Sunday, April 16, 2017

Trust (TQTRUST.WAD)


Tommie Quick made a couple of vanilla maps back in 1997, took some time to tour with TNT and their deathmatch megaWADs, and then jumped into ZDoom modding with several releases in 2001. Trust came first; it's a Doom II mapset with what technically amounts to seven levels, but the first three are pretty much just iterations of MAP01 that I assume exist due to technical limitations with ZDoom at the time. Trust shares some details with 2000's Paranoia as both of them crib some ideas from Half-Life, then still hot on the minds of FPS fans, but Trust remains much more grounded in Doom's universe.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

UAC Headquarters (TQMAP02.WAD)

UAC HEADQUARTERS
by Tommie "Fatal" Quick


Tommie Quick slid in at the end of Doom's Golden Age, releasing a few levels in 1997 before hitching his wagon to Team TNT and helping to crank out a few deathmatch megaWADs. UAC Headquarters is his second publication, but I get the feeling that it's actually kind of old, perhaps a relic of an unreleased portfolio that he simply felt good enough to push out the door. Like his Flood Mines, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. That one was sort of an underground earth / tech split, though, where TQMAP02 is all tech and while the vast majority of the level does not take place outside, most of it occurs within the titular UAC Headquarters. Why you're clearing out another UAC installation isn't mentioned but any reason should come fairly quickly to the imagination.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Flood Mines (TQMAP1.WAD)

FLOOD MINES
by Tommie "Fatal" Quick


Flood Mines is Tommie Quick's (aka Fatal) first published level, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II released in 1997. A member of Team TNT at the time, it wouldn't be until their later deathmatch WADs (Pursuit and Reclamation) where he would establish himself as a contributor. If he's known for anything, though, it's probably his 2001 ZDoom projects, TRUST and Doom Resurrection Episode 1. Where those horsed around with stories and setting, there is nothing establishing the setting of Flood Mines. It's just an ordinary extra mission for Doom II, prestigious by association.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Darkest Hour (DARKHOUR.WAD)


Hexen II... Quake II... Half-Life... Quake III... Dark Forces. 2000-2001 was a pretty busy period for Rex Claussen and saw him play with a lot of different themes, adopting resources from different games as he embraced the ZDoom engine as more than just another limit-removing port. First designing for jumping with Military Research Complex, he later incorporated scripting with Paranoia and hub systems with Temple of the Ancients, finally including actual monster modifications in this, The Darkest Hour (DeHackEd, I know, but work with me!). DARKHOUR, a Star Wars-themed 2001 release, was Rex's only release of that year and consists of seven maps, one of them a secret that requires you to use the force... of a rocket. At your feet.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Temple of the Ancients (TEMPLE2.WAD)


In some ways, Temple of the Ancients is the sort of project Rex has been leaning toward since he began his authorial career. While testing his levels in ZDoom, they weren't really specific to it until he started to embrace jumping with Military Research Complex. Phoenix Rising saw him play with the idea of if not the actual mechanics of a Hub arrangement and Paranoia involved the incorporation of scripted events to push the gameplay slightly beyond the tried and true limits of Doom. TEMPLE2 then takes both of these elements and welds them together for a dashing adventure, released in 2000. While Temple of the Ancients is another five-level mapset, it sits in map slots 10-14 instead of the MAP02-MAP06 block that Phoenix Rising and Paranoia had. This is the one time I can't really guess at why it's structured as such since Claussen has used the MAPINFO lump to set skies and music.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Paranoia (PARANOIA.WAD)


So far, I've played two of Rex Claussen's 2000 Doom II "TCs". The first, A Hex On You, mined the resources of Hexen II. The following release, Phoenix Rising, pulled from the world of Quake II - among other things. This time, he's set his sights on the world of Half-Life with Paranoia. It has a few superficial commonalities with PHOENIX; it has five maps, for one, also spanning MAP02 to MAP06. However, where Phoenix Rising only took the textures from Quake II, Paranoia makes a thorough bid for Total Conversion by also using weapon and enemy sprites pulled from the game's models and sort-of-kind-of-finding matches in Doom II's monsters. The result is... interesting.

