DOOM: Threshold Of Pain - Special Edition - John Gourley AKA scalliano
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 43974077 bytes -
Reviewed by: MajorRawne
We come to it at last, the great project of our time.
I was saving that line for the PSX TC, but what the feth, this is nearly as good.
Many of you will remember when Threshold of Pain was originally released, back before we had a huge team of mappers slaving over the PSX TC. The intent by Scalliano was to capture the desolate feel of Playstation Doom while retaining the gameplay, cast list and increased complexity of the PC. Therefore, this isn't intended to be a re-enactment of Playstation Doom; imagine a gritty survival horror game and a fierce action shooter shagging out a love-child. That's Threshold of Pain.
I played this through from the beginning. It's as brutal as a gang-rape in a Korean prison. God only knows what a nightmare the later maps would be from a pistol start. Paging Tatsurdcacocaco. There are new weapons: the mini-gun, which is insanely overpowered (as rapid-firing weapons seem to be in Doom) but tremendously fun to use, and the Unmaker, that squisher of demon gonads which makes a hilarious sound when fired. The usual chaingun is also used and it fires faster, so you'll find yourself running out of bullets, since few of the maps take into account the increased efficiency of bullet weapons. You'll need to bind a jump key as well or you'll get trapped inside of two minutes.
Monsters now bleed the appropriate colour. There are new creatures from the Bestiary which will be familiar to everyone who's ever played a ZDoom map. The new additions are used well and tend to create desperation with their powerful attacks; my health dropped quicker than a whore's knickers in the presence of Bernie Ecclestone. The only way to survive their staggering brutality is to counter it with human ingenuity. Run-and-gun is a bad idea unless you need your arse kicked by monsters.
Some ZDoom-specific stuff is used to fantastic effect, especially when the entire landscape changes later in the wad - that transition was so unexpected and shocking that it's one of my defining moments of Doom. Doom 64 fans also get a look-in with the music and some teleporter traps that they'll find familiar in theme. There are a number of areas inspired by classic Doom maps—it's fun to spot them—and there are a lot of secrets.
Now for the down-side. I couldn't run this in ZDoom 2.5.whatever, but it worked well in GZDoom 1.8.6. I had this set up to create the haggard, gritty effect of PSX Doom, which immensely improved my appreciation of Threshold of Pain. The difficulty level of the wad as a whole borders on insane at times; it's miles harder than the PSX version. The first two maps make you face powerful monsters with the shotgun and chaingun again and again. It's a bit of a grind, I won't lie.
Map 1 uses unusual purple and cyan coloured sectors. The former represents night quite well, while the blue lighting is beautiful. Lifts now have reduced waiting time when you call them. It's a bit fierce in places but monsters attack in mixed groups, making it easy to gun them down or make them infight... and we all know infighting is the girl's way out. Charge!
Map 2 is a tough slog through a techbase. The authentic, old-school feel of the PSX is retained well but the map is much easier on the eye (and this remains so for all the maps). Nightmare Spectres and Nightmare Imps are introduced here. There's a third nightmare enemy - these things don't take prisoners and will be a recurring pain in the arse, but when they turn up they transform each map into a disaster zone; it's harsh but it's bloody good fun. The rocket launcher "secret" is critical but could easily be missed. The map becomes such a slog that by the time you reach the Mancubus room, you'll be groaning. A super shotgun, or at least more rockets, more bullets and an earlier backpack would have been nice. However, in hindsight, it's a challenging map and you'll feel good for beating it.
Map 3 tries to step up in toughness, but turns out easier than the previous map due to giving you better weapons. The map looks good; it's like PSX Doom might have been if it hadn't had worse specs than an egg timer: lots of special effects, big open spaces and a classic feel. Even the secret areas look amazing.
Map 4 is where you finally get the minigun, which you'll almost immediately drain on the new bad boys. The speed of the nightmare imps seems to make them better able to reach you over rough terrain or stairs; in fact, all of the nightmare monsters are better in their environments, so complacency will kill you.
