Overkill, Shadows Fall & Hypocrisy music - Mr. Chris
Doom/Doom 2 - N/A - Vanilla - 205.61 KB
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
This music wad is basically what it says on the tin. It contains music by three different metal bands in MIDI form, set up as a complete music replacement for both Ultimate Doom and Doom 2 (though the two IWADs share many of the same songs). I feel like it would be pretty annoying as a replacement for Bobby Prince's soundtracks, because the mood of every song is pretty similar. Let's face it, would it really be fun to play "Phobos Anomaly," "Tricks 'n Traps," or "Icon of Sin" with music this hard? If you answered yes to that question, or if you're looking for a different soundtrack for a hardcore megawad like Slaughterfest, this wad could be for you.
Aside from being sort of monotonous, these songs seem pretty decent in general, and they translate well as MIDIs. In addition, I feel like they have a newer sound to them than the standard Metallica, Rammstein, and similar music that's commonly used in classic wads, making them a good alternative for wads with more modern visuals. Two tracks that I thought stood out as different from the rest of the pack are map 04/E1M6 and map15/E2M4, both of which are songs by Hypocrisy. The former alternates between soft, almost hymnal sections and more driving metal sections and would probably be great for a hellish cathedral map; the latter is also on the slower side but is consistently intense and ominous.
If you can't get enough metal MIDIs to use for your wads, this seems like a good resource -- particularly if you question the sexuality of the new wave of Doom music and want everybody to know about it, in which case you can create your next megawad with this music as the soundtrack and then everybody will be sure you're straight. As with most metal MIDIs, these tracks will most likely fit best with grungy, rusting bases or red/black Hell levels.
Tough Guy 2016 - Bzzrak Ktazzz
Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 18.31 KB
Reviewed by: Csonicgo
Tough guy 2016. Only one part of that is correct, and soon to be a lie, so let's just say it's entirely a lie - it's not tough, it's not a guy, and it's not 2016. So, what is it? It's a 1994 wad. Yes, that kind of 1994 wad. It's supposed to show off a new "mapping trick" with teleports, but I don't think mapping tricks would save this junk. Everything's one light level, there is no height variation, the textures are crap, nothing is aligned, and...
From the text file:
"Tutti-fruttis everywhere, because using SKINLOW and SW1EXIT on 128-tall walls was apparently cool back in the day. The author, apparently, didn't care. Bad, really bad 1994 quality, but you can expect that from a level made in... you know... 1994."
Not really. Galaxia came out in 1994 and it looks fantastic. Let's be honest here; this was a concept level that had zero thought put into it other than the teleporter trick, that isn't even used well enough to show off the benefits. There were good 1994 wads, and this is not even close to one of them. Perhaps this one really should've stayed on the hard drive.
Asbestos Queen - Jaxxoon R
Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 11.69 MB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
Asbestos Queen is a 7-map set by Jaxxoon R, one of the many newer mappers whose names I mainly recognize from levels I liked in Nova 2. In this set, Jaxxoon seems to be experimenting with lots of styles, which leads to some nice variety from level to level -- and the author does a pretty damn good job with all of them.
Map 01 is a base map with techy details and a very smooth flow. One thing I noticed is that pretty much every raised surface is low enough to the ground that you can walk on it, creating an unexpected level of freedom of movement. Hell, there's even a lift so low that after you've lowered it, you can just use it as a step up instead of waiting for it to rise again. It's almost like the whole level is slathered in Vaseline -- a pretty weird thing for the UAC to do, and occasionally it led to me accidentally strafing out a window into the wrong part of the level, but it was definitely fun.
Map 02 is a quick little level with a strong Team TNT vibe. It's one of my favorites visually due to all the plant growth. I also like the tiered layout and the teleport transitions into the more hellish fortress area at the end, not to mention a cool sky-within-a-sky effect that I'm not sure if I've ever seen before.
Map 03 feels like it could have come out of the Russian community, with its grandiosely weird yet genuinely epic OGG track and quirky realist details (most notably the elephant in a cage near the start). It's set in a large, watery cavern with the remains of an old building complex at the center. The open, explorable layout is fantastic and makes this my favorite map in the set.
