Get Psyched - Norbert Dávid a.k.a. NoneeLlama
Vanilla - Solo Play - 41706 bytes -
Reviewed by: Megalyth
Okay, step one: IDMUSxx, where xx is anything but D_RUNNIN. I would suggest 07, as it's more ominous and it fits the atmosphere much better. Step two: Don your rose-colored glasses. This map is a nostalgic ride (in a good way). Step three: Get psyched, as the title suggests, because the big boys are coming out to play.
The map takes place in a medium-sized castle of sorts, the themes ranging from marble to stone to wood and metal. You begin in a large marble courtyard, where right from the start, you will notice a tantalizing switch on an unreachable platform. Ah well, we'll worry about that later. Onward! As you begin traversing the courtyard, gathering up your weapons and ammunition, the map will waste no time in throwing some medium-to-heavyweight monsters your way, but fear not! You'll be given the proper ordnance to dispatch your foes.
Hopping the teleporter to the next leg of your journey lands you on a gallows overlooking another courtyard, this one made of stones with a few crates scattered about for cover. There's no shortage of opposition here either, and as before, it's made up mostly of larger baddies with some fodder roaming around on the sidelines. You can skip the courtyard at first, should you choose to go through the door to the left of the gallows. Through there, you'll find a series of wood/metal and marble antechambers, haunted by some arch-viles and other unsavory inhabitants which you'll need to fight through to access the required keys. Should you decide to tackle the side chambers first, while the ammo balance isn't greatly affected, the battle in the aforementioned courtyard will play out quite differently.
When all is said and done, with blue key in hand, you're ready to confront the final stretch: a quick killing spree through a few wooden chambers which lead back out to the first area and your final battle. The switch in the center of the courtyard, now accessible, releases a sizable troop of nasties from all angles. The switch also grants access to the exit, but being the man-and-a-half that you are, you'll want to kill the demons first, right? Right??
My assessment is really quite simple, in that I found this map wholly enjoyable, challenging, and well-balanced, if a bit generous with health and armor. The architecture and detail level are reminiscent of a 96 or 97 map, in a good way. Everything looks decent and well-constructed, textures are aligned nicely and are chosen well, and none of the areas are overly bare, with the exception of the second courtyard area, which could have used some texture variation. Cooperative and Deathmatch starts are present, as well as difficulty settings if you're not up for a bit of the old Ultra-Violence, although adept players should have few problems despite the amount of high-tier monsters. I'm by no means a Doomgod, and I stayed reasonably stocked with ammo and health, even while dancing with cyberdemons and arch-viles aplenty. I died once because of a stupid mistake on my part, but whaddaya gonna do? It's my own fault for ignoring step three.
I can't think of a good reason not to play this map at least once. While not the greatest thing ever, it certainly doesn't suck, and I'm fairly sure that most Doomers would enjoy it.
1fifwar2 - George Fiffy
Vanilla - Solo Play - 74020 bytes -
Reviewed by: Maes
Wow. I must be REoL SaD to do a REoL TOUGH review of a REoL TOUGH map, but I already wasted my time playing it so I guess I should write it down anyway. For those of you that have been living under a rock since, well, Doom was first released, King REoL aka George Fiffy was one of the most controversial/annoying mappers of the 90s, before his elevator fetish got the best of him. His work simply defined the expression "1994" REoL TOUGH WAD and "AoL personality", and his inflated ego (almost rivaling mine) just gave everybody jock itch.
However, with time he grew to become a legend in Doom mapping; eventually he started making decent maps and even moved on to Quake. Sadly, this map is one of his earliest attempts, where he discovered the "1337" technique of making impassable linedefs and sky-textured walls, which he pimps as "INVISABLE (sic) BUILDINGS!". OK King REoL, this just might have looked cool back in 1994. Barely. Then again I'm a sucker for "surreal" Doomy environments, so you got me there, King.
OK OK, it's no big feat to diss the "King" REoL TOUGHly, so I'll move on with the review. The first thing that will catch your attention, if playing with ZDoom, is the sheer monster count of this map: 630 baddies on UV, and considering that this is a regular Doom map starting on E3M7, this means no SSG to take care of the hordes that await you. It also means that on 1994-fare machines, this would be practically unplayable due to the number of baddies, and I doubt many people played it back then. DMINATOR.WAD, anyone?
Ammo and health are relatively abundant (I'd say OVERLY abundant, especially shotgun ammo...which just makes you wish for a SSG) but poorly placed, so you can't avoid wasting quite a lot of it just by walking near it when you don't really need them. Shell boxes are particularly affected, but then again it's nearly impossible to run out of them even if you shoot liberally.
