Sunday, October 28, 2012

HACX: Twitch'n Kill (HACX.WAD)


HACX was never destined for greatness. A commercial TC published for Doom II in 1997 and featuring some of the better-known authors of Doom's golden age ('96-'97) (notably superstars Adelusion and Iikka Kernanen), it came out subsequent to the release of the new breed of FPS games, namely Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. It's odd, because HACX feels like a natural bridge between the Doom and BUILD engines. It has themed maps, destroyable objects, and a penchant for goofiness that lies outside the normal bounds of Doom. Unfortunately, it never fulfilled the proposed design documents, topping out at twenty-one out of thirty-two levels replaced, and that's looking at it from a purely numerical standpoint.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

CHORD2 (CHORD2.WAD)

CHORD2
by Malcolm Sailor


Malcolm Sailor's claim to fame is the CHORD series, which consists of small, brutal, but gorgeous levels. Imagine my surprise when I open up CHORD2, the second map in the sequence, and find that it fields not only 150 or so monsters, but is also a very large level to boot. CHORD2 was released in 1997, replaces MAP26 of Doom II, and is something of an enormous castle. Sailor provides no story, nor does it really need one.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Final Doom


FINAL DOOM
TNT: EVILUTIONTHE PLUTONIA EXPERIMENT

Final Doom was id's last commercial expansion in the Doom II style until No Rest For the Living...which still isn't available separately from the Doom II packages in any legal sense. As far as contemporary video game reviews went, Final Doom was panned. It wasn't Doom III, in that Doom III would have ostensibly added more monsters, textures, and possibly weapons to the already aging Doom engine. It also got criticized for the same reasons Doom II was slagged, in that it was still using the Doom engine and the same gameplay fundamentals, albeit in radically different fashions from author to author (more notably from IWAD to IWAD). It was just two new thirty-two map replacements for Doom II, TNT: Evilution and The Plutonia Experiment. Quake was hot on Final Doom's heels, published all but five days later, and the entire industry was "moving on".

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Plutonia Experiment (PLUTONIA.WAD)


Dario and Milo Casali were already part of TNT's Evilution, sold to id for them to publish as their own. The Casalis sent American McGee a project of theirs and the maps so much impressed the overlords that they contracted them to make another megaWAD, which was to be sold alongside Evilution as the Final Doom package. The rest, as they say, is history. Plutonia has enjoyed a more positive legacy than its sister WAD, being the beneficiary of two unofficial full-replacement sequels and countless imitators. It's thirty-two more maps of Doom II action, but as anyone can tell you, Plutonia is a beast unto itself.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

CHORD1 (CHORD1.WAD)

CHORD1
by Malcolm Sailor


Malcolm Sailor loved (loves?) Sverre Kvernmo, hated Tim Willits (and probably still does), and thinks that the CHORD series is the best level set he's ever done. CHORD1 is the first map in his pet project, a MAP25 replacement for Doom II published in '97 that looks something like Doom II's Hellish fortress / mansions. His CHORDs are renowned for being short but brutal affairs, interesting some of the best and brightest of demo recorders. CHORD1 sets the standard with a berserk pack and two revenants in a circular room. I hope you're good at fisting, because you'll have to do some punching before the day is done.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

TNT: Evilution (TNT.WAD)


As you likely know, TNT's Evilution began its existence as a freeware megaWAD developed by Team TNT, who had its origins in a certain Doom mailing list. A bunch of people poured their hearts and souls into the mapset, and just as it was supposed to be released, John Romero popped in, asking if id could buy it, to be published as a commercial work. TNT agreed; thus began a rigorous playtesting / polishing session that delayed the release of Evilution until after TNT put out their freeware sequel, the illustrious Icarus: Alien Vanguard. Nowadays you can find Evilution as part of the Final Doom package alongside The Plutonia Experiment (which is kind of a TNT project, in that the Casalis were members of Team TNT).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Alpha 1 Trilogy (ALPHA1.ZIP)

The first time I played the Alpha 1 Trilogy was as part of a compilation megaWAD by Legacy engine advocate Jive. It greatly impressed me back then and that level of awe still carries through to this day. Rob Schweiner authored the three parts of ALPHA1 at different times, but uploaded a .ZIP package of the three separate WADs (ALPHA1, OOZI, and SOURCE as MAP01, MAP02 and MAP03) as early as '97. The current version has a few edits dating to '98, but it's all vanilla compatible, with Schweiner lamenting the infamous visplane limit in the author notes. The story is familiar, but welcome. There's an alien (re: demon) outbreak at the Alpha 1 base, and you're sent in to clear it out and eliminate the source.


If I had to compare the Alpha 1 Trilogy to anything, it would be striking a balance between the labyrinthine, abstract techbases of Rick Lipsey and the more polished but no less exploratory levels from Russian authors like Lainos. The Alpha 1 Trilogy levels are Eternal Doom big, and pushing between 300 and 400 monsters. They're mostly little guys but they're used in a way that makes them feel dangerous when you're not fighting the bruisers. The maps are pretty non-linear as I understand it, with progression gates tied to keys. The route you want to take in order to explore each level is up to you. If you hate switch hunts, then you'll find some solace in Schweiner's gameplay, where the effects of buttons are usually straightforward.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Urban Fire (URBANFR.WAD)

URBAN FIRE
by Eli "ProcessingControl" Cohen


Sadly, when a mapset like Community Chest 4 is compiled, some levels don't make the cut, either due to quality issues or due to being unfinished (though the latter is arguably one of the former). Urban Fire, by Doomworld forum superstar ProcessingControl, is one of these such delights, originally released as a deathmatch map as part of 32in24-11: Occupy Doomworld. He elected to convert the map to single player but since it didn't make the cut, he opted to release it as a solo piece. There's no story, of course. It occupies MAP01, plays in Boom-compatible ports, and has what should be a very familiar music selection from Duke Nukem 3D.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Community Chest 4 (CCHEST4.WAD)


The Community Chest series is one of Doomworld's oldest institutions, with the first outing published in 2003. Now it's 2012 and between Duke Nukem Forever, Black Mesa, and the release of Community Chest 4, all signs point to the apocalypse being nigh. Doomworld forum superstar Eric "The Green Herring" Baker took full control of the project after some drama I was fortunate enough to avoid. The short story is, hey, here's Community Chest 4! It comes with a sweet-ass texture pack that's seen a lot of use prior to this release, most notably skillsaw's Vanguard from 2011 (but I know there are many more, and not just because I've seen whining about overuse of the resources).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Die Young! (DIEYOUNG.WAD)

DIE YOUNG!
by Gzregorz Werner


Grzegorz Werner, a Polish English student and author of one of the features of Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1996, released three single Doom II maps in 1996. His Hidden Mountain Factory came second, while Die Young! was the first, replacing MAP01 (as do the other two). The story is short and sweet, if you can even call it a story; such was Werner's wont. You're merely informed that you must make it to the temple in the level and then escape alive. Of course, it's not that easy. You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?