Mini Reivew: “NH2” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”)

2016 Artwork NH2 WAD review

Well, it’s been a while since I last reviewed any “Doom II” WADs, so I thought that I’d take a quick look at a rather interesting (and fairly short) one called “NH2“.

Although I used one of the more modern versions of the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD, it should work on pretty much any source port. It might possibly even work with the original DOS/ Win 95 versions of “Doom II” or “Final Doom”, but I haven’t tried this.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “NH2”:

Screenshot_Doom_20160307_071649

“NH2” is a two-level WAD that replaces levels 7 and 8 of your “Doom II”, “TNT Evilution” and/or “The Plutonia Experiment” IWAD. What this means is that when you start a new game, you’ll have to type “IDCLEV07” or “IDCLEV7” to skip to level seven in order to access the new levels.

The innovative thing that sets “NH2” apart from many WADs is that, apart from a berserk power-up at the beginning of the first level, it contains literally no health power-ups. In fact, “NH” is supposed to stand for “No Health”.

Although this adds some extra challenge to the WAD, it doesn’t add as much as you might think. This is mostly because both levels are fairly short (I finished both levels in about half an hour) and because any experienced retro FPS gamer is probably well and truly used to getting through the most difficult parts of the game with relatively little health remaining. In fact, it’s one of the most enjoyable elements of 1990s FPS games – so, it’s great to see an entire “Doom” WAD based on it 🙂

Still, the lack of health power-ups means that this is one of those awesome WADs where you have to rely on tactics, strategy, trial-and-error and reflexes, rather than just mindless fighting. In other words, it’s kind of like a small-scale “slaughtermap”-style WAD, where you will regularly be faced with more monsters than you can actually fight.

The first level is an absolutely tiny area that is filled with lots of monsters. All you have to do is run around and dodge projectiles until the exit door opens.

Yes, this is an entire level that is based on running away. In a FPS game. It's good to see that "Doom II" is still more innovative than most modern FPS games :)

Yes, this is an entire level that is based on running away. In a FPS game. It’s good to see that “Doom II” is still more innovative than most modern FPS games 🙂

The second level is a lot more sophisticated and it takes place in a small arena-like area, with lots of pillars to hide behind. When you begin, you will find five BFGs at the top of a set of stairs. When you pick them up, a compartment will open and a group of arch-viles will be lying in wait.

Yay! A "Doom II" WAD isn't a proper WAD without these guys :)

Yay! A “Doom II” WAD isn’t a proper WAD without these guys 🙂

Once you’ve defeated the archviles, you’ll have to press one of the walls of the compartment. Another compartment will open. This one contains… yes, you guessed it:

Seriously, it's almost mandatory that at least one of these is included in each "Doom II" WAD :)

Seriously, it’s almost mandatory that at least one of these is included in each “Doom II” WAD 🙂

You will then have to do this with two more compartments, before the exit will open. Not only that, the only weapon (apart from the basic pistol) you’ll have in this level is the BFG.

Although the beginning of this level will probably seem easy to the experienced “Doom” player who has dealt with more cyberdemons and arch-viles than they can even remember, the second half of this level is a lot more challenging.

Be careful where you save. When I tried to get through this level for the first time, I saved just before one of those rockets hit me.

Be careful where you save. When I tried to get through this level for the first time, I saved just before one of those rockets hit me.

Thanks to the small size of the level and the fact that you’ll have relatively little health, the last part of this WAD is seriously challenging. Personally, I found it extremely fun- but, if you haven’t had a lot of experience with “Doom II”, you’ll probably find it frustrating or “unfair”. So, this is a WAD for experienced players only.

Seriously, the only way I was even able to finish the level was because of a technicality. Basically, I died either a few milliseconds before or after I stepped into the exit. It’s that kind of level. I was so busy trying to finish the level that I didn’t even take any screenshots of the final part. It’s that kind of thrillingly frenetic level 🙂

Although there are no new textures, music or weapons in this WAD, it makes up for this with it’s challenging and innovative gameplay. Plus, it’s kind of refreshing to download an enjoyable “Doom II” WAD that is only a few kilobytes in size.

All in all, this is a fun little WAD. The idea of a WAD that is focused entirely on those thrilling parts of classic 1990s FPS games where you only have a few health points left (and lots of monsters in front of you) is a brilliantly innovative one.

This WAD sums up exactly what makes 1990s FPS games so much fun to play, even two decades later. Yes, it isn’t a WAD for beginners but, let’s face it, if you’re still playing “Doom II” in 2016, then you probably aren’t a beginner.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half.

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