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.

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.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hadephobia (H_PHOBIA.WAD)


Hadephobia started a long, long time ago under the banner of "Progressive Fiction". It was something of a conceptual community project. Basically, someone started by making a map, writing a bit of a story to go along with it, and then passing it on to the next person, who would do likewise, and repeat until they had finished a full-fledged Doom II megaWAD for Boom-compatible ports. The story is a little scatterbrained at times as far as the finer details, but the main idea should seem familiar. After all the agony of the Doom games, you continue to have nightmares, some kind of psychic link with Hell which dubs you as a Hadephobe. The bad dreams start to get even worse and you're sure an invasion is imminent, but the UAC locks you up in a distant asylum, out of sight and out of mind. You're the boy / girl who cried Doom, though, and when another invasion breaks loose, you must fight for your life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

KZDoom1 (KZDOOM1.WAD)

KZDOOM1
by Kurt Kesler


Kurt Kesler made a lot of single map releases for Doom II. KZDoom marks the series that was made solely for Doom's most advanced port at the time, ZDoom. Of the seven maps in the series (not counting the unfinished KZDoom8), KZDoom1 was the first, released in 1999. It's a medium-size MAP01 replacement, fielding just over 150 monsters. It's in a bit of a tech theme with most of the action taking place in some kind of factory with the rest occurring in a more natural outdoors section. There's no plot; Kurt just describes it as dumping you into the center of a highly secured factory which you have to escape.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Herian 2 (HERIAN2.WAD)


Ian Wilson published Herian in 1998; about a year or so later in 1999, we saw the release of Herian2, its sequel, and to date the last entry in the series. Like the original, H2 is a thirty-two map replacement for Doom II that features a number of sprite replacements for Doom II enemies culled from Heretic. There are some differences, though. Herian2 actually features a story, first of all. It makes more sense if you use Wilson's TC package (this download bundled by the late, great Jive), which replaces all inappropriate enemies and the weapons with stuff from Heretic and Hexen. Essentially, it takes place pre-pre-pre-Doom, and post-Herian. It turns out Herian was the player character's war against infernal powers, back when the forces of Hell and the Serpent Riders were united. He thought he had won, but when he prepares to settle down, there's another assault that he must fight off.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Atomic Tomb (AT.WAD)

ATOMIC TOMB
by Brad "Vorpal" Spencer


Brad Spencer, one of the chief contributors to the now legendary Alien Vendetta, published Atomic Tomb way back in 2000. It's is a super-fast OG Doom level, replacing E1M1, and meant to be played in Boom-compatible source ports. His lip service style story says that you're one of the marines stationed on Mars after Deimos vanishes and Hell invades, circa the original trilogy. It's up to you to fight off the invasion as all your fellow marines are slain.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Herian (HERIAN.WAD)


Ian Wilson has but two entries in his Doom legacy, but both are full Doom II megaWADs. Herian is the first, to be played in limit-removing ports (followed by Herian2 for a very early release of ZDoom). At the very least, Wilson recommends against using it in vanilla Doom due to visplane errors (though only one instance is specifically mentioned). Herian has no given story; Wilson just rattles of a list of influences, including the entire Doom family of games - Doom, Doom II, Heretic, Hexen, Strife - in addition to Apogee's Rise of the Triad and Duke Nukem 3D. It draws its main aesthetic from Heretic and Hexen as it uses a number of their resources and pulls a few monster replacements (in sprites, not mechanics).

Friday, May 17, 2013

More New Stuff

I have stealthily (until now) added a few new pages. Statistics is just numbers porn, derived not wholly but at least in part from Colin Phipps's Doom Underground. It resulted in a pretty thorough review of my actual numbers, finding that I had somehow missed counting a handful of reviews and authors and a bunch of maps (in the neighborhood of 150!). I also added Icons of Sin, an index of id-sanctioned "commercial" releases which will eventually be filled out. I snuck in overview posts for Final Doom and the Wraith Corp. megaWADs, kind of like the Master Levels summary. Finally, the Perdition's Gate and Hell to Pay reviews have new screenshots in the 640X style. They are hands-free, at the base brightness level, and have no embarrassingly stretched skies. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The CHORD Series

THE CHORD SERIES
by Malcolm Sailor

as featured in Super Serials
CHORD1CHORD2
CHORD_NGCHORDG
CHORD3

Malcolm Sailor was a pretty prolific author in Doom's heyday. While he was a participant in several famous projects (most notably The Talosian Incident) his real claim to fame is his CHORD series, five single levels released from 1997 to 2000. Not all CHORD levels are created equal; while each showcases Sailor's attitude toward nasty, challenging gameplay, the first two are more embryonic, displaying less of the highly-tuned architecture, detailing and lighting that characterize the latter three. In fact, CHORD2 stands farther apart with a much larger level size, including a vast outer yard with castle battlements that flies in the face of his usually carefully-orchestrated encounters.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

CHORD3 (CHORD3.WAD)

