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galileo31dos01

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File Reviews posted by galileo31dos01

  1. Hoover Dam

       124

    First things first, if you want to experience the map, do yourself a favor and look for a cool fitting midi that inspires nature and beavers, open this wad in an editor like SLADE and import that new midi, which will replace the ol' d_runnin, which doesn't suit the environment. For reference, I picked Requiem's MAP05 and it worked nicely. 

     

    Did you do it? Good.

     

    Hoover Dam is a recreation of the actual place in the USA named like that, which I've never seen in real life and never will. It's atmospheric outside, with a neat vista of the dam, and the canyon, although dry and empty, isn't painted in just one texture but various different rocks interspersed, kinda gives it more colour. Visually the only boring parts are deep inside when it's not cool sector enginery. 

     

    Most of the action happens on the ledges around the rocks and plenty more to work out in the interiors, you wander through caverns, facilities, control bases, a hellish portion, and even a very flat very narrow maze that can rub a pain elemental's little arms. It's nothing exceptional if you're familiar with '90s type of combat flow, and the high ration of blue artifacts will diminish some of the dirtiest surprises later on, unless you're being too careless with The Tomato Crew. I quite enjoyed the exploration and the feeling of ending an invasion of imp-like beavers, who wouldn't enjoy that?!

     

    Cinematic elements abound. My favourite was a fissure in some generator room expanding behind me while the floor was slowly collapsing, that felt a little scary. Arriving to the top of the dam, long after I stared at its imposing height from below, was a good sensation, as if I marked the most important checkpoint in the map.

  2. MARSWAR V3.01

       358

    Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 5.3
    - Ultra-Violence
    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.
    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    A strange, okay old one-man megawad with a long story included. Basically, the protagonist is part of a worldwide terraforming organization whose objective was invade Mars, they sent a spaceship with him inside. Troubles happened and he had to work it out on his own for several years, running out of oxygen and supplies. Rest is your job to survive, and if you care, the background of the maps is thoroughly explained in the text file. By the time I played the wad, I opted to ignore the story, but you don't have to do the same. Mars War has as many themes as basic Doom II resources allows, including spaceships (from where everything starts), tech bases, bunkers, underground caves, and other ambiguous environments. The peculiarity is that the visual themes appear in alternation rather than like a classic thematic progression, which seemed a bit disorienting at times. Texturing and detailing are generally a take-it-or-leave-it. Sometimes the looks are very bland, which is due to the a lot of monotexturing and misalignment combined with full brightness and boxy design in many of the maps. Think of huge walls of, for example GRAYTALL, to get the idea, or any other textures you might not like. However, I will admit the bits of surreal architecture helped some parts to look memorable in a good way, like a giant kitchen sink or the chambers with floating crates. I get that the author tried to tease people with Microsoft references, but that was not of my concern, in fact I liked the tricks with lifts resembling bar and pie charts, once I got the joke. The labelled textures, on the other side, seemed like silly memes. It was hilarious to find a big "DOOR" text on a door, that sort of things aren't common these days. All of the maps contain different midis, some gorgeous songs and tracks while others quite noisy. The one in the super secret map was the best by far.

     

    The levels have a sort of gradual progression as monster species go, with the biggest demons appearing in particular boss-like situations. Figuring the correct way to exit is part of the regular gameplay of the wad, specially in the larger maps when becomes a maddening task, so as feeling constantly exposed to, mainly, hitscan attrition. There are a few instances of pressure from mixed groups of enemies here and there, and some interesting ideas like a zoo of monsters and infight simulators, but what will mostly keep you alert are the chaingunners and shotgunners, usually sneaking in resource compartments or from higher positions. Well, and the death traps. Teleporting in the middle of a round of zombies was devilish enough but dying my way through chains of nearly inescapable crushers was a tad obnoxious. Or the inverted case, you get sandwiched between the raising platform and the ceiling if you don't time perfectly your escape, which is the gimmick of map 20. Kudos for making an average player rage, heh. Anyways, the pace isn't necessarily slow in spite of the hitscan preponderance: health supplies exist aplenty, weaponry is available pretty soon in every map, with some exceptions, so I can only believe pistol starts are enjoyable with proper knowledge. 

     

    Secret-wise, usually they are very easy to spot. If you're familiar with 90's wads, it just takes a good eye to catch the hint, but sometimes you're down to trial and error, since the author had a fetish for punishing unwary players (yes, death traps). I like that there are plenty to find and some lead to hidden areas for extra kills and stuff, keeps the exploration side more engaging. For favourite maps I'll pick 16, 21, 29 and 32 for their cool concepts. Maps 15 and 17 would also be in the list because I love city maps, but the visuals are garish. The rest vary from acceptable to mediocre or boring. 

     

    Overall, it's quirky, rough, perhaps provocative for some people, as I could see around here, and still got me immersed until the end. Not sure if I would recommend this outside of nostalgic reasons, it definitely didn't aged so well, but unless you're opposed to the creativity of mappers from the past, this might worth a quick check. It's not going in my list of favourites, though. My rate is 5/10.


  3. Done with these settings:

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9.
    - Ultra-Violence.
    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset. Pistol starts in maps 05, 10, 11.
    - Saves every 5-10 minutes or so.

     

    A partially cool map collection from various people. It revolves around the same old story about a newer demon invasion, in this case they corrupted an underground base and spread all around the territory, turning every nook into hell. The maps sort of follow that narrative through the visual design, that at least from the second map and beyond, since the first level is simply an introduction. There are plenty of hellish neat-looking techbases to explore either on surface or underground, including one level in a Quake style with dark rusted metal textures. In combination, some maps present an Inferno-ish look with marble/red/rocky structures and lots of flesh to step on. I dig the latest two in particular, with exclusively clean visuals and great usage of fireblu for portals. The deep blue sky fits in about every single map, giving each an extra touch of spookiness. Well, and a subtle TNT vibe, or maybe that was because of some of the music selections. I really liked the midis in map 10 and 11, too bad there is no information in the text file about them. 

     

    As far as authors styles, it's a varied compilation ranging from traditional easygoing combat to series of lethal encounters, and some peculiar setups involving environmental hazards. I would say, gameplay-wise, the further I got into, the better it turned, mainly because the first half seemed to show the more experimental side of the wad, where the pace is kind of a rollercoaster, and some choices felt tacked on. I mean, the opening map is already questionable, just a dull switch hunt on a quasi-deserted island, not to mention the copious invisible barriers. Printz's map 04 is perhaps the largest and weirdest one. It has a lot of gimmicky ideas, including an outdoors fight where the player's affected by wind, which I wasn't very sold on, aside from slow and unclear progression. On the other side, Craigs' and Stewboy's are peacefully linear and simple to comprehend, and the two by Death Destiny and Butts are as wild and engaging as hitscan-centric maps go, without ever turning into annoyance, unless that's not your thing. The second half of the wad is the section I found more of my taste, aside from having mixed emotions about the last level. The seventh map was a nice short appetizer, and I enjoyed a lot the entries by Icecreamsoldier and Dutch Devil, with an ultimate hitscan hell touch and secrets research. While the increase in difficulty is gradual throughout the wad, the pinnacle might come as a slap in the face to people not used to that particular style in the last two D-D maps, like myself for example. The final map is about tight setpieces involving at least one archvile after the other, while you run around naked (no armor) carrying your SSG. Sometimes there was an escape, and other times things easily went real bad in less than a second. I would suggest to take it on a lower skill assuming you urge a security pickup. His second to last map was actually more cramped, close to unforgiving with the bumpy architecture, but somehow I sorted it out with calm and joy. Guess that makes me a "Doom god"?. I'll pass. 

     

    Secret-wise, I had issues to find any in map 04, one of them wasn't even hinted at all. In map 10 I wasn't able to trigger one of them, probably due to the sector being too small. Other than those, well, depending on your gameplay styles, you might be able to ease up the majority of the mapset if you commit yourself to explore every nook, not that I'm really in favor of the whole idea to be fairly honest, but the design of the status bar misled me. I would suggest to take a good look to map 05 via iddt, just to check some hidden stuff that are out of reach for reasons unknown... Anyway, favourite maps are 06, 08, 09 and 10. The others varied from fun to dull and everything in between.

     

    Overall, Dark Resolution 2008 was, weird, but nonetheless very interesting, save for a few cases. If you're looking for mapsets with varied content, or a die-hard fan of the double barreled, this could be a good place to stop by. My rate is 6/10.


  4. Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 5.3.
    - Ultra-Violence
    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.
    - No saves, mostly.


    Very decent tribute to the original game. Each map is essentially a remix of the ID's levels, built around the same theme and music tracks per episode, albeit with the author's personal changes to the design. Aesthetically, the only notorious difference, and by no means less important, is the texturing he decided to use in some sections. In general the maps look extra polished, there were no signs of misaligned textures, but I wasn't that attentive to be honest. He did left the most distinctive visual features of each map untouched, for example where it's supposed to be a dark secret dungeon, it is a dark secret dungeon, just not copy-pasted. 

     

    As said before, Wonderful Doom is just a revamped Ultimate Doom. If you know the game by heart, there may be little room for surprises, so you can take it as a memory test. Of course, the author added his own touch to the gameplay. I would underline the size of the rooms in comparison to the iwad, tending to be more compact though in no way less attractive. In consequence, they lead to a bit more claustrophobic combat, specially throughout the latter episodes, sometimes you'll find yourself in a hairy situation like a slow drop in a cluster of imps and barons coming from the shadows, or starting surrounded of pinkies and barrels to detonate using your ol' peashooter. Another thing is the resource balance, sometimes giving more leeway where there wasn't originally, other times less obvious for the pistol starter. This is part of several plot twists Wraith added here and there to the main concepts to keep it somehow fresh and interesting, but I'm not going to spoil any in particular. 

     

    Secret-wise, I guess it's not needless to say almost all of them can be found normally, there is one in E2M9 that can't be triggered due to the teleport line. Otherwise, there are no broken sectors or staircases of secrets (sorry to burst your bubble ;P). There are no disliked maps, and so I'll avoid to pick favourites this time. I also didn't care if most maps were extremely similar to the iwad ones, but that could not be the case for you.

     

    Overall, I won't lie and say this turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable. It's what I expected from an author with such love for plain vanilla Ultimate Doom. Nostalgia fans should give it a go. Well, as long as you wish to "play Original Doom one more time", otherwise if you expect a thing like "Doom the Way ID Did", it might not be wise to download this. My rate is 8/10.


  5. Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9
    - Ultra-Violence
    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.
    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    This is a slightly improved sequel of a mediocre megawad. It has no story whatsoever, not that it needs one, it's practically designed without an overarching theme and focused on Boom compatibility, something that the prequel didn't communicate very well. Although you rarely see tricks like conveyors and silent teleports put to specific purposes, they're mostly for the atmosphere. A couple of maps use custom colormaps in particular setpieces. One is to simulate immersion in toxic, and the other in blood, or perhaps portals to hell?. Anyway, Community Chest 2 has some nice visuals using stock textures. While not every map looks great, a bunch are simply awe-inspiring because of the author's creativity. I dig the idea in "Death Mountain", the sinuous terrain with mounds everywhere is very neat, as it's theoretically a mountain floating in the air. My only gripe is the trees are placed to get stuck in. Other locations are plain techbases, brown caverns, wooden complexes, Inferno-styled hell and unknown places. Most of the music available are tracks from other wads and games, with only one self-made piece for map 24 by the same author, an amazing melody by the way. I would suggest to add your own tracks for the maps lacking them, for a stronger experience if it helps.

