Saturday, July 30, 2011

Second Opinions

Some visitors may have noticed a Second Opinions tab after WADS by author. As described, this is a link to other sites that feature reviews in some form or another. All but two of them are dead, but I thought I'd provide them in tribute to the many others that have come before me.

Current status: MAP19 of Doom Core. If I finish Doom Core before Tuesday, I'll put it up instead of the Chris Klie single map reviews. That's not very likely, though (Valkiriforce makes some tough levels). After Doom Core I'll continue to indulge in 2011 releases, looking at Callum Guy Oliver's (aka forum superstar phobosdeimos1) Corebinder, Digon Base and Spire Complex mapsets, all part of his RAW ACTION series (well, Spire Complex isn't, but I don't see why it can't be). 

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Troopers' Playground (TTP.WAD)


Matthias Worch is one of those mysterious '96 mappers that wasn't prolific outside of the community projects, namely Memento Mori II and Requiem. He has a few solo releases, however. One is a tune-up of a WAD called Ring of Havoc by Jason Blevins. The other is a Doom II episode featuring among, other things, a new enemy. The WAD? The Troopers' Playground.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dystopia 3: Re-Birth of Anarchy - Add-On Level (DYST301.WAD)

DYSTOPIA 3:
RE-BIRTH OF ANARCHY
Add-On Level

by Anthony "Adelusion" Czerwonka


Dystopia 3's .TXT gave a homepage for the project that hinted at more Dystopia levels to come in the future. As of 2011, only one add-on level for Dystopia 3 has been released, a MAP01 replacement by Anthony "Adelusion" Czerwonka. Just load it up with DYST3TEX.WAD or on top of DYST3.WAD to utilize the custom textures. There's no real story included, so one can only assume it's the continuing adventures of the Marine trying desperately to escape the hellish borderlands after destroying the demonic cult.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Author Index

I've made some changes to the WADs by author index. It's been a long time coming, but I've been learning how to make Javascript function on the page. This will be incredibly handy when doing monographic series of reviews on particular authors. The basic gist of it is that clicking on an author name will expand a list of all their contributions reviewed on the site. I don't know how many people use the author index, but hopefully this is infinitely more navigable. There may be some minor changes to come, like shrinking down the font, but this is basically my happy spot.

My other technical update will involve welding the file/date/author index into one single table, sortable by the viewer. I suspect it'll take a lot more work than combining the author indices, but it will make things much more browseable than the current configuration.

Edit: Actually, it's way easier than I thought! Thank you, javascript! And thank you, Christian Bach! Once I convert the indices over, I can rest easy.

Edit 2: The new index is up! my review index is now sortable by filename, title, date, author and type (single, minisode, episode, megawad). Just click on the table header for automatic sorting.

What's in the pipeline:

Anthony "Adelusion" Czerwonka
Dystopia 3: Re-Birth of Anarchy - Add-On Level

Matthias Worch
The Trooper's Playground

Christen David Klie
The Catwalk
The Combine
The Fistula
The Garrison
Subspace
Subterra
The C.P.U.
Device One
The D.M.Z.
The Enemy Inside
The Fury
The Hive

What's incoming:

Doom Core, by Michael Jan Krizik aka "Valkiriforce"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dystopia 3: Re-Birth of Anarchy (DYST3.WAD)


Anthony "Adelusion" Czerwonka and Iikka "Fingers" Keränen got together and had a baby. The baby's name was Dystopia 3, the apparent descendant of Czerwonka's DYST2.WAD, itself a conversion of a Heretic WAD (DYST.WAD). Really, I'd be hard pressed to draw any parallels between Dystopia and Dystopia 3. It's clear that Adelusion considerably honed his mapping skills, producing much tighter and deliberate gameplay through encounters and layout. His partner, Keränen, contributes a formidable six levels of his own, rounding out an 11-map episode for Doom II.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review Pacing

Just a semi-formal pacing schedule I'm setting right now. Depending on what the latest review is, you can expect to see another in a given span of time.

  • Single Map: Review next day.
  • Minisode (2-6 maps): Review within the next three days.
  • Episode (7-15 maps): Review within the next five days.
  • MegaWAD (16+ maps): Review within the next seven days.

I work twelve hour shifts at the moment so I rarely take the time to Doom on working days. This should let me build up a buffer on my days off without getting burned out (and enjoy the glut of games I got during Steam's summer sale on the side). Dystopia 3 and its add-on level are ready and waiting. Meanwhile, I'm muscling my way through The Troopers' Playground, made a bit rough due to the switch to PrBoom-Plus (and those devilish evil troopers).

