Animasse - Chris Wright
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 128625 bytes -
Reviewed by: TheMionicDonut
I'm not entirely sure what to make of this map, but I'm going to give my best attempt... It's cluttered, confusing, and what little detail it has makes little to no sense. Overall, it looks and plays like something that was standard fare in the mid 1990s. In defense of the author, it looks like there was some effort put in, and it IS considered a speedmap in my eyes, with what is said to be a 25 hour build time. But what effort was placed in does not work at all, and the wad, to put it kindly, pretty much falls flat on its face.
This map takes place in a very wide open area with monsters apparently placed wherever the author's pointer was pointing at the time, with no pattern to it whatsoever; you immediately face a baron with a shotgun, but you may as well just run around for a bit in hopes of finding some ammo, which is more scarce than one would like. In the meantime you are franticly dodging everything, which is in retrospect a good experience for Doom, minus the hopes of getting bloody revenge on the monsters 3 miles away that shot stuff at you a minute ago but is finally arriving.
After a few minutes of running around you may just find the really small elevator inexplicably in a rock which takes you to the next part of the level...another really big wide open area with a trio of Spider Demons firing at you from a distance roughly equal to that between St. Louis, Missouri and the moon...without any ammo save for a randomly placed BFG with enough ammo to maybe kill two of them if you run up to them and survive. After that it's just a hunt for some sporadically placed keys (in the middle of a hallway with some ammo and imps, in the true 1995 tradition) to go through either a door that leads you to an area you already accessed, or the exit...which I can't figure out how to get to to save my life.
But in my explorations for the next map advancing point I found some "features" that brought my bodily fluids to a boil with rage. The worst of them is this makeshift river trench thing that you fall into to keep yourself from accessing the exit immediately that teleports you back to the start...but only if you run across a certain point in ONE PARTICULAR DIRECTION! Aside from that you cannot escape said trench, and it just left me confused and wondering what the heck was going on. The final part is also a pain in the bum, as I said before. I eventually had to crack open Doombuilder to see what the heck i was supposed to do, and I was still left in a daze.
All in all, the map is less than decent, even bordering on broken. The only way I could finish the map up was through the magic power of jumping in an advanced port...in which case I could quite literally finish the wad in under ten seconds, thanks to the layout. But, in spite of my harsh words, this map is hardly the worst one in the history of ever, and doesn't deserve to be flung into the gaping pits and fires of hell. It's just...yucky. True, the opening rush for weapons gave that good ol' frantic pace that I enjoy so much about Doom, and I can at least commend this wad for that. But, in the end, it left a bad taste in my mouth when i finished, or at least tried to. So, is this wad worth playing? Hardly. But I want to give this statement to the author to close this up. You may have a bit of talent in you yet, Mr. Wright, but please...please, Please, PLEASE! spend a little more time than 25 hours between conception and release. Put a little thought, a little effort and perhaps a little playtesting into your works before you release them; you may just have a chance at making something decent. I'll be waiting for when you do.
Greenwar II - 32in24 Team/Hellbent
Boom Compatible - Deathmatch - 9073850 bytes -
Reviewed by: rrr
This is a short version of Review of Greenwar 2 and the Detailing Issues it Raises (PDF version here).
Greenwar 2 is the best collection of layouts since Greenwar and Hellbent's r-mega.wad. Most of the 36 maps are superlative. All are mega-worthy. The original maps were made during 2002-2009. Most have been played for many years with very enthusiastic responses by players.
Hellbent's creativity, variety, and feeling for gameplay are incredible--he's able to make just about any style of layout (small, large, few weapons, lots of weapons) sizzle and pop with the right balance of weapons and the right placement. I've never met a wad-maker or player who could give a good answer to "What makes a good wad?" or "What makes a bad wad?" Sector connections? Dead ends? I think there is no good answer, except to say there's a totality of all factors coming together, just right or not. Hellbent gets it just right.
However, this megawad was heavily detailed, and the detailing has seriously impaired or ruined gameplay in most levels. This happened in five ways: added sectors and things in the play area, changed sectors, extraneous sectors (outside the play area), poor texture choice, and over-detailing. I explain and defend these claims in the full review.
Apart from the interference with gameplay, the detailing of gw2 is excellent. In fact, much of it is superb--as much of a breakthrough artistically as Greenwar 2 is a breakthrough in gameplay creation.
And here the Doom community faces a dilemma. What is to be done when detailing clashes with gameplay? Currently, everyone suffers from this. Players are deprived of the best-playing wads ever made, as in the case of Greenwar 2. Artists who now have the knowledge and tools to produce exquisite 3-dimensional worlds with sophisticated special effects must curtail their creations in order to compromise with the elements of gameplay--anachronistic weapons, ugly ammo boxes, walls without snags, terrain on which players can move, etc.
