Mini Review : “Epic 2” (WAD for “Doom II”/”Final Doom”/ “GZ Doom”)

2015 Artwork Epic 2 WAD review sketch

[Note: This “first impressions”/mini review article was originally meant to be posted here in March, but I ended up rescheduling it for various reasons. Sorry about the delay.]

Well, after seeing some gameplay footage from this WAD in a Youtube video, I thought that I’d take a look at a 32-level “Doom II” WAD from 2010 called “Epic 2“.

Before I go any further, I should probably point out that I used the “GZ Doom” source port whilst playing this WAD. Likewise, at the original time of writing this review, I was somewhere between halfway and two-thirds of the way through this WAD – so, this review only reflects my impressions of the game up to that point. Unfortunately, at the time, I ended up moving on to another WAD before I quite had a chance to finish “Epic 2” if I remember rightly.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Epic 2”:

Screenshot_Doom_20150728_151955

One of the first things I will say about this WAD is that the settings in it are really interesting. From what I’ve played so far, there are levels set in both ancient Egypt and on a mysterious alien spacecraft of some kind.

As someone who is both a sci-fi fan and a fan of ancient Egypt, it’s really cool to see both of these things together in the same WAD. Seriously, it’s a little bit like “Stargate SG-1”.

Although this WAD gets off to a bit of a slow start, with the first four levels mostly taking place in a series of slightly gloomy ancient Egyptian crypts, temples, catacombs and tunnels, with the occasional bright outdoor area to break up the monotony – the fifth level is more than a little bit reminiscent of the first “Serious Sam” game in terms of both settings and gameplay.

Yay! It's like a mid-1990s version of "Serious Sam" :)

Yay! It’s like a mid-1990s version of “Serious Sam” 🙂

The sci-fi levels are surprisingly creepy and innovative too, with a slight “Duke Nukem 3D” feel to them. Also, the thirteenth level of this WAD is absolutely outstanding.

Basically, you’re stuck in a rather claustrophobic series of corridors, with relatively little ammo and lots of arch-viles. In addition to this, the background music in this level is a wonderfully creepy track that sounds a lot like something from “American McGee’s Alice“. I don’t think that you can get more awesome than this.

Even though this level reminded me quite a bit of one spectacular level in a WAD I played quite a while ago called “Equinox“, it’s still a really cool (and creepy) level.

 Seriously, there should be more of these levels..

Seriously, there should be more of these levels..

In terms of difficulty, this WAD is for experienced “Doom” players only. If you like your WADs to be fiendishly challenging, then you’ll love “Epic 2”.

Although each level I’ve played contains a large number of monsters, proper “slaughtermap”-style areas (with far more monsters than you can actually fight) are fairly rare in this WAD.

Even so, you’re still going to have to use a lot of tactics and strategies if you want to get through this WAD. This WAD also takes a bit of a traditionalist approach to the gameplay – so, jumping is disabled by default.

Plus, quite fittingly for a WAD that is set in Ancient Egypt, there are a surprising number of puzzles in “Epic 2”. Whilst most of them are the usual switch-based and key-based puzzles, expect to spend a fair amount of time searching for hidden areas (you’ll need to find some of them in order to progress through a couple of the levels) and even solving the occasional combination puzzle:

 Interestingly, this ISN'T the combination you have to use later in the level. You have to do something else to find the actual combination.

Interestingly, this ISN’T the combination you have to use later in the level. You have to do something else to find the actual combination.

Visually, this WAD is surprisingly beautiful and there are a lot of new textures here. Even the slightly “gloomy” early levels still contain all sorts of wonderfully cool ancient Egypt-themed textures:

Like this wondefully macabre room.

Like this wondefully macabre room.

And there's also molten lava in one of the other early levels too.

And there’s also molten lava in one of the other early levels too.

...And this cool teleporter in the last "Ancient Egypt" level.

…And this cool teleporter in the last “Ancient Egypt” level.

Although most of the weapons in this WAD are just the standard “Doom II” weapons, the pistol ammunition looks like revolver ammunition for some reason and the rocket launcher now looks like a vaguely steampunk-esque cannon of some kind:

Huzzah! Fire the cannon!

Huzzah! Fire the cannon!

As for the monsters, a few of them (the imps, the chaingun zombies and the pain elementals) have slightly different textures. However, this WAD does contain a new monster.

During the spaceship levels, you’ll encounter aliens that can appear and disappear at will. These aliens also shout at you (I think they say “there he is” or “there she is” or something like that) when they see you too.

Although these new monsters are technically a replacement for the “Wolfenstein” enemies from the secret level (so, this WAD might not work if you have the German version of “Doom II” or the modern censored version), they’re basically a new monster in all but name:

Yay! Innovation!

Yay! Innovation!

All in all, from what I’ve played so far, I really like this WAD. It’s enjoyably challenging and surprisingly atmospheric. Yes, the really impressive levels don’t appear until a little way into the WAD but it’s certainly a fairly solid “Doom II” WAD and it’s worth checking out.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, I’d give it a four.

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