Also looking to improve some bits of the site with Javascript (namely the indexes). Dunno when I'll actually get around to it, but expect the slowly growing database to become a bit more manageable.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Army of Darkness Doom (AODDOOM1.WAD and AODDOOM2.WAD)


Steve Conway wanted to make a total conversion based on the now cult classic, Army of Darkness, then a recent release. He touched base with Stefan Maes, the man behind Excalibur. The two welded together a crew of individuals, among them Doomworld's own "Linguica" (Andrew Stine). Army of Darkness Doom comes in two flavors, Doom and Doom II. Qualitatively, there is no difference between the two. They have the same levels and the same arrangements. The actual differences lie mainly in the ways both are packaged to deal with the episode formats.

Friday, July 15, 2011

99 Ways to Die (99WAYS.WAD)

In 1996, Doomers everywhere eagerly anticipated the release of id Software's next project, Quake. Among other things, Quake featured 3D light sources, making realistic and attractive lighting far easier to execute than Doom's sector-based method, which often required painstaking work in order to simulate equivalent lighting. In the wake of Quake's previews, Warren Marshall released a short minisode for Doom II, intending to show just how far Doom's engine could be pushed. The .TXT has just a hint of desperation, almost pleading for Doom mappers to not jump ship for the new technological superior. While 1997 would show an exodus of many of Doom's most prominent mappers from '94-'96, anyone can see that the Doom mapping community continues to go strong. I'm not sure what effect 99 Ways to Die had on lighting standards, but I think Marshall made his point effectively.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Hidden Mountain Factory (MTFACTOR.WAD)

A HIDDEN MOUNTAIN FACTORY
by Grzegorz Werner


Grzegorz Werner wasn't the most prolific mapper in the Doom community. He has three single player levels and one deathmatch level in the idgames archives, but one of them graced Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1996. A Hidden Mountain Factory is, well, a Hidden Mountain Factory, that's producing something contemptible, and you must infiltrate it and shut it down. Make no mistakes - this WAD is hard, in the knockabout Plutonia style (though not necessarily inspired by Plutonia). It has maybe one or two missteps that feel more like bullshit, but I'll cover those later.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Polygon Base (POLYGON.WAD)

POLYGON BASE
by Rick Lipsey


Polygon Base is an incredibly vast and incredibly nonlinear techbase map by Rick Lipsey from 1996, the sequel to The Final Geometry, published back in 1995. It's for Doom II, but if you play on Hurt Me Plenty, he's seeded the monsters as if it were an OG Doom map. There are a few cosmetic changes, namely the new title graphic and a sound replacement for the plasma rifle that's about as obnoxious. You have a lot of ground to cover and a lot of baddies to kill. No teleportation traps, just monster closets and lighter fare. None of the toughs are really thrown at you in hordes, so the difficulty is fairly low-key, which is nice considering how big it is. There's a lot to see, with several outdoor areas (all accessible) and several rooms tracing the path of a nukage river.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Two Big Ones

I was gonna leave Icarus up until this next Friday but as long as actual news is happening, I should say something before it gets stale.

On the port side of things, Scoredoom got what I can only assume was an eagerly anticipated 3.0 release. If you haven't heard of Scoredoom before (who are you???) it's a mod that replaces certain enemies in Doom IWADs and PWADs as well as replacing powerups. It's semi-randomized, in that the port generates a random assortment of powerups and monsters for every map, but that map will always have that given setup. Then you play Scoredoom, get scored on various factors, and compete against other players. I'm still pretty young Doomwise so I'm staying away from stuff like this for now, but if I were to mod my gameplay regularly, Scoredoom would be one of my top plays. It's got a host of other features, of course, but I think I've touched on the important bits.

On the WAD side of things, Doom Core made its way to the archives. Doom Core is a 32-map MegaWAD (for Doom II, obviously) totalling much of Valkiriforce's output over the 2010 year. It's been rigorously tested to work in vanilla, so grizzled classic players take notice. I can't speak as to the quality of Doom Core yet but I did spend some time testing the first third of his 1996 style MegaWAD, Reverie, which was pretty damn challenging and fun to play (and also really fucking inventive), so I'll vouch for DCV.WAD, on top of the people already playing it and enjoying it in its development thread.

