Friday, December 27, 2013

Unholy Realms (UR_FINAL.WAD)


I've bugged a lot of people about a lot of projects, but I think I've ridden Doomworld Forums superstar Brian "Snakes" Knox's ass more than most. Unholy Realms started up back in early 2010 and has been kicking around during the majority of Knox's mapping career, finally seeing release in 2013. It's a limit-removing megaWAD for Doom II that gets some more use out of the Community Chest 4 texture pack, now fairly well known, but still appreciated to give these works some flair beyond plain ol' vanilla textures. As far as story goes, Knox emulates his forbears with a quick blurb about sections of reality being pulled from Hell and merged in the vision of the Icon of Sin, with you setting out to end shit before it all goes to Hell.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pirate Doom (PIRATES!.WAD)


Pirate Doom started back in mid-2012, and what a long way we've come, baby. "D" Arch got the ball rolling with some humorous sprite edits and a few levels and developed the thing into a full-blown GZDoom TC, which saw its major final touches in 2013. Every monster you know from Doom II has undergone some fantastic work to fit them into the Pirate pantheon, from the lowly zombiman to the strapping Cyberdemon, and all the action plays across a wonderfully varied 18 or so levels, giving you plenty of time to get intimate with the changes as you swash and buckle your way through a brand new adventure.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Anniversaries

So, uh, I guess Hellbound became my 300th review, plus the Cacowards saw their 20th (10th) iteration, and somewhere along the way, this blog reached a run time of three whole years, if you count the six or so months I blew off playing a bunch of games that weren't Doom. Thank you, dear readers, whether you comment or don't, and special thanks to authors that chat back; that makes writing and playing so much easier. What follows is a list of WIPs I originally compiled back when the Cacowards were themselves in progress; I didn't edit it to what it is now, but I didn't want to have to be the one to cut stuff out in the first place. These aren't all the WIPs worth looking out for (it's excessively weighted toward map packs), and some of these may fail to impress when they're done, but thanks for making new content for Doom, because the user content keeps this community alive, even if I rarely if ever touch the gameplay mod side.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hellbound (HELLBND.WAD)


Hellbound is the latest release from Doomworld Forums superstar Zoltán Sófalvi, aka Z86. It's a big, beautiful, limit-removing megaWAD published mid-2013 that chronicles another attempt by the forces of Hell to invade our constantly besieged world. This time, you start out at your own apartment complex when you're called in, only to find that the assault is well underway. You'll make an epic journey through the heart of the city, blown-apart UAC bases, the hostile wilderness, an outpost in the dimension that borders our world and Hell's, and then finally Hell itself. The fact that all of this is accomplished with virtually nothing but Doom and Doom II's textures is a feat in and of itself.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Kuchitsu (KUCHITSU.WAD)


memfis is a pretty cool person who makes maps and releases them piecemeal instead of throwing together one of those hugeass megaWADs that tends to grind aspiring authors down. Kuchitsu, released early in 2013 for limit-removing ports, is therefore a little unusual as it's six levels long, serving as something of a minisode. Kuchitsu doesn't have an official story but there's kind of a tie between the levels, like taking a boat from "Lotus Island" to the docks of "Mechanical" and then fighting your way through a Doom City to an escape plane. The music that plays during the intermission is supposed to be the in-flight tune. I guess the tech-savvy Doomguy always carries a set of earphones!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fuel Devourer (FUELDEVR.WAD)

FUEL DEVOURER
by "C4tnt" and "Archi"


The Russian Doom community has a little institution called the First-try Demo Contest. The basic idea is that someone makes a map that no one's ever seen before and then presents it to contestants at a predetermined time, who then record first-try demos trying to complete the map. If you're not familiar with FDAs, the point is to basically start recording your virgin playthrough of a level, deaths and all, until you reach the exit. Fuel Devourer was the level developed for FDC#11, released afterward in 2013 by its architects, iddqd.ru superstars C4tnt and Archi.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Drown Stone (DSTONE.WAD)

