Temple Of Verdance - Jeff Banks
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1990076 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phobus
A prospective MAP19 for Community Chest 4, Temple of Verdance is Jeff Banks' first released map (according the archives text file). There's a few packaging issues to contend with first - namely that the text file isn't included in the .zip, and neither is the required texture set. What makes it worse is that the text file mostly points you to "Deus Vult II textures", despite the fact you need cc4-tex to actually get all of the textures used.
Get past these issues and what do you have? A very green, very (very) big, very beautiful and increasingly tough map. How green? Look at the shots. There's enough grey and brown in there to break it up a bit, and the blue sky goes surprisingly well, but if 90% of your screen is filled with green, it's because the other 10% is probably fading to black in the darkness. How big? Well, it took me 1 hour and 40 minutes (that 100 minutes) to beat (not counting the half-hour or so of trial-and-error time), so we're talking a decent length film. It starts with 1312 monsters on UV and had 1504 at the end for me (2 of which I didn't find). How beautiful? Well, back to the screenshots. I took 9 of them because I'd have been happy taking shots at pretty much any point of the map. It looks very good indeed! As for the difficulty...
Well, you start out with a shotgun and a decent supply of shells against Imps and Hell Knights. A bit tedious perhaps, but certainly easy to get through. Super Shotgun comes into play pretty quickly, and I'd say within the first half an hour you should be kitted out with everything bar the energy weapons. There is a problem here though; the rocket launcher is very easy to miss, as it's in a side room. The map appears rather non-linear to begin with, but in reality there is a specific order that things need doing in. If you suddenly find yourself outside the main temple building with a valley full of boxes of rockets (around screenshot 06), Mancubuses and Hell Knights but no rocket launcher, head back to the first real arena fight area (screenshot 04) and out into the small side room. The ammo woes that I experienced will be no more!
I only found 3/9 secrets, but the backpack (available near the start) and the BFG9000 are well-hidden away despite being very crucial to your survival. Ammo is generously supplied if you don't miss it, whilst health and armour were pretty tight for me. My aforementioned ammo woes (caused by missing the rocket launcher early on) were partially to blame here, but as time went on, the tough opposition (I think I must have killed about 6 or 7 Cyberdemons in total, plus countless Arch-Viles and Revenants) and occasional bullshit trap (corridor up to the blue key, and quite a few after the red key switch) tended to leave me scrambling for cover or having several tries from saved games. Speaking of saved games, I can't really imagine beating this map without them on UV. The length of the map and high difficulty really don't lend themselves well to a continuous play through in one life. The aforementioned bullshit traps and some of the arena fights and set-pieces really do need foreknowledge if you're in with a chance of getting through.
There's quite a lot to talk about here, so I'll try and summarise now before I embark on an essay. Basically we're looking at a Deus Vult II map. It looks good enough, is large enough, and plays rough enough too. Particularly, the area in shot 07 is very DV-esque, sort of like a cross between Minas Morgul and the Eye of Sauron part of the original Deus Vult. Aside from my earlier complaints about supplies either being short or hard to find and some of the traps being unfair the first time around, there are a few other parts that could be better - some corridors full of enemies (like the Mancubuses before the yellow key door) are just tedious to clear, and there's a few instances of concealed or shielded Arch-Viles that felt particularly cheap. Throw in a few Revenant snipers early on and things could certainly be better. Some of the voodoo doll scripting is also a bit non-intuitive, as you may have to wait for things to happen, only to suddenly get overwhelmed by a wave of Arch-Viles, Revenants and Barons of Hell. You may also find the music, while pretty good, does get boring after a marathon playing session. Something a bit longer or more ambient may have been better. On the plus side, until you get to the area in shot 09, progression is helped massively by teleporters after keys or certain switches taking you to where you need to be, skipping out backtracking or getting lost.
All in all, it's very impressive, even if it wasn't a first map. I recommend it for the adventure and the architecture (might be worth trying out the lower difficulties, as they're meant to be implemented), but think the game play could use a little work. I'm actually glad it's a stand-alone release rather than in Community Chest 4, as it's just too big to be part of a megaWAD.
Midnight Tek Frenzy - Brian Knox
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 3615238 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phobus
Midnight Tek Frenzy is a single map originally made for Community Chest 4 but released on its own instead. It comes bundled with the texture set, so players won't need to worry about going off and finding it themselves. The map is stated to Boom-compatible, and tested in prboom-plus on complevel 9. I played in ZDoom 2.5.0 and had a minor issue with the sequence leading up to the red key card, presumably due to the way ZDoom handles the conveyor belt voodoo doll scripting. You can jump out of the pit to continue, so it's not a worry.