The fights, at least initially, are very boring: very soon you will be swarmed by hordes of zombies, imps, spectres and demons, with the occasional cacodemon, and you will just be standing at a choke point and bombarding everything with the shotty from a distance, which takes forever. Just take a look at those screenshots showing doorways cramped with corpses: that point alone took 3 minutes of just holding the fire button down as the baddies kept pouring in. The cramped layouts and abundance of hitscanners also makes infighting difficult to achieve, making fighting even more tedious.
Once you make it out of the "INVISABLE (sic) BUILDINGS!" and into some outdoor arenas with poorly-aligned teleporter flats, you will find other hordes waiting for you, which however are more fun to dispose of. Once you find the yellow key and solve the elevated platform puzzle (which actually looks nice), you might as well head for the exit, and curse yourself for playing a 1994 nasty.
Most fights rely on swarming the player with tons of zombies and demons. Imps and Lost Souls tend to be rarer, while there is the occasional Caco and Baron to spruce things up. This begged to be made into a Doom II map, where there would be a more balanced monster lineup, better infighting and more enjoyable fights with the SSG. Most of the time the gameplay is simply tedious rinse and repeat, if you don't allow yourself to get cornered. This is an example of how HR-like hordes are not easy to get quite right: here we have a horde map which however plays poorly and forcedly most of the time.
Poor weapon balance is also part of what underdogs the gameplay: unless you manage to find the blue key secret early on and gain access to a chaingun and chainsaw, you might have to play most of the level with the shotty. This is one of those maps that are just better with a RL, and indeed there are some rocket crates, but no RL on any skill! WTF, King? Did he forget to put one there? Well, even if it was WITH the crates most of the level would be over anyway... There's a PL and a BFG somewhere on the level, if you manage to find all the secrets, but chances are you'll find them too late to make a difference unless you manage to break some sequences.
However, the level has some redeeming features like highly abstract architecture, a touch of surreality (and even originality, in a way found only in old WADs) and, most of all, it has a decent array of secret areas, which actually contain nearly half of the monsters in the level and some of the hardest fights. There, the map almost changes tune, and becomes hard and challenging (still in a HR way, don't expect sneaky ambushes a-la Doom II). There's even the possibility of breaking/skipping some obligate sequences in the level, using platforming skills (as well as getting stuck in an unwinnable situation, if you overdo it). Some secrets are really very well executed and hidden, which surprised me.
Overall, you can either play this map as a kind of poor man's HR from 1994, or (my suggestion) go for the secret sections: you will have a LOT more fun this way, although the weapon balance and poor monster variety will always be a problem throughout the map. It's not really a bad map, but it could be better. I was also disappointed at the relative paucity of elevators in this map. C'mon King REoL, you could've done better ;-)
Phil's Infested Compound - Philnemba
Vanilla - Solo Play - 118884 bytes -
Reviewed by: st.alfonzo
There's a late night reception going on in the plaza outside for a couple of rather doughy looking lovebirds, which is wonderfully coincidental considering the author's own recent wedding... but a quick word of warning before we start: If that inane excuse for an Elton John impersonator slips a couple of "Rocket men" into my wall of text before it's shipped off for publishing then I'm sorry, you'll just have to grit your teeth and bare through the references. I'm not very good at avoiding these sorts of things and my mind uses musical annotation as a means of remembering stuff. Let's just hope we can get to the end of the review before Benny and the Jets and Snow Patrol show up. Or Hey Jude. God damn that song goes on forever.
Philnemba's Infested Compound is a very simple, very faithful spin on Plutonia's map 17. It is easily comparable in visuals and gameplay to the best maps of the recent Plutonia Revisited Community Project, which is to say that it is meticulously representative of the style and offers up plenty of challenge, yet has a different sort of approach in its difficulty which although undeniably Plutonia in design, isn't quite as frustrating in requiring the player to know readily the different encounters beforehand else suffer the blows of a thousand bony ballistics. Wide open spaces and pillars of cover allow for plenty of breathing space, and the player is rewarded for rushing into the fray rather than setting up camp behind some corner and waiting for the inevitable Arch-vile to erect a facial bonfire. The only exception to this fairness in difficulty comes with a rather plasmatic encounter with a troupe of Revenants, but at least ample warning is given.
A generous supply of health and ammunition helps maintain a quick pace of play, and progression is never broken up thanks to the map's size and clear indication of where to go, so you won't have to play continuously till the end of September, for example, in order to reach the...
Wait... Green Day? At a wedding reception? It's only mid April! You'd think they'd put on something more spirited or jovial like Brubeck or Holst.
