Polaris - The Gift - Richard Smith Long
Doom/Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 5723206 bytes -
Reviewed by: WildWeasel
Here we have another one of Richard Smith Long's unique weapon mods. I'm still not quite sure what to make of his general style of modding, but I can't deny that Polaris has a neat concept. This mod hearkens back to the old days of EDGE weapon mods, back when most of us tried to come up with some underlying gimmick for a new mod instead of just lumping a huge pile of things together and calling it an Aeons of Death tribute.
On the surface, Polaris might just look like another set of guns. The concept here, though, is coolant-based weaponry. Coolant ammo is one of the more common types of ammo you'll find while playing with this mod. You really need to be careful with it, though, as the more coolant you're carrying, the faster your character will freeze. Granted, you really need to be carrying a lot of coolant to really notice the effects.
Coolant ammo is unique in that it technically does not have a maximum carrying capacity. However, along the bottom of the status bar is a blue bar that slowly creeps up from left to right, representing how cold you are. The more coolant you have, the faster this builds up. You don't need to be wasteful with the coolant, though, since enemies will commonly drop Thermal Patches that retract the freeze bar. In another nice touch, your freeze bar also retracts if you take fire damage, i.e. from Imp fireballs or explosions.
With so many weapons that accept coolant ammo, I was initially worried that it'd just be a bunch of Duke Nukem-type freezethrower clones, but I was pleasantly surprised at some of the originality in play. I rather like the chaingun-replacing StakeGun, which shoots icicles, and the Vitrificator Rifle, which is essentially a fire extinguisher but insanely powerful (though it uses up the coolant really fast). If you've got any of the more powerful weapons, you really shouldn't have any problems with carrying too much coolant at all.
The presentation side of things is not bad either. The color palette has been reworked into a desaturated, blue-tinted version, giving the entire game the feeling of an icebox. The standard HUD looks like Doom's at first, with minor changes to layout to display the coolant ammo and the freeze bar. The fullscreen HUD is actually a subset of the standard one, with portions of the bar itself cut away and the numbers floating in mid-air. As a HUD enthusiast myself, I like the changes RSL made here, though I wonder if there isn't a better way to show the ammo bar on the right without making it stick out (or perhaps omit it altogether in fullscreen, replacing it with a horizontal keybar?).
If I have any complaints at all about Polaris, it's on the technical side of things. I am not a particular fan of the way the alt-fire buttons are inconsistent between weapons (if the Power Handgun is out, it throws Glacier Bombs which are also a separate weapon; the Vitrificator's alt-fire is a melee attack, etc.), and I tend to do more damage to myself with the Glacier Bombs than I do the enemies. This is a bit of a nitpick, but I am also not a fan of the bullet and shell casing noises, as they are a bit too loud - rapid fire with bullets sounds like Christmas sleigh bells, and shotgun shells sound like a flamenco dancer with castanets.
And if I might nitpick a bit more, I feel that the animations on the weapons could stand for some Offset abuse to smooth them up some more, to add more "visual" recoil and perhaps make the weapons seem like they're moving around a bit more while reloading. Really, though, this is just a nitpick; we've been playing Doom with the default jerky weapons for years, why should smoothness be an issue now? It's really not - I just like to complain.
In conclusion, while Polaris may not shake the "just another weapon mod" label for some, I feel that it's certainly worth trying, as it could give a very different experience on your megawad of choice. The need to balance coolant-based weapons with regular weapons adds another layer beyond "what weapon am I getting more ammo for?" when deciding which weapon to use for a specific encounter. Personally, I recommend this mod.
I also give this mod special bonus points for trying to be something different from all the AEOD and Brutal Doom clones we've been seeing lately.
(Screenshots were taken on Map03 of Marsw301.wad by Nathan Lineback.)
Obsidian Deathmatch - Tempest
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Deathmatch - 826664 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
Digging through the accumulation of multiplayer wads at the bottom of the /newstuff list, I find Obsidian Deathmatch. It claims to be 20 maps by four authors of old-school style deathmatch maps for Doom 2. Sounds intriguing, so I loaded the wad up with three other bots. It does not disappoint.
