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File Reviews posted by Agent6

  1. Lunatic


    And thus Lunatic was finished, rather quickly too, played through GlBoom+ on UV.


    So this would basically be the predecessor to Valiant considering that the theme and gameplay style would end up in skillsaw's later work Valiant. It features only 5 levels taking place exclusively on the moon both inside and outside of various bases. The wad features a new background menu, music, new enemies, namely variations of the Shotgun Guy and Chaingunner who use Plasma rifles and Rocket Launchers respectively, new textures, but no new status bar, weapon/enemy sounds, or ENDOOM screen.


    Compared to skillsaw's other 2 projects that I have played, namely Ancient Aliens and the previously mentioned Valiant, the biggest difference would probably be the difficulty. Lunatic is an easy-to-medium wad with low enemy counts, whereas the other 2 megawads are hard with high enemy counts that are targeted primarily at veterans or very skilled players, AA fitting especially well in this category. The maps are pretty short, compact, and straightforward with a few secrets that are generally easy to find, with the final level being a surprisingly short slaughter map with little over 300 enemies, which also features a MIDI rendition of Europe's "The Final Countdown" and is named after the track. Indeed, a very nice conclusion to the short expedition.


    Considering that there's so few levels and there's nothing really making any of them stand out of the crowd (don't misunderstand, I don't think this is a problem in this case) with the possible exception of MAP05 which changes the style to slaughter, there's not much else to add, so in short, although skillsaw would later proceed to create 2 masterpieces, Lunatic lays the foundation on which Valiant will rise. It anticipates an epic journey while settings the standards high, delivering 5 action packed, beautiful, atmospheric, short and straight-to-the-point levels that are real fun to play. It only took me one hour to finish it so time really shouldn't be an issue. As it was the case of CS2 it was so fun I kinda wish it was longer, but this makes it perfect for those times when you just want to play some Doom but investing considerable amounts of time isn't exactly possible as it can easily be beaten in one sitting. Would highly recommend this to anyone, one hour of quality.

  2. Combat Shock 2


    And there goes Combat Shock 2, played through GlBoom+ on HMP.


    CS2 is a slaughter wad which features a total of 7 maps, with the final level acting as a sort of bonus that's completely different from everything seen until that point. It features a new status bar, a few new textures, recolored enemies, intermission screens, but no new weapons, enemies, ENDOOM screen, or sounds.


    It doesn't deviate from the standard slaughter formula, meaning that the typical encounters with the enemies are difficult and their numbers are mostly large, the total number of enemies ranging between hundreds and a few thousands, with MAP05 featuring the most, a little over 3000 more exactly, at least on HMP. The early levels take plenty of inspiration from the first levels of Plutonia given their natural looking design with lots of green and overall tone and atmosphere, while the later maps get more hellish.


    The difficulty curve is typical as well, starting easy and things get gradually rougher as you progress, while the later maps, notably MAP05 and MAP06 being the most difficult with plenty of tricky sections (platforming with crushers in your way for instance) and occasionally tough traps which can kill you in mere moments. Those parts rely quite a bit of trial and error until the optimal solution is reached so that you're not left with either low health and especially ammo. In fact, ammo is a very valuable and easy to exhaust resource in those 2 levels, therefore relying on infighting is recommended whenever possible, I have made the mistake of consuming the resources when I should've been more careful, making everything much more painful than it should've been.


    All maps are challenging and really fun, my favorite being none other than MAP03. The atmosphere, the encounters, and the music just mix perfectly for me, the soundtrack of this level is one of the best I've heard in a megawad. 


    I have mentioned the "bonus" level. MAP07 acts as a bonus for triumphing the trials of CS2 according to the intermission screen. It is neither a slaughter level nor is it long or difficult, but it's something you'd see in a wad such as Valiant or Lunatic, and it comes with 100+ enemies. I have to say that despite not mixing with the other levels (which was not the purpose anyway) it's surprisingly fitting for a conclusion to the wad from my POV, after all the intense fights it's nice to have one final, fun, but easy level.


    Considering that the wad is short there's not much else to add, and there's nothing that stands out as particularly bad, which is why I don't recall terrible areas or anything. Although it's short, given the nature of the levels spending a few hours on it in total is probably something to be expected. I kinda wish it was longer, but this ultimately works in its favor given that its length makes it perfect for those moments when you want to play a specific kind of levels but aren't willing to invest as much time as a 32+ megawad would require.


    It's been quite a while since I had so much fun, thus CS2 ranks quite high on my list of best megawads that I have played. Totally recommended, it's well worth the time.

  3. And thus, oh you know what I'm going to say already, Doom 64 for Doom II has been finished, played through GlBoom+ on UV.


    So for an introduction, as the name implies D64D2 is a recreation of the classic Doom 64 originally released as a console exclusive for the N64. It aims to recreate the levels along with their gameplay using mostly vanilla Doom II resources. It features a new menu background, ENDOOM screen, new music, a few new enemies, namely the Nightmare Imp and Cacodemon as well as the final boss the Mother Demon, a few new textures, new intermission messages, a new end level screen, but no custom sounds or weapons, meaning that the unique and iconic Unmaker was not recreated in any way.


    For a recreation, I must say that the levels and their gameplay come quite close to the original Doom 64, nonetheless various liberties have been taken in different forms, ranging from new takes on various puzzles to completely new levels, as well as the usage of the enemies who were absent from the original due to memory limitations. The usage of enemies who were absent from the original game comes with mixed results as it doesn't always work, probably one of the most obvious flaws in the game. This is most noticeable primarily in the levels that came closest to their D64 counterpart as the environment was clearly not designed with them in mind. For instance, you'll encounter Revenants on narrow corridors quite often, and sometimes even Arch-Viles. This isn't a problem in larger areas where it's usually quite fun to fight them, but not in those particular areas. Chaingunners do seem to work quite well however since they can easily blend with the rest of the hitscanners.


    Compared to the original D64, a major difference is the tone and atmosphere of the game. D64 was slower paced and more atmospheric, whereas D64D2 is faster paced and puts less emphasis of that element, supported by the amazing but more action/fun oriented soundtrack. Perhaps the darker, much more hellish levels such as Unholy Temple are the most atmospheric levels in the entire game, and also the best looking. Unholy Temple is definitely my favorite level in D64D2.


    While on the subject of changes, some of them are very interesting. In the Void is probably the most surprising for me. The original map featured a light blue sky and a rather foggy atmosphere while the level itself was pretty bright, how does this map look like in D64D2? Well, it seems to literally take place in a void now. Indeed, the sky is now pitch black but luckily poor visibility in the level itself was avoided, at least for the most part, so there's no difficulty in seeing the enemies and where they are. It's a change that works quite well, unlike others. The most drastic changes were probably done to The Absolution where you can now locate 3 skulls, but in order to reach them you need to complete their own puzzles first, and they're not the exciting or fun type. The room with the yellow skull was probably the only one that was fun, the others? Well, for the red skull you have to go through an awkward platforming section where everything, including the enemies are... cloaked in darkness, while the room with the blue skull features a puzzle similar to the one seen in the room with the red key (Demon Key on the original D64) on Outpost Omega, except that it's longer, more complex, and more tedious. Not exactly changes done for the better. I don't know how exactly they impact the level though, but in my playthrough I didn't even fight the Mother Demon after aquiring all skulls, I just heard her screaming once while I was fighting the teleporting enemies thinking that she finally showed up to the battle, only for the end level screen to appear immediately afterwards, so I assume she died somehow.


    D64D2 also comes with some exclusive levels that were not part of the original D64, and I personally think they're little more than filler maps. They're not awful but nowhere near great either, and I'm unable to find any valid reason for their existence. This is primarily due to their nature. Their gameplay style and tone is very different from all the other levels and in consequence, they feel out of place, not mixing well with the rest of the maps. Still, at least they're very short and straightforward so you don't waste much time with them. And while on the subject, some of the secret levels from the original have been turned into regular maps, meaning that you don't have to search for secret exits to access them anymore. One such example is the previously mentioned Outpost Omega.


    All things considered, D64D2 manages to capture the spirit of D64 while also making plenty of changes, yet generally remaining faithful to the original. Some changes might have been done for the worse, but there's plenty done for the better as well. It's pretty short and easy, just like the original, so it can be finished in a day, you can't go wrong with it. A collective effort for an ambitious project that should be well worth your time if you like Doom 64 and want to see a different take on it.

  4. And just like that... Slaughterfest 2 has also been finished, still played through PrBoom+ and for the final 2 levels, on HMP.


    So what is there to say? Well, just like the previous installment in the series (and as the name obviously implies) Slaughterfest 2(012) is a 32+ level megawad that consists of slaughter levels made by various authors with their unique take on the genre and style, which means the levels have large enemy counts and they usually assault the player in waves. Still, far from mindless gameplay as avoiding damage is a challenge in itself, and on many occasions the enemies are also placed so that you have to be careful at all times and never stop moving.


    The wad comes with a new background, status bar, textures, but no new sounds, weapons, ENDOOM screen, or enemies. Most of the levels features at least a few hundred enemies, while others a few thousand, while MAP27 is an exception and features over 10.000 enemies.


    Since it's pretty much inevitable to not bring SF3 up, compared to it I must to say that the biggest flaw that megawad had, namely the consistency issue, is mostly absent save for 2 or 3 maps here. Honestly, it's expected to see such issues considering that each author has his own style, however in the case of SF3 this issue was far too great. Plenty of levels had very obvious variations in terms of quality and problems, some were amazing and fun whereas others barely had decent gameplay and were of impossible ugliness, most certainly worse than you'd see in a dated '90s slaughter level, while others had incredibly obtuse progression (MAP29 you know I'm looking at you). That's not the case here, it's almost like the authors set a standard for quality which had to be met in order to be accepted, therefore pretty much all are good, with a rather unsurprising exception of TimeOfDeath levels. SF3 had the unbelievably cryptic progression of MAP29, and some areas were radically different from the others as if the author made multiple maps and just connected them, on top of having to fall through some lava pits where the yellow and red key were. I could not understand his style in SF3 and I can't do it here either. For instance, while MAP19 has a pretty linear/straightforward progression, the texturing makes no sense whatsoever. It's almost like he randomly picked textures for various objects in the world, put them together, and see how it would turn out. Unfortunately, some cryptic puzzles are also present in MAP29, at some point you have to shoot a switch inside an alcove in order to gain access to a new area, and the said switch is not visible at all, you basically have to shoot a wall. Whether the following is an issue with the map itself or the latest (and test) version of PrBoom+ I do not know, but this map also has quite a few HOM effects in various areas, one in the area with the red skull, and a broken part of the sky outside where the yellow door is located. Moreover, for some reason this map is quite different on UV than on HMP, one of the key difference being that it has 2000 enemies, not 300. All in all, with the exception of these few odd levels there's no other issues that need to be pointed out.


