agahz - many
ZDaemon - Deathmatch - 3422193 bytes -
Reviewed by: st.alfonzo
A very wise and penitent looking man wearing a thawb once told me that "a wad that is left idle in the /newstuff chronicles review centre for a lengthy amount of time will age better than fine wine"... At least, that's what I think he said (it was all in Arabic so I couldn't really tell). But having retrieved Agahz from the bottom of the barrel after a criminally long 3 month waiting period, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that the very wise looking man in a thawb was a filthy liar.
Oh good heavens no, the wad was fine! Mostly. It's just that I'd been keeping an extra copy of Doom: Rampage Edition in the cellar for the best part of five years, and it still doesn't play very well...
"Agahz" is a 32-level deathmatch megawad for Doom 2. You can't drink it, which is pretty unfortunate if you're an alcoholic, but you can kill your friends with it (by far the more gratifying of the two). Penned as being neither classic nor new-school DM, each individual map harbours a unique concept or scenario that more often than not is made to interfere with the standard mode of play, sometimes by introducing an element of quirkiness, and sometimes by trying to make you dead. In addition, the entire wad relies solely upon the unique functioning of each of these maps for its success, which is to say that, in compliance with its almost experimental feel, the detailing and layout satisfies no more than what is required by the functioning of these maps. If, for instance, the objective of the particular encounter is to "Slaughter" (map09) your opponents in close quarters with the chainsaw, then the only things you need be certain of is both a) your being given a chainsaw and b) having a sector in which to wield it. Similarly, if the objective of the encounter is to telefrag your opponent by means of flipping switches from stationary positions dotted about the map (map12; "Telefragorama2"), then, once again, you need only expect there to be telefragging, and you need only expect there to be switches... Put simply, the central idea lies with taking variously dangerous concepts and then providing enough visual and kinetic material to accommodate for those concepts.
Kind of like stretching cling film over a bowl of soup.
...Yet, despite its being one of the bigger selling points of the wad, this overall simplicity in design severely deprecates any real longevity with most maps, such that unless you're really taken by a particular concept, the whole experience can quickly run out of steam. In this respect, it's probably safer to suggest that the whole thing be suited better to those kinds of people who are seeking an inventive yet instantaneously chaotic variety of deathmatch, or to those of a manically vivacious disposition. Or to masochists.
Regardless, unless you happen to be a real stickler for detail and all things pretty, it's worth downloading if only to test your preferences.
Space Deathmatch V (1.1 bugfix update) - Various [Jetsons] members
Skulltag - Deathmatch, CTF, Skulltag, Co-op - 9398373 bytes -
Reviewed by: Melon
Space Deathmatch 5 v1.1 contains 34 maps, and they tend to vary all over the place in quality, so I'm going to review them all very briefly. They might have been reviewed before, but I couldn't find it, so here we go again (probably). For a general overview of the entire wad, the maps tend to be rather gimmicky, and if you're looking for very serious competitive maps, you won't find them here.
SSDM01: A simple open map with minor height variations and no health that tends to resort to players either sticking around the plasma/BFG area (the only place with cover) or shotgun sniping a whole lot and generally being defensive. Not great. A midi of Prodigy music is cool, though.
SSDM02: An arena on top of skyscrapers with some small indoor areas and the odd stimpack. The bouncepads make it easy to fall to your death between the buildings unless you spend a while practicing (or maybe I'm just terrible). A bit too open with people flying all over the place.
SSDM03: See screenshot 1. A large lake that players swim in with some on land sections around the edge and on a boat. The fact that everyone is swimming makes for a very different and refreshing change that's a lot of fun. I really enjoyed this map.
SSDM04: A terrible small map with floors with holes in them, killer crushing ceilings, and small platforms with conveyor belts pushing you to your death that play an extremely annoying sound when you walk on them. Awful.
SSDM05: Players spawn on top of an icy slope and try to shoot each other as they go down it whilst jumping over killer death pits. At the bottom is a dull ice arena. What this map needs is for the map to be longer and to have all players respawn back to the top when someone reaches the bottom, as killing each other on the initial trip down is fun, but only really happens once.
SSDM06: Map SSDM01 remixed with more height variation, different weapons, a soulsphere, and an extra section high above with only one way to reach it that ruins the whole map. A shame, as the altered bottom section with the soulsphere moved to a more available spot is what SSDM01 should have been.
