Thursday, December 29, 2011

DoomX Not Dead!

Pierre Ramirez's DoomX project site went down for a good few days, sending a smidgen of incoming traffic to my blog. Apparently it was hacked, but it's back up with a minor update, concerning his badass-looking "freeze thrower" (and "freeze gun"). I wanna play this so bad.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hanging Gardens (HGARDEN.PK3)

HANGING GARDENS
by Paul "Skillsaw" DeBruyne


Hanging Gardens is a single map for GZDoom by Paul DeBruyne, released concurrently with Lunatic. It's the only part of an abandoned project he deemed worth releasing. It was supposed to take place on some kind of desert base, and judging from some of the elements present, it appears to combine elements of Serious Sam's gameplay with Doom's, but after having played DeBruyne's other maps I think this kind of slaughtery action is just his style. It also has a few new monsters, pulled from the Realm 667 Bestiary, the Suicide Bomber and the Archon of Hell. If I'm not mistaken, HGARDEN also has its own special effects pack, derived from Nash's gore mod.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Plutonia Revisited Community Project (PRCP.WAD)


The Plutonia Experiment was a megaWAD created by the Casali brothers for id Software as part of the Final Doom package. In the years since, it's enjoyed a more favorable legacy than its sibling, TNT Evilution, so much so that it's had two unofficial sequels, Plutonia 2 and the WAD which this review covers, Plutonia Revisited. Plutonia Revisited's scope is a bit narrower than Plutonia 2, however, as the PRCP focused on vanilla compatibility (the trend of 2011). The only flaws you'll encounter when playing the original .EXE are a few maps that invoke the savegame buffer overflow (hooray for source ports!). In fact, this project has a few instances of mapping tricks that require vanilla emulation in source ports (notably some linedef hoodoo in MAP31). Redacted 05/01/12.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Helltrip (HELLTRIP.WAD)

HELLTRIP
by Jason "Hellbent" Root


Root initially introduced Helltrip fishing for possible titles to a WAD he was working on that was freaking him out:

"Maybe because it's the middle of the night and the lights are off, but this wad I'm working on is really freakin' me out. I mean, if this isn't hell, I don't know what is. Doom doesn't scare me that much anymore, but the second half of this wad does. It feels like the monsters are coming out of the walls. It is twisted evil, hellbent on seriously deranged destruction. Too bad it's designed for only the most hardcore and intense doomers."

Reception on the archives has been split dead even, with people despising it as boring, absolute trash or loving it to death as an intense, spooky experience. I myself am split. I certainly see where both sides are coming from, erring a bit more towards the lovers than the haters.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nilla Doom (NILLA.WAD)


Nilla Doom is a seven-map episode for vanilla Doom II (duh), courtesy of Doomworld forum superstar Use3D (Mike Alfredson). The plot is simple and winking, following the adventure of a post-retirement marine as he attempts to warn his neighbors of another incursion of Hellspawn. It's a mixture of outdoor / indoor techbases and underground maps before finally settling into Hell itself, mostly to the familiar soundtrack of Rise of the Triad. This of course invites comparison to Hell Revealed, which isn't far off the mark. Nilla Doom is challenging, as though the first episode of HR got together with The Plutonia Experiment and had a baby. Those who fear Doom II's bestiary should avoid; Use3D puts the expanded roster to good work.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Favored of the Doomed


On the 10th anniversary of Doom's release, a bunch of Doomworld regulars got together and came up with a list of the Top 100 WADs of All Time, with ten representatives from every year. Unofficially, this feature constitutes the first ten years of Doomworld's current annual institution, the Cacowards, though the Cacowards are a bit more extended. Because these WADs come so highly recommended, they're part of my review itinerary. And, well, I figured I'd slap together a master list for visitors to leaf through. The lists are hidden via javascript; click on the headings to reveal them.

Doomworld's Cacowards aren't a definitive list of the ten best WADs of their eras, a fact detractors take care to point out. They're a good starting point, though, for those wishing to sample the cream of the crop with regards to PWADs.

