Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Masters of Chaos (MOC11.WAD)


Hailing from Poland, Caleb260 and Doom_Warrior dumped Masters of Chaos on the unsuspecting populace back in May 2012. It's an unusual beast, a Heretic megaWAD for ZDoom totaling thirty-one levels. That's two episodes of ten maps and one of eleven, in case you were wondering. Masters of Chaos takes place five years after Corvus got home, whenever that happened. Apparently there was a fourth Serpent Rider waiting in the wings, "Mighty Voltrog". Well, he was originally part of the band, but the gigs got to his head and he went solo, and now he's using things called chaos crystals (not to be confused with emeralds) to drain the life from the worlds he conquers. It's up to you, of course, to put this pretender down and save the universe.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Upgrade

Overhauled the review index. I ditched the sorting codes (D1, D2, etc.) as the PWADs are now grouped separately in their own sortable tables. The only downside is you can't sort by author across multiple games, but that's the beauty of the WADs by Authors page. Enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Frozen Time (FROZENT.WAD)

FROZEN TIME
by Alexander S. aka "Eternal" aka "Deadall"


Eternal shoved Voodoo Guns out the door just in time to be hit by the Cacobus and did the same, more or less, with Frozen Time. Like Voodoo Guns, it's a large map for advanced source ports, targeting GLBoom and GZDoom in particular. I ran it without much trouble in GZDoom, but you might want to stick with Boom depending on your computer. While I would have liked to see more Eternal Doom stuff from him, or more stuff from the Voodoo Guns universe, I'm happy with this fairly straightforward and combat-centered map that has no associated story.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid

Hey! It's been awhile. I've been taking a break from Doom, of course. The straw that broke the camel's back was the release of Borderlands 2 while I was trying to slog through Masters of Chaos.


Borderlands 2 is very fun. I think I loved TVHM even more, with the exception of shit like Badass Pyro Threshers. Playing a Siren, rabid enemies didn't bother me so much. It's way above and beyond the quality of the original in story and locales and all the crazy gun stuff, though I never got behind E-tech weapons, whose fire modes are just not what I needed on Maya. Handsome Jack is a great villain and the whole game does a good job of being goofy while highlighting an undercurrent of seriousness that's there for anyone who wants to really sit down and think about some of the darker stuff that goes on during your playthrough. The enemy and health bar variety in TVHM is a great way to enforce the importance of gun variety, even the much poo-pooed fire weapons, which are invaluable for taking down stuff like rabid skags and other high-HP but only red-bar enemies. The DLC isn't exactly as interesting compared to the original's (sans the Underdome) but still fun.


McPixel was a fun throwback to the 8-bit adventure games I grew up with, sans confusing text parser and multi-screen inventory puzzles. Sometimes I wish the game had more depth, as the two-click puzzles only involve grabbing an item and then using it somewhere else. As WarioWare as the stages are, an additional step would...actually be pretty work intensive, but certainly appreciated. Still, it was a lot of fun, even trying to gold plate that final bonus round.


I haven't finished Fallout 3 yet, but I'm most of the way through the main Story. It's a very different game than the other FPSers I've played, much slower-paced and truth be told not interesting combat, but it's the exploration that's the main draw, and if you want a realistic simulation of what it's like scavenging the assorted nameless areas in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Washington D.C., then Fallout 3 is there for you. I love Galaxy News Radio and the little interactions you get with some of the NPCs. The levelling system is a pretty big "meh" coming from BL2, which just has more interesting powers all around vs. the somewhat more realistic DC wasteland. What really justified this probably year-old purchase was gunning down slavers on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.


Saints Row the Third is an absurd cavalcade of the goofiest shit wrapped up in a light package. The actual game blows by pretty quick but the surrealism escalates quite fast, with bloody cartoonish game shows, a paramilitary invasion, zombies, and Burt Reynolds. And the S&M horse cart chase, with exploding horse carts. And, well, you'd have to play it yourself to see. The plethora of side-diversions (streaking, car-surfing, base jumping, etc.) are cute but aren't really enough to keep the game going once you've conquered Steelport. Still, I enjoyed playing the comic-bookish anti-hero, what I'm assured is a departure from the previous two outings. And the character creator is a ton of fun to play with!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Corruption of Substation Alpha (DIAMONDS.WAD)

