Abandoned Megawad - yylow30
GZDoom - Solo Play - 3359405 bytes -
Reviewed by: st.alfonzo
Abandoned Megawad can essentially be described as the development of a single mapper's skills and interests charted over the course of 23 experimental and incoherent levels. And then some. To pin "megawad" on the backside of this donkey is undoubtedly misnomer, however, for although the maps in their numbers may succeed in fulfilling this inept definition of the coinage, there is little material here that might convince me of its being "mega" over anything that draws connotation with indifference or landfill. Simply put, this is one of the worst collection of maps I have ever had the misfortune of clicking on, and is probably a good indication that I should consider changing my current methods of wad selection when wanting to review something (a method which currently involves a needlessly complex system of numbers, dice rolls, and the observational frequency of spacing between "claimed" reviews. Call me nuts!).
The first five maps demonstrate this experimental trend well enough. Limited to either a select few textures, monsters or seconds of play, players can bolt through their "blockly" walls before their lips even touch the coffee, and hopefully before they notice how downright woeful and lacking the maps are. Beyond the fifth map however an interesting development occurs. Rather than dissecting the black void of Doom Builder with wasteful lashes of line and vertex, the author opts for something that could arguably be considered the resemblance of a level, and the player is introduced to the wondrous world of gameplay and mental application. Or something pertaining to that end if nothing else. At the same time though, we are made to endure the phenomenon of copy-paste material, not only within the scope of rooms, but within entire maps as well. And many times over. The gameplay - when it finally shifts into first gear - is horrendously imbalanced what with the abundance of hitscanners and poor monster placement, and even the maps that are tolerable in this respect are so fleeting and unimpressive that they serve only to remind you of everything else that you've had to put up with thus far.
What ever was yylow30 hoping to achieve with the release of this preposterous assortment of codswallop? Not much, judging by the text file, and while a minority of levels grasp feebly on to a passable or even decent standard (maps 11, 23), showing flare and effort, the collection of maps as a whole is just so monstrously poor that I'd rather guzzle horse piss than pretend it ever existed.
Parallel Forces - Richard Smith Long
GZDoom - Solo Play - 5205593 bytes -
Reviewed by: Farm Fresh
Parallel Forces is a class-based single player WAD that features three classes with three different sets of weapons. There's the UAC Marine, who has standard weapons like a shotgun and an assault rifle, as well some more unique weapons like a flak gun, a crowd-control gun that shoves enemies away, and even a mini Nuke launcher for a BFG replacement. The Marine definitely has the largest arsenal of all the classes, easily doubling the other classes. Next is the Cultist, who begins with a freezing hit-scan attack and some dynamite sticks which you can cook and throw to increase range. There's also a human heart that launches a powerful projectile when used, and a special gauntlet that makes any enemy vanish in one hit. To balance, the Cultist also has less ammo and has to be more careful in wasting it. Last is the Commando, who has some more bizarre versions of the Marines weapons, like dual pistols, a spike gun, and homing missiles.
I imagine the WAD is probably built well for co-op, but even solo it's a fresh way to play your favorite maps. It's a little disappointing that the Cultist and Commando have such small arsenals, and the Commando definitely has the least interesting and effective weapons. However, these problems aren't so glaring that anyone who enjoys class-based experiences will hate the WAD. If you're looking for a new way to play, Parallel Forces will bring you just that in a very polished package.
Newgothic - movement 1 - Christopher Shepherd aka Armouredblood
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 7752589 bytes -
Reviewed by: st.alfonzo
Well I hope you've had your Weetabix, because this mapset will knock the socks off your feet and hang them up to dry. Introducing the first movement of Armouredblood's Newgothic: a set of maps so difficult and so time consuming in tactical preparation, you'll probably be able to grow, trim and sell your own beard in the time it takes to run through it all. Impressive, I know, but don't spend it all at once.
While "movements" typically synonymise with musical scoring, slaughter mapsets - particularly gothic ones - can probably be considered dramatic and pulse pounding enough in their gameplay for this sort of title to be used outside its contextual heritage. This having been said, the wad's tracks are pretty damn fresh either way you tilt your eardrum and almost warrant the title usage by themselves. Any good slaughterset that can tell the difference between trees and broccoli knows that a good musical score means good business, and Newgothic delivers on this front better than the Royal Mail fresh out of a workers' strike.