    MAP27 could also be considered one of the more surprising levels, but in a good sense, as well as MAP25, however, for different reasons. MAP25 has some great areas at the beginning, but towards the end it becomes questionable. Some rooms are quite unforgiving, while others are very cramped at the beginning where you basically need to survive on small corridors until all the walls have lowered. MAP27 on the other hand is one of the most fun levels, which is also the exception to the overall quite consistent enemy count, as it's the only map to feature exponentially more enemies, reaching over 10.000 enemies. A rather small arena, a bit grindy especially during the Revenant and Mancubus waves that give the impression of coming a standstill, but it's without a doubt exciting, definitely one of my favorite levels in the megawad. Speaking of which, the other one has to be MAP21. "Walk with Me in Hell"? No... YOU walk with me!


    "As they walk with me like a medium
    When I choose and require a burn-out,
    Resting in expanded malicious force,
    Drained for murderous weapons.


    Knowing where you stand
    In the magnitude of this thought,
    Looking at the spirit of fire and flames
    Enduring on the throne of the black heart


    It's dark, appears to be similar to a temple, simple, and fun, no need for extra details or complexity, it's amazing and perfect the way it is for me since I'm a sucker for these things, after all I'm mad about the look and atmosphere of the majority of levels in Doom 64. Diabolic ecstasy.


    After all is said and done, MAP30 presents an end to the massacre with a Romero head (indeed, no Icon of Sin wall to be found here), although some levels already presented similar exits such as the ones made by TimeOfDeath. Regardless of this, it's fitting.


    So, all things considered, SF2 is a great megawad. Would totally recommend this to fans of the genre and especially to newcomers to feast on the wicked and get drunk with their blood. Without a doubt, superior to SF3.

  5. And thus, Team Rocket is finished, played through GlBoom+ on UV.


    So starting with the beginning, Team Rocket is a 32+ level megawad created by various mappers in less than a day (20 hours more exactly, if I'm not mistaken), including a few guests. It features new textures, a few new sounds, a menu background, music, status bar, but no new enemies, ENDOOM screen, or weapons.


    It is designed only with pistol starting in mind as every level features suicide exits. This was, no doubt, done for the purpose of balancing it much easier for something very specific as opposed to both pistol starting and continuous, which is a good thing considering that it was created in less than a day, it was impossible to be perfect for both, so they authors took the easy route. Even so, for pistol starting it's pretty well balanced and the effort, attention to detail, and polish that was put into it is very obvious. The amount of polish is probably the most impressive part of the megawad, I was unable to notice any problems with the levels or the enemies, so it's not quite possible to tell whether it was done in a very short time span or not thanks to this.


    Although the levels look good, it's not the only focus of the megawad, the other aspect being the gameplay. It's skill based and finishing many levels is not exactly easy as some of them do require some trial and error or a few attempts to succeed, primarily the maps designed by AD_79 which are easily the most difficult in the entire package. Memorization of the enemy placement and the layout does pay off especially in his levels, so don't expect them to be just a walk in the park.


    Despite being created by multiple authors it's pretty consistent although at the same time it's also very easy to differentiate the levels made by a certain person since they all provide an unique experience and different gameplay styles and thus don't give the impression that anyone tries to copy the style of someone else. The levels are short and straight to the point with low enemy counts, only very few of them have over 100 or 200 and a single map is slaughter. Good as it is however, I can't say I really have any favorite maps, they are all good but at the same time nothing really caught my attention in a particular way to make me say "damn, there's something different about this map, it really shines and stays out of the crowd". Likewise, there are no bad or seriously flawed levels, though a few were a bit underwhelming, particularly MAP08. A fun level, but nothing particularly impressive.


    Balancing is good most of the time, however there are a few maps which don't seem to provide enough ammo to kill all enemies, so maxing them out could prove a challenge in itself, and I'm not entirely sure doable.


    At the end of the journey we're presented with an Icon of Sin on MAP30. It is a bit different from the standard IoS map as finishing the level requires the player to destroy some devices which will then cause the IoS to die. It's an interesting take that works. My only problem with this level is the transparent bridges which can make the navigation a bit frustrating, yet at the same time, the map would not be the same or quite work without them.


    All this being said, it's short and sweet, meaning that it can easily be finished in a few hours or a day, if you're slower, but it's worth the time.

  6. Here comes my first "real" slaughterwad, woo. Played through PrBoom+ on HMP. Indeed, I have played them backwards, starting with the latest (at this time) and making my way back to the first in time.


    So, where to start? With the beginning of course. First things first, SF3 is the third megawad in a series of slaughterwads, as the name explicitly states. It features a new menu background, textures, music (mostly), status bar, a new infinite BFG which comes with some pretty bad sounds and a very cheap looking texture, like a simple red overlay was applied to the standard sprite, but no new enemies, ENDOOM screen, or other sounds.


    Similar to the previous entries in the series, the megawad features the works of multiple authors, all centered around slaughter combat but each with their own unique style and theme. Some maps feature more "advanced" (to say so) design with some engaging puzzles or sections, while others are relatively more straightforward, focusing more on the combat and not so much on the other aspects.


    The fact that it features the works of multiple authors, each with very different styles, is unfortunately also the biggest flaw of the megawad. In other words, the quality is inconsistent, especially later on, the first half doesn't suffer from this as much as the other one does. Particularly, the maps designed by cannonball seem to be of noticeably lower quality than those of the other authors. Luckily, they are still mostly fun, so they kind of get away with the gameplay (which, sadly, still pales in comparison to other mappers), but not with the aesthetics. If I am not mistaken some of the levels made by him also include remakes of a few maps from Hell Revealed. They are pretty faithful to the style and gameplay of the originals, but also feature some dubious changes, most notably in the encounters with some incredibly unforgiving monster placement near the end of certain levels.


    Other problematic maps seem to be those created by TimeOfDeath. Not usually lacking in the department of aesthetics in general, except for a few areas in MAP29 that feel very out of place compared to the rest of the levels, their biggest problem is without a single doubt the navigation and the cryptic puzzles (or obtuse progression actually). The worst offender is going to be the previously mentioned MAP29. It starts well, but the problems make themselves known almost immediately. For instance, the way to the red skull is completely cryptic. Frankly I think most players will spend an hour if not more trying to figure out how could they possibly reach it. Then comes the exit, which might be easy to reach, and sadly so is missing the switch that makes it accessible. My advice to people who are not familiar with this map (or potentially style, if MAP29 is very representative of his style. I myself am not familiar with it), just ask for help, read a guide, or watch a video, just don't proceed to the map blindly like I did, it took me an entire day to figure it out, and that's thanks to the help of some people and a video, otherwise I would've just skipped it altogether eventually, it's so frustrating I would've eventually given up if it wasn't for the help. Don't do yourself a disservice by testing your patience and nerves to the maximum with this map.


    On the technical side of things, at the time of writing this review with the latest version available for download, MAP16 has a broken exit, the switch that activates the exit cannot be reached, so if you end up playing the bugged version, after you're done with the last area just skip to the next level using -warp or something. I'm also unsure whether the Cyberdemons seen in the starting area of the map can be killed or not, but they do seem to count towards your total amount of enemies killed (without them, the best you could do is 360/362). There shouldn't be any more major or game breaking glitches in the megawad beside this one.


    On the positive side of things, my favorite levels are going to be those designed by Demonologist. They're fun, beautiful, mysterious, and incredibly atmospheric. They're also using Quake textures, having the best of both worlds.


    All in all, it is a good megawad but it does have its major flaws. Frankly, I would actually recommend this to someone new to slaughter, but not before experiencing Alien Vendetta, Hell Revealed, and at least MAP24 and MAP26 of Scythe in order to get a taste of what slaughter is like. Maybe a few of the later levels of Ancient Aliens too, such as MAP18. My final rating is going to be a 3.5/5, but I decided to be generous this time and give it 4 stars rather than the probably more fitting and accurate 3. It's worth your time, but do keep in mind a few things I've mentioned above before starting.

  7. EPIC 2


    There goes Epic 2, a fun and sometimes mysterious megawad, still played through GlBoom+ .


    So let's start this. Epic 2 is a megawad focused primarily on the gameplay while also putting care into the aesthetics. The gameplay is similar to that of Plutonia, while near the end it shows some slaughter tendencies, when enemies will often assault the player in waves, but most of the time they're largely relying on their placement to be fully effective. The megawad features a new menu background, HUD, sounds, soundtrack, enemy sprites, textures, weapon sprites, and a new enemy, a trooper equipped with a shotgun that lacks the pump action and is invisible before being alerted. They bear a striking resemblance to the ones seen in Ancient Aliens, with their key differences.


    Indeed, it seems that various sounds used here would also end up in AA and Valiant, the most notable being the weapon sounds. Having played both before Epic 2, it would seem it was a major source of inspiration for the projects.


    The gameplay is solid most of the time, however some enemies are used excessively near the end, the worst offenders being the Chaingunners and Arch-Viles. Almost every wave of enemies ends up using them, and at various points there's large waves made exclusively of Chaingunners. This happens only in the last few maps however that are noticeably more difficult.


    The levels are beautiful and very immersive, making you really feel like you're exploring various iconic Egyptian locations, and are easy to navigate for the most part. Problems arise only near the very end of the wad, on MAP28 specifically. The level itself is quite large, but it's major issue is that in order to reach the red skull you must first locate a number of switches that have likely been located already. This makes backtracking excessive and navigation difficult due to the complexity and size of the map, it's very easy to get lost or become confused while looking for the switches again. MAP28, along MAP29 are the most difficult levels in the wad, but MAP28 would've been a much better candidate for a MAP30 instead. With a few changes it would've been a very fitting conclusion to the journey.