DROWN STONE
by Chris "lupinx-Kassman" Kassap


Drown Stone is the second map to have come out of Brian Knox's Secret Santa project, this one also Boom-compatible and finding release in 2013. A bunch of authors signed up and were randomly seeded with each other. Whoever you got, you had to attempt to produce a level in their style, after which the work would be presented in the thread, with a grace time for everyone to guess 1) who the author was and 2) which author he / she was imitating. DSTONE is Doomworld forum superstar lupinx-Kassman doing fellow superstar Stuart "stewboy" Rynn, to unusual results. All I really know of Kassman is his larger adventure levels so this offering - which is scaled to the polar opposite of Claustrophobia - comes as a surprise. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Forsaken Overlook (FSKNOVLK.WAD)

FORSAKEN OVERLOOK
by Matt Tropiano


Forsaken Overlook, published in 2013, is part of the Doomworld "Secret Santa" project, arranged by one Brian "Snakes" Knox. The idea was to randomly pair off participating authors in a gift-maker to gift-receiver relationship, where the gift-maker created a single level in the target author's style. The results are then posted anonymously in the project thread, with players able to guess the target author before Snakes pulls the veil back and exposes the charade. In this particular case, the role of "Santa" was played by Doom veteran Matt Tropiano, and his recipient was "LupinX-Kassman" of Community Chest 4 fame. Tropiano did a job of studying his quarry, also producing a document that documents his entire creative process, which you can find and read in the .ZIP. A fascinating read, especially for other authors, I'm sure. The result, intended for Boom-compatible ports, plays in the MAP01 slot.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Temple of the Lizard Men 3 (LMTMPL3.PK3)


Temple of the Lizard Men has become somewhat of a Doom institution. Alan D., aka "alando1", started the ball rolling in 2009 with the original TOTLM, where a marine investigates an ancient temple, the site of some mysterious disappearances, including a military team sent to investigate. Temple of the Lizard Men 2 knocked it up a notch with another marine investigating a different temple, this one with a power-mad Lizard Man chieftain executing all of the women of his tribe. Temple of the Lizard Men 3, released in 2013, may be more scales than you can handle, with three distinct episodes and a story involving an archaeological team that Dug Too Deep, unleashing an ancient evil and rekindling the age-old battle between the forces of light and dark. All of this across roughly 32 levels for GZDoom, with some fudge factor for the practice map and the falling action.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Doom 2 the Way id Did (D2TWID)


Doom 2 the Way id Did is a sequel to, well, the incredibly popular Doom the Way id Did, of course. Headed up by Doomworld forum superstar Alfonzo after the release of the latter, D2TWiD aimed to mimic the styles of the architects of Doom II. John Romero, American McGee, and Sandy Petersen are the headliners, of course. I think Shawn Green and Tom Hall were considered, but if they're represented, it's probably in Tom Hall's sprawling base layouts. As was the case with DTWiD, there is no change in the "story" of Doom II. Just load it up and ask yourself - if one of these levels had shown up instead of one of the originals, would you even have noticed? What if you mashed the two PWADs together - would anything seem out of place?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Interception (INTERCEP.WAD)


Interception started around the height of vanilla megaWAD madness, back in 2011. Matt534Dog wanted to make a megaWAD, and there was enough enthusiasm knocking about that everyone not working on their top secret projects said "Hell yeah!" and started pouring in the maps. Then on release, the Doomworld MegaWAD Club played it, undergoing a sort of playtesting by fire, after which the PWAD underwent some significant changes. The super double ultimate final release happened sometime in 2013, but there are still a few game-breaking bugs to stamp out. Funny, unless you're playing it and run across them, trying to find out whether you just don't have the solution or whether the puzzle itself is inherently broken.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Temple of the Lizard Men 2 (LMTMPL2.PK3)


Alando released the original Temple of the Lizard Men in 2009, following it up with the sequel in 2010, the aptly titled Temple of the Lizard Men 2. The TOTLM series is a conscious attempt to weld the gameplay of Doom to that of Unreal, more specifically the action of the former and the environments of the latter. Where the first installment was pretty much action for action's sake, though, the author attempted to work more story elements into his sophomore effort. TOTLM2 doesn't have any cut scenes, but there are a few NPCs you WILL chat with, and a number of digital journals to collect, one of the most prevalent quirks of Unreal, hammering in the depressing ends of a number of corpses.