On the site side of things, the following WADs have been reviewed, I'm just stalling putting them up:

Polygon Base, by Rick Lipsey
A Hidden Mountain Factory, by Grzegorz Werner
99 Ways to Die, by Warren Marshall

The following WADs are on the chopping block:

Army of Darkness Doom (II), by some AoD fans
Dystopia 3: Re-Birth of Anarchy, by Anthony "Adelusion" Czerwonka and Iikka "Fingers" Keranen
The Troopers' Playground, by Matthias Worch

After I finish 1996 out I'll indulge myself in some non-"Best of" fare. Probably play through Doom Core, Raven, some other stuff. All I know is that quadruple threat of Eternal Doom, Requiem, S.T.R.A.I.N., and Hell Revealed, along with The Talosian Incident and Dawn of the Dead feels incredibly daunting. 1997 was one hell of a year, and yet Doom continues to march on...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Icarus: Alien Vanguard (ICARUS.WAD)


Team TNT began as a loose assortment of people from the Doom editing mailing list that for a time had batted around the idea of doing a large WAD for Doom II. Most everyone knows that Team TNT made TNT Evilution, which id Software officially licensed. Less but certainly many still also know that they released another WAD following Evilution's production, this one freeware, which because of certain circumstances actually made it out of the gates before its "predecessor". That WAD's name was... Brace yourself... Icarus: Alien Vanguard. The plot...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Doom Must Fall (DMF.WAD)

DOOM MUST FALL
by Mackey "Avatar" McCandlish


Doom Must Fall is a TC for use with Ultimate Doom, created by Mackey "Avatar" McCandlish. It replaces all enemies and weapons with some actual gameplay changes. It's based off of the game, "One Must Fall: 2097", a vs. fighting game where the combatants control robots via a physical and mental link. The models were all primitive 3D renders, and looking at Rich "Weeds" Nagel's fansite, all of the monster sprite replacements are derived from the models found therein.



The original Doom Must Fall had an incredibly complicated install package and featured a series of deathmatch levels and one single player level. If you're curious, you can still find it in the archives here, here and here.  "Sparky" of KISS Software went through the trouble of repackaging the mod as a single-player only affair, so that there are only three files included. The WAD, the DeHackEd patch, and the .txt explaining the entire affair. Only three weapons were significantly changed. The chaingun replacement fires faster, the plasma rifle replacement fires much faster, and the rocket launcher shoots "mines", basically slow-ass rockets. This weapon doesn't work so well in the single-player level and has some repercussions, but I'll get to that later.


Now, since everything has been replaced by old 3D models, you'd expect that the game suffers some of the issues that the replacements in Hell to Pay did. However, because pretty much every sprite in the game has been replaced, there's no clash effect and it's all rather charming, sort of like going back and playing System Shock. A lot of the monsters also move incredibly fast and have really good action sprites making them truly different from Doom's bestiary. I swear I actually saw the baron replacement moonwalking.


The final large gameplay change is due to the fact that McCandlish bundled health bonus, armor bonus, stimpack and medikit items into one single pickup that starts out hanging at the top of the ceiling. By hitting it with a single shot, it will drift down to the floor, where you can pick it up and get one of the aforementioned items at random. If you hit it too hard, however, it will explode like a rocket, doing damage to everything around it. It adds a decidedly arcade factor to the game, though I'm not sure I'd say it's a successful change.


The story: "You're a bounty hunter hired by the International Peace Council to infiltrate the spaceship headquarters of a powerful pirate organization (Iron Fist) and remove its commander. The pirates have just stolen a shipment of H.A.R.s that were to be used by the International Government to maintain what little control it possesses. With few legal powers, the Government must resort to your skills to counter the pirates' offensive (no doubt under the employment of a higher source). The mission begins in your small spaceship, as you approach the pirate's fortress. Suddenly they discover your presence and begin beaming pirates armed in H.A.R.s aboard your ship! Get to the teleporter and prepare for a totally new experience!"


Doom Must Fall throws you directly into the action; just as described in the plot line, you're sitting in the cockpit of your ship when enemies start teleporting in like crazy. After you deal with the seemingly endless wave, you can access your ship's teleporter and battle the pirates in their own base. And, honestly, it's not much of a base. The layout of nearly every room seems like an obstacle course run into the ground, made more evident by huge signs saying "AGILITY TRAINING" and the like.



It's not exactly awful, and most of these areas have definite themes, but it makes the level pretty banal, and there's not much I can say about a staircase rimmed by robots that throw ball lightning or an elevation maze infested with lost soul replacements (though the robots, which resemble cats with wings, kind of, mew when they charge :3). It's all kind of hard given how tough the enemies are and the unreliability of the mine launcher to deliver its payload in time. The final section is the hardest, involving a long slog up maybe a dozen tiers of platforms, facing down multiple tough-ass baron replacements and getting buffeted by exploding stuff.