    Talking about MAP29, this one has its own (minor) flaws as well. It's easily the most difficult level in the entire megawad and with the biggest enemy count (over 500), but it could've used a few tweaks in places in terms of balancing. Specifically, the room with the blue skull is the most difficult area in the whole level, because waves of Revenants, a few hitscanners, Arch-Viles, and 3 Cyberdemons will surround you after it's triggered and there will barely be any space left for walking. Best to clear an area and blow everyone else out from there. All the other rooms come with Invulnerability spheres, but surprisingly this one doesn't, making it look a bit unfair in comparison.


    MAP30 here is an Icon of Sin level, one that's quite underwhelming, that is. It features only 100 enemies (almost all of them are killed after activating a few switches however), it's large yet short (some great areas are explored, although they're few), but blowing out the brains of the Pharaoh can be both a tedious and a very stupid task. The platform you must use moves slow when you deliver your first blow, and very fast afterwards. Was that really necessary? I doubt it, it could've been much better, but the experience this level delivers is mediocre in terms of gameplay. As I have previously mentioned, MAP28 and MAP29 could've easily been the perfect candidates for boss levels, with some changes, but not this.


    Beside MAP30 there's no level I dislike or hate. Sure, MAP28 was a bit frustrating, but it's still a great map. And my sense of direction is awful in the first place anyway. As for my favorite maps, that's going to be MAP29 as well as MAP21. "Shore Dream"? Quite so. Unbelievable, breathtaking sights.


    To sum up, despite the lackluster ending, Epic 2 is most definitely worthy of your time and the title of classic. It has its flaws, but then what doesn't (and most flaws are relatively minor), the result is what matters at the end of the day, and it's fantastic. Ever wanted to play AA but had serious trouble with it due to the great difficulty? Then this might be perfect for you. Nonetheless, Epic 2 is a wad everyone should play at least once.

  8. And there goes another wad in quite a while, played through GlBoom+ on UV.


    So let's see what do we have here. Unholy Realms is a 32-level megawad consisting of levels designed primarily for gameplay, and not so much on other aspects such as look and atmosphere. It features an amazing, uplifting new soundtrack fit for epic battles, a new background, font, and HUD, but no ENDOOM screen, enemies, sounds, textures, or weapons. It is a medium difficulty wad with a few difficult levels near the end, but that's to be expected, so it should be accessible to most players.


    The first half or so of the wad features compact or cramped levels with a low enemy count. The best strategy in these levels is to constantly move, there's no time to rest, however these maps are nowhere near unfair or blowing the mandatory damage through the roof, it is simply their design, expecting you to be a fast mover. As you progress, the levels become more open and the enemy count, along the difficulty, increases in steps. The enemy count doesn't go higher than close to 500 in a single levels, so there's no need to worry about potential large waves of enemies, but don't let your guard down, simply not having to deal with great numbers of enemies doesn't mean they're no threat, the later levels will definitely test your reflexes and skills with their enemy placement and some platforming.


    For the most part, the levels are well designed and are fun to play, but there are some problems here and there. A few levels feature poor lightning which will make seeing the enemies difficult at times. Moreover, some include rooms which go completely dark as you progress and enemies will ambush you, making you guess your way out of them. Luckily, these rooms do not feature unfair enemy encounters or traps, so getting out shouldn't pose much problem, just keep in mind that at times, the wad wants you dead real quick.


    After all is said and done, the journey culminates with a questionable Icon of Sin MAP30, which also features a little over 200 enemies. I find it questionable because some design choices don't make much sense to me, or rather, the fact that you also have to pick up 3 skulls doesn't, not to mention that there are 2 blue and red skulls. What do the extra 2 located inside a room opened with the orange skull do, I have no clue, I could not find a way to pick them up in my playthrough. On top of this, the layout can also be confusing, after picking up the keys you might spend quite some time figuring out how to reach the platform that teleports you on a descending pillar to blow the brains of the IoS out, so be prepared for potentially running in circles. It's not terrible, but it's not great either, it simply lacks, it had potential to be something much grander but this potential wasn't reached. Given the size of the map it could've easily been a slaughter level instead of... whatever it ended up being, sort of an amalgam of multiple ideas which might've sounded cool on paper, but not in practice. And while being on the subject of issues, a very small number of maps suffer from a really bad HOM effect in certain areas. Whether it's a port related issue, I do not know.


    There isn't much else to add this time around. The levels are good, but nothing really stands out of the crowd for me, so I have no favorite maps, but don't hate any of them either. It's worth the time, and it's also a good example of how cramped combat should be done, even if there isn't anything particularly brilliant (Hell Revealed 2 I'm looking at you).

  9. Stardate 20x7


    And after a couple of agonizing hours, lots of deaths, and anger the sequel to Stardate 20x6 is finished at last, also done on HMP just like its predecessor.


    Starting with an introduction to the wad just like I did with all the others, Stardate 20x7 is a challenging wad with the color purple at the center which sets the overall tone, mood and atmosphere. It features a new menu background, a few new sounds for some weapons, some new enemies, new textures, and a new soundtrack.


    The majority of the levels in the wad are very challenging, which is also its main problem. The kinds of challenges you face when playing the wad are neither fun nor enjoyable most of the time. The first levels, or rather half of them, have cruel enemy placements and traps that force you to take damage at best, or die all the other times. Worse yet, there's a lot of resource starvation in these levels which offer you only the minimum for survival. You rarely, if at all find yourself with a higher percentage of health/armor and ammo when proceeding to the next levels, and infighting doesn't help much most of the time either. You will also resort to the Berserk and nothing more on quite a few occasions thanks to this, often against tough enemies. Thus, the gameplay in the sequel is radically different from that of 20x6 which provided both fun and challenging gameplay, whereas the sequel lacks the fun element most of the time and wants to keep you on the edge of your patience. In fact, it can be said the only thing the two have in common is the theme, and nothing else.


    The new enemy introduced is a purple, flying Baron who attacks the player with fire and lots of homing rockets. He is only seen once during normal play near the exit of a level, his attacks being very difficult to dodge, and seems to have around the same health the standard Baron has. He could've been used in more (and varied) instances than just one, but I imagine an efficient and interesting usage of the enemy would be no easy task considering how deadly he is, and tough. He could easily be a mini boss if used wisely.


    The difficulty curve is basically nonexistent, or if there actually is one, works backwards. The wad starts very difficult and only after finishing the first 4 levels it becomes more tolerable when the style changes a bit and the resource starvation ends, along with the merciless encounters. Finally, some fun can be experienced. Similar to its predecessor the final levels are more slaughter oriented with the final map being slaughter with almost 1800 enemies. Another problem is that the first few levels are also difficult to navigate. They feature some interesting puzzles and some platforming sections but it's extremely easy to get lost in the levels and spend quite some time figuring out what you're supposed to do or get back on track without circling the areas you've already been through plenty of times. While most of the levels are architecturally beautiful, there isn't anything that really stands out or catches your attention like the predecessor did with some amazing sights from outer space when you found yourself outside, although some traps will surprise you with their creativity, such as a room in MAP02 (if I'm not confusing the level) where you need to run quickly or carefully in order to reach a switch that gives access to the rest of the room without alerting every Hell Knight around you and die immediately as a result. After that you'll find yourself in a world of hurt considering that there's not much space to walk until you clean up the mess a little, and lots of Arch-Viles are placed at the exit and staying out of their line of sight is difficult. There's also a Cyberdemon with you at the party to make your life more difficult.


    There isn't much else to add this time, so to sum things up if you're familiar with HR2 the first levels are kinda similar in terms of difficulty and gameplay style, from my POV anyway, minus the mediocre, boxy design while adding resource starvation. I would honestly not recommend 20x7 to anyone. It's without a doubt targeted at veterans or very skilled players in general, but frankly, I genuinely doubt even they would have much fun playing this, or not the first few levels anyway. Even HMP which is the recommended difficulty due to the balancing is ludicrous. I've seen some videos of the first few levels on UV and I... don't even know what to say, I'm almost speechless. I can't understand how would anyone have any fun playing them, especially on UV. I would totally recommend the levels from MAP05 onward and pretend the previous maps don't exist instead. If you expect the sequel to use the same formula seen in 20x6 but improved, while also bringing something new to the table you're going to be very disappointed, it's not what you're signing up for, so unless you want to experience the duology and not just stop after completing 20x6 I can't find any good reason for why you should play this. My thoughts on 20x7 are negative, it barely gets 3/5 stars from me purely for being interesting, good looking, and features some good or ingenious traps, encounters, puzzles, and solid second half.

  10. Stardate 20X6


    And thus, Stardate 20x6 is finished.


    Stardate 20x6 is a 8-level wad consisting of challenging levels with enemy placements and encounters in the vein of slaughter, with an actual slaughter level featuring 1000 enemies at the end.


    The wad is centered around the color purple. This means that a number of textures and effects have been replaced and purple plays a major role in creating the mood and atmosphere of the levels, but isn't overused so that it becomes an annoyance. Besides a new set of textures it also features a new soundtrack similar to the one heard in Sunlust, but with a slightly more emphasis on the atmosphere rather than epicness while still very much keeping you and the action going (Sunlust did include a few "battle" songs which were used in a few levels, and in another megawad as well, I think), a new menu background, and intermission screen. It does not feature new enemies, weapons, or sounds.


    Considering these levels have been created by Ribbiks, there are many similarities in terms of gameplay and design with Sunlust. One of the easiest similarities that is immediately noticed is the enemies who are in plain sight in a couple of levels are in a sleeping/unalerted state with their backs to the player. As I assumed in the case of Sunlust, it was likely done in order to allow the player to observe his environment and create a strategy of sorts before jumping into the action. The difficulty is also designed the same way, with UV being reserved for veterans and highly skilled players, while everything else is for less than stellar players. I have completed Stardate on HMP.


