Thursday, April 17, 2014

Whitemare 2 (WHITE2.WAD)

The Russian Doom Community has this thing they do on occasion where they build a megaWAD out of selections from assorted "freakmapping" speedmapping competitions, after tuning up some of the submissions and adding a few new ones. This gave us Heroes' Tales back in 2009 and Whitemare in 2011. Whitemare 2, released in 2014, is a full-fledged megaWAD for Doom II for Boom-compatible engines (specifically PrBoom+). This time, the demons decide to ruin Doomguy's New Year celebration by stealing winter, disrupting the normal progression of the seasons. Or, something like that. I think that Doomguy starts off by fighting off another demon invasion, with them absconding with winter and causing a skip right on through to spring. You rush off to rescue it, and succeed, only to find that something evil has snuck back with the season.

Whitemare 2 is a very cool mapset, manifesting the promise witnessed in some of the community's previous works. The original got a lot of flack for the garishness of the ice and snow textures when tiled over large areas. This still crops up in places, but the set isn't nearly as dominated by bland winter wonderlands. In addition to white wilderness, you'll plow through frozen ruins, scattered tech outposts, city blocks above and below water, naturalistic settings like caves and forests, and total outliers like the hollow interior of a pyramid and a neon green slaughter in the void. The first few maps may look a bit rough, but once you get past those there's plenty of eye candy to be had.

As one might expect, this community mapset features a grab bag of styles, varying between short, punchy levels and larger, adventure-like levels. Shadowman defies virtually every expectation I had here, though Memfis delivers on tough but fair shorties and Dragon Hunter pulls out some huge, visually stunning levels complete with difficult gameplay. BigMemka offers a handful of deceptive, linear adventure maps, the playing path carefully braided. The others I'm not so familiar with, but they contribute to a fun set that's rarely too painful. The only levels that caught me off-guard were MAP18 (sheer difficulty), MAP20 (tough puzzles and fights), and MAP24 (revenant rocket Hell).

I think that Whitemare 2 is a better set of levels than the original. If you liked WHITEMAR, then I think that you'll love this. The Russian Doom Community proves once again to be a vibrant arena of authors, each distinguished in his (or her?) own right. Every time something manages to spill on the /idgames archives, I get a little giddy, so here's to the next one, whatever it may be.

by assorted authors

Entry GateMAP01
by Glory "Slavius [B0S]" Antonio
Slavius kicks off another Russian community project with this very simple map. You start in a bunker and must fight your way through some light opposition past the brick wall, where the strongest opposition you'll have is the chaingun squad on top. Nothing much to it, a fairly good MAP01.

MAP02Hall King
by "Arsenikum"
This little piece of techbase will be over before you know it. After wresting control of a shotgun from the outside, the main challenge is in clearing the intersection, which is guarded by a friendly mancubus. It's mostly about ammo management unless you steal a chaingun from the dude in the entryway since the only other upgrade is alive and stuffed behind two demons.

Snowbox AscensionMAP03
by "Arsenikum"
"Verticality" is the word, and so is platforming. The ascension is anything but easy as most of your climbing space begins occupied with imps and the ground has a bunch of monsters just waiting to spoil you in one way or another, and that's not even mentioning the revenant guardians at the very top that rain homing rockets from above. Get a plan, though, and stick to it, and you'll be golden. The rocket launcher is easier to secure than it looks, unless your bamboo pole dooming is weak...

MAP04Caverns of the Damned
by "Cybermind"
Starts out in a cavern and then empties out into a massive, frozen crater with a spire in the center that is your eventual destination. It's one of those levels that has you constantly under siege with projectiles coming from near and afar, and killing every enemy is beyond my patience (and ammo management). The pelting of imp fireballs reaches its high water mark when you're in the lava-filled cave; once you make it past that, it's a quick run to the exit. 

Lost KeepMAP05
by "Dant3"
Pretty cool small icy temple level. There are a lot of crates and a few chances to pick up some handy cells which you'll want for when you pick up the plasma rifle. There aren't a lot of crazy pitched fights but monster placement is decent at keeping you pinned down rather than moving since the level is so claustrophobic. The real panic moments come in the ether of the level's latter half, where you're completely exposed to skeleton rockets and shotgun guy fire. The red key room has a nice couple of firefights.