Map 5 annoyed me. The gameplay flows well and it's got a nice Computer Station tribute with some scary monsters to keep the adrenaline flowing, but I found the final room impossible without using the resurrection cheat, as you need to kill several Arch-Viles who are released once you've slaughtered your way through a room with some tough opposition. Kill the Arch-Viles to open the exit. I found this final battle to be about as fair as a review of a new Peugeot. It doesn't take the ferocity of the new monsters into account, nor the possibility that the Viles might survive for more than two seconds. If they do, you're going to know how a turkey feels at Christmas.
Map 6 looks fantastic, it really does. Coloured lighting used to look a bit crap in ZDoom. Not so any more. Some striking use of light and shadow, helped by nifty GZDoom tricks, and good use of colour made me fall in love with what appears to be nothing more than another techbase. There has got to be the best WTF moment of any Doom map ever as you make a surprise transition to hell. The new monster introduced in this map has haunted my nightmares for years; when you get to it, You're Toast.
Map 7 is another grind, with repetition being the key. Expect to re-visit the same areas and fight against increasingly more powerful odds. That's a recurring theme in this wad and it is almost as wearying as it is entertaining. I wasn't as in love with this map as some of the others - maybe it's not a fantastic idea to play several of these maps in one go. It's a bit like finishing a marathon at the start of another marathon. You wouldn't want to see Paula Radcliffe taking a toilet stop twice in one day, would you?
Map 8 was one of the maps I remembered from back in the day. It's a beautiful tour through a hellish realm of marble and blue light, with every area packed with stunning detail. There are definite vibes of the Hell-themed Ultimate Doom maps from the PSX. You also get the Unmaker during a punishing final battle - make sure you find the Doomsphere if you can, otherwise you may end up emptying your new gun, because to be honest, it's a bit crap against tougher villains. It's still somehow unfair that you're not the only one in hell with an Unmaker...
Map 9 is BIG. It's... BIG. Richard Hammond could put a caravan up in the time it takes to complete the blue key section. There are a few side areas connected by a central area which requires all the keys. Visit one of the side areas, suffer severe physical and emotional trauma, eventually get the key, then rinse and repeat until you've got all the keys and can fully access the central area. By this point I was worn out by the beauty and terror of this wad (even though I played it over several days) and I recall feeling that same spiritual exhaustion last time. This is one big, punishing map, with tons of places to explore. It literally defines "epic adventure".
Map 10 pits you against one of the toughest bosses I've seen. His attacks change as he loses health. The arena is pure PSX. I have killed this bloke from a pistol start without dying once, so he's not invincible, even if he looks like it. You're then given a very happy ending...
Map 11, first of the secrets, is a recreation of a Doom 64 map. Map 12 is a tribute to a PSX-only secret map with a moderately challenging boss fight. The boss is stupidly tough, as most Bestiary bosses are, but he's restricted to one area of the map; even demons need to jive sometimes.
And that concludes this magnificent epic, this story of pain and joy. Twelve maps of beauty and blood that must have taken fething ages to create. It's far from perfect, but then again so was PSX Doom, and that used a BFG to blast a place in my heart. Threshold of Pain does the same with an Unmaker. It's the ultimate tribute wad, it's the beginning and the end for PSX fans (until the TC launches), and—I think this closing line is the most important thing anyone can say about Threshold of Pain—it's what Doom 64 should have been.
Castle of the Far Island - Plut
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1375590 bytes -
Reviewed by: MajorRawne
Aha, a very short but memorable map which wants nothing more than to smear your entrails across the nearest wall. From the moment you hit the starting switch and descend into a swarm of baddies, you will be tested, with enemies attacking from various height levels and new opponents teleporting right on top of you. Fast reactions are a must here. Maps like this would make good training grounds for those preparing to face Doom's hardest challenges, except it is indeed smaller than Tom Thumb's manhood and will therefore feel like it's over before it really started.
