Well, since I was still reading the next book I plan to review (“Survivor” by Chuck Palahniuk) and I wanted to make sure that at least one “Doom II” WAD review appeared here this month, I decided to take a quick look at a level from 2005 (?) called “WARm Welcome 2” which I found after clicking the “Random File” button on the /idgames Archive a few times.
Although I used the GZDoom source port whilst playing this level, it will probably work with pretty much any modern source port (and may possibly even work with the original DOS/ Windows versions of “Doom II” or “Final Doom”, although I haven’t tested it).
So, let’s take a look at “WARm Welcome 2”:
This is a fairly short single-level “vanilla” WAD (eg: it only uses the standard textures, monsters, music etc..) and, for what it is, it is actually fairly impressive. Although, with only low-mid level monsters, it isn’t too challenging (even if, like me, you’re very slightly out of practice) it contains some really cool set pieces and level design moments that make it stand out a little bit.
In addition to using a different theme for the textures in each area, the level also has a bit of a medieval theme – with a pitched battle against a small crowd of imps hiding behind a wall or a part of the level where you are fighting from the battlements of a castle against monsters on another set of battlements, this level looks really cool for a “vanilla” level 🙂
The level design is really good too, with the basic design of the level a very short – but mildly non-linear – trip through a few themed rooms that contain walls, bridges, stairs and other cool stuff like that. But, the most interesting thing about this level’s design is that you probably won’t see the best parts of the level during your first playthrough.
In other words, whilst it’s possible to complete the level in about five minutes whilst only seeing about four or five areas, this is a level that rewards exploration 🙂 And this is where the level design really shines. The level will give you tantalising glimpses of areas that aren’t immediately accessible (like the moat between the battlements, the space behind the wall etc…) and it is up to you to work out how to get there. Although this isn’t too difficult, these optional exploration segments add a bit of extra interest and life to this tiny level.
They also have an interesting effect on the difficulty of the level. If, like me, you don’t bother looking for them on your first playthrough then the level’s combat is made mildly more challenging thanks to the fact that you’ll only have the pistol, basic shotgun and – later – chaingun at your disposal to fight the level’s 114 low-mid level monsters.
However, if you look for these areas, then you’ll find a few more powerful weapons that make the level an absolute breeze to complete. So, the difficulty level depends on how willing you are to explore – which is a really cool touch.
All in all, whilst this is a rather short and easy “vanilla” level, it is a reasonably fun one – with some cool-looking areas, a bit of interesting design and a welcome focus on exploration 🙂
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would just about get a four.