SSDM07: See screenshot 2. A map with an empty area around the side and all the weapons placed on small platforms in the middle that you have to jump around. Appallingly bad.
SSDM08: A very small map that's great for dueling. My favourite map of the bunch.
SSDM09: A really weird map. There's a floating water pit in the middle, a really difficult and frustrating section of small platforms below it, and a switch on the side that turns all of the deadly void into a less deadly infinite falling teleport type thing (instead of dying you appear at the top of the level). Certainly unique, but doesn't play well.
SSDM10: See screenshot 3. An arena on two levels, a somewhat open lower underground section and a very open above ground section. It's alright.
SSDM11: A small map with the world's most off-putting skybox. Play tended to centre around the west side, given that most of the health and the plasma gun are situated there. Didn't enjoy it all that much.
SSDM12: See screenshot 4. This is it folks, the deathmatch equivalent of WOW.WAD. In fact, if there was a cyberdemon in the pit then I would think it was WOW.WAD. This is without a doubt the worst deathmatch map I have ever seen. I was going to forgive Esselfortium because he even admits in the text file that it is atrocious, but I can't forgive such an abomination.
SSDM13: This would be a pretty decent map if it had a bit more cover.
SSDM14: A remix of the previous map that makes it worse.
SSDM15: A pretty good map that's great fun, and my second favourite map. The BFG is unnecessary though, and the placement of it just boggles my mind. Why?
SSDM16: See screenshot 5. A room where the players and items randomly move between the floor and ceiling. Fun for a quick blast but gets old fast. Complete chaos.
SSDM17: A nice map that once again suffers from having no health.
SSDM18: A small map with an interesting theme. Plays reasonably well.
SSCTF01: The best CTF map in this wad by a huge margin. Multiple routes through a building in the middle with decent sized areas and hallways. Great fun.
SSCTF02: See screenshot 6. A horrendous CTF map with seemingly random chunks of land over a massive open area. The sides aren't even equal, with the red team getting a megasphere nearer to their spawn. Horrible.
SSCTF03: The CTF equivalent of SSDM07. What it lacks in fun it makes up for in square platforms.
SSCTF04: A boring map with two main pathways from the flags in a big open space and crushers in a room in the middle. The floors even drop into pits sometimes when someone gets the flag, and the weapon selection is awful (super shotguns and chainguns only).
SSCTF05: See screenshot 7. The third worst map in this wad. This is nothing more than two platforms really far away with a single bounce pad on each to fling you over. Far far too easy to capture the flag and as boring as hell. Awful awful awful.
SSCTF06: A volcano themed version of SSCTF03. More small platforms in a huge open area, but this time with lava. It's not even space themed! Also, it's terrible.
SSCTF07: See screenshot 8. Oh for f*@$ sake! I'm not even going to grace this one with a review. What was the author thinking? It's only rated above SSDM12 because, well, SSDM12 is SSDM12.
SSCTF08: A snowy plain between two bases mostly involving railgun and shotgun action. Played better than I expected, and the second best CTF map in the wad.
SSCTF09: This map seemed OK at first, but the shortest route between the two flags has 4 medkits and two blue armours on it, meaning that the flag carriers just end up tanking and the map stalemates way too easily.
SSST01: Never got a chance to try this out, but it looks OK. The map has two main routes between the bases, a large open way and a small corridor way.
SSST02: An interesting Skulltag map where the two skulls are quite close on opposite ends of a thin corridor and the pillars are also close by (but on opposite ends to the skull). The end result is pretty chaotic because the paths are really small and doesn't play too well.
SSST03: A bigger version of the previous map. In fact it's pretty much identical, except looks nicer and everything is bigger. Plays better as a result too. Makes the previous map unnecessary.
SSST04: Never got a chance to try this out. It involves three "islands" that players launch themselves between.
SSCOOP01: An interesting lounge map with a funny disco and a simple and easy conveyor belt game. Great for the time when you're waiting for your friends to connect.
SSCOOP02: A really dark map where you run around with flashlights out. There's not really anything to say about it.
SSCOOP03: An awesome race map where conveyors push you around, and you try to stay on the track while shooting your mates. It's even great fun in single-player mode, and I would love a wad full of maps just like this. Fantastic stuff.