TOTLM2 takes place on a mysterious island where vacationers have gone missing for weeks and counting. A squad of marines went in to investigate and promptly encountered some action before they themselves disappeared. You are the sole person sent to discover the squad's fate, and perhaps that of all the individuals. Of course, you soon encounter the titular lizard men, plus the recently-oppressed lizard women. One of the latter, named Azula, seeks your help to break her people of the oppressive hand that guides them. If you're lucky, you might manage to find a marine or two alive.


Part two is essentially a continuance of the style of the series, but more refined, with a few memorable boss battles and lots of reptile-slaying goodness. Alan has pared down some of the weaponry to give a more effective selection. There is no SSG, sadly, but the normal shotgun will prove to be your workhorse weapon alongside the chaingun and on some occasions grenade launcher. There's a sniper rifle, but it feels pretty weak. I wasn't sold on the serpent staff's initial appearance, but it's pretty useful, and the knife is a great backup with great reward for comparatively low risk against the slightly sluggish lizards.


The bestiary should seem familiar to veterans with the lizards appearing in a variety of colors alongside weredragons, their ranged combat counterparts. The sorcerers return, as do the minotaurs. There are eels to complement the creepy gill beasts but the major addition are the berserker lizards, recolors of Shadow Warrior's rippers that are basically a faster and tougher variety of the main antagonists. There are a few bosses to fight, with some nice attack patterns to keep you on your toes, but as always, mobility is the main advantage of Doomguy.


If you didn't play the original TOTLM, you're in for a bunch of linear crawls through temples, caverns, and death-filled wilderness, with a fair amount of monster closets. I think they look pretty cool, but Alando doesn't stress the exploration aspect of adventure, instead focusing on some hybrid of Indiana Jones meets sword and sorcery where the adventure is in the action. He delivers, for the most part, though gunning down hordes of lizards and their ilk can get wearisome with some of the hordes thrown at you in later areas. He still manages to rustle up a few novel encounters, though, and I think that the architecture has improved in comparison to his debut.


The story is inessential to the action though it's nice that you aren't locked into cutscenes. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense in that the lizard man chieftain is ordering the execution of all of the lizard women, who are thus grateful for your intervention. There may be a greater power that isn't really hinted at that's causing such asinine decision making, but really, it's an adolescent sword and sorcery wet dream, but with guns. You arrive in a mysterious world, find the subjugated and tortured women (lizard and human) and rescue them by killing their masculine oppressors, afterward basking in their gratitude and barely-clothed glory. It is one of the premiere male power fantasies, though I don't buy into it, and truth be told the partially nude and mutilated bodies of both species are more than a little off-putting.


Anyway, if you liked the idea behind TOTLM but wanted something a little more...advanced, Alan takes things to the next level with Temple of the Lizard Men 2. If you're not a fan of his intended atmosphere or the essential linearity, you might want to give this a pass, but it's a nice piece of action and plays a bit better than its progenitor. It's almost the Evil Dead II to the original Evil Dead, though I'll admit that most of the comedy I see in this release is unintentional, mostly due to the awkwardness of the author's narrative.





TEMPLE OF THE
LIZARD MEN 2

by Alan "alando1" D.

DroppedMAP01
Almost entirely atmospheric level that consists of a walk up to the Temple proper. Some neat sights like that bridge by the waterfall, but that's what most of the level is - neat sights. As far as nailing Unreal, Alan isn't far off the mark, but he fails when he shows off the final outdoor area, which is disappointingly boxy, in spite of its little pond with lily pads.

MAP02Temple of Water
Something more action-oriented. It's a decent temple section with lots of brown and green lizards to dispatch, and a few weredragons for good measure. The shotgun makes short work of most of these beasts but with the hordes you'll be fighting you'll have to beat them back quite a bit. I like the look of the individual areas, with the southern dual-secret room my favorite.

The SwampMAP03
A linear trek down some marshlands that are rife with stalkers, which means that most of your experience consists of creeping down the river and then shooting the ugly bastards as they pop out of the water. It's not that thrilling, though the few appearances by green lizards come as welcome shake-ups to the otherwise excruciating crawl. It certainly has a decent atmosphere.

MAP04The Mountains
A few cool sights here including that massive gorge with the waterfall but after you enter the temple it's a bog-standard corridor shooter blowing tons of lizards away complete with monster closets. The only real surprise is the brown dragon at the end, which is mostly dangerous due to the confined space.

