Reverie - Michael Jan Krizik
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 4249440 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phobus
I could quite easily just tell you that Reverie is essentially Doom Core 2.0 and that the community liked it enough to award it a Cacoward and leave it at that. I could probably refer you to /newstuff #402 where I reviewed Doom Core in detail to back this up and my job would be done. I won't though.
First off, I'll put Valkiriforce's mapping into perspective for you all. Since November 2005, I've managed to get 76 finished maps floating around in the community in some way or another. Mr. Krizik did roughly the same thing in one year, with a range of community project contributions, collaborations and, of course, two full megaWADs. We were both working on maps for about 2-3 years before making releases too. My point here is that he's done an incredible amount of mapping in a short space of time - the fact that 32 of these maps got a Cacoward is testament to the fact that he's doing a good job of it too.
This may make his losing to skillsaw for the 2011 Mapper of the Year award a bit of a mystery, but I personally think this was the right decision. What I'm trying to say is that, whilst Valkiriforce is good, I don't find him fantastic. The quantity is very impressive, but the quality less so. Which neatly brings me round to my summarised opinion of Reverie - it's a great thing as a whole, but its parts don't stand up too well.
I'll start positive: Presentation is great. All of the maps have names, the intermission and automap both display them (an improvement over Doom Core), the INTERPIC, TITLEPIC (screenshot 01), CREDITS and BOSSBACK graphics are all very nice and selection of music is brilliant. The storyline (made up from the text file and intermission text screens) for the megaWAD ties the individual maps together nicely in a dream-like narrative, allowing for themes to vary greatly (even Egypt turns up - see screenshot 08). Speaking of the maps, the majority of them are small-medium sized affairs filled with action. Clever puzzles show up, including a colour-combination one in MAP08, which is the logical next step from Doom Core's MAP14 in terms of complexity. Also like in Doom Core, the "Living End" styled map (this time MAP27: Godspeed!) was fantastic - probably my favourite out of the bunch - thanks to its upbeat music; non-linear and free-flowing game play and the theme (screenshot 10).
Some more general observations would be that, on UV at least, it's very easy to die in some overwhelming traps as early MAP03. As you progress things get steadily more brutal, with some of the later maps stepping into outright slaughter game play (like MAP21). MAP08: Triplet II is notable as being three maps in one, linked by a central hub (screenshot 04). Throughout the map set, secrets are a mixture of easy finds and more complex puzzles, which can be a bit complicating on occasion, as usual map progression sometimes relies on working out puzzles. This 90s approach to progression befits the general look and feel of the maps, which tend to look nice in a clean and functional way, with plenty of moving parts that make things feel dynamic. We do have the quintessentially 90s presence of furniture made out of sectors though, including the true staple of its form: the toilet (tastefully faced in ICKWALL).
There are some things you may end up really disliking about this megaWAD though. Hitscanners return en masse, and the 90s puzzling does tend to result in switch hunts. Probably the ultimate examples of this are MAP26 (which is also cramped and frequently repopulating) and MAP31 - a map that seems easy enough to find to me, but terrible to play through. If you have a lot of patience for detailed exploration, very damage-heavy monster placement and damaging floors, then you may quite enjoy it. I certainly don't like it myself though, and as MAP32 is a simple arena-esque map, I just skipped both secret maps for this session. MAP21 and MAP30 have slowly lowering pillars that probably are meant to be triggered mid-fight by the player. If, like me, you clear an area before pressing any switches, you'll have a long wait on your hands and nothing to do. I also managed to lock myself out of progressing in MAP08 after clearing all three key sections due to stepping back under a fast closing door that's meant to trap the player in.
A couple of technical points to round things off: MAP18 is a clever idea, but only works in source ports that preserve the "crushed monsters resurrected by an Arch-Vile are ghosts" behaviour. I played in ZDoom, where this doesn't work. Also, the "deep water" effect that makes the player untargetable makes its return in the later of the two sewer-themed maps, but unlike in MAP29 of Doom Core, it's not damaging, so life is very easy there.
As I said at the start of this review, a lot of what I said about Doom Core applies here too - you could easily believe a whole team of 90s mappers made this megaWAD, rather than just one guy, which makes maps very varied. A continuous play-through will be well stocked and tactically versatile (aside from immediately after the "death exit" on MAP11, which may annoy people who didn't like that sort of thing in Scythe) and it's a nostalgic experience throughout. It's even got a similar ~6 hour play time as well!
Despite the step-up in quality though, I'm not sure I like this as much as Doom Core. It's just less fun for me overall, even if this megaWAD is objectively a better product. I still reckon this deserves its Cacoward as an overall experience though. Most of you have already played this, so you've already got your own opinions in any case - if not, then you really should give it a go.