That's it. Finally.
Falstaff - Chris Wright
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 127636 bytes -
Reviewed by: st.alfonzo
Falstaffian: adjective – "Characteristic of the Shakespearean character Sir John Falstaff in being bawdy, pleasure-loving, given to outlandish bragging, and of great size..."
Well I don't know about bawdy or pleasure-loving, but the map certainly is big. Expansive big, that is; not big in the sense that you'd die of thirst trying to reach the other side of the level or anything. People who have played some of Chris Wright's maps before will hopefully latch on to what it is I'm talking about here: The winding mono-sectorial tunnels, huge open spaces, the largely abstract and polygonal design... It's got an element of classic Doom about it. For those who haven't played his maps though, it's probably worth asking whether this is something that works in the map's favour. Does it make it feel authentic? Is the whole thing actually any good? And, most importantly, just who is this John Falstaff person anyway? The answers to these questions and more coming up shortly. But first...
I have a bag of them.
Red ones, blue ones, yellow ones... ones with wonky edges. I love skittles! And because I love skittles, I would very much like to open the bag in order to get at them with my fingers and eat them. Unfortunately however, those fingers are really quite oily due to my having just eaten a packet of macadamia nuts (not the actual packet itself of course; that would be fail), and so in my exasperated, ravenous, greedy want for my dotty treat I rip open the bag and send innocent sweeties scuttling across the tabletop and all over the bouncy floor... Oh no!
But I won't pick them up. Nope. They're fine where they are. Don't touch them!
...This almost haphazard kind of monster placement seems to be everywhere in Chris's map, and it gets in the way of gameplay a fair bit. Enemies are either sulking uselessly in the corner of some wide open space or hounded together in such a way that they may be effortlessly picked off, or forced – often unavoidably – into infighting. Most unfortunate however is that it combats the entire notion which the author seems to be striving for as well: that of using the BFG intelligently and conserving ammo. The ultimate consequence of all this of course is that the whole affair proves to be a lot easier than it should be, and for any player with half a mind of what they're doing, not particularly telling on the ammunition front either... But how does the classic design match up? Does it serve to alleviate matters at all? Well, with all that extra "expansive" space going on it seems only too providing for the gameplay flaw already mentioned, so no, not really. And on an entirely separate front it also falls into the all too familiar trap of having a pervasive lack of detail and variety that pairs poorly with gross open layouts (large, flat monotonous textures etc.), even to such a degree that it fairs below the standards of many maps of the era it denotes. However, I would encourage that Chris stick with whole open abstract thing if he feels it suits him best, and just work on putting the skittles back in the bag. If you catch my banter.
All things said and done, it's nothing to jump ship for, unless of course you're interested in comparing it to other works by Chris thus far, in which case I won't hold a gun to your head.
What's that? "Who's John Falstaff?" That fat guy from Henry V. Don't act like you didn't know.
Dungeon of Misery - DoomHero85
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 80070 bytes -
Reviewed by: Melon
Never before has a wad name so accurately described the emotions I feel as I play it. Now, I like challenging wads, but this level breaks through the challenging barrier at light speed and into the realm of impossible.
You want hard? How about a trap that uses 7 chaingunners at point blank range? You want hard? How about a room with 8 chaingunners on one end, 8 barons of hell in the middle and 6 revenants and an arch-vile at the far end, all while 12 cacodemons and 2 pain elementals join in the fray? You want hard? Imagine coming back to the aforementioned room, only to find a cyberdemon and 2 arch-viles have teleported in and resurrected half of the previous occupants. And did I mention all of this has to be done without a super shotgun?
It's not really much better on the easiest difficulty either. It doesn't contain all of the 31 arch-viles present in Ultra-Violence, but the place is still just as tedious as before, only possible this time. When the author says it's his first map and he spent roughly 8 hours on it, I guess expecting him to have played his own map on all the difficulties it says it supports, never mind balance it, is apparently too much to ask.
The puzzles are even worse. Right at the beginning you're given a dull trial-and-error puzzle with 8 switches, and then immediately afterwards you have to use a wall tucked into the corner of a dark room that isn't even textured as a switch! And don't get me started on the room where 2 of 30 switches need to be pressed to progress and the rest result in an awful hall of mirrors crushing death.