1994 Top Ten WADs


1995 Top Ten WADs


1996 Top Ten WADs


1997 Top Ten WADs


1998 Top Ten WADs


1999 Top Ten WADs


2000 Top Ten WADs


2001 Top Ten WADs


2002 Top Ten WADs

Alien Vendetta2002: A Doom Odyssey
Caverns of DarknessDark 7 / Mission Pack
NimrodCH Retro Episode
RumaLicense to Spell Doom
Rip It, Tear It, Smash ItCongestion Control

2003 Top Ten WADs

Phobos: Anomaly RebornVoid
ScytheBrotherhood of Ruin
Doom 64: AbsolutionMassmouth 2
Doom RaiderHelpyourselfish
RTC-3057 DemoSpace Station Omega

2004 Cacowards

The Top TenBest DM LevelHonorable Mentions
Action Doom8-Bit DMSuper Sonic Doom
DecadeWorst WADDeus Vult
RTC-3057Doom: Rampage EditionMassmouthmas
GroveMordeth AwardDaedalus
TremorHellcore
ChosenMockaward
Phobos RevisitedDoomworld Forums 3
Hell Revealed 2Mapper of the Year
Community Chest 2B.P.R.D.
ZDoom Community Map

2005 Cacowards

The Top TenBest DM Level
SimplicityNimrod: Project Doom
Scythe 2Worst WAD
HedRox1994 WADs
Suspended in DuskMordeth Award
Kama SutraJägermörder 02: Terra Nova
Congestion 1024Mockaward
Hi-Tech Hell 2: Alien TechKama Sutra
Temple of Chaos 2: Warped RealityMapper of the Year
Crimson CanyonAgentSpork
Total Control
Honorable Mentions
For Whom the Bell TollsAltar of Evil

2006 Cacowards

The Top TenBest DM Level
Phocas Island 2Dynamite Deathmatch
IC2005Worst WAD
Hellcore v2.0Auferstehung
Newdoom Community Map ProjectMordeth Award
Operation OverlordCrucified Dreams
Vae Victus 2Mockaward
Phobia: The AgeHow Not to Be Seen
Foreverhood v1.0TurboCharged Arcade!
Classic Episode 2: Singularity ComplexMapper of the Year
Crucified DreamsDutch Devil
Honorable Mentions
Impossible: A New RealityOniria
Zen Dynamics

2007 Cacowards

The Top TenBest DM Level
Genesis of Descent32in24-5
CheogshWorst WAD
Songs of the DamnedAnything Gamarra
The Dying EndMordeth Award
Sine DieKnee Deep in ZDoom
Knee Deep in ZDoomMockaward
Community Chest 3It Only Gets Worse
EpicMapper of the Year
Ultimate Torment and TortureAlexander "Eternal" S.
The Outer Darkness
Honorable Mentions
Demons of ProblematiqueWonderful Doom

2008 Cacowards

The Top TenBest DM Level
Deus Vult II32in24-7
GravityWorst WAD
Urban Brawl: Action Doom IIUAC Military Nightmare
Eternal Doom IVMordeth Award
ThunderpeakDeus Vult II
Back to BasicsMockaward
BGPA Missions: LiberationCommunity is Falling 3
Chex Quest 3Mapper of the Year
Escape from Castle ChezcreaBjörn "Vader" Ostmann
Cold as Hell
Honorable Mentions
Remain IIIXXXI Cybersky
Diaz: Last Hours of Purity

2009 Cacowards

The Top TenBest DM Level
Hell GroundUDMX
NewDoom Community Project IIWorst WAD
HarmonyTormentor667's Detail Guide
MapgameMordeth Award
Legacy of SufferingPlutonia 2
TributeMockaward
Ghouls vs. HumansKilling Adventure
Whispers of SatanMapper of the Year
Demons of Problematique 2Brett "Mechadon" Harrell
Plutonia 2
Honorable Mentions
Happy Time Circus 2Cheogsh 2

2010 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
No Rest for the LivingMegaman DeathmatchBeyond Revival
Arcadia DemadeWorst WADBase Ganymede ep2
Curse of D'sparilÆons of DeathDoom: Threshold of Pain
UAC UltraMordeth AwardRealm of Cheogsh
UnlovedStrongholdSerpent: Resurrection
ValhallaMockawardTemple of the Lizard Men 2
Speed of DoomFacepalmParanoid
Drip FeedTurboCharged ARCADE! The Sequel Episode
Epic 2Mapper of the Year
StrongholdJon "40oz" Vail

2011 Cacowards

The Top TenBest Multiplayer
Plutonia Revisited32in24-11: Occupy Doomworld
VapordemoBest Gameplay Mod
LunaticBrutal Doom
Double ImpactMordeth Award
Vanguard1994 Tune-up Community Project
ReverieMapper of the Year
JenesisPaul "Skillsaw" DeBruyne
IceboundHonorable Mentions
Mandrill Ass ProjectDoom II Redux
Khorus's Speedy ShitDoom64 EX

