Today’s Art (26th November 2017)

Well, I was feeling slightly less inspired than I’d hoped when I made this digitally-edited painting. And, although I’d planned to make some more gothic art, this picture ended up going in more of a cyberpunk direction instead.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Cartridges" By C. A. Brown

“Cartridges” By C. A. Brown

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Today’s Art ( 25th November 2017)

Well, I was in the mood for making some gothic art (mostly due to playing a computer game called “Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines”) and, although this painting required a lot more digital editing than I had expected, I quite like how it turned out 🙂

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Under The Blood Moon" By C. A. Brown

“Under The Blood Moon” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (12th October 2017)

Well, today’s (heavily) digitally-edited painting was a failed experimental painting. Basically, I’d tried to make an “impressionist” watercolour pencil painting by just using watercolour pencils without an underlying ink drawing. I was also fairly tired when I tried this. It failed abysmally, but at least I was able to salvage this painting with lots of digital editing after I scanned it.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Ennui" By C. A. Brown

“Ennui” By C. A. Brown

Mini Review: “Preacher (V.05)” [WAD For “Doom II”/”Final Doom”/ “ZDoom”]

2017-artwork-preacher-v0-5-wad-review-sketch

Well, it’s been a little under a month since I last reviewed any WADs for “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”. Although this is partially because I’ve been busy with other projects and other games, it’s also because (at the time of writing) finding WADs that will actually run on my computer is somewhat more difficult than it used to be.

Before writing this review, I looked at a few other interesting-looking WADs on the ZDoom forums, only to discover that they all required the absolute lastest ultra-fast high-graphics version of GZDoom to run!

Still, I refused to give up my search and I was eventually rewarded by finding a rather cool little WAD called “Preacher (V.05)“. There seem to be multiple versions of the WAD available, and I played the one that can be found in the post by Arch from the 12th May 2015 (10:43pm).

As usual, I used the ZDoom source port (v2.7.9999.0). From what I’ve read, this WAD is also compatible with PRBoom and, if it’s compatible with ZDoom, then it’s probably compatible with both old and new versions of GZDoom too.

So, let’s take a look at “Preacher (V.05)”:

screenshot_doom_20170117_162322

“Preacher (V.05)” is a five-level WAD for “Doom II”/”Final Doom” that includes new textures, music, sounds items and weapons. This is a gothic horror-themed WAD that is loosely-based on another awesome FPS game from the 1990s called “Blood“. In fact, you actually get to play as one of the evil cultists from that game – which is amazing!

And, even cooler, he'll actually shout random gibberish during fights too. Crudox Cruo!!! Pallax!!!

And, even cooler, he’ll actually shout random gibberish during fights too. Crudox Cruo!!! Pallax!!!

The level design in this WAD is really good. All of the levels are reasonably large, non-linear exploration-based levels, and there is a decent amount of variety between the locations that you visit.

Even though a fair amount of the WAD uses “gothic cathedral/castle”-type locations, there is also a “wild west”/”ancient Egypt”-style level and a gothic level that reminded me a lot of the ‘pale realm’ levels from “American McGee’s Alice”:

 *Whistles the theme tune from 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly' *

*Whistles the theme tune from ‘The Good, The Bad And The Ugly’ *

Curiouser and curiouser! Best of all, the background music in this level actually sounds a bit like something from "American McGee's Alice" too :)

Curiouser and curiouser! Best of all, the background music in this level actually sounds a bit like something from “American McGee’s Alice” too 🙂

One interesting piece of level design in this WAD is that each level requires you to collect all three skull keys in order to open a locked door that leads to the exit. These are the only locked doors that you will find in every level. This has the effect of streamlining the gameplay during the earlier parts of each level, whilst also forcing you to explore later (when you’ve got rid of most of the monsters).

In terms of difficulty, this WAD is enjoyably challenging and it is aimed at moderately experienced players. Whilst it isn’t really a “slaughtermap” WAD, there are still a decent number of mid-level and high-level monsters in each level (it’s on par with many modern “Doom II” WADs when it comes to the monster count, I guess).

This is one of the easier parts of level five. Then again, if you're still playing "Doom II" in 2017, then you've probably had at least a few years of practice anyway..

This is one of the easier parts of level five. Then again, if you’re still playing “Doom II” in 2017, then you’ve probably had at least a few years of practice anyway..

If you have fast reflexes, a good understanding of “Doom II” tactics and a sense of determination, then you can finish this WAD within a couple of hours. And you’ll have a lot of fun in the process 🙂

In the spirit of 90s-style FPS gaming, this WAD takes a rather traditionalist approach to the gameplay. In other words, jumping is disabled by default. Not only that, each level is played from a pistol start thanks to some strategically-placed exploding barrels that appear after you step into the teleporter at the end of each level (and, yes, it takes a while to remember not to reflexively load your last save when you die at the end of every level).

Yes, I can see why the creator of this WAD did this – in order to ensure that each level has it’s own difficulty curve, and to make weapon placement matter more – but it does get annoying after a while. Even so, the new pistol texture makes up for this slightly.

I don't know why, but I really love it when FPS games include revolvers.

I don’t know why, but I really love it when FPS games include revolvers.

And tommyguns too!

And tommyguns too!

Although many of the new weapons in this WAD are simple sprite/sound replacements (for the fist, chaingun, rocket launcher, plasma cannon and BFG), they all look amazing. The best new weapon is probably the replacement for the BFG, which is this cool-looking staff with a skull on top of it.

But I was only able to find it in level one for some strange reason.

But I was only able to find it in level one for some strange reason.

In terms of the sound and music design, this WAD is really cool. Not only does the main character regularly use both Caleb’s laugh and the cultist dialogue from “Blood”, but the music for each level is suitably gothic and dramatic. However, the version that I played just had instrumental music playing during each level, rather than the music that is mentioned in earlier parts of the WAD’s thread in the ZDoom forums.

The best background music can be found in the third level, and it is very reminiscent of “American McGee’s Alice”. In addition to this, an excerpt from Handel’s “Messiah” plays whenever you pick up certain in-game items. Plus, when you complete each level, you are treated to some wonderfully creepy artwork, which is hilariously counterpointed with audio excerpts from a rather joyous religious sermon:

Hallelujah! I've completed the level!

Hallelujah! I’ve completed the level!

The only minor criticism I have of the sound design is that the tommygun sounds a little bit feeble. Yes, it still sounds like a machingun, but it seems a bit muted and muffled. Even so, it’s still fairly cool.

All in all, this is a really good WAD. It has a wonderfully gothic atmosphere, the levels are thrilling and you get to play as one of the cultists from “Blood”. Whilst it probably isn’t a “perfect” WAD in every way, it’s 1-2 hours of pure fun that will remind you why “Doom II” is still one of the best FPS games out there. And, unlike some modern WADs, it’ll actually run on old computers too 🙂

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