...Anyway, maybe I'm a bit biased toward this map being decent because of my insatiable lust for episode 2 Plutonia map replacements. Certainly there are those who frown upon the many homages (something which seems to be prevalent in Phil's works, looking at his other releases), but irrespective of its being faithful to the point of teleporting Barons and elevating slime pits this really is an exemplary case of how to maintain a specific style while sill keeping it fresh at the same time. A very good job and a very fun run.
Don't let the sun go down on this map: Download today!
Okay that was deliberate.
Resurrection of DOOM2 ( requires ZDOOM or GZDOOM) - Masa
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 102322129 bytes -
Reviewed by: Maes
With a grand name such as "Resurrection of DOOM2" (and a filesize of NEARLY 100!!!) you'd expect this to be like, t3h h4x & t3h p4wn, but guess what, it's not. If you don't want to get your hands dirty playing this but you downloaded it anyway, just exploring it with a resource editor such as XWE will tell you more than you'd like to know about it already. If you downloaded it and you played it, like me... well... then all you can do is just suck it down like John Romero's figurative bitch and write a /newstuff review about it.
I'll give the TL; DR version first: this is some lamer's patchwork of a fuckton of (others') DECORATE weapons, scripts, bestiary monsters, modified levels, custom sounds etc. cobbled together in an unholy abomination.
Alternatively, take a 1994 WAD. Throw in some cheesy Beavis & Butthead samples and movie sound clips. Multiply it by 10. Then imagine what would happen if Doombuilder, ACS and ZDoom were available in 1994 and you gave them to a hyperactive AZN kid with a serious Ritalin deficiency. Now multiply THIS by OVER 9000. And you won't even be close to how BAD this is. THIS IS OVER 9000.0 ON THE 10.0 SCALE OF BADNESS. WOO-HOO BABY!!! AND I DON'T MEAN THE GUT RIPPIN' AND TEARIN' KIND OF BAD EITHER, BOY!!!
To the author's defense, he cites this as his "first work", and he does give proper credit for most of the used resources. That alone is impressive, if anything for the sheer energy that was put into this project without (?) the author going batshit insane or exploding from the sheer force of awesome like Dog264.
If you bother playing the first five maps of the 8 or so present in this modification, the first thing you'll notice is that they are essentially disjointed "adventures" that are supposed to form a sort of continuity with one another, but are too different in style and execution. Needless to say, the latter maps are not playable on pistol starts (unless you use a lot of TAS or load/save a lot).
MAP01 starts off promising enough, as a heavily scripted space prison of sorts where you control a geeky bespectacled marine, which however tries to sound tough by saying "macho" stuff like e.g. being in jail because he tried to "hit teenage chick" (which is probably normal, since the map author is ostensibly Japanese ) however soon after he tries to sound even MORE tough by saying that he is "fucked to this jail" (ouch) and "someone is trying to break this shit hole", after the prison gets overrun by Doom monsters. Alright, that surely put me in the mood...
Luckily, soon all hell breaks loose, you forget about the cheesiness as you engage into some script-assisted switch hunting with assorted scripted allied marine battles, and by the end of the level you'll be counting corpses literally by the 1000s, in a glorious custom-monster slaughterfest, as bullets and fireballs fly around like in a Japanese esoteric shooter. That first level was actually enjoyable, and surprisingly the battles are balanced and interesting enough to keep you playing through it, if you can bear with the various Doom 3, FF VII, Halo and Half Life posters plastered on billboards(!) around the main battle zone. All in all, MAP01 is an exaggerated but playable experience, and the only one where the author seems to have placed some actual care on the scripts, sound effects, ambience etc. no matter how cheesy the final result is.
However, MAP02 is a FORCED and PAINFUL experience in comparison. Take a 1995 PWAD. A shitty one at that, with a bunch of claustrophobic flat corridors with wish-it-was-Tormentor-667 detail. Throw in about 1000 overpowered custom monsters with forced, cramped fights, and barrels with a ridiculously extended blast radius. Also, throw in a fuckton of annoying, sniping hitscanner zombies, a lot of resurrecting/healing monsters, a lot of backtracking for ammo and health, and to top it off two nearly invincible Pyro Cyberdemons at the end, which can't be defeated unless you are patient enough to nib at their health little by little from VERY far, in order not to be incinerated as soon as they see you. None of the MAP01 scripting or storytelling is present here. Sounds like fun...NOT (with a Borat accent).
