The DWmegawad Club plays: Icarus: Alien Vanguard



What is the DWmegawad Club?
This is a place where we settle down, have a cup of tea (or drink of your choice) and take a month to play through a megawad on our own, together! Any keen observations, criticisms, or frustrated ranting about it goes here in the discussion. As long as you want to say something about what you've played, feel free to speak your mind.

Can I join?
Sure. The only rule is that you have to play at least some of the levels in our monthly megawad to contribute, but you're generally encouraged to finish the whole thing, even if you've played it before.

What levels am I allowed to post about?
Whatever day of the month it is, is the upper limit for the map you can post on. So if it's the 6th, you may discuss up to MAP06.

Do I have to post an entry every day?
Nope, not at all. This is only for our more enthusiastic members. As long as you play through it with us you’re part of the club.

When do we vote on the next month’s megawad?
Voting begins on the 25th of the current month.

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>>>DOWNLOAD ICARUS HERE<<<

To honor the passing of the venerable Ty Halderman, we’re doing a playthrough of TeamTNT’s Icarus: Alien Vanguard. Despite being eclipsed by its more popular older brother Evilution, this interstellar adventure still carries a lot of reverence behind it, and it’s about time we finally play a TNT megawad!

Thanks for everything, Ty!

Author and maplist for Icarus:

MAP01 - “Shuttlecraft” by Christopher Buteau
MAP02 - "Shuttle Bay” by John Minadeo
MAP03 - "Quarry” by Ty Halderman
MAP04 - "Engineering” by Jim Lowell
MAP05 - "Flipside” by Mark Snell
MAP06 - "P.E.T. Rescue” by Gary Gosson
MAP07 - "Sickbay” by Tom Grieve
MAP08 - "Donnybrook” by David “Mentzer” Hill
MAP09 - "The Moat” by David “Mentzer” Hill
MAP10 - "Bridge” by Ty Halderman
MAP11 - "Feeding Frenzy” by Gregg Anderson
MAP12 - "Hydroponics” by Gary Gosson
MAP13 - “Asylum” by Robert Taylor
MAP14 - “Fortress of Evil” by Robin Patenall
MAP15 - "Waste Disposal” by Ken Simpson and Jim Kennedy

MAP31 - "Great Balls of Fire” by Jim Lowell
MAP32 - "Prestidigitation” by Ty Halderman

MAP16 - "Bootcamp” by Mike Marcotte
MAP17 - "Bloodbath” by Mike Marcotte
MAP18 - "Cargo Bay” by Andrew Dowswell
MAP19 - "Blessed are the Quick” by Rand Phares
MAP20 - "WarTemple” by Rand Phares
MAP21 - "Engine Core” by Dean Johnson
MAP22 - “Nightfall” by Gary Gosson
MAP23 - "Painful Discharge” by Brian Kidby
MAP24 - “The Haunting” by Gary Gosson
MAP25 - "Another Fine Mess” by Michael Bristol
MAP26 - "Weapons Bay” by Jim Dethlefsen
MAP27 - "Starhenge” by Ty Halderman
MAP28 - “Excavations” by Steven Phares
MAP29 - "Brutality” by Mike Ruete
MAP30 - "Nucleus” by Ty Halderman, Brian Kidby, and Jim Lowell


BONUS CONTENT
Doomwikia
DSDA archives
Kmxexii’s review
Lingyan203's playthrough
Suitepee playthrough: 1 2
----------
OLD THREADS
BF_THUD!
Community Chest 4
Jenesis
MAYhem 2012
Memento Mori
Interception
2002: A Doom Odyssey
Hadephobia
Coffee Break & Fava Beans & Double Impact
HYMN
Stardate 20X6 & Monochrome Mapping Project
Realm of Chaos
Back to Saturn X E1 & Favillesco E1
Kama Sutra
Unholy Realms & Zone 300
Vile Flesh
Ultimate Doom
Whitemare & Sacrament
Scythe
Epic 2
Whitemare 2
Sunder & Countdown to Extinction
Doom 2 the Way id Did
MAYhem2048
Stomper
Back to Saturn X E2
Going Down
Rylayeh & Crimson Canyon & Azagthoth
Serenity & Eternity & Infinity
Resurgence
Requiem
ConC.E.R.N.ed & Draft Excluder
Doom 2 Reloaded
Valiant
Scythe 2
NOVA II
STRAIN