Night FallMAP05
The jungle is pretty nice-looking but the level isn't anything you haven't seen before. Its defining features are a few mobs of lizardmen that will have you pinned back to entrance points until you thin the herds out and, surprise surprise, the return of the chaos serpent, though you get the drop on him this time. This level also debuts the serpent staff, which is honestly a lackluster addition to your armory when you have stuff like the basic shotgun.

MAP06The Dungeon
Another trek into a stronghold of the lizards. "The Dungeon" isn't very dungeony due to its small size; one small area with a few cells fits the bill, complete with the answer to the question that's been burning within you. If there is a lizard man, is there not a lizard woman? There's also a human woman in here, too, but all are bound to function as simple props in the Doom engine, unable to do anything but grunt. The fights are pretty standard though there's a lot of water action for anyone wary of swimming with gill beasts and the bridge section has some questionable design what with the big-ass weredragon at the top on the other side. Save your sniper rounds, I suppose?

Underground TempleMAP07
This linear trek justifies itself with some great visuals and atmosphere with the jaunts into the rainy spaces. I love the huge altar room and as usual Alando does a decent job of making subterranean caverns, though his choice of texture leaves something to be desired as the first major chamber tends to blend together, robbing it of some of its spectacle. There are some tough fights, some of them sheer mob frenzy but the trickiest stuff revolves around the minotaurs, bad dudes that move fast and can crush you if you let them get a swing in. Cool stuff, and I love the treasure room.

MAP08Arena of the Minotaur
Just a boss map. You've been fighting baby minotaurs but the big bad can swing his weight around with his two hammers. Your first main adversary is the slightly raised area in the center of the arena which has a tendency to bounce your grenades wildly; after that it's just getting your explosives to connect before finishing him off with the chaingun. Like any good boss, once you learn your counter-maneuvers, it's a cinch.

The VillageMAP09
Some cool vistas and a nice, long trek to the finale. Things get tense, here, as I ran so low on ammo I had to resort to the knife, which is incidentally a pretty powerful alternative. And that's after using infighting to sort out most of the big fight, found at the village proper. No real surprises except for the final boss, a big ol' berserker lizardman (gorilla) with a pretty obvious tell for its death charge and a ton of cover to block its LOS. The only real trick is nailing it with your shotgun blasts with how fast it moves. And, well, there's some hot springs to be found, but...

MAP10Home Stretch
Post-action roundup of loose ends with some nice scenery on your way to the exit.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Year 22 - A Rock and a Hard Place (YEAR_22.WAD)

YEAR 22
A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
by Eric "The Green Herring" Baker


Eric Baker busted out his Year 21 speedmap in 2008 to celebrate his 21st anniversary on This Island Earth. Year 22 was made in 2009 for the same purpose, but due to a comedy of errors wasn't released until the tail end of the year, much like the third and as of this post final entry in the trilogy, Year 23. 22, aka A Rock and a Hard Place, is another single map replacement to be played in Boom-compatible engines. This time, though, it fills the MAP02 slot, with the intent that the levels can be loaded together and played back to back to form a cohesive narrative. Year 22 picks up where 21 left off. You've stepped through the still-active warp gate at a military installation thought abandoned only to find it quite inhabited and the gate fully functional, sending you to some Godforsaken canyon in who knows where. To add insult to injury, the trip seems to have been a one-way ticket.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Temple of the Lizardmen (LMTEMPLE.WAD)


Temple of the Lizard Men, dating from 2009, is a cool pastiche of several things. I get an Unreal vibe (no doubt due to the soundtrack selection) and the setting feels like a mix of sword and sorcery (battling alien-minded lizard people) and Indiana Jones (exploring ancient ruins from a modern mindset). Storywise, it's not much different from a Doom PWAD, except instead of battling demons, you're against the savage lizard men. Apparently a bunch of other marines have tried to investigate a mysterious temple but never reported back, so you're sent into South America to put these malcontents down. All of the resulting action occurs in this seven-map episode for Doom II, to be played in GZDoom.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Year 21 - The Vanishing Point (YEAR_21.WAD)