MAP03 doesn't get much better, as it starts off as a modification of DOOM II's MAP01 which soon turns into a shitfest of suicide zombies, hitscanners, a cyberdemon trap, a section ripped off some other (!) 1994 level, and more custom monster and archvile traps. MAP04 is a sort of joke map where you fight ninja imps(!) in a giant 1994 maze. I'm not shitting you, take a look at that ouchfacing, nerdy Doomguy in the screenshots. He didn't believe it either, until reality kicked him in the butt like an ... err... ninja imp in a shitty 1994 map.
MAP05 returns you to a section of MAP03 (ripped off from MAP01 of Doom II) where you fight a queue of about 1200 monsters in a cave. If there's a final boss after that, I have no idea.
MAP06 is probably an extra/bonus map, where you are having a nightmare (as if the rest of the maps weren't enough) in a surreal house built in the middle of what looks like Satan's flaming anus suspended in space, and where soon you'll have to fend off hordes emerging from the flaming pits of hell, survival style. This could actually work OK, I guess, but it does not form any sort of continuity with the other maps, and looks more as the author's experimenting with a flames & stone theme also used in the next two maps. MAP07 is a similarly themed arena intended for DM, while MAP08 is a credit map based on MAP07. Interestingly, the author calls MAP06 "Level 1/10", suggesting that this was meant to be part of a different pack altogether, or was ripped from somewhere else. I'll concede the benefit of the doubt on that one.
TO sum it up, this is mostly a patchwork of ZDoom custom cruft, which is just too large and unwieldy for its own good. The only map where some work seems to have been put in is MAP01 (and maybe bonus map MAP06), but the rest are simply a frustrating drudgery that seem to have been added simply as an afterthought. Avoid unless you want a really MINDLESS time killer or want to show off how exaggerated (Z)Doom gameplay can become. This could have actually been decent if the author limited it to maybe 3 maps with a single consistent theme, rather than trying to be the "End all, be all" of Doom maps. The author surely has the energy to do it right, but just didn't cut it this time: this is just too much of...well...everything, without being really good at any of it (save maybe for MAP01 and MAP06).
Malignant Manor - J.L. Paul
Vanilla - Solo Play - 151231 bytes
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
[Ed: 404 on all the screenshots.] A single small-to-medium sized map for vanilla Doom 2 with a few new graphics and more wood than you can shake a stick at.
This time around we find ourselves as a wealthy British marine attempting to win back his brown wooden mansion from the forces of hell. The theme is portrayed through the many black-and-white portraits that adorn the walls, as well as the frequent blocky Doom furniture we have all come to know and love (well...some of us anyway). Besides these details, the rooms themselves are usually pretty boxy for the most part.
Gameplay (on hurt me plenty at least) is moderately challenging, with an all right balance of low-tier to high-tier enemies to fight throughout the map. I found myself having switch weapons often as I discovered new ones, not due to rise in difficulty, but due to the way the ammunition is distributed throughout the level. All three keys are needed to clear out the mansion, and if you know where to find them the map can probably be beaten pretty quickly. However, (and this is a small gripe of mine), progression through the map requires knowledge of a few not-so-obvious secret doorways. These doors are hidden throughout the mansion without any clear indication that they can be opened, and in order to find them you'll have to get romantic with every wall you meet.
All in all, it's not great, it's not bad, it is in fact pretty average all around. The author had a good idea for the theme of the map, and the new graphics are amusing as well, but the map layout itself is just okay. Play if you're feeling dangerously bored.
Pitfalls - C30N9
Vanilla - Solo Play - 82225 bytes -
Reviewed by: Kirby
Pitfalls is a wad styled in the likes of Plutonia. As stated in the text file, this wad was intended for the Plutonia Revisited projected, but it ended up being cut out of the project. As for why that was is not specified, but after playing I can garner a few reasons why.
The overall set of the level certainly feels like Plutonia - good usage of Plutonia textures with a level design to fit. You romp around searching for keys while occasionally being pelted with monster traps and the like before you make your way to the exit. However, there are two things that took away from the level's Plutonia feel. One is the difficulty. The thing this level lacks is the sort of in-your-face action and difficulty level that the original Plutonia constantly bombards you with. It felt like this level should've been more difficult; even on Ultra-Violence it wasn't that big of a difference, which took away from the Plutonia feel of the level. The other bit that took away from it was the last area before you reach the exit. It sort of comes out of nowhere and doesn't really fit with the rest of the level. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with a large fort in the middle of a poison pit which houses a spider demon, but it's just not the way it would've been in Plutonia. This is just me - by all means feel free to investigate my claims for yourself.
