Doom the Way id Did - The Lost Episodes - Various
Ultimate Doom - Single Player - Vanilla - 3.66 MB -
Reviewed by: Csonicgo
Doom the Way id Did - The Lost Episodes, or, the levels that didn't make the cut in the original DTWID megawad. So, this is a second helping of that DuhTWID-dy goodness. Hope you chiseled out some time - this is more of a gigawad. 54 levels! How do you review 54 levels? Let's get started!
Yes, I took my time on this one. Maybe three months, most of that being lazy. So here's my summary - what is good, is good. What is bad, can be IDKFA'd and beaten, and that's fun anyway, right? I should warn you though - the last episode in this pack is nothing but a collection of rejected boss levels. Some are downright terrible, some can never be pistol started, and honestly, who thought some of these boss levels were any good? I would have never submitted some of these. What, did they think they could get away with a Fortress of Mystery level that somehow plays worse? When out of ideas, submitting boss levels is an attempt, I guess. You get a shiny sticker.
I admit, I'm being a little harsh. I can go into a thought experiment on why all of these were rejected. Some of the maps seem to be tributes to existing maps in Doom, not their own creations using "id" design motifs. So you'll see elements from the Unholy Cathedral, Deimos Anomaly, Hangar, and Phobos Anomaly. Is that a bad thing? Well, no, but it's not an original idea - it's just déjà vu for the player. I felt it numerous times in this, but not so much when playing DTWID. "Hey, remember the map that had this?" pulls me out of the experience a bit. It's cool when intentional, but doing it too many times feels lazy. Your mileage may vary, though.
The good stuff - the gameplay exists, there are a lot of maps, adding up to hours of fun here.
So, any constructive criticism, you ask? Well, yes, actually. Some maps have too few memorable areas. I'm talking about landmarks, anything that sticks out as "cool" that I would remember instantly when writing this thing, or to backtrack when playing. But then again, maybe that's because it's hard to remember everything when it's 54 freaking levels.
And! I've learned that the Doom community really loves techbases. The art of techbase construction is down to a science. But the hell levels, not so much. The best Hellish levels I remember were originally techbase levels in Doom, with a demonic coat of paint. But there are too many here. I didn't see any of the abstract levels like the hand level that we all love. (And we all love that one, right? Right?) And holy shit, some of these maps are too big. I don't remember a single id level in the original Doom that took almost an hour to beat. Jeez! Too much complexity! Not that I didn't like the level, and Spawning Vats was a "big" level, but big levels shouldn't mean that they take forever to beat. The original E2M2 is a great example of that.
This is why this review is so difficult - these are the rejects, as in what was left. That this plays so well - it should be praised, not picked apart by a chump like me. Perhaps there were too many hellbase submissions, and the compilers had to roll with it. Don't expect absolute perfection, and things will be fine! They could have made the choice to throw them all out, and that would have been a damn shame.
I'm gonna wrap this up with a warning: Don't just "drag and drop" the ZIP onto ZDoom or anything. You'll accidentally load the "original" levels along with the intended experience, which replaces fixed-up levels with broken originals. In fact, I had a scathing review set up before I realized what I did, and had to scrap it. Whoops!
The DOOM Tribute Project - Alando1 (Alan)
Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 47.02 MB -
Reviewed by: vtm
Alando1 really shows his skills with this megawad. The DOOM Tribute Project is a megawad that tells the story of Doom and Doom II with ZDoom effects and a new lot of details on the maps. It separates the maps into seven episodes: the first three episodes are the same episodes from Doom, and the rest are from Doom II.
Episode 1 starts with a cutscene that explains the background of the game, how the marine was sent to the UAC, and how the invasion started. The author made sure that certain sites of each map have a common visual structure to remind us of the classic levels, each level adapted to look more like scientific installations and military bases of course. Each episode is truth of this; the ending of episode one has a battle with two barons, and in Shores of Hell we find the classic facility with tons of boxes (a new adapted version of Deimos Lab) and the classic fight with the cyberdemon.