YEAR 21
THE VANISHING POINT
by Eric "The Green Herring" Baker


Back in 2008, Eric Baker started what he hoped would be a yearly tradition, celebrating his birthday by making a speedmap and then sharing it with the Doom community. Years 22 and 23 did not enjoy the same speedy timetable, with 22 suffering from a series of unfortunate events and 23 turning into an epic, and there have been no followups since. Maybe Baker will see fit to give us a little minisode to update things to a more current timetable. Anyway, this is Year 21, the first level in the series, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II to be played in Boom-compatible ports. The story is simple. As a marine, you locate an abandoned warp gate facility in your free time only to find out that it isn't exactly devoid of inhabitants, and must thus get to killin'.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rage Doom (RAGE20.WAD)


Dan Krempel published Rage Doom in a final but unfinished state back in '94, an OG Doom megaWAD that replaces 19 out of the 27 original levels. Krempel did not replace the levels in any fixed order. Slots E1M5-7, E2M3, 4, E3M3, 4, and 6 are not filled because the author eventually found himself too occupied in other affairs to finish it out. I'm guessing that since he was 14 at the time, the transition from grade school to high school was a major factor, but I'm pretty presumptuous. Rage Doom has no given story, but given that Krempel's levels appear to take their cues from the names of the maps originally in the slots, I'm assuming it's pretty much the same thing as Doom, except instead of starting at a "Hangar" you begin at an "Air Base".

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Castle of Blood (BLOOD.WAD)

THE CASTLE OF BLOOD
by Jim McColm


The Castle of Blood is a single map released for OG Doom back in '95 by one Jim McColm, one of the authors whose output went down with Compuserve and has since been archived on /idgames. It's a pretty cool green marble and blood structure, reminding me of Thy Flesh Consumed in its overall aesthetics, though not in its execution. The brief story is typical of PWADs; the eponymous castle is a hotspot of demonic activity and has served as a death trap for marines battling Hell. This time, you drew the lot (literally the short straw) and have to excise the Hellspawn.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

ASDOOM][: The Final Countdown (ASD2.WAD)


Andy Sheppard released his ASDOOM back in '94, an episode 1 replacement for the original Doom. The following year, he published ASDOOM][: The Final Countdown, an eight-map episode for Doom II. The basic idea is the same, a series of levels with little consideration for 100% completion for pistol start. It's not a true sequel, though. When Sheppard put out ASDOOM, he must not have known Doom II's story, because the plot involved the marine returning from Hell only to be immediately thrust into a mission to a UAC base on Jupiter's moon, Io. ASD2 drops that concept entirely, as though it never happened. It's actually a followup to Doom II, starting immediately after your battle with the Icon of Sin. You return to Earth to find that the evacuation fleet is locked in some kind of stasis and needs your help in slaying the demonic remnants holding them back. One Colonel Diaz is your liaison, and she has several tidbits of wisdom to offer between MAP03 / 04 and MAP06 / 07, which you can read in Sheppard's voluminous .TXT.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mayan Temple (MAYAN667.WAD)

MAYAN TEMPLE
by Paul Turnbull


Paul Turnbull's major claim to fame is the authorship of TNT Evilution's MAP23, "Lunar Mining Project", a level noted for feeling out of place in the scheme of the megaWAD being as it's a pretty concrete man-made level in the ostensibly Hellish third episode. It's also noted for having a few of those odd custom textures that some people find questionable. His other contribution to the Doom community is Mayan Temple, an E1M1 replacement released back in '94, which being a standalone work doesn't fall prey to the first complaint. The second, though, is fair game as Turnbull has included a host of brand new textures to help establish his theme. It's some kind of Mayan temple, of course, or more accurately a block of Mayan architecture with conflicting inclusions of Egyptian iconography.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

ASDOOM (ASDOOM.WAD)


Andy Sheppard crafted two episodes, one for Doom and the other for Doom II, back in 1994 and '95, respectively. This is ASDOOM, an E1 replacement, consisting of nine levels. Sheppard places the level's story immediately following the original Doom, before the plot of Doom II was known. You emerge from the teleporter at the end of Inferno and arrive on Earth, with your superiors debriefing you for all the information you have on your encounters, because while the demons never made it to Earth, the UAC did lose contact with their Io base, which was executing the same kind of gateway experiments. As was the case with Ripley, you're sent as an adviser as you're the only human to have encountered the forces of Hell and survive. Of course, when you arrive, the forces of Hell wreck your dropship and you're forced to fend for yourself, fighting your way from the deepest level of the base to the top.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mountain Base (KHILLS_2.WAD)