Barring a couple of new skies, the maps make clever use of Doom 2's stock resources, which results in the themes resembling the better maps from the dwango series. The layouts throughout the megawad are well thought-out and manage to stay consistently interesting to play in, as they typically make good use of height variation and avoid dead-ends. Even my less favorite maps in the wad (maps 10 and 11 in my opinion) are at least decent fragfests. Most of the maps tend to be perfectly suited for three to four players, while maps 16 and 20 could perhaps squeeze in a few more before it becomes pandemonium. So as far as my recommendation goes, find some buddies to frag and ready your weapons, because this wad may be dwango 9 in disguise.
djv duel - djv12xd
Doom 2 - ZDaemon - Deathmatch - 677699 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
Djv Duel is a mini one-on-one deathmatch episode comprised of four maps. I loaded the wad up with a bot and gave it a spin.
The map themes include a white STARTAN techbase, a brown lava cavern, a brown techbase with bridges, and a gothic brick arena. The layouts are all (suitably) small, but the rooms are well-interconnected and play nicely for the most part. There were a few things that bugged me though: the first map is inconsistent with the others in that it lacks an exit, the BFG is practically out in the open and easy to reach in the couple of maps that have it, and there are a couple of missing "LOGO" textures in map02 (which luckily for the map's theme, appear as ashwall in ZDaemon). Other than that, I would say that these maps are solid, though nothing spectacular. If you and your buddy don't mind the pet peeves mentioned above and are looking for something small and quick to play, I would say give these maps a whirl.
putin eats children - Ded Pihto (v kozhanom palto)
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 2343376 bytes -
Reviewed by: hardcore_gamer
This is a slaughter map with a weird Putin theme.
Most of the map takes place in a large open area with shitloads of monsters and a large pillar with an image of Putin on it in the middle.
There is not really that much to say about this map because it's as simplistic of a slaughter map as it gets. You basically grind your way through the monsters and hit a few switches that are located in each corner of the arena until a pillar raises that allows you to shoot a icon of sin that is located inside the image of Putin, thus ending the level.
This slaughter map is not by any means the worst out there at all. The level design is actually kind of solid even though it's simple, and the music is kind of cool (though your mileage may vary A LOT on that). The biggest problem with the map is that in a way it reflects what is so wrong with lots of slaughter maps: it's just so grindy. You basically just circle strafe forever and ever and hold down the fire button until everything is dead, and this kind of gameplay gets really boring really fast.
In terms of difficulty, I would say that this is about medium hard for a slaughter map (though I did actually play this on HMP and not UV). It's not THAT hard, but it's not at all easy either. You got shitloads of revenants and monsters attacking you, and the only thing that makes the map beatable are the shitloads of BFG ammo and megaspheres that are all over the place.
If you like slaughter maps and just want to circle strafe around monsters for a few moments, then this slaughter map is as good as any I guess, but if you are looking for gameplay that is even remotely more interesting that just "run in circles and hold fire button for 10 minutes", then you are better off looking for something else.
A.L.T. - [B0S] Clan
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 12194078 bytes -
Reviewed by: Ofisil
A.L.T. is a 32 level clan-made megawad for Doom 2 that needs a limit removing port, (like... almost every Doom port out there). It's a decent and carefully planned Wad that introduces some great stuff in terms of design, but fails a bit in the gameplay department.
A.L.T. will appeal only to a certain kind of Doomer. The one who likes somewhat long, very maze-like levels, filled with switches, "platforming", searching around and not many enemies to shoot at. Honestly, at times I felt as if I was playing Half-Life or something. Lots of running around trying to progress through the level without too many baddies to shoot at. Especially the first 10 levels are so damn boring that you can simply skip them to avoid killing nothing but zombiemen! The game also lacks challenge; enemy placement is quite decent and there are some very interesting traps that will make you feel threatened at times, but in the end... meh. I've seen better.