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MAP01 - Shuttlecraft

Kills: 98% | Items: 100% | Secrets: 100%

A space-ship level. And it's not just like we are in the ship, we enter in it and we start the departure. It does a good job on beign a first level and beign pretty straight-forward. It's cool to start the level in the crate storage, than enter the ship and after we activate the 2 engines on the windoes the sky gives way to the space with the stars. Really cool thing. The most odd moment is the wooden room, and the cage which we can break and unleash some imps. There are many neat tricks in this level. Gameplay side it doesn't stand up well, it mostly hitscanners in corridors (and low health and armor too <3). The thing that the exit is locked by the red key and exit room it's always the same it's kinda cool.
It's fine as an opener, looking forward to get into the more interesting levels of this wad.

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I did not like Icarus when it came out, and actually stopped playing about halfway through. But hey, it's been almost twenty years – time to give it a second try.

HMP. Continuous. Frequent save/load. No music. PrBoom-plus. Infinite tall actors are on.


Map01
And immediately I am reminded why I didn't like Icarus, as we have to deal with waves of hitscanners with almost no health. It's a total RNG lottery, though I guess on the plus side it really does give the chaingun a chance to shine once you get it.

I'm also not a fan of the puzzliness of it all. Especially things like pressing on random Doom furniture to make progress. While the room where that happens is actually quite cool in execution, as the ship's chapel transforms into a profane church, it's a very very oblique bit of progress. The 'punch' door in the yellow key area is also a bit of an obtuse part. If I hadn't noticed the broken texture on the back side of it, I could have been stuck there even longer than I was.

The one secret appears to be marked on the automap only – at least if there's a visual cue in the room I can't see it.

Not a strong start to the WAD, though the sector forklift in the outdoor area is quite neat, and it is at least relatively short on the silver textures I remember being slathered all over the place in later levels.

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Icarus was my favorite PWAD when I was around ten years old. One of my favorite parts about it was the soundtrack, particularly the leitmotif style of composition, using a primary theme that's shared among many tracks (and itself sort of recalls "The Demon's Dead", the bgm of D2's map10). I skimmed through a bunch of levels some months ago, and the visuals haven't held up at all, but it'll be fun to dig up some old memories, I guess.

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Icarus Map 01 - HMP, Continuous

I attempted to get through Icarus once before, but I found a lot of the early maps to be pretty underwhelming or downright bad & quickly lost interest so I never finished it. I think that this has a lot to do wit the fact that a lot of the early maps were made by some of the worst mappers from Evilution, the perfect example of this is Map 1 of Icarus, which is the second & final map from Christopher Buteau, whose only other contribution to Doom is Habitat. Now I do like a lot about this map, such as the transport truck near the beginning, the overall design of the ship, with it's engine rooms, experiment room, the cockpit, & especially the chapel. I also like that this map is clearly able to convey a story just through your actions throughout the map, you get to the ship, repair the engines & take off into space. So pretty much the only thing about this level that I don't like is the gameplay, the map is very hitscan heavy & pretty low on health & ammo, after dying a few times from RNG I had to save scum my way through the map, which is not a good thing for your opening map. Also the progression is a little cryptic at times, it was by pure luck that I shot the imp in the cage from strait on, I don't know if I would have figured that out otherwise. So overall I think this maps is at least a decent opener & a much better effort that Habitat.

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Dang, Icarus was the first megawad I ever completed a few years back. Alas while I did stream it, I didn't save the footage. So I may consider revisiting it this month, as I quite enjoyed this wad.

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Oh good, one I can actually join with minimal effort in these chaotic times... and all because I have a playthrough of this one uploaded already.