THE CORRUPTION OF
SUBSTATION ALPHA

by Bill McClendon


If you know Bill McClendon, it's probably as a contributor to some of the best projects to come out in 1997. Maybe you know him from before, though. He had two solo releases in '95, subsequent to STRAIN and Requiem. The Corruption of Substation Alpha (aka DIAMONDS.WAD, no doubt after the diamond-shaped lighting) is the second, published for Doom II back in '95. It's a MAP01 replacement which he prefers you use IDMUS09 for. As for the story, you've been sent to reestablish contact with Substation Alpha, which has been silent for four days. Of course, Hell has invaded the base, and done a short job of it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

HACX: Twitch'n Kill (HACX.WAD)


HACX was never destined for greatness. A commercial TC published for Doom II in 1997 and featuring some of the better-known authors of Doom's golden age ('96-'97) (notably superstars Adelusion and Iikka Kernanen), it came out subsequent to the release of the new breed of FPS games, namely Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. It's odd, because HACX feels like a natural bridge between the Doom and BUILD engines. It has themed maps, destroyable objects, and a penchant for goofiness that lies outside the normal bounds of Doom. Unfortunately, it never fulfilled the proposed design documents, topping out at twenty-one out of thirty-two levels replaced, and that's looking at it from a purely numerical standpoint.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

CHORD2 (CHORD2.WAD)

CHORD2
by Malcolm Sailor


Malcolm Sailor's claim to fame is the CHORD series, which consists of small, brutal, but gorgeous levels. Imagine my surprise when I open up CHORD2, the second map in the sequence, and find that it fields not only 150 or so monsters, but is also a very large level to boot. CHORD2 was released in 1997, replaces MAP26 of Doom II, and is something of an enormous castle. Sailor provides no story, nor does it really need one.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Final Doom


FINAL DOOM
TNT: EVILUTIONTHE PLUTONIA EXPERIMENT

Final Doom was id's last commercial expansion in the Doom II style until No Rest For the Living...which still isn't available separately from the Doom II packages in any legal sense. As far as contemporary video game reviews went, Final Doom was panned. It wasn't Doom III, in that Doom III would have ostensibly added more monsters, textures, and possibly weapons to the already aging Doom engine. It also got criticized for the same reasons Doom II was slagged, in that it was still using the Doom engine and the same gameplay fundamentals, albeit in radically different fashions from author to author (more notably from IWAD to IWAD). It was just two new thirty-two map replacements for Doom II, TNT: Evilution and The Plutonia Experiment. Quake was hot on Final Doom's heels, published all but five days later, and the entire industry was "moving on".

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Plutonia Experiment (PLUTONIA.WAD)


Dario and Milo Casali were already part of TNT's Evilution, sold to id for them to publish as their own. The Casalis sent American McGee a project of theirs and the maps so much impressed the overlords that they contracted them to make another megaWAD, which was to be sold alongside Evilution as the Final Doom package. The rest, as they say, is history. Plutonia has enjoyed a more positive legacy than its sister WAD, being the beneficiary of two unofficial full-replacement sequels and countless imitators. It's thirty-two more maps of Doom II action, but as anyone can tell you, Plutonia is a beast unto itself.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

CHORD1 (CHORD1.WAD)

CHORD1
by Malcolm Sailor


Malcolm Sailor loved (loves?) Sverre Kvernmo, hated Tim Willits (and probably still does), and thinks that the CHORD series is the best level set he's ever done. CHORD1 is the first map in his pet project, a MAP25 replacement for Doom II published in '97 that looks something like Doom II's Hellish fortress / mansions. His CHORDs are renowned for being short but brutal affairs, interesting some of the best and brightest of demo recorders. CHORD1 sets the standard with a berserk pack and two revenants in a circular room. I hope you're good at fisting, because you'll have to do some punching before the day is done.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

TNT: Evilution (TNT.WAD)


As you likely know, TNT's Evilution began its existence as a freeware megaWAD developed by Team TNT, who had its origins in a certain Doom mailing list. A bunch of people poured their hearts and souls into the mapset, and just as it was supposed to be released, John Romero popped in, asking if id could buy it, to be published as a commercial work. TNT agreed; thus began a rigorous playtesting / polishing session that delayed the release of Evilution until after TNT put out their freeware sequel, the illustrious Icarus: Alien Vanguard. Nowadays you can find Evilution as part of the Final Doom package alongside The Plutonia Experiment (which is kind of a TNT project, in that the Casalis were members of Team TNT).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Alpha 1 Trilogy (ALPHA1.ZIP)

The first time I played the Alpha 1 Trilogy was as part of a compilation megaWAD by Legacy engine advocate Jive. It greatly impressed me back then and that level of awe still carries through to this day. Rob Schweiner authored the three parts of ALPHA1 at different times, but uploaded a .ZIP package of the three separate WADs (ALPHA1, OOZI, and SOURCE as MAP01, MAP02 and MAP03) as early as '97. The current version has a few edits dating to '98, but it's all vanilla compatible, with Schweiner lamenting the infamous visplane limit in the author notes. The story is familiar, but welcome. There's an alien (re: demon) outbreak at the Alpha 1 base, and you're sent in to clear it out and eliminate the source.