CHORD3
by Malcolm Sailor


Malcolm Sailor's CHORD series is renowned for its uncompromising brutality. It only stands to reason that his swan song for Doom, CHORD3, is the nastiest down and dirty level in the family. It's a MAP27 replacement for Doom II, meant for limit-removing ports. It's also a return, of sorts, to the themes explored in CHORD1 and CHORD2, the first two being Promethean explorations of the style that would dominate what was (is?) in his mind the pinnacle of his authorial career. To that end, CHORD3 begins in a Hellish mansion, much like the aforementioned levels, but plumbs new depths as Sailor takes you on a strange journey.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Demonfear (DMONFEAR.WAD)


Adam Windsor created Demonfear over the span of several years, releasing it in six episodes over 1995 and 1998. When finished, he collected the levels into a megaWAD and published it in 1999. The final product consists of a full thirty-two maps for Doom II, playable in vanilla. The intention was a complete replacement functional in solo, co-op, and DM play. It even has a story .TXT to go along with it which helps to set the tone of some of the levels with the occasional hint. As usual, Hell has caught Earth by surprise, and it's up to you to defend the planet, starting with the military base you were stationed at. After running around (and beyond) Terra for the first half, you enter a portal and continue the fight in a sort of twisted facsimile of our dimension.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

HeDRoX 2 (HEDROX2.WAD)


Rodrigo Acevedo, aka "El Rodo", clinched a coveted Cacoward in 2005 with the release of HeDRoX, a short, highly detailed level for Doom II. HeDRoX 2, its sequel, is a considerably longer adventure, published in 2013. It's actually two maps, arranged similarly to Galaxia. The first level is the main draw with the second serving as a separate finale. As before, Acevedo suggests you play HeDRoX 2 with ZDoom. Actually, he also wants to see you play his level with Brutal Doom, looking at the .TXT. I used the former. Similarly, there's no provided story for HeDRoX part deux. It's just another nondescript techbase for you to plow through.

Friday, May 3, 2013

HeDRoX: Doom 3060 Apocalipse (HEDROX.WAD)

HEDROX
DOOM 3060 APOCALIPSE
by Rodrigo "El Rodo" Acevedo


HeDRoX is a single map for Doom II released in 2005. The author, Rodrigo Acevedo, suggests using ZDoom to play the level as it is considerably detail-intensive, but limit removal isn't the reason it's suggested for ZDoom. Suffice it to say, use something in the ZDoom family if you want to play HeDRoX. There's no real plot, though the subtitle suggests that the year is 3060, and some end-of-the-world shit is going down. Doomguy arrives on some kind of mostly underground base, because that's what Doomguys do, and proceeds to slay all the demons entrained within.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Crusades (CRUSADES.WAD)


Richard Wiles thought he was done with Doom after releasing Nessy. You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave, and his natural tendencies led to him continuing his abandoned SPOOKY series until he decided to collect the done levels as a set of its own and throw in four more, creating the now-immortal Crusades, an episode 4 replacement for OG Doom. Of course, Wiles thought he was done with Doom then, but we all know the truth, as history proved out. As usual for Wiles, there is no given story to go along with his level set, not that it really matters with an aesthetic theme as strong as this.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nessy (NESSY.WAD)

NESSY
by Richard Wiles


Richard Wiles made a lot of maps in 1998. The DICKIE series was his most lauded work from this period, but before things rolled over to 1999 he had a go at another style of level for Doom II, using the Plutonia IWAD. It was supposed to be a mini-episode but he declared himself done with Doom and released this two-level minisode, named Nessy in tribute to his then girlfriend (and future wife). Nessy isn't consistent in and of itself - its two entries vary wildly in style - but that doesn't make them any less enjoyable.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Doomed for Two Years

Two years ago, I started a blog where I would share my experiences with Doom PWADs that I'd played. Today, it boasts 255 in-depth reviews of WADs composed of 2129 maps by 424 different authors. That's...
  • 5 maps per author
  • 8.3 maps per WAD
  • and 1.65 WADs per author
And today, I'm opening a new wing of the site, "New Ways to Die", which specifically features reviews of mods that alter Doom's gameplay, whether they have levels or not. The only caveat - I'm not playing WIPs, which the vast crop of popular mods are. Consider that the version of Brütal Doom that won the 2011 Cacowards was v.13 and Sergeant Mark IV is currently working on v.19, more than a year after the fact. I don't mind something like Reelism's expansion packs, given that Kins and co are adding cards to a deck rather than tweaking the overall balance of what is supposed to be a well-oiled machine.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Back to the Fire (BTTF.WAD)

BACK TO THE FIRE
by Simon Dupuis


I've never played the PSX version of the Dooms, and while I've dabbled in Doom 64, I haven't given it good enough of a look to be intimately familiar with it. What I do know is that to some players, both Dooms are the iconic experiences driven by their nostalgia trains, and oppressive ambiance plus colored lighting constitute much of that feel. Back to the Fire, released in 2012 by Simon Dupuis, is a single map for Doom II that uses these elements to I feel evoke that sensation but in a more modern sense. Replacing MAP01, it's meant to be played in the GZDoom engine or Skulltag (now defunct - use Zandronum). Apparently, it's not strictly necessary to play the level in GL ports, but you'll miss out on the colored lighting, and that's a huge part of the level's draw.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reelism (REELISM-X2.1_.pk7)