The map lives up to its name in all aspects - it uses the wonderful blue sky from cc4-tex, it is a techbase (grey and green bricks and concrete mostly, but good-looking with it), and the game play is perhaps best described as a frenzy. You start off in a courtyard, instantly under attack. You have to fight your way to weapons, and everywhere you go and everything you do just piles on more pressure. There is a sort of apex to this carnage, where you've killed enough of the monsters that are there to begin with that you can finally draw breath and take advantage of the generous health, ammo, and armour supplies.
Then you press some switches and all hell breaks loose again. It keeps up this violence to the end, which should see a fully equipped player beating down some rather unfortunate cyberdemons with his BFG. Your quest for the 6 keys is a non-linear one, so exploration before acting will be to your benefit (particularly as far as weapons go), but you'll have to fight every step of the way.
Some of the visuals are perhaps a little bland (outer walls, mostly), but as a playable experience it's pretty damn good. I say get in there and give it a go!
Journey to Erebus - EANB
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 568326 bytes -
Reviewed by: fullmetalvaran33
"Journey to Erebus" is a three-map endeavor that takes you from an underground tech facility all the way up to a huge, circular white rock canyon. You'll encounter a fair amount of jump scare moments (map 1's Revenant surprises scared the crap out of me), but map 3 is clearly the most grand, epic, and well-designed, ending with a triple Cyberdemon assault.
But, the WAD has its shortcomings. Map 1 is plagued by right angles and an over-abundance of secrets (there are 11 total). The entire WAD provides too many health items and power-ups, and the amount of ammo present is more than sufficient. The secrets in each map over-emphasize this, and map 1 is certainly the main culprit. But, even without the secrets, there's still one too many supercharges lying around. Some traps would have easily adrenaline rushes had there been less ammo and health. Due to this, anyone should be able to beat this WAD on UV, and I think highly skilled players may find it to be a bit on the dull side.
However, if you want to have some good old-fashioned fun, or you just want something to help you pass the time, then "Erebus" is a solid choice. It has its flaws, but it manages to be very entertaining anyway, and it's a fairly quick playthrough for the most part.
Thanatos - Heracle
Freedoom - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 1241810 bytes -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
OK, don't be confused by the text file that says this is a ZDoom level for Doom 2, because you will encounter some missing textures, but play it (as an anonymous user on /idgames wrote) using Freedom. Yeah, now things start getting serious.
So, this is a level made for an IWAD that doesn't have much modding based upon it, Freedoom. I think this could be the first level (expect for Harmony, but that was a completely different thing, sure it was based upon Freedoom, but has a radically different concept) based on classic Freedoom, so what's Heracle's (hmmm... I think I have already heard about this dude) purpose on the daily menu?
This level, called Thanatos, is a pretty large hellish map (if I had to compare it with some other map, I found it barely resembles an E2M9 concept at its core) with some green stone places, a canyon with a lava fire, and lastly a lab, I found lots of interesting ideas in the map (detail on the computers, the lava valley and the lava falls), but unluckily, this map was "ruined" by real n00b-ish editing (misalignment here and there, some cramped room geometry) that disturbed me a little (but hey, I did crap like this too when I was first doing maps for Doom). Gameplay isn't bad, and sometimes the battles were interesting; the new monsters (added as the only graphic work present, duh) don't add any more variety to the bestiary.
However, a nice first trial (if this is your first try at mapping, Heracle) for a map; too bad it was ruined by the bad n00b mapping, but it isn't a complete failure, after all. This could deserve a try from you!
Fort v2 - fiend-o-hell
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 520219 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phobus
For my 10th review in a week, I decided to give fiend-o-hell a second try. His text file naming hasn't improved and he's gone for an equally-bad "resources.wad" too, which was annoying right off the bat. I'm assuming he keeps each of his projects in their own folder (or possibly in the zipped archive) to negate the obvious ambiguity issues here. This is also the second version of something called Fort 2012, which was originally "2012-themed". Not sure what that means, as I've not played it, but he put more time into this version 2 upgrade than he did into making the original map, so I'll assume I've got a considerably improved experience.