Yet music is only one small slice of the opulent splatter-pie we call Doom. In most of the maps present here, monsters are so plentiful that you'd swear they were procreating onscreen. You've barely time to goggle at the detail and architecture around you as you're too focused on vanquishing entire hordes of demons using what, in comparison, could only be described as weapons ineffective to the cause. In retrospect, the whole affair can be likened to attacking a bowl of rice krispies with a surgical knife. But that's cool, of course, because we all enjoy facing off against insurmountable opposition with the clear and present knowing that eventually we'll come out on top one way or other, and Gothic does a good job of presenting you simultaneously with both a sea of intimidation and a clear path to victory, paved with abundant resources and opportunity for survival. In other words, it's your own fault if you die on the gothic battlefield, as even with no real pre-knowledge of the encounter you have more than a mere sliver of hope in pulling out alive.
Mind you, the difficulty isn't exactly balanced out across the board. Tackling the first few maps faces the player up against various challenges that range between being incredibly difficult to almost paradoxically easy, which on top of some of the other existing inconsistencies (see below) might be considered something of a letdown for the wad. In one instance you could be made to use your brain in overcoming an obstacle, but in another you might be inclined merely to shepherd your opponents into a ring of internal warfare and wait until the threat kills itself off (in a manner all too reminiscent of Journey to Hell). This point is somewhat contested by the fact that these maps are built with speed running in mind, and that to sit back and mull it over is to waste seconds on the clock, but it's still unfortunate to see that in situations where the player is required or forced into combating a situation head-on, he isn't always made to be inventive in his approach, or at the very least conform to the author's intentions.
Digging ever deeper into the mix we find that some inconsistencies extend beyond matters of difficulty. The design, for one, jumps around a fair bit, and although most levels stick intently to that gothic theme, the semantic dependencies of the word are really stretched to accommodate for some of the vastly different styles (classic gothic; cityscape; island; UAC Ultra; cavernous, etc...). Added into the mix is the absence of any sort of real coherency between levels in terms of gameplay, as at almost completely random intervals can you expect there to be either a full blown slaughter map or a smaller concept map, give or take...
...But let's face it. When concerning ourselves with slaughter maps it's hard to merit these sort of criticisms, because in choosing this gameplay design over another we've opted for something that focuses more on single-bodied encounters than on presenting an overall impression through transition of style or difficulty progression. These are issues which - again discussing slaughter maps - must apply within the scope of individual levels in order to carry any weight at all, and to that end, NewGothic is one of the most cohesive and well balanced mapsets of its sort.
I can't recommend this wad to those who have never displayed even the slightest bit of interest in slaughtermaps, but to those dedicated few, Newgothic is one of the greatest investments you could make this Christmas, and is a gift that will keep on giving well into next year and probably beyond. Hopefully by then you'll have raked in a fortune from your beard growing antics, and will have siphoned off 10% of the profits to my off-shore bank account in Switzerland.
Descent into The Absolute - CarpetolA
Skulltag - Deathmatch - 12808571 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
displmnt.wad is a six level deathmatch episode for GZDoom or Skulltag.
I loaded this wad up in Skulltag and battled it out with my single bot opponent. Guess what, it was pretty fun. The maps have fairly well interconnected layouts and are nice looking to boot. The maps seem to be mostly suitable for three to four players (except for map 04 and perhaps map 01, which I personally think may serve better for duels.) Of the episode, map 05 would have to be my favorite due to the desolate atmosphere set by the hellish surroundings and the music.
Speaking of music, one nit-pick I have is that a couple of maps use PSX tracks, while the other maps use MUS files from the original Doom. I find this a bit inconsistent. Another personal nit-pick would be the OpenGL restriction. As far as I can tell, it was only used for a few lighting effects in some of the maps.
In the end I believe the pros outweigh the cons, so next time you deathmatch try giving this wad a shot.
Camelot (CAMELOT.WAD) - Joe
Heretic Support - Solo Play - 81360 bytes -
Reviewed by: st.alfonzo
I wasn't going to bother with Camelot if the truth be known, but that bastard Python song just keeps on playing in the back of my head like a broken reel, and if I don't face the music soon it'll probably mutate into something pustulant or malignant. Possibly cancerous. I'm half expecting Chapman to clip-clop his way into my living room impersonating Clark Gable and professing the shape of the world to be that of a banana, although thankfully I don't think it will ever come to that. The closest thing you'll ever get to such medieval tripe in this wad is a troupe of axe wielding Undead Warriors and a musical score so inappropriately tinny and out of its element I sort of wonder why I ever made the dive.