The release of Greenwar 2 is a landmark event for gaming. It is also a landmark event for bringing the clash of layout-making and wad-detailing to monumental new heights.
Shai'tan's Luck - Christopher Shepherd
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 4486690 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
Eleven maps for Doom 2, running on Map20-Map30. Architecturally these maps are rather average; they never look ugly, but they'll rarely have you gasping in amazement, although there's some grand scaling in the later levels. However, the main focus is on gameplay: fast and furious (although, some of the maps, mainly the later ones, are actually rather large). The first maps certainly aren't exactly "calm" in terms of fighting, but they pale in comparison to the jam-packed later levels. Even though there are so many supplies that the difficulty stays mostly under control, until the last level at least, they are a blast to play, and by no means easy either. The new music is also quite good, especially on Map27.
Really my only issues are that maps 28 and 29 killed my framerate in sections, but I managed to make do and play and enjoy them anyways, and also there are a few texture bugs (a rather notable one on Map25 near the end, in particular). Overall, if you like to see furious action and fighting in your maps, but have little tolerance for ridiculous/frustrating moments, this is a highly recommended download.
Elysion - Death-Destiny
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 505986 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
Elysion is one of Death-Destiny's later wads, and it is sure a challenge. Taking place in a facility setting of sorts, this level starts out intense and doesn't quit. You really need to be quite skilled if you want to get far here. Fortunately, the author provided difficulty settings, but don't expect an easy ride even on the lower settings. However, the map does have good gameplay - if you can manage it. Architecturally, it is a mining facility of sorts, perhaps vaguely reminiscent of "The Mucus Flow" (CChest 2 Map24). Like anything else from the author, it looks good, without excessive detailing. The music track is one I've never heard before and fits in fairly well. So in the end, Elysion (Mining Facility) is an awesome map if you can stomach the challenge it provides. But if your Dooming skills aren't top notch, play it at your own risk.
Crimson Horizon - Death-Destiny
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 121990 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
This map probably doesn't need much introduction; it's another map from Death-Destiny that was missing from the archive until recently. Better late than never, of course, as these were quality maps, for challenge hunters in particular. Crimson Horizon is again, a medium to large map that offers quite a challenge even on lower skill levels. It's not one of his most ridiculous (No Chance is harder), but don't expect a breeze-through. The architecture is fine, though not as good as some of his other maps, like Elysion in particular. The music is rather repetitive, but it wasn't intolerable - you can always use idmus if you don't like it. I'm starting to run out of things to say about this author's maps, as they are all quite similar (though admittedly the themes do vary), but nonetheless I can, like all his other maps, recommend this level assuming you have the skill.
Abyssion - Death-Destiny
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 136639 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
Abyssion is a medium-large map where you are only provided with powerful weapons (rocket launcher and up) and a berserk pack. It's in a caves/hell environment, with nice architecture as always. It's also a challenge, despite the abundance of good ammo, though not quite as brutal as some of the author's other maps. Nonetheless, harder skill levels are for veterans only. As usual, the author succeeds in providing good gameplay, provided you can survive. The ending is definitely the hardest part, on par with some of DD's even more brutal maps. The music is from E1M5 and it suits the atmosphere well. Putting it together, this is another recommended map, and lesser-skilled players just might stand a chance - on a lower skill level. But it is certainly no easy task, and in particular expect the ending part to take many tries.
Computer Base - Pex
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 407199 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
A short map for Doom II. This is intended to be the first level of a megawad, and it shows. Unless you find the secret you get nothing but a pistol, but all the monsters are weak. I did like the architecture, and I think the author has a lot of potential to make a great wad if he finished it, but this short and easy level doesn't really give any clear signals. If you only have a few minutes to kill it's worth a quick play however.
Year 22 -A Rock and a Hard Place- - Eric "The Green Herring" Baker
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 232662 bytes -
Reviewed by: TheMionicDonut
Eric Baker, AKA The Green Herring, is a kick-ass guy.
For those of you who don't know who this guy is (see those under a rock for the past 3 or so years, in terms of Doom), he is a fellow who has had involvement in many large projects, including (but not limited to) Plutonia 2, Community Chest 3, and many of the newer 32in24 compilations. He is also the project lead for the in-progress but inevitable Community Chest 4. But his crowning moment of kickassery came when he decided to make a speedmap for our enjoyment on his birthday...twice. Now most of us are all about getting stuff on their birthdays, let alone giving back to all of us.