It's all a shame really, as the arch-vile maze was pretty cool. Don't play this; the author clearly hasn't.
Bastet1995 - Markus Stehr
doom.exe - Solo Play - 41297 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
This is a small-medium Doom I/UDoom map, running on E2M1. As suggested by the title, this map's construction isn't unlike that of the old-school days; however, let me add that it's like a very good old-school map at that. The theme is kind of an E1-E2 cross, and the texturing is clean, in spite of very simple architecture. The gameplay is fairly easy but not ridiculously so, and item and monster placement is reasonable. Difficulty settings are also implemented, which surprised me given such an insignificant release (and I don't mean that in a bad way at all). Taken as a map that deliberately tries to feel older than it is, the only issue I can find is that it's possible to grab the red key through the yellow bars, but if you're enjoying the map, you'll play it through anyways - I certainly did. And more importantly, the typical major flaws of old maps (ugly/very random architecture, poor balance, HOMs, etc) are largely not present here. Overall this is a nice little "back to the basics" map that comes hugely recommended for old-school fans and is worth at least one playthrough in any case.
Running trought the ices - Walter "Daimon" Confalonieri
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 642887 bytes -
Reviewed by: StupidBunny
I remember this one. A short while ago the author posted early versions of the first two levels, asking for advice on how to better them. I played through them both, provided my thoughts, and...I guess this is what came out of them.
The first thing that struck me when going to download the final release off of /idgames was the low, low rating the map had, which simply prompted me to wonder what he had done wrong. Then I found the problem: he said in his description that the maps sucked, which prompted the "THEN WHY U UPLODE IT RETARD -1/5" kind of responses. In reality, the maps aren't terrible; at least, not enough to warrant the rating they have.
The first two levels are the best; I'd say probably that MAP02 is slightly better. I had suggested that the author not have so much health and ammo everywhere (the first incarnation of MAP02 had like 10 times more medikits than now for instance) and, while the health problem is mostly fixed, there's still too much ammo on these first two maps (especially bullet ammo). There are a couple of places on MAP01 and MAP02 where the player has to fight archviles with really poor cover and/or with the hallways choked with resurrected monsters, which is always a pain in the ass. I still think the employment of the Mastermind is nice on MAP02; not providing anything above an SSG or chaingun made the battle different from the usual kind. I guess in retrospect playing musical chairs around the crate stacks is a little tedious and easy, but it was still fun. One thing though: did the switch giving access to the yellow key have to be so invisible?
MAP03 was weaker, and while the first 2 maps generally used space well, this one was fought mostly in either very narrow spots or in a cavern full of shotgun sergeants. Fighting the revenants behind the blue door was especially irritating, since I had so little room to maneuver that I kept wanting to lure them out...which was also difficult since the door kept closing on them. The cyberdemon battle at the end was, I guess, a logical followup to the Mastermind battle, and was actually probably more engaging since it's easier for the cyberdemon than the Mastermind to cause quick damage in those circumstances. (I didn't actually find the plasma rifle until the cyberdemon was already dead. :P )
And then we have MAP04, which takes place on a train which I guess is supposed to be moving. This level actually is pretty awful, and really is just running from one cramped room to the next shooting whatever former human varieties are inside. There is a monster spawner making hordes of demons appear outside of the train, but the windows on the train are so small that they don't pose a threat except for on the one outdoor car. The train is also very short, so there isn't a whole lot to slog through, but it's still a pretty ugly end to the episode.
The maps aesthetically follow a similar pattern. They all take place in an ice-bound compound of some kind (hence the name), which is good...I'm kind of a sucker for ice maps. The first two maps are pretty solid for a speedmapping project, and while there are some texture misalignments, for the most part they look pretty good. My only issues are that the detail in some areas hinder movement (the inlays behind the blue door in MAP02 are annoying that way), and there are some SERIOUS slimetrails in the outdoor area in MAP01 that definitely weren't there before. MAP03 still looks decent, but the outdoor area is kind of bare, and the issue of decorations getting in the way is worse. MAP04 is just drab all around...and even without much decoration it's still impossible to get around.
Overall, this holds up all right. It's nothing you haven't seen before, and the quality certainly tapers off as the WAD progresses, but it has its moments and I wouldn't dismiss it entirely.