Map 04 is a boss arena battle against a Cyberdemon and his minions, followed by a very short underground key hunt to get to the exit. The large amount of space makes the battle pretty easy, though I imagine it's a lot tougher if you're pistol starting, as you'll have to search around to find the weapons and ammo you need to win. The level has various small side areas that you can complete in any order, making it feel more sandboxy than your standard arena fight.
Map 05 is the sort of thing you'd find in a typical high-profile modern megawad. It's set around a series of beautiful floating towers in the middle of an endless red sky, with lots of teleport hopping to get around. It's one of the more hectic and challenging maps in the set, mainly due to the large final arena battle where platforms keep lowering to reveal more enemies as you try to deal with the ones you're already fighting.
Map 06, in contrast, is a slow-paced, creepy haunted mansion where you hunt around in the dark for the three skull keys. Like most of the other maps, it's pretty simple, but it has great atmosphere. It doesn't have any puzzles that I remember, just exploration.
Map 07 is a battle against a custom boss, sort of. The giant creature you face is an environmental construct like the Icon of Sin, but it doesn't spawn monsters and feels very different from the Icon. Jaxxoon has done a pretty good job of creating one of those head-plus-two-hands monster bosses that were so common in '90s console games. The boss's attacks seem to come from a few normal Doom monsters hidden behind the custom graphics, and the whole thing felt like it went down in a matter of seconds despite the Cyberdemon and other monsters that teleport to its aid, but there are some pretty neat effects that make it seem like you're destroying the monster piece by piece.
There's another custom monster as well, a plasma-shooting zombie that first makes its appearance in a map 03 secret and starts showing up in earnest around map 05. It's basically a slightly slower-moving reskin of the Alien Trooper from Ancient Aliens, with no stealth effect and an appearance that fits in much better with the standard Doom aesthetic. I like these guys: deadly but easy to kill, and the sprites look good.
I should also mention that the whole sountrack is awesome, though most of the tracks are pretty bizarre. All of the music is in OGG format, and many of the songs are strangely jazzy, creating a bit of a surreal feel just from how much they clash with the blood and grunge of Doom. Any one of them could get stuck in your head for days.
Asbestos Queen is a great coffee break type of mapset, since it's very quick to play through and every level is pretty much its own separate game. It does lack a certain degree of polish, though. There are some texture alignment issues, and several nasty HOMs on map 05. The bonkers gameplay shifts are pretty cool, and the concepts are well executed, though none of the mapping styles can be fully explored in the space of such short levels (except for map 03). Still, Asbestos Queen is great for a wad that doesn't take itself too seriously, and every map offers its own breed of bite-sized fun.
Warphouse - Ed C.
Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 11 MB -
Reviewed by: gaspe
Warphouse is single level that makes extensive use of GZDoom features, especially for the architecture. The map is for Doom 2, though only textures from Doom 1 are used, and the setting can be considered as a corrupted base in the style of Shores of Hell. I must say that actually the level has plenty of nice and inspired stuff on the architecture, but it really would have benefited from using a different texture set rather than the iwad textures. Everything looks like an undefined mess, a mishmash that somehow clashes with the atmosphere that the map wants to achieve.
The gameplay is all right overall; there are few ambushes on the way, mostly involving teleporting monsters, though nothing felt really special. Despite that the map is big and the visuals make the navigation a bit harder than usual. You will hardly get lost since the map pretty much takes you by the hand on where you have to go. All in all, this is nice as a tech demo that shows what you can do with GZDoom, but it isn't nearly as successful as a map to play.
Lilium - Lainos
Doom 2 - Single Player - PrBoom+ - 5.15 MB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
Even if he hadn't just won the Mapper of the Year award for 2016 (in part for creating Lilium), Lainos wouldn't need any introduction. This strange, twisted genius has left an indelible mark on the Doom community as a whole, and especially on the Russian community, which seems to me to have evolved largely around the eerie, ultra-realist mapping style that Lainos created for Sacrament and other early B0S wads. His maps are all haunting and unapologetically dark, but Lilium is probably the most deeply personal one he's made so far.
In the textfile, the author says he created this wad while going through a rough time emotionally and that it ended up absorbing a lot of those negative emotions. Like all of his settings, the wintery cityscape of Lilium is shrouded in mystery, full of symbolism and references that I can't clearly identify, but the posters of Putin wearing a crown that are plastered all over the walls and the words "-45C without you" scrawled on a frozen fountain are probably the clearest indications of what was going on in Lainos's head when he made this. In addition, the level starts out next to a highly detailed and rather graphic train wreck -- not one of the bloodiest scenes I've seen in the Doom engine, but possibly still one of the most disturbing.
