Doom II and fan-made wads
June 14, 2006

I've been celebrating a new beginning to my Doom playing over the last year or so when I discovered a few sites with fan-made levels and games using Doom II's awesome customization abilities. During my brief period of time on livejournal, I made a bunch of entries reviewing the work of these people. And now, despite the fact that Blu's likely the only person who will even have one iota of interest in any of this.....I'm now using this blog-thing for that.

This is one of those individually-designed megawad. According to the designer (Stephen Huff), the first 10 levels were released seperately as "arbedlam" or something like that, while he just added on with two other 10-level scenarios (and according to his read-me file, two secret levels, which would actually make it 32 levels, not 30....). Levels seem pretty nicely designed, although too many secrets and traps get revealed by the map for my tastes.

Level 1: Very nice, long opening level. A lot more challenging than one would expect for the first level of a Doom IIish game, as Huff shows a flair for creating sadistic "wall-collapsing" traps. Rating 7/10.

Level 2: Not much different from the first level. As Huff says in his text file, the first level was designed to give the player a ton of ammo and the next three were designed to take it all away and this is evident here as there are plenty more enemies that don't drop goodies and fewer boxes laying around. Second straight level with a crusher trap, which I look at as cheap things that should be used very sparingly. Blah. Very nice archvile placement makes up for that, though, as it took me some time to figure out where it was attacking me from until I looked at the map and immediately figured that out. Rating 5/10.

Level 3: Kind of a fun level with a couple cool things. First, it's a nice multi-layer base where you have to use elevators and fall into pits to go from one level to the next. Second, there's good use of spectres (in a dark room, the only area they're really an effective enemy....might as well simply use demons elsewhere). Overall, it's a bit dull, as the traps are a bit predictable, but nicely designed. Rating: 6/10.

Level 4: Yep. Ammo got tight here. Had to dishonor myself and cheat to recharge after getting stuck having to dodge lost souls and a baron with only five rockets left..... Decent level with a lava-filled sub-level below. No reason to go there other than for some kills and good armor/supercharge pick-ups, but in a cool twist, lost souls come up from there through holes in the floor ensuring the halls in the main part of the base are populated with something after you've cleaned out the enemies that start there. Rating 5/10.

Level 5: Much like the first level, with hordes of soldiers and ammo. Also a few crusher traps, which I didn't like. The ending hints that the game will be departing the base theme, as it puts you in more of a wide-open setting against arachnotrons (the first placed quite effectively, the other two are sitting ducks) and a couple other heavy-hitters with imps as back-up. Rating 6/10.

Level 6: Way too many teleporting enemies here, as they frequently leave their area to repopulate the hub that begins the level. The first main part is awesome, as you enter a courtyard in the center of a big building. A quartet of cacos is in the yard, while imps populate the building, pelting you with fire constantly. The rest.....meh. You have a short cave area with tight tunnels and a baron.....and little else. Rating 6/10.

Level 7: Nothing particularly amazing here. Just another base level with nothing to recommend it over the previous few. That's the big problem with these first 10 levels. They're well-made, but for the most part, none of them have much in the way of stand-out features (with the exception of the courtyard part of the previous level). Virtually all of them have been base levels and most of them have had multiple floors AND the bottom one often is made of a hazardous material (not to these instances, Huff programs in a radiation suit every 10 steps, so you don't have to be concerned about dying due to lava/acid exposure). Rating 4/10.

Level 8: This level starts out as a great take on "Dead Simple", with you in a small courtyard. Tons of soldiers are on the wall above you, while the building in the center houses imps, a baron and maybe a few other baddies. Very intense fighting with you having to take out the biggies inside while remaining concealed enough to avoid being sniped from the outside foes. After that, it's more of a routine base level, but well done enough to keep me in a good mood. Rating 7/10

Level 9: I can tell I'm second weapon cheat in under 10 levels. Overall, this was a solid and fun level, but just another tech-base with multiple levels. Rating 5/10

Level 10: The finale of the first episode, this could be better-designed. After getting a bunch of goodies and a megasphere, you open a door to get confronted by a cyberdemon on another ledge, reverants firing at you from across a chasm, specters taking an elevator up to you and lost souls floating up to say "hi". Take out the cyberdemon and whatever other stuff you can and descend into the chasm to find out you're in a long tunnel with reverants above you and both specters and lost souls constantly attacking. Too much of an "everything but the kitchen sink" mentality, as Huff just throws a bunch of enemies at you without really bothering to do so in a clever or memorable way. Rating 2/10

Level 11: The beginning of the second episode is identical to much of the first episode, except for being a bit longer. Boring theme of there being a hub room with four main doors. The first three doors each lead to a key, which is used to open another door. The final door leads to the exit. While there's no shortage of tough enemies (2 archviles, 1 cyberdemon), the level was just flat-out dull. None of the sub-areas were connected theme-wise in any way and the big fights seemed to just be there. Levels like this make me appreciate "Tricks and Traps" (Doom II, Level 8) more and more. That level had the same sort of hub, but had six or eight branches off it. You didn't know which way to go initially, as any path could lead to a key, ammo or a cacodemon death trap. It was up to the player to figure out the order to do things through trial and error.....not because of realizing there's four doors in a room and they can only open one, so that's the way to go. Rating 4/10, as I start to lose patience.

Most recent blog posts from Rob Hamilton...

bluberry bluberry - June 14, 2006 (08:39 PM)
"Had to dishonor myself and cheat to recharge after getting stuck having to dodge lost souls and a baron with only five rockets left....."

Just punch out the lost souls and run from the Baron, or if you can't, five rockets should be enough. Did you have a chainsaw? You'd be surprised how many enemies get completely and properly assfucked by it, even Revenants.

Edit: Good overview, mod sounds pretty shitty so I'll skip it. Still working my way through the last few levels of Plutonia.


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