Pinnacle of Darkness - Hobomaster22
Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 9.79 MB -
Reviewed by: Zalewa
One word to describe this map: ambitious.
Other words that could describe this map: beautiful, exhausting, long, monotonous.
This is a GZDoom map and it uses dynamic lights, so if you want to play this in Zandronum remember to switch to hardware rendering if you normally use software.
Hobomaster22 picked a theme of rock, cathedrals, and flesh for this level and stuck to this theme diligently. As I traveled through the brownish structures made of stone and stained glass and moved between them through otherworldly outdoors filled with flesh craters, lava, and caves I grew starved for some variation in the design. Don't get me wrong: what you get here is absolutely gorgeous, but I also think that Doom maps work better if you mix the colors a bit. The closest thing that comes to my mind that is similar in theme is Quake 1. Also, Pinnacle of Darkness stays true to its name, by which I mean that it's dark (unless you use OpenGL settings that nullify darkness).
Regardless of the stylistic choice, it is clear to me that Hobomaster22 is capable of seeing a level as a whole instead of just a number of interconnected areas. This map feels like an actual landscape punctured with caves and filled with buildings. Initially the map is straightforward, but, as you progress, the already-visited areas become accessible from more and more different vectors. This is more prevalent than in usual Doom WADs due to massive use of 3D floors. Unfortunately, this also causes some confusion when trying to navigate between different points of the map. Switches usually operate objects in their vicinity, but you never get any clues where to go next, and given the many possible pathways it's not difficult to go down the wrong one and get stuck running in circles.
There are other GZDoom features but they're used well and don't get in the way. There's one additional monster species taken from the bestiary: the Pain Elemental variant that shoots poison. Scripts work in the background and affect the level state or create ambushes. The final boss fight also utilizes some scripting but stays true to what we already saw in Doom 2's Icon of Sin. It isn't a very demanding boss fight, but it's not bad.
The level is almost completely correct in technical aspects. I couldn't see any errors but one hole in one corner where you can fall in and get stuck forever.
Difficulty level is easy for the most part. I found only half of the secrets, and for the most part I was running around with max health and armor. The first time I got killed was when I got suddenly surrounded by 4 arch-viles and they teleported to the area I retreated to. I also got killed stupidly once by walking to the edge of a 3D bridge to look at a Cyberdemon from above. The Cyberdemon immediately shot a rocket straight upwards and my dead body went soaring high into the sky. The final area presents an increase in difficulty, although I'm not sure if this wasn't caused by the honey beer I had just finished drinking. There are no fights where player gets locked in a single area and must fight their way out. It's always possible to retreat to a safe location, lure enemies out, and defeat them slowly one-by-one.
Despite that final paragraph I think that Pinnacle of Darkness is a great and fun level. Its monotonous style is probably troublesome because of the length of the map itself. It took me about an hour to finish. So, do I recommend playing this level? The answer is definitely yes.
Doomkid's Deathmatch 3! - DoomKid (Adam P.)
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 1.45 MB -
Reviewed by: RottKing
I never got the chance to play any of the previous Doomkid Deathmatch WADs, so this is my first exposure to the series. From what I can tell after checking out the levels is that the maps seem to be in the vein of a 90's throwback style of deathmatch: secret areas, fake walls, plentiful power-ups, IWAD map remakes, and a few gimmicky layouts are to be expected throughout this mapset. There's even sound replacements from Beavis & Butthead and Dragon Ball Z to fully round out the 90's package. While I can appreciate a retro-styled DM wad (with 32 maps no less!), I feel like many of the layouts are a little too bare-bones, with a fair chunk of the maps consisting of only two or three small areas and not much going on. If you're looking for some casual deathmatching with a small amount of players I think this wad is decent enough, but for anything more you should probably look elsewhere.
The Forgotten Invasion - JJP
Doom 2 - Zandronum - Invasion - 4.48 MB -
Reviewed by: alterworldruler
The Forgotten Invasion: it feels like a nostalgia trip for me.
I feel like I've warped back in time to 2007/2008 when invasion wads for Skulltag were simple, and those things didn't exist yet in them:
- Massively scripted boss fights
- Stuffed WAD files with LOTS of commercial music.