Chuck Norris has nothing on this guy.
But enough about this man among men and the jokes that got stale around 2007, this is the story/review of that map...the second one he came up with on his birthday.
My first gripe came to me instantly, when I discovered that this map was on MAP02. But through the power of enclosed instruction manuals I got a good explanation. This was a follow up to the speedmap he did a year earlier, and if loaded together, ran into one another, with some kind of storyline for those who are in to that sort of stuff.
Now, in terms of the map itself...A Rock and A Hard Place is exactly as the name implies. It is rocky themed with some techbase thrown in, along with a more than halfway decent detail job as well as revenants...lots and lots of revenants. Pretty much any time you get a necessary object to progress in the map you can expect multiple skeleton-dudes to pop out and fire their magic missiles at you, because they are bloody everywhere, and it loses its surprise midway through the level when you learn to expect them every time you see a key or a shiny new gun. That said they tend to make for decent fights, but TGH provides more than enough health so that even the most hit-prone player should be able to recover from every fight and come out just fine, even on UV. In spite of that, he could have definitely done a lot worse, and the final fights get pretty hectic.
On a casual runthrough, this map is pretty simple. Thanks to the relatively linear design, less than surprising battles, and abundance of health, I was able to beat this in about ten minutes without dying or saving on a blind ultra violence runthrough, and that was without the handy rocket secret in the level. But on a speedrun this map is a PAIN and a worthy challenge. I couldn't understand the meaning of a bunch of Hell Knights stuck in a pretty much shooting gallery lineup in front of a door on my first runthrough, where strafing made short work of them...then came the speedrun where an unfinished room behind me and the fact that there are five guarding the necessary door without moving far past it made a speedrun on this map a nasty one. Lying in bed on a laptop at 3 AM with all those obstacles, I was still eventually able to get around a 1:45 UV run, but it was tough. I'm probably going to cry at the sight of a chaingunner for about a month after this experience.
I would imagine 1:30 or better would be possible given better circumstances, and I invite all of you to join me on an attempt to do that. On this map, you wont be missing out. Thank you for an enjoyable map TGH, and I look forward to Year-23.
ORBITAL - Joe Anderson
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 299065 bytes -
Reviewed by: Snakes
Ah, Joe Anderson... anyone who has followed his mapping on Doomworld will know what I mean when I say this: he has made some real strides in the past 1/2 year, or so. Also, he's ambitious, which is a plus. Other people might know him as "Tots Comics guy!" Either way, he went from Time Warp to CASTLE so, good job there.
Well, this here's a big level and the layout is well-done with some good play along the way... if you like massive ammo surplus, that is. The difficulty progresses at an appropriate rate 'n blah blah blah, and it all leads to this battle with Mr. Cybie that happens in a bit of a tight room, and can be super-luck-dependent if you miss ye' ole BFG secret. Which, in a way, I like.
Also, for those of you intrigued, Joe's moved on to ZDoom mapping, and along the way, you'll get all sorts of slopes, particle fountains, deep-water effects, a co-op bot, and shaking-screen effects and what-not. He continues to learn, and clearly has the intermediate stuff down.
Problem: Joe is learning to walk before he can crawl.
Along with those nice effects, there are a bundle o' problems present: doors aren't embedded, textures are misaligned and clash badly... also, for some reason, the slopes have flats that differ from the rest of floor, which is just plain bad looking. It all creates this really, really rough looking map (SEE: screenshots). It's like ZDoom meets 1995, I guess.
All in all, it's an enjoyable playthrough if you can tolerate the first-timer-esque errors. It's nothing new or unique, but there are a couple of well-designed battles.... oh, and the "random" was a nice touch! (AGAIN: Screenie)
Some evil Outpost - Philnemba
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 24613 bytes -
Reviewed by: StupidBunny
The author's first release, and with that in mind the map didn't disappoint. It's designed as a speedmap, although I didn't play it speedrunning and it was fun anyway. [Ed: of course, that's not what speedmapping means.] Everything about it is good and old-fashioned: the low detail, the monster count, the gameplay...it's even an Ultimate Doom map, as opposed to the usual Doom II or whatever. It's a pretty short map, and the battles provide a nice bit of fun without being a mind-numbing slaughterfest, so it's good for a quick little romp. (It also ends in a boss battle, like any good first map.)
On the negative side, it's old-fashioned in other ways too: some areas seem to be too barren of detail, and most of the doors aren't pegged right. Furthermore, the shortness of the map, though not really detracting from its quality, also means that it isn't very memorable, and doesn't have a whole lot of replay value.