Why does it need a limit removing port? Well most levels, especially the last ones, are massively detailed areas with more sectors that you can count, something that will be used to create some very interesting places like castles, hellish caverns, strange almost dreamy areas and many more, all filled with all kinds of nicely though designs. BOS clan has put a lot of effort in creating a world that you could actually write a fanfic for, like for example the first 2 levels. In the first one you are inside an airplane, and in the second one you run around in an area where the plane has crashed onto, reshaped it and filled it with its various parts. However detail doesn't always mean beauty; many areas look pretty boring, and some have so much detail that it actually gets very tiring and occasionally ugly. Same goes for the custom texture and sounds. The good: everything is custom made but doesn't look or sound "out of place", there are a lot of good textures and some very atmospheric sounds. The bad: some textures and sounds are below average. When it comes to music, most of the themes are of the typical modern game cinematic/ambient style, which fits like a glove to this Wad, but I didn't like them, apart from 2 which sounded more like Doom-ish.
A quite large and mazy/puzzling megawad, with more detail to look at than stuff to shoot at. It will appeal only to those who prefer a more atmospheric feel and searching around than the classic run and gun style Wad.
Dungeon 13 - Anthony Vattimo
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 15145287 bytes -
Reviewed by: Ofisil
Dungeon 13 is a 32 level Megawad for Doom 2, designed for (G)ZDoom (latest version if possible). I've got to be honest from the very beginning: I just didn't like this ENORMOUS Megawad. It is pretty obvious that a lot of effort has been put in it, but the thumbs down outnumber the thumbs up.
So I start the game and what do I see? A somewhat dull-looking level without many things to look (or shoot) at. Gameplay-wise, a couple of simple baddies that posed no real threat. Then what? Switch hunting! That pretty much describes the whole Megawad, with the only difference being that after a couple of levels the battles become more challenging. Honestly, this has got to be one of the worst backtracking and switch and key searching experiences I've had in a Doom Wad. Some levels require you to search and press more than 40-50 switches in order to open something very far from you, not to mention that you can rarely tell which switch does what, making you run around in some enormous levels searching around to find a way out.
What about the enemies? The game IS challenging which is a good thing, but it soon gets a bit aggravating. Why? Well the challenges it will give you are a bit of the trial-and-error style. This is not one of these Wads where you can run around killing stuff, no matter HOW freaking good you are. You save, enter a room, probably die, reload and try to find the best way to kill the baddies over there... if you like that, OK, but I sure don't. And by the way, although I love arch-viles, the author seems to love them 10 times more, with many levels having more than 20 of these loving creatures, making them a bit boring to fight again and again.
Now: despite my overall negativity, a lot of nice ideas were thrown in, but this is a LARGE Megawad, so when the bad things outnumber the good stuff, I cannot do anything else but mostly mention the disadvantages.
The author has obviously tried to give character to his levels. Most levels are quite large, have a lot of detailed areas to visit, and some places do look awesome. I've seen better though, and there isn't much variety too keep you interested, and most levels are way too dark with small use of lighted sectors to create some contrast. Does it look bad? No, just a bit too dull at times. I've played this Megawad with the Doom 2 music and not TNT as the author recommended. Bottom line: apart from 3-4 new music themes, most levels use the original tunes. What about the custom-made ones? Well, they suck... sorry, but they do. They are unforgivably short loops of irritating music and nothing more.
Some nice ideas thrown here and there, quite challenging and with lots of key/switch puzzles available, but it soon gets very boring and tedious to progress due to the extreme switch hunt and trial and error kind of gameplay mechanics. I've seen better... of course, I've also seen worse.
PSYCHOTIC LANDS - Matt Bennett
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 208284 bytes -
Reviewed by: hardcore_gamer
These are 5 crude maps that appear to have been made by someone who hasn't made many levels before. Basically, these are your typical beginner levels. And they also appear to have been made in 1996 as well, unless I am mistaken.
Considering how horrible lots of beginner levels are, these aren't THAT bad. There are some things that I liked about these levels, like the large middle stone area in the third level and some of the wood areas in that same level, which provided some fun close range combat.
But generally speaking, these levels are pretty horrible, featuring such lovely things as poorly (almost randomly) placed cyberdemons and masterminds, very boxy and crude level design, horrible texturing, etc.; basically everything you would expect in a beginner wad made by someone who is still learning how to map.