- Abuse of map gimmicks
Well what do you know, those things came with Delta Invasion (where I contributed two guest maps), then Armageddon 2 took it a step further. Of course, the aforementioned things do not apply to this wad.
To give this wad a proper review, I'll review each map individually. As per author's suggestions in the text file, I will play it on Hurt Me Plenty in single player.
FINV01: Too Much Gray
At first I was like, "Okay, this is one small map", thinking it would be quite boring. It wasn't; well, not until the last wave, but I'll leave that for later.
Despite what the title suggests, there isn't actually an overload of grey textures, as there's some neat variety, like the two tech columns in the starting room. I would say the map has an uniform look to it, with well-defined shapes and aligned textures. Reminded me of Doom's E1 quite a bit actually (except if you replaced all the textures with gray TEKWALL variants).
Now as for the gameplay, it's quite standard; the map gradually opens up, giving you new items while providing you more room to move in (and for the monsters). It flowed nicely; however, I feel that the last wave (wave 8) dragged out the map far longer than it should have. I mean, it took 1/4 of the time I spent playing the map, which is five minutes out of 20 in total.
It both looks and plays okay but for that last wave, which not only dragged it out, but the boss fight was ALSO uninteresting; no big monsters appeared, just a little army of pimped up barons with wings.
Personally this map is the low point of the entire wad; fresh after FINV01 I felt disappointed. I'll start off with what's good about it.
It does certainly look OK, and the map does live up to its name. You are on an island surrounded by lava--it's very Doom E3ish to say at least. One of the bigger problems I had with the map is that it wasn't actually evolving like FINV01 was; there were no real changes as the map went on.
The main problem with this map is the tedium. There are six waves, but things got tedious at Wave 4, that's even worse than FINV01 where only the last wave was tedious, but here? Wave 4 already is tedious and it only gets worse, but you are going to ask "WHAT ABOUT THE RUNES?" Starting Wave 4 you get a Rage rune (that appears only once per wave) and let me tell you, it doesn't make it less tedious.
For me, the biggest offender was the boss fight. Sure it's more interesting than in FINV01--at least the enemies are challenging--but then the author decided to throw in an archvile to resurrect all the corpses of the monsters you just killed over the past six waves!
Sure it's not a bad thing to use an archvile in invasion maps, but here's the thing: on top of dealing with tough monsters that can instantly kill you, you also have to deal with an archvile reviving everything. Simply not fun for me.
It would be an average map, but the tedium and the unbalanced boss fight ruined the remaining fun I had with it.
FINV03: Suffocating Swarms
This is easily the second best map in the wad, but it too has problems. I'll start off with the positives.
It's easily the best looking map in the entire set; the most detailed and most texture varied, and there's even some neat hellish elements, but as you will learn, looks came with a trade off. It's also the largest map.
There is an unique thing about it: the surprise nukage imps. When you are being overwhelmed by the hordes in the front, they come from the back, from the nukage, providing quite an interesting challenge since their projectiles are poisonous, meaning they will gradually damage you for a short period of time.
At this point I was willing to say that it has the best gameplay of the entire set, but two things happened: I played FINV05, and the other thing? The layout ruined the title. Not right away, but it did.
What's wrong with the layout you ask? You see, everything would be fine except that the player in later waves (starting with wave 4) has absolutely no way to avoid the hordes, high jump rune aside.
There are no side routes the player can take to avoid the monsters, but he's blocked by all the hordes, which is where the balance completely goes out the window and ultimately ruins the map for me. This is still tedium in different form, but it's just as bad.
This map looks good but it has serious gameplay issues.
FINV04: Rip and Tear
I don't know how to personally feel about this map; it's the second most balanced map in the entire wad, but it looks barren and empty. But for the sake of the review, I will go into more detail about it.
So this is a gimmick map, the gimmick being it's just you, the chainsaw, and the hordes of pinkies and imps. It's fun, though again the last wave did get a bit tedious. And I question one thing: what's the point of the spread rune for the chainsaw? It doesn't make it ANY stronger like Rage does.
I seriously have nothing to say about it, I'm that neutral on it except the tedium and the pointless spread rune.
