the community is very selective when it comes to liking strange things. you have weird mapsets like this and nicolas monti sets, and they are either hated, liked, or completely ignored altogether. i mean, just look at how this one is structure, no sign of anything realistic, the monsters and textures are laid out in various ways. and then there's a few jumping parts to the maps.
but in the end, it is still very much playable. I believe this is what matters most. who cares about the author's opinions on things at this point. as long as he makes a mapset playable from start to finish, it can be played and even replayed at anyone's leisure. therefore, i will award this 5 stars. it was the kind of thing you can expect if you play a joe-ilya megawad, but if you mustered enough courage not to immediately call his work crap upon booting up the game and seeing and playing the maps, then it's all fine and dandy. it's just something to get used to.
This wad was quite a love/hate relationship for me. Episode 1 and 2 were fantastic. They flowed so well and were challenging without being stupid. Sadly once I got to episode 3 the wad took a turn for the worst. Most of episode 3 is too dark, too big, too confusing, and too full of mandatory damaging sectors without a radsuit. Episodes 1 and 2 were a blast but 3 and 4 just felt like a lot of work. I had to use the console to give myself radsuits and light amp goggles many times. Its no fun to find a secret soul sphere if you're just gonna burn it all away crossing lava without a radsuit. In the end I'd highly recommend the first 2 episodes. They're what Doom is all about; fast fun simple maps. The later half was quite the opposite.
Done on HMP/continuous/saves.
Top quality megawad here. Lots of incredible visuals and details, each episode has a different theme, designed with really nice custom textures. You get mountain bases, dark castles, hellish environments, huge underground caves, lunar bases, and a few secret surprises. And there's a fun adventure factor in every episode, the author not only put work into fast-paced gameplay but also exploratory settings. For example, almost all of the maps in further episodes are open spaces with platforming and walkways descending into damaging liquids, and lots of optional caves to find goodies. In addition, tight scenarios are dark and spooky, creating a real sense of suspense on what's coming. Music is really good, some of the tracks are also in Ancient Aliens. Favourite tracks are 06, 11, 22 and 27
So, like I said before, the maps are all fast-paced. Right from the beginning, you are demanded to move and find appropriate tools to get started. Nothing is overwhelming, but the usage of monsters is really well thought. Skillsaw seems to have a fetish for snipers in the form of "dead simple" enemies, because they are mostly used to harass you from different distances if you're not fast. Apart from that, he mixed incidental combat with multiple traps. From a viles+crushers maze, to a mancubus you have to guard, to a ghost town (yes, stealth monsters), or even a secret full filled with explosive zombies you'll probably panic and laugh out loud like I did.
The new monsters have their ups and downs. From the get-go, imps and demons suffered a few transformations. Upgrade pinkies are fine, creepy, bite quicker. You don't want to use the chainsaw against them, which is my only dislike because I'm fond of that weapon. On the other side, the new imps are annoying... nothing else to say. Lost souls look cool. Then, spiders have red eyes, and the smaller ones can spawn arachnorbs (mostly a cinematic effect, only problematic when telefragging the spiders), which are my favourite enemies of the set, nasty but fragile, and funny. Kamikaze troopers are like explosive balloons of meat, hilarious enemies, I simply could not get mad at them for killing me. Pyro Knights are my third favourite, I recall one instance where a cyberdemon hit a pack and they scratched him to death in a matter of seconds. Super Mancubi don't add something special, they look cool though. Cybruisers are a fair replacement for the cyber/baron in the way they were used, and also look good, but just that, and poor SMMs were deprived of their boss privileges (immunity to splash damage and loud sounds). Diabolist is a great boss, although I feel like there should have been a texture showing the monster, like in Doom there's an IoS texture.
As for weapons, well the pistol may shoot faster but it still aims like crap at any range. I did used it a lot more than the regular pistol. The minigun is awesome, and the idea that chaingunners don't drop them is good, makes it a higher valuable weapon.
Secret wise, there is a wide variety. Hidden switches, a passage behind a waterfall, a teleport on liquid floors, those are the most common. I like that some of them provide an intense fight before you get your gifts. There's a secret easter egg I found via IDDT (of course, behind a generic wall), it has a really cool effect with the music and if you have played other Skillsaw's mapsets, you'll recognize it.
Favourite maps: 06, 07, 10, 18, 22, 24, 27, 29. The rest are nice too.
Overall, yeah it's obvious that this mapset has a high value for speedrunning, but if you're a slow motion player like me, you'll still love this, just don't forget to always charge your minigun first! My rate is 9/10.
certainly a unique map from the one touted "Midtex Wizard", enough to drop a framerate considerably. still playable, and with a low monster count, it's a bit skeptical in a number of ways. it's actually a short map, but hard anyways, with scenarios to screw newbies over. the cyberdemon fight is the real standout, being sure to utilize circlestrafing to its maximum while avoiding the nukage and the rockets. it really should be longer though. as artistic as it is i expected more out of the gameplay.