If I had to compare the Alpha 1 Trilogy to anything, it would be striking a balance between the labyrinthine, abstract techbases of Rick Lipsey and the more polished but no less exploratory levels from Russian authors like Lainos. The Alpha 1 Trilogy levels are Eternal Doom big, and pushing between 300 and 400 monsters. They're mostly little guys but they're used in a way that makes them feel dangerous when you're not fighting the bruisers. The maps are pretty non-linear as I understand it, with progression gates tied to keys. The route you want to take in order to explore each level is up to you. If you hate switch hunts, then you'll find some solace in Schweiner's gameplay, where the effects of buttons are usually straightforward.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Urban Fire (URBANFR.WAD)

URBAN FIRE
by Eli "ProcessingControl" Cohen


Sadly, when a mapset like Community Chest 4 is compiled, some levels don't make the cut, either due to quality issues or due to being unfinished (though the latter is arguably one of the former). Urban Fire, by Doomworld forum superstar ProcessingControl, is one of these such delights, originally released as a deathmatch map as part of 32in24-11: Occupy Doomworld. He elected to convert the map to single player but since it didn't make the cut, he opted to release it as a solo piece. There's no story, of course. It occupies MAP01, plays in Boom-compatible ports, and has what should be a very familiar music selection from Duke Nukem 3D.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Community Chest 4 (CCHEST4.WAD)


The Community Chest series is one of Doomworld's oldest institutions, with the first outing published in 2003. Now it's 2012 and between Duke Nukem Forever, Black Mesa, and the release of Community Chest 4, all signs point to the apocalypse being nigh. Doomworld forum superstar Eric "The Green Herring" Baker took full control of the project after some drama I was fortunate enough to avoid. The short story is, hey, here's Community Chest 4! It comes with a sweet-ass texture pack that's seen a lot of use prior to this release, most notably skillsaw's Vanguard from 2011 (but I know there are many more, and not just because I've seen whining about overuse of the resources).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Die Young! (DIEYOUNG.WAD)

DIE YOUNG!
by Gzregorz Werner


Grzegorz Werner, a Polish English student and author of one of the features of Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1996, released three single Doom II maps in 1996. His Hidden Mountain Factory came second, while Die Young! was the first, replacing MAP01 (as do the other two). The story is short and sweet, if you can even call it a story; such was Werner's wont. You're merely informed that you must make it to the temple in the level and then escape alive. Of course, it's not that easy. You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cygnus IV (CYGNUSIV.WAD)


UK Doomer John Bye published a few Doom WADs before gliding over to Quake, himself having some claim to fame as a reviewer of levels for various id games. His most famous work is The Talosian Incident, a megaWAD produced as part of Black Star Coven (most of the work done by Bye and compatriot Malcolm Sailor). Before TALOSIAN, though, there was Cygnus IV, published for Doom II, I believe in 1996 (with a 1997 update). Bye originally released some of these maps serially; CYGNUSIV collects the scraps and fleshes the concept out to a fourteen-map episode (right on the cusp of the idgames definition of a megaWAD).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Interview on Doom Nexus

Against better judgement, Doomworld forum superstar ReX Claussen did an email-style interview with me for his "Inside the Boss Brain" feature, which he uploaded this Thursday. Read it and weep!

In other news, Community Chest 4 has taken awhile to review because I'm in love with Borderlands 2 (<3) and have been in a bit of a funk over the past week, but I'm better now. If I don't have it done after I post Cygnus IV, There Will Be Blood. Spoiler: It's really fucking good! But you already knew I'd say that, didn't you?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

1 Day of Hellish Revenge (1DOFHELL.WAD)


In 20 Days in Hell, the Doom marine was slain while defending his wife from a mugger. Hell unjustly claimed his soul unless he could survive for twenty days, but the devil isn't known for fair bargains. In 32 Hours in Pain, his stoic wife Serena battled her way into the inferno to rescue her husband. In 1 Day of Hellish Revenge, released by Kristian Aro near the tail end of 1998, the Doom marine has recovered from his injuries, but not the mental trauma. To put his troubled soul at peace, he returns once more to the Stygian pit, meting out his particular form of retribution.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

