Fight (2x2 series) - Alexander "Eternal" S. (aka Deadall)
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 161490 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is definitely a slaughter map, along the lines of HR, AV, etc. By the time you reveal the 300 or so revenants that you have to circle-strafe with the BFG/Rocket Launcher for a good 2 minutes to kill them all, you might get a bit bored. There's enough health, soul/megaspheres and ammo laying around that you'll likely never run out. The next few traps are somewhat challenging, but not particularly imaginative - room full of demons and mancs that get BFGowned, cyberdemons are hidden in a few platforms that lower, archviles appear and try to resurrect everything, chaingunners flood a small hallway followed by arch-viles, (surprise) more arch-viles, and the final fight is a bit of a let-down. The map's gimmick is that it only uses 2 textures and 2 flats. So you basically have a zillion revenants, chaingunners, some arch-viles, a few cybies, and a map that looks plain by 1994 standards. Enjoyable if you like slaughter maps, everyone else will probably want to pass.
Escape from Enemy Mountain - Ian Simpson
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 1220702 bytes -
Reviewed by: purist
The nine maps here were intended to make up a megawad, which was eventually abandoned in favour of a Doom 3 mod. A gradual incline in quality is evident in the set, but sadly not steeply enough for any of these maps to come highly recommended.
Instead, the set starts off worryingly with bland rooms adorned with mis-aligned textures, HOM errors and SS Nazi soldiers. Over the course of the next eight levels, standards improve aesthetically somewhat. Layouts and thing placement are better thought out but detail remains sub-Doom 1 throughout. The battles increase in intensity too but are often separated by monotonous, mazy hallways.
You're left with the impression that while the author had some good ideas, he hadn't yet developed his craft sufficiently to execute them effectively. Perhaps, had he stuck at it, MAP29 could have been really very good.
E1M1: Reloaded - Sean
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 393458 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is a "remake" of E1M1. I use this in the loosest possible sense, as only a few areas of the map resemble parts of E1M1, and most of it is completely new areas that are expanded off from it. Detail in most of the map is good, with a few rough spots, but they're hard to notice. The map is somewhat non-linear, with several connecting areas. The only real prerequisite for finishing the map is hitting two switches and grabbing a key, but you'll pretty much have to clear everything to do so.
When the map starts, it's very much classic Doom style gameplay, with a few low level monsters and tight health/ammo. Rather quickly it switches gears into all-out monster insanity, with revenants, arch-viles, barons and even a spider mastermind making an appearance. I haven't played E1M1 in awhile, but I don't remember there being a spider mastermind. The ammo/health count also goes haywire; you can easily finish the map with tons of ammo left over, and every weapon but the BFG is available. Anyway, if you can get past the rollercoaster gameplay, it's a decent map. Also, watch out for the final trap .. it's nasty.
Mechatron - Jekyll Grim Payne aka zer0
GZDoom - n/a - 2079509 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is a weapons mod for gzDoom. You get to control a giant mech, which moves very slowly and can overheat. The plus side of this, as you probably guessed, is your firepower and health are both greatly increased. There are several different weapons, and one that fires all your weapons at once, making for quite a mess. There's also a weapon that puts your mech into "retreat mode", allowing you to move fast again, but you are unable to shoot. Honestly, I was hoping there would be some sort of super weapon that makes the BFG look wimpy, but oh well. This mod definitely feels suited for playing slaughter maps in a new and interesting way. Give it a try, it's a high quality mod that's worth checking out.
Beautiful Doom (version 4.0) - zer0 aka Jekyll Grim Payne
GZDoom - n/a - 4514772 bytes
Reviewed by: udderdude
This is an update of a mod that's already been reviewed here, probably several times, so I don't feel the need to write too much. Pretty much, it's a mod that takes standard Doom and adds more effects, and some new/extra sprites. The overall result has about as much detail as Duke 3D, with spent shell casings and flying gibs. As far as gameplay changes, it doesn't seem there are any. Except that the BFG is almost useless, as the BFG charges will hit gibs that are lying on the ground. You can fire it and hit nothing but gibs, completely wasting your BFG shot. I remember this problem being in the original release, and it's disappointing it was never fixed. Personally I wouldn't use this mod, as I feel if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Or break it, and then release four revisions without fixing it again.
Redneck Rampage Textures - Taradino Cassatt
n/a - n/a - 21743631 bytes
Reviewed by: Craigs
This wad contains about 1260 textures from Redneck Rampage. The text file seems to be a bit messed up however, and says they're from Necrodome. There's really not much to say about this. It's a bloated texture wad filled with textures ripped straight out of another game and converted to the Doom palette. Some of them look good, while others such as the cars look like total ass. They really don't mix too well with the stock Doom textures.
Close Encounters - D Link
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 108581 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
3 short maps for Doom 2 using ZDoom. Overall detail is pretty good, nothing really looked bland or out of place. First map is a very short cave full of lava. Fun and not too difficult to get through. Second map is a larger tech base. Not much to point out here, it's not too challenging, most players shouldn't have a problem with it. Ammo and health balance are really loose; I lost count of the number of large shell boxes I left lying around because I was full on ammo. Third map is an extremely small Dead Simple map where as soon as you hit a switch you are surrounded by Mancubuses. Run to the safe spot or you'll be toast! After the Mancs die, walls lower, Arachnos, you know the drill. For some reason the map bugged and I couldn't get to the exit after I killed the Arachnos. Not sure why. Overall it's fun and worth a quick playthrough, but don't expect anything amazing.
In Pursuit of Greed Textures - Taradino Cassatt
n/a - n/a - 511218 bytes
Reviewed by: Wills
Once again, a texture pack. Theme of the wad here is grey textures, poorly translated to the Doom palette as usual.
Powerslave Textures - Taradino Cassatt
n/a - n/a - 1230191 bytes
Reviewed by: Wills
Yet another semi-illegal texture pack from this guy. A bunch of Egyptian and miscellaneous textures, none of which look particularly good.
Shogo Textures - Taradino Cassatt
n/a - n/a - 14636064 bytes
Reviewed by: Wills
2,848 textures from Shogo? They aren't that bad... but doesn't this guy have better things to do besides upload countless texture packs, which may or may not be even legal?
The /newstuff Chronicles #336