ESP - TimeOfDeath
Doom 2 - PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 10255053 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
This is a compilation of 33 maps made by TimeOfDeath. All of them have been released before in some form (Slaughterfest series entries, community project submissions, separate wads), but now you can have them in one convenient package if you want.
Most of these are extremely difficult slaughter maps that will only appeal to a small number of hardcore players, who are probably already well-familiar with the author and don't really need a review of this. For others, there are about three levels that even mortal humans can find accessible:
Map12 - a relatively sparsely populated remake of Brookhaven Hospital from Silent Hill 2.
Map19 - a fantastic big non-linear map inspired by 90s PWADs. Don't miss this one!
Map28 - a remake of E1M3 from Quake. Only 36 monsters but no health items.
Also, some of the other maps (01, 02, 13, 23 and 29 at least) have difficulty settings implemented, so you might want to take a look at them as well. And finally, TimeOfDeath was very kind to include a collection of UV-Max demos for every map, so you can always just grab a popcorn and enjoy watching one of the best Doom players ever.
A wad made by Ruben Revised - Ruben F. Duarte aka BennyD
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 619647 bytes -
Reviewed by: scifista42
This wad features 17 maps in total, MAP01-15 and then MAP31-32. All of them feel like they were made by a level generator, but I'm unable to decide whether they actually were or not (or if they were, and then modified by hand). The author states in the textfile: "Difficulty Settings: I think so, but I could be wrong." I find it suspicious. In reality, difficulty settings are not implemented. Anyway, all of the maps are sub-par in quality, and they share the exact same characteristics, mostly negative. As a result, only texturing and order of rooms changes, while gameplay is de facto the same in all maps. These characteristics also comply with my suspicion about a level generator. So what are these characteristics?
-Spam ambushes. They're the worst offender of the whole wad; their amount and intensity is unbearable since the beginning, and they only escalate in later maps! I wonder if BennyD even playtested his maps, and if so, if he had fun.
-Orthogonality almost everywhere. There are several non-orthogonal shapes, but all of them are symmetrical.
-Generic detail. Overusage of borderline textures and lights in the middle of a room or corridor.
-Almost no impressive architecture. Just rooms connected to each other. MAP01 is an exception, it has a small outdoor garden. The rest is rather completely uninspired.
-Fights take place on a flat floor. No purposeful height variation.
-All gameplay is about tedious camping, running past monsters, or evading the above-mentioned crappy traps.
-Generally, too much of monster's meat.
I'll say it again: all the maps are like this, all of them in the same way. I didn't like it. You see - assuming that a level generator wasn't used, there was some effort put into this wad, but there was seemingly too little thought put into it. If you want some fun, better seek it somewhere else.
Switcheroom - Various
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1947812 bytes -
Reviewed by: Zalewa
Play this if you like bullet sponges. I found it tedious.
The premise of this WAD was to see how Ultimate Doom maps would look like if they were switched between episodes. For example, if you ever wanted to see how E1M1 would look in episode 3, just load this WAD and warp to E3M1. While the idea is interesting and can provide some freshness to the well-known Doom 1 maps, the temptation to indulge oneself in straight copypasta is very high. But let us start with what this WAD does well.
All maps throughout all four episodes look very good. Most of the time, Doom 1 designs are improved upon, and even those areas that resemble the originals the most have received some facelifts. All levels retain this classic feel of original Doom, and at the same time manage to look interesting and coherent. Most levels are non-linear and you can get lost in them, but usually just taking a look at the automap will help you figure out where to go next. The copypasta of original Doom 1 constructs is varied. Sometimes entire levels are ripped with only their texturing changed and some objects relocated. Sometimes you will recognize an area or two, but the way they're connected remains completely original. These levels were the best here, while the "clones" were the ones that I found the most annoying. Not because they were bad, but because I felt tricked into playing Ultimate Doom again and I thought that the author was just lazy. Many authors also loved damaging floors, for some reason. Make sure to save up on your anti-radiation pajamas and don't waste them mindlessly.
Now, the gameplay. I don't know whether I have the wrong mindset when approaching Doom 1 WADs, or whether the authors do. It's tedious all the way. Creating a good map for Doom 2 is way easier than for Doom 1 because in Doom 2 all you need to do is throw in a super shotgun and a rocket launcher with bunch of rockets and this will allow the player to deal with most enemies. In Doom 1 enemies soak up bullets like they were actually getting healed by them. You get a boomstick. Then you get a chaingun. Then you get a rocket launcher and sometimes, if you're lucky, you will find a rocket or two. Then you're faced with hordes of imps, pinkys, cacodemons and barons. Wielding a shotgun and having to repeatedly shoot an otherwise completely threatless horde of monsters just makes you bind 'summon bfgball' console command to a keyboard key and use it vigorously every time you're faced with idiotic amount of bullet sponges. This is true for most Doom 1 WADs out there and it's also very true here.