Camelot is a single map for Heretic set in and around the grounds of a largish castle. While the word "Camelot" is etymologically meant to define the entire Arthurian city rather than just the forts and turrets that protect it, modern particularities have diminished this definition down to represent the only part anyone could ever give a rat's backside about anyway: The Knights of the Round Table, and their big-ass fort.
The map is small enough despite its scale that it can be finished in under ten minutes, and can be watered down into five or six distinct areas the player has to pass through before reaching the exit. These areas (the moat/perimeter; the castle grounds; the dungeon; the castle itself; the stable/stall area and the worshiper's tribunal) all contribute to the setting well enough, but it's evident that something more was needed in order to really give an impression of awe, and of wandering through the likes of a legendary castle. More too than a general improvement to detail and structural variety.
For one, the monster count is incredibly low, and the amount of open space the player is given to run amok in really diminishes the difficulty tenfold. For two, the ammo count is quite low as well, which - although detracting from the difficulty issue a little bit - hardly allows the player to assail the castle walls and defeat its roguish inhabitants in the manner one would like. The map comprises running around scavenging ammunition and pecking at the locals, all the while expecting a gargantuan entourage of weredragons or warriors to burst through the castle walls screaming blood and archaic profanity. That entourage, of course, never arrives, and after conquering the forces of Camelot you're left holding the fort with an immense degree of dissatisfaction that would rival even the likes of Otis Redding.
Most players will be turned away from this map by its unsightly architecture and detail, and that's all fair and flowers in the land of modern Dooming. But what really gets my goat - what really tugs on my entrails - is the inexcusably underwhelming gameplay and atmosphere brought on by minimal combat, anticlimax and a character irrespective of the map's title.
No dice. No cigar. Es sólo un modelo.
Chemical Depot 6 - Poppy Jones
Skulltag - Solo Play - 129783 bytes
Reviewed by: Farm Fresh
I'm having trouble finding a word or phrase to describe this map. Wait, no I'm not: trash. Without wasting your time on trying to get it to run, here's what happens:
Step 1: Push a button and lower a lift
Step 2: Fight two Cacodemons that spawn in behind you (if the stupidly named script doesn't fail)
Step 3: Have the color of the door change, locking you inside a room the size of your grandmother's hallway permanently.
Your options from here are either "be trapped forever with only your SSG to keep you company," or "cheat and open one of the doors, at which point you are promptly telefragged by yourself and made to stare at the picture of Carnevil (I believe) from Skulltag."
If by some maniacal, twisted urge you find yourself wanting to play this WAD, I would suggest that you bash your head into the wall vigorously and repeat "I need a bigger brain." Much like drugs, say no to this WAD.
Old memories - Wraith
Heretic Support - Solo Play - 187339 bytes -
Reviewed by: Gez
Old Memories is a large map for Heretic, taking the E4M1 slot. The readme says this requires ZDoom, but it also says ZDoom is required because it will not work in WHeretic -- and given the lack of any ZDoom-specific feature, it would probably work in any limit-removing Heretic port. That said, some areas which may or may not be meant to be accessible (monster cages in which ammo and items may randomly appear when dropped by the enemies) can only be reached by being crouched while flying.
The first thing that can be said is that this a challenging map if you try it in ultra-violence (sorry, smite-meister). The starting area will have you trampled by a massive swarm unless you are very lucky, rather tactically minded, and have excellent footwork. It is a lot easier, though still not easy, in skill 3.
The gameplay consists mostly in fights against swarm of enemies that are often reinforced through teleportation from their remote holding pens. Health and armor are sparse, and so is ammo in the beginning. The architecture has an elegant simplicity to it, though it is sometimes nonsensical, such as when a large door opens to reveal nothing but a tiny corridor behind it. The level flow is sometimes a bit confusing, with switch hunts, backtracking, and a non-linearity of design that involves a couple of red herrings.
