Hellfire: Dreams - Shadowman
Doom 2 - PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 6007422 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
There is a big problem with this wad, but it will be seen as a problem by only some of the players. You see, Shadowman has this habit of remaking his old maps over and over again. After Hellfire he made Hellfire 2, Hellfire Reborn and now this, and in each case at least half of the levels were rehashes of his old ideas, if not from Hellfires then from his Grid 32 contributions, the Cheogsh series and so on. So personally, I see little reason to play this wad since I've seen most of it before in one form or another. And I think it's a shame that Ivan keeps revisiting same old themes instead of exploring something new.
Hovewer, if you're not very familiar with his works, you might find Hellfire Dreams pretty damn cool. It features a bunch of impressively realistic locations: cities, sewers, a prison, a train, a Egyptian museum and so on. The design is of very high quality. Some people might complain that it's strongly copypaste-based but hey, that's the real world for you. And as usual with this author, the gameplay is quite tightly balanced: prepare to value every single shotgun shell and stimpack that you can find. How does that sound to you?
Favillesco Alpha Episode: Apostasy on Amalthea - Nicolas Monti
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1801370 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
Apostasy on Amalthea is an excellent Ultimate Doom episode inspired by the Alpha versions of the game. As Nicolas says, about 95% of the Alpha textures are used and this results in some really unique and fresh looking levels. The weird visuals are also complemented by very unorthodox room shapes: you'll hardly see any 90° angles here. I know some people will find these maps ugly; I personally think they're beautiful. So just take a look at the screenshots and decide for yourself.
The gameplay is very engaging: monster counts are high, you get lots of barrels and powerful weapons to use, and the layouts are fluid with enemies attacking you from multiple directions. It gets pretty hard towards the end too with all these teleporting cyberdemons and traps in very cramped spaces. I'd say it goes over the top a couple times (the quadruple cacodemon+baron trap at the end of E4M7 is completely ridiculous), but overall the balance is very fair.
I highly recommend to check this wad out; it is truly a new experience of superb quality. Of course, oldschool enthusiasts will enjoy it the most. The music selection should be very familiar to them too, as most midis come from classic compilations like Dwango 5, Heroes, Mr Smiley Head's Safari and so on.
DeathManager! v1.5 extra configs - Simon Howard
N/A - Vanilla - N/A - 41536 bytes
Reviewed by: Bloodshedder
In case you ever wanted to use the utility DeathManager! v1.5 to play Ultimate Doom, Doom II, Strife, or Chex Quest (perhaps using DOSBox tunneling IPX/SPX over TCP/IP? I don't know), this package contains the configuration files you need. DM v1.5 was released with later versions of Final Doom, Heretic, and Hexen, and thus did not include config files for the other games mentioned above. There are a few gotchas, so be sure to read the text file and be informed.
ZMatch 2014 - Doomkid, [DM]Mike, Doomguy93 and SparkleBunny
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 962953 bytes -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
This is six brand-new DM oldschool maps made by the ZDM Team composed of Doomkid, [DM]Mike, Doomguy93 and SparkleBunny, avid DM players, and in case of Doomkid and Doomguy93, well-known DM mappers.
This mapset contains new graphics (some are pretty nice to see, like the pink stone walls in MAP04 and the new sky), unluckily like in the previous wad I reviewed "Doomkid Deathmatch", it used some silly sounds like the omnipresent DBZ light-speed effect for teleport and some other weird sounds that personally annoyed me.
Layout of all maps are functional expect for that passable grate in MAP01 (it could work better without it) and the too-large MAP06 (really, looks huge to me).
Gameplay is very fluid with bots, I had fun playing this! I don't find many problems playing it.
Another recommended play for every deathmatch fanatic out there!
NOVA: The Birth - TeamNOVA
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 7599101 bytes -
Reviewed by: kmxexii
NOVA is a brand new megaWAD made mostly by a group of authors who at the time of its inception had released few, if any, maps. Some of the contributors have turned out to be quite prolific in the interim. It's limit-removing and uses stock textures with some neat new skies, plus a glut of new music that helps to give the map a stronger identity from Doom II. There are about two strikes I could level against this project, one being a strong weight toward nukage-filled base levels in the first half. The second is that, being a community project made by newbie authors, some of the levels are a bit rough around the edges. You can almost see their skills improving as they trundle along, though, which is a neat experience.