Episode 3 has a downside: Slough of Despair doesn't look like a hand or something similar; I was exited to see what the author would do with that level. Almost all levels are redone, and some of them come two in one, meaning that for example, E1M1 and E1M2 are contained in the same level. Each level is beautifully crafted, the author dedicating time to each one.
Episode 4 to 7 are a tribute to Hell on Earth; episode 4 is the return of the marine to earth; here we will find a marine called Marcus who tells us basically all we have to do to save earth.
It includes new weapons and new monsters; the new monsters are the usual recolors of the originals; new types of zombies, imps, and hell knights are the most visible and abundant. New in our arsenal we have a second pistol for dual use, a railgun, and an automatic rifle. New music and sounds too; we have some of the classics from Doom and Doom II and some new tracks. The new sound for the shotgun in my opinion does not fit well; the original would have been better.
In relation to gameplay, well, it's not hard but it's not easy. The difficulty level is really balanced; health is somewhat abundant, but ammo is short in some levels. Secrets aren't hard to find as some of them are the classic ones that any veteran playing Doom will know.
In conclusion, we have a really fun mod that remasters the classic story, so go and play it, you won't regret it.
OOWSFMLD - Chaingunner
Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 269.22 KB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
OOWSFMLD (whatever that's supposed to mean) is a nice, short Hell level that has a strong E3 vibe but plays in Doom 2. It's pretty easy, and there's nothing super remarkable about it, but it's well put together with a solid layout, a few modest custom textures, and good, realistic lighting -- which in this case means that most of the level is dark enough to keep you on edge, but it has brighter, high-contrast spots created by the lava rivers and other light sources, often used to create a spooky atmosphere around the keys and other set pieces. Pretty much all combat is with the shotgun and chaingun (the SSG is present but tends to feel like it's just a waste of ammo due to the enemies used) against Sergeants, Imps, Lost Souls, and Demons, with a single Pain Elemental that serves as the focal point of the level's most fun and challenging fight. Definitely recommended if you want something quick and simple.
Eternal Mansion - Michael Jan Krizik (valkiriforce)
Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 112.22 KB -
Reviewed by: gaspe
Metal Mansion is MAP31 of Reverie, a vanilla megawad made by Valkiriforce in 2011. This map is a version of that level retextured with Eternal Doom textures. This version changes only the looks; the gameplay remains unchanged. Near the start you can take the regular exit, which lets you skip all the level, though if you want to reach the secret exit you will have to find the three keys. The progression is heavily reliant on secrets and puzzles. The overall style reminds of the works of authors like Jim Flynn and Bob Evans, which makes this map very fitting for the Eternal Doom visual look. If you played this level in Reverie you already know what to expect from this; if you don't have much patience or you don't like levels with obscure progression, you won't probably enjoy this so much.
Birthing Pools - Samantha McNallen aka Miss Bubbles
Ultimate Doom - Single Player - Vanilla - 85.88 KB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
Birthing Pools is a remake of the level "Spawning Vats" from Doom 1. It's not a grand, detailed reimagining like you'd find in Lutz's episodes, or one that's designed to maximize port features like KDiZD. It's more of an alternative idea of how the level might have been made back in 1993, and the overall appearance is even a bit simpler than "Spawning Vats" (which was one of the more detailed levels in Doom 1). But that doesn't mean Birthing Pools isn't fun.
This remake is a bit tougher than the original, but it's still pretty easy, even if you don't find the secret rocket launcher and plasma rifle (which are the only ones available in the level). The ammo feels tight at the beginning, but it's not like it isn't there -- it's just that you have to run around and be strategic about your combat engagements for a couple of minutes while you gather what you need, which is kind of fun and presents a challenge that wouldn't otherwise exist in a standard Doom 1 level. Many of the iconic areas from "Spawning Vats" are present (the blue light halls, the Baron area with the slime, etc.), but it never feels too derivative, and outside of these major areas, the layout is pretty much all new, which kept the level interesting. The use of the titular birthing pools was particularly nice and actually managed to catch me by surprise. For the most part, you can ignore the fact that it's based on another level if you want to -- it's just a nice classic Doom 1 map in its own right.