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Pistol starts, no HUD

MAP01 Shuttlecraft

well the opener has quite a lot going for it. starts out from the cargo area, then into the actual shuttle. It can be way harder than it looks, if you're the kinda person that rushes in, the hitscanners will likely get you rather easily. On the other hand, the mad dash for the chaingun at the bridge is a pretty viable option. Buteau's style is alright here (this level is WAY better than that awful Habitat one in Evilution). The blue key sequence at the bridge is pretty odd, you have to press the terminal to open up the small key closet, and then rush to it before it closes. There's also a very strange medikit in the bridge area too. I'm sure everyone knows about that chapel thing already. that one bit where you shoot a grating then get the health bonus, while imps teleport, is another oblique method of progression. probably the last notable thing is that those teleport closets for the monsters are all rectangular, which pisses me off more than it should. still an okay opener though.

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Icarus: Alien Vanguard

I've not given this an earnest playthrough yet but I am expecting elements of it to be familiar from dipping in and out of co-op playthroughs and YouTube clips. I normally play my WADs in HMP continuous but I found large sections of Requiem and STRAIN too easy and I think missed some of the nuances of level design by carrying over an arsenal so I'm going to give this a go in UV, pistol start and saving frequently just because I don't have the time to keep up with the club if I'm spending too long replaying long sections of maps after dying. If any Icarus veterans consider any of this a bad idea please let me know up from so I can reconsider. I'll be playing in Chocolate Doom.

1

I recognised the name of author Christopher Buteau from Evilution and found he had designed the Habitat, which is a infamously grotesque level. I've not played that might for a long time myself so I won't attempt draw comparisons other than to say this map is quite decently designed appearance wise so I imagine is considered the prettier of the two sisters.

There's a little more meat on the bone than the average MAP01 here. Yes, it pretty pretty much consists of 3 medium sized areas with a few more small sub areas and monsters are restricted to the usual entry level minions, but 3 keys are required to progress and the monsters are used in quite suprising quantities, potentially spelling death by one thousand former human pea shooters if you try being cavelier. There's also a number of small design flourishes that elevate the level above typical opening level stature and hopefully serve as an apt introduction to an inventive and playful megawad.

I start the level in empathy of recent immigrant tribulations as I'm slowly raised out of the storage crate I've apparently stowed myself in (tasteless I know, sorry) to a tune that reminds me of old spy thrillers. Early on we say a sector forklift that could have been warped back in time from Kama Sutra but, despite my valiant efforts I could not get to work and then we take a lift up to a room containing some forcefields and a surprising number of hitscan zombies. After this we're at what seems to be the control deck and fiddling with some switches causes the lights to go out. I didn't realise on my playthrough that this simulates take off and space travel, which is a shame as it's a nice narrative touch if so. The area is flooding with imps that were fun to fight in the dark.

At this point Linyan's YT LP found itself in immediate use as the method to retrieve the blue key completely eluded me. The fact you're trapped in the room should have at least narrowed down my options but it was still needlessly obscure in my book and this is having just finished STRAIN!

The triggers for revealing the forcefield deactivation switches behind the blue and yellow doors were also undersold but the rooms were so small you couldn't really go too far wrong. The melting chapel was a cool effect in the yellow door area while the blue door area was just odd. Some sort of suggestion of caged imps and a demon post mortem? I only realised the cage was shootable when I saw the broken texture on the other side of the linedef like Capellan - maybe putting a monster in there was have been a sensible idea.

The forcefield doors are a nice trick but aside from this and the odd lava draining floors there seems little point in these pods. The keys could have been kept in the previous areas with the pods being reserved for secret bonuses or at least asymmetrical monster placement could be used.

I was curious about the 'no exit' sign on the door adjecent to the exit but apparently you can not get in. Would have been funny to have a second exit switch using the secret level trigger that sends the player back to the start again, though I suspect this sort of playfulness would fire some players into a rage.

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Slot: 1
Map: Shuttlecraft
Author: Christopher Buteau

I've played this a couple times before but always bounced off of it and never went any further into Icarus. We'll see if this time is any different. I'm playing on UV / pistol starting / no saves until it gets too tedious, at which point I'll probably drop down to HMP.

This is an interesting map. The combat is pretty dull - imps and hitscanners and nothing else. Because of all the hitscanners it really encourages pop and drop combat, and I actually died on my first pass through.