Doom 3 GPL source release - id Software
N/A - N/A - N/A - 9447712 bytes
Reviewed by: Phobus
I'm not actually going to review this code. It's far too large and far too complicated for me to get through in any reasonable time frame and I'd only really be ultimately able to conclude that it must work, because I played this game back in 2004 when I bought it.
The main thing this source release allows is for is the legal free redistribution of the source code, with allowances for modification, editing and copying as long as all of the terms of the GPL license are met (which, to my knowledge, essentially means crediting the appropriate people or entities for the original code and ensuring that projects using this code are open source too). This could mean Doom 3 source ports, or portions of the code being studied and re-used for other projects.
It is worth noting that the accompanying text file does detail some missing sections of code, such as the "rendering of stencil shadows via the 'depth fail' method, a functionality commonly known as 'Carmack's Reverse'."
Certainly a nice thing to have and probably of great interest to some of our programmers too.
Khorus' Speedy Shit - Adam "Khorus" Woodmansey
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1161987 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phobus
26 days to make a 32 map megaWAD. Doesn't sound promising, right? Wrong. Very wrong. It got a (well-deserved) Cacoward. My new personal record of beating the whole thing in 2 hours and 15 minutes (with maybe 20 extra minutes of dying time) was probably some of the more enjoyable time I've ever spent playing Doom.
Khorus farted out some great game play in that short space of time. Maps average around 70 monsters per map, I'd say, but they're well used. The challenge seems well calculated, with ammo being fairly well balanced for a pistol start on UV (tight, but not too tight) and health tending to be the limiting factor. Damaging floors and ledges are used to keep the player from having too much freedom, whilst monsters are restricted to certain areas in a wide range of ways, minimising infighting and keeping tactically-planned enemy positions effective even during a relatively prolonged engagement. A continuous play through will eventually leave the player well-stacked for ammo, but health is then an even more limiting factor. I played through all of MAP04 from starting with 3% health and having a maximum of 30%. Fortunately my playing skill seems to be inversely proportionate to how healthy my marine is! Saying that though, even if you die, the most you can lose is about 3-4 minutes of play time on any given map. As mentioned, they're all balanced for a pistol start, so you can comfortably just keep going.
The environments tend to be a "generic Doom 2" look, although some maps do show some nice shadowing or other visual additions that are appreciated. You'd imagine that, as the maps play well and the build time was low, the looks must have suffered. I'd tend to disagree. Nothing struck me as ugly - rather I was actually quite pleased with the clean styling. Particularly as the abstract environments do allow for a sense of place in some maps (MAP13, for example, is clearly an urban setting). In fact, as Doom architecture goes, this is probably worth noting as a good example of how to make a solid playing experience that looks nice enough too. The presence of non-linearity was also quite refreshing, with some maps allowing the player to tackle collecting keys in any order, for example. Although the megaWAD only has enough secrets to count on your fingers, they are well-implemented and add to the experience. The one exception I'd put in here is the secret exit in MAP31 (guest mapped by Snakes), as it lets you skip most of the map if you find it early enough. On the plus side, MAP32 (guest mapped by Tango) is a real treat to play, so you won't mind getting to it.
The one thing that did suffer for the quick build time is presentation. Maps aren't named and the only new graphic is the TITLEPIC (screenshot 01). Saying that though, all of the maps do have appropriate music picked from the various IWADs.
When planning out this review, I realised most of my notes were positive. I did try to think of some holes to pick, but I genuinely had a hard time. Perhaps the short maps wouldn't be memorable? Nope, this was my second play through and I could remember the maps from around 4 months ago, making finding secrets and catching the traps that little bit easier. I have to concede it really is a struggle to find any real flaws worth mentioning with this megaWAD - so I simply won't. If you've not checked it out already, do so. This definitely has my recommendation.
The Ranger - TerminusEst13
Hexen - ZDoom Compatible - SP/DM - 4929054 bytes -
Reviewed by: kmxexii
This mod for Hexen adds an additional class, The Ranger. It comes in two flavors, Skulltag and ZDoom, both included inside the package, so make sure you pull out and load only the one that applies to your chosen port. The Rangers have background fluff available in the TLDR.txt. They're loners not under the authority of the three orders, changed by struggling in the wildlands of Cronos. They have access to some limited gunpowder technology, as this mod brings some primitive firearms to the player's table.