Regardless, I always found Doom 1 maps to be superior over Doom 2 maps in visuals and design, and this is well shown here too. Even though this is a community project, the overall quality remains on a stable, high level. While you see some differences between the maps, there isn't a single one that doesn't fit. Sure, it could be better with less copypasta, but even whatever copypasta you find here isn't really that bad. If the WAD provided more rocket launcher and plasma ammo it would've been much better.
Job - Zan-zan-zawa-veia
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 239750 bytes -
Reviewed by: Never_Again
Tested on HNTR with Prboom-plus -complevel 2 (DOOM2.EXE v1.9 compat). No advance source port required, except maybe a crystal ball.
I must admit I'm a sucker for a good story, even if it's just a few lines in a WAD's text file. Doomguy chasing his dream, what could be more enticing? It turns out that in DOOM, as in Real Life™, the process of attaining a dream sometimes may considerably sour the triumph of attainment.
Sminky2 is a large map that could be divided in roughly two parts. After the initial glimpse of the location of his dreams, Doomguy is immediately whisked away by an invisible teleporter line into an office complex - presumably his workplace - full of computers but otherwise utterly empty.
The complex extends into some sort of research facility. Here you are no longer alone and there are some supplies; however, where are the weapons? At least there's a berserk pack readily available; and no matter which skill level you pick, it will see some extended use, because for much of the level most of the weapons can be found only in hidden areas, and the ammo for them is about as scarce as you would expect from a civilian lab.
In a way, this WAD reminds me of Hellcore 2.0. Same sense of exploring a deserted complex, then suddenly running into big crowds of monsters. This is where the similarity ends, though. Whereas HC20 drowned you in detail and ambiance, Sminky2 is rather restrained in design department. The first half looks reasonably modern, like something from the early 00s. As you progress into the second stage - a large nonlinear labyrinth of rocky underground caves - the design takes a decidedly oldschool turn, with predominance of brown, some gray and minimal detail. And throughout the level all doortracks are missing the lower-unpegged flag, which is odd considering how complex and elaborate the overall design is.
What this map lacks in eye-candy it more than makes up for with puzzles. Sminky2 smothers you with puzzles from your first step. Dozens of puzzles of the most devious kind, the kind that even having the map open in an editor while you play won't help you much with. Most of its devilry is accomplished via little clusters of tiny dummy sectors nested in the void throughout the map. Using a switch or crossing an tripwire always moves a floor of such a sector somewhere out of sight, and often their effects are chained. That is, to get outside and into the largest and most populated half of the level, you need to activate certain computer terminals in specific order, while avoiding others. How hard is it to do? Well, the WAD offers two answers to that question.
The first one is "easy as a pie". In a clever move foiling any speedrunner and anticipating complaints about getting lost and not knowing what to do, the author provided three exits. If you try this map for yourself, chances are you'll find the first one within minutes. Just follow the arrows that light up on the floor to guide you, run to the other side of the complex, back and you'll find that a certain door that would only make opening noise now can open. So essentially, you can exit this map in under a minute without encountering anybody or firing a single shot.
However, if your goal is killing all the monsters and finding all the secrets you'll need to restart, because using the shortest route automatically locks you out from the second half of the level. This is what will ultimately ruin this map for most players, because there's no hint as to what happens and why. After circling through the first half for hours, trying this, trying that and getting nowhere, you simply get an impression that the author works against you, not with you. That may be a valid design philosophy, but it's guaranteed to generate enough frustration to eclipse any enjoyment playing a WAD is supposed to bring.
Speaking of frustration, that probably explains why you encounter a second exit about a third of the way through. It's so pointless it must be an emergency hatch to bail out those who are so fed-up with the map they don't care about completing it anymore.
To get back to design philosophy: the player needs feedback from the map to make sense of what he is doing, and if there is none then the author has failed in his design or is simply screwing around with the player's head.
In this light the "Credits: n/a, lol" line in the TXT file looks rather arrogant and sad. What could have been a great puzzle map is undone by apparent lack of proper playtesting. Playtesting by other people, because a map of such complexity cannot be tested properly by one person alone.