The control room is pretty cool, the imp ambush isn't hard per se, but by the end of it you're feeling the lack of health and ammo drops. It took me a couple minutes of spinning about to figure out where the blue key and the line to turn the lights back on were.

The imp ambush in the chapel was a bit of a fuck you considering the lack of hp and ammo, but you can neutralize it very easily if you know it's coming by just going back outside. The rest of the map was easy.

The highlights outside of the control room were turning on the engines (the mirror effect in blue key engine is intentional, right?) and the spawning imp trap cage. The spawning imp cage was really cool actually, though I wish more had been done with it.

And yeah like purist I kind of assumed the other no exit door would do something, oh well.

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purist said:

I'm going to give this a go in UV, pistol start and saving frequently just because I don't have the time to keep up with the club if I'm spending too long replaying long sections of maps after dying. If any Icarus veterans consider any of this a bad idea please let me know up from so I can reconsider.

The mapset is perfectly playable from pistol starts. It's easier than MM/Requiem IMO. But, newcomers: you will die A LOT on

Spoiler

Cargo Bay
and
(possibly) Excavations

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Cool thanks for the heads up vdgg, there were some people who found STRAIN a chore on pistol start so I wanted to make sure I wasn't running into the same situation here.

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vdgg said:

The mapset is perfectly playable from pistol starts. It's easier than MM/Requiem IMO. But, newcomers: you will die A LOT on

Spoiler

Cargo Bay
and
(possibly) Excavations

Yeah, I agree this is more of a good megawad to play for the amateur Doomers as it is easier than the MMs, Requiem, and even Team TNT's own Evilution. Don't forget

Spoiler

Another Fine Mess.

That map along with the mentioned maps have to be the most difficult in Icarus.

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UV, pistol starts, FDAs, I have seen some demos of this wad I'm pretty sure, including the D2ALL TAS UV-Speed, so I may find certain parts somewhat familiar.

Map 01: Kills: 100%, Items: 100%, Secrets: 100%, final time: 6:24 (4 deaths I think) (total time ~15 minutes)

Welp, that sure is a start. Luck is a pretty major determining factor in this one; right from getting the first shotgun; the first time I lost a ton of health on this guy, and then on a subsequent attempt I lost a ton of health there again. Then, there's the waves of hitscanners and little health, practically forcing corner-camping to have any chance of survival, which is not my favorite kind of gameplay. But the hitscanners aren't my biggest complaint in this level; at least after I got the shotgun/chaingun at the start, the rest of the level is possible to deal without too much trouble. My biggest complaint was the fight after the blue door; getting thrown into a small room full of imps isn't exactly my idea of a fun challenge; when I got there the first time, I got stuck on something and died, naturally because I wasn't prepared for the fight. Outside of gameplay, this level is ok; the first time I went through it I couldn't find the trigger that opened the blue key; I guess I didn't notice opening it the first time since I got the imps spawning in. Progression past the blue door was more confusing, though, random trigger on a chair isn't exactly intuitive (but at least the room is small enough that there isn't much to try anyway). I did like some of the ways the level changed lighting/floor heights/etc., but after obtaining the yellow key, the level seemed to run out of ideas on neat geometry changes as well. The room behind the yellow door was pretty boring, and the red key was obtained exactly the same way as the yellow key. Thus, this is definitely not a first map I liked all that much.

FDA here.

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I thought this map would be cool, I like this semi-realistic scifi ideas. With the terminals, the crolling text etc. But it wasn't interesting enough and the progression was weird/obtuse. I had to search for a playthrough on YT to see what to do, thanks BaronOfStuff!

Why would someone shoot that cage? The fact that it looks broken from behind is also wtf.

Capellan said:

PrBoom-plus. Infinite tall actors are on.

Try to turn them off, I dare you, I double dare you!

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Brutal Doom in Classic mode, BD monsters on, HMP, continous

Map 01
100% kills 100% items 0% secrets

Being able to headshot the hitscanners makes the start somewhat easy, the early chaingun was helpful against the imp ambush in the cockpit. Yellow room (infirmary? church?) took me by surprise and down to 5 hp, making the rest of the map rather difficult, finished with 3 hp. Not looking forward to start map 2 like that, oh well.