All weapons are replaced. 1 is a timed combo attack system with claws, not unlike Devil May Cry, though not as easy to handle. Secondary fire throws a gust of wind that cuts through shields like the sapphire wand. Weapons 2 and 3 are hitscan weapons. The Ironsheathe takes the best aspects of the pistol and chaingun but has limited ammo and a long reload time. The Scrapbox is roughly equatable to the shotgun, holding seven shells. It's pretty useful. The ultimate weapon immobilizes the player when deployed but unleashes explosive death where you point and click. Lastly, the flechette turns into caltrops that deliciously crunch when enemies step over them.
It's well put together and recharging the Godcannon with the spindly little hand crank is hilarious considering what it actually does. The claw combo system was kind of difficult to get down right, but it's silent, so if you master it you can do some serious damage. If you want to play Hexen with a slight gunpowder flavor, look no further.
Christmas Tree - TheUltimateHeretic
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 15327 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phobus
Christmas Tree is 15KB of festive fun, in the form of a giant Christmas tree made out of 3D floors! Screenshot 01 shows you pretty much all there is to see, aside from a teleporter which gets you to the top of the tree, which is located at the centre of the red torches that are visible in the distance.
Your job is to clear out each tier of the tree of all of the monsters that were there at map start-up. You win the second they're all dead. This means that the hundreds of Lost Souls that will inevitably spawn thanks to all of the Pain Elementals (screenshot 02 shows you a mere fraction of the number I ended up extinguishing) don't need to be killed. The tiers all have supplies on them, so there are a few approaches you can take. I personally made several leaps of faith to get the BFG I spotted on top of one of the presents and then went to town, only dying once due to a chaingunner getting lucky.
The map is not pretty, but it provides a nice enough challenge for 1 hour's work. I can't really recommend this as something you need to play, but as a stocking filler for the festive period, this will do alright. Probably would have been better if the music was more Christmas-y, with perhaps also the sprites from this. At least then the Cacodemons would have looked like Christmas tree decorations!
DOOM 103 - JHJA
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 305653 bytes -
Reviewed by: Processingcontrol
Let me start off by saying that this is by no means a good level. It's one of those thousands of school wads out there (this time in Mexico), and like most of them one it's a fairly bad map. It's ugly, flat, and suffers from many 1994isms (doors opening directly into the sky, lots of copy & paste rooms, etc). To top it all off, the monster concentration is ridiculously low, with only about 28 enemies roaming the gigantic school, making things extremely boring fight-wise.
However, the wad does have some good things. There are tons of new textures, which, despite all being MS paint style, make the map much more interesting. Unlike most school wads, which mostly consist of boring rooms that all look the same, here many of the rooms have their own character. There are physics rooms, computer labs, and even a mechanical drawing class. However, these things don't save the wad, and overall I'd only recommend this if you run out of wads to play.
Blood Red - James "Phobus" Cresswell
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 74968 bytes
Reviewed by: BloodyAcid
A quick and simple speedmap that is appropriate to its name. There is a dominant bloody river accented with marble statues and rock formations. There aren't any noticeable texture alignment mishaps, and architecture usage is strong.
In terms of layout, there isn't anything special worth mentioning. You scale a fountain for a red key, and then descend, hit two switches and dash towards the exit. The gameplay gimmick is that you're provided with only a chaingun and berserk fists. Most enemies are of the medium calibre, so hellknights, revenants and cacodemons, with a touch of spider mastermind. However, the gameplay is much easier if you simply dash past everything and just aim straight for the entrance, since a lot of enemies are sound triggered.
Overall, it's worth a quick look, and won't take more than 5 minutes of your time. The gameplay is solid, and is visually appealing.
Palenque - SFoZ911
Plutonia - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 130290 bytes -
Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
This is a tribute to Plutonia MAP01. It does a good job of capturing that Plutonia feel, both in terms of texturing and gameplay, but never feels too much like an homage. Difficulty is spot-on for an early Plutonia map; ammo can be a bit tight, but is reasonable if you don't waste too much. It's a pretty fun, albeit short, map with vanilla-esque aesthetics.
The text file says this wad was tested with Skulltag and should be ZDoom-compatible. It doesn't make use of any features exclusive to the ZDoom family, though, and is actually a Boom-compatible wad.
Rocket Jones: The Dead Base (Rkt Jones Vol. III) - Joe Cates
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 78105 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
One map for Doom 2. It's a '94 map, so as you might expect it's a mixed bag. At first, you're going through a base full of corpses where a last stand-type battle has occurred. There's nothing to do here but run around and grab some ammo and weapons. After this, you enter a very boring and same-y mine section filled with imps and a few demons. Meh. Then you run through a slime cavern, and the map's one actual cool part happens - the monsters break in to the base (by lowering some walls) creating some passages in and out of the base section, and the light levels in the base also change. Unfortunately, shortly after you clean up the mess around the base, the map is over. So much wasted potential. :(
I should also mention there's no health in this map at all. None. I think I saw a few health bottles near the beginning, but after that ... nothing. So don't get hit, like, ever. Probably OK to give this one a pass.