And all that brings us to the second answer ("how hard are the puzzles?"): you, the player, are also entirely on your own. The few hints you'll encounter along the rest of your quest, like the large red X's in front of certain doors, seem to be designed to confuse rather than help, so you better ignore them altogether and save before every switch and anything that looks like a milestone. Once you get outside and into the caverns (the latter requires humping a decoration that looks only slightly different from the row of its neighbors, BTW - not a great design ploy in my book) you can breathe a little more freely and go about hunting for switches and killing monsters in any order you like (although the fights are not particularly memorable, with a single exception at the very end). Until then save, save, save.
Oh, and all of you cool kids that automatically load up any new WAD on Ultra-Violence and never even consider any other skill level: you will find this map a pleasant surprise. For most players Hey Not Too Rough will offer a reasonable mix of switch hunting and action. The adventurous, with above-average Tysoning skills and a knack for choreographing infights, may want to give HMP a spin without getting unduly frustrated, even though this skill level gives you little more than half the required ammo for the monster count increase (which is almost 2X). On UV, however, you get triple the HNTR monsters and just one extra box of bullets - great for godmode with infinite ammo but not much else.
Puzzle WADs are a niche market, but to the dedicated audience they offer a sense of accomplishment on a level rarely provided by their more mainstream competitors. After plugging away at it for several hours spread over three days, I was rewarded by a nice (if somewhat short) fight, a smaller version of Doomguy's dream location and a 100% kills/100% secrets tally screen. I didn't feel like a Doomeinstein, though. More like a mouse with infinite lives, trapped in a deadly maze of few patterns, who after days of wondering reaches the end only to find out that the cheese didn't taste as great as the story promised.
Nevertheless, I cannot help admiring the author's ingenuity and imagination. Unlike his earlier release, Hexasketch, this one kept pulling me all the way through, and there was no rest for me until every puzzle was solved. The new music track may have had something to do with that, too - I could loop it for hours. With a little more thought put into design and thorough third-party playtesting, Zan-zan's next WAD just might do his grand ideas justice.
Incineration - Paul Corfiatis (Pcorf)
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 651914 bytes -
Reviewed by: scifista42
An Episode 3 replacement for Doom 1, inspired by the original episode and classic maps. That said, it's also really great on its own: inventive, nice looking, and enjoyable to play.
While the unifying theme is Hell, Pcorf didn't hesitate to spice up his maps with lots of unusual combinations of tech / city / hell textures, in a similar way how Doom's / Doom2's hell worked. Pcorf actually knows to do it with style - a beautiful style, I'd say. The architecture was pleasant to look at.
The maps range from small / medium sized to sprawling sandbox-style ones. I liked all of them for their appropriately difficult classic-style gameplay and great exploration factor - lots of secrets to find, with lesser or greater effort. I've had a good time with this mapset all the way through.
Some maps take advantage of "déjà vu" moments, homages to original Inferno maps that didn't actually feel that cheap to me. E3M4 is sort of a sequel to Doom's E3M2: Slough of despair, where the SP_ROCK theme is nicely complemented by REDROCK, lava and so on. And there's several maps that took inspiration from E3M6's openness. There's even more - and all good, in my view.
Shamely, this wad uses stock Doom 1 music only. But the music slots are reassigned to match Pcorf's maps better.
On the negative side, usage of Barons and Cyberdemons (and sometimes Cacodemons) was mostly just tedious instead of challenging, just a way to drag player's progression and drain a bit of ammo from him. E3M8 is probably the worst offender, with a Cyberdemon supposed to be killed with a single shotgun when playing from pistol start, and a consequent "final battle" where all fighting can be avoided and you can just make Spiderdemons infight and then easily take down the last one. Last battles in Doom wads are always hard to create well, especially considering that the mapper is limited to the stock monsters and their qualities.
All in all, I liked this mapset a lot, and I can recommend it to everyone who wants to have good time while playing through classic-styled maps.
Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions: Session 12 - Various
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 4337480 bytes -
Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
The 12th entry of the monthly Abyssal Speedmapping Session is one of the weaker entries into the series, especially compared to the prior month's. This time around the choice of three different themes were Circular Architecture, Using Mostly Liquid textures, or lastly an exit with a metric fuck ton of Arch-Viles in it.