5till L1 Complex (5L1C.WAD)

5TILL L1 COMPLEX
by "Lainos"


Lainos is an author of large, exploratory levels. 5till L1 Complex is no exception. Published in 2012, this MAP01 replacement for limit-removing ports with .OGG support continues the "story" of Doxylamine Moon: Overdose, itself an offshoot of Clan [B0S]'s Sacrament. Armageddon has happened, and a man who woke up from an overdose finds himself in the post-apocalyptic aftermath, where the vile members of humanity are twisted into Hellish caricatures that roam the now still earth to feed on the remaining innocents...and each other. Waking up in the ruins, you resolve to trudge through the wilderness and try to survive for another night under the blood-red moon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

More Newstuff from DoomX

Eriance's evil twin keeps plugging away. Mr. Ramirez released a beta creature pack showcasing the trite and succubus monsters of DoomX; if you want to play around with them, load the download on this page with Doom. They replace all imps and demons, though don't expect the gameplay to be balanced.


In case you didn't already know, DoomX is a WIP megaWAD featuring two new weapons (both freeze-based) and a ton of custom monsters with new sprites. Every update on this project warms this old chunk of coal's mottled heart. If he's been paying attention to community stuff at all, he might have noticed that some kind soul painstakingly created a vore sprite set, one of the creatures he was considering adding to his bestiary.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zones of Fear (ZOF.WAD)


Zones of Fear, released in 2012, is a Boom-compatible megaWAD from the Czech Doom community, a followup to the "first" Czech community project, Quake World, which shares many of the same authors. The Czech community has an unusual character, at least, from my limited understanding. On the one hand, the classic Pavel Hodek, who WADified one of the stories of the Galaxia sci-fi serial comic. On the other, a handful of authors who love the Hell Revealed style of gameplay, authoring Kama Sutra and contributing to Plutonia 2 (with Kama Sutra 2 and more delights waiting in the wings). Zones of Fear bridges this gap with something of a working man's megaWAD.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Grim Reaper (GRIMREAP.WAD)

THE GRIM REAPER
by Grzegorz Werner


Polish author Gzregorz Werner has but three solo releases for Doom. One of these, A Hidden Mountain Factory, earned a Cacoward in spirit as part of Doomworld's Top 100 WADs. The Grim Reaper is another forgotten delight, published in 1996 and occupying the MAP01 slot of Doom II. It's an unusual level that features a bunch of new graphics, that interestingly enough look to be derived from the original Doom II set, at least in part. They give the level a very distinct look between the windows and tetronimo walls. The other thing that grabbed my attention is a pair of classical poetry quotations, no doubt derived from Werner's English studies (William Blake's "Tiger" and Gerald Manley Hopkins's "The Windhover").

Saturday, September 15, 2012

32 Hours in Pain (32HNPAIN.WAD)


32 Hours in Pain is the second installment in Kristian Aro's "20 Days in Hell" trilogy, published back in 1998. The first WAD, 20 Days in Hell, began after the Doom marine was slain by a mugger while trying to protect his wife, Serena. Hell promised Doomguy that he could leave if he managed to survive for twenty days in the abyss. Of course, they reneged, and in 32 Hours in Pain, Serena decides to go to Hell and get her husband back (courtesy of the now venerable FEMDOOM.WAD). Her journey takes her to an Earth space port to the moons of Jupiter and through the very gates of Hell. Of course, the demons won't give up their torture victim so easily, and you have to fight tooth and nail.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Eden (EDEN.WAD)

EDEN
by Mal Blackwell


Mal Blackwell has all of two single-player Doom maps to his name, but he's been a level designer on some of id's more contemporary releases, like Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Doom 3. EDEN is the first of his works, published in 1994. It's an E2M1 replacement that he felt was roughly on-par with the original trilogy, "an extension of the original game rather than 'my' level". The story is simply presented as an aside – "there's trouble in paradise, Go clean house!". It's an interesting suggestion, that the E1 aesthetic (as the map is undeniably more Knee Deep in the Dead than the Shores of Hell) is the most evocative of Zion.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Demon Eclipse Abandoned

I mention one of my long-running favorites a few weeks ago and lo and behold, its author regretfully cancels continued development. Demon Eclipse is dead. Long live Demon Eclipse! Thankfully, Eriance pledged to nominally polish what's complete (Episodes 1 & 2) and release them as the "final" beta. Some people are optimistic about Episode 3 becoming a future project (though he already has a good one in the works). I'm just happy to get the remainder what with so many projects never seeing any kind of a release. Good luck on your future endeavors. For the rest of you, keep an eye on DoomX (Youtube channel here) I'm remaining optimistic. 

