Review: “Osiris” (WAD for “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”)

Well, since I’m still reading the next book I’ll be reviewing (“Nefertiti” By Michelle Moran), I thought that I’d review another “Doom II” WAD. After all, it’s been a few weeks since the last one. And, since I was in an “ancient Egypt” kind of mood, I decided to check out a rather cool WAD from 1996 called “Osiris“.

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD. However, interestingly, the WAD also comes with an installer program – so it will probably work with the original DOS/Win 95 versions of “Doom II”. I’m not sure if it’ll work with the original Win 95 version of “Final Doom”, but – if you use a source port – it is compatible with the “Final Doom” IWADs.

So, let’s take a look at “Osiris”:

“Osiris” is an eight-level WAD that includes new sounds, textures, skyboxes, sprites, music and a new weapon. One of the first things that I will say about this WAD is… wow! For a WAD made twenty-three years ago, it is as impressive as a more modern WAD. Not only that, it was also inspired by the movie “Stargate” too – which just makes it even cooler 🙂

Woo hoo! Seriously, I love Stargate-themed WADs 🙂

And there are even “Stargate” computers too 🙂

Where do I even begin with this WAD? The level design is ’90s level design at it’s very best. All of the levels are wonderfully non-linear and there’s a really cool mixture between tense claustrophobic levels, epic levels set in multiple locations, the occasional switch-puzzle based level, an arena battle or two – and at least one level which has a vaguely “loop”-like structure (eg: you end up near the beginning at the end of the level). Plus, one other cool thing about the level design is that the beginning of each level looks like the end of the previous level.

There are also lots of cool little flourishes and tricks. For example, there’s one area where you stand on an unstable floor and it collapses. Ok, it’s just a one-way lift. But, the speed of it and the accompanying sound effects really make it seem like the floor has suddenly collapsed. Plus, all of the new textures mean that many of the levels look absolutely spectacular too 🙂

Yay! Ancient Egypt 🙂

And THIS is like something from Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave” album too 🙂

Which brings me on to the sound design. Normally, I don’t talk about the sounds and music until later in a review, but the sound design in this WAD really blew me away. Not only do all of the weapons sound ten times as thunderous, but there are also more intense monster sounds, lots of cool sound effects, even some voice acting in the background (eg: an ominous voice) and some truly excellent music – which is a brilliantly fitting mixture of “Ancient Egypt”-style music and 1980s/90s-style rock music 🙂

In terms of the monsters, there are some really awesome sprite replacements. The best ones are probably the fact that the imps have been replaced by Anubis-like creatures and, even better, the pinky demons have been replaced by hooded scythe-wielding zombies with glowing eyes:

Seriously, this guy needs to appear on a heavy metal album cover 🙂

It’s bark is worse than it’s bite, I think.

My only criticism of the monsters, and this might have been because of the source port I was using, is that there’s a really hilarious glitch. Basically, if you gib either the zombieman or the shotgun zombie, then ammo drops will keep spawning from their bodies in a vaguely fountain-like fashion.

Well, at least I’m not going to be running out of ammo any time soon…

One interesting thing about this WAD is how it achieves it’s difficulty. Although experienced players will find this WAD to be mildly-moderately challenging at most, one innovative trick is that many of the levels are filled with hit-scanning monsters. Whilst this does lead to some rather cheap moments (eg: monsters sniping you from a distance), it really helps to ramp up the drama and suspense of many of the game’s battles.

Plus, there are a lot of chaingun zombies too – which also adds to the difficulty as well 🙂

In terms of the weapons, they’re fairly interesting. Although the fist, chaingun and plasma rifle get some rather interesting-looking sprite replacements, the rocket launcher is replaced by a flamethrower. This is a weapon that can actually be used at close range, although the trajectory of the shots means that it doesn’t always work as well at longer ranges (which helps to balance it slightly).

In the words of Rammstein, feuer frei!