There is one rather arseholeish moment at the end where an Arch-Vile beams into an open courtyard, but you can dodge the Vile and his mates in order to reach the exit. There wasn't much incentive to kill the distant heavy-hitters who can fire into the courtyard but are unable to physically get there.
Visually and thematically, I was faintly reminded of Sunder's "The Cage". This is nowhere near as difficult or protracted though. It is pretty easy on the eyes and feels like you're killing your way through a small keep. It's uncommon to see maps taller than they are wide. The music is relatively laid-back, as seems to be the rather incongruous slaughtermap style, but serves its purpose.
The Russian Doom community gave their feedback for this map. It seems like the Russians are expanding into our territory; if this is any indication of their quality, they are most welcome. Definitely worth the download.
2014 - Vincenzo VTM
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 688702 bytes -
Reviewed by: MajorRawne
Many people like to window-shop in swanky, expensive stores, dreaming about owning a five grand watch or turning up to work in a Ferrari so they can give the finger to their boss, but for others there is more pleasure in visiting a car boot sale where you can acquire an unfashionable but robust pair of jeans for 50p. 2014 aims squarely at the car boot browsing, Proton-driving and Diamond White-drinking segment of the Doom market, and fails to hit even this questionable standard, mainly because it's boring, barely-playable shash. If it was a pair of second-hand jeans, it would be the ones that smell faintly of urine and rip at the knees the first time you kneel down to switch the Xbox on. It was apparently one of the best that the 13°Cabro's map tournament (whatever that was) could come up with, which is not praise, it's an indictment.
You start in a half-finished courtyard with some of the floor missing, perhaps to suggest you're gonna feel like you're walking on air, when in fact you're walking on one long fart, but not just any fart, this was nearly an award-winning fart. God only knows what the rejected entries must have been like. The first portion of the map - a broken-up and bizarrely-constructed region which at least shows the kindling of an imagination - is empty of enemies, making you wonder why it was there, but when you actually meet the baddies you'll wish you were back in the boring part again. There's a lot of trudging round featureless rooms taking bullets in the face. I'd have taken some more screenshots but frankly I couldn't be arsed.
Visually, the map improves as you progress, with caverns and unidentifiable wooden areas to explore, but the map is likely to have lost your interest by then. On the plus side, lest anyone moan about this map getting a total trashing (which it works hard to earn), there is a lot of imagination shown in some of the later areas. Although you shouldn't expect the map to rival anything by King Reol. Yes, King Reol. Some of his later maps kicked arse, Cranky Steve's opinions be damned.
This map should have been condensed to avoid running through miles of bland rooms. It's just too big, but at least the music is very good. You might like this if you're a completionist who ransacks the archives, or you need the kind of stuff the Phantom Wad Uploader (TM) shoves in there, but most of you would want to give this a wide berth.
Zerox Lab - doompopulist
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 445194 bytes
Reviewed by: vtm
Not to much to say about this one; only two rooms somewhat detailed, a door that "seems broken" and won't ever open, a lift that "seems broken" and won't work ever, and a door that takes a long time to open. Several transmissions taken from Doom 3 will play while waiting for the mysterious engineer to open the door; if at least more ambiance effects were made, it would create the author's described atmosphere.
This map fulfills its purpose of making people waste their time; after the door finally opens you find only a zombieman and a switch that plays a sound, no exit available.
Just pass this one up.
Innocence III - Donnel "Jazzmaster9" Enriquez
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 333201 bytes -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
Hi, here I'm back again on the Innocence saga with the last released of the series in the archives, this time with less grammatical errors in it -ah ah- [DON'T BET ON IT] (I know the author put the "final" episode as a community project this summer, but it doesn't have a lot of attention... also, I probably saw another Innocence episode in Plutonia Experiment style... but I probably just imagined that).