    The maps are solid, combining challenging gameplay with good architecture and atmosphere, and also include a few ingenious traps which are less cruel than what could be seen in MAP29 of Sunlust (or should I say the Arch-Vile room instead?). The action takes place mostly on various space bases and every now and then a breathtaking sight might catch your attention when you find yourself outside. My favorite level is going to be MAP03, and the trap with a Cyberdemon on one end and Revenants on the opposite was damn fun. It might look threatening at first, but really, all that needs to be done is avoiding potential damage caused by their infighting and taking care of the incoming waves of Imps and Hell Knights until they're done slaughtering each other. As about design flaws, there are some dark rooms in certain levels where it's pretty difficult to navigate. The enemies are always visible so the problem is not that you don't know where you're taking damage from, but rather the room itself because it's so dark it's difficult to see what's in front of you sometimes. I did manage to hurt myself with the RL as well as get killed by a Cyberdemon because I accidentally ran into a wall. I would not advise using that weapon in these rooms. Use the Chaingun, SSG, or Plasma Gun instead, and always be aware of your environment. It's always good to rely on the environment as much as possible to make things more interesting and challenging, after all, many of the later levels also include some really tricky platforming sections, but the use of lighting could be more efficient. For this reason I would definitely not advise using the Software of your port of choice either.


    The final level, as previously mentioned, is once again a slaughter map with a couple of nasty but highly creative enemy placements. Ever seen pyramid-like structures with Chaingunners on them? Me neither, until now. No Icon of Sin boss, and once everyone's dead you have to destroy a reactor (or, I think it's a reactor anyway) which ends the journey. A great level, but the existence of the said reactor is a bit questionable considering the location. I think it was just fine without it.


    And I think that covers everything. It's short and sweet, go check it out, it's worth your time.

  11. Sunlust


    And there goes Sunlust, and what a ride it was.


    So first things first, Sunlust is a 32-level megawad consisting of challenging levels. It does not feature new enemies, but comes with a new background screen, an atmospheric, sometimes epic soundtrack, and new textures for most if not all levels making them look absolutely beautiful which adds to the overall experience. it also comes with new (non serious) intermission screens but they're just there without adding anything.


    The gameplay is similar to that of other megawads such as AV or HR in general, with a number of maps having only little over a hundred or a few hundred enemies and the maps rely on smart placement to offer a challenge, which applies even to some of the slaughter inspired levels, although they mostly rely on the sheer numbers of enemies in various kinds of encounters. Many levels also feature suicide exits but unlike megawads such as Ancient Aliens, Valiant, Scythe and so on which have them every 8 maps or so which usually signalize an upcoming increase in difficulty and sometimes split the megawad in episodes a la Doom 1, they're placed randomly here as a surprise element. You might run into a suicide exit and the upcoming level might feature hundreds of enemies, while others might feature little over a hundred, you never know. And yet the difficulty doesn't change, it's almost like the authors put them there just so that you have to pistol start a map every now and then but not to scare you with a spike in difficulty. It's an interesting experience nonetheless.


    Many of the later levels have the enemies in plain sight but in a sleeping state, with their backs facing you. This was probably done to offer the players who haven't played the megawad before (those who do a blind playthrough like I did) time to observe the surroundings and come up with a plan of sorts before jumping into the action or getting assaulted by enemies, which is something welcome for me. I've always had the impression that megawads such as Valiant and AA don't really want you to jump into the action without any knowledge of the levels, and in consequence involve quite a bit of trial and error before figuring out an optimal route. This might be a plus for some players, but not for those who just want to enjoy a new megawad from the very first playthrough, and in the case of Sunlust, I'd say it doesn't fall under the trial and error category, so if it's your first time playing it and are at least a decent player you're fine, no serious reason to worry about dying due to not knowing what lies ahead, and traps are easily recognizable most of the time as well.


    On the subject of difficulty, what I have accidentally discovered while watching a video of MAP30 is that the levels themselves seem to be different on other settings than UV. Considering that UV is targeted at the most skilled players from the description I had chosen to play Sunlust on HMP this time around (I might be insane but not to that degree), and one thing I've noticed is that MAP30 was different on UV. The yellow key is somewhere else, there's more teleporters in a place, and some secret areas seem to work differently, particularly the Cyberdemon room. It would seem that the deadly platform in the middle didn't instantly kill them once activated for some reason. Or maybe I ran into a bug? I don't know, but what's certain is that it did not work for me. Something else that I have noticed is that a number of maps also feature optional areas. I realized this after I finished these maps with only 50-60% kills, so if your target is maxing out everything keep in mind that you'll have to take a detour. The levels are also fair, with the exception of an Arch-Vile room in MAP29. "Go Fuck Yourself" they said. Indeed, good luck avoiding waves of Imps and a few Hell Knights while hiding behind a moving wall with a bunch of Arch-Viles behind it in a small, circular room. Ingenious, I must admit this.


    As about my favorite maps, well, that's a difficult question considering that the vast majority of levels are gorgeous and provide solid gameplay, but the ones I liked the most are MAP09, MAP10, MAP16, MAP18, MAP19, MAP27, and MAP28. The levels in general explore a variety of themes and locations: Some are "natural", while others are mysterious with a magic atmosphere, cavernous, hellish, surreal, futuristic, and so on. The first few levels also remind me of Requiem. As for the ones I disliked, that's going to be MAP30. The starting area looked pretty interesting, but everything else was just "alright", with a few ugly rooms before the location of the yellow key. This level doesn't feature a typical Icon of Sin boss, it's a slaughter level with almost 2000 enemies. Most certainly not bad, but not fantastic either, yet a fitting conclusion to the journey.


    And with this I think I've covered pretty much everything. Another solid megawad, well worth the time.

  12. Valiant


    Alright, here goes another skillsaw megawad, the first (or previous, if you will) one I played being Ancient Aliens.


    So, what is there to say? Well, starting with the beginning, Valiant is a megawad that consists of 32 new and challenging levels. The levels carry the player through various locations, starting with space bases in sometimes tropical settings similar to those seen in AA on many occasions, then medieval settings and of course, some hellish dimensions.


    Gameplay wise, one of the main differences between the two is the difficulty curve. Both megawads are designed in such a way they pose a challenge to the player thanks to intelligent design and enemy placement in strategic positions so that the player is required to think before jumping straight into the battle as well as observe and pay attention to his environment since there's plenty of traps involved, and reaching certain areas every now and then requires the player to be at least decent at platforming. Still, in comparison, one of the key differences is that AA was often very unforgiving. Some enemy encounters and traps were designed in such a way they forced you to take damage to some extent or even die, while Valiant is less cruel with them but not going as far as making them useless, striking a balance, giving you plenty of chances while still very much remaining a threat. AA was also rather challenging from the very beginning, starting hard and only becoming harder further down the road, but I can say Valiant definitely starts easier and the difficulty increases in steps, therefore it can be fully enjoyed by both less skilled players and the more experienced ones. The early levels still offer a challenge, but the megawad keeps its surprises for much later and allows the player to get used to it first.


    The levels themselves are almost exclusively inspired by Plutonia's gameplay style this time around. AA had plenty of slaughter-esque maps in its second half, whereas Valiant has almost none. Some of the maps do have close to a thousand enemies, but are designed in such a way they're still difficult without relying solely on the sheer numbers of enemies, which is something AA did try to do on a few occasions. Some of them also require a specific gameplay in order to complete. For instance, MAP07 requires the player to avoid attacking the Mancubi and, if necessary, prevent them from dying (infighting can be accidentally triggered, so keep this in mind). You don't "fail" the level if they do, but not survive it anyway. If the Mancubi die loads of Arch-Viles will be unleashed, giving you a very quick and unavoidable death.


    Just like in AA, forced pistol starting thanks to suicide exits still is a major element that plays a crucial role in the gameplay. Moreover, virtually all levels are designed around the philosophy of pistol starting, although only a select few feature suicide exits in order to force you into it in the next map. Playing Valiant or AA in a saves + continuous style will therefore not bring many benefits.


    Things get most intense around MAP19. After a suicide exit the player ends up in a different location from the space bases he's been through until that point, and the location is none other than Hell. Or, could be described as such anyway, they feature its typical style and the difficulty the name itself implies, but lack the surreal elements, blood falls, altars, sacrifices, and use new textures such as orange magma rocks and are pretty bright for the most part. Some of them seem to take place in void like dimensions where the sky is pitch black. These levels are also the most difficult and closest to slaughter-esque stuff in the entire megawad, featuring the highest enemy count, with the sole exception of some of the very last maps. Killing everything in the aforementioned MAP19 may, or may not be possible. In my playthrough I simply ran away, my top priority was survival here. They end after MAP24, MAP25 returning the player to space bases set in a different location, no more forests around. They're still fun and challenging, but a decrease in difficulty can be easily noticed.


    As for new things introduced in Valiant, beside some new high quality map assets it also features a new atmospheric soundtrack with a few epic touches, a new status bar, a new menu background, a different font, new weapons, or rather improved versions of the old, these being: A black, furiously fast Chaingun with the same ammo capacity like the BFG/Plasma Gun, and a black, futuristic pistol which seems to have a greater rate of fire, accuracy and damage output than the vanilla counterpart. They also feature new sounds, the ones used for the Plasma Gun are also present in AA. The megawad also features new enemies, these being a magma Hell Knight who unleashes devastating fire storms, a deadlier Mancubus who fires more rockets and has more health, a mechanical Pinky who is faster, a black Imp who moves and attacks faster, a Cyberdemon inspired Baron of Hell who fires rockets, suicide bombers, and the Arachnotrons now have a chance to leave their mechanical bodies once destroyed and fly. Other enemies such as the Lost Souls only have their appearance altered. The new enemies are used very efficiently in the game, neither underused nor overused, overusing them would be disastrous considering they are simply deadly and tricky to deal with. For instance, the attacks of the magma Hell Knights are very fast and damaging, thus requiring the player to have quick reflexes, while the cybernetic Barons can be deceiving. One would easily be inclined to think the Rocket Launcher is very efficient for dispatching them, well, I'm going to tell you otherwise: Use that weapon only if the circumstances demand it because they're pretty tough and likely aren't affected by splash damage. Use the SSG instead, they require the same amount of shots to kill the Hell Knight does, which is only 3 at close to point blank range.


    MAP30 introduces an entirely new boss, a giant, red Arch-Vile who is even more dangerous than the regular version primarily because it takes no breaks between attacks, so if you manage to get struck and the blast doesn't move you behind some cover, you're dead, there's no way around it.