MOUNTAIN BASE
by Kurt Kesler


Mountain Base, aka KHILLS_2, is Kurt Kesler's second and final limit-removing PWAD from his classic period (K_KICKIN was published in 2005, seven years later, and KBASE_4 is a conversion of a previously released Boom map). Like KHILLS, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. It also shares some common features, in that it's a techbase set within some mountains, the main difference being that in KHILLS, you started inside the base and worked your way out. In part deux, you start on the outskirts and must find your way in. As per usual, Kesler includes no story, just a two-word HINT in the .TXT - "Kill them.".

Friday, July 5, 2013

KMEGA1 (KMEGA1.WAD)


Kurt Kesler made a tonne of levels, starting back in '97 with K_BASE1 and ending his major career around '01 with a last gasp in '05. KMEGA1, released in 2004, is a construction of convenience, a collection of all of Kurt's vanilla compatible releases into one megaWAD. Specifically, it includes his KMETL, KBASE, and KBRICK works, totaling 18 levels, all of which were released in '97 and '98. KBASE_4 is not included, I believe because it was a limit-removing PWAD and a de-Boomification of his KBOOM_7. Apparently some of these first works were originally made for OG Doom, as Kurt indicated in his KMETL_1 .TXT that his other files consisted of "K_Base1,Thebase1, I have lots,but am converting them from old version(Doom1)." They were never made available in that form, though, as far as I can tell.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hostage Rescue 3 (HOSTAGE3.WAD)


Before banging out the now legendary Twilight Warrior, a somewhat realistic FPS conversion for Doom II to be played in the then budding Legacy engine, Sidearm Joe and Ziggy Gnarly made the Hostage Rescue series, culminating in Hostage Rescue 3. HOSTAGE3 was released back in 1998, a three-level minisode of sorts. The hook is the same, an attempt at simulating real covert ops activities in the Doom engine, starting out with a shooting gallery before moving on to two distinctly different missions. If you've played Twilight Warrior but haven't touched their salad days, you're not missing much, as MAP03 is a much easier version of Twilight's MAP04 ("Navy Seal") and MAP01 is barely a glorified shooting gallery. There's some cool stuff, though.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Skyewood (SKYEWOOD.WAD)


Steve Rescoe is another one of those WAD authors who went on to game design. He was one of the names attached to Daikatana in its early development, but later went on to do level design for No One Lives Forever, Doom 3, and lately Rage. Here is his sole Doom II map credit, a three-level minisode published in 1996. Skyewood is an interesting hodgepodge of psychedelic trappings, replacing barrels with huge toads, burning barrels with flashing toads, health potions with mushrooms, and various other graphical oddities like talking trees and specialized wall textures that fool the eye in to thinking that the torches are casting a soft glow. Oh, and there's a dragon.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Containment Area (CONTAIN.WAD)

CONTAINMENT AREA
by J.C. "Sailor Scout" Bengtson


Doom has had no shortage of tributes since its release. Most players attempt to echo the designs of Knee Deep in the Dead, the episode most memorable to them, but there are others... Containment Area is an unmistakable homage to the E2M2 level by the same name, a MAP12 replacement for Doom II by one J.C. Bengtson, aka Sailor Scout. CONTAIN isn't for OG Doom; it's a massive remake for Boom-compatible ports, mainly for some moving floors and the six key setup. Actually, there are some SFX for ZDoom that you'll miss out on if you use something else (the steps sound eerily like crunching bones), but the ambiance is a sideshow to the 666 monsters on UV. It should prove to be a test of several aspects, patience for some and skill for others.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Real (REAL.ZIP)


Joe Zona is probably best known for his "Golden Triangle" level in Twilight Warrior, but the resources that made Black Shadow's jungle levels so engrossing had their origins in Zona's earlier release, the Real Doom II conversion, published a year earlier in 1998. Real is a short episode, fielding six real maps with an eye-candy finale, that tells the story of a marine sent in to clear out a Brazilian UAC base that tempted fate and is now overrun by Hellspawn. Your goal is to clear the nasties and find the base generator in order to rig it to explode in Hollywood fashion so that you can put an end to UAC's gateway experiments on earth.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Combat Shock (C-SHOCK.WAD)