FINV05: Conveying Hell
This is easily the most fun map in the entire wad, even if just because it lacks the tedium of the previous maps.
It's an arena, just like any other, and it just expands with each wave, but here's the interesting thing: it's packed with conveyor belts, and the best way I can describe it is you WILL chase the health and ammo.
To describe the actual monster placement: there are enemies that spawn in the center conveyor belts which make them go in circles which is amazing, and the center is filled only with low tier monsters.
There are conveyor belts at the back corners of the map where the high tier monsters appear, and they move around the map. Funnily that's where the boss aka Cyberdemon shows up. It's funny to see him ride away all the time from you and that you HAVE to go chase him with your trusty railgun.
So in the end it's all circle dodging, but it's fortunately fun enough and the map is short too (5 waves).
It's good, it's fun, and it's the only map I can recommend playing in this wad.
In summary, this is a nostalgia trip for those who played invasion back in Skulltag's 97c/97d days, but for anyone else?
It will be a rather un-amusing experience except FINV05.
To further summarize, here's the issues that have a factor in whether you should play it or not:
- It's tedious
- Layouts are pretty cramped (with FINV03 being the extreme of being both linear and cramp)
- Clearly it's not balanced on SP even on HMP as per author's suggestion
- The maps don't look that great; they lack detail and scale.
The worst wads are those that are in the middle, not the clearly bad ones, and not the clearly good ones, but those that COULD have easily been good. This is one of those!
After the good impression that was FINV01, I was suffering through FINV02-04, but FINV05 made the wad fun again.
Now, hopefully the author is a better mapper by now considering he's mentioned that these are all old maps that took years to be dusted off and finally be released.
Dimension - Nicholas "Tiger" Gautier
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Deathmatch - 581.95 KB -
Reviewed by: RottKing
So looking at the readme file of this WAD, this was apparently Tiger's very first publicly released mapset, and, uh, it definitely shows. The readme also says he updated this WAD multiple times, once in 2008 and again in 2012, and all I can say is: Why? If you take a look at the screenshots you'll probably be asking why too. I mean it's perfectly fine for your first releases to be bad, but once some years go by and you gain more experience, you're supposed to recognize how bad your early maps were and never touch them ever again. These maps are extremely empty and dull with basically zero redeeming qualities, as you would expect from most people's first maps. I'm not sure why Tiger felt the need to update this mapset multiple times considering how bad the maps are, but you definitely do not want to waste your time with this WAD.
Erkattäññe: 11 maps, 2 flavors. - Nicolas Monti
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1.21 MB -
Reviewed by: alterworldruler
Erkattäññe, also known as the wad that gave Nicolas Monti an ego trip to make Mano Laikas 32 maps.
If I'm honest, I believe this wad started the downfall of Monti as a questionable (in the public eye) but still good in his own way mapper. I didn't mind Reticula or the Favillesco episodes (except maybe alpha E2, that one was the most disappointing).
This wad is a one note performance; it's like a piano player holding one key and it somehow steadily gets worse until you quit or it's over or the piano just breaks in half from age.
At first I thought it was just an innocent wad that pretended to be back from 1995, but four maps in I saw the truth, it being an honest celebration of misalignments (including a complete lack of pegging), illogical texture selection, free-form map geometry (which isn't bad when it's done right but it's DEFINITELY not done right here), and music that honestly could have been composed on one of those cheap Casio keyboards.
I honestly tried to come into this with an open mind, expecting nothing, and I was still disappointed with the looks, the gameplay and the loosely reasonable layouts.
And you know what? It only got worse, the maps getting bigger and more tedious. Six maps in, Monti throws hell knights in 64-wide nukage hallways, then he throws BARONS in 64-wide tech hallways. I have no idea what has driven Monti to do this. Why did nobody in testing say, "uh Monti those are some bad ideas, here's feedback on how to make them work".
This wad could have easily been 4-5 maps and it would be fine because it's 11 maps of the same thing, just with different sizes and different but still school-worthy musical flavors. The only part that I thought was great about this wad was the yellow key door room in map 4 (which for some reason is called Urinals).