EDIT: Site news... I am momentarily done with picking through older WADs (though reviews will be coming over the next month-plus) and am happily moving on to 2012 Cacoward nominees and things that piqued my interest. I also made a slight change to the review index; WADs using TNT and Plutonia as a base are no longer segregated into their own categories. They are filed under Doom II, as that best represents the kind of gameplay you can expect from them. I'm considering giving projects like Chibi Rebellion a different code to distinguish them (and other "new games") from the rest of the site reviews. Also, I'm anticipating code 64 for Doom 64 EX levels. I will eventually review Doom 64, but first, it's 2012.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

20 Days in Hell (20DNHELL.WAD)

Kristian Aro has left his own Doom legacy with partner in crime Paul Corfiatis and his critically acclaimed solo releases. What many probably don't know of is his 20 Days in Hell trilogy, released through 1996 to 1998 as part of Doomed Software alongside his friend, Lauri Kivinen. The first installment – 20 Days in Hell – occupies the latter twenty-one maps of The Plutonia Experiment. The story follows the life of the Doom marine, now a celebrity for your successes at defending Earth. While out on a walk with your wife, you attempt to defend her from a purse-snatching, only to catch a bullet in the gut and die...and wake up in Hell. The ultimate evil claims that it will release you if you can survive in its domain for twenty days. If you die, though, it's never gonna give you up. As for the map themes, Aro seems to loosely borrow the names of the original map slots (or not so loosely in some cases).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ye Olde Smudge (ChrisK for Heretic) (SMUDGE.WAD)


Chris Klie's known for his Master Levels and other megaWADs. BF_THUD! carries the subtitle "ChrisK for Doom ]["; Ye Olde Smudge is, similarly, "ChrisK for Heretic" (the original ChrisK being for Doom). Smudge enjoys the same kind of level composition as its sister, BF_THUD. The levels are small, packed into tight square areas with low-tier monsters coupled with puzzles. There's no given plot – they're just presented as the complete collection of Chris Klie's Heretic levels. Like BF_THUD, they are loosely themed on the map names whose slots they occupy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Redrum (REDRUM.WAD)

REDRUM
by Mal Blackwell


Mal Blackwell has worked on a variety of FPS projects in the past, but in 1994 he was making Doom levels like just about everyone else. Redrum is one of two single-player maps he released for the original Doom, and it's a big one, housing nearly 300 monsters and apparently bumps up against the save game limit (thankfully a non-issue for modern ports). REDRUM has no given story; it's just an expansive, organized techbase with tons of monsters to slay. The map is some kind of large, complex techbase housing quarters and facilities for personnel.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Twilight Zone (TWZONE.WAD)


One of the Doom community's most prolific WAD authors, Paul Corfiatis debuted in 1998 with a Doom II megaWAD entitled The Twilight Zone. It's had a number of updates and facelifts, notably the removal of John "Dr. Sleep" Anderson's two publicly available Inferno levels and the 2004 edition, which gave the mapset a stern tune-up, attempting to fix some of its most serious criticisms. Some people prefer the original feel, untouched by the surgeon's knife. I myself am playing through the most recent edition, which looking at some demos available on Youtube isn't very different from its progenitor. Paul doesn't give much of a story to the levels; it looks like your standard "find and kill Baphomet", with the finale text implying that the player started his journey from his bedroom, if he isn't just fighting in his dreams.

Friday, August 24, 2012

200 Reviews milestone

Oh, hey, 200 reviews! Some statistics...

200 WADs, 1484 maps, and 340 authors (specifically mappers).

That's 7.4 maps per WAD, 1.7 authors per WAD, and 4.3 maps per author.

Time to namedrop some anticipated projects:

DoomX (hope against hope...)
Interception (should be pretty good)
Back to Saturn X (does it really exist?)
Demon Eclipse (when it's done (tm))
Unholy Realms (Snakes? SNAAAAAAAKES)
TNT2: Devilution (Doomworld is the new TNT (TNTNT?)
Revelations of Doom (apocalypse in 9/8)

and like a billion other one-man megaWADs you sinners and saints are working on quite industriously, and any other community projects. Anyone who questions whether or not the Doom community is thriving must be insane. Not to dog the recent releases I've been neglecting, like Zones of Fear, Survive in Hell, and Community Chest 4. And that's just single player!

