Monday, September 1, 2014

Berserk (BERSERK.WAD)

BERSERK
by Jon Landis


Jon Landis had a pretty full career in the early days of Doom history. He authored an episode for Doom (Eye of the Beholder), a tricksy minisode of Doom II levels (Eye of the Beholder II), and contributed a few levels to STRAIN. This little level (well, maybe not little) is BERSERK, his first offering, not to be found included in Eye of the Beholder along with his other E2 levels. And, well, for reasons you might find evident on a cursory viewing. Berserk has some of Landis's quirks that he would carry on to his later outings, but it's a very rough construction, released in 1994 for the E2M1 slot.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chaos, Uprising (RSLCHAOS.PK3)

CHAOS, UPRISING
by "Richard Smith Long"


It's time to settle down, and where would any weary inter-dimensional traveler rest his or her laurels but at Parthoris? Once Corvus slew the serpent rider and fixed that business with the insane Seraph, trouble was all but forgotten, and technology and magic was free to advance with the inexorable march of time. That's why "The Newcomer" picked the Sidhe homeworld, anyway. Pity that all good things must come to an end. After only a couple years of retirement, a horrible plague engineered by the rejuvenated Serpent Cult grips Parthoris, and your happy ass is the only one that can stop them. Maybe the combined forces of science and magic can put an end to this bullshit once and for all.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Micro Plutonia (MPL.WAD)


Micro Plutonia is one of those offshoots of the Plutonia Revisited Community Project. Most of the rejects have found their way to release one way or another, either as solo works or parts of larger mapsets. Matthias Johansson's "UAC Garden Facility" was one of the later, worked into this minisode for The Plutonia Experiment, released in 2011. The original is MAP06, while MAP04 and 05 were made to pad things to a trio. The story is about as self aware as can be - the demons have invaded some bases that are identified as "Plutonian" and you're going to make them wish they hadn't.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Esselmap I: Testing Facility (TESTFCIL.WAD)

ESSELMAP I:
TESTING FACILITY

(by Michael "Esselfortium" Mancuso)


The mere existence of this single level for Doom II, circa 2006, must gnaw away at Esselfortium's cold, black heart. Testing Facility is his earliest released work, a fairly large level for limit-removing ports that draws a lot of its aesthetic from Knee Deep in the Dead. It's actually a pretty cool MAP01, loaded with intricate secrets, some of which I think (related to the plasma rifle) are a one-time affair. Anyway, while it's for Doom II, it's largely in the style of the Phobos episode as far as textures go, though not exactly in architecture or anything. It also doesn't have a story, not that you really care about the .TXT files that come with Doom PWADs... or do you?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Quadruple Threat (QTHREAT.WAD)

QUADRUPLE THREAT
(by Eric Baker aka "The Green Herring",
Jon Vail aka "40oz",
"Super" Jamie Bainbridge,
and Joonas Aijala aka "Jodwin")


Don't touch that dial! Yes, this level has four authors. Quadruple Threat was an exercise in collaborative speedmapping, which is to say that each contributor made a section of the map in roughly 100 minutes, after which the pieces were sown together. Some of these Doomworld Forum superstars may look familiar to you. The Green Herring is of course none other than the current curator of the Community Chest series. 40oz and Super Jamie published UAC Ultra. Jodwin I know as the creator of Jade Earth, yet another highly-regarded map that I haven't played. Together, they've made this map, which is half marble fortress and half built into the earth. There's no story, just around 300 demons to kill.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

LaboUAC (LABOUAC.WAD)

LABOUAC
(by "jameson2_fr")


Looking at the title, I can divine that LABOUAC involves some kind of lab facility that was at one point ran by the UAC. That's pretty much it, though as you walk through the facilities, you'll see that they've been dabbling in plenty of things that aren't remotely related to gate technology... unless they found them as a result of the resulting exploration missions. LaboUAC is jameson2_fr's first release on the archives, published in 2014 as a MAP01 replacement for GZDoom. It's pretty accomplished for a first-timer, if that is indeed the case, though with a level this long I wonder why he didn't come up with something, anything to replace D_RUNNIN.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to Hell (BAK2HELL.WAD)


There have only been a few OG Doom megaWADs, but there have been dozens of episode replacements. Back to Hell, finished by Dave Seager in 1995 and released, perhaps, in 1996, is one of those many Doom eps that struggles to get some kind of recognition in a field dominated by E1, E2, and E3 tributes of all shapes and sizes, not to mention stuff like the Serenity trilogy. Why, I'm practically smothering it in the process of writing this review! BAK2HELL draws some inspiration from the original Doom, and it's definitely Hell-themed, but Seager's take is distinctly his own.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Zen Dynamics (ZENDYN_X.WAD)


I don't know much about the progression of the ZDoom modding scene. I do know that early works like Tei Tenga and Hell Factory are lauded as being watersheds of things like hubmaps and cutscenes, and I also know that Xaser's Zen Dynamics is heralded as the progenitor of most modern weapon mods in one way or another. Released in 2005 (with an update in 2006 making some major changes and adding a level), Xaser replaced every weapon in the Doom arsenal and added a few more just to give you something to think about as well as threw in a ton of new enemies for you to ponder on. At a modest ten maps, you get something of the feel of how these things change gameplay, as well as what the ZDoom engine was capable of at the time.