Mini Review: “Project Einherjar (V1.3 Beta/V.2 ?)” [WAD for “Doom II”/”Final Doom”/ “ZDoom” etc..]

2017-artwork-project-einherjar-review-sketch

Well, after seeing about the first twenty minutes of this “let’s play” video/ video review last autumn, I thought that I’d check out a WAD called “Project Einherjar” that I’d heard of before but hadn’t got round to playing.

Since I write these reviews quite far in advance, the version of this WAD that I played seems to be a public beta version (version 1.3, although the file name for the WAD [“PEstuffv2”] seems to suggest that it’s actually version two). It’s possible that a newer version of this WAD may be available when this review goes out. Since the WAD is still technically a beta, this is why I have called this article a “mini review”, despite it’s length.

Likewise, I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD, and I guess that it will probably work on many other modern source ports. However, you will require a port that allows jumping, crouching, custom weapons etc…

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Project Einherjar:

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“Project Einherjar” is a seven-level WAD for “Doom II” and/or “Final Doom” that includes new music, textures, voice-acting, weapons, items and enemies. Interestingly, this WAD was actually made by the creator of “Nerves of Steel“, “Derceto” and “Strange Aeons” as a way of promoting an e-book that he’s written called “The Helios Legacy”.

Although I haven’t read the book, the story of this WAD seems to imply that it takes place before the events of the novel. You play as a character called Juno who lives in a dystopian icy wasteland called Midgard. In “Project Einherjar” she has to break into a fascist-controlled base in order to stop the evil scientific experiments performed by the nefarious Dr.Gaul.

The best way to describe this WAD is probably ” ‘Wolfenstein 3D’ meets ‘Rise Of The Triad: Dark War’ “. However, although the WAD often bears at least a slight visual resemblance to these two games (as well as to the original “System Shock”), it’s also very much it’s own thing at the same time.

The gameplay is, for the most part, very good. Although the first level or two are certainly on the easier side of things, this WAD soon becomes at least moderately challenging.

Although the quantity of enemies doesn’t really reach ‘slaughtermap’ levels of magnitude, the relatively large number of enemies with hitscan-based attacks combined with the relatively weaker and/or ammo-hungry weapons in this WAD helps to keep the difficulty level enjoyable.

And, yes, the people here can be absolute fascists about punctuality if you dare to show up late to a meeting!

In terms of the level design, it’s reasonably good although – due to the setting of the game – most of the levels are just “military base”-style levels. However, there’s a decent variety of textures and room types that help to keep things varied and interesting. Likewise, the levels themselves are the kind of 90s-style non-linear levels that show off the FPS genre at it’s best. However, the level design isn’t without flaws.

Although a certain level of puzzle-based gameplay can make a refreshing change from the combat, I ended up almost completely stuck on two of the later levels. Yes, the relevant keys and switches needed to solve these levels can be found with a lot of careful searching and map-reading, but expect to wander around aimlessly for at least several minutes (if not longer).

If I remember rightly, actually getting that red key involves both carefully studying the map and finding a room that, whilst not hidden, isn't immediately obvious either.

If I remember rightly, actually getting that red key involves both carefully studying the map and finding a room that, whilst not hidden, isn’t immediately obvious either.

The new weapons in “Project Einherjar” are pretty cool too. Although the game contains the knife from “Rise Of The Triad: Dark War”, it also contains a reusable ballistic knife that will defeat most low-level enemies with a single shot. The pistol in this WAD also has a new sprite and is actually useful, due to it’s fast firing speed.

Likewise, although this game contains a super shotgun-like weapon (that uses the plasma gun’s weapon slot), it’s actually a lot less useful than the WAD’s equivlant of the basic shotgun. This is mostly because the basic shotgun can be fired ridiculously quickly – which is great, except for when you either run out of ammo and/or encounter enemies that also use this weapon!

Although these shotgun-wielding enemies don't have that much health, one of the boss-level enemies also uses the shotgun too.

Although these shotgun-wielding enemies don’t have that much health, one of the boss-level enemies also uses the shotgun too.

This WAD also includes a rocket launcher (with a cool new sprite and firing animation, but a slower rate of fire) and a slow-firing, but powerful, assault rifle.

In addition to all of this, “Project Einherjar” also contains an item system with lots of cool new stuff in it. There are portable medkits, a portable beserk pack, bouncing betty mines, hazmat suits and a small automated missile turret – all of which can come in handy during various parts of the game.

As for the new enemies, they’re astonishingly good. Although many of the enemies seem to be based on enemies from “Wolfenstein 3D”, there are also monsters, attack dogs, robots and “Wolfenstein 3D”-style bosses too.

Another interesting feature is that there’s actually a mixture of male and female enemy soldiers in this game, which is something that always adds some realism to sci-fi themed games. Plus, unusually for a FPS game, there are actually more female soldiers than male ones.

In addition to this, the monster enemies in this WAD are really well-designed. Although they replace the pink “demon” enemies from “Doom II”, they have a genuinely menacing appearance and they will often rush towards you when you least expect it.

Usually, they don't even have the courtesy to form large hordes. Most of the time, you'll just hear a noise and turn around to find that one of these things is RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

Usually, they don’t even have the courtesy to form large hordes. Most of the time, you’ll just hear a noise and turn around to find that one of these things is RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

One truly outstanding part of this WAD has to be the voice acting! Yes, this WAD actually has new voice-acting and it is hilarious!

Many of the enemies will shout various insults at you and some of them will make hilarious comments. The funniest of these probably has to be the robot enemies who, whilst speaking in a creepy ‘robotic’ voice, will sometimes say ‘f**king really?‘ when destroyed. I literally laughed out loud the first time I heard this!

The comedy value is also enhanced by the fact that some of the low-level male and female soldiers sound like American frat boys/jocks and sorority girls/valley girls respectively. Seriously, as well as the robots, they also have some of the funniest dialogue in the game. However, the mid-level and high-level enemies all sound suitably menacing though.

Seriously, the voice acting for these two enemy types is absolutely hilarious!

Seriously, the voice acting for these two enemy types is absolutely hilarious!

These soldiers, on the other hand, usually make begrudging comments about how long they've had to wait to use their guns.

These soldiers, on the other hand, usually make begrudging comments about how long they’ve had to wait to use their guns.

As for the music, it’s fairly good – although the best background music has to be the background music for level five, which also incorporates some of the background music from the original “System Shock” too.

All in all, this is a really fun – and funny – WAD that has lots of fast-paced and challenging combat. Yes, you’ll probably get stuck on at least a couple of the levels, but it’s still worth playing for the inventive new weapons, dramatic gameplay and the comedy.

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

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