REELISM
by "The Kins" and "300 Pounds"


Reelism has been around awhile (released right around Christmas in 2011) and has had two "expansion packs" since its initial release, with more potentially on the way. Which brings up an important question. What is Reelism? Well, The Kins started it, and has since added the talents of a handful of contributors in various aspects of its design. It's a spinoff of "invasion"-style gameplay, something I'm not familiar with outside of as it's carefully choreographed in regular PWADs. Reelism is my first proper experience with this dedicated mode of play. If you didn't already know, invasion mods involve throwing monsters at the player in waves. Reelism spices things up with irreverent semi-randomness provided through its major hook, triads of wave elements dictated to the player through slot reels. It doesn't necessarily require the Doom II IWADs (Doom II, Evilution, Plutonia), but if you don't use them, you're going to be seeing some checkerboard nightmares.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Void (VOID.WAD)

VOID
by Mike "Cyb" Watson


Released in 2003, Void is a single Doom II map for ZDoom. But... It's a lot more. The story opening is basically Half Life in Doom, down to scientist voice clips, and when shit goes bad a Cyberdemon drops in and starts slaughtering your buddies. Before it can kill you, time freezes and Hexen's Heresiarch shows up, creating a rift that sucks all involved parties (and corpses) into an unusual dimension. You'll have to fight your way out, of course. Actually, fighting isn't as important in this PWAD, as you'll end slightly upwards of one-hundred monsters slain at the end. There is a much greater emphasis on puzzles, platforming, and platforming puzzles.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Alien Vendetta (AV.WAD)


Alien Vendetta started out as a solo project from Norwegian Doomer and speedrunner Anders Johnsen. The original plan was for something closer in scope to Hell Revealed but it slowly drew away as Anders began to invite other authors to the project, among them his close friends, eventually landing in between something more like what are now considered the "classic" Doom II megaWADs of '96-'97 and more obvious slaughter combat a la Hell Revealed. Like any Doom PWAD, it doesn't need a story, but there's one included in the intermission texts. I'm not entirely sure, but it looks like the UAC has been working with Hell. The demons pull a double-cross, of course, eliminating their benefactors, taking over UAC installations, and then mounting an offensive which you naturally must repel and then push back to where it came from.

Monday, April 8, 2013

CHORDG (CHORDG.WAD)

CHORDG
by Malcolm Sailor


There's something about loading up a Malcolm Sailor map - particularly the CHORD series - that evokes a sense of dread and impending loss of all self-respect. Sailor nailed a very distinct style on UV play that I'd label as, I dunno, scavenger. They're super-hard for a variety of reasons and the monster count has little do do with it (sitting at a little more than seventy to start with). The levels are often claustrophobic with Sailor acting as an authoritarian when it comes to things like weapon and ammo placement. If punching revenants with the berserk pack isn't your bag, well, too bad! CHORDG is the fourth level in this mapset, occupying the MAP29 slot in Doom II.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Lord of the Flies (FLYMAPS1.WAD)


Sam Ketner may be fondly remembered as the author of Assault on Tei Tenga, but did you know that his first release was 1996's Lord of the Flies, authored alongside James "[thantos]" Jennings and luminary Adam Windsor? This nine-map episode for Doom II's main selling point was a mess of new monsters culled from the shovelware discs of the time, which the new maps were allegedly balanced for. The story is bizarre, of course. There is a colony on Gamma Hydra IV (the setting of a Star Trek TOS episode no less). Apparently the ice caps started melting and after the colonists' bid to deal with the rising ocean levels failed, they aligned themselves with "Belzebub" and have since disappeared off the grid. You're strong-armed into dealing with the threat after the UAC's recon droids reveal a demonic presence.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Refinery (THEREFINERY.PK3)

THE REFINERY
by Daniel "Tormentor667" Gimmer


Daniel Gimmer headed up the Knee Deep in ZDoom project, which finished back up in 2007. It was an attempt to render the original Doom shareware episode with the advanced features of ZDoom. Since then, The Shores of ZDoom has been a work in progress, and while Tormentor was on the title card for awhile, the project has since evolved beyond him. The Refinery, a single map he released in 2012, was his major contribution to the project, now released as a standalone while the Shores team no doubt busies themselves with their own take on Doom's E2M3. Err, yeah - in case you hadn't figured it out, this level is Gimmer's take on "Refinery" ZDoom-ified.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dimension Time Space-Traveler (DTS-T.PK3)


DTS-T is not the worst PWAD in the world (nor the worst PK3). Released in 2012 by Ingmar Derks, it is a 33-level mapset for Doom II to be played in ZDoom-family ports, featuring a lot of scripting and voice-acting from the author, delivered via a few audio logs and many one-sided radio communiques from your handler. It has a few new enemies and a handful of textures, mainly from R667 and Final Doom. Most of its music selection comes from the IWADs (and Duke 3D, of course). It's also been in development for awhile; Derks claims to have started work back in 1998 and a Doomworld forums search reveals an ancient news post circa 2002 teasing a potential demo (eventually released in 2003).