2012 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Doom the Way id DidWhoDunIt?Beyond Reality
Strife: Absolute OrderBest Gameplay ModMasters of Chaos
PutrefierRussian OverkillFrozen Time
5till L1 ComplexMordeth AwardPlanisphere 2
Community Chest 4Community Chest 4Coffee Break Ep. 1
ReelismMockaward
The EyeCall of Dooty II
Combat Shock 2Mapper of the Year
Winter's FuryAdam "Khorus" Woodmansey
Base Ganymede: Complete

2013 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Back to Saturn X: Episode 1EyedeaInterception
Doom 2 the Way id DidSamsaraHadephobia
Unholy RealmsEon DeathmatchHellbound
ZDoom Community Map Project: Take 2Best Gameplay ModHigh / Low 5
Fuel DevourerProject MSXSoulcrusher
KuchitsuMordeth AwardStomper
Forsaken OverlookZDCMP2
Stardate 20X6Mockaward
Pirate DoomExtreme Weapon Pack
Swim With the WhalesMapper of the Year
Ribbiks

2014 Cacowards


2015 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
SunlustDon't Be a Bitch RemasteredDoomed Space Wars
ErkattäññeChaosCore CTFCrumpets
SkulldashBest Gameplay ModPrime Directive
Swift DeathDoomRL ArsenalPinnacle of Darkness
BreachMordeth AwardOl' No Name
ValiantChaosCore CTF32in24-14
50 Shades of GraytallMockaward
Sheer PoisonInstaDoom
dead.wireMapper of the Year
Return to Hadrondannebubinga

2016 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Tech Gone BadAeonDMWarphouse
Ancient Aliens32in24-16THT: Threnody
Nihility: Infinite TeethBest Gameplay ModBloodstain
MutinyDoom 4 DoomStrange Aeons
Absolutely KilledMordeth AwardEchelon
Elf Gets PissedDoom the Way id Did:Shadow of the Wool Ball
ComatoseThe Lost Episodes
MiasmaMockaward
Alpha Accident: Terra NovaLudicrium
Japanese Community ProjectMapper of the Year
Blades of Agony E1Lainos

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lunatic (LUNATIC.WAD)


Lunatic is a five-map minisode by Paul "Skillsaw" DeBruyne for limit-removing Boom-compatible ports. To make a long story short, if you enjoyed Vanguard (another 2011 release by DeBruyne), Lunatic should be right up your alley. It's a similar style of gameplay with smaller, tighter maps (compared to Vanguard's later, sweeping epics), and a few new twists. It's set on the moon, which recently collided with a giant ball of demons, the combined mass breaking it from its orbit and sending it toward Earth. You've got to fight your way across Luna's surface and through the resident UAC outpost to make your escape.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Upkeep

I've been undergoing a phase of site improvement that's 95% under the hood, stripping out garbage HTML and some slight edits here and there. All of Sverre Kvernmo's Cabal levels have an appropriate "series" TOC similar to Titan, Inferno, and the Top Ten. And, in case you're wondering... Yes, I've elected to take an extra three day period off for reviewing that forty-map monster, Doom 2 Unleashed. Lunatic will be posted on Saturday. Additionally, I have a tentative list of WADs set aside for the period between 2011 / 1998 and 1999. It's pretty big, but not as big as 2011 is turning out to be. Jeeze. I may post it at some point in a desperate bid for comments / suggestions. Also added an About page.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pallace Skorn (PLCSKN.WAD)


PALLACE SKORN
by Callum Guy "phobosdeimos1" Oliver

After playing through Digon Base and Spire Complex (and bits of Corebinder and Zfactory) I got the impression that Callum Guy Oliver (aka phobosdeimos1) was a techbase man. Imagine my surprise when I loaded up Pallace Skorn, finding some never-was alien world more typical of Hexen's wild environments. It's crammed full of textures not native to Doom II (though you may recognize some of them, if not many) as well as, surprise surprise, some new monsters / weapons. The WAD has no story associated with it; it's just a Boom-compatible MAP01 replacement.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy 18th Birthday, Doom


Another year has come and gone and a dozen or so nominees lie smoking by the roadside. Congratulations to award winners and thanks to anyone who earnestly made anything during this period of Doom's life; indeed, in all periods. The biggest changes this year include a) the removal of the worst WAD award and Mock awards, and in their place installing the Best Gameplay Mod category, given to the ever-evolving Brütal Doom. Here's to another year of excellent releases! And, uh, Mordeth and Millenium. Keep on truckin'.

