Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Escape from Phobos (EFP.WAD)

Plenty of people have tried to tell their own stories through Doom. Some of these people have dovetailed it with other worlds. Chris Christenson didn't just throw in a hot movie property, though. It's more like the world of Doom was drafted into Snake Plisskin's. Escape From Phobos is the first in a trilogy of small mapsets, followed by Escape from Deimos and Escape from Natas. This installment, released in 1997, is a three-level minisode that replaces the first three maps of Doom II. It's got a .DOC file that explains the story, and if you care to indulge in Christenson's exploitation of Carpenter's beloved anti-hero, you're more than welcome to read it in full.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

KZDOOM4: Castle of the Damned (KZDOOM4.WAD)

by Kurt Kesler

After Kurt Kesler tackled the tricks of vanilla and Boom mapmaking, he moved on to the newest advanced source port in development - ZDoom. KZDOOM has seven entries spanning from 1999 to 2001; KZDOOM4 goes by "Castle of the Damned" and as such is part of an anomaly in Kesler's career. Kurt usually stuck to techbases and metal and the mountain wilderness that surrounds the UAC's isolated structures. This map belongs to the less-explored theme of wood and brick, including several small gothic outposts and a trip to the bowels of Hell. Kesler has opted not to give you any context for your adventure, leaving any justification to the player's imagination.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unloved (UNLOVED.PK3)

The 2010 Cacowards had two really polarizing releases. One was the infamous Stronghold, which spent forever in development Hell before being quickly pushed out the door. The other was Unloved, another GZDoom showcase, but with a decidedly different bent. Unloved is technically a small mapset, clocking in at five levels, the first of which is really a hub that connects everything together. It's got a ton of new monsters to chew through as you plow through its dark experience. Paul Schneider eventually started Unloved 2, but stopped to pursue a career in game development. And now, he's "converting" the original Unloved into an Unreal 4 engine game! Good luck with that.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Castle Phobos (CPHOBOS5.WAD)

If you're a Doom curmudgeon, you may recognize David Shrock as the author of Terror Mall. If not, well, prepare to be introduced! Castle Phobos underwent several iterations during 1994, eventually ending in its final release, converted from the original Doom to Doom II and adding a level to finish with a ten-map episode. It isn't the prettiest, or most straightforward, or well-balanced, but it gets the job done and offers some survival-style challenges for more experienced players. What few custom resources the author added manage to nail in that '94 vintage.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Back in 2011, when this blog was in its infancy, I had privately asked Doomworld Forum superstar Phml for a copy of his work in progress, PhmlSPD. Though I intended to review it, the work languished on my hard drive until... now! Some four years later, I doubt that PhmlSPD is an accurate gauge of the author's skills as they currently stand, but it's an interesting look into the growth of his talent. Interestingly, it also has a place as an undeniable influence on Doom's co-op scene. PhmlSPD formed the foundation of the cheekily-titled Chillax, an over-the-top co-op slaughter megaWAD that has become infamous for its ridiculous monster counts, and made its original debut as PhmlSPD v1.4, before polite askance by the author to remove his name from the project led to the change to the Chillax we all know and keep at arm's length. The last official version of PhmlSPD is a fourteen-map PWAD for Doom II, to be played Boom-compatible ports.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

KZDOOM3: The Alien Water Theives (KZDOOM3.WAD)

by Kurt Kesler

Kurt Kesler made a lot of maps spanning from 1997 to 2000. The dude was pretty much a wizard when it came to Doom mapping, but was more of a single-release author; KMEGA1 only exists as something of a vanilla career retrospective, not that he stuck to any set of design specs for long enough to make a cohesive megaWAD. There are seven KZDOOM levels, all of which were made toward the end of his career, when he started earnestly polishing his maps before release. KZDOOM3 is, obviously enough, the third level in the series, released for Doom II in 2000 alongside KZDOOM4. This time, the demons - err, aliens - have set up some kind of a water pumping facility and it's up to you to shut it down.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Area 51 (AREA51.WAD)

Area 51 is - what else? - but a conspiracy theorist's wet dream. Released in 1997 by Keith Hickman (contributor to Squadron 417) and Garth Donovan (aka Ziggy Gnarly of Twilight Warrior fame), it's a two-map minisode for Doom II, replacing MAP01 and MAP02. If you didn't know, Area 51 is shorthand for a notorious US Military Air Base in Nevada, aka Groom Lake. Since Doom's release, it's been pretty common for authors to take the sci-fi route and throw all of the wonderful monsters we've come to know and love under the banner of aliens from another planet. It's no surprise, then, that someone would come along and put them in the one place they're suspected to be in popular culture.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Swift Death (SWIDEATH.WAD)

When 3 Heures d'Agonie was released, there were a few authors who formed the backbone of the megaWAD. One of them was franckFRAG, who had six levels of a construction type I'd never seen before. They weren't ornate, but they were heavy in height variation and tricky monster positioning, making them short, sharp shocks full of riotous gameplay. Swift Death takes this aesthetic and drives it to its logical end. Released more or less in 2014, the lower difficulty levels play like the 3 Heures d'Agonie maps, but UV is a collection of death traps you will be hard-pressed to navigate, perhaps the closest confluence I've seen of a game like Super Meat Boy and Doom.