The formula is the same as the previous episode I reviewed the last time: six short to medium sized maps made in a classic Doom 2 style with some little ZDoom stuff like slopes and a pair of new monsters: the blue imp that followed us from the second episode and a railgun zombie. Layout is clean and simple, although it is maybe too homage-y in some maps like map01 and map03, if you aren't a fan of homage Doom maps in Doom (but I don't get too much that episode 4 looking map04 [???]). Gameplay starts easy to put you down on the next levels [???], but nothing too hard or slaughterfest-style, and ammo and health is well done. As usual, quotes from anime in the level titles like the previous episodes are present, like Outbreak Company and Doomguy of the Wind Valley (a nod to the historical Miyazaki movie Nausicaa of the Wind Valley).
Downloading, again, is highly recommended, you'll find good quality maps that give you some good moments on your daily battling with demons!
Secure Uranus 2 - John A Warren
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 81286 bytes -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
With a title like "Secure Uranus 2" what do you expect?
Some level set in an alien setting, like a tech base in space or similar science fiction alien things?
Or some level set... IN A MANSION?!?1?
Yeah, yeah, for how weird it sounds, this forgotten level from 1996 by John A Warren is set in one of those "realistic" houses from the early years of Doom mapping, and for me that's a good thing, since I like this mapping approach. However the "Uranus" Mansion (I suppose that is the name of the place, since there's not any hint what Uranus had to do with all this) will also contain a fortress and a prison where you can easily get in, but you can't get out if you don't get some key, getting you trapped and raped by imp fireballs. There's some hidden moral in this but I don't get it.
Anyway, this level has some weird trick in it: an interchanging hallway while you're playing. One moment that was a TEKGREEN room, but you get some line action (I think) and it becomes a completely different room with TANROCK walls and a new room with imps shooting you, then returning back to the above room, without the imp room! (It's after the teleport) That's a really strange thing, or I must stop drinking Ginger Soda... and it isn't the only weird thing here, since there's doors that sometimes work and sometimes not, bad taste trolling like the already-said door that opens with a key that is in another room... Also the title is kinda trolling, like the text file: it says that in this level you'll climb a wall, but I never climbed walls here! And it also says that this map is for Doom E1M1, when instead it is for Doom 2 and for MAP01!
Overall, the layout is nice and filled with this nice 90s "realism" touch but also extremely simple and kinda of linear, without much detailing in it, over some tricky lighting stuff (shot 2).
Gameplay is a little bit hard and intoxicated from the weird things of this map like trapping doors and a mysterious hallway that changes after a minute, but it's well filled with monsters (not that much with ammo).
Overall it is a "nice" map; sure it has the same problems common to levels from that age, but it has some charm and mystery in it (again, how the mapper did that hallway trick in vanilla Doom is a mystery to me!). If you're a fan of 90s maps, you can give this map a shot.
Inadequate - Carl Buddig
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 52069 bytes -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
"Inadequate" is a first map try from Carl Budding, a guy with lot of sense of auto-irony, according to the funny description of this map in text file.
Yeah, I found it quite funny.
However, these are two maps pretty cliché of earlier original Doom 2 maps, tech bases that will lead in the last map to some mining cavern section, with a toxic nukage lake in it, and even a nukage pool as a teleport... it happens. Anyway, the detailing is pretty simple but kind of nicely done, with some abstract parts in map02 (shot 2), and few nice concepts. However, it also has the typical first map problems, like some problems with the size of door linedefs (especially doors at the starting point of map01), some problems in sector heights, some bland lighting choices, but overall texturing is competent and there's some nice eye-candy here and there.
The author used music from Doom, classic but it works. Gameplay is kind of easy (maybe too easy for advanced players) but it works and flows well; I didn't find myself easily without ammo and that's pretty cool.
Check it out if you wish. Sure isn't Deus Vult but it's kind of cool, little maps that are easily enjoyable.