Also taking a moment to mention community members that were unfortunately lost this year, The Engineer and the patron saint of Legacy WADs, Jive. My condolences to their loved ones.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Doom 2 Unleashed (PC_CP.WAD)


Paul Corfiatis is a veteran Doom mapper, the author of ancient WADs like The Twilight Zone. Upon releasing his Whispers of Satan megaWAD with best Doom buddy Kristian Aro, he opted to start a community project, which debuted in 2011 as Doom 2 Unleashed. It's a forty map megaWAD whose last eight levels constitute their own episode, titled "No Hope for Peace". The scope of the project was restricted to maps that functioned in any limit-removing port and used only stock Doom II textures. I'm not entirely sure how the bonus episode is handled outside of ports that support maps in excess of 32, let alone custom episode definitions, but in ZDoom NHFP shows up as a selectable episode, backed by the soundtrack from Inferno.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Zfactory (ZFACTORY.WAD)

ZFACTORY
by Callum Guy "phobosdeimos1" Oliver


Zfactory is Callum Guy Oliver's (aka Doomworld forum superstar phobosdeimos1) first foray into wadbuilding, a speedmapped MAP01 replacement for ZDoom. The map doesn't use any of Zdoom's gameplay features, instead taking advantage of ZDoom's format idiosyncrasies, including a new (edited) titlepic. Zfactory has no plot; it's just a small techbase-style map clocking in at 56 monsters. They're mostly smaller trash, but cacodemons and mancubuses will grace your final moments as you make your way to the map exit.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Requiem (REQUIEM.WAD)


Most of these authors should look familiar to you. Requiem gathered some of the greatest "star" power when it came to megaWAD authors of the time. Some of the names you may recognize from Memento Mori / MM2, and others from STRAIN and Dystopia 3. And, of course, there are a few new faces, as always seems to be the case with these community projects. The show-stealers for this particular project appear to be Iikka Keranen and Anthony "Adelusion" Czerwonka who together might as well have released Dystopia 4 in disguise. Adam Windsor contributes a fair number of maps as well, but all but one of them are short but sweet affairs, singled out by some as filler speedmaps made to push Requiem to release (given an apparently troubled development, not unlike STRAIN and The Talosian Incident).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mordeth (Episode 1) (MORDETH.WAD)


Mordeth's first episode was released in 1997. The rest of the project has been in development ever since. It's been so notorious for its delays (all understandable) that the Cacowards have a category named in its honor, dedicated to the released project with the longest development time. Duke Nukem Forever, the butt of gamer jokes everywhere, was announced and released during Mordeth's development. At the very least, Gaston Lahaut can take solace in the fact that Mordeth (now being developed for the Eternity Engine) will be far more enjoyable than Duke Nukem Forever, not that that's saying much.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kick Attack! (KICKDM.WAD and KICKDM2.WAD)


KICK ATTACK!
by Tim Willits and the
Digital Marketing Associates for Kick


Many Doomers are familiar with Chex Quest. But are you familiar with id's flirtation with Kick? Kick Attack! is an interesting footnote in Doom's history. It seems the folks at the Royal Crown Company were looking for a way to market their new citrus softdrink (a la Mountain Dew and Sprite) digitally and the person they hired had the brains to suggest a partial conversion for id's Doom to sell along with the soft drinks (but available on its own at the marketing website). A meeting happened, id gave them their blessing (in exchange for a lot of Kick), and suggested that the company have Tim Willits make the map. Throw in a bunch of goofy graphics later, and you have Kick Attack! for Doom and Doom II.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Serenity series

THE SERENITY SERIES
by Holger Nathrath and Bjorn Hermans

as featured in Super Serials

SerenityEternityInfinity
ArachnaTrydentSER3LV11
STRAIN

Holger Nathrath, alongside best buddy and playtester Bjorn Hermans, stand together as two of the most loved '94-'95 PWAD developers, rivaling only Dennis and Thomas Moeller. Their Serenity trilogy spans three episodes for the original Doom and three titles' worth of abstract concepts ending in -ity, but only two years, with Serenity and Eternity seeing release in '94 and Infinity in 1995. And there would have been more! Nathrath and Hermans had two Doom II projects in the pipeline, one a conversion of all the existing Serenity levels to Doom II (perhaps with some more?) and the other an original Doom II megaWAD. We only have scraps available of the latter, namely Bjorn Hermans' own Trydent and Nathrath levels that were donated to other projects, most notably STRAIN with others shopped around to other ambitious projects that never saw release (like the Eternity TC - no official relation).