Gameplay varies, though it's mostly weighted toward traditional Doom II gunplay. There are a few slaughter levels, some highly tuned maps, and even a puzzle level (that turns into a brutal slaughter map in its secret section). mouldy's works are obvious standouts, as are dobu gabu maru's contributions, plus Cannonball and Phobus. Many of the other authors show themselves to be quite imaginative, as with kildeth's "Sensorium", or Paul D's retread of his own MAP16 but in a Hellish adventure style. I also liked EvilNed's selections, with something of an abstract '96 feel.
It was a dark and stormy night... - mrthejoshmon
Evilution - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 106313 bytes -
Reviewed by: mouldy
A single map replacement for map14 of TNT. As the title suggests, this is styled as a moody mystery map. There's a bit of a story that goes with it, though it boils down to Doomguy investigating a dark and suspicious mansion where some kind of Scooby Doo-type shenanigans are going on. While the design is self-consciously old school, it does the job fairly well, and the music and lighting helps to create the atmosphere. The mansion is filled with various rooms where monsters chill out, relaxing on their chunky Doom sofas watching TV, or maybe chopping up some human bodies before flushing them down the toilet and taking a shower. There's everything here a monster could wish for in a home, including gloomy catacombs and closets to hide in.
The gameplay is nothing too taxing; there's a bit of the old shooting opposition through doorways that is inevitable in this kind of scenario, but it's entertaining enough to keep you occupied for a little while, and the journey takes a couple of twists on its path to the end. If you just want to play some Doom without having your arse repeatedly handed to you, then this map will do the trick.
Ultra Anomaly - Mr. Chris
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 17588 bytes -
Reviewed by: mouldy
The intention behind this map was to recreate E1M8 on a more epic scale, and you certainly get that impression as you find yourself standing next to an enormous door, the floor littered with mountains of ammunition and a full 200 armour and health. The stairs that lie beyond the door are similarly ominous, strewn with corpses, and leading you to an enormous room filled with yet more weaponry. What nightmare of a challenge could possibly warrant such a sprawling chamber with enough rockets to lay waste to an entire legion of hellspawn? The answer is 28 barons of hell, who come trickling out of two portals and slowly trundle their way across the vast arena towards you, eventually forming a clump as you dance around them, unsure whether you are meant to wipe them out or save them for some epic infighting that will surely erupt when the army of hellspawn finally arrives. After a while you realise that these barons were the only ones who got the invitation to the party, so gradually and methodically you rocket them all to death as they huddle together, confused and frustrated.
I played the original map straight afterwards, and while it is by no means a fearsome challenge to modern players, it is still more dangerous and more interesting to play than this one. I guess this is a good example of how bigger is not always better.
Ultra Dis - Mr. Chris
Ultimate Doom - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 41308 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
A variation on E3M8. It's silly: you can just grab the plasmagun and ammo, start shooting at the spider, and that's it. Most likely you won't even have to dodge the attacks of other monsters since health from the powerups should be enough to survive for about 10-12 seconds it takes to kill the boss. So a complete failure in the gameplay department. At least it looks all right, although the presence of copypaste is very evident.
Deimos: The Fallen Citadel - Donnel "Jazzmaster9" Enriquez
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 268874 bytes -
Reviewed by: mouldy
This is a collection of five maps; according to the author it's a "shareware" version of another project of theirs: "Another 32 over 32". I'm not entirely sure if that wad is in progress or already in the archives, but anyway, what are these maps like?
Well, despite being a ZDoom project, most of these maps look virtually vanilla compatible apart from a couple of 3D floors. The simple boxy layouts do contain a moderate amount of action though. We start off in a techbase that looks a little plain, but provides an adequate introduction to the wad. From there we head to a metal nukage facility that provides more of the same kind of stuff, minimalist design and linear progression, with a moderate though not hugely challenging array of monsters. Map 3 starts off interestingly, moving inexplicably to hellish surroundings and immediately fenced with a ring of foes all facing away from you. Beyond this skirmish, the rest of the map feels kind of similar in structure to the last two, going from A to B to A to C to D to C, where A is a locked door, B is a key, C is a locked exit, and D is either a switch or another key.
