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.