The gameplay is pretty much given over to the storytelling; it's not so much about creating engaging encounters as it is about giving the city its own population of inner demons. As a result, some of the gameplay can be annoying, particularly if you're trying to max kills. Near the start of the level is a park with a labyrinth of fences, and each section of path that you take causes groups of Imps to appear, resulting in many tedious minutes of maze running and dull shotgun/chaingun combat if you actually want to get them all to appear and then kill them. After that comes a more straightforward network of streets with enemy ambushes at pretty much every turn, and although the combat is more challenging here, it's still pretty monotonous after the first couple of ambushes.
If you can get through these two areas, the level really hits its stride after that. All of the remaining locations are beautifully designed and interesting to explore. There's the abandoned street marketplace with merchandise hung up along every passageway, and then the big, shadowy water treatment complex. Eventually, you find yourself in a cardboard box village where the city's homeless population must have lived -- at the risk of repeating kmxexii's Mapper of the Year writeup, it's got to be one of the most unique locations I've ever seen in a Doom wad, but it's also dripping with very real social commentary, which isn't something you see every day in a modding community. The level seems to reach its climax as you face off with what might be Vladimir Putin's spiderborg stand-in, but the real final battle takes place inside a mall, where floating candles and water lilies contrast beautifully with the barrage of rockets coming your way and a strange bunny image watches over you as you attempt to find your way up to heaven... or something like that.
Part of the fun of this level is just trying to figure out what it all means. You don't have to love allegory to appreciate Lilium, though. You just have to love wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere. Like all of Lainos's other levels, it's about the thousands of little clues and stories that the dead have left behind, painting a picture that's entirely mundane but still strangely moving. Lilium isn't as much of a masterpiece as Comatose, 5till L1 Complex, or Doxylamine Moon, but it's worth delving into. Just don't expect it to lift your mood.
No Demon Left Alive - theSil3ncer
Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 99.53 KB -
Reviewed by: gaspe
No Demon Left Alive is a very short single map for Doom 2. The main thing of this wad is that the gameplay is all about the melee combat of Doom. Here we will have to fight demons, spectres, and some lost souls with our chainsaw and a berserk pack. There are also many damaging floors in the first half of the level, which are really dangerous as the health provided is extremely scarce. It isn't actually bad, apart from that visually it's very bland, but it's a rather poor level overall. It could have done something better with its ideas.
Fucking Hexen - Matthias (enkeli33)
Hexen - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 788.65 KB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
Hexen wads are so rare that I'm always tempted to play one when it appears. Sometimes I regret that decision. Sometimes I'm not sure whether I regret it or not.
Fucking Hexen is sort of a jokewad, and it's often a successful one. The main joke that runs throughout the wad and textfile is the gratuitous swearing. To start with, the levels have names like "Fucking Woods" and "Fucking Ice Palace." Anyone who's ever been 12 years old can appreciate this on some level; personally, I found it funny in the beginning, but it faded into the background after the first five minutes of playing. For better and for worse, the humor doesn't stop there, and the first few levels are peppered with many other little jokes. The best ones manage to poke fun at Hexen's particular quirks, such as the message, "You lowered all the stupid forcefields by ringing this bell," or "The task is done, here is some earthquake to make it look more epic." Others are just random but mildly amusing gags, like the "puzzle" where you have to choose between three emerald keys and two of the paths will kill you, but a message pops up telling you which key is the right one. There's also the big annoying trollish platform section in "Fucking Woods" with the message, "You're going to hate me for this." I just cheated in a Wings of Wrath for that one.
Fucking Hexen is an OK jokewad, but the first map makes it seem like the whole thing is going to be horribly tedious to play. Most of the combat is against giant mobs of one or two enemy types that pop up in front of you, and the vast majority of enemies are Ettins and Centaurs (this observation comes from playing as the Mage, so I doubt there's any class balance), and the battles are slow and boring with little danger of getting hit. What could be more fun than Sapphire Wanding a horde of Centaurs, right? The "floor is lava" section in this map was almost welcome just because it was the practically the only place in that map where I took any damage. It might be more fun as the Fighter, though. Health and items are incredibly overabundant, given that you hardly need anything except mana to win the fights (and even then, only if you're a Cleric). There are tons of decorations everywhere (mainly trees), making it even easier to herd the enemies and block any incoming projectiles.