Snapshot - Carl Buddig
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 34743 bytes -
Reviewed by: subject_119
Snapshot is a short map made for Tyson and has difficulty that's not putting anyone in trouble, but may annoy you if you don't like almost unexisting challenges. [???]
The map's pretty fun, just giving you a berserk pack at the start and letting you go. It's around a minute short; it's not ugly, but nothing visually surprising.
The map's worth a playthrough, as said previously it's really short, but the description says it was made in an hour. The only "problem" I could find with the map was a Former Sergeant that you cannot hit with your fist, forcing you to take out your pistol and shoot him down.
It's also written in the description that it was designed for multiplayer, but the mapper added weapons for it; the mapper should've added berserk packs instead of weapons, but that's only my opinion. I could test a few maps of this style and it's always funny.
So the map is worth a playthrough I'd say. It's... average, not bad but not legendary, not ugly but not beautiful.
Invasion - A. Gartland
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 31654 bytes -
Reviewed by: scifista42
Despite being released in 2014, this level was made back in 2001. It's a relatively small techbase, where many texture choices emulate Doom2's Entryway. It looks OK, considering the time when it was made, although certain areas look a little too much monochromatic. Today the map might be found too unprofessional in appearance and trivial in gameplay, but at least it's a good "average" map.
At the beginning, the map lets you to choose one of two paths, each of them giving you a weapon to begin with. But as soon as you grab the weapon, a barrier closes behind you and you have to advance forward. Both paths eventually join into one (through a teleporter), then you get a blue key and teleport back to the start. After that, you can decide if you want to exit right away, or unlock the barriers and explore the other path you didn't choose at first.
The map is easy, mostly featuring low-tier enemies and very low-threat ambushes. It has a couple of meaty enemies too, but they can be easily bypassed if needed. Ammo balance is alright. Overall, not a bad experience. You might enjoy it.
Castle Courtyard - Gwenvaël Le Bihan (subject_119)
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 46113 bytes -
Reviewed by: scifista42
The author claims that this was originally his custom map for Wrack, which he later recreated in Doom engine. Anyway, it's a small and easy map, with a fair share of orthogonality / "blockiness" to it. It's structured relatively well, though. Visuals aren't perfect (sometimes the textures clash in an ugly way), but they're okay. Three keycard gameplay and occasional simple ambushes, manageable even for a non-skilled player.
Overall, simply an average map. It actually reminds me of Wrack in a way. Subject_119 is not a pro mapper, but his short maps play well. Good experience.
Progress - Henrik Heino
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 32262 bytes -
Reviewed by: subject_119
So, Progress is a single 10-minute map made by Henrik Heino, some Finnish mapper. Again (how am I to introduce your wads properly if I almost have no informations about it, guys) we don't know much about the map; no build time, no credits, and just a short description saying, "Somewhat challenging dark indoor map." Well, let's go then.
The map starts and it's visually not bad but a little cubic; not a problem, though. One of the things I can say is that the map is almost single-textured, and considering the small amount of decoration used or added, it sometimes makes some areas look boring. The second and third screenshots are simple areas, but I like those places because they are simple but still look good.
Anyway, the most important thing about the map is yet to be reviewed: let's talk about its gameplay. I'll try to make it short. Half the map is just walking in some cramped and dark corridors with zombimen coming from different sides and some traps opening here and there; the other half is fighting in some bigger areas to survive bigger traps. The real "challenging" part is the corridor half; if you lack reflexes, it's easy to make a mistake and lose a great part of your life on one of the former sergeant's attack. What's more is that there is not much health in those corridors. The big areas are easy on their side, still fun but easy.
The map's actually not that challenging, and if you're searching for a real challenge and bored by too easy a map, you don't have to play this one. The map is a good example of retro looks and gameplay. Choose to play it or not; I quite liked it.