Astican - Chris Wright
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 115170 bytes
Reviewed by: Mr. Freeze
Astican is a recent map by the controversial CJWright. I have not played any of his other maps, so there is nothing to compare this to.
Upon downloading the .zip, I always take a look at the attached .txt file to prepare myself for the WAD. The very first thing I saw upon bringing the .txt file up was this gem:
"1. There are no secrets
2. This is a linear level
3. Yes, I am comfortable with this"
Right off the bat, something is very wrong. The very first room contains a Baron, two Cacodemons, shotgun guys, Chaingunners, and several Imps. On a pistol start. Any difficulty above ITYTD resulted in sandpaper-covered-dildo-buttfucking aggravation, and I wasn't even out of the first room! I've beaten both Hell Revealeds on UV, but starting the player off like this just screams idiocy.
The rest of the level is a jumbled mess. The rooms range from rock/stone to techbase in the span of one room, the entire level is crammed full of powerful monsters without much health, and the whole WAD feels like a beta. The first room has a door that does not open and has no tag. A staircase near the end switches textures from STEP1 to BRICK12 without any hint of transition. Techbase and wood themes both used at once, resulting in laughably clashing sights. This entire WAD reeks not only of laziness, but of ineptitude.
I have no idea what CJ was trying to get across with this WAD, but it backfired badly. The best advice I can give him is to shut up, man up, and try harder.
Thirst for Blood v2.0 - Laete Meireles (a.k.a Drak[X])
Skulltag - Deathmatch - 197208 bytes -
Reviewed by: Melon
Take note: thin and curved walkways that are difficult to run across quickly over damaging slime pits and long thin corridors do not make for a good deathmatch level. Neither does placing powerful powerups on ledges that are only reachable by spawning there, especially if one of these is in a room that also has a super shotgun, rocket launcher and green armour. Whoever spawns there is pretty much guaranteed to get a rather big unfair head start on everyone else.
To quote the author himself: "bullshit! ;-)" This is a pretty bad map for deathmatching in.
It looks nice though.
The Compound - Ceeb
GZDoom - Solo Play - 7430340 bytes -
Reviewed by: st.alfonzo
Ceeb's "The Compound" is a fairly small and enjoyable yet largely run-of-the-mill level of the "atmoscript" variety: that all too frequently fruitless fashion of blending together atmosphere and scripting for the betterment of believability. It isn't so hopelessly garbled and convoluted in the same way that many of them seem to be, but neither is it pitch perfect. Actually (and quite unusually as well), I'm happy to report that most of its faults derive from an uninspired design and lack of variety in texture and lighting, probably on account of my not being so horribly at odds with the scripting that it should so dominate my train of thought.
I began the level as I suspected I might: paralysed outside a door, struggling with the reception, and confronted by a sequence of yellow letters. Thankfully though, my being diagnosed with freemanic paracusia meant I was able to read through every word of my mission objective without incident (even if it was only one or two lines long), and subsequently every other wall of text. Of course, where the remainder of the level's scripted events trundled along the path of predictability (divert power and/or sludge; collect data; blow up facility), Morgan Freeman was powerless to assist, and I was made to rely upon the greater strengths of the map to maintain a more positive light.
The difficulty starts off fairly sedate, but doesn't ramp up to any great height. Instead, most of the problems arise from there being a slight depravity of health, and from the very few but surprisingly dangerous traps, however obvious. It's never been something I enjoy in a map, that I should find an enemy in my craving stimpacks as well as in my fellow demon, and together with a somewhat questionable monster usage at times, it all seems to contribute to an inconsistency of gameplay that, although not destroying for the map, does detract from the added experience of its being a level of immersing qualities. The visuals are, as stated previously, lacking, although I do occasionally catch on to the sneaking suspicion that my accusations of such visual efforts are afflicted by the knowing that the wad is for an "advanced" source port, so perhaps it is unfair of me to say. Either way, it pervaded across my conscious as being the most disappointing aspect of the map, shown most prominently in, again, the uninspired design, as well as the poor use of lighting and texture.
However, regarding the map "atmoscriptically", I was pleasantly impressed by the level of atmosphere and involvement that was achieved in spite of these faults, which probably goes to show that they simply aren't severe enough to prevent the map from accomplishing its aims, and that yes, you should give it a go and see for yourself anyway! Unless you don't like these kind of levels, in which case you should go eat a badger.