Overall...a good, concise first map, nice if you don't mind primitive detailing and just want a few quick minutes of action.
Fortress of Evil - mattjoes
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 234641 bytes -
Reviewed by: printz
This is the author's first map, but it's not a bad map. It's Plutonia-style, with that level of difficulty, and using those textures. Some of the fights show. Still, by how they're built, they can be won with trial and error as you figure them out. It's a bit uneven as well -- some monsters can be totally and safely ignored -- and none too long, but the visuals are quite good, so you may like it anyway as a time killer. While being Plutonia style, it doesn't have that level of quality. At least it's one of those vanilla wads that WORKS on vanilla Doom.
Kimkoh Beast - HairyJerry
Skulltag - Solo Play - 970173 bytes
Reviewed by: Philnemba
Another Decorate monster from HairyJerry, this time a Agatho Demon making stupid farting and pooping sounds. Sadly, I really don't find this at all funny so it's best to avoid this.
Skullspeed DM - PUN1SH3R, SNIPER 109, Malinku, and Peanut
Skulltag - Deathmatch - 491304 bytes -
Reviewed by: Devin
Skullspeed DM, according to the authors, took 24 hours to make. This review, according to the author, probably took longer. Since there are only four maps, I'll cover each one in a little bit of depth. Prepare for words!
MAP01 - "Turmoil" by Sniper 109
The first thing I realized when looking at this map is: it's pretty cramped. The many narrow corridors running through and around the map are so tight that maneuvering well during a firefight can be hard, and the large central portion of the map is rife with crates and barrels that get in the way. The same central area also highlights the primary flaw in the map's layout. While you can get there from many different points in the map, there's only one way to get back out: a narrow stairway that would no doubt turn into Ambush City during gameplay.
The weapon placement is pretty reasonable, but including the rocket and grenade launchers might not have been a wise choice for such a small map. The map's size also results in weapons that you can't avoid picking up, which is bound to cause problems depending on your weapon settings.
Visually, the map is decent, but could use improvement. I know perfect visuals aren't really a priority for speedmaps, but I think the time that Sniper spent adding Tormentor-style bordered floors and ceilings would have been better invested in giving the interior area of the map more than one main wall texture. All SLADWALL and no GRAY makes Jack a dull map, as I always say.
Verdict: Not the best in the pack by far. If you really want to play this one, keep it to two players.
MAP02 - "Dehumanizer" by Pun1sh3r
Compared to MAP01, this map is much larger and doesn't suffer from the same flow problems as its predecessor. The individual areas are more distinguishable, and there's much more breathing room as well. Unfortunately, most of the map is very rectangular. Deathmatch mappers take note: inventive room shapes do wonders for the quality of a layout. Rectangles are boring!
The item placement could also use some touching up. Having the super shotgun and the normal shotgun so close together seems kind of lazy, and a lot of the stimpacks are in places where movement is somewhat limited, like between stairs and walls, near narrow pipes, etc.
Like the previous map, the visuals could have been done better, especially the general color scheme of the map, which is all over the place.
Verdict: More fun than MAP01, but nothing groundbreaking. Pretty ugly texturing.
MAP03 - "The Gray Spitoon" by Malinku
I don't hang around the Skulltag community very much anymore, so the authors of the last two maps were basically unknown to me. Nevertheless, the third and fourth maps make up the better half of the wad, and this one in particular is probably my personal favorite. The layout is wide open, has excellent flow and an abstract sort of design not unlike lots of good oldschool FFA maps. The Skulltag-specific items are used sparingly and suit the map's large size and layout well, but this could also be turned into a solid vanilla map with ease.
This map is more pleasing to the eye than Dehumanizer. There's not much to say in the way of detail, but again, since this is a speedmap, detail isn't that important. The wall textures could use a little bit more variety. Also, the pillar holding the plasma rifle could have been given some sort of lift or support texture to make it more obvious that it's not remotely activated, but that's a pretty minor gripe.
Verdict: Best map in the pack. Ideal for lots of players due to the large, open design.
MAP04 - "Heat" by Peanut
The last map is easily the most detailed out of the four. Unfortunately the detail itself, while not over-the-top, is a little bit reminiscent of Tormentor's guide, which means borders on everything, and yes, computers in walls. Most of the layout is also very orthogonal, much like MAP02, but fortunately the overall design is tight and decent height variation keeps things interesting.
Like MAP03, there's a good bit of breathing room in this map, and all the parts of the map flow together well. Feels vaguely Quake-ish in parts, and could probably go well alongside some of Skulltag's built-in maps both in gameplay and overall theme. No major flaws with the layout to speak of, but like in MAP02, the layout would be better off without so many 90 degree angles everywhere.