a Morte [15 maps - 3 Hubs] - HexenMapper
Hexen - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 41.19 MB -
Reviewed by: gaspe
Hexen wads are quite rare to see, and my interest in playing this went quite high after seeing some information about it. A Morte for sure is a unique thing. The story starts in Berlin, 1945; a cult of Nosferati with magic portals wanting to flee came to an ancient mausoleum where the journey of our hero starts. It seems to be quite a normal Hexen wad; you have the usual items and weapons for the class you choose. The first custom enemy you will encounter is the spider, and seriously, fuck them. They are the most annoying enemy. Things don't get better later on as the spiders are used many times, and there are also giant spiders as bosses. It's time also for a visit to the bombarded Berlin, and in a bar of some kind full of Nazis and naked maids. The tanks are just ridiculous, as much as the crocodiles in the sewer level. And this is only the beginning; the second hub will have mostly Blood cultists, and there's also a village of cowboys. You can also meet a few Calebs sniping around, and it's hilarious how in the same area you can hear them talking like if they are standing next to you even if they are actually really far away. The third hub is set in a... post-apocalyptic eastern Europe, I guess. Suddenly there are NPCs, with dialogue and quests. The most notable thing is that in one level there are flying lamps as enemies.
That was a brief summary of the journey of the wad. Talking about the quality of the levels, I don't have good things to say. The overall look is quite rough, full of misalignments and even missing textures sometimes. Some textures used don't look really good; for example, the buildings in Berlin. Overall this is really a mess of resources mashed together, even with the custom enemies and props.
The wad plays rather badly. I don't actually think that the class you choose makes a big difference here. What is wrong here are the layouts mostly: room after room, corridor after corridor, too many empty spaces. The places aren't really interesting to explore, and the fights are so dull (and fuck those spiders) that most of the time I wanted to continue only to see what weird stuff was ahead.
I must say that it was entertaining, and probably not for the intended reason. It's almost "so bad it's good". I hope that the author doesn't take this badly; most of the ideas were interesting, and if the big picture was defined more clearly and the execution was way better, this could have been something really cool. I guess that it's more like a failed experiment, or a testing project made to play with the ZDoom features for the first time. Personally I would like to see more stuff like in the future. It's definitely a unique wad, though I can't really recommend it.
StarCove - A Tribute To Ty Halderman - Michael Jan Krizik (valkiriforce)
Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 138.88 KB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
Starcove is a single-level wad that serves as a tribute/memorial to Ty Halderman, and unlike Threnody (which is primarily inspired by Evilution and Eternal Doom), it uses Icarus as a base. It requires that wad to play and replaces map 27, Halderman's own "Starhenge." Let me just get this out of the way to begin with: I never really enjoyed Icarus very much, and I haven't played it in many years. As a result, there's not a whole lot I can say about this level as a tribute.
What I can say is that it makes great use of the Icarus texture set. These graphics are pretty uncommon to begin with, and they give Starcove a unique feel. Valkiriforce managed to use the somewhat cartoony textures and decorations to add a lot of freshness and variety to the mostly stock-textured level without overusing them and making the map feel cheesy. The map takes place in a rocky, sometimes watery canyon with occasional glimpses of futuristic tech, from the inaccessible exit teleporter visible at the start to the gleaming final room. Its dark and moody atmosphere fits well with Icarus's E3 sky, a starry night with looming mountain silhouettes barely visible on the horizon. Like most of Krizik's levels -- and like Icarus, arguably -- it isn't very detailed but still looks great due to careful lighting and design.
The gameplay is pretty tough, with all of the guns in play but plenty of higher-tier monsters to balance the player's firepower. A few of the fight setups felt like they were just mobs of random monsters crammed into hallways and rooms, ready to spill out messily as soon as I opened a door or rounded a corner -- but if nothing else, they provide some nice opportunities for infighting. Most of the combat is quite well crafted, and some battles have a real artistry to them, like the opening dance with the rocket launcher against several layers of tough monsters, or the fights in the watery outdoor canyon section. I found the large, steep staircases toward the beginning of the level to be frustrating, as it was difficult to see what I was aiming at without using mouselook -- but maybe that's part of an homage?