STRAIN (STRAIN.WAD)


STRAIN is a 32-map partial conversion created by the Alpha Dog Alliance, a loose confederation of Doom enthusiasts, many of them fairly prolific in the community at the time. While some I recognize from their individual works, others are familiar contributors to the community WADs of the past (MM and MMII) and then present (Requiem). STRAIN was in production for quite some time; Patterson (the project director) spoke of work stalling while a number of 1996 high-profile WADs were released (some of their authors also contributing to STRAIN!). Fortunately, STRAIN saw a release, and though it has a few very short levels and some donations (from the cancelled Serenity IV project and Dystopia 3), it would still be worth your attention if half the WAD went missing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

CHORD_NG (CHORD_NG.WAD)

CHORD_NG
by Malcolm Sailor


CHORD_NG (previously referred to as CHORD: The Next Generation) is one of a few levels in Malcolm Sailor's CHORD series, the maps of which he claims are the only good ones he's ever made. If that's the case, then I gather that Sailor prizes very hard and very fast gameplay, because that's what CHORD_NG (replacing MAP28 of Doom II) is all about, playing something like a Hell Revealed map on a much smaller scale. There's no story, just you and some Hellish battlements isolated in a sea of lava. Alignment, lighting and all that jazz is impeccable. Sailor emphasizes his tower theme by surrounding the main island with four smaller structures in the distance to place the map outside of a void. Enough about the visuals, though.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Talosian Incident (TALOSIAN.WAD)


The Talosian Incident is a 20-map megaWAD for Doom II by Black Star Coven, an organization consisting of a number of Doom authors who intended this to be their farewell to the Doom community, in search of browner pastures. From what I can tell, it was supposed to be longer (probably the full 32 maps) but, well, here we are! Most of the maps are courtesy of John "Gestalt666" Bye and Malcolm Sailor (eight and nine, respectively) with a few other authors contributing one map each (including a collaboration with Ola Bjorling), and almost all of the new, atmospheric music by Bye. As an interesting sidenote, few of these authors would actually end their Doom mapping careers with this release.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hell's Eventide (EVENTIDE.WAD)

HELL'S EVENTIDE
by Marty Ihlen, Travers Dunne and Rick Clark


Hell's Eventide is a product of tag-team mapping between Marty Ihlen, Travers Dunne and Rick Clark. The tremendous trio passed the WAD from member to member after modifying it, creating a medium-size map for Doom II with its own particular Hellish style. The story is a little muddled but the protagonist appears to have witnessed the downfall of his father's kingdom to the forces of evil, brought on by a jealous subject, an adviser named Hilsgarde. The result rended time and space in such a way that future, past and present commingled, resulting in a twisted, broken world. The narrator thus resolves to fulfill his father's dying wish, now that he's older, and slay the source of evil, thus returning things to their proper place.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eternal Doom (ETERNAL.WAD)


Eternal Doom began life as a 12-map episode for Doom II, produced by Team Eternal and under the direction of Paul Schmitz, the author of Artifact and Welcome to Hell. A number of WAD authors cleaved unto him, including Sverre Kvernmo, who is responsible for many of the new graphics (that is, the stuff not ripped from Heretic and Hexen). Eternal Doom was updated two more times, adding fifteen and six levels, respectively, to turn it into a mega-megaWAD. I know this project eventually came under the purview of Team TNT, but I have no idea when that happened. I'm guessing some time during the development of Eternal Doom II, but I have no basis for that assumption. For sure, Eternal Doom III was headed by TNT, given Ty Halderman's involvement.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ESW2 (ESW2.WAD)


Doom's appeal has always had an international flair, and while it was tougher to suss out during the early years there's a decent chance of finding Doomers who speak your own language. The Russian community is the largest such example that I can think of, but other more tightly-knit groups include French, Czech, and Japanese. The producers of ESW2, if the names and email address are any indication, hail from the South American country of Chile. The 10-level Doom II PWAD, released in 1995, takes its title from the handle of the main contributor - David Jander aka ESW - who made seven of the included maps. I suppose that the other three authors for the other three maps are his friends.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Welcome to Hell (WELHELL.WAD)

