Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Resurgence (RESURGE.WAD)


Joshy released Surge in early 2012. It was an unfinished collection of speedmaps built upon the idea of forcing the player to "surge" forward through the level's action in order to clear a spot that was safe enough to stand in. After a hiatus from mapping, Joshy picked it up again and finished the set for release in 2014, re-branding it as Resurgence. Like its progenitor and Speed of Doom, this is a megaWAD for Boom-compatible ports that emphasizes gut-busting action and intelligent, fast-on-your-feet decision making. Unlike Surge, there's actually something of a story, with you waking up from the oblivion of death and having to fight your way out of Hell and back to the realm of the living on Titan before you can put a stop to Hell's invasion. Something goes wrong on the way, of course, and you're launched into the future where Hell is completely entrenched, but it wouldn't be a Joshy map if you weren't facing overwhelming odds.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Going Down (GD.WAD)


mouldy snuck into the Doom community in 2012, releasing The Eye as his debut. While contributing to community projects like NOVA and Doom 2 in Name Only, he began Going Down, his obligatory one-man megaWAD. It's a full 32-map replacement, completed in 2014 to be played in Boom-compatible engines, though some of its clever faux-scripting will leave you wondering if that is truly the case. mouldy's has a pretty simple story, with Doomguy assaulting an ominous UAC tower, starting at the top floor and then working his way down via elevator. Of course, he hits the ground floor at MAP07 and spends most of the rest of the time going... deeper. You also get to see the softer side of Doomguy, who rings up his mother occasionally as he makes his way through the infestation. If that sounds a wee bit cheeky to you, well, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Shadows of Chronos (KAISER_28.WAD)


The only thing more rare than a Hexen PWAD is a HACX PWAD. But, uh, this isn't about a HACX WAD - it's about Shadows of Chronos, a 5-map hub for Hexen released in 2014 by Doom veteran Kaiser. For those keeping track, this will be the first Hexen PWAD reviewed on my blog, but that's not because I hate Hexen. In fact, I love it to death. Hexen maps are just few and far between, due to a number of factors including but not limited to its relatively minor fanbase, balancing maps for three different classes, the original's presentation of hub-based gameplay, dependence upon puzzles that many players find to be obtuse, and only having four weapons at a time. It's basically the FPS version of a dungeon crawler, minus the cool loot, party system, and (for the most part) character progression. Hexen has its own definite niche, as small as it is, and if it even barely intersects with your interests, then read on.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Gene-Tech: Before the Storm (NJGTB4TS.PK3)

GENE-TECH
BEFORE THE STORM
by Nigel "Enjay" Rowand


Enjay was there at the start of Doom's community in 1994 and he's been consistent in pushing the old, creaking game into new directions with his work in the ZDoom engine. Gene-Tech is his latest release, and one that comes after a bit of an authorial hiatus. It's a single map for any Doom IWAD to be played in GZDoom, but it isn't short by any stretch of the imagination. The story is pretty simple; Gene-Tech is a shady corporation on Mars (DUN DUN DUNNNNN) that has been making some stunning advances in genetics and cybernetics, but word has it that the source of their good fortune isn't human. The rules on first contact scenarios are quite clear on the situation and as such you're sent to investigate and end any security threats to the human race.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bloody Steel (BLDSTLP.WAD)


Big Memka was as one of the main contributors to Whitemare 2, the Russian Doom community megaWAD of 2014. His maps had a high level of visual polish and tended toward compelling, if linear, gameplay, excepting the now-infamous "Gloominarch's Realm". Bloody Steel, Memka's first solo release, gives us a deeper look into his personal predilections, free of the artificialities of speedmapping. Another foray into Russian realism, Memka delivers a nine (or ten if you're generous) map episode that's more varied in gameplay variety and, again, practically dripping with detailing. The levels were designed for Boom-compatible engines, I believe, but are best experienced in GL ports (GLBoom / GZDoom) mainly due to the skies. I made it all the way through in ZDoom before realizing, with only ugly visual bugs to show for my ignorance.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Adventures of Square (SQUARE1.PK3)


Every now and then, someone uses the Doom engine to craft what is for all intents and purposes a brand new game. Heretic was the original, but then you got your Chex Quest, your Harmony, your Action Doom II... and now, The Adventures of Square. Jimmy had a vision, a vision of a plucky cigar-chewing square that fought the evil circles of Shapeland with gratuitous paint guns. Today, with a little help from his friends, that dream is now a reality. Right now, there's only one episode to Square's adventures, but two more episodes are promised in the selection screen - Cheddar Apocalypse and In the O-Void. If they're anything like this first release, well, I'm waiting, fellas.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Back to Saturn X E2: Tower in the Fountain of Sparks (BTSX_E2X.WAD)


It's been a little more than a year and a half, so it's about time that we saw the Back to Saturn X Episode II beta. BTSX started out as a single megaWAD, but an abundance of contributors caused an internal split into what eventually became three "episode" megaWADs. Get Out of My Stations, the "shareware" episode, made its public debut at the tail end of 2012. It got a lot of flak for its techbase stylings, but it's one of my favorite releases of the 2013 season for its impeccable visuals and light speed gameplay. Tower in the Fountain of Sparks looks to be one of the top releases of 2014, and for good reason.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Classic Episode (CLASS_EP.WAD)


Jan Van der Veken showed his love for the original Doom back in 1997, when he authored Dawn of the Dead. The Classic Episode began life as a series of solo releases that Veken worked on whenever he got bored with mapping for The Darkening E1 and it sort of caught on with his teammates. Jan eventually collected the individual releases and, after adding two more, released the package as this in 2000, though not in the order you'd expect. He updated the release two years later - version 2.0 - with various balance tweaks and level changes, and that's the version that I'm reviewing. Since the scope of the project was somewhat incidental, there's no attempt to tie these levels together with any kind of story, just a note that the authors were attempting to mimic the atmosphere of Doom as accurately as possible.