I really liked the start with the crates, it actually felt like infiltrating a ship. Getting the blue key and the shootable cage wasn't too difficult, but although I found a switch right by the exit I couldn't figure out what it opened, leaving me with a shameful 0% secrets.

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VGA said:

Try to turn them off, I dare you, I double dare you!


Crazy talk. It's not Doom without infinitely tall actors.

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Map 01

There are quite a few things I like. They thought hard about the look of the map and how you board the ship and depart is cool. I really like the music, definite inspiration from Doom II's map 10 in there. The custom textures are really neat and don't feel unnecessary or gimmicky. The chapel area was really nicely done.

On the other hand, I'm not really a fan of the gameplay this map tries to encourage. Far too many hitscanners for my liking, and when there were some imps instead, they were either in tight spaces or there were hoards of them in the dark that I found difficult to dodge. I also disliked how much I had to interact with random things to progress to the next area. Most of it felt pretty unintuitive. I only knew to shoot the cage because I saw the other side showed it being broken.

There was also not nearly enough health and I now have to start the next map with 4 hp.

Overall, the map looks nice, but the gameplay aspect leaves a lot to be desired.

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MAP01 is beautiful, especially for its time, but suffers from a terrible lack of health. I'm amazed I got through it on both my first try a week ago when I first sampled the WAD (reduced to 1 hp) and again today (reduced to 9 hp). Thank God this guy didn't do any more levels for the WAD. The next 6 are stellar, from what I've seen of them, including Ty's first offering of several. Rest in peace.

100% Kills 0% Secrets (I think I got the secret last time I played the level. It might have some health in it.)

EDIT: I just demoed MAP02 from a pistol start to avoid having to begin with 13 hp. I think it was easier that way. More tomorrow.

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SoundofDoomDoors said:

100% Kills 0% Secrets (I think I got the secret last time I played the level. It might have some health in it.)


It has green armour.

@Wildmajora: Welcome to DW!

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purist said:

It has green armour.


Which is effectively quite a lot of health, since it reduces the damage you take.

I finished the map on 38 health on HMP. Think I had about 70 armour left.

In other news, it looks like SoundofDoomDoors and I are going to disagree a lot in the next few days :)

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Was there any armour outside of the secret on map 1? I only found 1 armour shard during my playthrough which I felt was a bit weird.

I only play on UV nowadays, even though I'm not that good, because I don't feel I'm playing it properly otherwise.

@Purist - Thanks!!

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Forgot to say that I'm playing on UV and pistol starts.

MAP02 - Shuttle Bay

Kills: 99% | Items: 90% | Secrets: 50%

A shawnfest of halls filled with hitscanners. Gameplay is mostly killing with the SG groups of formers and sergeants. The layout is pretty good though, and makes look the map more complicated of how actually it it. I like the view we have of the from the previous level which we used to get here. It was really pleasing to play this level thanks to the music. This wad has a cool soundtrack, and I really like how the title theme is reprised in many songs but with different speed and instrument.
Mixed feelings on this level, good thing that is short.

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I'd probably do this if I hadn't only recently completed it. (About a month before we heard of Ty's passing) I'm just posting to say I found it interesting reading the reactions so far. I had tried to play this about 3 and a half years ago and never really got into it, but then came across it again about 2 months ago and played it all the way through. It seems others basically did the same thing.

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Map 02
98% kills, 95% items, 50% secrets

What the first map lacked in health this one sure made up for it. Again plenty of hitscanners, but the chaingun and headshots made this almost too easy. No big surprises in terms of ambushes, yellow key was an obvious one, just run and gun, then restock back to 100 hp. Didn't expect the three stooges behind the cockpit consoles, but again no big deal.

Design of the level is pretty bland, lots of grey and then some more grey. Doors opening when you approach bothered the hell out of me, I always kept closing them as they opened. The theme song of this map is currently stuck in my head, I found myself whistling it while making a fresh pot of coffee earlier.