The Final Geometry (GEOMETRY.WAD)

THE FINAL GEOMETRY
by Rick Lipsey


Rick Lipsey wasn't exactly the most prolific Doom author, but his second release, Polygon Base, was featured in Doomworld's Top 100 WADs. The Final Geometry, published in 1995, is its lesser-known prequel, clearly pointing the way for the latter. It's a single level for Doom II, occupying the MAP01 slot, and it's big. Maybe not exactly as large as its progenitor, but it occupies the same general area, with Lipsey cramming as much as he can into the map's open spaces. As for the story, it's another UAC base gone south, located near a city. Your superiors send in two different teams after a cascade of unusual incident reports. You're an unfortunate member of the third, tasked to clean the base out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sector 666 (666.WAD)


Paul DeBruyne clinched the Best Mapper Cacoward (in addition to two awards for two excellent mapsets) in 2011. He's a much older fixture in the community, however, having released this episode for Doom II back in 1998, after which he took a long break, returning to author in 2007. Sector 666 consists of ten limit-removing maps, with an implied story of a marine fighting his way through a conquered Earth Defense Force base to Hell itself. Actually, 666.WAD spans eleven map slots, but MAP06 was intentionally left blank. Did DeBruyne just wanted to get it published? Or did he just want to end the episode with the intermission text?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dead Perfect (HRB.WAD)

Yonaten Donner, grand architect of the legendary Hell Revealed, has but a few other works to his name. Dead Perfect, a pairing of two short maps released to celebrate Doom's fifth birthday, draws from two of the author's contributions Team TNT's Pursuit, a deathmatch megaWAD released in '97: "Broken World"(MAP17 in TNTPURST, MAP02 in HRB) and "The Holy Goat" (MAP30 in TNTPURST, MAP01 in HRB). The levels are conversions from deathmatch to single player, though the layouts are unmistakably oriented toward multiplayer. Donner has crammed plenty of monsters into very tight places and has a few traps to keep you on your toes.


It's all-out Hell Revealed style gameplay, with both levels beginning in the middle of a brawl, forcing you to manage several hazards while you make some breathing room. Truth be gold, neither level in Dead Perfect is very difficult to play through with a little caution. The challenge arises for speedrunners attempting to blaze through these jam-packed arenas of death. The small scale of the maps makes for great, bite-sized trials which is nice if you thought Donner's longer challenges ("Ascending the Stars", "Post-Mortem") were too exhausting.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Recant (RECANT.WAD)

RECANT
by John "Dr. Sleep" Anderson


John "Dr. Sleep" Anderson is mostly known for not finishing his immaculate Inferno series, much of which was released as part of id's Master Levels for Doom II. His single Heretic level, released mid-'95, is a lost gem (along with practically every other great Raven-game map). Recant replaces E1M1 of Heretic and comes with no given story, just some notes from Anderson and the sentiment that he would have liked it to be larger, but really didn't like enormous levels anyway. Obviously, RECANT derives its title from the game it was meant for.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Alternate Doom ][ (ALTD2.WAD)


If Alden Bates is known for anything, it's probably his comparably lackluster contributions to Memento Mori and Memento Mori II (and not his adoration for Dr. Who). While poking around for author links, I stumbled upon one of his few solo releases – an episode for Doom II, titled Alternate Doom ][. It's a series of eleven maps that attempts to tell a different story of how the demon invasion could have gone down. Earth's population escapes as you stroll up to the city, leaving you on the planet to sort out the mess. Somewhere down the road, you discover a rogue asteroid orbiting Earth that turns out to be Deimos; after clearing the colony and contacting the Earth escape fleet beyond Jupiter, you resolve to return and finish the job you started. Except, Bates never came through on episodes two and three, as he was probably slain by a shambler.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Stones (STONES.WAD)

STONES
by Michael Kelsey


Certainly, Michael Kelsey will be known in the annals of the Doom community for Return to Phobos, an episode immortalized in Doomworld's Top 100 WADs. A lesser known fact – Kelsey is the author of what's generally regarded as the first "serious" Doom map. Sure, there's ORIGWAD or a number of editing demonstrations, but STONES is a pretty dense level, considering what was knocking around at the time. He published it back in March of '94, a pretty important time for fans of Doom. It's an E1M1 replacement that's short, clocking in at around 50 monsters, but fairly intricate.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cleimos 2.0 (CLEIM20.WAD)