MYHOUSE.WAD - Luca Mugnaini
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 68891 bytes -
Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
Welcome back to 1995! This wad is an attempt to replicate the author's house. It's nothing we haven't seen before: boxy realistic layout, teleporter stairs and windows to move between floors, and furniture with texture choices based on color rather than material. Pretty good lighting, too. The gameplay works well enough, considering that the text file makes it seem Luca was more interested in using the Doom engine for modeling than level design.
The text file claims this map runs on E1M1, but it actually replaces MAP01 of Doom 2.
The Wall - Peter van der Kooij
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 47627 bytes -
Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
This is a Doom 2 level from 1996. After reading the comments on the /idgames archive I was expecting something terrible, but this wad isn't bad at all. Admittedly it does start out pretty mediocre - you wander through a hall of brown brick walls and false wall windows concealing hidden enemies. The Wolfenstein SS is used like a normal monster, which is never a good sign. Once this first section is over with, though, the level opens up and it becomes clear the creator was learning the engine as they designed.
By modern standards The Wall is pretty average, but with a few touch-ups I don't think it would've felt out of place in any of the big Doom 2 projects from its era. It's a bit on the easy side, but it's got a good layout, plenty of secrets, and the visuals aren't bad barring the starting area. Definitely give this one a try.
3TRICKS.WAD - Chris Valentine
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 36495 bytes -
Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
This is a fairly easy wad Doom from 1995. It's straightforward, but has a slight puzzle element to it. It's very green, the layout is a little cramped, but it looks good, and I liked the SLADRIP slime falls and scrolling skull door markers. None of the puzzles are hard to solve; the part that took me the longest was actually finding the switch to lower the blue skull, and even that was pretty obvious in hindsight.
Object "34": Sonar - Lainos [B0S]
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 6343923 bytes -
Reviewed by: udderdude
One map for Doom 2. This is one of those fucking enormous maps that takes 2-3 hours to complete. Detail level and difficulty is pretty consistent throughout. Unfortunately, it suffers from the same problem most of these maps do - eventually, you fall off the trail of where to go, and it's a gigantic pain in the ass to find how to proceed. I got about halfway through the map with half the monsters killed before I got completely stuck and spent 15 minutes running around trying to find where to go. Even splitting the map in two would have helped immensely with this issue. Basically, don't play this unless you have a lot of space time, and also a lot of patience for running around switch and platform hunting. For me, it wasn't worth the frustration.
Comeplay - Dave Johnson
Doom 2 - Vanilla - SP/Co-op - 140310 bytes -
Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
Moving onto 1996, this wad claims to be classic-styled. Unfortunately, it kind of misses the mark. Most areas of the map are too boxy, with consistent ceiling heights, and repetitive texture usage. There are also some oddball texture choices here and there, such as commonly using monitors as doors, and some misaligned flats. It would feel very out of place in the iwad, although there are a few areas that almost get the look right. One thing in particular that impressed me were the slime falls in the later sections. They were surprisingly detailed given how blocky the rest of the map tends to be.
Gameplay's a little on the tougher side, mostly in the later sections which are basically big boxes filled with hitscanners, Imps, Barons and Revenants. The text file says it was designed for two-player coop, but I didn't have too much trouble with it solo. Ammo's pretty limited in the beginning, so don't waste your shells, but you'll get plenty towards the end. Finding the secret chaingun really helps with the beginning.
The wad contains replacement sounds for the weapons and a new midi. The pistol, shotgun, and plasma gun sounds are the same ones that were used in the PlayStation and Saturn ports of Doom. I found the midi to be pretty obnoxious and repetitive.
Cry Havoc - Joseph Wheatley
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 70976 bytes -
Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
At first glance, this wad from '95 appears to be a standard "my first map" arena filled with a bunch of Cyberdemons, Masterminds and other monsters. After playing around in it a bit, it became clear there was actually some thought put into its design. I didn't find it fun, though. The whole concept is to provoke as much infighting as possible, then grab the blue key and run for it. You'll be teleported back into the arena repeatedly, and the map simply becomes surviving stray hitscans and projectiles. The final area with walls of Cyberdemons only requires you to run forward. Don't bother with this one; you'll die from random spam unless you're lucky, and it's completely unrewarding when you do complete it.
The /newstuff Chronicles #405