Overall, Starcove is a fun level and a worthy tribute to Ty.
computer terminal tutorial - Paul Hildebrandt
Doom 2 - N/A - ZDoom Compatible - 7.34 KB
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
The textfile refers to this as a tutorial, but technically speaking, it's a demo level (i.e., it doesn't provide a textual walkthrough). The wad contains a single map that illustrates a few different ZDoom-specific concepts:
1) Spinning grinder objects.
2) Viewable security cameras.
3) A pair of computer terminals that let you control both of the above. This is the main purpose of the demo.
It looks like the author is assuming that you already know most of what you're doing as a mapper and are just going to open up this map to view the scripts and understand how to use them -- which is fair, because if you don't know your way around Doom Builder, you have no business setting up scripted computer terminals. Still, I feel like it might have been nice to have a bit more textual explanation of what's going on here. In addition, there's a big glitch where if you walk into the grinders, you disappear into some kind of tan void and are lost forever, and I'm not sure if this is a problem with the grinders or if the author should have just put an impassable linedef to stop the player.
Anyway, the wad serves its purpose -- a reasonably sensible mapper ought to be able to grasp the basics of the script and adapt it to their own needs.
Another Awful Map - ButterflyGirl
Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 5.15 KB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
Reviewers on /idgames have treated this (and the author's other wads) as though it caused them physical injury, which is making a much bigger deal out of it than it really is. One of them complained about monsters stuck in the walls, which I did not see at all, and said that the exit doesn't work in vanilla or something, but since the level has stealth monsters and is intended for GZDoom, I'm not really sure what point they were trying to make.
Random Internet rage aside, Another Awful Map isn't a good level -- it's basically your standard beginner map that we've all seen a hundred times. It's a few rooms and hallways laid out in a square with random monsters (including Nazis and Keens, naturally) and textures thrown around without any sense of design. I would advise that you don't play it, but also don't be an ass about it. My advice to the author is to not upload every single low-quality mapping study to the archive, but instead take some time to get all the basics down before trying to create a level that's intended for other people to play.
Bunker - Emil "NaturalTvventy" Brundage
Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 594.81 KB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
Bunker is a small, rather dark base level that relies mainly on custom monsters to distinguish itself from the crowd of other small base maps. It's got semi-auto rifle zombies (which drop a weapon that you can use as an alternative to the pistol), a couple of Imp varieties, a few chainsaw zombies, and some beefed up chaingunners in one of the secrets. The enemies don't add much to the gameplay, as they're barely different from normal Imps and zombies; they're just there for the novelty, but since they're all very easy to kill, they don't detract from the level either. Some players will hate the abundance of hitscan enemies, but I've never really understood this as a criticism; Wolfenstein 3D has almost nothing but hitscan enemies, and it's still a fun game. However, the lack of ammo in this level is a serious problem -- there's hardly any of it aside from enemy drops.
The level looks decent overall, although the layout is a bit strange, with almost half of the space either secret or skippable. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case you're mostly hunting secrets to find the ammo you're lacking, which isn't what secrets are supposed to be about.
Really, it wouldn't be a bad level aside from the ammo thing -- if you're willing to do a bit of cheating or add some bullet boxes in Doom Builder, it may be worth it for the fun and novelty of ripping through a bunch of custom fodder enemies.
Selfhate 2 Levels more - ButterflyGirl
Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 22.69 KB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
Selfhate is the third of ButterflyGirl's initial wave of releases, and it seems to be a step backward from the previous one. Like Awful.wad, it doesn't have any structure or gameplay, but it's also full of visual glitches. The first level is a room with a bunch of pillars (all of which have HOM errors around them) and a mob of zombies, Imps, and Demons. The second level is a narrow hall with nine Cacodemons and a plasma rifle. Skip it.