Thursday, June 23, 2016

Strange Aeons (STRANGEAONESV53.PK3)

(This review is an expansion and edit of my review for v3.x of Strange Aeons. The original is still available here.)

Strange Aeons was originally released in 2015 as a three-episode megaWAD for the original Doom. Since then, Impie has added two additional episodes, bumping it up to a full 45 levels and including a patch so that it can be run in either Doom OR Doom IIAs it requires ZDoom, it's something much more than a plain ol' Doom mapset; its almost exclusive use of textures from Chasm: The Rift, coupled with a few new weapons and a basically brand new bestiary, puts it right alongside the other "total conversions" of yore... and recent memory. It also has a plot, set up in the PDF and expanded in the end text of each episode, so you're free to get as invested as your imagination will allow.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Absolutely Killed (KILLEDC2.WAD)

Previously, I had not had the pleasure of experiencing Ryathaen's work. I know that he made a handful of maps for 1 Monster, but that's one of the many megaWADs I have yet to play. In 2016, he published Absolutely Killed, an episode one replacement for the original Doom to be played in limit-removing ports. The title sounds something like a monster-heavy experience, evoking shades of those slow-rolling OG Doom slaughters. Absolutely Killed is decidedly oldschool, however, in its design sensibilities. I don't mean that its design is 1994 randomness; quite the contrary. Ryathaen's layouts are, for the most part, tight and quite efficient. The difference is in the way it plies gimmicks instead of and in addition to ordinary combat.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

rf 1024 (RF_1024.WAD)

Exquisite Corpse begat Congestion 1024, which begot the now maligned 1024 fad of Doom mapping. Jason Allison, aka rf`, was on the train back in 2006, adding an additional constraint. Now, ten years later, he's created a whole megaWAD for ZDoom and Eternity (make sure you have infinitely tall monsters off) - rf 1024. If you didn't already know, the premise of a 1024 map confines the area available for player movement to a size of 1024 by 1024 map units. The map itself could be as big as you wanted, and indeed many 1024 levels involved copious amounts of teleport coffins to turn a tiny level into a full-fledged slobberknocker, or various ledges and elements outside the playing area for detailing, world-building, and monster perches.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Urotsuki 2: Cargo Cult (UR2CARGO.WAD)


Lainos's 2015 arc was the enigmatic Urotsuki trilogy, a series of post-apocalyptic levels that owed some amount of aesthetic inspiration to the infamous Urotsukidoji anime. The main drive was to experiment with a new style, a sort of horrific technological creep dominated by mysterious pyramids. Urotsuki 2: Cargo Cult begins his new phase in 2016, exploring the same themes but adding just enough additional information to cast deep shadows into his fascinating setting. Like the rest of the Urotsuki series, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II meant to be played with limit-removing ports - specifically, PrBoom-plus's -complevel 2.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Extinguished (EXTNGSHD.WAD)

by "Stormwalker" aka "Vordakk"

Doomworld Forums expatriate Stormwalker has been cranking out some pretty solid mapsets over the past few years. Extinguished, a single MAP01 replacement released in 2016, has a few things in common with his previous Doom II release, Flashback to Hell. All of the Earth-based levels in FTH666 owed no small amount of inspiration to the levels they replaced. EXTNGSHD is similarly a riff on Doom II's MAP21, "Nirvana", down to the thesaurusized map name. Apparently, it started out as something of a remake, but the final product got further and further away from the original. You'll probably recognize the homages, most obvious at the beginning. Afterward, things deviate further and further.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

That Urban Sence... (URBAN.WAD)

by Christian Hansen

Chris Hansen released a bunch of shorter levels for Doom II through 1998 and 2000, but That Urban Sence - a MAP15 replacement for Doom II published a mere month after Hansen's retirement from level design in 1999 - may be the shortest. It only figures, since it's an attempted deathmatch level that's also populated with monsters to court the single player crowd. While Chris notes that URBAN has the accoutrements of a deathmatch WAD, you'll see manic acknowledgement that he never actually tested it as such. If you've had some experience, then by all means, write in! Otherwise, it's getting the same treatment that Hansen gave it.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Elf Gets Pissed (ELFGP.WAD)

Everyone loves Doom. Sadly, Heretic user levels are few and far between. Is it because of the bestiary? The colorful but muted impact of its weapons? Or does juggling an inventory get in the way of fantasy run and gun? Whatever the reason, Heretic faithfuls such as myself are so blessed that Doomworld Forum superstar RottKing has been nursing his Heretic fetish over the past few years. The end product, released in 2015, is Elf Gets Pissed - a Heretic episode one replacement to be played in ZDoom. RottKing's last big dance was his 2011 duet with Ralphis, Double Impact. But, uh, I can't really compare DBIMPACT with ELFGP as Heretic's gameplay carries certain inalienable elements that prevent it, for better or for worse, from being a mere fantasy reskin of Doom.

Monday, May 23, 2016

No Sleep For the Dead (NOS4DEAD.WAD)

Jan Van der Veken made a big splash in 1997 with Dawn of the Dead, an episode replacement for the original Doom, and followed through with contributions to The Darkening, The Darkening E2, The Classic Episode, and finished with the latter's sequel, Singularity Complex I. That was, of course, before No Sleep For the Dead. Released in 2016, NOS4DEAD is Veken's first mapset in more than ten years... and it's wicked cool! Jan replaces the entirety of Knee Deep in the Dead, along with a bonus map in the E2M1 slot, for another trip to the likeness of Phobos that's sure to delight Doom players from all walks of life.