All in all, this is a really impressive WAD 🙂 Not only is it thrillingly fun, but it also gets the “ancient Egypt” atmosphere absolutely right. In other words, it feels as gloriously dramatic and stylised as not only the original “Stargate” film, but also other ancient Egypt themed FPS games like “Killing Time“, “Serious Sam: The First Encounter” and “Exhumed” too 🙂 The level design is splendid and both the sound and sprite replacements are really cool too. As I said before, this is as impressive as a good modern WAD and it was made in 1996. Seriously, this is awesome 🙂

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a very solid five 🙂


Mini Review: “Abandoned Mansion” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”)

Well, since the novel that I’m reading (“Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson) is taking longer to read than I expected, I thought that this would be the perfect time to review another “Doom II”/”Final Doom” WAD. After all, it’s been a couple of weeks since my last WAD review and I want to make sure that at least one appears this month.

So, after clicking on a random WAD on the front page of the /IDGAMES Archive, I ended up with a WAD from 2011 called “Abandoned Mansion“.

Although I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD, the level has apparently been designed to be vanilla compatible. So, it’ll work with pretty much any source port. And probably “Brutal Doom” too, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Abandoned Mansion”:

“Abandoned Mansion” is a single-level WAD that contains new music. Bizarrely, it takes up the Level 21 slot though. So, when you start a new game, you’ll have to type “IDCLEV21” in order to skip to this level. I’ve never quite understood why designers put single levels in any other slot than the first one, but it happens sometimes. So, remember that this WAD only changes level 21.

As for the level itself, it’s a short-medium length level that features non-linear level design, albeit with a fairly linear progression. For the most part, this works reasonably well since it allows the player to do a little bit of exploring but also means that they’ll never get stuck or lost whilst playing. This is helped by the fact that the level is divided into three distinctive areas.

At the beginning, you have to fight your way through a rather gothic courtyard- complete with cemetery- and find the yellow skull key in order to get into the mansion.

All made using the vanilla textures too. Luckily there was a skull or two in there for the level designers to use.

The mansion itself is an interesting little area, that consists of a central corridor with several locked and unlocked doors branching off from it. Once you’ve got through all of these, you’ll find yourself in front of a teleporter.

Hmm… Obviously the hotel reviews for this place weren’t entirely accurate. This is not what I’d consider to be “charmingly rustic”!

Well, that was a reasonably short level…This is the exit, right?

But, instead of ending the level there, there’s a fun little surprise in store for you. As soon as you step through the teleporter, you’ll find yourself in a hellish arena where the air is heavy with projectiles and the nightmarish roar of a Cyberdemon can be heard soon after you start dodging the projectiles.

Ah, stuff like THIS is why I play “Doom II” 🙂

After fighting your way through this area and raising a rather cool-looking bridge, you can complete the level.

Best of all, since this is a vanilla-compatible level, there’s no annoying first-person platforming. You literally just walk diagonally from platform to platform 🙂

In terms of the gameplay, it’s reasonably good. In addition to the smooth way that the level flows, it also has a bit of a difficulty curve too. Although experienced players (even out of practice ones like me) will only find this level to be mildly challenging, the level’s combat is pretty enjoyable, with a small to moderate number of mid and high-level monsters.

Including the obligatory Arch-vile too 🙂

However, the difficulty is kept relatively low thanks to the generous amount of ammo on offer. Seriously, by the end of the level, I was able to defeat the Cyberdemon with the plasma rifle and still have more than enough plasma left over for the monsters that remained. So, yes, this level would have been more enjoyable if the amount of ammo lying around had been reduced a bit.

In terms of the new music, it’s really cool 🙂 Apparently, it has been taken from something called “Hell To Pay” and it’s this wonderfully atmospheric, droning MIDI tune that really helps to add to the level’s “90s horror game” vibe 🙂

All in all, this is a reasonably fun way to spend twenty minutes. Although this level won’t provide experienced players with that much of a challenge, it flows really well, it has a nice three-part structure and some interesting moments. It’s also cool to see a haunted mansion level made using the vanilla textures too (the only other example I can think of is possibly “Derceto).

If I had to give this WAD a rating out of five, it would get at least three and a half.

Mini Review: “L O L L Y” (WAD For “Doom II”/”Final Doom”/ “ZDoom”/ “Doom II Legacy” etc..)

Well, it’s been nearly a month since my last “Doom II” mod/WAD review. So, in keeping with the ancient and hallowed traditions of this site, it seemed like time to review another one. And, after seeing this video review by Major Arlene, I thought that I’d check out a short WAD from 2002 called “L O L L Y“.