     

    For those who have played the prequel first, and I'm sure everyone did, there are quite a few familiar names to be found, some of which contributed with more than one map. Gene Bird cooked around five for example, evoking a conservative "rooms with monsters" 90's style. His maps don't vary in any aspect to each other, nor to his previous works in Community Chest 1 unfortunately, but they blend well enough with the tone of the mapset. The first map is already by Erik Alm in his well-known Scythe fashion. Then we have individual entries from Andy Leaver, Kaiser and Use3d, the latter came as an improvement to be honest. On the other hand, a big portion of the people involved were completely new to me, and that's when I had to expect the unexpected, sort of. I'd say the maps had their ups and downs, generally enjoyable if some exceptions. They were also organized in a very random way, but that's no news. Just like a traditional community project, this megawad features a wide range of concepts, layouts, and forms to entertain the player, for better or worse. Fans of old-school and/or adventure maps will be delighted, as there are a lot of them in all sizes and difficulties, even several inspired by the original Doom levels. The obvious standout is "The Mucus Flow", a brutal map that can only be understood with patience and dedication, mostly the former one, and heavy chainsaw practicing. Besides, its curvy "mint-chocolate" design is beautiful and unique, or used to be, since tons of future releases found inspiration from it (e.g. Speed of Doom). A shame it has glitches in the sky. There are other remarkable moments to be experienced, such as to explore a city in depth to figure out the secret exit, or to fall in a sequence of fake exits that only exposes you in circles of chaingunners. I'm not sure how others will take it, but I couldn't hold my laugh after the second time.

     

    Secret-wise, the first thing to know is that PRBoom users need to activate the "Linedefs w/o tags apply locally" option to enable access to some ZDoom-only secrets in maps 06 and 24. There is also a secret in map 20 that requires an archvile jump, but it's not possible to reach it outside of ZDoom versions. Other than those, hope your sense of exploration is wide awake, as there is plenty to locate and highly appreciate. I'm thinking of the standout map, of course. For favourite maps I will pick 19, 24, 27, and 31. Some others like 06, 13, 23 and 32 were entertaining for the most part, but not convincing as a whole. The rest range from good to dull or tedious, like the final map. 

     

    Overall, it's certainly an upgrade in quality, and I'm inclined to believe the successors are much better. Still, it's nice to traverse the history of the community chest projects. If you and I share similar tastes, then you'll probably find content to enjoy here, and if not, well, skip the unnecessary. My rate is 6/10.  

  6. Sacrament

       178

    Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 5.3.

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    A nice peculiar set of maps by authors from the Russian community. This is (mostly) an adventure lengthy episode that features an extensive package of custom cool textures, flats, amazing skies and other stuff to give shape to the story, which more or less revolves around the apocalypse. The design favors an hypothetical realism, apparently it begins in your nightmare, and when you wake up, you see humanity had gone forever. Truth of the fact is, after the first couple of maps (the second being a very realistic deserted city), it's hard to tell where the plot is going to, until the intermission screens vaguely tell the rest. Well, I'm not one who plays Doom for the stories. Anyways, in aesthetics, this wad wins the prize, the usage of stock textures in most maps is really beautiful, sometimes inclining to the standard OG Doom style and in other cases in impressive scenery, such as the giant cavern and several boats in map 11. A thing that characterizes Sacrament is the absence of light throughout the maps. The skies also contribute for that, for better or worse. It's not like you can't see nothing, but the moments you need to stop monsters like spectres it can turn harrowing, and I fancy darkness a lot. In fact, my favourites cases were maps 12 and 13, all the spooky ambient was darn intense to explore through. Sacrament also comes with a lot of music in ogg format, I believe part of it are Russian songs or tracks from other games. Either way I found them fitting, and weird sometimes, but that's ok.

     

    I'm not sure if the designers took inspiration from anything else, or if its approximation to Eternal Doom is mere coincidence. Probably not, considering the trickery in the second map, but a way to describe Sacrament in a nutshell could be "touristy". The maps range from mid to large sized and focus primarily on the visual-atmosphere department, and there's no complain on that side. They also require your inner explorer to take command of the situation in most maps, which not always is your standard key hunt, and the task becomes a mad search for what to do next in the sprawling non-linear affairs (not in the level of Eternal Doom, but close). In between, you get some smoother classical entries, with an iwad-difficulty tone in progression and encounters, even an obvious imitation of a TNT level. Speaking about monsters, it's light on threat for the most part, sometimes underwhelming in connection to the space, and other times you'll beg for some light to see your opposition better. Again, I'm not against the combat in very dark areas, it adds some tension, and at least while they're not loaded with zombies. On another side, the new weapon sprites were a bit of a letdown, looking dull and almost hard to distinguish, particularly the shotguns, and I don't know what the new BFG sprite is supposed to resemble, not that there was any crucial moment to actually test it. Besides, they fact they're not centered confused my aim in many occasions, but I guess crosshair users will omit that.

     

    Secret-wise, the more complex a map is, the more secrets you can find. This may sound redundant but for a secret hunter like me, it's been generally well received, though a shame when it didn't felt like a true reward: I would have liked something more blood-pumping after the skull hunt in "Doxylamine Moon", instead of walking around a second time to find a few shells to confront a weak invasion. Favourite map was 13, and maps 03, 06, 07, 08 and 12 were fun too. The only map I disliked was 04, not a fan of maps that ultra straightforward maps, nor when they deprive you from kills. The rest didn't impress me in gameplay terms, but Azamael's maps did on the artistic side.

     

    Overall, Sacrament is worth to check every deep nook as much as the human eye can see. For what typical Doom gameplay concerns -murdering monsters, then hit exit switch-, it might be wise to overlook this or part of it, as there exists an elder counterpart called "Da Will", but for a trip through whatever post-apocalyptic puzzle-ish context the wad takes place in, look no further. Oh and, mind using a Boom compatible source port for map 10 if you plan on maxing it. Anyway, my rate is 6,5/10.

  7. THE ABYSS

       349

    Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 5.2.

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Not everyday I see much appreciation for the earliest era of mapping, as many people have acknowledged its primitive essence and moved on to more contemporary stuff. However, from time to time I find relics that could still keep enjoyable for anyone, such as this solid piece of work from 1995. The Abyss is a collection of maps that look like ripped off from the Master Levels, except by just two authors, one who passed away a year ago. This does have a conceptual theme that can be extracted from the maps themselves, as some sort of dungeons and/or mines you explore in depth, though in short periods of time. Apparently, the authors set a series of goals regarding to the aesthetic side, and that could be noted perfectly. Sure, the texturing is minimalist, most of it is green marble, wood, grey rocks, besides a few custom ones (most notably the cross on the wall) and colorful windows from Heretic, but a lot of care in alignments, sometimes placed dynamically. Other bigger contrasts are lighting and geometry variation, both giving the maps a classic appeal, less boxy design (lots of spiraled stairs!) and more interactive with the environment. You'll find more than one example of light switches a la "The Focus", comically useful to see the intruders better. This wad comes with several tracks of no genre in particular, including a waltz-piano song, but most maps don't have custom music or uses recycled iwad tracks. I would suggest to add them on your own, thankfully I had a pack that a fellow user sent me a while ago. 

     

    It's kind of amusing how these maps work as a whole. For a megawad that creates the impression of having no connection between each map, there's a "slightly" obvious sense of continuity that anyone is going to notice regardless of their gameplay decisions. More specifically in how supplies are distributed, leaning towards comfort for continuous players, and those who decide to pistol start will have to conform with a very limited arsenal depending on the map, sometimes only stolen from zombies and other times scavenging through secrets and ignoring enemies, while they keep filling in other types of ammunition without nothing to use them. This, however, can be interpreted as a sort of "challenge", even though the maps favor a casual easy experience. Rarely you come upon a tense situation, although I saw myself praying not get chipped to death a few times, or sandwiched by barons. Progression on the other side might put an impatient player off in cases, often requiring some switch/key hunting or random walls to push, but the key is to take a good look at the environment (or the automap, if that's possible), most if not every piece of wall minimally different from the rest leads to somewhere, and at least you could find alternative paths to complete the maps, which implies non-linearity in a silly way, if that's your thing. Since the maps are short, taking no more than 10-15 minutes blind, it's nothing to feel offended in my opinion. 

     

    Secret-wise, expect them to be simple and contain from just a few stimpacks and maybe a zombie inside, to an essential weapon to defend yourself from big threats. The majority are hinted, just think of a typical 90's wad in that regards. I must admit though, a few were very cleverly hidden, like in one I needed to pay attention to the lighting contrasts in a room. For favourite maps, not going to pick any in particular, as I enjoyed them all pretty much the same, even if I wasn't so fond of the gameplay in a few later maps. I only wished there was a more proper conclusion to the wad, apparently the authors lost interest in filling the rest of the slots, but we get what we get.

     

    Overall, a neat antique wad I'd recommend to any player akin to the iwad difficulty, or if someone can't (or doesn't want to) afford the Master Levels, this will hopefully fill the space. I mean, don't be fooled by the age, sometimes a little 90's simplicity is good for the soul. My rate is 7/10. 


  8. Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9.

    - Ultra-Violence

    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Sweet literal flashback to Doom II, a set of fun maps of nice consistent quality. The story is comically lengthy, like nothing you'll usually expect to see in contemporary wads, and I took my time to read it (too tempting for tl;dr). It's fascinating how much thought the author put into something most players generally overlook, and in spite of recalling little of it, the plot starts after the incidents in Plutonia, scientists researching ways to prevent the resurgence of the Icon of Sin, but due to outdated technology, they sent the marine back in time to help to complete their work, once again. What I wasn't expecting is to find the initial map quite familiar (I didn't do my research, as you can see). These maps are re-imaginations of the iwad levels, but with a slightly different design perspective. Yes, techbases, sewers and miscellaneous man-made buildings are back, even the classic "O' of destruction", they constitute the first and longest episode, though in a more new-fashioned, higher quality way in terms of layout design. The later section is thematically hell, my favourite since the author combined darker shades of grey/brown rocky areas with classic hot red textures, giving it strong visuals. Part of the new music is remakes of classic tracks from the game, which accompany the journey in a nostalgic way. The rest go well in their spots, such as the "Hell" maps include one of the most quiet tracks I've ever heard, very nice. On another side, the new sound effects, which are supposedly enhanced versions of the original ones, were a welcome change in general, like the cyberdemon's death now sounds more explosive. There's a "clean" version out there without the added SFXs, if anyone dislikes them, not that they impact gameplay wise.