tl;dr - Attempts to play like Plutonia, doesn't quite get there, still not bad overall. Give it a spin if you're in the mood for a mildly challenging map.
doom castle - Gothic
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 8330458 bytes -
Reviewed by: RottKing
I was looking forward to playing this, since it was a Heretic wad and all, but I was pretty disappointed with this level unfortunately! You start out in a big arena with an interesting middle area that involves a moving floor (talk about QUICKsand), and sprinkled about are a handful of Yoshis shooting fireballs at you, a few effed up mummies on a rock, and some demented Ettins fiending to crack open your head-egg and fry up some grey matter. This area is concluded with a close-quarters battle with a Maulotaur and then you're on your way to a small hub area. This is where things took a turn for the worse. The next area I teleported to is basically The Chasm from Doom 2, but with slippery ice sectors, rude dickheaded snowball throwing icemen, and Iron Liches that populate every square tower.
Your options in this area are as follows:
- Put on a pot of coffee, snipe all of the walking iceturds, then very carefully murder the Liches and pray a tornado doesn't throw you to your impact death.
Whisper In Time - Lainos [B0S]
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 2184071 bytes -
Reviewed by: Melon
On paper, this level sounds awesome. Doomguy finds his way into an ancient temple, makes his way through cunning traps and mazes where the walls seemingly shift around him while he's not looking, solves puzzles, and ultimately fights the big bad boss at the top of the temple up in the clouds. In practice, it plays a bit like a puzzle level where the author forgot to put in any puzzles.
This is a level where nothing really happens. It contains rooms full of deadly traps, but the switch you need to press is actually right next to the entrance so you can ignore the room completely. It has cunning puzzles where the key you need looks like it's in a demon infested pit, but it's a red herring and instead you press use on an unmarked wall. A maze where the walls around you raise and lower when you're not looking to give you sense of helplessness and being lost, except it only has one linear path to follow.
Things got off to an unfortunate start when I couldn't actually find my way into the temple; after looking in Doom Builder I was supposed to find an armour bonus sitting right next to a tree that teleports me inside when I try to pick it up. The wad contains numerous traps but they're all avoidable and there's no reward for engaging them.
I wouldn't really say it was a bad wad. The whole map screams potential but ultimately lacks any meaningful content. All things considered, I can't recommended it.
Ancient Hatred - Christian Lian
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 52734 bytes -
Reviewed by: Rambosee
Nowadays, some people are wondering, why are most wads too easy? Why can't we have just one more fun slaughter map to make our day? Maybe not a Hell Revealed or definitely not Hell Revealed II, but something along those lines. Well you got your wish, or half of it. This is supposed to be a single level wad created for fun, but one look at it and it's clear: this was a runner up for Hell Revealed II map 32. Reading that, you are about to skip to the next review. I advise you don't, as it's not really how you think it is, and please, read on.
The level starts out with a room and a switch in front of you, with moody music playing. Pressing the switch lowers your platform, but no monsters yet, and no weapons either. Then you turn the corner, and that's when you crap your pants as 10-20 hell knights advance on you. Running past them, you pick up a rocket launcher only to be ambushed by revenants and hell knights. After that you go into a room full of hell knights and barons in cells above you. Did I mention chaingunners and an arch vile on a ledge in that room? From there on things get more messy as you start to get owned over, and over, and over again.
Normally, this type of wad would be avoided at all costs, but this is a huge exception. This level is actually fun, and it gives you breaks when you earn them, not like HR2 where they just keep on coming and only do you rest when all monsters in the map are killed. The music helps the mood a lot, making you calm, and not reaching out to jab the Esc button, something that I never felt while playing this wad. The monster count is 403 at the beginning, and after the arch-viles were done with me, it was increased to 630. However the arch-viles are carefully placed to not give you too much trouble. The design is also good as well, and after playing the map you will wonder that how is it possible to fit 403 monsters in such a small map.
This is supposed to be a speed run slaughter map, and when you play it, you will see why. However getting a max is possible. I had to play on HMP since UV seriously kicked my ass, not saying that HMP didn't also. After finishing the map with my max run that throughout the whole map I thought would be impossible to do, with a huge sense of accomplishment, I had only 2 rockets in my entire arsenal. With that I can safely say that UV would probably be just a millimeter near impossible; to live through that on a max run, you would have to be a ninja and an ammo freak. Oh and people who never save, this is a wad you will not like because you will need to save a lot, as there are some quite nasty tricks on here.
With my final words I strongly recommend this to everyone seeking a challenge, just only play this on HMP. If you decide to go UV, don't say I never warned you.