Verdict: If you're a fan of Skulltag's built in maps, give this one a shot. I suggest the author take it easy with the detail clichés, though.
Overall, this isn't too bad for a 24 hour wad. Worth trying out if you're getting tired of the same old Skulltag maps.
High/Low 4 - Chris Hansen
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 364125 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
The latest installment in Chris Hansen's most recent series of maps, High/Low 4, is, not surprisingly, a single map for Ultimate Doom running on E4M1 and in the same style as the corresponding original episode. If you're familiar with this guy's work, you know he doesn't produce bad levels, and despite technically being a massive overhaul/remake of one of his earlier maps never released to the public, this level is no exception. The architecture captures the E4 style with precision, and manages to look good all the way through without having a whole lot of detail. The difficulty of the map is medium-ish, probably fairly close to the original E4. In fact although its size is a bit larger than the original levels, and its architecture a bit higher in standard, it would probably fit quite well into the original game. The level progression and gameplay is just as good, and it kept my interest all the way through.
In fact, I only have a few complaints, and they are minor ones at that. Firstly, the map requires ZDoom, but there is no real reason for it to; it's tiny things that are easy to fix yet the author didn't bother to put in just a bit of effort to fix them that create this requirement. As for the map itself, my only complaint is the teleporter guessing game about 2/3 the way through; it really seemed to disrupt the flow, but nonetheless it's minor all the same.
So yes, this is already a pretty long review for a single map, but there's a lot of stuff to admire about this piece of work, especially with good classic style maps becoming rarer and rarer with each passing day. Therefore, the bottom line is that, overall, I can easily recommend this map, just like all the other maps in this series, and nearly all other maps by this author, for that matter. It's about the right length, about the right difficulty, a good capture of the original style, and most importantly, a lot of fun. So in the end, this is one to play.
Claustrophobia 1024 2: The Mystery of Too Many Maps - Various
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 9115283 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
This megawad is the third big community project done in 1024 spirit, so by now I'll assume the rules are well-known and spare this review a long introduction. Anyways, it's 34 maps, most of them revisions of maps that were deemed not good enough to make it into the first Claustrophobia 1024. As might be expected, the standard isn't quite as high, but nonetheless there's a fair deal of good stuff to be had. Architecturally, the maps probably look just as good as those of its prequel. There is plenty of detailing and good stuff to look at even going outside the limited playing area. The new textures are just fine; none seem to look ugly or out of place.
Where this wad is likely to put more people off compared to the prequel is gameplay. Most significantly, if you thought the first was too cramped for you, don't expect much fun from this sequel. There are even more cramped maps, and some obstructive detailing - many maps go even beyond the first installment in squeezing every last inch of size out of the limited space. It can be frustrating, and playing with save and load is recommended, and this might just be one of the main reasons these levels were kept out of the first compilation.
That being said, I actually quite enjoyed it, putting up with any bursts of frustration, and there are still some more "arena-like" maps that have only a few bigger rooms rather than tons of small space and concentrate on intense fighting throughout. The most cramped maps are by KingKill, who made or contributed to about one fifth of the maps in here, and while they look good and have an incredible room count for the space they are limited to, those who have little tolerance for cramped areas will probably find the gameplay particularly dreadful in these maps, along with some others. But I have a decent tolerance for cramped designs, and if you do too, you'll probably like these maps anyways. In fact, I myself enjoyed nearly every level, and was sad to have it end, especially after some clever secret exits (Map15 and 31) and a much more interesting than usual last level (but I won't spoil anything). In terms of progression, it's not the most well-arranged; themes gyrate all over the place from map to map with no specific grouping, but I didn't find that to detract much from the wad, so I can forgive that.
Finally, in terms of "extras", there is also a new soundtrack, and I found it to be quite good and fitting, just like the prequel. As I mentioned before, the new textures mostly add to the look, not detract from it. Like the first Claustrophobia, there are no new sounds, which is always good in my book considering that the original sounds are just fine.
So in the end, we have good architecture, good music, and some nice designs. By now you probably know whether you'll be able to enjoy it or not, and if you think you can put up with the cramped designs, there is absolutely no reason not to download this package. If cramped maps bother you, I have to be considerably more cautious however, and you might be best skipping many of the maps - especially KingKill's, or just looking at their architecture, which is worth seeing regardless of your preferences. I will say once again that I enjoyed it and found it to be a fairly worthy sequel, despite being mostly composed of maps not deemed good enough for the original.