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD, although it was apparently originally designed for the “Doom II Legacy” source port. Still, given the age of this WAD, I guess that it will probably work on most modern source ports.

So, let’s take a look at “L O L L Y”:

“L O L L Y” is a short single-level WAD that was originally designed for deathmatch, but also has some single-player elements too. In addition to this, this WAD also contains some new textures and sounds too.

And, yes, it looks pretty awesome 🙂

One of the first things that I will say about this WAD is that it looks really cool 🙂 Thanks to all of the new textures, it has the kind of bright vivid sci-fi look that I’ve only ever really seen in a few other WADs (like the one and only “Ancient Aliens). Plus, in defiance of the laws of “Doom II” physics, it also contains rooms that are placed on top of other rooms!

What sorcery is this?!?!?!?

This phsyics-defying marvel is further emphasised by some really cool-looking translucent floors that allow you to look up or down at the rooms above and below you. These not only give the level a slightly futuristic look, but they also fit into the bright ice lolly-related theme that the WAD’s name hints at:

Nope, this floor isn’t mirrored. You can literally see right through it.

As for the actual gameplay, it’s reasonably ok. Although experienced players won’t find the level’s 40-50 mid to low-level monsters to be too much of a challenge, the arena-like nature of the level means that it plays a little bit like a cross between a very mild “slaughtermap” level and a more traditional “Doom II” level. Yes, you’ll probably be able to blaze through the level’s monsters in about five or ten minutes, but it’s still reasonably fun if you’re a little out of practice and/or are a novice player.

Seriously, this is the most challenging part of the level!

The ammo distribution in this level is a little bit strange though. Although there’s just enough ammo in the level, it slightly tends to favour the rocket launcher and chaingun – which is probably in keeping with the level’s deathmatch roots. This element of the level is also noticeable by the fact that the only health pickups are four beserk packs and a couple of spheres. Needless to say, this makes the single-player experience even easier, since your health will rarely drop below double-digits.

The level’s deathmatch-based design is also notable because, although the level does have a (very slightly hidden) “exit” button, it doesn’t actually work. So, technically speaking, there’s no way to actually finish this level.

Seriously, it’s just there for show. The button doesn’t actually do anything.

As mentioned earlier, there are also a few new sounds too. These are glorious examples of late 1990s/early 2000s-style silliness. For example, whenever you take damage, the Doomguy will shout something like “we are many”, which is hilarious. Likewise, the level’s teleporters have a slightly different sound effect which sounds like the kind of thing that you’d expect to hear on an old computer program from the 1990s or early 2000s. It still sounds futuristic, but it’s also mildly nostalgic too 🙂

Then again, if you’re still playing “Doom II” these days, then nostalgia is probably something you love 🙂

All in all, this WAD is a fun little novelty. If you’re a little bit out of practice or you just want to spend a relaxing 5-10 minutes playing “Doom II”, then this WAD is well worth checking out. Yes, there’s technically no way of finishing it and it is primarily designed for deathmatch, but it looks cool and there’s still some single-player fun to be had here.

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

Mini Review: “Xmas Doom ’99” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “ZDoom”)

Christmas, “Doom II” and 1990s nostalgia – is there anything better? In keeping with tradition, I thought that I’d try to review at least one Christmas-themed “Doom II” WAD this month. And, after finding one called “Xmas Doom ’99“, I just couldn’t resist taking a look at it.

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD, but I guess that it will probably work with any source port that allows jumping.

So, let’s take a look at “Xmas Doom ’99”:

“Xmas Doom ’99” is a two-level WAD from (you guessed it) 1999. It also contains new music, new textures, a new skybox and new menu text too. Yes, you heard me correctly, new menu text. The difficulty setting descriptions have been replaced with hilariously festive things like “Bambi Mode” and “Hail Santa!”.

But, you might be wondering why I mentioned this, of all things, first. Well, it’s because it is probably the best part of this WAD. Although the new background music during the main menu and the first level is pretty cool too and the new monster textures are fairly amusing (especially how the monsters’ hats fall off when they die), the novelty difficulty setting text is, by far, the best part of this WAD.