On to the map itself: as the four screenshots reveal, we're looking at a frozen, medieval castle. Textures come from Daggerfall and Hexen for the most part (all resources seem to be properly credited, which is nice) and are used... fairly well, I'll say. Vertical alignment seems to be off, and the standard Doom starting door looks very out of place. Progression is worked through a range of switches. Some of these are hidden in what apparently constitutes a secret later in the map. There's eight actual secrets apparently, but checking DoomBuilder 2 told me what I suspected - actually, there's only three, and for some reason five inaccessible sectors are tagged secret too. One of the proper secrets is actually a challenge to get to and is an exit. Why it's a secret exit, I can't tell you, as it takes you to MAP02 just like the normal one does.
Anyway, playing the map you're generally well-supplied as long as you push into rooms to grab the ammo before trying to bottle-neck enemies or even take them on normally. You get a few of those "monster rising through a solid floor" moments (which don't impress me), and there is a bit of a challenge at points, particularly if you haven't been aggressive enough with your ammo claiming. All told, I thought it looked pretty nice (not spectacular), and the use of height variation made the layout quite interesting. Plays reasonably well too, so as a short blast I'd recommend it.
Arsenic - Jacek Nowak
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 52501 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phobus
Determined not to just take up all of the big .WADs that nobody else will take on, I figured I'd snag this vanilla map from fairly-new author Jacek Nowak. I figured I was in for an easy, short ride. At a little over 14 minutes total playtime (3 minutes for dying and coming back at it) and some pretty tough opposition, I'd say I figured wrong. I'd say the map is medium-sized and, due to the fairly linear progression and number of Arch-Viles and tough monsters present on UV, actually pretty damn tough.
As the two screenshots show you, the rooms aren't visual masterpieces. They do house some solid game play though - particularly the grey bricks room you get to after the red key doors, with its height variation, pop-out monsters and various moving parts. Ammo is pretty finely tuned, and health didn't strike me as generous either, so there's not much margin for error for the UV player. However, I enjoyed myself. Worth a quick go for some bare-bones, old-school fun, in my estimation. Watch out for the pillars (or supports) that border each of the many theme (or room, really) transitions and the cage bit in the early part of the level though - it's easy to get hung up on those and take damage that you'll regret quickly.
After the eclipse - Daniel "FractalXX" Bettenbuk
Doom 2 - PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 2226840 bytes -
Reviewed by: Snakes
Daniel "FractalXX" Bettenbuk shows equal parts enthusiasm and inexperience in the creation of this 11-map episode. For some odd reason, this is always a combination I've thoroughly enjoyed playing, in spite of the fact that every wad of this variety is heavily flawed.
This is no different, either. The texturing is erratic - partly because of pegging issues and partly because of the weird combination of colors. The latter is compounded due to the fact that Nick Baker's recolors are used here in totally bonkers ways. Combined with simplistic architecture, this becomes a very rough-looking wad.
Layouts vary greatly, and it really does help. For the most part, this wad isn't very pistol-friendly, and space can be pretty tight in general, but at least the thematic elements vary enough to stay interesting. The train level is just... blegh, though - straight linear gameplay with cramped spaces galore make me go "GAH WHY!?" Ammo can be a bit tight on UV as well. For some odd reason, though, this remained an entertaining enough romp for me to give it a one-thumbs-up and Snakes stamp-o-approval.
Bugs include aforementioned texture issues and improper use of Boom's silent-teleporter linedef. When a room appears where a wall was, pardon the phrase, you're doing it wrong.
On the whole, After the eclipse is a decent enough episode for a mapper as green as Daniel is. I get the impression that he had a good time making it, which helps. Download, but exercise caution.
Actinium - Jacek Nowak
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 42809 bytes -
Reviewed by: Snakes
Actinium is a pair of short, violent maps that can probably be best-described as rough around the edges. The visuals are fantastically bland, but with a mindset like the author's, visuals aren't really what the wad is about.
No, the focus is here is to create some brutal gameplay, or at least "brutal" is the first word that came to mind. The first map, after all, teleports you into a brown + nukage-themed room that, lest you have luck on your side, will probably bury you in cross-fire almost immediately. I'm not digging the overcooked height variation as much as I'd like on account of the narrow ledges you have to work with, but at least the second map doesn't punish you for falling.
All in all, this is wad that could be worth a gander should you really get some interest going, but passing it up wouldn't be a crime either. This sits smack-dab in the middle of the road for me.
Béla Bartók Music WAD - Herculine
Doom/Doom 2 - OGG Support - N/A - 186040553 bytes
Reviewed by: Snakes
This is a music-replacement wad which utilizes the famed Hungarian composer Béla Bartók's string quartets for all the maps (save for the intermission/title music). While the quartets themselves are, of course, nice pieces of classical music, I have yet to find a Doom WAD with which they work.