Red To Silver - Omegalore
Doom/Doom 2 - N/A - N/A - 2382 bytes -
Reviewed by: Zalewa
This WAD replaces red keycard with silver keycard. That's pretty much all. Red skull is left untouched and is red as it's always been.
I guess modders can treat this as a very simple example WAD on how to replace original keys with custom ones. It maintains compatibility with vanilla, but also uses DEHACKED and some ZDoom lumps that provide further cosmetic changes: modified messages, automap linedef color, and even OpenGL dynamic light emitted by the key.
Fellowzdoomer's 1 Hour Map - Fellowzdoomer
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 10184 bytes -
Reviewed by: Jjp
This map was supposedly made in one hour, and it can be beaten in less than two minutes. The layout is extremely linear, and it has very basic detailing and gameplay. Also, the blue key trap is easily rendered harmless, and the monsters behind the blue key door itself can be somewhat annoying to deal with. It's not a difficult map at all, though. Overall, this map is forgettable.
DoomSplitter's Custom Palette - David Reirden a.k.a. DoomSplitter
Doom/Doom 2 - Vanilla - N/A - 5970 bytes -
Reviewed by: scifista42
Simple palette + COLORMAP mod, compatible with Doom's stock graphics. It makes the majority of colours look more dull - except green and orange, which stick out as bright and gaudy. On the other hand, the red colour became very dark, which makes a significant contrast with some other colours (noticeable in sprites), and it looks a bit odd when faded to dark. The colormap reduces darkness a lot; really, the lowest light level still allows you to perfectly see up to infinite distance (potentially).
In my opinion, the palette could work for some eccentric or special-concept charismatic wads, but not really well if just slapped into a random normal wad.
Deneb Colony - Lainos
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 4401174 bytes -
Reviewed by: Ryathaen
I was in the minority as someone who didn't really care for Lainos' Cacoward-winning 5till L1 Complex, so it was a bit of a surprise that its semi-sequel, Deneb Colony, had me enthralled from beginning to end. Doom has few well-realized urban settings, but this is definitely one of them. Deneb has you exploring what seems like it might be the upscale business district of the Deneb colony: a large office building, a factory of some sort, and pedestrian walkways dotted with trees and small gardens. It's spotless and recently landscaped, and when you arrive, it feels like the demons only got there moments before you did. All of it's gorgeous and stylized: clean, artificial white light sources set against the dark greys and browns of the buildings and stormy, evil sky.
In terms of gameplay, Deneb is a far cry from the exploration-heavy desolation of 5till. It's much more of a traditional linear fight-monsters-find-key-open-door-fight-more-monsters fare, though the monster placement and difficulty curve are a bit unorthodox. Lainos places pain elementals more liberally than any mapper I've ever seen, and they provide a lot of the torturous early-level difficulty on UV. Things are way more reasonable on HMP, though Lainos still clearly loves his pain elementals and revenants, which he'll remind you of often. Battles and environments are still varied and present a number of different challenges, though the only super touch-and-go moment I had on Hurt Me Plenty was an incredibly tense fight with a horde of revenants among a forest of tech columns.
That area's also home to a really bizarre part I'm still not sure I did right. There's a switch that raises a floor, which you need to ride up and out of a pit, and another that lowers it again in case you screw that up. Thing is, you'll be using that second switch a lot, because the only way I found to get through this part is a tricky straferun where you get a running start, press the first switch as you strafe by at full speed, and then bolt onto the rising floor through a small gap before it closes. It felt so unintuitive that I was sure I was breaking the map, but I don't know how else you'd do it.
It's an unfortunate awkward moment in a WAD that's pretty sound in all other ways. Lainos may not defy any genres the way he did with 5till, and maybe this one won't win any Cacowards, but I wouldn't count it out. It's a WAD that looks stunning and does it with style; it plays fantastically, and if you're looking for some punishment, setting it on UV should give even the hardcore a run for their money.