     

    Much of the combat is alignments of incidental cleaning and classic setups corresponding to the map's slot, that means plenty of homages (super shotgun debut in map 02, the confined zombies at the start of map 04, the helpless spiderdemon under a crusher in map 06, the famous barons vs. cyberdemon infight simulator in map 08, the zombies closets in map 10, etc.), even though the maps aren't built around them. With a higher monster count than average, the levels are still far from grindy scenarios, any casual player can feel at home playing these maps, besides the difficulty peaks near the last entries. That is not say they lack strong opposition, but the balance is adapted to encourage exploration, and to be careful mostly with hitscanners and the occasional horde in tight quarters or special trap (like the dark corridors that turn into lava in map 13), while you experience flashbacks continually. The hell maps seem to be fresh design, perhaps some The Living End vague vibes in map 13, but a deviation from the homages, which is a nice change considering the start/exit connections from the first episode kind of wore out after a while. If something valuable to rescue from them, is that the author put health and/or ammo pickups for free, presumably for continuous players' commodity. To my surprise, the hell episode doesn't contain any single former human type, not that I missed them, they reappeared in the secret maps.

     

    Secret-wise, on this side there's plenty of nice secrets to find. Not much like misaligned textures or fake walls, a sign of good variety which includes hidden switches in many ways, and generally easy to figure. A thing I noticed, players' possible major obstacle could be to find armor for free, specially pistol starters. If you don't see one anywhere, it'll most likely be hidden. For favourite maps, could be 12 and 13, though the techbases were fun too. I'd pick 14 up until the inopportune boss fight, but that's just a personal distaste towards that kind of gimmick.

     

    Overall, thumbs up! I find it accessible to anyone looking for throwbacks maybe, or moderately easy maps with simple difficulty progression. I wonder how the other original levels would have been interpreted here, but I guess we'll never know, unless there's a sequel somewhere. Anyway, my rate is 8/10. 

  9. Vae Victus

       206

    Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 5.2
    - Ultra-Violence
    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.
    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Important note: The wad is almost fully playable in Crispy Doom or complevel 2, but due to two inaccessible doors which are part of progress, maps 03 and 04 cannot be completed without cheats. Because of that, ZDoom is the source port to be used like the author said in the text file, or else for PRBoom+ users I suggest to use this patch file that fix them. Thanks to WH-Wilou84 for sending me it, though Alfonzo made it for this thread. Also, other specifications about what's recommended to play this wad will be described below. 

     

    This is a solid episode of mid-sized maps for those who fancy Alien Vendetta in its semi-slaughtery way. Same for its visual design, the wad features mostly a similar texture arrangement from the earlier and latest episodes from AV, ranging from techbases and industrial factories to underground caverns in a lite hellish context that gave me some nice throwbacks. It apparently includes new textures, but their purpose don't seem to stand out in any particular context, more like a complement to the stock ones, and to be honest they went unnoticed during my playthrough. I did see the blue Wolf3d texture usage as part of colour variation among other details, a modest appearance though, which was neat. If something cannot be overlooked is detailing, specifically the part that refers to "things". Users of source ports that allow to turn off infinite height will have it softer to maneuver around, because of dead trees and hanging corpses out of the FOV you can get stuck in. I understand they are part of the transition from man-made structures to more natural landscapes, yet they can be potential annoyances in later maps. It's a little slip in design, given the existence of many ports that support this wad, and regardless of the author's recommendation, not everyone is going to stick with it. Anyways, I liked the midis, they certainly fit in their maps except the one in map 04, it's a beautiful calm track but not for outdoor areas, in my opinion. 

     

    Vae Victus is only short in number of maps, but it's plagued of monsters to kill, assuming you're ready to dispatch every meat shield in the road. Difficulty is forgiving for the skilled player, there isn't much in the way of pressure or hectic encounters as long as you have your feet on the ground, literally speaking. I did notice how limited in ammo are some maps, requiring berserk usage specially from pistol starts. Also there is an oddity in the 4th map, all of the weapons minus berserk are multiplayer-only, and while you'll eventually steal the shotgun and chaingun from zombies, all of the cell packs are of no utility, which indicates the author missed to place weapons in single player. Still, what's more strange is the sheer absence of the BFG throughout the wad, not that you'll really need it. On another side, the wad is easily comparable to the two wads the author got inspiration of: the aforementioned Alien Vendetta in its design structures, hallways connected by compartments (of which resources are located and typically small intruders too), few switch/key hunts involving backtrack and mostly the kind of meaty incidental combat where you either stay and fight or escape and camp, which is up to the player's will. The mapset gets more in the vein of Deus Vult later, when the bigger areas are meant to be explored in depth, and killing everything turns a bit more time-consuming and less obligatory, besides monsters completely out of the player's aim. The penultimate map is where this wad excels, although I must admit the initial area is a chore to navigate. Nevertheless, it's a decent romp in difficulty, the skinned walls room is the first fun lock-in trap, followed by some crowd-herding in order to eliminate the primary targets. It's unfortunate that the last map is a bit of an anticlimax after the previous longer map, which could have served perfectly as a closure to the wad. 

     

    Secret-wise, if you wonder why you still haven't found any of the 13 secrets in the third map, don't worry, 10 are on top of crates the author probably forgot to untag. Maxing the map is impossible due to that, though. Outside of that, the secrets don't require much skill to find, if anything you'll be ok with humping suspicious walls, pistol starters will definitely appreciate the berserk in map 04. For favourite maps, that's hard to tell, I honestly don't have any highlight whatsoever, I liked all of the maps pretty much the same, except for the underwhelming map 07. I also wonder why they don't have names, huh...

     

    Overall, it's fairly enjoyable in what it offers, I'd recommend it more for the casual player rather than the one looking for a new challenge, but still should deliver some relaxing grind with bits of slaughtery if you're open to it, just don't expect anything bizarre. Oh and, non-ZDoom maxers, remember to turn off autoaim to try to kill those snipers from afar in map 05, although in Crispy Doom it was still impossible to reach them :/ ... My rate is 7/10. 


  10. Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9

    - Ultra-Violence

    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or dobu's traps so.

     

    Phew, enough DOORTRAK for a year... I mean, a very well done megawad consisting of a special limited texture selection and diverse gameplay. That this is product of a meme in the community is out of my knowledge, since 50 Shades was launched way before I registered in the forum. Joke or not, the concept is intriguing: only the popularly acclaimed "ugliest" textures to create interesting maps, focused on what mappers can do with such strict rule so their creations are appealing in every sense possible. Because we are here to judge, I'll say the results are really impressive in general. The mappers involved brought tons of ingenious ideas to contrast each texture and make the best of them. I'm someone who wasn't very familiar with these three textures, more specific with DOORTRAK and GRAYTALL, until now. The first one has to be my least favourite, it's exclusive to doors, borders and certain structures like the tunnel in NoisyVelvet's map, which was combined with hall of mirrors in a very creative way. On the other side, GRAYTALL covers the majority of layouts' walls. It's partially plain as a single texture when its red stripes are too near from each other, in my opinion, not so much when they're spared or only the gray part is visible. However, the usage is generally decent due to light variation, the darker the better, also contrasted with FIREBLU's striking visual, the last texture that stands out in every context. There're also a few flats and ceilings to add some extra colour and some neat pitch black shadows, but another important complement is that amazing space sky. Whoever did it deserves an award, I absolutely loved how some mappers exploited it as either a texture replacement for switches, or simply the void. DGM's map is an example where it can be appreciated in its essence. The music selection isn't listed in the text file for some reason, I can say many are recognizable at first "glance", then others more speedy or chill midis according to the case, generally fitting. 

     

    Gameplay is serious business. It's the kind that keeps you on your toes pretty much all of the time, and entails acquired skills to play on UV. The interesting part is that each map was designed by a different person (minus a collaboration map), therefore the diversity, many of which I have experienced their content before. For those who are new to the mappers involved, you'll get to find their names in the tally, or else on the internet. Naturally, I had expectations of what some of the mappers were capable of. The strategic set piece encounters from Ribbiks' map 12, or Mouldy's introduction into the slaughter-ish camp in his map 08, are examples of nothing to be disappointed at. Same for Mechadon's massive map 10 which serves fantastic non-linearity for days, and Joshy in his classic hectic start followed straightly by slaughter including a couple nonsense intermissions (more specifically, pain elementals in the open). Jimmy's remake of Entryway is a fun starter, easy to take your first steps into the new world of unpopular-only textures. For the rest of mappers, I had a few vague conceptions of their styles in other community projects, that after playing this megawad I will be able to recognize them. I know Xaser likes to play with circular very tall towers, his map is a huge infinite symbol whose gameplay is partially engaging, like the RL vs. pain elementals trap. Dobu Gabu Maru must have been an archvile in another life, otherwise it's out of my knowledge why such a mean-spirited map. It's ingenious, let's get that straight, the way he created architecture out of the sky and shadows and all that intricate geometry, which is put to maximum devilish reasons, and I liked the frantic setups even if it was near impossible to feel comfortable in the limited available space. TimeOfDeath did a decent boss map, the mix between resource and layout tightness. His etiquette two-(BFG)shots incidental mini setups against cyberdemons is present, they only persisted in the same exact contexts more than I like to see, but there're more variants of hard setups to experience too, and includes a full view of the mister of your dreams, or nightmares (I'm talking about the giant dude at the end, ok?)... On another side, there're some ups and downs from the rest of maps. I have to praise NoisyVelvet for such a great exploratory level, including the aforementioned tunnel of hall of mirrors, and a creepy face at the end. I also dig Megalyth imposing FIREBLU room with several setups for pressure-inducing. The one by Marcaek (not the credits map) left a sour taste in my mouth at first, since I'm not a fan of running away from monsters all the time. It gradually turned more palatable as I became more comfortable with the concept. Breezerp did a solid short BFG-spamming map, even though it's not my type of gameplay. Those by Quakis, Alfonzo, Ezormer and shockblast4 are somewhat similar, in regards to progressive difficulty and resource management, all of them enjoyable in their own way. Last but not least, the bonus map, a throwback into the old-school style of congested rooms, which can only be understood after a full playthrough. Don't try this map blind without a sense of exploration, if you have touched any Hell Revealed wad before you'll know what I'm talking about...

     

    Secret-wise, to begin with, depending on the author, some went for something more exploratory full of secrets, while others dismissed the idea of placing at least one (Joshy, ahem...), nothing wrong with it though. It's wasn't easy to find all of them in the bigger maps, but still fun to be encouraged to explore and find extra portions that covered half of the map. I'm not sure why a couple of secrets in Mechadon's map are not hinted at all, like one required to shoot random FIREBLU, or maybe I needed glasses to detect a tiny difference between all of the FIREBLU walls, no idea. As to the bonus map, well it was expected to have important "mandatory" secrets, but it seems like not everyone moved on from the HR era, by the time this megawad was being made. Just don't go too far if you haven't found the, big thing, yet. Anyway, for favourite maps I'll pick 03, 06, 08 and 12.