    My favorite maps are among the first this time around, particularly MAP06 which is a small city. I don't find any other level surpassing the quality of this map. Despite this, a few other levels I enjoyed almost as much as MAP06 are MAP25, MAP26, and MAP27 mainly for their atmosphere, but they also play very well, MAP25 being really fun with all the explosive barrels lying around, and all share some slaughter influences here and there. However, some levels have flaws, particularly MAP14, one of the maps with medieval tones. "14 Angrier Arch-Viles" they say, well, this level absolutely wants to hurt you, which is why it has enough resources for just that, but unfortunately offers very little and feels more like a filler map.


    I think this covers everything, with the final question being: Is it better than AA? And my answer is simple: No, it isn't. It's a fantastic megawad which brings plenty of new ideas to the table, maybe more than AA did (after all there's no level with gameplay similar to MAP07 in AA for example), there's no doubt about this, but at the end of the day noticeably more effort was put in the other one (that's not to say Valiant is "a lazy effort", but it doesn't quite come close to AA) and it was overall a more interesting and especially intense experience. But if you're looking for megawads made by skillsaw, look no further and start here, you'll also get a solid idea about his mapping style and what to expect from him later by playing this first. It also carries far fewer slaughter influences which, depending on your preference, is either going to be a plus or not, and it's considerably easier than AA is which means much less trial and error and frustration will be involved. Yet, despite their similarities there's plenty of stuff that creates contrast between the two, each work of art standing on its own feet, so if you're familiar with AA but not with Valiant do not assume it's "more of the same but with changes", it offers much more.

  13. Hell Revealed II


    And the sequel has been finished. Oh boy what a journey it was, one that didn't really pay off unfortunately, so let's see why that was.


    First of all, as the name implies, this acts as a sequel to the original classic and popular megawad Hell Revealed, however it is mostly HR in name only. This is a consequence of multiple factors. The main factor is the drastic deviation in style from the original for more than its half, and it's not for the best. The first 15 maps or so, with very few exceptions, are not slaughter-esque at all, and there's barely anything of even decent quality to be found at this stage. Their design, the enemy placement and usage is absolutely mediocre at best. These levels are very boxy in their design and pretty short, but they are full of often almost unfair enemy encounters that don't push your skills to the limit and are instead meant to be simply deadly and nigh impossible to survive with no fun, forcing you to take damage in the best case scenario. A perfect example to illustrate this would be MAP04. This level is extremely boxy and the enemies are placed in such a way that they are lethal and extremely difficult to avoid, besides always forcing you to take damage of some sort. It's full of Arch-Viles, the last 2 being almost impossible to avoid as you don't have very powerful weapons, save for the Rocket Launcher, and using it will likely result in taking splash damage since the area is very small and there's nowhere to hide. If this isn't enough, up ahead are 3 Hell Knights waiting in a very small room where you must press a switch. In front of that switch is also a Lost Soul, sitting on a Berserk, and the door closes behind you once you step inside... Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. As I've previously stated, over half of the maps are similar to MAP03 in terms of overall design and gameplay, but a bit better with less deadly encounters. These maps are not fun to play but instead frustrating because they do not make you think and act smart as the original did, instead resorting to terrible design and enemies placed in such a way it's more or less guaranteed to take damage, if not die, which can be extremely quick early on.


    The other half on the other hand is mostly slaughter-esque stuff similar to what's seen in the original, and yet, even these maps suffer from the same problems, but to a less extent. It would seem the authors tried to craft challenging levels in the vein of the original but which ultimately turned out as maps that offer no real satisfaction or sense of difficulty, because they are poorly designed and suffer from almost unfair traps and encounters. The environment is not used efficiently. The original required you to act smart and fast whereas HR2 seems to want you to be just fast most of the time, as this is how the most "challenging" levels seem to work... MAP21 for instance is one of the worst levels in the megawad. It exhibits most, if not all the gameplay and design flaws mentioned. Boxy design, poor navigation, boring or outright terrible encounters, such as Barons waiting for you on very small elevators who block your path and damage you with their melee attacks when you're standing close to the said elevator to activate it since its height is very low, and waves of 'em + Hell Knights teleporting in near the end, but you can just climb a floor and blast them to pieces, easily avoiding all damage. There's also a few waves of Pinkies in cramped spaces at the beginning but they feel more like they're placed there just so that there's an obstacle in your way or something to kill. Not challenging, and nothing interesting to see in action. MAP22 is not a whole lot better either, being easily summed up in a few words as "a sewer mess". Lots of Chaingunners, possibly unfair Arch-Vile traps, uninspired teleporting waves of Hell Knights and Spectres, general ugliness accompanied by a few strange design choices, potentially insufficient ammo, and so on.


    Another difference in design is the final level, MAP30, which requires the player to destroy a reactor similar to what's seen in Icarus as opposed to an Icon of Sin as it was the case in the original, but both are working the same way so it's a change that doesn't really impact the actual gameplay, with the only exception that you also need to pick up the 3 skulls to open the door with the switch that makes the pathway to the core accessible, and they're not hidden. A requirement that doesn't add anything to the experience, but neither complicates the situation.


    One of the problems in the original were the overused enemies, though it wasn't that big of a deal to be honest, as I've already said in that review. HR2 however does not correct this but does the exact opposite. It does indeed add more hitscanners overall, but most of the enemies who were overused in the original are overused here as well, to an ever greater extent, those being the Hell Knights, Barons, Revenants, and especially Arch-Viles. It is simply ridiculous how common they are, which only gives the impression the authors were struggling with ideas of how to make the combat more interesting but failed, instead over-complicating everything. Be it a trap, a cage with other enemies which makes them very hard to reach depending on your position and angle (and infighting doesn't always work since there may not be any tough enemies around such as Cyberdemons to use the technique to its fullest potential), whatever, it's absurd how frequent you run into Arch-Viles who are coming for you, and in sheer numbers on a couple occasions no less, thus overwhelming the player, while other times they may block your way out, giving you a very quick death.


    HR2 also includes a couple of maps from the original that were redesigned, such as The Path, which is MAP15 here. This is also my favorite map in HR2, just like it was in the original, even though there were technically better levels in it. Not so much here... Either way, MAP29 was pretty interesting as well, and probably one of the best maps in the megawad, excluding the remade levels from the original which are honestly very faithful to them, and a bit more difficult. Surprising, considering the vastly inferior quality of HR2 compared to HR. Still, MAP29 is a simple, straight to the point level with overall good enemy usage, but as expected the number of Arch-Viles is crazy in some parts of this level. Eh, at least there's Invulnerability spheres around I guess.


    The sequel also includes a new status bar, menu background, an animated ENDOOM screen which is just sick, new music, and a few (sky) textures. Now the music. There was some confusion here as some of the tracks are credited to the death metal act Grave, but these songs are apparently mistakenly credited as such. From what I could find they were in fact composed by a guy who goes by the name "Petter Mårtensen". The soundtrack is of course not limited just to death metal, there's some brilliant, very atmospheric and epic stuff in it as well, some of the songs reminding me of the Hammerheart era Bathory.


    To sum things up, Hell Revealed 2 is unfortunately Hell Revealed only in name. It does a few things right, particularly the remade levels from the original, it has some nice new textures, some interesting levels here and there, but falls short due to the mediocrity of over half of the maps, and even those that are not bad are little more than decent, nowhere near the expected quality from a sequel of a classic. The only reasons I've finished this were my willingness to complete the duology since both megawads are classics that are held in high regard (the first one justifiably so, the sequel, not at all), how enjoyable and satisfying the original was, and because if I start something, then I finish it, I'm giving it a chance until the last moment so that I can best evaluate it and make a solid opinion. No, I cannot recommend this to anyone, especially to a fan of the original because it just fails to deliver, it doesn't live up to the name. And if you're looking for slaughter-esque, pure slaughter, or challenging megawads that make you think and act fast and smart while still being fun and enjoyable there's much better stuff out there. I'd recommend the original, Alien Vendetta, Ancient Aliens, and maybe Scythe instead, although there's very few such levels in the latter, and play HR2 only if you want to experience and complete the duology, because there isn't any other reason to do it.

  14. Hell Revealed


    Another classic megawad has been finished.


    Since it's obviously going to be compared with Alien Vendetta, one of the first things I noticed during the progression is that it's pretty well balanced, there's no surprise levels where the difficulty spikes, it's consistent from start to finish. It has aged well, perhaps even a tad better than AV, but there isn't really anything remarkable about the layout or the texturing of the levels, and as expected the gameplay is the focus which, for the majority of Hell Revealed, is solid. However, there are a map or two which have mediocre gameplay, most notably MAP18 Hard Attack. The problem of this map are the ill designed enemy encounters, which take place in a few cramped spaces at the beginning, and the focal point of the map relies on an extremely poor kind of infighting. You have to climb a wall using an elevator, and the said wall is full of Revenants, Hell Knights, and Barons. The most efficient and economical method of passing this area seems to be allowing the Cyberdemon to take care of the enemies who come down when you activate the elevator, but takes a lot of time, not to mention that there are a few waves of enemies, at least one when you need to reach a room, and another one after you return from it. There are also 4 Cyberdemons in a room with a switch who keep teleporting and occasionally fire a rocket at you. At least it's a rather short level which looks decent at the very least, but these are the only qualities of the level...


    Either way, with the exception of MAP18 there aren't any other poorly designed levels, all the others are fine and fun enough, save for, perhaps, a few rooms here and there that are almost completely dark in MAP26 and MAP29. MAP26 also features ghost Imps and an intriguing design, seemingly taking place somewhere in space, but extra care is advised here since loads of enemies are present and the encounters themselves are rather brutal. However, the usage of the previously mentioned ghost Imps is not very good. In fact, Icarus did a better job with them in a map which used ghost enemies for almost its entirety. Here, they're little more than an annoyance. They don't add much to the experience and also feel out of place, an attempt at adding something more unique and unexpected that ultimately doesn't pay off.


    The levels are more or less created in slaughter style, therefore they all share a couple hundreds of enemies but the numbers don't go into the thousands from what I remember. Some of the encounters are rather merciless, and the authors surely loved using Hell Knights, Barons and especially Arch-Viles, this combination being one of the toughest in Hell Revealed. And towards the end the Cyberdemons make a significant amount of appearances, but shotgunning them was quite fun, and more exciting than Barons. You could also rely on the Rocket Launcher and the BFG to take them out, but the maps don't seem to offer enough ammo so that you can keep using them for almost their entirety, and that's actually a good thing, it wouldn't be fun otherwise. On the other hand, they most certainly offer copious amounts of shotgun shells.


