Review: “Combat Shock” (WAD for “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “GZ Doom”)

2015 Artwork Combat Shock WAD review Sketch2

Although I’d planned to review a hidden object game called “Mexicana: Deadly Holiday” for today, it kept on crashing near the beginning of the first part of the game.

So, instead, I thought that I’d take a quick look at a “Doom” WAD called “Combat Shock” that I’ve been playing recently. After all, it’s been ages since I last reviewed anything “Doom”-related.

As usual, I should point out that I used the “GZ Doom” source port whilst playing this WAD. Likewise, I’ve only had the chance to play about two-thirds of this WAD at the time of writing this review – so, this will be more of a “first impressions” article than a full review.

That said, let’s take a look at “Combat Shock”:

Oooh, it's one of THESE WADs!

Oooh, it’s one of THESE WADs!

“Combat Shock” is a seven-level WAD for “Doom II”/ “Final Doom” and, with a name like “Combat Shock”, you’d better not expect this to be an easy WAD. If the screenshot above this paragraph didn’t tip you off, this is a slaughtermap WAD.

In case you’re new to the wonderful world of “Doom” WADs, I should probably explain what a “slaughtermap” is. Basically, it’s a level that is filled with a gratuitously large number of monsters and lots of large arena-like areas.

What this means is that the gameplay in slaughtermaps tends to revolve around strategy, tactics, trial-and-error, knowledge of the game and quick reflexes rather than just mindless shooting (since there’s often no way to defeat literally all of the monsters in the level).

In other words, these types of levels are more like combat-based puzzles than anything else. So, you’ll actually have to think when you play one of these levels.

Personally, I really love these kinds of levels – but they’re something of an acquired taste.

Anyway, although “Combat Shock” gets off to a relatively gentle start in the first couple of levels, don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security.

This is from one of the easier early levels. If this looks difficult, then you need more "Doom" practice.

This is from one of the easier early levels. If this looks difficult, then you need more “Doom” practice.

But, don’t get too complacent because the fourth level ends with an epic battle that is probably one of the most enjoyably challenging things I’ve seen since I played “Stardate 20X6” last year.

Ironically, the giant skeletal pyramid of death is one of the LEAST dangerous parts of this level.....

Ironically, the giant skeletal pyramid of death is one of the LEAST dangerous parts of this level…..

I can’t really comment too much on how difficult the fifth level is because my (fairly old) computer started slowing down fairly heavily as soon as the first group of monsters began to appear. So, I dread to think how many thousands of them there are in this level.

Whilst it didn’t slow my computer down enough to render the game unplayable (unlike some other WADs), it still meant that the gameplay wasn’t as smooth and responsive as it needs to be in a “slaughtermap” level.

In terms of the level designs, the ones that I’ve played so far have been fairly well-designed. Although there are obviously lots of arena-like areas, you still sometimes have to find switches and keys – which adds quite a bit of variety to the gameplay.

Not only that, the general “look” of the levels changes every few levels – which also adds some variety to this WAD. Whilst the first three levels are set in some old ruins and buildings, the fourth and fifth levels are set in a futuristic building of some kind – which has a really cool brown and orange colour scheme.

Seriously, the beginning of the fifth level is one of the coolest things that I’ve seen in a “Doom” WAD:

It looks like a gothic  sci-fi version of the Ennis House. Nice!

It looks like a gothic sci-fi version of the Ennis House. Nice!

Although there aren’t any new weapons in “Combat Shock”, there are at least a couple of slightly redesigned monsters.

The chaingun zombies now wear green uniforms and the other zombie enemies look a lot cooler than their “vanilla” counterparts. Although this isn’t a huge change, it helps to keep this WAD fresh and interesting.

Yes, the chaingun zombies are now wearing space marine uniforms.

Yes, the chaingun zombies are now wearing space marine uniforms.

And the shotgun zombies now look like a cyberpunk version of Ned Kelly. This is SO cool!

And the shotgun zombies now look like a cyberpunk version of Ned Kelly. This is SO cool!

All in all, I really liked what I’ve seen of “Combat Shock” so far. If you like fiendishly difficult slaughtermaps, then this WAD is certainly worth checking out. Just be warned that the fifth level may or may not slow down your computer.

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

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