     

    On the subject of bugs, I found out that in map 08 a random monster from the first ambush might not pop up, could be a pinky or a hell knight. In map 15 it is possible to get stuck in the last step of the spiraled stairs, more specifically the point where a bunch of pinkies teleport in, the step never raised on my first try. There is also an unintentional HOM in the tower of sergeants. Lastly, not a bug per se but I found it weird that the chaingunners in the blue key trap in map 16 were stuck in their cubicles, still able to shoot, because there're teleport linedefs in the borders.

     

    Overall, just a lovely mapset I recommend to anyone out there. Be smart and choose the appropriated difficulty, I'm sure lower skills are more accessible to casual players. Also, granted you'll end up loving FIREBLU if you haven't yet. One last thing, try to find the caged dog in map 07, it looks a bit like a floating skull on fire (; . My rate is 8/10.

  11. System Vices

       72

    Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 5.2.

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Pretty interesting for a very old partial conversion. It appears to be an incomplete release of what could have been a hybrid megawad/two-episodes wad, which is a shame because there're tons of cool new features. There's a story behind this mapset in the text file for enthusiasts of science fiction, something in the line of an utopia and the reality, the ideal world for the "inhabitants of Sverre" is what the player sees as chaos, and they have to decide on which side are they on. It's downright about dooming the planet's creatures, nothing outside the ordinance, but I guess a little bit of projection adds to the atmosphere: since they live from killing, you'll have to adapt to their ideals, even if that means to abandon yours. Anyway, aside from my vague interpretations, there's some understanding of the story in the visuals as you travel through buildings, caves, mountains and a spaceship. Texturing is generally decent, I really liked the deep blue water and grass textures as well as trees and little details here and there, like the damaging sector in the cavern map, hard to see though. The first view of the spaceship's interior is neat, the cavern's connections too. There's plenty of weird/nice new sound effects, and apparently more custom music than maps though, one more reason to wonder what the author used to have in mind for the rest, they all sound particularly fitting. 

     

    As said above, visuals are solid as long as they give you a clue of where you are. The layouts however, not so much. I did appreciated the distinctive floors simulator in the last map, for example. It's the way the maps interact with progression. I wouldn't call them "puzzles" exactly, but it's important to explore the most of the maps if you want to complete them. Even more from pistol starts, which are doable but possibly not what the author thought of. Things like the slow tall lift in map 06 which you'll have to take more than once to grab resources, or the boring mini-rooms in map 04 that don't have a purpose whatsoever, could maybe bring down players who chose to start each map separately. It's kind of unbalanced, if you consider in the first map you can drown in ammo, but some of the later levels require some weird decisions in order to kill everything. On a positive side, maps take little time to solve and your only obstacle will be to identify mandatory fake walls and secrets. The combat doesn't precisely pose any real pressure, that is if you take a good look of the new sprites. Of all of them, the pinky/spectre replacement is the most outstanding, a sort of carnivorous creature that chases you underwater. It's a bit of a dickish design, specially the "spectered" version, since they aren't visible until they emerge to bite you, but still a cool concept. Another interesting sprite is the floating parasite, in the place of the lost soul. There is a (dead maybe?) version too. It didn't take long to realize they explode from a hit, much like barrels. Weapons have a new form too, their behavior is the same, and they're decent in general. I assume because the mapset is incomplete, not all of the beasts make a presence, and some barely register. A pity, but what can we do...

     

    Secret-wise, well it's an obviousness to say a few of them are intentional to exit the maps, that used to be a common design choice in the earliest era of mapping. My advice is to check the automap frequently, and treat walls as if they aren't all solid. It's nothing too intricate, though. Also expect the unexpected, because a few require to walk on a certain linedef or push a random wall, I could access some and others not. The content inside of them was, surprising.

     

    Overall, it wasn't that bad, as a partial conversion it offers some decent content, to say the least. I don't know if to recommend this thing, it hasn't aged well at all, and it obviously failed to become a "classic". However, fans of old-school story-based wads could have a good time, I suppose. Anyways, my rate is 5/10.


  12. Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 5.2

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Important note: For those who opt to play in sequence, it is recommended to use a Boom compatible source port like PRBoom+ complevel 9, or directly ZDoom. This is to avoid potential "bugs" that can break progression in a few maps (04, 06, 11, 19), and tons of other minor issues impeding to max them, possibly due to having tested only in (G)ZDoom. However, the majority of maps can be finished (not maxed: 08, 09, 14, 32, 17, 20, 21, 23, 27) in Crispy Doom without problems, which is the equivalent to complevel 2. Whatever source port you choose, expect some secrets impossible to tag and maybe in map 11 a door which can't be opened from one side.

     

    I haven't heard or read about any of the people involved into this project, thus it was a completely fresh experience to me. It's an interesting spiritual community chest of many flavors, described also as a solid mixed bag of different styles of mapping, many first-times and subsequent releases by the same authors. The aesthetic side is quite decent in general, reminded me to other megawads alike Memento Mori and Perdition's Gate or anything in the vein of 90's/00's, where the texturing could be similar from map to map until one changes the theme completely, heavy usage of greens/browns/gray in either monotextured or multitextured schemes, and includes some new textures of many colours in specific usage like windows for a city level or the ugly orange boxes that don't always fit with the rest of the map. The same could be said about detailing, there're all kinds of light variation from full brightness to suddenly pitch black for merely ambient, although nothing intentionally invasive I should say. While the megawad doesn't contain more than three additional midis, I decided to add one for each map resorting to midis from other wads, which enhanced the gameplay a lot, most of the stock tracks wouldn't have fit in their maps.

     

    What could be claimed about a project of this kind is the unevenness of the quality. Like it naturally happens in community projects there're stronger offerings and less palatable entries, whether intentional or not, but from my perspective this megawad has a wide range of tones of action to be experienced and delighted. I won't say it's exempt of weak content, but that's the minority, at least nothing remarkably offensive in general, aside from the garish HOMs in the last map. The maps vary a lot in shapes and forms, generally mid-sized layouts, including longer linear/non-linear affairs in between, and industrial/city-esque maps. The bigger levels will take a while to get used to, particularly to understand how progression is conceptualized, more often involving backtrack and good memory of keyed doors placement (map 23 would be the "infamous" one, but as long as you pay attention to the details, it'll become easier). Action is deliberate for the average player, although including a few slaughtery fights and even an old-school slaughter map nearing the end. It's comparable to the 90s in its gameplay, a bit of hitscan hell reigning the earliest episode and some later maps, also a lot of corridor-shooting and congested rooms putting pressure until you see an easy escape, which is better to overlook and stay in the battle as much as possible. You're rarely trapped in a lock-in fight, but when that happens it surely puts some decent tension, like the pillars room in map 29 where you can be sandwiched by barons and archviles if you don't react fast. I have to appreciate the little modest puzzles scattered, in which you have to follow a sequence of colours or else interpret what they mean. 

     

    Secret-wise, in part there's not much to say, I liked the commander keen task in map 32. In several maps there is important weaponry excluded from the mandatory progress, so it's suggested for pistol starters to explore and not be afraid to hump walls, or else maximize in tyson gameplay when possible. Favourite maps are 03, 08, 10, 31, 17, 19, 22, 27 and it could have been 29 too since foreknowledge makes a difference. The rest of the maps vary from enjoyable to a few boring ones. I did not hate map 23 or the IoS (:  

     

    Overall, I was impressed by the content in general, so I'd recommend it specially for casual players who enjoy old-school styled mapsets, or anyone looking for something alike the Community Chest series. Also, I'm open to share the wad of midis I used for this, if anyone wants it let me know. Anyway, my rate is 7/10.

  13. Maskim Xul

       912

    First review woo!! anyway...

     

     

    Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9.

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous, basically.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Maskim Xul is a masterpiece of a wad, designed for an experience beyond the classic shooter-action style, with its extraordinary puzzle-oriented gameplay. It has a huge emphasis on creepy atmosphere to consistently accompany the adventure and give it a sense of horror/realism, even though it's all mere fictional. In Doom, I could think of "horror" as the most organic theme in the original game, which is flesh. This is where the author expects us to dive in, literally speaking. The player has to escape a techbase, traverse a massive maze of demonic libraries in hope to survive the guardians, immerse into the stomach of something to finally find the source of evil, and defeat it. What makes this wad live for its theme, or at least incredibly creepy, is all the extensive detailing and custom stuff, such as dynamic scenery in the form of pools of flesh, objects you have to interact with like a bell, and floating symbols indicating something special, as well as ingenious ways to darken areas to simulate the transition of one place to another. Besides, multiple sound effects, a great addition to the gameplay. My favourite was the constant sound of flesh stirring, which added a component in combat, making it trickier to keep track of monsters spawning. Of course, not to forget a set of amazing midis, perfect for the mood. 

     

    But the wad is not only spooky visuals and dark voices, there's plenty of action to face assuming you're in the mood to take it step by step. It includes the kind of maps that eases you into the core of the gameplay, by introducing the player into an apparently deserted area to encourage exploration, in order to find out the initial task, which gives a general idea of the mapper's design intentions, then the first encounters as warm ups, and continues to open to more and more missions. While the wad has only four maps, each differs from the other in aspects like progression and length, among difficulty. Progression can be described as a tad between vague linearity and faux non-linearity, particularly in the second map, since it's a massive key-hunt full of setpieces in a specific sequence, only requiring heavy exploration instead or room after room. The first and third map are a bit more straightforward, however. The first map is monsterless but not harmless, it's an atypical stunts map where your only enemies are turrets and laser beans, an innovating idea. It's the second map where you meet the new forces of evil, a whole roster of enemies including some of the stock monsters, a few reskinned and modified ones like the cacolich (not as cute as the cacodemon), variations of hell nobles and lost souls, magicians or disciples who might be fragile but own powerful attacks, and more. They aren't hard to figure out if you take your time, I'd say it didn't took much to understand their behavior since their usage is limited to the best, or that's what it seemed to me. The only enemies that were sometimes hard to distinguish were each of the disciples at first sight in darker areas. There're also a few new weapons and pickups: double pistols are always a welcome change; the rocket launcher is now the "Hand of Afrit", it throws mana which deals more damage and feels quite satisfying to steal one from a disciple; jackbombs are hilarious, while powerful they're tricky to use effectively, thus I didn't spend them often enough; finally, the Grimoire is an usual replacement, it's not charged by the typical way, and it's not favorable to abuse of its power, honestly clever design. I should mention that this wad was designed for continuous and balanced in case one chooses to pistol start, the balance seemed to be fine, never felt any starvation. For pickups, keycards are now crystals, the night googles are a torch, and I loved the new Roulette Sphere, an item that will give a random power depending on when you touch it. On another side, combat scenarios include generally incidental ambushes via teleportation, and several set piece battles usually in the context of mini-boss, like the introduction of the lord of heresy, or else in traps involving interesting tricks like surprise jackbombs and explosive skulls together. As I mentioned way above, Maskim Xul comes with ingenious puzzles, of all of them I have to praise the labyrinths of libraries and skull switches, with solutions that require your mind rather than your eyes. None of the puzzles will put in an urge to find cryptic switches, that's left to secrets. 