    My favorite level is probably going to be MAP28. It's a rather short and straightforward level despite its size, but I enjoyed the atmosphere of the map and the textures used, and it was neither very difficult or easy. This level is followed closely by MAP16 which features lots of browns and red, but not particularly exciting encounters so it doesn't stand out in this respect. Still, I loved its look and overall gameplay nonetheless, there's some really beautiful bloodfalls, although technically there are better maps in the megawad. MAP30 of Hell Revealed is a typical Icon of Sin level, but it's a fitting conclusion to the journey.


    While the encounters are generally good, certain enemies are underused, while others are overused. Hell Revealed seems to mostly rely on boss tier or just generally tough enemies. This means that enemies such as the Arachnotrons, Chaingunners, Zombiemen, Shotgun Guys, Spectres, Pinkies, and Imps are encountered much less frequent than Hell Knights, Barons, Revenants, Arch-Viles, Mancubi, and Cyberdemons, with the Pain Elementals and thus Lost Souls on the middle ground. If you hate hitscanners or otherwise just these enemies in general you're probably going to like this, however due to overusing the strongest demons the encounters do become predictable, and on a few occasions boring. Luckily, their placement and usage is still good most of the time so the encounters themselves are still exciting, preventing them from falling into boredom, keeping you focused and careful, yet they could've used more variety. This is something that AV avoided and in consequence, the enemy usage there is slightly superior.


    The megawad also introduces a few new music tracks which are combined with the vanilla Doom soundtrack, so it's not a complete replacement. It also features a new red status bar, intermission screen, menu background, ENDOOM screen, and a couple new sky textures which are just gorgeous. However, there are no new sounds or enemies introduced.


    As about the difficulty, having played Alien Vendetta as well as Ancient Aliens before (and I must mention that AA tops both AV and Hell Revealed) it wasn't very difficult for me, except for the occasional unforgiving encounters. Despite this, it's certainly not targeted at average players but most certainly can be completed by them, even on UV since it's not nuts, regardless of whether you're going for it blind or not. It also doesn't involve a lot of trial and error, especially compared to the other 2 megawads I've already mentioned, save for MAP24 perhaps, which takes a while to understand the first time you're playing it, but after that it's fine. It's perfect for experienced players but in no way impossible or ridiculously hard for everyone else.


    All things considered, it's a solid classic that's definitely worthy of its status. It's fun, challenging, beautiful, but most of all fair, and it has aged pretty well, some of the levels doing this even better than AV, although I consider the latter superior overall, which is why I'm giving Hell Revealed 4/5 stars, while Alien Vendetta got 5/5. And despite my comparisons between the two, I'd very much let them stand on their own and speak for themselves.

  15. And here goes yet another megawad, still done on UV, and well well, what a journey it was. I must say that I expected something completely different than what AA really is, more exactly that it's not very difficult, but I jumped into the deep end and did my best. In fact, I daresay that having played and finished Alien Vendetta right before AA, AA undoubtedly puts it to shame in terms of difficulty, the standards have surely been raised since the days of the former. AV is little more than a walk in the park compared to how challenging AA is. There are some slaughter like levels towards the end, such as MAP18, MAP28, or MAP29, but these aren't the main focus of the megawad. In fact, they were among the easiest levels from my POV due to their nature and style of gameplay involved, after all the most efficient method of finishing MAP28 and MAP29 is just strafing, firing BFG blasts or rockets, avoiding damage, and nothing else. But as I said these were among the easiest levels, because the majority of the maps in AA rely on strategic enemy placements, and skillful and mindful gameplay on the player's end in order to survive, and while all maps do feature a few hundreds of enemies, none of them count on their sheer numbers to overwhelm the player, after all getting cornered by dozens of enemies is neither fun, interesting, or challenging, and the people who worked on AA understood this, although there still are instances when the player does get trapped and a significant number of enemies teleport in to crush him, more or less forcing him to take damage, same for the moments where you have little to no resources left, take an elevator, and surprise, you're assaulted by a few Revenants once you reach the top. Some of the levels also feature a significant amount of Arch-Viles as well, sometimes at the very end of the level, acting as a sort of final, deadly trap. One such example is MAP26 where a bunch of Arch-Viles (like 4) wait for the player in the final (tight) room. Oh, and if this isn't enough a small wave of Hell Knights, Barons, and Revenants will also teleport in after the (unavoidable) trap is activated. There are also some very interesting ideas regarding enemy usage as well. For instance, MAP01 has a Cyberdemon that you have to more or less use as a turret to kill the few waves of enemies who teleport in, and at the end you telefrag him.


    If wads such as AV were more forgiving, not to mention much more predictable, this one shares none of these traits. It's unpredictable, you never know when and what enemy is going to pop up and in what numbers, and some encounters are simply merciless. All this leads to a very simple conclusion: This megawad is definitely not targeted at average players. I actually fall somewhere around this category, but my point here is that it's very difficult, so if you do decide to take it on and are not a skilled or experienced player, and also doing it blindly like myself, your day will suck, there's no doubt about that. Expect a lot of trial and error, raging, and frustration in a few levels. Moreover, also expect a few forced pistol starts similar to what's seen in Scythe due to suicide exits, which from my own experience weren't needed as I haven't had many resources left. Always be on your guard. There isn't really any difficulty curve in AA, or not using the same traditional formula. By this I mean that it starts a bit difficult and tricky and from the very first levels you're made aware of what you're getting yourself into, and it only becomes more difficult as you progress, however by MAP18 it reaches the maximum difficulty so if you survive or do well in this level, you'll survive what follows, that's basically as far as it goes. Megawads such as AV on the other hand start very slowly and nicely increase the difficulty in steps, with a few occasional spikes.


    My favorite levels are going to be MAP23 and MAP24. MAP24 is also the most unique level as it's a map where the action takes place in a heavenly dimension, radically different from other maps where the action takes place near or inside ancient ruins on exotic islands, though there are some very futuristic maps present as well. The name "Culture Shock" fits MAP24 like a glove. As for MAP23, there's nothing really special about it to make it stand out of the crowd like MAP24 but simply a personal favorite due to its great size and large open area, it's epic and atmospheric, especially after clearing the outside area and spending a few moments admiring the vastness and beauty of the level and its music. Invigorating, uplifting, peaceful and soothing.


    There is no final boss fight at the end of the megawad. In fact, MAP29 is the last level where you face anything, MAP30 acting as a sweet thank you for playing from the authors in which you return to the same island where you embarked on the expedition instead, now inhabited by lots of scientists, presumably waiting for the hero.


    AA also introduces a new and amazing soundtrack along with high quality textures for all its maps, including replacements for some items, they're all beautiful and really add to the overall quality and atmosphere of the megawad. It also comes with a brand new menu, status bar, ENDOOM screen, and teleporters usually take you through a black and purple tunnel with various drawings before reaching the destination. Some enemies such as the Arachnotron and the Mancubus are also retextured or use new sounds. Moreover, there's a few new enemies introduced, a slow red flying sphere with an angry face that fires a lot of homing missiles. They are weaker or just as weak as a Lost Soul, but are especially deadly and also inflict damage upon death, so make sure you keep the distance. Another new enemy introduced is a small black trooper who turns invisible while running and fires the same plasma the Arachnotron uses. Of course, this means they're also very deadly since they are fast and also invisible while moving, on top of instantly locking on the player once spotted sometimes, but have easily recognizable sounds so watch out when you hear them. Luckily, they're also very weak, a fire from the Chaingun or the regular Shotgun kills them. But if you're careless, you think Chaingunners are bad? You'll be surprised by what they can pull off, they can be much, much worse. If there are no Arch-Viles or other dangerous enemies in a small or big wave of enemies that includes a few troopers it's best to kill them first. I'm not very sure how infighting works with those guys, yet I am pretty sure you can't turn them against each other, or I've never witnessed this behavior anyway. They're probably similar to Arch-Viles in this aspect.


    On the technical side of things there's not much to say, only that PrBoom+ (on which I played AA) doesn't seem to be able to run some of the levels at a constant, very high framerate. I myself noticed a decrease in performance in the outside area of MAP18 and MAP23 when a lot was going on, but it was still noticeable even after I silenced the enemies, mostly while looking in the distance from certain points. I suppose it's just the high quality assets and the large size of the levels that push the source port to its limits, but note that these performance issues are very far from something major or serious, just a mild inconvenience, and results will likely vary with each source port.


    All things considered, this megawad is without a doubt very solid, not to mention challenging. You're free to try your luck but remember, it's not for the faint of heart, especially if you decide to go for it blind like I did, and perhaps even if you watch a walkthrough before. Otherwise, best of luck to anyone who embarks on the journey, it's well worth the time.

  16. Alien Vendetta


    So here goes another wad, one that I for one could easily label as "close to hardcore" . It starts easy, then the difficulty nicely increases, and eventually culminates with some extremely difficult maps towards the end. Very tricky but not impossible to complete despite this undoubtedly initial impression. Most levels involve certain tricks in order to make everything easier, some of them, especially towards the end, relying quite a bit (or a lot, depending on the map) on infighting, such as MAP26. This one was easily among the hardest map at first sight, primarily because in a few words, it's a Revenant fest, most notably at the beginning. Yet all that had to be done there was letting the Cyberdemons take them out, but of course that's easier said than done. Since everything I'm playing is without any prior experience (blind, if you will) it always takes me a while to figure out the difficult maps. I think I died like 50 times in this map but it got easier once I gained experience through trial and error, therefore when I could finally make the enemies start an infight it became much easier.


    Other maps however are more unforgiving, and that not due to seemingly impossible odds, but because well, the eternal old story, resource starvation. I ran out of ammo an annoying amount of times on the aforementioned map. When everything was clear, surprise, either no health or no ammo, typically remaining with just a few shotgun shells and nothing else. Now of course I should also mention that when I usually say "resource starvation" this does not include whatever can be found in secret areas. I'm usually terrible at locating (most of) them so when I mention that be aware that it primarily refers to what the maps offer during normal play without any secrets involved, or only very few, unless explicitly mentioned. MAP28 was an even worse offender, it's not a particularly difficult level but there was just not enough ammo for what came later, so for instance at the end I completely skipped a room with a Soulsphere and (3 I think) Arch-Viles because I just had no ammo to make it out alive and kill them as well. In my few attempts to grab the bonus they always managed to escape from their own little lair and well, you know what followed, so in the end I decided to skip them altogether and call it a day. MAP23 was also pretty scarce on resources, but not very difficult overall. So despite the nice difficulty curve, it does seem to spike every now and then.