Nukage Dump - Mr. Chris
Vanilla - Solo Play - 49801 bytes -
Reviewed by: ManCannon
Nukage Dump is a good E1M3 replacement by author Mr. Chris. It features good attention to detail, very nice architecture and an authentic feel and pacing. My only criticism is that I feel the map is a bit unmemorable, not due to lack of creativity (there are some very nice landmarks and architecture) but because of the layout.
Long Winded Explanation:
The original E1M3 had the player starting inside a small room that led to a semi-outdoor area with a fence thing (Chris makes a nod to this in his map); from here the player can travel left or right, but the right path is blocked by an obnoxious blue door. So the player goes trotting to the left through a fairly straight forward path to find the key (there are some side attractions/secrets but they are not huge), the player rescues the key from evil imps, then returns back the way he came past the landmark opening "oh this is where I started" remembers there's a blue door and continues on a straight forward path to the exit.
Rip and Tear bitches, very simple. If you look at the map from an editor it is kind of like a drunken "U"; for the player though it kind of feels like you are starting in the middle of something, go left for a bit, then go back all the way to the right. While Mr. Chris more or less sticks to this, I think he didn't want simply copy the original layout, so instead of just going left then right the player has quite a few areas to explore. Some of these areas feel unnecessary or too large, like the dark room that leads to the blue armour. The map ends up feeling like a big square.
It could easily be turned into a very nice map though. I would remove the large dark room to the left (the one that leads to the blue armour) and make the other side rooms a bit smaller or just have one; you could then stretch the starting area (the fence thing place) and make it much larger and memorable. This would also help remove the squarish feel and give that slight funneling effect that id's original maps had.
There is a pretty cool area in the map: it's an outdoor section where you find a blue key. In this area there is basically no colour, and the effect is amplified by the sky texture which makes it feel very black and white. It creates a strong contrast with the enemies and items and reminded me a bit of Mirror's Edge. It really makes it feel like a lifeless concrete facility; it's an exaggerated way of doing it, but I thought it was nice. Unfortunately this area is just kind of lumped in the top right part of the map, which makes it feel kind of weird.
Personally I would: make the player start in the fence thing landmark area (memorable location, colours), make his way left through the facility, exit out into the concrete dump (second landmark, colour saturation makes it more memorable), enter a smaller facility section with the blue key (forces the player in and out of colour and gives more memorable location for the item), then traverse again through the concrete section back to the start (second exposure to the landmarks) and finally to the right to finish the level.
This way the map would focus on the more unique aspects that you created, making it, in my opinion, more memorable.
That again, though, is just my opinion. If somebody included this in a E1 remake/tribute it would not feel out of place; in fact it is very good. A lot of care was put into this map and it shows; every room feels complete without over detailing and true to the original Doom.
Conclusion: Very nice map that pays tribute to original Doom, lots of artistic ideas, but left a bit unmemorable due to layout.
Wicked Barons & Spectres - Michael Lundy
Vanilla - Solo Play - 61669 bytes -
Reviewed by: Maes
Well, after reviewing the "King"'s REoL TOUGH mental enema, I needed something more soothing and laid back, and Wicked Barons & Spectres was a map up to the task.
It's an E4M1 replacement (thus you need Ultimate Doom to play it) and it mixes E4 and E2 style in a weird but effective minimalist fashion.
Even though it was made in 4 days back in 1995, today, you'd call such a map a "speedmap", because of its plain but clean style, lack of secrets, and a pretty straightforward flow: everything you need to do and visit is in plain sight. There are a few areas that could count as "bonuses" or "secrets", but are not marked as such. There are no obvious mapping mistakes, and it's generally a very open map, with wide structures, large open (and closed) spaces, ideal for speedrunning and outdoor fights.
The map can be divided in roughly 3 sections: a large courtyard with a castle in the middle, separated by a large moat from a large cave section, and a final, hidden wooden corridor section near the castle. The monster count is 114 monsters on UV, and due to the size of the map, they are quite sparsely distributed, without that meaning that there aren't challenging fights. The texture mapping theme is also consistent across areas: E4-style outdoors, E2-style white rock cave, and Doom 2-style wooden corridors. Gameplay and map flow is pretty simple, there's some running around involved but no cryptic switch hunts. The general feeling has "classic Doom" written all over it, and overall it doesn't disappoint.
You will find all Doom 1 monsters up to the Baron, and while ammo is a bit tight, it's manageable. Cacos and Barons almost always appear in pairs, so I suggest getting them to infight ASAP and save about 20 shells in the process.