     

    Talking about secrets, in maps like these I'm always glad to explore for high number of hidden goodies. They do require a good eye to catch the hint, you may want to find the super secret fight, it's amazing by the way. I'm not going to talk about the final boss, there're already enough spoilers in this review so far, I'll only say the setup could be a little bit more devilish on ultra-violence, but otherwise an impressive memorable finale. 

     

    Overall, this is a piece of uniqueness in the community no one should overlook. I'm hoping someday Obsidian finds time and motivation to deliver another product of this kind, since I'm not aware of many other pwads in Boom format that make extensive use of dehacked in a consistent theme. My rate is going to be a straight 10/10, and I don't care. 

  14. Zone 300

       407

    Done with these settings:
     

    - Crispy Doom 5.2

    - Ultra-Violence

    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Short and sweet megawad, this provides a set of maps alike classic Doom II iwad-ish in byte-sized layouts for a quick experience. The mapper worked with a limitation I'm not very familiar with, it looks to be a sort of challenge he put to himself to work with a base of 300 limits, and I thought the results were more or less appealing, depending on the map. All around stock textures in simple design choices, such as monotextured corridors and lots of squared geometry, or even triangles, not much about details or tricks with light variation, although there's some decent usage of it, but that's not something really important to look for in a wad of this kind. And it's not needless to say how similar are certain places to original Doom II and other iwads, more like micro remakes, for example an easier version of The Chasm included in the same map with a convoluted Gotcha! scene, or a tiny crates maze that looks chunked from TNT's crates map. It was cool to revisit these visual concepts once again, even if for a short period of time. Also, PCorf included a vast selection of tracks for a change of pace, good to not hear the stock soundtrack in a wad where it would have casually fit too. 

     

    Perhaps the limitation could have been executed with a bit more variation in combat and progression. The maps are easy to figure, linearity above all, you're usually entitled to dispatch enemies with your hitscan weapons, mainly shotguns, not a lot of opportunities to pull out your heavier weaponry if you go on pistol starts, or else it becomes exploration time where secrets hide them. Combat is straightforward incidental butches presented in front of you, with a few turrets here and there, and a couple surprise (or predictable) traps to keep you on your toes, generally including low-tiers in ambushes. Thing is, the same kind of tropes are repeated in most maps, such as corridor-shooting usually involving some zombies, hell nobles or pinkies, symmetrical placement (if there's a sergeant in this corner, there for sure is another one in the other corners), or the typical wall-of-meat guarding the exit, which lack any sort of threat on that context, although the latter is sometimes spiced up. When that's not the case, it can be fun run-and-gun, grinding through weaklings in fast mode, teleporting ambushes putting a bit of pressure, and some helpful berserk/chainsaw usage. The ideas work well together in my opinion, given the size of the maps it's a plus that the less entertaining parts don't drag on too long. 

     

    Secret-wise, there's a high chance that you'll need to search for hidden weapons/ammo in order to kill everything in a few maps. That or to off high-HP enemies that otherwise will suck all your bullets. Some maps guard tons of secrets in very visible ways to find them, so that could be good for those who despise exploration (no idea why they would though...). I liked the ideas in the secret maps, the first one might have needed to be more violent, serving for the difficulty I was playing on, and the second one does its job as a casual map screwing limitations. For favourite maps I'd pick 10, 24 and 27, while the rest were more or less enjoyable.

     

    Overall, simple as it is, I liked this stuff, it's fairly accessible to people who want to take their first steps into pwads, that is, akin to the original game in terms of difficulty and aesthetics. My personal rate is 6,5/10.

  15. Elmlea Single

       90

    Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4.

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Pistol starts.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or no saving.

     

    This is a funny memewad of concepts and tricks from the Boom engine. It's anything alike classic conventional Doom gameplay, ergo the chosen compatibility, and brings a specific gimmick in a satirical form for each map. Aesthetics are part of the idea too, by way of monotextured layouts of the simplest geometry, such as to find out which sector/linedef has an action, and mostly grey and brown as the predetermined colours, with a bit of green and red bricks in some levels. Besides, skies made of one resized texture, and music from TV series and movies, the ideal recipe for an experience in Doom one doesn't opt for everyday. 

     

    Concept-wise, it's much appreciable to experience each map on its own, even more when the idea of carryovers will only block your progress in survival maps: better leave in bad shape and restart freshly than carry less than 15 hit points and be eternally murdered by former human ambushes. This example is one of Pinchy's numerous parodies of unconventional/inconvenient situations we've all been through in Doom. Humping walls to find progress like in primitive maps, having the screen constantly tinted because of pickups, being harassed by incoming projectiles from monsters out of your FOV, that fear of eating your own splash damage because the door can close at any moment, these are just a few of the most hilarious cases I've seen here. It wouldn't be bad to say not all of the gimmicks were clear enough to me, still don't know what's the meme in map 13. Same in some of the later maps, they seemed to have less ridiculous and more serious content, or at least not something different from earlier maps, but if anything I support that seemingly passion for zombiemen hordes, which held up my enjoyment most of the time. Funnily enough, it wasn't until the very last map that I laughed out loud at doomguy's surroundings, and there was nothing else than THE END messages under a sky in fireblu. Guess I couldn't hold my laugh for too long.

     

    Secret-wise, it's interesting to me that in a wad of this category the only existing secrets serve as a combination of the gimmick in question and helpful extras for survival. The second map's way to hide secret sectors is quite funny indeed. As for favourite maps, I found the concepts in map 02, 04, 07, 09 and 15 to entertain me more, last one because it tickled my fancy for exploration. Some of the rest like 05, 07, 11 and 14 woke my other feelings, not only they made me laugh but also feel tense, those imps and troopers could not beat me!... not more than twice...

     

    Overall, even if not all of the maps made sense, or had strange concepts I didn't understand, the point was to laugh, and I believe that was achieved here. Because laughter is good for the organism, check this out. My rate is 7/10. 


  16. Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 4.2.

    - Ultra-Violence

    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    A nice entertaining mapset. It's a mixed bag consisting by different styles of action to spend a weekend or two, using the resources from TNT. This gets you to travel through different landscapes like ruined cities, egyptian catacombs, the inner of a spaceship, well-known sewers and some caves here and there, mostly resembling the aesthetics of the iwad but not acting like a sequel to it. The first map might not leave a great impression, suffice to say it's the most vaguely detailed of the mapset, but the second and forward maps show a progress in the way to create more natural, realistic environments, whether grand scale red fortresses, cramped tunnels of lava, or castles built with brown bricks. The music selection consists of several tracks from the iwads, which all casually fit very well, along with multiple tracks I'm pretty sure I've heard before, like the one in map 17, that's an amazing slow track for a dark cave.  

     

    Being a speedmapping community project the results are uneven, not to understand it as a lack of quality control. There's an atypical flow we often don't see in megawads, like when certain species of monsters are introduced and their context, which also go in line with the maps slots, but difficult gradually raises in a similar way most megawads do, in general above the iwad-level. Also, the styles of the authors aren't that different from each other, nor the size of the maps is a determiner of what they're going to be like. There're shorter maps where the core of the gameplay is concentrated in an arena where you're demanded to slaughter big numbers of enemies (not as high as in natural macro-slaughter wads) before you're able to exit, such are the cases of Archi's map 22 and Shadowman's map 27, or in other levels apply your skills to survive several nasty ambushes in more claustrophobic areas and call it a day, like most maps in the first and second episodes. You'll get breather maps in between too, which some share a bit of TNT's classic aesthetics and incidental combat, and I had fun with them too. What larger maps have is that sense of exploration reminiscent from older megawads, such as map 28 having the premise of a large epic adventure in a massive hellish landscape a la Alien Vendetta, or a city in ruins after an earthquake in map 10, depending on how you interpret scenarios, and you build progression bit by bit. However, there're also a couple large maps devoted directly to slaughter setups, as is Shadowman's map 21. My only gripe with him is the archvile usage, it seems like he wanted to enforce meticulous approaches to deal with them, except in certain situations these can target you while out of your FOV, and there's nothing you can do about it. But this and a blind drop on damage floor type 16 are about the only bits of "unfair" design I found, the mapset counts with so many distinct scenarios to test your abilities that a mishap with an archvile or two didn't stop my enjoyment. 

     

    Secret-wise, nothing hard to peak or miss, but you'll definitely want important weapons and resources if you play on pistol start, like that juicy BFG in map 21. For maxers, the secret SSG in map 03 becomes unavailable if you don't take the lift. My favourite maps are 03, 10, 11, 15, 16, 23, and 27, mainly stuff from the second and third episode, but the first one is a solid introduction too. The final map is, fortunately, short and kinda easy. The bonus map requires you to make decisions, and it's better to have a certain degree of foreknowledge. Still a good map imo. 

     

    Overall, this might be my second experience in megawads by the Russian community, and I'm certainly hyped to try something else from them in the future. Heroes' Tales should be on your list too, it's worth the try, there's material for every taste here. My rate is 7/10.


  17. Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4.

    - Ultra-Violence and Hurt Me Plenty.

    - Pistol starts.

    - Saves.

     

    An unsatisfactory product composed of mostly uninspiring content, with a few enjoyable segments. First of all, I was glad the maps are grouped by authors, which made it better to differentiate the better content from the, questionable sections. Coincidentally, the better segments have the most polished aesthetics, not that visuals really mattered in a project like this. The majority is built in simple shapes and geometry, generally squares, triangles, rectangles... corridors... but with nice texturing from the Gothic packs, such as maps by Phml and Grain of Salt, and some abstract weirdness texturing using the stock ones, particularly TimeOfDeath as I see it's his typical style of visuals, or even some modest hot red caves in Memfis' only contribution. The music selection, while not memorable, it has a few particular atmospheric midis like in maps 25 and 26, among many stock midis from iwads. Some maps don't even have midis, whatever!