MAP06Vida Rota
by "[BOMF]devived"
Very cool, very brutal level that's based on total exposure. There are a lot of enemies firing on you from the moment you peek around the corner and it'll be awhile before you feel safe. The relative darkness doesn't help matters much - a lot of the jerks attacking are obscured in the shade and the melee, like those shotgun guys on the balcony near the start area. As usual, those revenants up in the air are fantastic spoilers, nailing you with rockets just when you start to feel confident.

by "Kashtanka"
Starts out very trappy and claustrophobic and then moves on to a decent "Dead Simple" shootout in a small set of ruins, except each wave of beasties has some monsters to complement the danger you're in. The arachnotron wave is more dangerous in my opinion, but if you can get everything hating on dear old Spidermom, you can get to working. You won't be short for ammo or weaponry, at the very least. Nice little diversion.

MAP08Frozen Acid
by "BigMemka"
A long, cool adventure map. You begin in the cave next to a sewage factory and get to fight your way through the complex, with demonic forces heavily entrenched, before entering the dense bullshit of the forest area. Monsters are waiting like aliens to come out of the foliage, with several revenants ready to ruin your day. They'll sneak up on you again, too, after strolling down the main road toward the finale. It's a big shootout with a Spiderdemon on the ground, Hell knights beside, and imps from the east and west tossing fireballs. It's actually not that hard compared to everything else you've fought through. Memka won't hesitate to kick your teeth in for grabbing that soul sphere, either. Love the little boat on the river.

UAC OutpostMAP09
by "Memfis"
A very clean techbase that plays very dirty. Memfis knows all the tricks so he doesn't hesitate to put you in situations that will break bad players. For instance, the yellow key fight, which if you try to run will wake up an arch-vile who's waiting for you. Dealing with all that meat plus an archie might be more meat than you can handle. The plasma rifle was my best friend; picked up at the onset, it'll save your life with its damage and stun. That yellow door trap is an utter bastard, but in a level as trappy as this, what do you expect?

MAP10Operation 'Blizzard'
by "Shadowman"
A charming and challenging section of frozen ruins. The main areas of the level spiral out from the starting room. One of them is a vast, icy cavern, with another featuring some outdoor castle stuff and tundra. The rest is castle, and while the rooms are big and rectangular, they are nonetheless used well by Shadowman to throw tricky hordes of monsters at you. Dodging between columns is tricky legwork and some of the combinations are pretty demanding, like the cacodemon / pain elemental clouds, or that storm of monster packs plus arch-viles toward the end that will sap you of nearly all your ammo. Love the classical music, here.

Short NightMAP11
by "Chaingunner"
Move fast because you'll quickly activate the boss shooter and the space you have to move in will quickly fill up. There's a slight puzzle element, I think, as there's a switch you have to shoot, after which you'll have to discern just where the shooter cubes are coming from - because that's where you unload your munitions. The lower leg of the level is rife with hitscanners and imps in claustrophobic fashion, making for dangerous gameplay. 

MAP12Rotten Orange
by "Chaingunner"
Very cool, very short naturalistic level with some faux-3D effects and some random techbase segments. The major fight is the canyon, which is rife with imps and hitscanners. Be wary of the stationed commandos! If you drop into the canyon, there's no living exit, so be careful / uninquisitive. The descending spiral staircase with the cacodemon fight is simple but effective, making an otherwise ordinary encounter feel more action-packed. 

Inside Your MindMAP13
by "Iron Hand"
Some clever texture usage creates the image of an insane asylum that's fragmented, complete with padded rooms and glass window doors. The main area is fairly precarious and has some cool imagery going on in it. The limited movement area plus imps waiting in the wings is a nice combo to disturb the player. That leap of faith is a pretty cool moment; it's a pity that the rest of the level is mostly a banal mess of orthogonal 64 x 64 hallways with the occasional spectre that impatient players (like me) will bump into. The only thing it has going for it is a nasty revenant fight that mixes limited real estate, columns, and skeletons from two different directions.

MAP14The Pillar and the Pit
by "Memfis"
Very cool classic map. You need the yellow and red keys to get out, but only the red one is immediately visible. You'll have to investigate every corner of the pit to find some decent weapons. It's not as highly-tuned as Memfis's earlier level, but expect some hiccups, like the segment of the abyss with the plasma rifle, a tricky crossfire that rewards immediate use of your newfound weapon. I like the criss-crossing of the western canyon; there's great reuse of already explored areas, here.