Your armoury is also pretty frugal: you will have to make do with the shotty and a RL (yay!) for most of the level. You get a CG near the end, but it's pretty pointless by that time, as is the chainsaw you eventually get in the caves. A Berserker pack found in the same area is more useful and more fun. As I mentioned, the ammo for both is pretty limited so don't be too liberal with it, at least until you pass the caves section.
Also, keep in mind that this is one of those maps that remind you of how frail Doomguy really is by not giving you any form of armor, and health is scarce. So each hit you take does matter and weighs heavily, so you should not take needless risks or extra hits without a good reason.
Overall, it was a fun little map that can be completed in under 5 minutes, and is a reasonable challenge to complete without taking excessive damage or running out of ammo. A nice extra touch are the new titlepic and ending text. A definite "must try" for any serious Doomer.
As a final note, the map also exists inside the (Once Again) Sillouhettes of Phobos pack, which was released in 1996, as a bonus map. I cross-checked it, but it doesn't appear to contain any major changes—or any differences at all—from the stand-alone version.
Rest In Pieces part III - Jeremy Drye and Nick Tucker
Vanilla - SP/DM - 21844 bytes -
Reviewed by: Maes
Heh, and to imagine that I delayed reviewing this one due to lack of time, while it really doesn't take much. Take a look at the first screenshot I have attached: see this grey, metal room full of grey, metal, 64x64 pillars with some ammo pickups, and no monsters? That's all there is to this map, really. The most dangerous thing you'll encounter here is boredom, once you make the mistake of falling from the pillars onto...well, the metal non-damaging floor, which makes this futile map even more pointless, as you will not even be graced with a quick death if you fall (which you will, sooner or later).
There are actually not just one but THREE similar rooms in this map, connected by passages, but they're there just to trick you into moving instead of, say, quitting this POS and playing something better, like WOW.WAD, because in WOW.WAD at least you have some actual gameplay like, you know, SHOOTING MONSTERS (well, ONE monster, and even that takes skill/extreme luck to kill with the weapons supplied, but I'm digressing).
"BUT MEAS, L0L, MAYBE THE AUTHOR INTEDED THIS AS A DEATHMATCH MAP, YOUR UNFAIR!". Alright Mr. smarty-pants, I also tried it in ZDaemon with some bots and guess what, it wasn't any more fun, unless finishing off stuck bots ON THE GOD-DAMN FLOOR with the PISTOL is your idea of a fun deathmatch map. I really over-analyzed this POS, so I end this "review" right here and now.
Cold Steel - Mr. Chris & Mr. Freeze
Vanilla - Solo Play - 84862 bytes -
Reviewed by: Megamur
Cold Steel is a replacement for E2M4 that, not surprisingly, is an homage of sorts to the original E2M4: Deimos Lab. While nothing is obviously lifted straight from the original E2M4, the inspiration is fairly unmistakable.
The whole experience was surprisingly suspenseful, especially considering that it's an original Doom WAD, without even the benefit of the scarier baddies like Revenants and Arch-Viles to fall back on. The level sets its tone right from the start, having you creep down large, empty, dimly-lit hallways, devoid of life. You'll continually have moments like these, where all the action dies down, and you're left in complete silence, with blind corners, and too-quiet rooms to contend with. At one point, a door opened up, revealing a room that was just an empty, flashing square. My stomach tightened, knowing I was walking into a trap, and also knowing I couldn't do a thing to prevent it. This is the sort of sense of dread I miss in Doom levels.
Occasionally, I did wonder if the darkness was almost a bit too much. One room was pretty much light level 0 pitch black, with just a few beams of light thrown from the center to illuminate the surroundings. It led to a few surprise encounters with Spectres, sure, but was just a tad irritating to navigate.
Some issues with darkness aside, lighting is generally used to solid effect in this level, with lone light sources eerily casting beams against walls in many spots. Coupled with good use of blinking/glowing lights, it captured that feel of a damaged installation running low on power. The only really significant flaw in the lighting is in a small room south of the room where you find the blue key, where there's an inexplicable sliver of darkness next to the western wall for no apparent reason.
In terms of architecture, it's meant to resemble a classic DOOM map, so it's not going to floor you with its visuals. It's certainly not ugly, however, with various computer panels and light fixtures to keep the walls from looking too blank. The wall textures consist almost entirely of METAL1, STONE2 and STONE3, however, which may be a bit too gray and repetitive for some tastes, but at least it's consistent.
Difficulty-wise, the map isn't too much of a challenge, but supplies are balanced nicely so that you don't feel overpowered. Unless you're good at finding secrets, you won't even get any armor or anything better than a shotgun until much later in the level. There are a few well-placed ambushes, spaced out just enough that it's hard to predict them, which does a lot to boost tension.