     

    The gameplay can be described in several ways, though I didn't find that many differences between the authors. If anything, the common consensus of "high number of monsters per room" is applied in pretty much every map except one, the thing is how each author employed this particular mechanic and ways to approach encounters. Whether they failed or not to deliver slaughter-styled gameplay is up to more experienced players on that genre. My understanding is fast-paced combat is one of the principles, among strategic procedures under pressure and generally powerful artillery to use, as can be seen in most of these maps. Now there's also a wide range of difficulty, from bland to demanding to suddenly overwhelming from wherever you see it. Dannebubinga is one that maintained a balance between hordes and space, he has probably the most serviceable idea of crowd controlling in his maps, since it usually requires to concentrate monsters in some specific ways, like infighting scenarios or pushing towards hordes in god mode, to gain terrain and claim victory. He doesn't overload the player with resources, nor you're entitled to save up them for "a better circumstance", unless you go wild on spamming cells on anything, but since you won't be swimming on ammunition, progression can take a while, like in map 11 at the stands of hell knights, though depending on what you do it's possible to clear everything faster than expected. The same can be said from Phml's maps, he went for more sprawling huge areas where combat turns a bit grindy low-pressure at times, and lots of enemies you can skip forever, though that's up to completionists and how they decide to spend their time. In spite of the slow-paced gameplay, which had its fun sweaty moments too (e.g. the maze of spectres on blood!), I'd say the highlight comes from aesthetics, as mentioned before. Another case of lengthy maps is TimeOfDeath, he went straight ahead for the BFG-spamming through bullet-hell styled in, mostly, huge areas that feel as cramped as monsters occupy every spot. While this is seen as lazy mindless gameplay, there's something about clearing hordes which pumps up the adrenaline, at least during the heat of the battle. It's also true there's no variety or complement on what you do, other than holding "fire" for as long as it takes to kill everything. Plus the new weapon, a giant pink unlimited BFG, completely neuters any chance to approach something from a different perspective, although I recall a couple of instances where rockets were more efficient, but that's not a big deal given the maps were balanced around the new weapon. Of his three maps I enjoyed the first one more (that is, map 27), probably because I had to observe the hud to know my current ammo stock, and it also didn't have any lag. His other two maps are best to be played using the extra file which shrinks cacodemon's corpses, and expect not only lag but also to get infinitely lost if you had never experienced the infamous megawad Eternal Doom before. Lucky for me, I did, but still the BFG spamming lost its charm too quickly, honestly speaking. Anyway, a contrast to the bigger maps, are the ones by Grain of Salt. Her maps are arena-styled, structurally symmetric, short but exhausting. The first map of the set is the only exception, though still claustrophobic and with not many choices, and it'll probably leave a bad impression on many people, but trust me, everything becomes worse later (; . Being serious, I preferred her later maps more than the earlier ones, the second one is specially best to play on lower difficulties, since the balance between stimpacks, monsters clogged on each square, and ammo in unconventional spots, is simply egregious. The other maps are similar but way better balanced to not ache for ammo or health... Then, I have a couple individual standouts, which are maps 13 and 14 by Memfis and Olympus respectively. The first one, despite being entirely different from the rest of the set, is a welcome change of pace, I liked its tyson/strict ammo based gameplay. The second one is an obvious tribute to Hell Revealed, not easy nor hard, surprisingly fun for being a huge rectangle of monsters. Now for the rest of the set I don't really have anything positive to say, too much RNG-based gameplay which is not my thing at all, too many lazy spamfests (map 31 omg...), interesting concepts that only masochists will perhaps enjoy due to how they're executed (the tunnels of cyberdemons/hell knights in map 24), and too much bland randomness (anything from 16 to 23, except 17 wasn't so bad), many of these maps don't even have skills implemented. The final map made me miss IoS, and that says a lot... If you still insist to play those maps, I suggest to use that extra wad that gives you higher ammo/health which comes in the zip file, it'll help to speed things up.

     

    There is also nothing important to speak about secrets, the majority of the maps don't have any, and secret encounters in slaughtermaps are actually a cool idea, which this wad is missing. My favourite maps have to be 09, 12, 13, 14, and maybe 32.

     

    Overall, not really glad for this experience, nor I recommend this to any newcomer slaughter fan. If you still wish to try this, my personal advice is to play directly the maps I praised the most, and either skip the rest or run the wad with extra modifications. It's up to each person, really, I know people who enjoyed this megawad and there's nothing wrong with that, obviously. My rate is 4/10.

  18. kuchitsu

       81

    Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 4.2

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with pistol start mindset, and pistol starts.

    - No saves.

     

    Quick fun mapset. It's visually pleasing with some love for brown and green in city-esque structures, under a beautiful deep blue sky. Funny detailing too, which is appreciated for its old-school vibes, like many DoomCute trees, a boat from Alien Vendetta, a vending machine that gives free drinks, and more. Also, cool chill midis from the 90's era, or at least the majority.

     

    Gameplay is rather simple but freewheeling, meaning that these maps can be played at any pace you want, with your typical incidental enemies awaiting for your arrival, and they generally appear individually or in small packs without much pressure applied to the player. It doesn't mean it's going to be an easy ride. To compensate the low monster counts (not over 100), Memfis restricted resources to make players respect their opposition, such as health and ammo are tight in the first couple maps, armor debuts later. This is a good sign that continuous won't precisely make your life easier, until the middle maps, so any form of gameplay works fine. Progression is linear, but space is generally reused to avoid long backtrack, which is a plus. As said above, combat is on iwad-level, a few sneaky hitscanners here and there, some ambushes than surprised me like the labyrinth in map 05, just old-school fun a la classic Doom II or Requiem, or any quality wad from the era.

     

    There isn't much to say about secrets, although a couple will grant the player extra options to tackle monsters. I also don't have favourite maps, nor disliked ones, they're all lovely in the same way. Be aware that it's not possible to get 100% items in a couple maps due to some existing for decoration. 

     

    Overall, recommended to anyone looking for an excuse to play Doom at work, during breaks of course, or just a good half an hour at home. My rate is 9/10.

  19. TNT: Revilution

       10268

    Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 4.2

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with a pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Now this is a damn good sequel. An incredible amount of quality in every way you look at it. First of all, the visuals. This includes a ton of different textures, lots of red, green and brown for naturalistic environments. Thematically it's after the destruction of the demon-spitter in Evilution, thus it goes through different ambients that are more hellish/fleshy than the infested techbases we were used to. I'm a fan of spookiness in Doom, so this wad gave me a lot to experience in its abandoned computer stations, corrupted by the demons as if the recurrent text "Kill us" wasn't enough for me to feel tense. However, it is not as simple as it sounds to generalize the themes in Revilution, since every map is an individual case of different colours and geometry, and that nourishes variety in my opinion. What is also worth mentioning is the amazing music selection, like valkiriforce commented in his review, there're a few astounding covers from the Evilution soundtrack, as you'll notice right in the starting map, plus a whole bunch of atmospheric midis, just excellent works to accompany the playthrough.

     

    Reiterating, this was much more than I expected. Being a spiritual sequel to one of my favourite iwads, this didn't disappoint in any way. I'd think of Revilution is to Evilution what Plutonia 2 was to Plutonia Experiment. Why? Both share the atmosphere of their prequels, adapted to the current gameplay interpretations of their eras. This means that some of the most memorable concepts in Evilution are present here, in a trip to nostalgia and, most importantly, higher quality entertainment, but not exactly in an iwad fashion. So, with a lot of contributors, there's an extensive variety of scenarios to appreciate. Of the numerous remarkable experiences I had, one part is Dobu's approach to bring back the mysterious atmosphere, the silence and the surprise, and the eccentric geometry from the more natural maps like Quarry or Deepest Reaches, which Eternal took charge of making a charming remake for map 18. Back to Dobu, his map 16 is an excellent example of scavenging resources in dark caves, while you deal with exposure, claustrophobia, and clever puzzles. If you're playing with carryovers and freedom of choices, ignore them in this map, the gimmick is real fun. The tribute to Wormhole in map 12 is another standout, both the cinematic transition to an alternate dimension and what awaits you there, but also the secret hunt in the map, an exploration task I'll take any day. Phobus and Gaspe went on a similar style, the latter did a super dark corrupted underground base, with a few tight quarters that will make you sweat, while the first guy invested in a sort of abandoned facility that might not develop so much action, but you'll want to speed things up before it's too late. Another honorable mention goes to Steve D, his creations are probably going to stick in everyone's minds as purely mean-spirited maps. Maybe I wasn't expecting such demanding traps, with an emphasis on locking the player's way out with fat hitboxes, but satisfaction comes with success, guaranteed it'll take some serious effort. One prominent author is Jaws in Space, his style here is hard to describe in simple words, there's a bit of fast-paced run-and-gun, also some quick incidental combat a la old-school TNT including stronger beasts, generally short-medium sized linear maps with or without a task/gimmick, save his entry a la Dead Zone where progression might not be easy to figure for a while. Talking about tricky progression, that was the case of valkiriforce's map 31. I really liked his throwback to Pharaoh, although with many predictable circumstances if you remember the original map. What rubbed me wrong way was a hidden switch to grant access to one of the keys, which I needed a video to point me that switch. I guess that's another throwback, thankfully no missing keys. His other map somehow didn't fit with the rest of the maps, although still an enjoyable tutti frutti of themes. All of the other authors did an incredible job in their individual and/or dual contributions, that includes a love-letter to spiders courtesy of Purist, fun with elevators and height variety by Tourniquet, a quick punchy entryway by SFoZ911 that hides more than you'd expect, even a trip to Eradrop's vision of hell in a slaughter-esque fashion while you're being observed by statues of cows, and many more that you'll love to experience by yourself, because you should must. 

     

    Secret-wise, all my love to exploration and multiple worthy secrets in a same map, namely in Dobu's maps. The first map of the wad already anticipates what Revilution has in hands for you about secrets: hidden encounters, shortcuts to find tasty weaponry, telefrag chains that will answer all your doubts, etc. There's basically everything you don't want to miss if you're a fan of exploration. A small thing: in map 21, it is possible to nullify the secret tag that has four boxes of rockets in a red room behind bars, read this. Anyway, there aren't favourite maps this time, because I enjoyed them all a lot, some more than others though. Perhaps 12, 16, 17, I don't know, this is too hard lol. If one map needs a shoutout is 30, it's an unique piece of art, one of the best finales ever. 

     

    Overall, I suggest you add it to your list, there're no reasons of why you shouldn't pick this megawad to spend a weekend or play periodically. Even if not all maps may suit your wishes, or the word "TNT" holds you back, it's not a remake, this has way more to offer than empty big rooms or ripoffs. I guess what's missing is TNT Revisited? :P. My rate is going to be 9/10.

  20. Bloodstain

       228

    Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9.

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with a pistol start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Important note: it's supposed to be compatible with complevel 2. However, a quick research in the forum showed me that there're some issues in the intended complevel, therefore I chose 9 to play the whole thing in sequence. Whatever you choose, expect broken monster teleport lines in a couple maps. 