    My favorite maps are going to be MAP20 and MAP25. No doubt, these maps are very atmospheric with cool music and great gameplay, basically the perfect recipe for a great level, and nothing insane. I didn't really like these levels where the difficulty spikes nastily because they felt more like a test or a pure challenge, and weren't that much fun or enjoyable, yet I wouldn't count them among maps I loathe because they were still great, just mocking the player and very tricky. There are no bad maps here, except perhaps MAP21, it was neither an interesting nor fun level for me and felt more like just a filler and no killer. I was surprised to see that MAP30 was an Icon of Sin map, but frankly I'm really glad it was this and not something nuts serving the purpose of some sort of ultimate challenge after walking through the fire, considering some of the levels preceding it. It took me a few tries to figure things out though, because apparently the lift in this map is completely transparent and has 2 torches placed on it, and I thought the switches only lower them at first when in fact they are supposed to help you by marking something, but once that was out of the way it was piece of cake. I should mention that the lift at the base raises surprisingly fast so you've got to be very quick there, run (strafe) like hell after activating the switch. It's a fitting end to a thrilling but sometimes exhausting and frustrating journey. And that voice at the beginning of the map when you pick up the ammo and the power ups? That was amazing to hear, it sounds just so perfectly inhuman and purely evil, very intimidating and sets the tone for what's around the corner.


    The music in this wad is very good and it has many different sources. There's vanilla Doom music, some completely new stuff, and even Heretic music. This might sound like a mess on paper, but it works, and rather well no less.


    However, there are some problems on the technical side of things, or that's how my experience was anyway. I played this in PrBoom+ but every now and then it would become glitched so the stats at the end of the map would be broken and in the upcoming map I would spawn in an incorrect location, thus breaking the map completely and making it impossible to complete. For instance, I had to pistol start MAP13 because I kept spawning in the area where the yellow key normally becomes accessible only later down the road, an area that's normally accessible only with another key, but I had none so there was no way out. This occurred in a few other maps but luckily this could be easily resolved by just restarting the source port and reloading a previous level/save, finishing the map normally, proceeding to the next (offending) level, and everything would correct by itself. It's the first wad in any port I use where I'd ever come across something like this, so I've no idea what caused the problem. I've also had the correct compatibility options set the entire time, for that matter.


    All things considered, I had a blast (quite the damn literally on so many occasions). It's a solid classic wad that has aged well and is also far from being impossible, but it does take time to understand its most challenging maps if you choose to go for it blind but also well aware of what you're getting yourself into beforehand like I did, so expect a lot of trial and error in this case, but at the end of the day it pays off. And it's not unfair even if some levels do look like this at first sight, but in fact they're not. Remember, these levels usually require you to resort to a couple of tricks, be quick, and careful. Moreover, I also found them rather predictable once I figured them out. If I could pull it off so can you.

  17. A faithful replica of the original Doom II, but I did not enjoy it as much as I did the first. On top of that I have no favorite levels either this time around, or, well, apart from MAP31 which is something else entirely from actual Doom, but brilliant nonetheless, as if I played some NES game in first person, with great music, enemies and textures. What I did not like at all is that there aren't too many resources in the last couple of maps. I ran out of ammo very often on MAP27, 28, and 29. As for maps I hated, that's going to be MAP19, no particular reason but I could not enjoy this one, as for another one, which is MAP28, it confused with its yellow key and platforming in some areas, if there is a gameplay style that I don't enjoy much, it's something close to what's presented in this map. 


    MAP30 was a very interesting idea for an Icon of Sin level, possibly the map I liked the most from the entire PWAD, firing rockets and then outrunning then to raise a platform that blocks their way, but for this reason it's very tricky, I think I died like 10 times until I figured out what needed to be done, and a couple more afterwards. I didn't seem to be able to get more than one rocket reach the brain of the Icon so it did take some time and it got a bit tedious, but for a wad which aims to be faithful to the original, well, it's still vastly superior to whatever happened with MAP30 in Doom II from my POV.


    It's a good wad that's well worth one's time, but not on par with the original and not as enjoyable. This is the sole reason it's getting only 3 stars, not because it's only "decent" or "average" .

  18. Here goes yet another wad.


    I don't have much to say about this wad to be completely honest. It follows the design of the original Doom quite closely, and so does the gameplay, therefore it does reach its goal of making episodes that could be easily mistaken for levels created by id itself. I don't have any maps to dislike or hate, and like in the original game, my favorite levels are mostly from E3 due to the surreal look and great use of colors. It also includes a custom background and start/end mission screens. Not mind blowing and cartoony looking but still nice enough, and they're also animated. Beside the cartoony look, there's no real complains to be made here.


    It doesn't feature new music, which is something I expected to see in such a project, but oh well. The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars from me is the fact that, especially in E1 from what I managed to see, there's quite a number of misaligned textures which had become a bit irritating at some point when I started noticing them more and more, and did this unwillingly, which means they're quite obvious during normal play (without looking specifically for them). And there's no E4, but perhaps I'm just asking for too much here as this was probably beyond the scope of the project since neither Thy Flesh Consumed nor No Rest for the Living from Doom 2 were part of the original games at release but added at a later time.


    All things considered, it's a great wad and well worth your time, but with some visual annoyances. Otherwise, no serious bugs or flaws.

  19. Scythe


    So here goes yet another wad, still played through GZDoom's Software render like everything else before it.


    What do I think? Well, compared to the other Doom wads I've played until now I must say that this was honestly the most fun and exciting of all of them. The levels have a great layout and good enemy placement. Although some maps, especially towards the end, appear to go full b*llshit with the enemy count at first sight they are still really fun to play, quite unexpected to be honest since the difficult parts in the previous wads I played had the tendency to be really frustrating and often unfun, but somehow that's not the case here.


    Most levels don't rely on a large variety of textures but they're still pretty beautiful, and none of them drag on or are longer than they really should be, with easy to find secrets, some of them being out in plain sight and very easily accessible, which is a bit questionable indeed, and the most difficult levels seem to typically take place in red, hellish, cavernous areas. There aren't any maps that I dislike, probably because the gameplay is solid all the time, and they give you just enough resources, no war of attrition to be found here. My favorite level is definitely going to be MAP11 Sneak Peak, I've seen maps and areas that make punching fun and satisfying, but so far none did it better than this one, just pure joy to be found here, and the best part? Enough resources so the game doesn't descend into madness territory, or perhaps it does, in mad fun if you know what I mean. I must also admit, I did not expect to run into slaughter levels at all, but they were pretty nice and not insanely cruel, yet this stuff is way beyond my league. I managed to finish them after a number of failed attempts, but I'll likely not get serious about playing slaughter wads in the future, it's just neither my thing nor is it for me and my skill level. No shame in admitting this.


    My only gripe would be with the last map. And I thought post-MAP24 levels in Memento Mori 2 were annoying with their enemy counts, but since this one is a slaughter level as well just like the few ones that came before, and unlike the typical Icon of Sin kind of final maps, it's full of waves of Revenants, Cyberdemons, Barons, and other strong enemies, a really, really difficult and tricky map which can be confusing and frustrating at times, but it doesn't mock you by giving just a few power ups and ammo and lets you die in agony afterwards. I'm just so damn glad to be done with it, I don't want to see something like this before me again, the horrors of hell will haunt my dreams forever.


    I also think that forced pistol starting levels wasn't a bad idea at all but rather an interesting concept with great balancing, certainly much better than creating maps with crap encounters, tons of traps which often force you to take damage, scarce resources, and so on just to provide an artificial challenge to the player. They can be a bit difficult and tricky to finish, but you only need to be careful, and fast sometimes, they're very far from insane or unfair. The timed level Run from It was just as interesting in action, but I had to Google a little after I died a few times because I couldn't understand what's going on in this map and why I keep dying out of the blue.


    The music is also fantastic, the midis playing on MAP19 3000 AD and MAP20 The Starport being my favorite of all. Bit of a shame that it doesn't feature a complete replacement of the vanilla Doom music though. Other than this, and to sum things up, this wad should definitely be considered a classic from my point of view, it's a fine candidate to the title, damn fun and solid and there's a number of lessons to be learned here, I loved it.

  20. Memento Mori II


    Alright, so, what can I say about Memento Mori 2 after finishing it and the first one?


    Well, first of all, the levels are more beautiful, visually it aged noticeably better than the original and uses more custom textures, some already seen in the original. The music is on par with the original.


    The levels themselves are overall better designed for the most part, but here is where the problems make themselves known. MM2 is clearly designed more for co-op than single player. This starts getting very noticeable after MAP24. Whereas the original had a few maps that dragged on, particularly at the beginning of the wad, this one drags on extremely bad after MAP24. Not just that the maps are starting to become huge and with hundreds of enemies and very annoying traps, it also starts becoming more confusing and tiring, MAP27 being the worst offender. The main tower in MAP28, or rather the overall level, is unfun as well, doing a poor job at keeping you entertained for the most part, save for a few areas where you also get an Invulnerability, but not on the edge of your nerves like MAP27 does. Eh, the traps don't go crazy at least.


    Post MAP24 levels simply become tiresome and no longer bring much pleasure. The war of attrition also gets real in some maps, MAP27 still being the best example, giving you lots of rockets and some health to recover from the orgy, if you manage to find the secrets, but not much else. Without locating the secrets it can be extremely infuriating and especially difficult to finish, hence me actually forcing myself to finish the wad, it was very tempting to just can the whole thing after reaching MAP24 because it ceases to be fun at that point, turning instead in a struggle for survival. Like I said, MM2 makes it very clear that it's more co-op/multiplayer oriented and not very suitable for solo, or not on UV anyway.


    Unlike the first MM, I managed to locate both secret exits and I must say that for secret levels, they're pretty easy, which is very surprising. I can't compare them to the ones from the original MM because I failed to locate any of them there.