It's a shame that, despite going to such extreme efforts to be an emulation of the classic style, it slips up a bit by employing a few Ultimate DOOM effects, like sector effect 17 lighting (random flickering) and blazing doors, which pulls you out of the nostalgia trip a little.
The map, strangely, also has a few errors. There's a bit of tutti-frutti on the southern staircase in the room with the blue key—again, ruining the classic vibes a bit, since it makes me think this level wasn't tested in true vanilla DOOM.
Most grievous and amateurish of all, however, is the teleporter linking between said blue key room and the room near the plasma gun. It's blocked by a yellow door that only opens from the outside. Thus, if that door is closed when you teleport into that chamber, you'll be unable to open it, and will be trapped forever. I'm flabbergasted that something this major was overlooked in playtesting.
One glaring flaw aside, overall, I was pretty impressed with this map. It's not the prettiest or most creative level ever, but it has a pleasant retro flair and legitimately kept me on edge, which is more than I can say for a lot of maps.
Void Terra Firma - Andrew "Malinku" Rehberger
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 3079843 bytes -
Reviewed by: Megamur
Void Terra Firma is described as a medium-sized tech base ZDoom map, a description I agree with in all regards aside from the "medium-sized" part. I kept getting the feeling I was playing an oversize 1024 map—levels that usually stretch out their small size by making you rapidly crisscross the map, revisiting old areas with new pathways opened in them.
Much like a typical 1024 map, there's detail all over the place, with light fixtures and crossbeams running along the ceiling every which way you look, and nary a wall goes by without some sort of ledge or window or computer paneling built into it. A custom texture set is used to fairly good effect, with the whole map having a brown/green/gray color palette that's smooth and pleasing to the eye.
Lighting is merely adequate: if the ceiling flat is a light texture, the floor below will be brighter than the surrounding area. Nothing too fancy. The biggest failing of the lighting are the skylights. Even though it's a starry night sky texture, it doesn't really make sense why the skylights would cast darkness on the floor in an otherwise well-lit hallway.
Naturally, like many maps that go for lots of detail, the gameplay is lukewarm at best. While there are a decent amount of monsters (over 200) and you're generally always shooting a group of bad guys, you're going to be contending with mostly low-grade enemies for almost the entire map. Furthermore, the hallways are generally quite wide and easy to maneuver through, eliminating any sort of advantage your opponents might have. Generally, the only difficulty you come across is having to worry about errant snipers chipping off health while you're not paying attention. Otherwise, hanging back and plinking at enemies with your pistol is not at all an unwise strategy for most of the level.
Supplies are also fairly over-generous, compounding the difficulty issue. There were several stimpacks, a berserk pack, a rocket launcher, and an armor vest I never needed to use.
Traps and ambushes are practically nonexistent as well. Sometimes walls will open up and let new enemies in, but they're usually so far away that you have plenty of time to react. I was especially disappointed with the blue key. You see it at the end of a mostly empty room, and when you step in, the door slams shut behind you. You walk towards the key, pick it up, and...absolutely nothing happens anywhere in the map. What was the point of the buildup?
The level also uses fences to weird effect. Some can be fired through freely, and some can't, which is a tad odd considering it's a wire mesh fence with huge holes in it. It's handled inconsistently and is fairly peculiar. Using glass in place of the blocking fences would've been a better idea.
All in all, it's a bit of "easy listening" for DOOM--some decent eye candy, a relaxing little custom MIDI, and difficulty that's not going to cause any stress. However, I can't help feeling that, were this level squeezed down into a smaller size, the combat could've been much more interesting.
RustPoint Map2 - Andrew "Malinku" Rehberger
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 717708 bytes -
Reviewed by: Melon
I love this map. It's a fairly short techbase style map with good looking industrial textures and a great layout. The interconnectivity and open spaces makes the level feel non-linear even though it isn't, and the flow of the level was excellent and all of the areas and encounters had a lot of variety. The architecture has the right sort of non-complicated detail that's great to look at despite being fairly simple. I thought the level was well balanced despite a small difficulty spike at the very start in the room with the green armour.
I have very little bad things to say about the level at all; my only criticism is really the lack of difficulty settings, as the level can be quite tough in places if you're not careful. Ammo can be fairly tight sometimes, although that may largely be due to a small bug where a teleporter in a slime pit that leads to the plasma gun doesn't work because the destination thing is marked as multiplayer only.
The level won't take you much time if you're good at the game, but I'd still recommend downloading it. It's definitely a case of quality over quantity.