     

    First of all, Bloodstain is an impressive megawad of beautiful super-detailed design layouts. Thematically joins the Plutonian architectural design in the first set of maps, such as vines, dark bricks, lots of grey and brown, various naturalistic environments rather than techbases. Then it's all about medieval castles of shades of brown, culminating in ginormous grey gothic castles with bits of hot red rocks and exploration on lava (which doesn't hurt, surprisingly), more like in another dimension, since at some point you're traversing pure flesh and gore, and after that, the void. There's some icy maps in between, which I liked too. And oh boy how amazing are the little details, like the floating lampposts in the brown tall castle from map 17, or the multiple faux 3D bridges where, I must say, it is possible to fall in between the steps like you would in real life, not that it's funny in any way. I really like the geometry variation in the maps, even though you wander through caves and, naturally, corridors, there is nothing samey about the design, at least from my perspective, it's like each map has its own personality. My only gripe is how geometry can become a disadvantage in certain maps, the clearest example is map 28, I could count at least 10 elastic collisions in the same room, wow. The soundtrack is a wide selection of tracks we all probably know from wads like Scythe and Alien Vendetta, some ROTT midis, this song by Blur called "Song 2", and more. Honorable mentions are TNT04 and Plutonia 2 map 14 midis, because those are my favourite Doom tracks :P 

     

    This is a weird case of a mapset, it has everything in aesthetics to accompany the same quality of gameplay, but that's not always the case here. The style of combat is actually diverse, from casual instances of frontal fights, to extreme carnage in confined spaces, and everything in between. I'd think of Alien Vendetta or Scythe's third episode as a comparison, Plutonia too, there's some obvious homages of those scattered in the maps, but the general adventurous/murderous grindy bloodshed of that era is present here, along with many situations of slaughter-esque, choreographic-based fights in arenas of all sizes. Usual starts evolve surpassing an army of dudes (mostly imps, cacodemons and former humans) to reach your first available weapon, and that becomes a serious task in further maps where earlier monsters are also mid to high-tiers in packs waiting to unleash their power on you. Progression, despite being mostly linear key hunts, comes at the cost of multiple deaths in order to build a route to where resources are lying, which can be tense and fun, if sometimes very slow in this wad. Things get real demanding in the middle episode, not to mention how hazardous is the cramped combat in this wad, specifically when all sorts of enemies join together to shred you before you realize what's going on. It's ok to put pressure from many sides, but situations like chains of hitscanners inside a small square or instapop barons/revenants in a very narrow corridor, combined with questionable geometry, are merely RNG rollercoasters, and that kind of combat isn't my thing. Anyway, about opposition, if something can't be ignored is the vast number of circumstances where this can't deliver it's full potential thanks to some inconsistency in their placement. What you see is what you get, except they don't always get to your spot, which isn't the monsters' fault, but the enormous amount of block lines that impede them to track the marine. This is extremely crucial, since it trivializes a LOT of the encounters, whether they become boring "walls" of meat or subject of obvious infight, almost like scripted shows. I'm not opposed of the infighting though, it was fun to trigger as many ambushes as possible to solve their issues on their own, and helps a lot when ammo is tight, because I noticed weapon progression can be wonky sometimes for pistol starts, like secret SSGs or BFGs when they would theoretically be more optimal as mandatory. On a semi-positive side, there exist a bunch of interesting concepts and gimmicks, such as to prepare yourself in god mode for a full slaughter arena; take a blur sphere to handle a sudden zombiemen apocalypse; lead a spiderdemon to perforate a bunch of revenants; activate switches to watch some imps being tortured, which are some sort of obscure indication of another gimmick with barrels, you'll probably realize too late about it. Good or bad execution is in the eye of the beholder, the standout for me is a finale where the platform lowers into a pool of corpses and, you guessed it, a squadron of savage archviles flood the space and turns the arena into an uncontrollable madness in a blink of an eye. I'm still not sure what to think of that section, it's doable but far from fair, I would have preferred to have the archviles introduced part by part. Whatever, I'll never forget about the constant fire in my screen...

     

    The megawad comes with three new enemies. One is an upgraded baron of hell, also known as "Hellstorm Archon" in Realm667. In combat, he gets to be a douche in tight quarters. It takes time to adjust your dodging since he now shoots a second fireball, which also means that in infighting he's able to smash up to four-five revenants, for example. The downside is their usage, typically found (un)protected by block lines inside a cubicle, or at the top of a lift waiting in a tiny room with no chance to avoid damage. The concept of this new baron is cool though. Another new douche is the Z-Sec, a tanky sergeant wearing a helmet. He shoots in bursts, three shotgun shots. Yes, a nasty opponent, the only issue is that a close SSG shot might not be enough to kill him if blockmap gets in the way, which was annoying sometimes. Last but not least the Afrit, a flying red hell noble, though in this wad it shoots just fireballs, thank goodness. They usually appear in family, and take a bunch of ammo to kill, specially if your shot push them far away. I guess their strongest usage is previous the last map, other than that their appearance is generally low.

     

    Secret-wise, super useful ones might not be easy to miss, but you really don't want to miss them. A SSG or BFG can make situations less awkward if found in time, there is one special chain of secrets to get a necessary BFG in one map that requires an atypical trick to get a necessary key, hope you find out the solution! Anyway, that's my standout secret, we need more of those in non-ZDoom stuff. Favourite maps are 10, 18, 23, 24, 25, and 30, while the rest have their ups and downs. The secret maps deserve a mention too, particularly map 32 for its visual content. 

     

    The maps where it's possible to miss kills are 06, 18, and 29, monsters that failed to teleport in somewhere. 

     

    Overall, while not outstanding on its gameplay, this is still one of the most impressive-looking wads I've seen so far, that could be a good reason to at least try on HNTR or HMP, because UV can turn head-scratching later, not suitable for casual blind runs. I'm honestly glad with the experience, it ended in good terms. My rate is 6,5/10. 


  21. Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 4.2, ZDoom for bonus maps.

    - Ultra Violence.

    - Continuous combined with a pistol start mindset as much as possible.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Important note: The text file explicitly claims this wad is designed to be played on Boom compatible source ports. Nevertheless, I have not experienced any single symptom with Crispy Doom, so this wad should be perfectly playable in complevel 3 if that's what people want to.  

     

    Hmm, well, sometimes reality beats expectations, this has been a mix of emotions and feelings, positive and negative, ups and downs. My first experience with a project leaded by Paul Corfiatis, whom I understand is a well-known active mapper. A fairly likable mapset, with an approach comparable to the old classic iwad, in many ways. First is the ambient theme, each episode follows the same structure of visuals that we know from Doom I, that is tech-bases for the first episode, then something more fleshy afterwards, an introduction to hell, and finally all the pieces together in the fourth episode. I must say though, initially I had a bad taste about the aesthetics, the couple first maps looked rough and very simplistic, part is because of all the symmetry around, a lot of copy/pasted sections, but then visuals got much better later and in the second episode, where symmetry was at least accompanied with more polished detailing. Things turn even more appealing in the third and fourth: more colours, height and light variation became notable features, less square-y geometry in general, still a few minuses here and there such as invasive torches where doomguy can't avoid to glue himself on them. There're also a few new textures which can be seen particularly in secret maps, not that they add a whole new theme to the wad. The Hexen windows looked a bit out of place in my opinion. The new soundtrack has its moments, I'd have preferred myself to hear some recycled iwad tracks in between instead, which is unfortunate because most of the midis used are fantastic, yet they don't match with their corresponding maps in my opinion. 

     

    Anyways, as far as I'm concerned, the idea here is to get an experience more challenging than in classic Doom, while keeping the overall progression similar to it. Well, it's definitely different, there is a higher level of difficulty, but I can't say the same from quality. The ideas from the main author and guests seemed to be correlated to follow a story behind the episodes but the execution of each map left me the impression of lack of consistency between them. This was notable in every episode except for the first one, which despite being the least appealing, it's also the one where you get most of the same two authors. This first episode brings a lot of samey incidental fights in compact hallways, symmetric rooms and mostly SG/CG combat, traps that lack any energy or rely on dickish moves, like instacrushers. You'll immediately drown in shells in the first maps, so pistol starts are ideal, not that it adds a pinch of difficulty. In the second episode, things get a bit more tricky with the introduction of instapops, the kind that you'll never want to experience blind: shotgunners that teleport behind the player or next to them at any time. There's some more variety with the type of ammo you can use, albeit the cases of strict resource economy in maps from Hansen and Babich. The third episode is where the inconsistency can lead to frustration if you opt to pistol start or complete the maps. It has the best looking maps by Corfiatis, and interesting ideas from the other authors, there is no denial about the progress of quality content in regards to visuals, and to some extent, combat. For instance, SG vs. barons/cacos becomes way more common (says the guy who could have used the RL more often but opted to stay on pistol start-ish mode), but sometimes you get a tasty berserk, points for that. Strict ammo or way too much depending on the author, and I seriously can't for the life of me understand what's the point of the "finale" in the third map... Last but not least, episode four contains a great mixed bag of gems and, other less pretty stones. Once again, an advance in visuals and detailing, like now darkness is a fun factor. The strict economy of resources is still an everlasting topic and now it is paired with cramped, congested rooms with meaty monsters that can shred doomguy in a blink of an eye. Not that tight quarters wasn't a thing before, it's just that this episode took it seriously, particularly in the secret map. To my surprise, any upper-tier weapon here comes with little usage, which is an odd design choice for an episode that's supposed to be the hardest. I would personally suggest continuous in both 3rd and 4th episode to "rise to the occasions", or in other words, kill high-HP enemies in less time. Finally, I'd like to mention how anticlimactic the end-of-episode maps are, maybe the exception is E1M8, but for the rest not a single engaging "boss" encounter, for example, the fact you don't even have to shoot a bullet to kill the spiderdemon in E3M8 says it all. Similar with the bonus maps, nothing there you don't want to miss.

     

    Secret-wise, it starts a bit wall-humpy, then it's a hit or miss, some particularly annoying secret chains to get to the secret maps with no intuitive way to solve, or some juicy weapons and armor that otherwise are nonexistent in standard progression. One thing that seemed confusing to me was all the nukage pits with radiation suits, they all looked like there were some hidden secrets, but there was nothing. For favourite maps I'll pick E3M2, E4M1 and E4M6, while also E4M4 and E4M5 are among the best ones too. I can't say I loved anything from the first two episodes though. 

     

    Overall, maybe memorable, but not legendary, and this is really not an important thing, just try the middle episodes on continuous or surrender to Tommy the Trooper and his army of barons :P. Whatever, my rate is 5/10.  

  22. Stardate 20X6

       273

    Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9.

    - Hurt Me Plenty

    - Continuous combined with a pistol start mindset. 

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    Beautiful demanding set of fabulous maps. First time I got my hands into something made by this author, and I'm not disappointed at all. A colour scheme consisting of shades of brown/grey and primarily purple inclined to magenta, which replaces all greens if I'm not mistaken. There's a lot to experience in terms of design, part is because of the colour selection, both contrast perfectly with each other in many ways, all positively: aesthetically pleasing to the eye, no overdose of the strongest shades nor monochromatic rooms; giving new visuals or at least the feeling of wandering in an unique world, outside of hell or the tech-bases we all know; the level of detailing, the complexity of the terrain you step, all outstanding; easy to recognize the texturing and environment the player's in, which is closely connected to the extensive variety of geometry that can be seen and felt (physically, above all). In gameplay, this combination seemed optimal to me, as it gave each section a bit more personality. A bunch of atmospheric midis to emphasize the spaceship theme of the wad, casually fitting even in the most punchy situations, can't say anything negative of them to be honest. 