Paul Schmitz created Artifact, one of Doomworld’s picks for the top 10 WADs of 1995. He also contributed some maps to Eternal Doom, very much in keeping with his mapping style. Welcome to Hell, his lesser-known followup to his premiere trilogy, is something in a bit of a different direction, finished near the end of '95 but released in early '96. It’s not exactly one large map cut up into three linked adventures. Each of the levels is fairly small and / or short compared to the offerings of Artifact. Schmitz has refined his map making sensibilities, however, creating a number of challenges with a unique aesthetic sense.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dawn of the Dead (DODEAD.WAD)


Dawn of the Dead is an episode replacement for Doom's Knee Deep in the Dead. Well, almost an episode replacement. Jan Van der Veken never finished E1M5 (at least, for this episode), so it's more like 8 maps. The story takes place on Jupiter's moon, Europa, where simple lifeforms were discovered, leading to attempts to terraform the planet (I mean, that would probably kill all the native species, but whatever). The end goal was to colonize the moon, and at the "current" time, there's a burgeoning population complete with a contingent of space marines. Of course, they managed to discover relics from a past civilization that mastered teleportation technology (sploops!) and, later, some manuscripts containing vague warnings (double sploops!). And, now, the moon's colonies have (mostly) overrun by an unknown hostile force. Owing to your expertise, you're sent in to deal with the situation.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Update at DoomX.net

Oh, hey! Eriance's evil twin updated a few days ago, mostly to say that he's slowly chipping away at his magnum opus (and talking about Rage, which I love). DoomX and Demon Eclipse are my two watched Mordeth-esque projects, and coincidentally, Eriance recently pushed out a new beta of his pet project as well. It's a great time to be playing Doom, especially with all the user projects going on, like Doom Core, Reverie, Back to Saturn X, Community Chest 4, Doom the Way id Did, 1994 Community Tune-Up Project, Plutonia Revisited, TNT2: Devilution, Doom Unleashed, Progressive Fiction, Interception, and that's just the megaWADs I can name off the top of my head, not to forget the wonderful work of Paul DeBruyne, or Kaiser pushing out Doom64Ex (already garnering some user-made maps). Actually, there's just new stuff being made every day for Doom. It's one of the greatest gaming communities to buy into.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Cabal Series

THE CABAL SERIES
by Sverre Andre Kvernmo

as featured in Super Serials

Bloodsea KeepDerelict StationBloodfloodThe Watchtower
Temple of DeathWe Who are About to DieThe Express Elevator to HellEye of the Storm
Mephisto's MaosoleumBlack TowerThe Image of Evil

If Sverre Kvernmo is known for anything, it would be his body of works included in id's Master Levels for Doom II. Less people may know that these works were parts of a work-in-progress megaWAD entitled "The Cabal", which Kvernmo stopped developing when contracted by id. Ever the gentleman, he gathered up the remaining maps and released them to the archives as Cabal 1-7. Together with his four (er, five) Master Levels, they represent one third of his unfinished magnum opus. Though part of me wonders what might have happened if Kvernmo had completed his project, I recognize enough of a quality gap between the freely available maps and his contracted work that I'm grateful for the intervention. I'm sure the experience coupled with his natural talent created the base upon which he built his three astounding Eternal Doom entries.

Hell Revealed (HR.WAD)


Hell Revealed was designed to be hard. Let's just get this out of the way. Donner and Niv, the WAD's architects (I believe hailing from Israel), used skill level 4 to create a difficulty level for those who found Ultra-Violence in other PWADs to be easy, using skill level 3 to provide a setting more in line with the previous UV standard. However, to quote Donner:

"...some people never bother to use skill level selections, and always play on Ultra-Violence. These people see that Hell Revealed is too hard for them on Ultra-Violence but instead of playing on skill 3 or even lower, they just say 'Hell Revealed is too hard' and switch to godmode or don't play at all. To me it seems really stupid - after all, that's what difficulty levels are for!"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Image of Evil (THE_EVIL.WAD)