Floating WorldMAP15
by Sanya aka "Dragon Hunter"
This is a huge, atmospheric map reminiscent of Sanya's epic from Whitemare. There are plenty of differences (especially in how bright this one is) but this is also inundated with water with several ruined highways. "Floating World" looks like some post-apocalyptic ice age following a great flood. There are skyscrapers poking out of the water everywhere and ice floes you'll have to navigate on several occasions. Combat is pretty incidental but Sanya drops a lot of monsters on you from teleport ambushes so that the imps stationed on all the pillars and buildings have a chance to smack you with a fireball or two. The major battle is for the yellow key, an enormous clusterfuck in a network of buildings and alleys where a few hundred enemies constantly invade and teleport around, making them resistant to herding. Unlocking the secret exit is fun; the "true" finale is a fairly humdrum fight but for the fact that most of the room is shadowed, making circle-strafing a dangerous proposition. Phenomenal!

MAP31Pillars of Creation
by Sanya aka "Dragon Hunter"
This level is much smaller but the visuals are impressive, with megastructures off in the distance and the finale area using some very evocative imagery, especially those rows of smokestack-like pillars that seem to run on forever. It's a pretty hectic shootout with projectiles coming from nearly every direction, treacherous paths to each platform, and more monsters incoming with every switch press. The opening fights are more low-key, even if there are some arch-viles involved, and have some imps waiting in the wings to catch you off-guard. Cool, short map.

Green MadnessMAP32
by Sanya aka "Dragon Hunter"
An enormous, wide-ass open slaughtermap. The beginnings are humble but once you lower the inner walls you'll see what you're up against. It isn't quite projectile Hell as the mancubuses are spaced out but you're going to come up against plenty of slaughter scenarios where your movement area is limited by the edges of the platforms you're fighting on. As usual, the visuals are immaculate and the inverted ziggurats / green beam castle add a lot of flair and otherworldliness. The only fight I found to be incredibly frustrating was among the columns to the east, which is an enormous clusterfuck with three Spiderdemons around the outside, pointing in. Part of it is the pulsing lights and part of it is the sheer cover of the monsters; I suggest staying outside as long as possible, fighting back in, and then using the rocket launcher plus invul to maximize destruction.

MAP16Mystery Island
by "Shadowman"
A spooky, grueling island with a lot of height variation leading to verticality being important to progression. Shadowman keeps you on the low side of ammo until about the very end of the level, when you have to contend with a few arch-viles. Before that, it's a lot of shotgun and chaingun action against Doom II trash plus a healthy number of cacodemons. The ammo balance lends to that survival horror feel, though some players may find that it slows the pace of the level down too much. The best action comes from the teleport fight in the southeast (hitscanner Hell!) and the battle in the temple, with revenants boiling out of the rear chamber while monsters appear behind you. Very nice.

Abyss of DeathMAP17
by "BigMemka"
A big ol' canyon crawl that's a bear to muscle through, unless there are some super secret weapons near the start that I couldn't find (wouldn't surprise me). The revenants and mancubuses on that overlooking ledge will try to spoil your bridge crossing as best they can, and when you want to go through them, you've got commandos and arachnotrons raining Hell on you. The limited space makes for some tense fights, but demands the utmost care, lest you plummet into the fiery abyss below. The setting is gorgeous. I wish there were more ruined outposts to fight through.

MAP18City on the Edge
by "Chaingun Predator"
This is one of the most profoundly uncomfortable levels I've played in my entire Doom career. The naturalistic canyon looks very sharp - I admire its construction and details like the graveyard - but the only way I could complete this map without devoting undue time to it was by racing through it, skipping most of the monsters. I was in such a rush I completely skipped by the SSG my first run, not that it really helps matters much with all the constantly sniping arachnotrons, revenants and mancubuses. I think a Tyson master could make better work with that early-available berserk fist, but that's the only way you're going to make it to 100% kills, and a very grueling journey at that.

by "Marat"
An interesting, flowery level, but spooky due to the track and ominous red sky. I like the trees and, for the most part, the combat. The ammo balance is pretty tight; infighting and chainsawing are some key ways to give you a buffer to protect from the various arch-viles running about. There's also a lot of room, which helps for stuff like the crazy revenant finale or the various other skeleton-heavy encounters. I managed to break this map, somehow, so if you grab the soul sphere and the switchyard door doesn't open, just noclip through it.