Map02 also appears to crash in ZDoom for some reason, so those who want to play that won't be able to use ZDoom.
Like I said, there are some gameplay elements that are actually kind of fun here and there. But every time I started to think "Hmmmmm, this isn't THAT bad", the maps do something that ruins it, like by throwing a yet another random cyberdemon at me for no reason.
Overall, this isn't worth playing. This is just a collection of horrible beginner levels, and while there are some good ideas in them, they aren't enough to make this level set worth your time. Avoid.
Xeno-pen.wad (Doom II only) - Roy Ford "LaserJock" Coherent Inc.
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 43715 bytes -
Reviewed by: ReX
This is a single map for Doom 2, but once again the use of WadEd and BSP v1.2 as the editing tools of choice hint that this is an early-era mod. Surprisingly, however, it is well-constructed and with challenging gameplay. And it's not too shabby-looking, to boot. There is a little back-story in the text file, but as expected, "It is your job to infiltrate the "pen" and retake it." To a certain extent, the story has driven the author's design choices, but this is not a bad thing in this case.
The map is reasonably well laid out, and is mostly done in a base theme. Although this is a very linear map in terms of progression (i.e., there is no backtracking and few side areas to explore), you will loop around and return to an area near your point of origin. There are outdoor areas as well as occasionally cramped corridors, but at no time are you at risk of being overwhelmed. To mix things up the author puts you in traditionally-done base areas, a "library", a computer area, a garden (complete with "reflecting pool"), and underground passageways.
Architecture is somewhat plain, but the texture choices provide for some nice-looking areas. If there are texture misalignments, they are not obvious. The one texture choice I question, and one which has the potential to cause confusion, is the use of the DOORRED texture for the bars to the pens. I naturally assumed that they required the red key to open, but then I saw the red key in one of the pens. Turns out, you don't need the red key for those bars.
As the name of the game suggests, you'll see a lot of enemies in "pens", but if you imagine it'll be like shooting fish in a barrel, think again. The author has strategically placed some enemies in areas that will make you scamper for safety. Some of those in penned areas have nasty teeth, and they're more than happy to use them if you don't get out of the way in time. Mostly, the fights are quite fun, but the chaingunners in the open area near the start were a pain in the tuchus, and the archvile above the garden was a little tedious to dispatch with the weaponry at hand. There are a couple of little traps, which the seasoned Doomer will have no problem surviving. Overall, however, the fights are fun, and lend themselves to encouraging monster infighting.
There are a few strategically-placed powerups that many players will appreciate, and the weaponry is generally adequate to discipline the rowdy masses. There is a good amount of ammo, armor, and health, and if you find the secrets you'll be fat and happy. You are given what you need as you progress, and at no time did I find myself scrambling for sustenance, or backtracking to pick up any goodies I may have left behind. The blue armor seemed redundant to me, but you'll need to pick it up in order to score a 100% kill rate.
You will need to collect all three keys to complete the map, but they are easy to find and won't leave you scratching your head. There are a total of 6 secrets in the map, but the secret area near the start has two sectors marked as secret, thereby pointlessly increasing your count. The final secret is a narrow sector at the exit switch, meaning you'll never complete the map with 100% stats.
This map may have been created over a decade ago, but it's competently designed and nicely implemented. It should provide ten to fifteen minutes of a nostalgic romp through the Doom Playground.
Space Communications - Matt "TheBraggle" Napier
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 53493 bytes -
Reviewed by: ReX
This is a single map for Doom 2 that features two new music tracks (title screen music, and Map01 music), a new night sky, and a new lighting texture that does not appear to have been used in the game. Map design is competent (albeit with some minor errors) and the look is slick, but the gameplay tends towards the easy. (Incidentally, the wad includes an incipient Map02, but there are no enemies and there's no way out of it.) Oh, and this appears to be the author's third release.