It may work with some spooky, forest-themed wad, as some of the pieces used reminded me of the vine scene from The Evil Dead (yes, that one) for some strange reason. Alas, I've yet to play one that fits with this selection, and would only recommend it if you appreciate later-period classical music. Even then, it just doesn't fit Doom at all.
Pulse Blast - Daniel "FractalXX" Bettenbuk
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 109104 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phobus
Pulse Blast can be summed up as a good attempt by an amateurish mapper. He's had a crack at non-linearity, but you end up with blue key card having not seen the blue bars because they're hidden. He's had a go at putting in details, but his texture alignment and choice of textures used puts in some garish colours. There are translucent windows, but the textures aren't clipped to the height of the sector. Game play might be reasonably challenging if you weren't so over-stocked and if everything wasn't in front of you most of the time. The warp-in traps tend to spring as you're leaving the area, so they don't have quite the impact they should. Areas tend to be quite cramped, so the monster variety tends to just lead to infighting. He's included a new switch, but only the red-to-green version is animated. It continues like that for everything I could conceivably analyse - nice try, but needs more work.
The text file isn't included in the .zip either, which is a touch annoying. In any case he doesn't credit his music source and seems to have misinterpreted the meaning of "Misc Author Info". All in all, you won't mind giving this a miss. It's only his second attempt, so there's scope for improvement with experience!
Hell's Ingress - EANB
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 81116 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phobus
Hell's Ingress is EANB's remake of the PSX Doom map "Hell Gate". I've not played the original, so I won't be doing any comparisons with it I'm afraid!
Visually the map is pretty nice. Kind of looks like a more detailed late E2 map, but with the Doom 2 Hell sky and MAP28's music playing. The layout boils down to two medium sized areas, both symmetrical to begin with. You start off with the plasma gun and green armour, getting to rub out some Demons and Spectres before you grab a shotgun. You've got ample ammo to use in the first area on Ultra-Violence, even when the solitary Hell Knight comes into play. Once you've pressed the two main switches (and grabbed the soulsphere from the third switch) you then go into the arena seen in screenshot 02. Short story made shorter: after 5 minutes or so you end up with screenshot 03.
Two observations here: I had fun, and it was very easy. You've got loads of health and ammo, and you get the rocket launcher and chaingun pretty early on too, giving you ample arms to take on all enemies. In theory, the Arch-Viles or Revenants late in the map could be a threat, but the pillars don't lower until the end (for one last wave of Revenants), there's plenty of room to run around, and you've got quite a few rockets to stop the Archies from resurrecting too many monsters. Want to kill 5-10 minutes in a fun, relaxed manner? You can do a lot worse than playing this map!
FORT KNOCKS - Z.MUSKE (GEnie)
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 82740 bytes -
Reviewed by: NitroactiveStudios
This WAD was designed for Doom/The Ultimate Doom and has one level. The WAD's name may make it interesting, but unfortunately it's not so interesting after all. The texturing is not so good because of how unusual textures are used for doors rather than actual door textures. There are many Former Sergeants in the map which makes shotgun ammo very easy to obtain, but there are too many Former Sergeants in the level. Medikits and stimpacks are hard to find in this level which means the player will have to be careful not to lose too much health. Every weapon is obtainable in the map, and there are two BFG9000s. One of them is in a pit of green waste that kills you with no way out, and the other is on a platform across a crooked balance beam over an inescapable pit of killer water. There are actually radiation shielding suits around the place, but they're pointless because of how you cannot escape the pits. When you obtain the BFG9000 from the platform, a door will open releasing a Cyberdemon. There's also a giant pentagram platform that can have its floor and ceiling lowered by pressing hidden switches.
There are two new textures in the WAD, and both of them are ridiculous. One of them is a flashing "Knocks" sign, while the other is a sign that rises after entering the pool area and reads "pool closed for routine maintenance". The rooms are not so exciting as well, and there are doors that do not have the proper textures for door tracks. Even though some of the doors do have the proper textures for door tracks, they do not have the lower unpegged setting. In fact, none of the door tracks are lower unpegged. The room for the red key has a trap that teleports you to a room full of Former Humans that has another red key, but you can actually pass the linedef that teleports you to the trap room and grab the first red key instead because of the doors that open in that first room. The area before the final area has two barons of hell and a spider mastermind. Something about the door that leads you to this battle is that it has a step that is messed up. It rises if you pass the linedef in front of the door, and if you fall off the step, you won't be able to get back up.