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Map02
Yep, there's the swathes of silver I remember. I seem to recall that most of the "ship" levels are like this. I'm not a huge fan of the new textures on display here either, so visually I find this a pretty unappealing location.

I can't say I find the gameplay all that much more interesting or enjoyable. It's pretty much all straight forward and straight ahead stuff, with only the yellow key showing any really multi-angle gameplay. There are a couple of other locations where roaming monsters could have spiced things up a bit – the honeycomb area and the room just south of it, for instance – but everything is set to deaf so you can deal with it in pretty piecemeal fashion.

Resistance remains confined to mostly hitscanners with a smattering of imps, and doesn't present much challenge on continuous. Given the health and ammo liberally strewn around the level, I doubt too many of you will be working up a sweat in pistol start, either.

Of course, "not too hard" is fine for map02, but it does feel a bit odd to have such a relaxed time of it here after the much less friendly map01.

The first of Ty's four and a bit maps tomorrow.

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Icarus Map 02 - HMP, Continuous

With map 2 of Icarus we get another bad map from one of Evilutions worse mappers, this time the map is from John Minadeo the author who gave us Metal, which I think everyone agrees is the worst map from Evilutions E1. Unlike Christopher Buteau, Minadeo has not improved his skills with this map & arguably it may be even worse than his Evilution map. The big problems here are the texturing, item placement, & overall layout of the map. I'll take this time to describe the 3 types of maps that appear in Icarus, the first is the maps set on the Planet, the second are the simulation levels, & the third are the levels set on the space ship, this map is one of the space ship set maps, all of these maps I feel suffer from a lack of texture variation, there is a lot of usage of the Shawn & Silver textures & it makes these maps blandly monochrome, the only exception in this map is the yellow key room which uses metal textures throughout. Gameplay here is similar to the first map, hitscanner heavy, though this map is a bit better than map 1 as you do eventually get a green armor & health is more plentiful. Another thing that I don't like about the item placement is that it seems pretty random, there are health potions & armor bonuses scattered haphazardly all over the floor, it give the map an unprofessional feel to it. There were more progression issues in this map like map 1 had, what to do after I got the yellow key was fairly obtuse, I eventually just walked around until I found a random teleporter that had opened up. I final issue that I had with this map was with the layout & design of the map, while map 1 did a great job with the setting & telling a story in game, this map has a real randomness to it & doesn't even attempt to look like the inside of a space ship, this is one point where you do see the engines of the ship, but if you look at the automap, it's completely off to the side so you loose that sense of reality that you tried to make. And lets not forget those awful Doors that open just inches before you approach them, I was constantly closing doors as I got near them everywhere in this map. Overall I found this map to be quite a big disappointment, after this John Minadeo would only make one more map, 23 for the TNT Deathmatch wad Bloodlines, I can say for certain that I am very glad that he quit mapping when he did.

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Wildmajora said:

Was there any armour outside of the secret on map 1? I only found 1 armour shard during my playthrough which I felt was a bit weird.

I only play on UV nowadays, even though I'm not that good, because I don't feel I'm playing it properly otherwise.

@Purist - Thanks!!


I'm away from a PC so can't check an editor to find out for sure but I think the secret contains the only armour vest on the level. Capellan is correct in that it is effectively additional health in that it absorbs damage but in this instance IIRC there wasn't a great deal of action after the yellow door area it is found in so I didn't see any benefit and it was certainly no help in the trickier parts of the map.

The UV debate has flared up a few times on DW, I usually play HMP first time and then increase the stakes if I ever replay but I think UV first time will be manageable on this particular megawad - it isn't known for its difficulty.

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Map 2 - 50% Secrets 99% Kills

This is more like it! Still a lot of hitscanners but I learned from last time and played much more cautiously. I loved the 'outdoor space' view where you could see the rear thrusters. I see some people didn't like the chrome colours everywhere but personally, I didn't mind.

I thought this map was definitely easier than the last one. Almost too easy (On UV). I finished the map with 100+ health and armour and I left loads of health lying everywhere.

No massive ambushes was nice. I also found it much easier to progress. No random furnture this time!

I didn't particularly like the last map but this one definitely made up for it.

Roll on map 3!

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