Friday, March 3, 2017

No End In Sight (NEIS.WAD)


It all began back in 1997; Emil Brundage released The Beginning of the End (Part 1), laying the seeds for an author crush that saw consummation with the advent of Doom the Way id Did some fifteen years later. Xaser was (and still is) Emil's biggest fan, and while none of the latter's maps made the final cut for DTWiD, the two plied together their trades with the inimitable Chris Lutz to make their OWN original Doom megaWAD. Thus began No End In Sight, a project that did not seem to have an end in sight. However, in 2016 it exited Limbo along with its fellow offshoots (Phobosdeimos Anomaly and Doom the Way id Did: The Lost Episodes).

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Phoenix Rising (PHOENIX.WAD)


The year 2000 saw then-Gurkha Boy but future-Rex Claussen move away from the tried and true vanilla Doom II textures to experiment with assets derived from other games in a minisode format. The first theme on the list was Hexen II, explored in the cheekily-titled A Hex On You. The next on the chopping block: Phoenix Rising, a five-map minisode for Doom II that uses resources from Hexen II's sister game, Quake II. Like HEX_ON_U, it's mean for a limit-removing source port that has several features like jumping, so anything in the ZDoom family ought to work. One important note: PHOENIX begins on MAP02, so make sure you set your clock ahead one level.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Hex On You (HEX_ON_U.WAD)


2000 was a pretty big turning point for Rex Claussen. While he was still going by Gurkha Boy, he paused the manufacture of ostensibly limit-removing levels (following the trend of Military Research Complex) and returned to the minisode format of his first release, Quo Vadis. More importantly, Rex started experimenting with texture packs for new level themes. A Hex On You is the first of these "total conversions", a three-level minisode for ZDoom that uses the textures of Raven Software's highly popular Hexen II. The one thing that's not particularly like Rex is the lack of some sort of prose establishing the action, but the author has deigned to pitch the levels like a tour guide in the .TXT.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Arena (ARENA_01.WAD)

ARENA
by Rex Claussen


Rex Claussen started out under the moniker of Gurkha Boy, making levels for limit-removing ports after enjoying Ian Wilson's Herian 2 as well as some correspondence. Arena, his fifth release, breaks with the source-port requirement for the first time for an experience that can be enjoyed in vanilla Doom II. It's a MAP22 replacement released in 1999, and it's also really, really easy to explain because it's actually a scant 19 monsters deep. It's literally an arena, of course, and nothing more. One of those interstitial ambushes as Doomguy travels between larger adventures, I suppose.

Friday, February 17, 2017

maintenance mode II

CURRENT STATUS: backfilled through May 2014

(the original post)

This is an update to my image hosting situation since I recently hit a major milestone. All reviews back through October 2014 (stopping at BTSX E2, the last one I had all the 1280 res images backed up for) have been backfilled. I have some others from June and May of 2011 and a few isolated stuff I did for tumblr Screenshot Showcases (like Speed of Doom) but from here on out I will be backfilling from my Imgur library, saved at a more sensible resolution of 640 / 600, depending. I did a good job at making a healthy review buffer but I will be eating through it due to working way too much overtime and my daughter, my firstborn on 11/29/16. Doom is not forgotten, but I may stretch out those Claussen episode reviews to seven days instead of the five day norm, depending on what I get done.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Military Research Complex (COMPLEX.WAD)

MILITARY RESEARCH COMPLEX
by Rex Claussen


Military Research Complex is Rex Claussen's fourth release in 1999 and the fourth release of his career. Like his previous level, Decimate, it's a MAP01 replacement designed for advanced source ports and tested in ZDoom. There are a few really big differences, though. For one, COMPLEX is a HUGE level when it comes to real estate, which is in stark contrast to Claussen's relatively short levels, though it meshes with the swaths of empty space in the comparatively smaller Decimate. More importantly, Claussen's previous releases specifically mentioned that they were not designed around jumping; Military Research Complex is and says as much in the .TXT. If you assume otherwise, like I did, you'll be hopelessly stuck.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Decimate (DECIMATE.WAD)