Another thing is that you pass a certain linedef in the room with the Spider Mastermind, a trap door will open revealing more enemies, but passing another linedef will lower the floor and if you go back there, you will not be able to get back up. If the door closes in the Spider Mastermind room, you won't be able to open the door. This makes getting 100% kills impossible. The final area has almost every enemy on columns except for a Cacodemon and a Lost Soul. After passing a certain linedef in that final area, crushers will come down and kill all the monsters on the columns. The exit switch is not a switch but a random texture. Overall the WAD is disappointing and not very fun, but if you want to try it out then that's fine. But like I said, the WAD is no good.
Pure Hate - Leon
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 900941 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
Nobody has toured more schools throughout the globe than Doomguy. Chances are if a Doomer gets a hold of an editor, Doomguy will shortly be taking a romp through his virtual home, school, and/or office.
Though Pure Hate is a school map, it is thankfully one of the more interesting ones I have played. Evident thought was put into creating a foreboding atmosphere, for the dark lighting and horror-themed resources help to set a spooky mood that usually isn't present in wads based on real locations. Unfortunately however, the map still suffers from the common MyLocale.wad problems of squarish indoor architecture and numerous rooms with little gameplay value. In fact, if it weren't for the lighting and new resources, there wouldn't be much to set this map apart from other nineties school wads in the archives. The text file specifies this map as a ZDoom map, though it makes no notable use of ZDoom features, and it appears it could have even been passed off as a vanilla map.
You begin the map with a few of the main campus buildings completely locked off, and gameplay consists of finding the keys required to explore these buildings while doing the usual spring cleaning along the way. The solution to obtaining a couple of the keys isn't very obvious, so the map may take a while to complete at first. Once you know where and how to obtain the keys however, you can complete the map much more quickly. There are plenty of monsters throughout the map ranging from the easiest to the most difficult, but they are pretty spread out, and you are given more than enough firepower to deal with them.
All in all, the map won't blow you away, but it is one of the nicer school maps out there. If you are prepared to explore school #5632, give it a shot.
Xided - Nort
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 316131 bytes -
Reviewed by: fullmetalvaran33
"Xided" is a classic style kind of map that mixes one too many themes in one somewhat sluggish level. However, the lighting effects are often quite impressive, featuring great light and shadow contrast and plenty of dark, eerie rooms. The map has a sort of uneasy and haunted atmosphere because of this, and the dim lighting tends to cover up some of the bland aspects of the visuals.
Game play is definitely a bit of a challenge on Ultra-Violence, as the map features many cramped, narrow spaces. Ammo placement is rather tight, and I found myself punching out some Pinkies at the very start because I didn't have enough pistol ammo. Even when I got the rocket launcher, I still didn't have much. I never found the super shotgun or chainsaw (found a very, very helpful berserk, though), and this definitely made me think through my strategies more than usual. I definitely proceeded with caution throughout this map, as I was never certain what was going to pop up--and how much ammo I would have left.
The final battle is rather nicely done. It definitely serves up a good challenge, as you only have two hiding spots. Getting to them is another thing, though, and one of them puts you at risk for blowing yourself up with rockets. It's not the most elaborate boss battle, but it is fairly intense.
Definitely give "Xided" a try if you want some challenging, old-school-ish fun with dreary lighting effects to enhance the atmosphere. If you want something more modern, more polished, you may need to look elsewhere, as "Xided" is essentially substance over style, for better and for worse.
Beware of False Prophets - Memfis
Ultimate Doom - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 207449 bytes -
Reviewed by: fullmetalvaran33
"Beware of False Prophets" is a sort of hodge-podge industrial/temple facility. A variety of textures are used, and it sort of works and sort of looks cluttered, but the map still manages to portray an episode 4 kind of feel. The game play is pretty fast-paced with some decent traps and jump scares, although it wasn't what I'd call difficult, not even on Ultra-Violence. It's like the author wanted this map to be a challenge, and he made sure the ammo was placed sparingly and carefully, but the combat falls short in terms of difficulty. The fact you can obtain a plasma rifle secret and actually not even need the thing just emphasizes this.
The music is great, though, and probably the best part of the entire map. Although it doesn't help to alleviate the sluggish pace that occurs halfway through the map—and it cannot lessen the tedious task of back-tracking all the way through the map to use the red skull key. The map isn't that big, but the back-tracking still felt unnecessarily slow and dull.
Despite its flaws, "Beware of False Prophets" is still fun to play through once. There are a lot of good ideas present in "Prophets," it's just that their execution is a bit shaky.
The /newstuff Chronicles #410