8-bit Binary Addition - Xtroose
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 182365 bytes -
Reviewed by: Melon
Finally! I can't count the number of times I've been playing Doom and suddenly needed the number 73 in 8-bit binary format and needed it RIGHT NOW!
This map will do addition for you in 8-bit binary format by using some rather clever voodoo doll trickery, and it's all in plain sight so you can watch them be pushed about while it adds the numbers up. It's as impractical and pointless as it sounds, but I don't mean that in a negative way.
Obviously this wad has no gameplay in it at all, but it's worth checking it out if you want to study how to add conditional logic to your switches. For sheer novelty value alone, I rate this wad 00000100 out of 00000101.
Fun Fact: There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary addition, and those who don't. It's true!
February 14th Sucks - Cheetahmen
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 55361 bytes -
Reviewed by: Melon
This wad contains one level that was made on Valentine's day. Although the author was apparently suffering from a lack of love that day, the map design wasn't. This map is small, yet pretty. I can't really fault the architecture at all (I'm willing to overlook the fact that you can shoot through the glass window at the start).
The bad news is that there is a severe lack of ammo in the map, and you'll be required to punch a lot of enemies to death or else you'll end up with nothing left later on when the more dangerous enemies appear. This is especially bad in Ultra-Violence, where the addition of a Baron of Hell and a few Hell Knights will just soak up all your ammo and you will definitely run out even if you manage to punch all of the imps and demons earlier in the level and get a bit of infighting going. This resulted in the level being no fun on Ultra-Violence, but I enjoyed Hurt Me Plenty, and it was still a reasonable challenge.
Overall, the map is a great way to spend 10 minutes or so, but even if you're a seasoned DooM veteran, I'd advise you to play on an easier difficulty and with a source port that fixes the BLOCKMAP bug so that your ammo goes further. Then again, the author has the same first name as me, so maybe I'm biased.
Entry - Steve W. Long
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 70419 bytes -
Reviewed by: Melon
If you were to ask me to give you the general theme on how this level looks and plays, I don't think I could answer you. The level starts off really dark and quite tough, but both the difficulty and looks begin to slowly lighten up as you progress through it, eventually concluding in a big, bright, and very easy outdoor expanse. The level design plays with a deep contrast between sunlight and shadowy areas, and looks very pretty for it, but I felt that the dark areas were perhaps a bit too dark, as I sometimes struggled to see what I was doing, especially right near the start of the map.
Gameplay-wise the map has far far too much ammo. I'm talking entire cell batteries that I couldn't pick up as I was already at full level. As the author added better armour and weapons, the amount of enemies didn't seem to accommodate this very well, resulting in a quite severe difficulty drop. It ended up feeling like the level slowly began to run out of steam as it progressed. I got the impression that the author got bored with making it.
It's definitely not a bad level, but given the comments in the description it seems more like it was designed to showcase the light/shadow design and the doors rather than designed for gameplay, and it shows. The map is lacking the necessary "OOMPH!" required for me to recommend playing it, so I won't.
Simply Phobos - Paul Corfiatis (pcorf), Kristian Aro (Nebula)
doom.exe - Solo Play - 795982 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
Originally released in September 2004 but just now re-released with bug fixes and improved/optional music, Simply Phobos is an full episode replacement (yeah!) for Ultimate Doom (and it can be run with vanilla doom.exe) running from E1M1-E1M9. While it was undoubtedly covered in the Chronicles upon its initial release, I fully believe a project of this size (and to a fair extent, quality) is more than worthy of replaying and re-reviewing. Starting with the basics, as the title implies, it concentrates on E1 style, from the Phobos architecture to the low-profile monsters and relatively easy gameplay. So if you happen to already be sick to death for some reason of E1 like maps, you probably might as well not bother playing, let alone replaying, this episode. That does not, however, mean that you should not download this wad; read on.
The gameplay, as mentioned, sticks strongly to the original E1. Mostly zombiemen, shotgunners, imps, and demons inhabit the levels of the episode, with few, if any, higher-level monsters, barring the final Baron fight on E1M8. While those looking for a challenge will be at least somewhat disappointed, this easy gameplay always had a good side for me and probably others - rarely does it get frustrating, and it doesn't always have to be hard to be fun. On the other side of gameplay (progression), all seemed sound to me; I don't ever remember being stuck, and the levels flow fairly well.