Overall, it's not a bad level, even though it could have been better. Worth a look if you like Heretic maps.
marbfort - Blaskowicz
Vanilla - Solo Play - 183841 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
marbfort.wad is a five level single player episode for Doom 2. I played it on Hurt Me Plenty (which is how I pretty much play all of my wads, FYI.)
In today's adventure I enter a wad called marble fortress, and a marble fortress is what I find. The maps aren't very detailed, but are clean (no misalignments or glaring errors) and are visually appealing without being cluttered. This makes me happy, because unlike many maps these days, it seems the architecture was built around the gameplay. The levels usually require all three keys, but can still be completed fairly quickly. The difficulty is pretty tame to the end. I never felt particularly threatened throughout the episode except for an instance that occurred in the first level.
All in all, I enjoyed these simple maps, and I recommend you play them too. It isn't anything super fancy, but it is just good old Doom 2.
Ready for a plot twist?
Map 5 is missing the last required key on difficulties lower than Ultra Violence. Okay okay, so the author did say "Recommended difficulty: Ultra Violence!", but I guess he was really recommending the hell out of it. If you are going to pull a stunt like that (don't), at least warn the player in the text file explicitly. In the end I had to open the map in an editor just to realize I couldn't find it because it was only marked for skill 4. That is too bad, because it about ruined the feel-good mood I was attaining. At least now that you're warned, perhaps the same won't happen to you.
Revolting Rocks - Adam "Khorus" Woodmansey
Vanilla - Solo Play - 50229 bytes -
Reviewed by: Maes
I don't hide the fact that I picked this map up because I wanted to do a quick review to warm up for 2011, so the "speedmap" attribute sounded like a promising lead.
It is, in fact, a rather short cave speedmap which however pleasantly surprises the player with its initial level of detail, which wouldn't look bad as part of a bigger production such as Sunder or Deus Vult, or even as the first level in a Plutonia-like mapset. The choice of non-damaging nukage for most of the map's floors is a bit unusual, but works nicely.
The map itself is actually quite tricky to complete the first time you try to run through it, at least in UV. There are only 62 monsters of which several are imps and zombies, but don't let that fool you; you will be faced with Mancubuses, Hell Knights, and even an Archvile later on.
Plus, if you simply choose to charge forward mindlessly and try to kill everything you encounter as soon as possible, you'll find yourself scrounging for ammo and resorting to fists already from the second room. Luckily, the map may be linear, but it allows skipping, running, backtracking and even taking an alternative route right from the start, so you can throw in some strategy, skip some fights and return to them once you've grabbed the SSG, or simply try to "speedrun" the whole thing.
At that point however fights become heavier, ammo ceases being a problem, but health is in even shorter supply, so pulling through the whole map in one go is still a reasonable challenge no matter what path you choose. Definitively worth my and your time as well.
Tested on vanilla (runs like a charm, no obvious limits hit) and ZDoom 2.2.0 and 2.5.0.
Deimos Deja Vu - hervoheebo
Vanilla - Solo Play - 513398 bytes -
Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
This wad is actually an updated version of the previous Deimos Deja Vu, released back in July and reviewed by The Ultimate Doomer in August. The main changes have been to make all maps fully vanilla-compatible, and also to expand the crate area in E2M2 somewhat. While I was a tester, in fact the main tester, throughout this project's development, I feel a relatively detailed, unbiased review is in order, as this is really a not-to-miss episode.
Replacing all of Episode 2, this wad re-imagines all nine levels from the author's perspective. Each map in this episode has designs strongly influenced by the design of the corresponding original map, but with just enough changes in layout and progression such that the player, while feeling a strong sense of "deja vu" as implied by the title, does not feel as if he/she is simply replaying the original episode again.
The gameplay is at least as challenging as the original E2, maybe a bit more, but it is by no means an ultra-hard wad. There are more monsters in these maps compared to the originals, but more health and ammo to compensate and the action didn't seem to get boring. Level progression is good and includes a few areas not necessary to visit on most maps, although these areas are less abundant than they were in the original, where many rather large maps could actually be completed rather quickly (though E2M6 and 7 were not short by any means). There are no significant puzzles required to complete, although the secret exit takes quite a bit more work to reveal compared to the original E2 secret exit.
The architecture is not very detailed, as you'd expect from a vanilla and original-style mapset. However generally good texture choice and usage assures that overall, the maps look at least as good as and probably a little nicer than the originals, while retaining the same style of looks.