Things got off to a fantastic start with this wad by opening with Jimmy's map, which is by far the highlight of this wad. There is no loitering at the start of the map as you are immediately fired upon from all angles; everywhere you run to to try and hide just reveals more monsters, which are well placed throughout the map, to just keep the player moving constantly. Visuals are great here; Jimmy sticks with a nice theme of grey architecture throughout the map and it's quite nicely detailed in a minimalist way. Jimmy chose to do a combination of all three themes in his map, so there's circular architecture, lots of liquid flats, and of course the soon-to-be-trademarked Jimmy Exit, which as always was filled with Arch-Viles.
The next two maps are pretty bad, but for entirely different reasons. Obsidian's map has you going around a very small map hitting switches that each reveal a new horde of monsters; it gets pretty boring running back and forth in the same very small space trying not to get killed. Mugsy's map on the other hand is a sprawling rock canyon map; it's mostly mono textured, and the the monsters are to few and far between to provide for any interesting game play.
40oz turns things around again by providing a pretty good map. 40oz chose the liquids theme, and the visuals of the map are very inspired by Circle of Death. Gameplay is fairly straightforward with the only unenjoyable part being the exit where there is a large number of monsters waiting, but I was easily able to bypass them and hit the exit switch.
Xaser's map is a typical Xaser thing, a city of super tall circular skyscrapers. Visually it's very nice to look at, but the gameplay leaves much to be desired. There was an overabundance of Barons, and the circular architecture lead to many deaths. Just when I would think I was safe around a corner, a plasma ball would barely make it around the wall to hit me.
The remaining five maps all have huge hordes of monsters throughout the maps and are pretty grindy game play wise; the only one I found to be somewhat enjoyable was The Mionic Donut's.
Since this is clearly one of the weaker ASMS, I think you'd be better off skipping out on this wad in favor of something else.
The Quandary - Sheridan Kane Rathbun
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 44069 bytes -
Reviewed by: Zulk-RS
The description says it was inspired by the original city maps of Doom II. I agree completely with that, because I felt that this map took aesthetic features from MAP 12 to MAP 14 of the original Doom 2 IWAD. The music is taken from the original Doom 2 IWAD and it fits the map perfectly.
This map doesn't have any fancy new monsters or tricks like deep water or colored lighting. For this reason, it feels just like one of the original city maps from Doom 2.
It does suffer from minor graphical oversights, but nothing that will spoil your experience even the slightest. The map isn't too hard; it's slightly easy actually. Ammo and health isn't plenty but it's not scarce either. You may not have to depend on infighting, but you shouldn't waste any ammo either.
The monsters consist mostly of imps, zombies and hell knights, but expect to get out-numbered at some points. The map is mostly simple with non-linear game-play, though some places get somewhat puzzling, like a switch which does something; what it was I never quite figured out. And then there was a lift I feel like an idiot for not noticing. But these aren't the map's fault, but my fault.
Overall, this is a good map to play, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was actually a part of the original Doom 2 IWAD. I recommend trying this out!
Urotsuki: Dead End - Lainos
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 3968691 bytes -
Reviewed by: LVMinerva
Although the /idgames archive page calls this map "Urotsuki: Inferno Road", it is a typo; the actual title is "Urotsuki: Dead End", the second in the Urotsuki series. Inferno Road is actually the first in the series, and it was reviewed in the /newstuff Chronicles #472.
As is usual with Lainos' levels, it looks amazing. The texturing and architecture are beautiful and haunting, having been inspired by the anime "Urotsukidoji" and Giger's art. In my opinion, this is the best looking of the three Urotsuki maps.
The level itself is around medium difficulty (for me at least). It's essentially a series of arenas to fight through, the main point being to get to a switch which unlocks the exit door. The fights get pretty frantic at times, the most prominent enemies being revenants and arch-viles. I found the combat to be very fun to play through (especially the last two battles). The moving pillars are also a good mechanic.
I recommend you give this map a try. It's not the author's best work, but I had fun playing through it.
1024 x 1024 The Building - Scionox
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 2263138 bytes -
Reviewed by: scifista42
A three-map set for (G)ZDoom, where the playable area is restricted to a square of 1024x1024 units. The story tells you that you're supposed to find important lost keycards in a building overtaken by hellish forces. Indeed, the maps are not abstract; they give you a sense of place and a certain amount of realism. Gameplay is mostly about shooting low to mid-tier monsters in cramped spaces. But attention - the author has toyed with various ZDoom features. Notably 3D floors, helpful to increase the playable area by stacking rooms above each other. Also, custom monsters - a few stealth marines, who can be annoying, but thankfully they're easy to combat in tight spaces - and a final boss with a nice scripted health bar. And various other fancy effects - forcefields, music change during a level to underline the atmosphere, etc.