You can probably see where I’m going with this….

But, what about the level design? Or, you know, the actual gameplay? Well… er… Let’s just say my rose-tinted nostalgia about the 1990s clouded my judgement when choosing this WAD. Whilst the level design isn’t exactly objectively terrible, it isn’t great either.

Both levels are reasonably short and have some cool-looking segments, but they can be a little bit annoying to play. The first level mostly involves wandering around large open areas, fighting low-level monsters and searching for keys. To give you an impression of how dull these open areas are, the blue key is literally hiding in plain sight in one of them. It still took me at least a couple of minutes of random wandering before I found it.

Oh, there it is…

These wide open areas also contain a reasonable number of shotgun zombies, who can occasionally snipe you from a distance. Although they aren’t too much of a challenge to fight, having to find and shoot them all as soon as possible can get a little bit annoying.

Even so, there are some cool-looking buildings (that you can’t enter), some cool lighting effects (eg: the areas around some lanterns are brighter) and a segment where you have to dodge a Cyberdemon. So, this level isn’t all bad.

Merry Doom-mas 🙂

And Season’s Doom-ings too 🙂

The second level begins in front of a rather cool-looking ice castle, that reminded me of something from a “Commander Keen” game. The “Christmas medley” background music also has an enderaringly “early 1990s” kind of sound to it at first, although there are some discordant segments of it that can really grate on the ear.

Yay! It’s an ice castle! This is so 90s 🙂

The ice castle segment is relatively short and reasonably fun, although the designer of this level uses the cheap tactic of filling the castle’s battlements with shotgun zombies. Again, whilst this isn’t objectively difficult to deal with, it is a bit of a cheap way to add difficulty – especially given that they sometimes have a habit of all shooting at you in quick succession.

On the plus side, at least they aren’t chaingun zombies…

After defeating these zombies and pressing a button, you can progress to a snow fort-like area where you have to battle a Cyberdemon. However, the Cyberdemon is restricted to a small square area, so he’s kind of a sitting duck. If you’ve conserved your rockets and plasma ammo, then this boss battle will take you all of two minutes to beat.

Seriously, I actually felt kind of sorry for the poor Cyberdemon….

After this, there’s a short ending segment that involves walking through a couple of poster-filled rooms that include the credits for the WAD, a poster for an upcoming WAD and some endearingly immature 1990s “edginess” (eg: a badly-cropped, low-resolution suggestive photo and some informal Christmas/New Year greetings). Ah, the 1990s!

All in all, this WAD has a few cool-looking areas, some good music and a couple of amusing moments. But, in terms of the actual gameplay and level design, it really isn’t that great. Still, it’s probably a vaguely interesting piece of historical ephemera and it’s possibly “so bad that it’s good”, I guess.

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

Mini Review: “Stardate 20×7” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ ZDoom etc..)

Back in 2014, I reviewed a set of “Doom II” levels called “Stardate 20×6“. At the time, I’d never played anything quite so challenging and, for a fair while, I considered it to be the most difficult set of FPS game levels ever. Yes, I hadn’t played “VeryHard“, “XXXI CyberSky” or any slaughtermaps back then. So, I guess that “Stardate 20×6” was possibly my first slaughtermap WAD.

So, imagine my delight when I was looking through last year’s Cacowards and happened to notice a WAD by the name of “Stardate 20×7“. Yes, it’s the sequel to “Stardate 20×6”!

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD. At the time of writing, I’m part way through the final level and haven’t played either secret level. Still, I wanted to make sure there was at least one “Doom II” WAD review posted here this month.

Pictured: Why I’m only part way through the final level…

So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at “Stardate 20×7”:

“Stardate 20×7” is a nine-level slaughtermap WAD (that also contains two secret levels too) from the designer of “Swim With The Whales” and “Stardate 20×6”. It contains new music, new textures, a new monster and a slight change to the plasma rifle.

Like in “Stardate 20×6”, it fires purple projectiles 🙂

One of the things that I will say about this WAD is that, like “Stardate 20×6”, it has an absolutely beautiful purple and brown/gold colour scheme. Seriously, this WAD is an absolute joy to look at. Interestingly, whilst the first couple of levels have more of an Ancient Japan-style theme, the rest of the WAD has lots of cool-looking sci-fi locations.