Map 4 presents you straight away with a cyberdemon, who then vanishes into thin air. There is no teleport flash, he simply starts walking towards you and then disappears. After a bit of head scratching you come to realise that this is a single room boss map, where the only opposition is the aforementioned disappearing Cyberdemon who occasionally silently teleports to somewhere else in the room while a bunch of imps lob insults at you from a shelf.
Finally, we have map 5, which seems to be styled on Go 2 It from Plutonia: a pastiche of IWAD maps filled with big monsters and overpowered weaponry. It's quite an abrupt change from the previous maps, but is pretty fun if you don't mind taking on four or five cyberdemons at once.
It's a strange collection, jumping from fairly easy and simple maps to a semi-slaughter battle. Maybe it makes more sense if you are familiar with the rest of the project, who knows. Nothing outstanding, but worth a look if you just want some uncomplicated Doom action.
Whitemare 2 - Russian Doom Community (see below)
Doom 2 - PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 43019938 bytes -
Reviewed by: kmxexii
Whitemare 2 is the sequel to Whitemare, something of a winter wonderland megaWAD produced from a bunch of Russian speedmap competitions plus some other contributions that had no imposed deadline. Whitemare has some really cool maps in it from the usual cast of characters from the RDC plus some newbies (at least, to my /idgames-centric eyes) that I would love to see more from. The ice and snow that whitewashed the original wisely give way to more earthen tones with the thematic "thaw". The first handful of levels are fairly unremarkable, but once you punch through it's a cavalcade of Doom II ideas with a vaguely seasonal theme.
Shadowman, memfis, and Dragon Hunter are no-brainer authors to check out. I love Dragon Hunter's vast adventure levels, memfis knows Doom II action, and Shadowman is always inventive, plus I cackled like a fool when I heard the Gremlins soundtrack start to play. BigMemka comes as a surprise with some cool linear adventure maps. The other contributions are something of a mixed bag. The basic idea of "Trynton" is really cool, but I'd love to see it expanded on, as it seems more like a proof of concept of treehouse maps. Levels like "Brutanasia" and "City on the Edge" are total slogs on UV, and as much as I like the idea of "Gloominarch's Realm", the concept has too many moving parts when you factor in the almost constant pressure put on the player.
I liked Whitemare 2 more than the original. There's a lot more care put into this set and it's a lot easier on the eyes. It's cool to see the RDC churning out so much neat content.
Theta Base - Claudio Sapere
Ultimate Doom - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 99906 bytes -
Reviewed by: cs99cjb
In 2001, Jarvis Cocker sang "Like an own-brand box of cornflakes, he's going to let you down my friend". I had the same feeling about this map, although on reflection I can also appreciate its good points. The main problem is that its text file states "it should rapresent [sic] an old style-base like those made by ID Software back in 1993". Anyone expecting that kind of experience will be disappointed: all the ingredients of a good map are here, but everything is slightly off.
You definitely need ZDoom because this map uses wall textures as flats, and the door of the start room has action values unknown to Doom Builder.
Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed was bad lighting: in the start room, a bunch of contiguous sectors flicker asynchronously. This did not inspire confidence. An obvious secret door conceals a chainsaw. Upon opening the main door, I noticed that a support texture had been used instead of a door track. Strangely, door tracks are used later but usually in a questionable way (e.g. to frame strip lights). In the most absurd case, a door slides upward on supports between door tracks instead of vice versa; another door slides on pipes instead of tracks. Several tracks are wrongly pegged. The exit switch is a door texture. This "experimental" texturing would be more explicable in a map that made no claim to authenticity.
The central feature of the second room is a pillar under a pulsating light that is implausibly dark most of the time. Around it, textures on two square steps rotate in opposite directions. Effects like this are very hard to use well, and it just looks weird to my eyes. The walls are the familiar STAR* textures, but not aligned to the architecture in any way. After mugging a shotgun guy and shooting some monsters milling around an ugly brown canyon outside, I had adequate weaponry, and from here on there is little danger of death.