You find yourself in a space port, armed with your trusty side-arm. One of the first things you notice about this map is how well-lit it is. Thankfully, what you see is pleasing to the eye - wall and ceiling details are nicely done without being over-the-top, and the texturing complements the map and is consistent with the theme. For being one of the author's first maps, this bodes well for future maps. There are a few texture misalignments, and the author could do well to learn the rudiments of texture unpegging, but otherwise the appearance is reasonably solid. The one visual glitch appears if you use doom2.exe (or chocolate-doom.exe) and look out the windows at the sky. Being a limitation of vanilla Doom, sectors that use sky flats and ceilings will display the dreaded hall-of-mirrors effect; using a suitable source port eliminates this problem.
The design is relatively simple, with some key-searching, switch-pressing, and backtracking. But the map's layout lends itself to finding things easily, and you can speed through the level if you wish. Things work the way they ought to, with a couple of notable exceptions. When approaching the switch in the first area accessed through the yellow-key door, a lift is lowered and a chaingunner is released from a closet. If you step into the closet (say to pry the chaingun from its former owner's cold, dead fingers) you can find yourself trapped in the closet, as there is no switch to lower the lift from inside. (And, not surprisingly, the correct sidedef of the lift is not textured, causing HOM.) The second error is caused by improper use of the door-open special - opening the blue-key door is meant to open an adjacent door as well, releasing the enemy within. Unfortunately, the adjacent door does not open, with the main consequence being that you'll never get 100% stats.
In keeping with the position of this level in the Map01 slot, you face mostly very easy opposition. There are a couple of nice traps, one of which pits you against the ravening hordes in a tight area; by-and-large, however, you will have plenty of room to maneuver. You are provided with a modest arsenal, but it is more than adequate to enforce discipline against those that step out of line. There's a good amount of armor, an adequate number of healing items, and not an excessive amount of ammo (which, in this map, is a good thing).
All-in-all, this is a map that is short (two-minutes short) and sweet. It does look and feel like a space port, and the music and night sky go well with the theme. Despite its foibles, I suggest you try this map out.
HALOWEEN.WAD - Phil Pesano
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 70179 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
A short single player map from 1994 that uses a cute MIDI rendition of the main theme from John Carpenter's Halloween (and I mean cute, because it doesn't sound threatening at all). The design is pretty clean for its time: there is barely any misalignments and almost no weird texture choices. But it is also very boring, mainly because of how symmetrical everything is. Just look at the automap (last screenshot). Not very exciting, huh?
Now onto the gameplay. Even on 4th skill "Halloween" is very easy by today's standards. There is always a lot of room for dodging and way more health and ammo than you'll ever need. Level progression is very linear: you can find two small optional areas, but that's about it.
Overall, this wad has nothing to offer for most players, but I think it's interesting from a historical perspective, so if you're an old school enthusiast, I'd say check it out. But watch out for nukage and lava pits! The author made them inescapable.
Crossing Pipes - scifista42
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 29342 bytes -
Reviewed by: ReX
This is a single map for Doom 2 that requires ZDoom or its derivatives. It's quite a small level, whose salient features are its sector economy and its paucity of ammo. While it is rather plain-looking, a few of the fights are fairly enjoyable. It may very well be the author's first released map, as a search of the /idgames archives did not yield any other results.
This map is an attempt at creating giant, underground pipes (at least in the initial section of the map); the use of slopes and the BLAKWAL2 texture works reasonably well in creating this illusion. The level is built around a self-imposed limitation of ten sectors, and considering this fact the map is well-constructed. As some of those sectors are sloped, and the author has used self-referencing to stay within the 10-sector limit, some areas are vast and have a surreal appearance (see second screenshot). The dark, straight walls are punctuated with occasional windows that reveal the hellish infestation just beneath the surface, but for the most part the look is uniform (uninteresting, some may say), with little texture variation. Textures are properly aligned, and the constructs have an air of mapping competency.
The game is linear, in the sense that there is really only a single path you can take to progress; it is non-linear in the sense that you will return to areas you've previously cleared. You will require the blue key, although the author hands it to you right before you'll need it. Aside from that, you'll use several switches intended to open up areas to allow you to proceed. In other words, everything you do is designed to funnel you into set-piece battles.