The architecture, while perhaps not quite authentic E1, certainly retains the overall style and looks good on its own as well. I always thought Paul managed to produce good architecture without using excessive detail, and these maps are no exception. The E1 style is still retained enough as not to significantly hurt the "feel" this episode was intending to produce, especially when combined with the definitive Phobos gameplay.
There is new music, which is good as usual from Paul, but since alone it might dampen the authentic E1 feel slightly, the author made it optional. It is included in a separate wad and should be loaded after the main wad if it is to be used. The tracks are the same as in the previous version, but they have been revised slightly (and made optional).
In the end, this is a good and solid episode that I highly recommend playing or even replaying if you still enjoy that old fashioned, classical Knee-Deep style after all these years.
But wait - there's more!
Call within the next 15 minutes and we'll...oops, this isn't a commercial. Anyways, remember when I said in the first paragraph that even if you're sick of E1, it doesn't mean you shouldn't download this? Well, that's all because of Kristian Aro's masterpiece of a bonus level, E2M9.
First of all, unlike the main episode, this map does require use of a limit-removing port. I didn't include such a mention in the "source port" section above (in the basic notes) however, because it would spoil the surprise of a bonus map I didn't unveil until just now. On to the map itself: while it's reachable only with idclev or by playing the original E2 through the secret exit on E2M5, this is one level not to be missed. This level is not in the E1 style, but more like a mix of E3 and E4, with perhaps just a tiny bit of E2 or E1 thrown in for good measure. It's much harder, with Barons and Cacos appearing frequently amongst the other Doom 1 monsters, and even a Cyberdemon in the middle. If you're looking for a challenge, this map will deliver, and not in a frustrating way either. The whole thing captures what's best about the second half of Ultimate Doom and combines it into a large, gorgeous, and unmissable map that would serve excellently as a standalone release.
In fact, I can hardly raise any faults for this map at all; regardless of taste, this one is really not to be missed. In fact, despite being a bonus level and not in the E1 style, I'd say that, ironically, it's actually the highlight of the whole thing. Well, at least it was for me, but the main episode was by no means a disappointment. This level most certainly makes the whole package worth downloading, even if you're bored to death of E1 style maps. Brilliant stuff, and it's most certainly the icing on the cake for an already high-quality package.
So yes, I know this was kind of like two reviews in one. But I really feel that E2M9 deserves special attention, so I reviewed it much like it was its own release. I even left four screenshots for that map - almost as many as I left for the entire episode. The bottom line is that the main episode is recommended as long as you still like Knee-Deep maps, which I'm sure a good majority of the community does, and E2M9 is basically universally recommended, and is alone worth the price of admission.
neg_!ke's 1024 Map for Doom II - neg!ke
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 109016 bytes -
Reviewed by: Melon
For those who don't know, a 1024 level is one where all of the gameplay (everything but scenery and monster teleport closets) is contained within a 1024x1024 space, which is about 32 Doomguys across. This is one such level (as you might have gathered from the name).
Apparently it was rushed to meet a competition deadline, and so only supports one difficulty level, but otherwise I'd have been hard pressed to notice. It looks great, although I felt "trapped" by the scenery in one room which was a bit annoying, but not really a big deal. I really liked the layout of the level personally.
Gameplay mostly involves human enemies and imps and shotgunning some who are high above you on thin ledges, with a few demons and Cacodemons thrown in for giggles. There was an annoyingly tricky jump, and I felt that some of the rooms were perhaps too small and cramped, but that's probably a given for 1024 maps. It's nothing spectacular and not very memorable, but I still had fun while it lasted. It would work well as a map in a multi-level wad, as on its own there's not too much to make it stand out. It probably takes longer to download and set up the wad than it does to complete it.
Doom Advent Calendar 2005 Texture WAD - Shitbag, aka Ray
n/a - n/a - 178112 bytes
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
This package includes all the custom textures used in the Doom Advent Calendar 2005 (DAC2005) project, the only successful DAC to date. It's worth downloading for material to borrow and consider using for your own wad(s).
The /newstuff Chronicles #364