I've played a lot of maps I could call slaughterfests, but few of them are on the scale of contemporary difficulty, i.e. Sunder, Newgothic - Movement 1, or Deus Vult 1 and 2. Sure, there are classic "slaughter" PWADs like Hell Revealed and Alien Vendetta, but the scale of these works is usually smaller compared to the newschool slaughters and the impressive architecture that almost always accompanies them. Combat Shock, by Doomworld forum superstar Daniel "dannebubinga" Jakobsson, is my first proper experience in this genre I have so loosely defined. That is to say, I've played some isolated crazy levels in contemporary stuff, including but not limited to Survive in Hell and Doom 2 Unleashed. Thinking back, most of the megaWADs I've recently played have at least one newschool slaughtermap, so I'm no virgin. I'm also no vet, as I can attest to my difficulty with this mapset.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Painful Evil (PAINEVIL.WAD)

PAINFUL EVIL
by Tomi Rajala


Swedish Doomer Tomi Rajala didn't have a lot of single-player works to his name besides his top 10 entries and his abandoned Back to Hell megaWAD, but he had Painful Evil, released late in 2000 for limit-removing ports. It's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, and draws from the episode four aesthetic with blood, marble, metal, wood, and brick, all in spades. As is usually the case, he doesn't muck around with any kind of setup, just mentioning that it was actually one of his first levels, just touched up for release with new areas and detailing. To be honest, given the quality of the rest of the finished product, it's hard to believe that he just waved his hand over it, but I'll take his word for it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Twilight Warrior (TWILIGHT.WAD)


For awhile, Doom was perhaps the most realistic FPS kicking around, as laughable as that sounds. It was, though, and it's only natural that authors would try to manipulate the core aspects of Doom's gameplay in order to facilitate an experience even closer to conceptions of what a realistic first person shooter experience would  be. Two wild and crazy guys - "Ziggy" and "Sidearm Joe" - made a series of levels called Hostage Rescue that tried to emulate this experience, but their efforts came to a head in 1998 with the release of Twilight Warrior, published as Black Shadow Software with the aid of some other authors, some now quite famous in the Doom community. It's a ten-map episode for Doom II, originally designed to be played in what is  now an ancient version of the Legacy engine. Nowadays, any modern port that supports mouselook, jumping and DeHackEd should be able to run it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

KHILLS (KHILLS.WAD)

KHILLS
by Kurt Kesler


Kurt Kesler made a boat load of levels for vanilla Doom II, almost as many for Boom, and slightly less for ZDoom. His pair of KHILLS levels are unique in that they're source-port agnostic but still require raised limits. KHILLS.WAD (not KHILLS_1) is the first of the pair, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II released mid-1998. Stylistically, I guess it fits in among his K_BASE series in that it's a techbase, but the HILLS designator is for the terrain that surrounds the base. KHILLS is thus built within some kind of crater, so prepare to do some hiking and some spelunking while you're running around the base offing its corrupted denizens.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Soulcrusher (SCMAIN.ZIP)


Soulcrusher is basically a brand new game for the GZDoom engine by Przemek "Alter-zero" Zimny, aka Afterworldruler. Well, it has some resources cribbed from a few other things, most notably Freedoom, but the only real traces of Doom you'll find are in some of the now familiar sound effects. Soulcrusher's initial scope was larger, numbering at more than the nine maps that form the entirety of its gameplay (at least four), plus plenty of alternate exits that would change the way later levels played out, but Zimny lost his graphic artist, one Pawel "NMN" Zarczyinski. Without a replacement, he completed the project for release rather than have it languish in obscurity, which I'm grateful for. The story:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

ENTRY (ENTRY.WAD)

ENTRY
by Josie "Morgana" Austin


ENTRY is a fairly unremarkable OG Doom map from 1996 with a sweet coda, revealed some sixteen years after its release. It's a small E1M1 replacement, showing just over seventy monsters, and the only release from one Josie Austin, aka Morgana, who was apparently to author an entire episode which never materialized. You're some kind of prisoner who was supposed to be released, only to be forced through a deadly gauntlet after being shot in the leg by your escort, ostensibly for the sadistic satisfaction of the keepers. It isn't revealed whether they honor letting you free if you manage to escape, presumably because Josie never got that far.