The first map looks OK and is moderately hard. It throws you onto a roof of the building, filled with crates, various columns and smokestacks, and with a heliport. The map was probably inspired by MAP01 of Going Down, as they're really similar. This map also introduces you to custom monsters and 3D-floor based rooms above rooms.
The second map takes place inside the building, in corridors, office rooms and ventilation shafts. The corridors are really cramped and maze-like here, which might be annoying. Your goal is to find all three keycards and then activate the exit lift. I have to warn you, yellow card is problematic to find. It will be dropped by the last shotgun guy you kill in the map, and shotgun guys are mostly hidden in various side rooms, and on top of that, the keycard spawns in a way that it's hard to even notice - so take that into account. Otherwise the map was okay.
The third map confronts you with Revenants, Hell Knights and Barons at first, giving you more than enough weaponry, ammo and armor to kill them with ease. But then, lights go off, music changes (good moment), and you face the final boss. I found the boss to be cool, both challenging and kinda fair (you CAN dodge his projectiles); it's one of the better ones I've experienced, even though the battle takes place in a simple box room. Once he's killed, you can exit the building, see the final story text and feel victorious.
In order to enjoy this wad, you need to get reconciled with its crampedness and all consequences it has on the gameplay and combat. Anyway, I liked it.
Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions: Session 13 - Various
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 541236 bytes -
Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
The 13th Abyssal Speedmapping Session is a very good turnaround from the quite poor 12th ASMS. I think that has a lot to do with this month's themes, which were John Romero Style, E4 Style, and Abattoir. The maps with the Abattoir theme, those being maps 4, 11, and 12, are the three weakest maps in this wad. Maps 11 and 12 being weak due to simply being slaughter maps, and map 4 because it's an all around boring map with not much interesting going on. There are two maps with a Romero theme, those being maps 2 and 6.
Scifista42 chose to go for E1 Romero, and I think he could do as well as you can do with a speedmap; it's got the E1 texturing right, but I wouldn't expect to see it in DTWID. Gameplay was pretty tough, as there were quite a lot of shotgun guys that kept on killing me throughout the map, but overall it wasn't too bad. JMickle on the other hand went for E4 Romero, but the map still suffers from the same problem as Scifista's map did: it gets the E4 textures right, but it just doesn't feel like a Romero map. Visually it's quite good and it plays pretty well, it's just a bit too tight on ammo from pistol start; I had to punch the Exit Baron to death. Maps being tight on ammo seems to be a problem running through the wad when playing from pistol start, so for a more enjoyable time I'd suggest playing continuous.
The remaining seven maps went with just a regular E4 theme and succeed to varying degrees of enjoyment. Maps 1, 7, and 9 are the weakest of the E4 themed maps; they just felt like the bad kind of speed maps, the ones that just feel rushed and under detailed. Both maps 1 and 7 are pretty small and don't offer much in the way of a challenge. Map 7 also seems to remake the start of E4M2, but in a really bland and uninteresting way. Capellan's map is all right, but almost the entire map is spent running around in a big circle wile facing mostly high-tier monsters; it gets pretty repetitive and boring quick.
Gifty, Jimmy, Matt Tropiano, and AD_79 have the four standout maps of the set, AD_79's being my personal favorite. Gifty's map is the last map in the wad that I don't feel would fit into E4; again, the texturing is right, but it's just something about the layout and presentation that makes me say, no this doesn't feel like E4. At least the gameplay is nice and challenging and provides for a quick bit of fun. Jimmy's map is where things start to get really good; the map has a E4M6 feel to it due to the large use of damaging floors and unusual progression in a few places. Ammo and health is tight, and monsters are well placed to provide for a real pain in the ass. Jimmy also adds an extra challenge by providing just enough rad suits for you to have to rush through most of the map if you plan on surviving to the exit.
Matt Tropiano's map is based on the works of American McGee and clearly succeeds in its goal of replicating his style. It's a real tough map that will provide just as much challenge as E4M1 did, so if you like that map you will love this one. AD_79's map is another one clearly inspired by E4M6 with a few elements of E4M2 as well. I really can't say too much about this level other than it looks great, it plays great, and it's an all around fun map. So I would more than recommend that you check out this wad, but just stop at the end of map 10 unless slaughtermaps are your thing.
The /newstuff Chronicles #473