Rand and Stephen Phares are probably one of Doom's better-known father / son teams. Back in '94, they released an episode replacement for Doom, titled Cleimos. In '95, they followed it up with a full-blown megaWAD for Doom II, with the original nine levels reused, inserted amongst the new running order. In the original installment, you played a mercenary in the year 2112 (hah), "Nuts" Kelton. Someone built an immaculate virtual reality environment on Cleimos Island, but the holodeck's safety routines fell apart while simulating Doom, of all things (the game of course). They'd rather retain the facilities, but if Nuts failed to shut them down, the powers that be were just going to nuke the site. In Cleimos 2.0, it looks as though Kelton's efforts were in vain. You play the leader of the team sent after him into Cleimos's virtual Hell.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Torture (TORTURE.WAD)

TORTURE
by Christopher Lutz


Torture is a single map for Heretic released by Christopher Lutz in 2001, though it bears a 2000 time stamp. It's a replacement for E2M3, with a pretty simple story. You're infiltrating some kind of underground dungeon to exact revenge on the beasts that have been tormenting your peers. As such, it's a mostly underground map with the sole exception being the opening balcony, from where you enter the installation.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Insertion (INSRTION.WAD)


Insertion is an episode for vanilla Doom II, released in 1998. I've seen the episode touted as kind of an extension of the Memento Mori series, drawing from some of the same talent. This is true in part, as regular Adam Williamson shows up, along with Stephen Watson of Memento Mori II fame. As for the other two authors, there's project organizer David "Tolwyn" Shaw, known more for his plethora of Doom soundtracks than his smattering of solo releases. Finally, Thomas Evans, who published some maps back in 1995, described by himself as Team TNT's biggest fan.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Year 23 - The Belly of the Beast (YEAR_23.WAD)

YEAR 23
THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
by Eric "The Green Herring" Baker


Year 23 (The Belly of the Beast) is the third map in Eric "The Green Herring" Baker's YEAR series, preceded by Year 21 (The Vanishing Point) and Year 22 (A Rock and a Hard Place). YEAR_23 occupies the MAP03 slot for Doom II and targets Boom-compatible ports, with PrBoom-Plus and Eternity being recommended. The story follows the adventure of a marine who, in Year 21, tracked down an abandoned warp gate facility, only to take an active teleporter to a rugged canyon (Year 22), where you find your way to Hell itself, where 23 begins. Though you're trapped underground, stepping stones emerge from the lava channel, as if beckoning the marine. You're in for one crazy trip.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Prayers of Armageddon (PRAY666.WAD)


Prayers of Armageddon is a Doom II megaWAD released in 2010 by Finnish Doomer "H3llraich", consisting of 33 levels, one only accessible via IDCLEV. It won't run in vanilla (or Chocolate) Doom, but it'll run in just about any other recent source port, at least as far as I can see. The story's setup may be different, but the result is familiar. Some scientist at a UAC teleportation research facility went nuts, killed his coworkers, and started bringing the hordes of Hell to your reality. You're tasked with finding the invasion's mastermind and putting an end to the ordeal.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reclamation (RECLAIM.WAD)

RECLAMATION
by Christopher Lutz


Christopher Lutz, one of the patron saints of Heretic, published Reclamation back in 2001, though it bears a 1999 time-stamp. It's a nicely sized adventure for Corvus, clocking in at ~200 beasties, replacing E2M1. It's not nearly as crazy as his more recent (2011) Icebound, instead feeling comfortably close to vanilla Heretic, both in special effects and difficulty. The plot is pretty simple. Evil has inhabited an ancient sanctuary, so you've set out to slay them and reclaim the cathedral. The journey covers a variety of gorgeous locales, including dripping caverns, subterranean ruins, and an island in a lake of fire.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Da Will (DAWILL.WAD)


Da Will is a 2009 release of Russian mapping team Clan [B0S], a ten-map episode for The Plutonia Experiment (Doom II) meant to be played in limit-removing source ports. Clan [B0S] has gone on to make more ambitious releases; Da Will should be a comparably comfortable mapset, especially for players more at home with traditional Doom II action (namely Plutonia). The plot takes the player through Central American jungles in search of the mysterious Object "33", continuing on from Lainos's Object "32". I think I've finally come to understand what the Objects are (though I'm probably wrong) – they're foreboding ruins which the UAC has foolishly constructed bases nearby. The installation by Object "33" has ceased communications, and you've been tasked with locating the ruins and finding out what went wrong.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Object "32" (32.WAD)