Only one door is unlocked, which leads to a small corridor in which the flickering error is repeated. In another secret cupboard is a chaingun. The third room is the most pleasing so far: it uses a familiar trope of bas-relief hexagonal floor tiles. (When was this invented, and by whom? It seems to be copied endlessly. In any case, it's definitely not ID-style.) In the fourth room, an incongruous metal-banded wooden door leads to a computer room in which picking up a chainsaw (hang on, didn't I already have one of those?) springs a trap with a cacodemon and a few imps.
That's enough walkthrough.
Aesthetically, this map isn't awful, but the good impression crumbles under close inspection. The choice of textures is mostly good, and the preponderance of irregular shapes should please people who hate square rooms. I didn't notice until I looked at the automap how sloppily some of the lines have been drawn (e.g. a flight of stairs becomes narrower on one side). Unfortunately this slapdash approach also extends to texture misalignment and lighting, which are more obtrusive: computer monitors bend crazily around corners, and panels of different STAR* textures are smashed together in a disjointed way. Some of the shadows make no sense at all, and made me wonder whether the author had ever observed light in the natural world.
Most of the map was no challenge for me on UV skill level. I often came across boxes of shotgun shells despite already having 99, and passed medikits because I already had 101% health. The only location I found difficult was a wooden-floored computer room with the yellow key. Having had the initiative as I breezed through the preceding rooms on auto-pilot, I was unprepared to be attacked from all sides in the dark and actually died. However I was less impressed to be ambushed shortly afterwards by barons of hell (height 64) trapped behind doors that open to a height of only 60 units.
The only positive thing that stood out for me about this map was secrets; if you love them, then you might forgive all its other faults. There are concealed switches within secret rooms that open inner rooms containing other switches, and so on. Among the secret rooms are some of the more attractive parts of the map. If I had to guess, I would say that the author probably spent most of the two weeks making secrets! Sadly, most players will breeze through this rather mediocre map and never find the less-obvious ones.
Fish! (release 2) - Christopher Bazley
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 91965 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
Classic idea: write a word ("Fish" in this case) with sectors and make a level based on that. It's really well done: for the most part the map doesn't suffer from its shape at all; each area has lots of interesting details to look at, and the monster placement won't let you relax for too long. The only thing I strongly disliked was backtracking: you basically have to travel across the whole map twice again at one point. Yes, it gets repopulated with some enemies to spice things up, but still it felt like a rather lame way to prolong the game to me. Aside from that, very good old-school style effort. The original word is barely recognizable though...
Into The Code - Obsidian
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 604904 bytes -
Reviewed by: kmxexii
This is a short, six-map episode from Obsidian. It's a cute little tech-heavy set where you kill a computer virus that's been quarantined in your favorite game - Doom II. The levels have a very tech-ish theme that seem to eschew virtual reality for computer guts. The only thing I'm not crazy about is how orthogonal they are, but it kind of speaks to the theme. The maps are all short blasters with the exception of "Proxy", which is puzzle-ish and has some spooky scripting as the simulation starts to go off the rails. "Prototypical" is a fun challenge; the combat should keep you moving throughout most of it.
Marbles - Sophie Kirschner
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 75790 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
Small nonlinear hellish map. Detail level is high, at least by vanilla standards, however the texturing is very monotonous: green is the dominant color in each room, and I got tired of it very quickly. The combat is pretty easy; you always get a lot of space and retreating to a safe zone is usually trivial. It's still satisfying to play though because Sophie never hesitates to provide heavy weaponry, and the room shapes are pretty good for some dancing with monsters. So it's decent fun, just nothing special at all.
IDK - Dark711
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 52470 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
A beginner's map with very naïve monster placement and generally unimpressive basic rectangular architecture. The use of gradient lighting is pleasant, but apart from that there's next to nothing to appreciate. Download only if you absolutely have to play every single wad in existence. Or if you're just bored I guess. The wad should work in all ports where you can press through trigger lines; in prboom and other classic ports, you'll get stuck after acquiring the blue key.
The /newstuff Chronicles #453