The penultimate room is pretty rote, three elevated bunkers with robots firing down on you while a few (including another baron hardass) stalk you on ground level. I just wish the mine launcher didn't suck, except for the final boss fight, which is against a Cyberdemon replacement. Sadly, he still fires rockets, or rather the replacement for rockets, and the challenge is therefore entirely in killing him before he inundates the map with mines, but if you've got a full rifle you can pretty much just start on one side of the boss arena (a giant chessboard, interestingly) and slowly inch your way over until he's done.



I think there's some really cool ideas here and the graphics don't really drag the WAD down; rather, they enhance its rather lo-fi atmosphere. I commend McCandlish for going through the trouble of putting together a single-player level for what is ostensibly mainly a deathmatch modification. It would be pretty sweet to see what a more focused mapper could do with this stuff, possibly making a formidable One Must Fall: 2097 themed megaWAD. As it stands, I'll recommend this for people interested in One Must Fall and DeHackEd / TC aficionados. Your average Doom fan, however, should probably skip this (though I must say I found it genuinely enjoyable).

Invasion... Level 2 -- The Upper Decks (INVADE2.WAD)

INVASION...
LEVEL 2 -- THE UPPER DECKS
by Andy Chen and Claude Martins


"The Upper Decks" is part 2 of the Invasion story, originally conceived as a 9 part episode, here truncated to 4. Levels 3 and 4 were never released, though there is a "spinoff" map, Invasion: The Siege, that details what happens on the surface of Mars during the main levels. As with "Contamination", Andy Chen and Claude Martins have created a masterstroke in mapping and crammed it into an E1M2 replacement. INVADE2.WAD is everything its forebear was, and more. So much more. It's a shame that this WAD has been largely lost in the annals of time, 'cause it beats the pants off Doomworld's top 10 of 1994.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Invasion... Level 1 -- Contamination (INVADE1.WAD)

INVASION...
LEVEL 1--CONTAMINATION
by Andy Chen and Claude Martins


Invasion was originally conceived as a 9 part story. The authors must have realized they were a bit ambitious, because Level 2 breaks the news that the story was shortened to 4 parts. Sadly, Invasion's full plot was never to be told; levels 3 and 4 never materialized, though level 3 was hinted at in the .TXT of the spinoff project, Invasion: The Siege. What Andy Chen and Claude Martins leave in their wake is some of the best mapping to ever have come out of '94. I mean, seriously, after playing through this E1M1 replacement I'm surprised it wasn't listed on Doomworld's top 10 of '94.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Shrine of the Warriors (SHRINE2.WAD)

SHRINE OF THE WARRIORS
by Daniel "Stormin" Norman


Daniel "Stormin" Norman has a place in the annals of Doom history for his Doom II minisode, The Final Gathering. He also released two single levels for Doom II; one of them, "Dark Side of the Mind", was collected in the final version of GATHER2.WAD. The second, Shrine of the Warriors, is a fun Doom II level that systematically pits you against most of Doom's bestiary. I'm guessing given the filename presented in the WAD and the actual name of the included filename that this also had an OG Doom release, but it's not anywhere in the archives. The barebones plot is that the shrine is of demonic origin and is an attempt to pay tribute to the warriors of Hell. And, uh, I dunno, I guess you didn't want to buy a ticket?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dystopia (DYST2.WAD)

DYSTOPIA
FOR DOOM II
by Anthony "Adelusion" Czerwonka


Dystopia is the progenitor of Anthony "Adelusion" Czerwonka's and Iikka "Fingers" Keranen's Dystopia 3, the trend-setting 1996 episode that in some ways led to STRAIN, Hacx, and other cyberpunk-flavored goodies. Dystopia was originally a Heretic level; Adelusion converted it to Doom II and re-released it (if you could call it that) in 1995, hence DYST2.WAD. It's a fairly large MAP01 replacement, containing in excess of 280 monsters. It also has no clear texturing theme, though the architecture design is clear and the individual detailing is internally coherent.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Serenity IV - MAP11 (SER3LV11.WAD)

SERENITY IV - MAP11
by Bjorn Hermans and Holger Nathrath


Back in the late 90s, Sam "Metabolist" Woodman was putting together a project called "Testament of Judgment". Looking on the archives, it was never completed, but during development he asked for and received a WAD from Bjorn Hermans to use in his megaWAD. The WAD itself was constructed by Holger Nathrath (and I assume playtested by Hermans) in the vein of the original Serenity trilogy. Woodman couldn't figure out a good way to work it into his mapset, however, and decided to release it on its own. The map has no official title, but it was indicated to be MAP11 of "Serenity III" (though shouldn't it be Serenity IV?). So, I'll refer to it as MAP11 from here on out.