There is no new music and the level names are, as would probably be expected, the same as in the original E2. It's a levels-only game strictly, but one not to miss, especially if you didn't play it back in the summer when the first version came out. If you did, it might just be worth playing again, especially E2M2. All in all, I found this a highly recommendable download, especially for nostalgia fans, but also for other players. It's also nice to see a solid E2 re-imagining appear amongst the masses of numerous E1 re-imaginings.
Firestorm - Varant Yessayan
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 271950 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
Firestorm is a one-level single player wad for ZDoom/GZDoom, which the author claims was originally made in '96 and retooled into this version. I apparently must escape a holding cell and find a subway train to exit.
Now I am sure every Doomer had found themselves in this situation at least once before. You begin in a cage/prison cell of some sort, and all you have is your starting pistol. While most people would instantly know to find the nearest switch and shoot it, it took me a minute to figure that out. I am either getting rusty, or I am just really dumb.
As soon as I escaped, I made it my first primary objective to get hopelessly lost as quickly as possible, and I managed that successfully. While trying to find my way, I noticed little details like the base was mostly made of cement textures (which are very underused in my opinion), and that while the map's layout took on the usual abstract nature of a doom map, it also included little bits of Doomy "realism" (blocky furniture, health stations, bathrooms, etc). It gave me a good idea of what it would be like to live in a Doom map (watch out for the nine foot fall when you get out of bed.) Absurd thoughts like these were probably a sign I needed to figure out where the hell to go. This is when I noticed all of the small open air ducts in the map.
Although the author doesn't specify, you need to crouch in this map, and I guess that should have been assumed since he does specify jumping and freelook. I found many locked doors scattered about the map that needed to be opened with switches. There was one spot in the map where I fell in a crevice between two crates, and after punching and humping everything around me, I realized my options were exhausted. The mission wasn't going well. After noclipping out of there (and dying and reloading a few times due to pesky hitscanners and tight quarters), I eventually acquired the yellow pass, and marched on to the exit.
If you don't want to read this novel, the synopsis is: It is an okay map that combines an interesting layout with some neat little details. However, the map is a bit switch-hunty sometimes, and it may be a bit easy to get lost. The only real thing to watch out for is getting trapped in the room in the sixth screenshot. If you are really bored and have already tried the latest big releases, give it a go.
F_Episode 2 - Matthew "Foodles" Edwards
Vanilla - Solo Play - 343725 bytes -
Reviewed by: Never_Again
2010 saw the release of several complete episodes for (Ultimate) DOOM. Of these, Foodles' F_Episode 2 is the most old-school one. The design is quite similar to Shores of Hell, with some locations an evident nod to the original. Nothing has been copy-and-pasted, though: the similarity is in the spirit, not specific structures. In that, the levels succeed admirably, perfectly reproducing the sinister atmosphere of the original.
The maps range in size from compact to medium, all fairly linear. In keeping with the theme, the design focuses on simple architecture and lighting combined with minimal detail. Not as bare as Needs More Detail, more restrained than Phobos: Anomaly Reborn or 2002ADO. While it's undeniably more polished than its source of inspiration, there is a certain gritty feel that gives it an edge. If you are tired of spit-shined, slicker-than-cowshit E1 imitations this set will offer a refreshing change.
My first impression was that of a good 1994 WAD; after playing the maps over again I feel this evaluation must be upgraded to excellent. While I liked the first four levels best - the maps in the second half are more on the mazy side, with somewhat cramped, confusing layouts - overall the episode is a solid package of wholesome old-school goodness.
This is a an updated version of the episode. It fixes a couple of critical bugs in the original November release and livens up the gameplay by boosting the number of baddies. There is still some occasional tutti-frutti here and there, so you're better off playing these with any port other than Chocolate DOOM. Oh, and watch your step when you climb the first pile of crates on E2M2 - there is no way out of the little space between the crates on the left.
Man in the Mirrew - Ruba
Vanilla - Solo Play - 7091 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
The textfile informed me that I am a man, which I found flattering.
Anyway, this map is about as simple as it gets; the only monsters you fight are some barons and a not-so-well-hidden arch-vile. The gimmick the map revolves around is a copy-pasted hallway that you can only view and not access, as well as a couple of door sectors that share the same index (so a crude mirror). I made a postcard of it for your viewing pleasure. Well, that's it.