MAP20Gloominarch's Realm
by "Arsenikum" and "BigMemka"
A great example of a level with fantastic atmosphere and architecture / detailing weighed down by too many moving parts. "Gloominarch's Realm" is massive, spooky, and has a LOT of ground to cover. Combining an unrelenting slaughtermap with a puzzle map leads to a lot of frustration, since you rarely feel safe enough standing still to really examine things. There are aspects of the design that I'm still unsure of. I never lowered the walls of flesh the arch-viles were hiding behind, for instance, and those vantage points that seem primed to fire rockets into the never-opening mouths of the four skulls seem like enormous red herrings. The actual solution was simpler than I thought - hit the switch by the blue monolith, let the icy pillars ascend into the ceiling, and then grab the invul. Case closed! There are a lot of hard-ass fights, like the southern keep, the initial onslaught requiring supreme revenant-rocket herding skills or a compliant sacrificial wall of cacodemons and pain elementals. Other sections seem designed to annoy, like the 64 x 64 maze that seems to emulate Shadowman's works, or the nearly never-ending cascade of imps from the southeast tunnels, which are a quadruple threat. As a whole, it's impressive, if not at all user-friendly.

Fires of DarknessMAP21
by "Kashtanka"
I like the canyon setting in the beginning and it's a good way to use the limited space to put pressure on the player, what with the assorted monsters on the central island plus the floaters and imps on the outside, but the second half is a bullet Hell made painful due to the pitch black lighting. The opening hail of arachnotron plasma and Cyberdemon rockets will take care of the grounders at the onset, but killing them all isn't easy with all the sprite trees on the sides you have to weave around, and you might want them done by the time you summon up the second wave, which puts a ton of monsters at your back, mancubuses and arachnotrons in the middle, and a huge cloud of cacos in the distance. It's not like you can really see those gas-bags to keep from running into them, at least until it's too late.

MAP22Alarming Antiquity
by "BigMemka"
This is a pretty cool ruins level where the monster positioning emphasizes tactical movement, what with all the sniper clusters. It's also very linear, sending you through the valley at first and then doubling back on the upper leg to get to the exit. There are some handy supplies you can only access by dropping down to the elevations they're on, after which you have to do the whole loop back to get to where you were. Annoying for some players, but I'm guessing a total no-no for speedrunners, not that they'll need the goodies too terribly much. 

by "Snark"
Huh, this is a cool concept. Fight your way through a bunch of treehouses on giant trees. Well, houses built into trees. It's a pretty straightforward map with normal run and gun action with the player dropping / jumping to the next area until the finale, which is a four-part monster battle that resolves itself mostly through infighting, the only threatening aspect of which is a Spiderdemon that will probably get itself killed. Wouldn't mind seeing a larger, more labyrinthine level based on this concept.

MAP24Brutanasia Castle
by "Arsenikum"
It feels like every square inch of this castle is filled with monsters. Sure, you have some room to move around in to court the imp hordes at the onset, but the battlements are fully staffed with revenants that will forever rain rockets down upon you while you try to stay abreast of the enemies that teleport into the castle grounds. Removing them is no small feat, and you're going to have to clear at least one of the sides out in order to make it to the high chamber, the scene of a claustrophobic nightmare that starts with spectres and then moves on to Hell knights and barons, throws in a few arch-viles, and tops things off with a friendly Cyberdemon, who helped me death slide to the exit. It looked pretty sharp but played as tedious as can be.

Inside the PyramidMAP25
by "Shadowman"
Not what I expected, interestingly enough! The location is obvious but the execution is unusual. The pyramid's interior is hollowed out and the scene of some platform-based "Chasm" gameplay. Shadowman preys on your lack of movement space, especially in situations where you have almost zero room to move and have to fight revenants or an arch-vile, using the tiny area behind the level's switches for cover. There's also a highly claustrophobic revenant fight to the north, less because of how much space there is and more because of how many skeletons there are.