The map starts with some promise, with you standing at a "crossroad" and enemies at all exit points. The super shotgun that you pick up immediately will get a good workout as you dart up to the one-eyed wonders and dance maniacally around them. If you find the poorly-marked secret area you'll be able to arm yourself with heftier hardware, but even if you don't, the weapons you pick up as you go along are more than adequate to quell the raging masses. What you won't find, however, is a generous supply of ammo. Make every shot count, otherwise you'll find yourself with a paltry 10 bullets in your magazine and facing a pair of hungry demons. I chose to beat them into submission sans berserk fists, wanting to save my meager supply of bullets for what might lie wait around the corner. A little later I was in a similar situation, but facing a very pissed off revenant. Can you say "frustrating"? After bringing up saved games a few times I managed to get past the choke points and add to my arsenal and supply. That's not to say that I ever felt totally stocked, and the boss battle at the end was touch and go. If you back away and snipe at the boss you'll likely squander away your stock and force yourself to squat like a duck while it shits all over you. Your best bet is to dart past it to the stash behind, and engage it at close quarters to improve your accuracy. It also makes for a much more exiting challenge. You are given health packs at strategic locations, but there is a complete absence of armor.
Despite the plain look of the game and the shortage of ammo, this is an enjoyable map in parts. I recommend it, if for no other reason than to experience a ZDoom map in ten sectors.
Rollercoaster of Doom - Thrain Shadbolt
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 44041 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
Rolldoom is a very small 94' map for E2M1, made with the intention of simulating a roller coaster ride.
It follows the trend of most wads from the bygone era, in that more thought was put into making the architecture work than eye candy. Grab your ticket (red keycard) at the booth, and traverse the roller coaster loop (series of hilly stairs) while slaughtering the weak opposition along the way until you end where you started. If you take the time to kill all of the monsters and find the secrets, it might take you a little more than a minute; otherwise, you can blow through this map in seconds.
demonvil.wad - Unknown
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 43029 bytes -
Reviewed by: The Green Herring
This is another archival upload by Perseus, although at least he kept the timestamp of the WAD this time. This one is called "Demonville Usa!" according to the FILE_ID.DIZ file you'd find if you Google the .zip file, and it's dated June 15, 1996. Other than that, we know nothing about it on the outside, including its author, due to the lack of a text file. Which is just as well, because this is just Doom E1M2 with about a zillion demons thrown in (whether or not they can fit), and no extra ammo to compensate. In other words, it's the kind of hack job you make when learning to use a level editor for the first time ever, the kind you shouldn't release to the public. It's possible to complete in spite of the demons' numbers, but there's little point in doing so. Needless to say, you should skip this one.
Back to the fire - Simon Dupuis
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 7046144 bytes -
Reviewed by: Ofisil
Back To The Fire is a single level Wad for Doom 2, designed for (G)ZDoom. I like it for 2 reasons: #1, although it looks awesome, it's not one of these style-over-substance Wads; and #2, because it plays like good ol' Doom. So those of you looking for something that is great without being something special, read on.
Those seeking a slaughterwad, a jokewad, a tricks and traps wad or any other kind of special themed Wad, get the hell out. BttF is a typical old school Doom Wad where there is a nice balance between kicking alien ass and key searching. The action progresses very nicely with equal doses of everything that is old school Doom without making you run around for 10 minutes while trying to get out of a maze or shoot 100 barons of hell until your fingers bleed. It's plain ol' Doom in a more modern wrapping. The bad: veeery low replay value and a somewhat low challenge.
As the author specified in his description, I've used an OpenGL port to see the Wad at its full potential. Does it look good? Well it looks wonderful! What we have here is a high-tech and hell-corrupted style level, a bit too dark but very detailed, with lots of lights around the place that create a nice contrast with the overall darkness. Next I tried it in a non-OpenGL port and guess what? Still awesome, but in a different, more dirty way, (+1 for the subtle palette change). The Wad includes an extremely boring ambient music theme. I don't have anything against ambient music, but this tune just doesn't fit here.
This is for those who want a great looking old school Doom experience. The low replay value lowered the score for me, but I surely did enjoy it.
The /newstuff Chronicles #412