BOBKDv2.WAD - Bob Carter
Vanilla - Solo Play - 301017 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
F_episode 2, Base Ganymede: episode 2, and Deimos Deja Vu. All of which were well-made classic Doom episode replacements released quite recently. I bet you didn't know about the fourth episode that debuted in the archive last November. Straight from the maw of 1994 comes Bob Carter's Bobkdv2.wad, an episode 1 replacement taking place on DEU Phobos. It may be safe to say it isn't quite as polished as the aforementioned wads, but let's give it a shot.
E1M1: A small but spacious map. Save for some indoor sections, the map is made almost entirely of STONE2. Although the areas are large, the opposition isn't too heavy and can be dealt with easily. Much of this map can be skipped since the exit is accessible early on, although you might not immediately realize that due to its location.
E1M2: The layout is symmetrical and somewhat flat looking due to little height variation. The action is easy but entertaining. The review of this map is about as long as the map.
E1M3: The opening scene (and center of map) is actually kind of cool looking. It sort-of resembles a crude looking stone-henge. It is still pretty easy, but the layout is a little more complex than the previous two maps. The path to reach the secret exit is a bit obscure at first, but I found it by accident when humping everything in the throne room in my attempts to escape it. The regular exit can be reached without keys.
E1M4: The map starts off interesting enough, and I am soon in direct contact with Doom furniture. However, soon after escaping that room I run into what I believe to be the early concept of copy-pasta, and I find myself slaughtering my way through identical grid-shaped corridors with little compartments. I found some keys before I found the doors they led to, but it was okay I guess because I suddenly hit an unmarked exit switch and was ejected straight into E1M5.
E1M5: This one has more interesting architecture than the previous map. Even from a pistol start, I feel like I am being over-stocked for the enemies I am facing. Better to have too much than to have too little may have been what the author was thinking. This map features a quaint computer room-like area where you battle on two levels.
E1M6: I begin facing a multitude of crates in a full-bright room where I am promptly assaulted by a cacodemon. My initial negative feelings for the map are somewhat abated when I stumble upon the large somewhat impressive looking nexus room. In fact this map ends up being pretty fun. It isn't a stroll through the park like the previous maps were, but it still isn't so hard.
E1M7: Soon after we begin the map, we hear the roar of a cyberdemon. Fortunately for me, the poor sap is stomping around in a little cage and can't really do much in the way of pain. Unless you are going for 100% kills there is no real need to even touch him, so I let him be. The map does look nice for when it was made, but this one may get confusing. Beating it requires walking through some not-so-obvious triggers. The first time I played it I somehow broke the level, even though I clearly walked through a linedef required to open a certain door, it stubbornly remained closed. Not sure what went wrong, and it might not have been the map's fault but still...yikes!
E1M8: And so we reach the finale. Our last opponents are a spider mastermind, followed by a cyberdemon. It isn't an immediate confrontation; there is still a moderately sized layout you must go through first to reach them, and it is in fact the map with the most monsters. Still, like E1M7 and the first few maps, my health was often above 100%. Be warned though, you may find yourself short-equipped if you play from a pistol start (No sweat, just do some scavenging). I ran around the monsterless map for a while trying to find a yellow key that did not exist (it is a regular door with yellow outlines, you are a jerk Bob). After defeating the boss enemies (or before I suppose, there isn't technically a trigger), you can trod on over to the exit and conclude bobkdv2.wad.
E1M9: Mostly made of STARTAN and METAL textures, it is a small and well-interconnected base. There is a fun amount of monsters to fight, but way more than you need to fight them. I would say it is secret because of the large amount of health, powerups, and ammunition you can collect, but every map in this episode gorges you with these anyway.
My synopsis: Not a bad 1994 wad. It had some clever looking designs, as well as some annoying tidbits.. It may not stand toe-to-toe with the wads I mentioned in the first paragraph, but I still recommend checking it out.
POISONS.WAD - Richard K. Thomas
Vanilla - Solo Play - 44655 bytes -
Reviewed by: Maes
After having reviewed a bunch of vintage maps that were decisively mediocre in execution, I was looking for something bigger, more varied, and with more action thrown in. And I found it.