OBJECT "32"
by "Lainos"


Object "32" is a single map for Doom II to be played in Boom-compatible ports, authored by Lainos. It's also a large level, clocking in at around 400 monsters in this dense, dark techbase, which will quickly inflate as you take down the various pain elementals Lainos has seeded around the map. Object "32" was originally created to be part of a Russian project, Grid 32. He elected to release the final product on his own, however. The single release is the start of a trilogy of maps, followed by Object "33" (the final level of Da Will) and ending in Object "34": Sonar. His throwaway story here developed into a loose setting for the rest. Object #32 is important and headquarters lost contact with it, so you're sent to the housing base to find it. Of course, demons abound, so get to killin'.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A.L.T. (ALT.WAD)


A.L.T. is the latest release from Clan [B0S], a Russian mapping commune whose previous releases include Da Will and Sacrament. Here they have pooled their considerable talents together to create a full-fledged Doom II megaWAD for Boom-compatible ports, directed by [B0S] veteran Lainos. A.L.T.'s story is pretty simple; you begin as the sole survivor of a plane wreck, finding yourself in a strange world populated by hostile forces that resent your presence. You fight to survive, and to discover the reality of your situation, encountering a variety of worlds during your progress. The ankh is a prominent motif you'll see throughout the mapset, a nice choice of foreshadowing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TOT Comics Doom Remastered (TCDOOMRM.WAD)


TOT Comics Doom is a six-map Doom II callback to those early days of wide-eyed innocence in '94, when authors mixed traditional Doom gameplay with an occasional joke. Today, we call this kind of work a jokewad, which has become a bit of a dirty word in the Doom community. Recent jokeWADs tend to be practical jokes on the community or a barely-coherent hodgepodge of memes few people care about. The joke is, the WAD blows! Are your sides splitting from barely contained laughter? I prefer a jokeWAD of a different make and model, more like Duke Nukem 3D. There's actual gameplay to be had, and every now and then the author tries to get you to crack a smile. This type of level, first exhibited by Yak World or Shrine of the Warriors, is still alive and kicking. Mandrill Ass Project is on the modern side of things. For vanilla, we have TOT Comics Doom.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Personal Update

If it looks like I've been dragging my feet, it's because I am. Between travel and work and a couple of other things, I haven't had a lot of time for Doom. I'm still soldiering on, though it looks like I may not make my goal of reviewing A.L.T. for Newstuff, depending on how fullmetalvaran22 works through it. It's been very good so far. [B0S] looks like a solid collection of varied mapping talent, kind of like the Russian equivalent of Team TNT, but I can't help but wish Lainos hadn't stopped mapping.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Into Hell (IH.WAD)


Into Hell, by Brian "Snakes" Knox, was supposed to be an eleven-map episode for Doom II. Instead, he ran into some trouble and released the first three maps as a minisode for Boom-compatible ports. Knox promised a part two, but he's been slaving away at Unholy Realms in the interim, so the conclusion to the incredible journey has yet to materialize. The story's pretty simple. A UAC excavation site has failed to make its routine communication to the base, so you're set to investigate. You quickly realize that they've dug too deep and, resigned to your fate, sally forth, tracing the source of the corruption back to its obvious origin. That would be Hell, of course.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Four Maps (4MAPS.WAD)

Four Maps is, unsurprisingly, a collection of four short maps for Doom II from one Brian "Snakes" Knox, released late in 2009. It's made to work in ZDoom, due to the first level, which uses the Hexen map format. His freshman output, the offerings showcase decreasingly bland level design, going from flat to more height variation and from simple to more complex lighting. It's plain to see where he drew his inspiration from as far as level themes goes. MAP04 is perhaps the most interesting offering here, but you'll want to play through the first three so you're not down a combat shotgun or rocket launcher. Certainly, Knox has produced much better material since this, but 4MAPS is hardly unpalatable.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

BLT and LAKE4 (BLT.ZIP)

BLT and LAKE4
by Neal Ziring


Neal Ziring saw fit to release this package of two individual WADs for the original Doom in '94. LAKE4 and BLT are his first and second PWADs, respectively, replacing E1M1 and E2M1. Both are very much beginner material, lacking the level of artifice he would bring to SUBWAY and, later, ELEMENTS. LAKE4 is a very confined map, and pretty easy, whereas BLT is medium-sized and scatterbrained, showcasing a variety of textures in an abstract construction as could only be made in Doom, but whose layout somewhat resembles that of the more freeform Shores of Hell maps.