The “Ancient Japan” theme in the early levels is cool, although the sci-fi levels look even cooler 🙂

Plus, like with other WADs by this author, “Stardate 20×7” takes a very traditionalist attitude towards the subject of jumping. However, the levels have been designed with this limitation in mind, so it’s barely noticeable when you’re playing. Still, you can rocket jump (since freelook can still be used) and this is incredibly useful at one point in level eight….

Trust me, you’ll want to rocket jump backwards fairly soon after pressing that button!

This WAD has a surprisingly good difficulty curve, with the first few levels being somewhat easier than the later ones. Still, it occasionally contains *ugh* puzzles.

Although the first level has a few intriguing, but solvable, puzzles – I got completely stuck on the second level. After wandering around aimlessly for about 1-2 hours and still not knowing where I should go or what I should do, I eventually ended up resorting to using cheat codes to get to level three.

But, apart from this (and one frustrating switch/platforming puzzle in level nine that I also bypassed via cheats), I haven’t really had any major problems with the level design. However, one annoying touch is that level five ends with a mandatory player death which means, you guessed it, level six begins from a pistol start.

Dammit! And I had the BFG too!

Surprisingly, for a slaughtermap WAD, the levels here are at least somewhat non-linear – with exploration, switch puzzles and keyhunting included at various points in the game. Even so, this WAD certainly has it’s fair share of fiendishly difficult set pieces.

Aside from the epic battle in level nine (you’ll know the one I’m talking about when you see it), the most challenging one is probably a small hexagonal corridor near the end of level five that fills up with several waves of Barons, Hell Knights, Revenants and Arch-viles. Not only do you have little to no cover or anywhere to retreat, but if you dawdle for too long then the Arch-viles will just resurrect all of the monsters you’ve already killed! Still, it is beatable. Just remember not to use all of your BFG ammo at the start of this area!

In other words, don’t do this and you might stand a chance…

Other intriguing set pieces include teleporting into a relatively narrow corridor filled with a layered army of monsters… with three pain elementals behind you and a caged Arch-vile in a nearby alcove (to prevent dawdling in the middle of the corridor). Then there’s a brilliant Hell Knight-filled area in level eight. Plus, there’s a timed Arch-vile area (one is released every ten seconds or so) in level four. There’s a monster-filled staircase in level six. And so much more….

Oh, the corridor segment I mentioned earlier is also really cool since it has a really “old school” kind of atmosphere to it.

Seriously, I cannot fault the set pieces in this WAD. As you would expect, they’re the sort of thing that looks egregiously unfair at first glance but which can be dealt with if you use the right tactics, if you persevere and if you are willing to work out how to escape each area (since you can’t usually fight literally every monster). Like in all good slaughtermaps, the monster encounters are more of a fast-paced action-based puzzle than a simple fight.

Pictured: The fun type of in-game puzzles! Seriously, this is what FPS game puzzles should look like.

Pictured: The “not so fun” type of FPS game puzzles.

The stand-out levels in this WAD are probably level six – which has this cool Ancient Egypt theme (complete with music) – and level eight.

Level eight is a proper old-school style slaughtermap, taking place in an eerily futuristic floating purple ballroom that is crammed with hundreds of monsters. This is the level where my reaction went from “Oh god, am I getting worse at this game? Am I too old for this?” to “Ha! Let’s dance!“.

The Danse Macabre, to be precise….

In terms of new monsters, I’ve only seen one so far. It’s a purple version of the “Afrit” monster I’ve seen in other WADs and it appears precisely once during level four. Of course, this happens after your health and ammo has been sapped by a frantic battle and you’re standing on a claustrophobic platform. And, did I mention that this monster’s attack combines that of the Revenant and Mancubus? Or that it has a lot of health too?

Seriously, I’m glad there’s only one of these monsters!

In terms of background music, there are some really great tunes here. The best ones probably have to be the Ancient Egypt-style music in level six or the vaguely Japanese-style music in level one. Seriously, I love how well the music fits in with the general theme of these levels.