MAP26Cave Village
by "Memfis"
A neat little frozen outpost, a lot of which takes place in a cave. Combat feels light at times but then Memfis goes and throws revenants or arch-viles at you. You usually know it's coming but it's a good shake-up every time. Don't forget that he's given you a plasma rifle, or you might get burned. Favorite encounter for me is the one right before the wall you have to climb to the northeast, a blind drop with two Hell knights, a revenant, and a pain elemental in close quarters. Love that tower looking off into the dark depths.

Hidden ThreatMAP27
by "Beewen" aka "LeStat"
Another short level that's mostly wilderness that bridges the gap between a fortress and an isolated section of arctic wasteland. The pinstripe cubes lead me to believe that we're bearing in on Santa's workshop or something; they're cute, if garish. The level starts out slow but as you return to the main area you'll find yourself under fire. Beewen has a few dastardly tricks up his sleeve (like that revenant when you access the elevator by the blue key) and the final shootout has some awkwardly placed arch-viles and revenants but anyone exercising judicious care should be fine.

MAP28March of the Viles
by "Shadowman"
Someone will probably bitch about the soundtrack, but I laughed like an idiot when I heard it start up. Great choice. There are actually way less arch-viles than the title implies, but it is sort of a march on the player's part. Shadowman starts things off with an infested city section that eventually segues into total slaughter. There are a few wonderful opportunities to ratchet infighting up to a full-on demon war. Just don't get caught up in the crossfire. The BFG simplifies the second half of the level, a trudge up a river assaulted by cacodemons and Cyberdemons, then a choking pack of imps, revenants, and even more cacodemons. The big thing to look out for happens at the finale, but you might not realize it until the damage is done. Fun level.

Trip One WayMAP29
by "BigMemka"
The penultimate level is actually a short sub-100 monster adventure through more icy ruins that's very linear in progression but braided so that you can see most of the places you're going to be treading and even have some enemies to fight on the way. It's got a fairly nasty opener - trying to out-shoot the shotgun guys so you can down the Hell knight is a lot harder than just running forward and getting the SSG. BM is all about using your lack of mobility, like in the blue key pit, and surprising you with arch-viles that must be dispatched straightaway. Good sights, good fights.

MAP30Operation 'Antimaydan'
by "Shadowman"
Kind of like "March of the Viles", except this starts out on the city rooftops and then moves down into the streets below, after which it shortly turns into a mega slaughter as you're rockin' around the Christmas tree. And, yes, there is a star at the tippy-top. You know who. The sheer volume of arch-viles and monsters in the final fight compounded by the open space all but demands that you grab the invul sphere to deal with them. It's hidden deep in one of the monster pockets around the tree. I'm glad that, after all that action, the shooter segment is pretty simple.

This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2014 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Going Down32in24-13Bauhaus
The Adventures of SquarePushBloody Steel
Back to Saturn X: Episode 2Rage CTFMayhem 2048
PlasmaplantBest Gameplay ModWhitemare 2
Shadows of ChronosDemonSteeleYou Dig
Monster Hunter Ltd. 1/2Mordeth AwardThe Wailing Horde
ResurgenceDoom 2 in Name OnlyReconstruction/
Mayan MishapMockawardDecomposition
Urban Brawl: Dead of WinterBrutalist Doom
Thy Flesh Turned Into a Draft ExcluderMapper of the Year


  1. You made a little mistake, heroes' tales and both whitemares were based on speedmapping contests, not freakmapping ones. Freakmapping is when you take a computer generated map and have 2 weeks to tune-up it (with some restrictions regarding linedef placement, etc) btw. You can find freak3, freak4 and freak5 on /idgames. Shadowman's Inquisitors were made on freakmapping contests too.

  2. I'm playing through this WAD right now (thanks to your review), and MAP19 is indeed bugged. Only one linedef around the soulsphere actually opens the switchyard door; the others close it. And you can only cross them once before they stop working.

    1. Yeah, idk when or if it's going to be fixed.

  3. This is one of those wads that unfortunately seems to have more nice-looking maps than well-playing ones, Shadowman and Dragon Hunter (perhaps to a lesser extent BigMemka) are an example of good looks but sometimes questionable gameplay. That said, some maps are worth digging out; Memfis always provides good gameplay, in particular, so his maps immediately grab my attention. It is nice to see maps from some authors I don't think have other maps in the archives, too, even if the results are extremely variable. Map13 has a horrible maze though and just.....Map20, I don't know what to say even.