THE IMAGE OF EVIL
by Sverre Andre Kvernmo


The Image of Evil is the final map in Sverre Kvernmo's Cabal series. It's a MAP30 replacement, serving as the intended climax of the now defunct megaWAD. The map represents a temple in tribute to a demon, the first to slay an angel in Cabal's universe, named Lithlaar. It also houses the current Cyberdemon that rules Hell, as well as his two soulguards (two other Cyberdemons, I believe). The map features a variety of textures, tending toward a more earthy / wooden theme with some excursions. If you didn't already know it by now, the level's structure is in the shape of a classic, slightly comic devil. You know, the kind that has horns, a goatee and red tights. In Kvernmo's own words, "Cowards go IDBEHOLDA as soon as they enter. Good players will see it evolve." Of course, if you find the automap secret fairly early on, the image autocompletes. Still, it's fascinating to see the map unfold.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Black Tower (BLACKTWR.WAD)


BLACK TOWER
by Sverre Andre Kvernmo


Black Tower is the final map of the Cabal series to be included in id's Master Levels for Doom II. In the storyline, you're nearing the end of your long journey, this time confronting the lord of the Black Tower, former friend and Cyberdemon Chagrin, who leads the forces of Hell you once commanded. All you have to do is climb the Tower, the nexus of all of Hell's black magic and supernatural forces, slay your buddy, and escape. It's a task easier said than done, of course, as the Black Tower is more fully staffed than any entrenchment of the Cabal to date (except maybe the Temple of Death).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mephisto's Maosoleum (MEPHISTO.WAD)


MEPHISTO'S MAOSOLEUM
by Sverre Andre Kvernmo


Mephisto's Maosoleum is another MAP07 replacement for id's Master Levels for Doom II by Sverre Andre Kvernmo. However, where the previous map (Bloodsea Keep) made no specific use of tag 666, this map (like "Dead Simple") is based around it. In the context of the Cabal series, the player (the previous ruler of Hell, ousted by his own advisers) wanders across the tomb of his old mentor, Mephisto, the head of the Cabal prior to the main character. Apparently, though Mephisto had been ousted and slain, his spirit still sat on the council, and he was in on your betrayal. Accordingly, when you happen upon his grave, you decide to exact revenge by laying both body and mind to rest.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Master Levels on Steam

Over the past few months you'll have noticed my focus on id's Master Levels for Doom II, consisting of 20 individual PWADs by six different authors. The maps enjoy a wide variety of difficulty and size as well as aesthetics as befits such a collection. I was preparing to write a full retrospective highlighting the package itself to flesh out its current page under the Features section of the blog, which intended to answer the question of whether these maps are worth your cold hard cash. And, uh, that's a tough question to answer. The package isn't available as an individual purchase on Steam, and in the two packs it's included in (the Doom Pack Complete and the id Super Pack) it's separately listed at $69.99 and $34.99, respectively, before package discounts.

I have no idea what's going on here. Is that a pricing gaffe? Is it supposed to be $6.99 and $3.49? I could have sworn that was the price range I saw it at back when I bought the id Super Pack a few years ago. Possible explanations:


  • It is indeed a pricing gaffe, and it's supposed to be listed at a tenth of the estimated price. (plausible)
  • It is not a pricing gaffe, but has legitimate reasons for being priced at $70 (ha!)
  • It is not a pricing gaffe, and its unavailability outside of the packs suggests that its inflated listing price allows them to claim a greater discount (plausible, but shady)

I don't know the reality of the situation, only the appearance. That said, under current conditions I wouldn't recommend buying the Master Levels for Doom II. Even if you ignore the suspicious pricing, it's only available as part of a package deal. If you don't have any (or most) of the included games already, then yeah, go for it. The difference assuming reasonable pricing is a 50% deal as opposed to a 75% one, at least for the Doom Pack

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Express Elevator to Hell (TEETH.WAD)


THE EXPRESS ELEVATOR TO HELL
by Sverre Andre Kvernmo


The Express Elevator to Hell is perhaps the most notorious map contained within id's Master Levels for Doom II, if not for its difficulty then for containing the only secret map which Kvernmo apparently snuck under the radar, judging by Shawn Green's comments. TEETH.WAD replaces MAP31 and 32; 31, of course, is the main event, the elevator ride. MAP32 is "Bad Dream", a fairly well-documented secret map that will be covered at the end of this review. The story so far: The Cabal has realized that you're a force to be reckoned with, human or not, and elects to ambush you on your elevator ride to the deepest pits of Hell.