DECIMATE
by Rex Claussen


Rex Claussen got his start in 1999, making levels for ZDoom because of its limit-removing feature. He was apparently inspired by Ian Wilson's Herian 2; Wilson subsequently played the master to his apprentice as Rex - as Gurkha Boy - learned the ropes of Doom editing. Decimate is Claussen's third career release, coming in the later part of 1999. It's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, just what you need to get your motor D_RUNNIN. While Rex tested these levels in ZDoom, I don't believe that he used any of its more specific "features", so they ought to work fine in any limit-removing port.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Fear Island (FEAR_ISL.WAD)

FEAR ISLAND
by Rex Claussen


Back when Rex Claussen started mapping, he was making what he hoped were limit-removing PWADs and testing them in ZDoom, inspired by his admiration and correspondence with Ian Wilson of Herian fame. Fear Island is his second release both in 1999 and in his entire career, a single level replacement for Doom II in the MAP22 slot that works fine in ZDoom and might work in other source ports. Unlike his first publication, Quo Vadis (aka PUGILIST), there isn't an enormous story document; Claussen's presentation is short and to the point, much like the level itself.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Quo Vadis (PUGILIST.WAD)


Ah, 1999, when ZDoom was fresh on the streets. Ian Wilson made the considerably more polished if still contemptibly obtuse Herian 2 and thus suckered in another Doom author. I'm talking about Rex Claussen, but he went by Gurkha Boy back then. Rex went on to have a long and storied career, beginning with Quo Vadis, a three-level minisode for Doom II. I'm not sure if PUGILIST - named for its gameplay and the story that justifies it - is specific to ZDoom, or if it will work fine in any limit-removing port, which is what the .TXT implies. All I can tell you is that it was tested in ZDoom and as of the time of this writing ZDoom still works.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Castle of Eternal Carrot in the Sky (COECITS.WAD)

CASTLE OF ETERNAL
CARROT IN THE SKY

by Fredrik Johansson


Fredrik's biggest claim to fame is his Vrack series, firmly establishing the space base theme in our hearts, but he released one other map in 2001 besides Doomworld's Top 10 favorite Vrack 2b. The unusually-titled Castle of Eternal Carrot in the Sky, like his previously released levels, is a MAP01 replacement meant to be played in Boom. Opinion on /idgames appears to be fiercely divided, and it's pretty easy to see why within moments of loading up the level. It's a Hellish, Gothic castle of green marble and dingy metal floating in the limitless void of Hell with pools of toxic blood dominating its back half. This isn't why it's earned the ire of some of its players, though.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Vrack 2b (VRACK2B.WAD)

VRACK 2B
by Fredrik Johansson


The original Vrack was released back in 2000, inspired by Dystopia 3's MAP04 and LucasArts's Dark Forces. The name of the game was a base in space, and a big one at that. Fredrik's orbital platform was a pretty novel setting, but it didn't quite catch the eye of the public as strongly as Vrack 2 did, leading to its enshrinement as one of Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 2001. There are actually two versions of the sequel on the archives, original and extra crispy (2b). All of the changes are under the hood, adding Deathmatch starts, a REJECT table, and cleaning up the artificiality of space; the original remains for demo compatibility purposes. That said, this review was written on Vrack 2b, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II and designed for Boom.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Vrack (VRACK.WAD)

VRACK
by Fredrik Johansson


Vrack 2 gets all the accolades as the face that launched a thousand space base levels, but Fredrik Johansson started out with just plain Vrack back in the year 2000. If you don't know who Fredrik is, well, you may have seen him up at the top of Doomworld's Post Hell. He's also done some other really cool things for the community, like create the Omgifol tool used to create those lovely automap-type images and start up the Doom Wiki project. The original Vrack is his first publication, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II to be played in Boom-compatible ports. The story about as threadbare as can be ("somewhere on a base located somewhere in space") and references contemporary Doomworld forum member Mewse, so just take it for what it is: an excuse to go slaying demons on a big space base.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Null Space (NULSPACE.WAD)