    I also don't have any favorite maps to my surprise, I like most of them, and even the maps that drag on like hell are not bad themselves, just not suitable for playing solo, but can't exactly pick any, whereas City of the Unavenged from the original was easily my favorite, here? I'm not sure...


    Either way, all things considered, it's a solid wad and a great sequel to the original. Worse? No, but then why the lower rating? Well, simply for not providing a solid experience in SP towards the end, so if you want to play it solo like I did, it doesn't really work anymore when you're about to finish it. It drags on and the difficulty also spikes nastily.

  21. Alright, another wad finished (moments before writing this), played through GZDoom 3.2.5 in Software.


    So what do I think? Well it's damn good in my book. The gameplay is solid and fun for the most part, not very challenging though, and the levels are consistent in general, except perhaps MAP15 which is my least favorite due to the confusing design and the fact that it's a simply boring level (and ugly). Another one would be MAP18 "Cargo Bay", a rather simple and tricky level, but which offers very little and apparently also suffers from a game-breaking bug, the first time I played the map the yellow door was inaccessible even with all the switches pulled, I had to restart the level, after which it was fine. The tech based levels rely mostly on simple gray-ish textures, but they all look pretty good in general. 


    Being made by TeamTNT it's unavoidable to answer the question "How does it compare to Evilution?" And my answer is that, overall it is superior, even the bad levels. TNT was much more experimental and it didn't handle non tech based levels very well, and the maps that sucked, sucked really, really bad, whereas this one does a much better job, my favorite maps being MAP14 "Fortress of Evil" and MAP19 "Blessed Are the Quick" . Despite being well balanced most of the time, there are some maps which do troll the player, MAP16 "Bootcamp" being one such offender. A Cyberdemon in a very cramped space? How about no, I preferred to run away.


    There are also some dumb design decisions in some levels, for instance, in MAP20 "War Temple" you have to take a lift to access a teleport which takes you back to the starting area. Now the problem is that, that lift is very small and in its middle is a red pillar which makes the movement and entering the aforementioned area very, very difficult, and for no reason. But, it's poor choices such as this that can ruin the entire experience, an otherwise very good map which is also challenging. Other bad maps, despite actually looking nice, have, well, absolutely terrible gameplay, one such example being MAP28 "Excavations". As good as it seemed to be initially when I looked through a window back at the starting area, I was quickly let down. There's a sheer amount of enemies in this map overall, but the area to the right of the starting zone that is reached through a short section of tunnels is the worst by far. It becomes infested by Cacodemons and Pain Elementals which will teleport immediately after killing the only Shotgun Guy there, and all you can do is hide in the tunnels and use a powerful weapon of your choice to obliterate the large wave of enemies, I used the BFG. This is nothing but detestable... why? Well, I understand that it is supposed to be challenging and catch you off guard, this area makes it very obvious that it's nothing less than a nasty trap, but there's a night and day difference between challenge and poor gameplay, just like the Cyberdemon in Bootcamp, those are obstacles which only serve as a means of artificially increasing the difficulty and not making the player do something intelligent to beat the area, or map, and contribute to frustration.


    The final map is unusually easy, quite possibly the easiest I've played to this day, needing to destroy a reactor this time around but since the area is very large everything goes very smooth and you don't even have to bother with the enemies at all. In fact, I daresay it's not challenging at all.


    The music in this wad is solid, there's not much else I can say about it, TeamTNT surely has a good ear for quality music which helps creating the overall atmosphere of the levels.


    I have only ever run into one but major bug (see the second paragraph), but beside that, no other technical issues encountered. All things considered, I very much enjoyed this. It could've been a little better, yes, but it's solid for the most part, so I give it 4 stars.

  22. This is the first wad I had finished after the IWADS. I played it through GZDoom's Software render, on UV.


    How was my experience? Well, in short, Memento Mori is great, but having already saved my thoughts on it in a Notepad file a while ago I'll just paste it and modify where I need to, so this is going to be relatively quick:


    - Great, complex levels with good enemy placement and occasionally challenging.
    - There's a few traps in a couple of maps which feel like they were designed to troll the player. For instance there's a trap with 3 Mancubi in MAP09, and right before that you pick up a mega armor, so much for the power up... That map in particular also has a challenging ending where a large wave of Pinkies corner you, and a berserk is available to refill your health after the orgy. Another painful trap I'm not sure what to think about.
    - Some of the maps have bugs (at least some of them were a little buggy for me in GZDoom) but nothing game-breaking or major. On a few occasions some specific lifts and switches which open areas behind themselves don't play their animations and just instantly disappear instead, and in the case of some elevators, instantly transport you. A little annoying and weird but...
    - There's some rather questionable design choices, if not mistakes actually. There's 2 blue keys in one map, the second one serving no purpose (or none that I could find anyway), paper thin switches which are invisible from behind, and a yet another similar scenario with the keys in MAP25, Cesspool.
    - Some of the levels are extremely long and just really drag on. MAP09, High-Tech Grave is one such level. Good gameplay to be found here, yes indeed, but it's simply far too long for its own good. It took me 30 minutes or more to complete the map, and it was a pretty exhausting experience.

    - There's some new textures here and there, but nothing mind-blowing or impressive about them.

    - The final battle can be very short if you move fast, the map gives you lots of resources, and the level itself is just beautifully crafted. Straight to the point, no tedious obstacles, and no bullshit.

    - The maps themselves are fairly memorable overall. If I'd have to pick a favorite I'd choose MAP28, City of the Unavenged, despite being a bit confusing at times due to all the switches you have to locate in order to lower the platforms the keys are placed on.

  23. Suspended in Dusk


    Only a couple of levels, 4 to be precise, but I found them to be boring and uninteresting. The 3rd map in particular is ridiculously long and highly confusing, no fun to be found there, for me anyway. The enemy placement is pretty good but some enemies are highly overused, in the last map especially, which is an Archvile party basically.


    The levels don't stand out from my point of view, at all, there's nothing particularly brilliant about them. The gameplay is not fun either, in fact it's annoying most of the time due to the structure of the levels, which as I previously mentioned, is very confusing. The final battle is also poorly designed due to the Cyberdemon constantly moving left and right (going behind solid walls) which only makes the fight unsatisfactory, and unexciting. There's also 2 keys for 2 doors, and neither the road to reach them nor the fights themselves add much to the overall experience. I honestly had to force myself to finish this, hoping the ending will be epic, but it wasn't. I am glad this is not a 32 map megawad or something similar, but with a couple more levels, because I would've dropped it after the 5th or 6th map.


    All in all, I found this wad to be nothing more (or less) than mediocre. There's a lot of detail to the levels, and they're not ugly (except perhaps for a muddy area in the last map), but that doesn't redeem the wad for me due to the bad and simply boring (tiresome in the case of the 3rd map) gameplay. I may sound harsh, but that's simply just how my experience was with these levels.

  24. Requiem


    Having just finished the wad I figured I might as well share my thoughts on the experience. This is the second custom wad I have played after Memento Mori, on UV, in GZDoom 3.2.4's Software render.


    First of all, the levels. I think that they are superb and of high quality, and the vast majority of them use custom textures, occasionally reminding me of some maps from Quake, but that's a good thing in my book. The action takes place in multiple areas, some Earth bound, including some arctic looking zones at the beginning which are later never revisited, and of course later in Hell. Some of the later levels tend to have a medieval feeling to them, such as MAP24, or so they felt to me anyway, I'm not familiar with the vision the authors had for these particular levels.


    Moving on, there seems to be quite a bit of emphasis blasphemy, making great use of switches with inverted crosses and other, bigger, iron crosses during maps and there's even upside down crucified marines in some of them, such as the aforementioned MAP24, as well as executions. I must say that the amount of dead marines in this wad is surprising, at the very least.


    Bugs are something I did not experience a lot, and nothing major. There's some problems with the textures in some maps, I remember seeing some odd, "hanging" textures under some walls in the Quake styled levels, but aside from this, I didn't run into any other kind of issues, be they graphical or enemy related.


    The major problem of this wad is related to the gameplay. Some maps simply force you into using specific guns. Both in the early and later levels I found myself running out of ammo more than I'd like to, being required to resort to either the fist or the chainsaw. Fortunately, when this happened the enemies had the tendency to be either Pinkies, Imps, or other, weaker enemies. This does impact the overall experience and in a negative way from my point of view, feeling almost cheap, it's best for a map to let you figure out what weapons are best to use for different scenarios, instead of forcing you to use something.


    Despite this, the gameplay is solid most of the time, challenging, and fun. The wad does rely a lot on Revenants, Chaingunners, and Mancubi later in the game to the point they are essentially overused, but not to the point of being outright tiresome to fight them, although it does actually tend to feel this way on a few occasions. On the contrary, enemies such as the Hell Knight are underused, which feels like an artificial method of increasing the difficulty instead of doing something interesting with the maps themselves and the enemy placement within them to spice up the gameplay. Talking about the placement of the enemies, I'd say it's pretty good most of the time, but the maps themselves lack in enemy variety sometimes. On a few occasions however you end up with powerful enemies in either closed or very narrow areas/spaces, which is not fun at all, basically forcing you to take damage. One very interesting thing to point out is that the wad does feature Nazis in at least one map. The element of surprise is most certainly there, and it did take a bit to figure out how they're actually supposed to be killed since there seems to be only one way, or in only one specific spot anyway. I don't find any map in particular to be bad, but I do find at least one of them to really drag on, that being MAP27. While this map has some pretty good gameplay, it becomes tiresome after a short time due to its challenging nature and especially great length. On the other end of the spectrum, some levels are very short, compact, perhaps even fast, and straight to the point, such as MAP25 and MAP26.


    All this being said, I think that's about it.


    Is it overrated or underrated? I don't know, and I don't think I want to anyway. It's up to everyone to figure things out on their own and make up their own minds, these are my thoughts on the wad.


    Will I change my mind later, after playing more wads? Possibly, I don't know the answer to this question either, and even if I do, this review will most definitely not be updated/changed, because for one, I write them very shortly upon their completion, when they're still very fresh in my mind and I want the reviews to reflect the thoughts and feelings I had at the time, and two, I want each one of them (the wads I mean) to stand on their own and not compare one with the other.