The remaining levels are significantly better, though none of them feel super polished. The huge amount of health and huge number of power-ups continue to trivialize the fights, and the main frustration still comes from running into all the decorations stuck in the middle of everything. There are lots of large-scale battles, which is interesting for Hexen, but the spaces you're fighting in are just too big and make everything really easy, even when you're slipping around on ice. Most enemies still come from the front, though there are a few battles that are almost really tricky, like the ambush at the beginning of "Fucking Ice Temple," which would be brutal if the mob didn't get hung up so easily around the door -- the Serpents that make it difficult to escape into the next room are a nice touch, though you can easily outmaneuver them and exploit the whole battle by jumping onto a glitter bridge if you want.
Matthias has a ton of great ideas, I have to give him that. There are many interesting and varied puzzles, and some of them are really inspired, but most of them feel like rough drafts. In "Fucking Fire Temple," there's a section where you have to use an Icon of the Defender to get through lava and reach a puzzle item, but there are no enemies or hazards to slow you down, just a run from point A to point B, and you have plenty of time to get there, so what's the point? The best puzzle was the one where you have to turn into a pig and get through a slippery ice maze before you change back, without falling into any deadly pits.
The best map is the penultimate one, "A Shitload of Enemies," which throws everything Hexen has to offer at you. There are lots of different areas leading off the central castle section, each with its own set of challenges and a puzzle item at the end. The combat is pretty well balanced throughout the level, except for all the annoying decorations in some areas, and the mana and health are more tightly balanced. The last level is an arena slaughter battle; it looks terrifying, and although it turns out Hexen slaughter isn't all that hard (until Kristus proves otherwise), it's very action-packed and fun.
For the most part, Fucking Hexen isn't a great wad, or at least it isn't very refined. However, aside from the first map, I found that it held my interest all the way through, which is probably the most important thing a mapset can do. There's a ton of creativity here, and I kept wanting to see what would happen next. The quality of the maps steadily improves as the levels progress, so Matthias's next wad is bound to be awesome.
Distress Call - Soldier993
Ultimate Doom - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 291.08 KB -
Reviewed by: Not Jabba
Distress Call is a set of four small E1 maps that were originally intended to be part of a full episode replacement. They have a pretty old-school look and feel, but more of a 2004 old-school than a 1994 old-school. You'll encounter smashed doors, heavy machinery with pumping pistons, hexagonal holes in tile floors with the loose tiles lying next to them, and various other classic 2000s detail tropes with a bit of a rough appearance. I spotted several texture alignment and midtexture/linedef errors, including an HOM in E1M4 from a missing texture or something. There's also a set of red key bars in E1M4 that you have to open individually because the sectors aren't properly joined. Generally, however, the maps look pretty decent.
The gameplay is easy enough to breeze through with a keyboard-only setup. There aren't any Barons or bosses, and most of the more difficult spots come from cheap use of Sergeants -- ones that teleport right next to you, ones that are attacking you from off-screen at the start of a map, ones that snipe at you from pitch-black cubbies high off the ground. These few minor setbacks shouldn't be much of a problem, though. Health and ammo balance is solid -- there's always more than enough shotgun ammo, few enough bullets that you have to ration the chaingun a little bit, and a handful of rockets, which is exactly how E1 should quintessentially work.
The layouts aren't as smooth as they could be, and there's some annoying backtracking. E1M2 requires you to get the yellow key in the north end of the map, go back to the south end to hit the locked switch, and then go back to the north to go through the exit door that the switch opens up (there's a little bit of monster repopulation along the way, but not much). E1M3 is probably the most interesting map because of the liberal use of damaging nukage, which forces you to plan your movements. The majority of the map is spent running back and forth through a set of slime-flooded halls as you get keys and use them to press switches. It's kind of fun how it forces you to be careful with the rad suits and deal with combat while trying to manage your time on the damaging floors, but again, the backtracking can get really annoying, as you have to cross most of the same ground each time you get a key or hit a switch.
Overall, Distress Call isn't great, but it's pleasantly casual and quick to play.
The /newstuff Chronicles #526