     

    I found the gameplay to be strong and consistent, most of the time. The offerings are varied but the overall style is what I'd characterize it as an "arcade game". To be more clear, the action/progression is setpiece-centric, non-linear, and sometimes multitask-based. The player isn't instantly thrown in the heat of the battle, but they're asked to make decisions and plans in order to claim your resources and thus, victory. These decisions include not only what to do but where to start and how to stay steady, something that usually differs from the incidental, mostly frontal combat style. A mistake won't necessary cost your entire life, though, depending on the difficulty the person chooses (HMP can still be highly demanding for less experienced players, and forget about UV on a blind first try), this sort of gameplay can be perfectly studied at the moment of playing them, one can anticipate and prepare themselves more or less for what's going to happen. Some clues are sheer silence, creating suspense, and checking the automap regularly, whatever suits you. So, in basic words, traps with lock-ins and some incidental surprises, composed of a variety of monsters in determined places in order to be efficient if the player is caught off-guard. They generally have one more than solution, the usual is some sort of gimmicky infighting scenario involving an enemy or various to call the attention of others, since in some cases they appear in idle state on purpose, this while you need to keep an eye at everything, grab the ammo and health if necessary, plus the way out via switches that might unleash more opposition... ergo the multitask I mentioned above. Monster count can be low or high depending on the composition, the slaughter ingredient is regularly present, but the "cherry of the cake" is usually kept for the finale or near it. Progression being non-linear means that, after a chill or hot start, the maps open up and you can choose where to go, as far as available. Mobility and stability is also important, the environment can become an extra enemy too (curvy shapes that can provoke elastic collisions, combat on stairs which means bumpy floors, platforming on thin pillars while turrets attack, darkness and spectres, etc), which in this kind of wad I found to add more seriousness and fun, that is excepting the platforming, in map 06, just, no... not for me.

     

    Secret-wise, standouts are the secret arenas that reward the player with, combat first and then cool pickups, or viceversa in case of new weaponry. A thing is for sure, once I figured out the most used hint from earlier maps, they were all much easier to find later, that is with extra help of the automap, but this is one of my favourite ways to hint a secret so all cool. For favourite maps, I can pick maps 05 and 07. Only one I didn't enjoy myself much was map 06, I have yet to replay it to find something else to do in that finale. The other maps were really fun too, with 31 being a funny kind of "joke" bonus map.

     

    Overall, fun is guaranteed, anyone who hasn't tried this before should stop by and take a look. Pick skill 2 or 3, if you feel intimidated by the description file, this is fabulous Doom after all, nothing invented to be mad at (; . My rate is 9/10.

  23. The Rebirth

       505

    Done with these settings:

     

    - Crispy Doom 4.2

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with a pistol start mindset, and some actual pistol starts.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    A generally solid old-school style mapset. One that brought me those days where I got back to the game years ago and not so long ago too. The set is like your typical Doom II maps replacement, with a theme progression almost exactly like in the iwad. Includes many new textures to add something extra to the experience, a bit similar to the gothic/ancient theme part of Requiem, which was one of the earliest megawads I've played. In that regards, I enjoyed the aesthetics, more specifically from the later maps where it became notorious the author improved a lot on this side. I'd also noticed a decent usage of light variation as part of detailing, I always welcome darkness as a feature of the gameplay, and it never became unfair from my experience. Originally it comes with a few new tracks by the same author, so I strongly recommend to load this midi pack, it contains not only a great number of very cool midis but also the automap names. It isn't complete, reason why I added random tracks from other wads for myself, so that's also a recommendation (or else, PM me if you want the list). 

     

    It's kinda old-school in what it provides, but at the same time is very consistent. Nothing about abrupt changes in the monster count or general progression, if anything, it only gets better from a layout design view. And this having short-medium sized maps with simple progression should accommodate to any speedrunner, who specifically develop d2all runs. Its offerings are more well-suited to continuous players, because the thing placement can be, at times, baffling, or not very well balanced for casual blind pistol starts. I can tell since I tested a few maps with short ammunition available, without secrets the monsters became more bullet-spongy than usual, or I had to rely on the initial state of the fist against packs of pinkies/spectres, which didn't look fun at all. Therefore, if the player insists in playing each map separately, I'd suggest to look for secrets, at least to achieve kills in the least time possible... Returning to the combat topic, it's similar to the style of the iwad (Doom II), which means that you don't have to overthink what to do since monsters appear generally in front of the player in varied proportions. A few traps here and there, in relatively tight rooms, that can surprise the player from the back if they don't act quickly. I'd say the start is usually the most decisive part, where you need to decide what to kill and what should be left for later. If only this restriction was accompanied with a better distribution of weapons (e.g. not giving the plasma rifle when there's only one monster left), but that's my perception, of course this won't be a matter for players that opt to play with more leeway. However, even in several cases the monsters were begging to be ignored, such as barons in cages or spectres in pits you never need to explore. Talking about barons of hell, they have wings here, as a mere cosmetic change, I liked that more than their usage. Troopers are headless, but don't be fooled by the sound of their guns, they're still the same ol' silly guys. There's a also custom sprite replacement for the nazi, pretty funny to gib, honestly. 

     

    Secret-wise, while not mandatory, they are crucial to get 100% kills, as said above, or else to tank damage from hitscan attrition and tight encounters, because armor sometimes only exists in secrets. A few require wall-hump, which doesn't help. They all provide a decent amount of necessities though, if you happen to find them... Favourite maps, perhaps 20 and 27, stuff from the last episode, I can't really pick many maps that stood out for me in every single way, unfortunately, either good-looking or interesting gameplay, but rarely both in the same map. For example, the super secret map has an interesting concept not seen very often, but the layout design was dull to my eyes. I'll add that in map 29 it's possible to get stuck in the room with four doors, one of them refused to open from one side, no idea why. 

     

    Overall, while not a hidden gem, it's another option to consider if you are a fan of "classic" combat style and design. Just don't pick pistol starts on UV if you're not good at secret hunts. My rate is 6,5/10. 

  24. Counterattack

       3582

    Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4, complevel 9.

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with a pistol start mindset. Actual pistol start in map 31.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    An excellent creation. This is undeniably a great example of inventive grand-scale layout design, where the author brought us extensive geometry variation and clean architecture with only stock textures, something different from the traditional 90's scheme most known from older releases, not precisely a better or proper usage of them, instead innovating and also inspiring in my opinion. The detailing is a big plus, not only to keep the player out of any sort of interference with movement, but also to add an extra ingredient that makes encounters more tactical and engaging, such as when darkness controls the area, and not to forget those astonishing fitting skies, seriously that dark blue one in map 01 is beautiful to contemplate. Of course, fitting music too, more on the environmental side though. 

     

    What accompanies the impressive art these maps are is the style of progression, in every context possible. These are non-linear above all, which means that rooms and setpieces are generally interconnected via multiple accessible openings and/or pathways, where you can get your resources at many different points of the maps. Mandatory keys can be found in no particular order too. What I liked the most, in this specific context, is how getting lost was never a real problem, since the maps encourage the player to explore every sector for important things and somehow arrange their own route, something I personally enjoy a lot, and it was easy to get back on track. I'm sure this might call someone's attention: there are no cryptic switch hunts here. On another side, in the context of monster placement and combat, there's a mix of everything, whether you get incidental ambushes, small number of roamers, lock-in traps in darkness, heavily populated arenas in a slaughter(y) tone, crowd controlling, fun with barrels, all combined with the theme of the maps make for very interesting key and filler-ish encounters. Of course, you are busy at least 80% of the time, that depends on how you approach each map, but a very important touch is the freedom of choices, like instead of jumping off a ledge to explore a sewer that could sandwich me between spectres and archviles, I could take a nearby lift and find some other powerful resources and combat in the middle, to eventually approach the sewer from another entrance, without trivializing the fight that much. There are a few surprises in some of the maps, in the form of custom enemies, one is the turret, which shoots plasma cells in a faster rate than the arachnotron. Although I wasn't a fan of it at first, mainly because it was too hard for me to not get hit even with circlestrafe, its best usage came later, when it functioned as a proper turret. I won't spoil the biggest ones though, all I'll say is that those new creatures are no joke, seriously, take them with respect, specially the secret one, don't be fooled by its aspect. 

     

    Secret-wise, hidden arenas are always welcome, secret passages that give you an advantage over certain places (such as to give sneaky archviles a taste of their own medicine) are always welcome too, chains of secrets of course too. While most of them are pretty easy to find, some required an expert eye to spot the hint, that I lacked, or to understand a certain gimmick, like shooting switches that reveal for one second, which took me 230 bullets to finally trigger the secret ffs... But in general, multiple secrets in non-linear maps are always welcome. My favourite has to be 04, but to be honest all the maps were really fun.

     

    Overall, I obviously recommend this to anyone, it has a great replay value, that's a success. I hope one day Mechadon manages to complete Vela Pax and Supplice, those look tempting too. My rate is 9/10. 

  25. Hell Ground

       462

    Done with these settings:

     

    - GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9.

    - Ultra-Violence.

    - Continuous combined with a fist start mindset.

    - Saves every 10 minutes or so.

     

    One of the most atmospheric wads I've ever played. The level of artistic design is impressive, the connection between the many new textures, details and layouts is worth of looking. I can't simply describe what's the ambient theme about, it's a sort of dark, rocky planet, where apparently monsters came from different dimensions to construct hotels and read books... yeah well, that's my interpretation, and I don't have complaints about the overall designing, except for the blue dimension in map 04, that was bad for my eyes. I also didn't enjoy its track, somehow it gave me the wrong vibes, but the rest of the music tracks went well with the mood of the maps. 

     

    On a gameplay side, I could say it has its old-school/90's vibes. There's a strong feeling of adventure, given all the visual/audible effects that can be seen/heard throughout the mapset, modernized because of the time the set was made, but most clearly that mystery factor when the low count of enemies can still catch you by surprise at any time, while not being unfair, if I exclude a couple of instances with archviles. However, besides a few particular and memorable circumstances, the combat is generally low-key incidental, not as trap-based as Plutonia (despite the "Congo" rendition), but many sneaky bastards camouflaged in corners and fastpops. Said memorable cases include a battalion of barons in a switch-hunt trap, a deadly slaughter on a circular lift, a puzzle-ish big box where you release as much enemies as you want, and other situations not entirely focused on killing something. With that said, the pace of the maps vary a lot between each other, there are shorter maps where combat is the notorious side (hopefully you have fun punching the first shotgunners), and longer maps for prolonged linear exploration with intricate progression (basically, switch hunts), although I wasn't a fan of the only story-based map, simply because it felt inconclusive. About the extras that Hell Ground comes with, like meteorites, something I've never seen before in a non-ZDoom wad, very cool. Even though I didn't get a chance to test their effect on doomguy, I'm guessing they could smash him instantly. The living missiles could have been deployed in more hilarious situations, it was really funny to see an arachnotron mad at one, even more when the missile crashed and the spider kept shooting the wall lol. Similar with the dark imps, a tanky much faster version that shoots green fireballs, their usage is very limited, but I won't complain about that. A thing that didn't impress me was the ending in the last map, a bit anti-climatic and not very intuitive to solve, apart from a few monsters that had it hard to teleport in the area. 

     

    Secret-wise, there was a huge secret quest in the last map I have a lot of fun with, where one of my favourites includes a soulsphere, which when you grab it the lights cut out and suddenly you're being observed from above D: ... The larger maps come with tons of secrets along the way, not super tricky to find nor mandatory ones, thankfully. I'm curious about the purpose of the secret in map 06, perhaps useful if you start from that map and play continuously, but who does that for only two maps?. Anyway, favourite maps, 01, 03 and 05. I'd add map 07 if it wasn't because it ended poorly imo. 

     

    Overall, just great, anyone with a casual-adventurous mindset should definitely try this. I'm not saying I enjoyed everything here, but I'm grateful for the experience, so my rate is 8/10.  

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