The worst part about this? The moment it got a Cacoward; no, I am not questioning kmx's honest review of it, it's the aftermath of it. It's what made Monti turn Mano Laikas into what it was, 32 maps of the exact same thing that he thought were the things people liked about Erkattäññe, but ultimately even missed those points too.
Dear Nicolas Monti, as a mapper to an another mapper, take a break, think over your map design, take notes of what people think is weak about your maps; yes, even those who you didn't like when they criticized Mano Laikas.
Take notes about what people actually like about your maps, think what you THINK makes your maps work, and try to find a compromise to try to satisfy more than your loyal fans. Just try to make something new, something that doesn't rely on nostalgia and can stand on its own, without you needing to defend it.
We Die Young - glenzinho
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 394.38 KB -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
Two medium sized maps made by glenzinho for ZDoom ports. The maps have easy layouts but challenging gameplay, and use CC4 textures as a standalone texture pack.
MAP01 has a really linear layout. It is just a corridor (a straight hellish canyon with a blood rivers and a lake in it, to be precise) that leads to the battle arena where you shoot some revenants and the reach the exit teleport. Also I'm pretty sure I've already played this map somewhere else.
MAP02 instead has a much more interconnected and complex layout, set in an abstract-looking tech base built in a canyon. You will face lots of enemies around the map in a progressive way and they are pretty hard!
I didn't find any game-breaking issues and the play was fun and appealing!
Overall, two nice maps that are waiting only to be played!
POINT of CONTENTION - Doomkid
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Deathmatch - 135.93 KB -
Reviewed by: RottKing
A small 1v1 duel map by Doomkid that features a center area with a Soulsphere perched atop a small platform, and two short hallway offshoots. One hall leads to a lift and a BFG, the other an SSG, plasma rifle and blue armor. I didn't get the chance to playtest this with another human, but just from some bot time, I could tell this map might have some problems. Out of the five player spawns in the map, four are located in the center area, and the fifth is about less than half way into the second hallway. This might not sound terribly bad, but there's also a super shotgun right in the middle of the main room, so the map quickly becomes something akin to shoot.wad, where you want to be in the center with the SSG and get as many spawn kills as possible. Going for the BFG or plasma isn't very compelling when you can just sit in the main room and spawn skill, unless you're running low on shotgun ammo.
Getting rid of the SSG in the center might make for an interesting change to the map, but the map might just be a tiny bit too small and the spawns too centered for it to matter. There's also some annoyances with floor indentations causing ice movement in the level, but nothing too bad. Still it's a pretty nice effort from Doomkid; it has some good ideas and the visuals are pretty decent. I think it's still worth a try.
Rayzik's Birthday Doom 2014 - Various
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 117.77 KB -
Reviewed by: RottKing
A collection of three birthday maps for Rayzik, from map authors Joe Ilya, gggmork, and Walter Confetti.
First up we have Joe's map, which is a fairly small map where you have to collect a key in one yard and hit a switch in the other before you can exit. There isn't much to say about the map, but I did find the monster placement to be a little obnoxious, with each yard being fairly heavily populated right outside the two small doorways. Thankfully though he was nice enough to include an invulnerability and rocket launcher at the start, which cuts down the potential tediousness quite a bit. An OK map!
Map02 is gggmork's, and, uh, you can immediately tell it's a gggmork map. Right off the bat you're greeted with some unorthodox level design and architecture, and monsters literally goddamn everywhere. Seriously, as soon as the map starts you're dealing with a tidal wave of bullshit from all directions, and the only weapons/ammo you get at the start is from shotgun guys and chaingunners. So I hope you like taking a bunch of damage because you're desperately trying to kill the next shotgunner for a tiny bit of ammo like a starved animal. There's other weapon pick-ups later on in the map, but they're also guarded by a bunch of monsters. Great. This map is trash and dumb to smoke, flush this turd.
Map03 is a nice little map from good ol' Walter Confetti. Another pretty small map in typical Walter style, with maybe a bit of a Doom Episode 1 feel to it. It's a pleasant map that's light on difficulty, with minimalistic but decent texturing and detail. Definitely enjoyable to play after that last one.
So that about sums it up; if you're fiending for some small maps to burn through and wanna hate life with map02, this WAD is for you!
The /newstuff Chronicles #492