NULL SPACE
by Russell Pearson


Russell Pearson started making maps back in the early days of the community but then took a break until 2000, where he started looking over his unreleased works originally created as part of a TC entitled DoomTown3. Pearson ended up putting his past behind him while working on a level that better reflected his changed sensibilities as of the year 2000. He even went so far as to axe a section of level that he liked but felt did not fit the spirit of what he was trying to do, leading to 2001's Deleted Scene. The final product is the much beloved Null Space, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, also released in 2001.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

DoomTown (DOOMTOWN.WAD)


Russell Pearson didn't start publishing Doom maps until the year 2000, but he was working on his token ambitious TC back during the early days of Doom modding; 1995 by his estimation. DoomTown3 was probably planned to be a megaWAD, but Pearson released several select levels from it - Blastem2 and Tunnel Run - as well as a small deathmatch level (Close Kill) before publishing the remainder in a small map pack called DoomTown. I imagine that the author felt compelled to break from his history. Released in 2001, this is a three-map minisode for Doom II, to be played in any port owing to its pre-source origins.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Deleted Scene (DELETED.WAD)

DELETED SCENE
by Russell Pearson


Russell Pearson released his seminal Null Space at the tail end of 2001, but not before nixing some material. Where some authors would be content to just slash and burn, though, Russell took the extract and released it on its own as a sort of extra. Deleted Scene is thus just that, plus a few small sections from the originating work so that it's a fully functional level. The end result is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, released in 2001 for any vanilla-compatible port. Its origin as an outtake is the closest thing you're going to get to a story, though it's interesting to read Pearson's author notes, which talk about why he cut it but also posture it as a sort of teaser for the impending Null Space.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tunnel Run (TUN-RUN.WAD)

TUNNEL RUN
by Russell Pearson


Russell Pearson was one of several authors to come to the forefront with the advent of Doom's silver age resulting from the release of source ports like Boom and ZDoom, but where guys like Kurt Kesler and Ed Cripps were playing around with The New Technology, Russell remained to hack it out in plain vanilla. At least, until he released Crypt of the Vile. His first big project was supposed to be a TC called DoomTown3, but he doled out two of its planned levels - Tunnel Run and Blastem 2 - as single level releases before publishing the other three as Doom Town proper. This review covers the second release, Tunnel Run; released in late 2000, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Blastem2 (BLASTEM2.WAD)

BLASTEM2
by Russell Pearson


If Russell is to be believed, he started making his initial crop of maps back in 1995. The goal: a TC called DoomTown3. In 2000, he published two select entries from the TC; the language in his releases leaves room to interpret that DoomTown3 was shaping up to be something ambitious ("presented here as a straight forward Doom2 level") but I am more inclined to believe that TC was to Russell what megaWAD is to me. DoomTown3 was never finished as Russell envisioned it, but we have its finished bits and pieces. Blastem2 was the first of Pearson's levels to ever see publication, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Sin City (MA_SINC*.WAD)

SIN CITY
by Ed Cripps


Ed Cripps had a pretty unassuming series of releases before his Big One; a little Doom II water plant, a new Icon of Sin level, and a pair of Knee Deep in the Dead-styled Doom maps. He knocked off single player for awhile and did some deathmatch mapping before returning almost two years later with this, Sin City. Like his previous levels, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, just a bit later in 2001. Unlike his past works, though, it was made for what was at the time the cutting edge, a beta release of ZDoom, showing that making stuff for rev versions and non-release Git builds has a long and storied tradition.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reunion 02 (REUNION2.WAD)

REUNION 02
by Ed Cripps


Ed Cripps's Reunion series is only two levels long, both made in 1999 before entering the spotlight with Sin City and parts beyond. For whatever reason, after starting out with the Boom engine Ed dialed it down to vanilla. I assume that, like so many authors before and after him, he was attempting to cut his teeth on a familiar style. Both Reunion levels are patterned after Knee Deep in the Dead in their texture themes. Reunion 02, also like Reunion 01, occupies E1M1. While the map has roughly the same amount of monsters, the number of each is a bit different, and while it still has that angled-off corners feel that makes it feel more organic, Reunion 02's approach to level design has some key differences.