Even if from the map's description ("toxic waste and poisonous lava"? Really?) I was expecting this to be yet another tedious sewer level, it turned out to be a rather interesting Doom 1 map that throws in typical elements from all three episodes into one single map, with transitions being very abrupt. How is that ever possible? Well, read on.
You start from an eerily lit staircase where you'll be ambushed by two sergeants pumping you full of magnum buckshot as soon as you dare more forwards, and the next enemies you'll encounter soon after that will be two barons(!) in a furnace room, which you luckily can evade and teleport away. After that, you'll often find yourself transitioning from computer rooms to nukage zones, and then taking a door or climbing steps that lead you to E3-like outdoors and lava & stone/marble chambers. The transitions are abrupt, but they do work.
And, guess what, no annoying tedious sewers, either. The main "nukage area" is in fact well-contained into one large underground chamber with interesting architecture, and A LOT of barrels, as the map's description promises. I admit I had a nostalgic kickback seeing so many barrels stashed into one zone, and how satisfying it is to blow them up in the face of zombies and imps ;-) There's not that much lava, either, other than in some isolated E3-like zones.
The monster count is respectable, some 220+ monsters in UV, and all monsters up to the Baron are used, with monster traps present all over the level. I found ammo and health balance to be just perfect for this kind of map, even if most secrets are very easily given away and tend to be WAY too generous (you even get a BFG and computer map).
The level has a "quasi non-linear" layout, in that you can choose to visit or not certain zones, or that you can find alternative paths and routes all over the level (as everything seems to be connected through one-way doors and service corridors), but the overall result is quite functional and you will not easily get lost. However, you still have to find all keys to exit the level, and visiting some areas is purely optional.
The architecture is better executed and varied than most 1994 levels, but don't expect extraordinary detail or perfect texture alignment. The former is pretty basic (something excusable given the large size of the map), but the latter was clearly not a concern for the author, with some very grossly misaligned switches, doors and lifts sticking out. The choice of certain floor flats is also questionable (computer flats on thin, slanted floors...). However, one thing is for sure: you will see almost all types of typical E1/E2/E3 architecture in this map, and no two areas look alike.
Overall, this was a pretty solid 1994 map and surely one that would provide Doom players with extra value for their money to Doom back in the day. Today, it remains a reasonable challenge, and offers that sort of shameless layout freedom and creativity that you'd never see in a modern map, with their consistent themes and perfectly aligned textures. This gets definite recommendation from me.
Twilight.WAD - Phil Pesano
Vanilla - Solo Play - 40545 bytes -
Reviewed by: Maes
"Twilight.WAD" as the original title was, is a 1994 WAD by some Phil Pesano guy, of whom /idgames has recently seen a (re)upload of his levels.
It's a pretty linear map that starts you in an intersection between 4 lifts, 3 of which lead to keycard-locked doors. The one that doesn't puts you right into the action...if it wasn't that you're trapped in a sort of room with windows getting turkey-shot by sergeants and imps and that you can't backtrack to the lift.
At first, I was confused by the lack of any visible exits at this point, and was ready to call "a bullshit trap!" (*** SPOILER: there actually IS one such trap later in the level ***) but then I understood what the author meant for "use of trip lines": just walk toward one of the unmarked walls, hit space and you can proceed. In general, there's a trend of using unmarked walls that only act upon wall humping a lot in this map.
What I personally didn't like is that you have to discover secrets to access some essential weapons and useful goodies. If you don't e.g. find the CG early on, the map just drags on with the shotty till the end, while finding the CG and later the RL makes it a much more fun and rapid experience. Once you get the hang of it, it can be completed in under 3 minutes with perfect score and some satisfying RL massacres. If you want a challenge, try completing it only with the shotty ASAP.
The map also belongs to one of those gimmicky maps that exit you to the secret level, so you even get a BFG, plenty of cells and a megasphere at the end of the level. Overall, the difficulty level ranges from fair to mini-HR like (some areas are swarming with monsters), while the architecture is pretty basic, and all of the map takes place indoors.
Overall, a decent reminder of the typical "thrill" that playing a custom level provided in 1994: short, dirty, and basic. But it was still fun. The new music replacement is also a nice touch.
Tested on vanilla and ZDoom.
The /newstuff Chronicles #378