All in all, this is a visually-beautiful WAD for experienced and/or masochistic players. Yes, you might get totally and utterly stuck during levels two and nine (because of keys, puzzles and/or “where do I go?”). But, if you enjoyed “Stardate 20×6” and you want even more of a challenge, then “Stardate 20×7” is definitely worth checking out. It’s atmospheric, fiendishly difficult and wonderfully purple. What’s not to like?

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

Mini Review: “Arena Boss Fights” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “ZDoom”/ “GZDoom”)

Well, although I still seem to be going through a “Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines” phase at the moment (and am replaying it yet again, as a Malkavian this time), I’m determined that my regular “Doom II” WAD reviews won’t be as neglected as my plans to finish and review “Under A Killing Moon” seem to be.

So, with that said, I thought that I’d take a quick look at a rather interesting little WAD for “Doom II”/”Final Doom” called ‘Arena Boss Fights‘.

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD. It is also apparently compatible with GZDoom too. However, the readme suggests that some other source ports might have issues running this WAD.

So, let’s take a look at “Arena Boss Fights”:

“Arena Boss Fights” is a single-level novelty WAD that was apparently made within the space of a single day.

The basic premise of the WAD is that you have to fight the three bosses from the original “Doom” (eg: the Bruiser Brothers, the Cyberdemon and the Spider Mastermind) in a series of arena-based fights. Basically, this WAD does what it says on the tin.

Yay! Gladiatorial combat 🙂

The actual battles are kept fresh and interesting though some clever arena design. The battle with the two hell knights is made easier by the inclusion of a super shotgun, however this is balanced out by the fact that the arena itself consists of lots of walkways and lava pits (so, circle-strafing is a little more difficult).

Still, if you’ve played a lot of challenging modern WADs, it might be difficult to remember that this actually used to be considered a boss fight.

The Cyberdemon arena is pretty easy, since the Cyberdemon is restricted to a raised platform and you are given a plasma gun when you enter the room. But, this is balanced slightly by the fact that the arena itself is relatively small, and the only way to get extra plasma cells is to lower nearby pillars (which briefly leaves you exposed to the Cyberdemon’s rockets).

The most challenging arena in the game is, of course, the battle with the Spider Mastermind. Although you’re given a rocket launcher and several pillars to hide behind, this is balanced out slightly by the fact that you are restricted to a series of walkways surrounding a lava pit. Likewise, rockets are relatively scarce in this area.

Yay! This arena looks wonderfully epic 🙂

However, and I could be wrong here, it is possible that the spider’s health levels might have been tweaked somewhat, since you only have to shoot him a few times after you’ve run out of rockets. I don’t know, I’m sure I remember this boss being tougher.

Although an experienced player can breeze through this WAD in about 5-10 minutes, it’s still a lot of fun. It’s an interesting little retrospective of the original game and – even if you’re a little bit out of practice with “Doom II” – then it’ll still make you feel like a badass when you play it.

One cool feature about this WAD is that the central hub area between the three arenas features sprites of each boss. Once you defeat each boss, their sprite disappears from the hub area – which is a rather cool little touch.

This is easy to miss, but it’s still really cool 🙂

Bizarrely, the list of “rules” that accompanies the WAD advises against using freelook (although jumping is fine, and necessary in the first arena). According to this list of rules, disabling freelook means that you’re less likely to notice problems with the skybox. However, even after I disabled freelook, I could still spot repeating sky textures. Still, for a level that was made in a single day, these minor cosmetic flaws can easily be overlooked.

In terms of music, this level uses the “Into Sandy’s City” MIDI from the original games. Along with “E1M1” and “D_Read_M”, this is one of my favourite pieces of classic in-game music, so it’s great to hear it here 🙂

All in all, this is a fun little novelty level which does something mildly creative with something that all “Doom” players will be familiar with. If you’re an experienced player, then it’s a fun way to spend a few minutes. And, if you’re new to the game, then it’s probably a rather enjoyable (but winnable) challenge too.

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

Partial Review: “Quantum Strike (V2)” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ ZDoom etc..)

Well, although I’m playing a game called “Under A Killing Moon” (Edit: Unfortunately, I probably won’t review it) at the time of writing, I thought that I should try to make sure that there is at least one “Doom II”/”Final Doom” WAD review posted here this month.

So, I thought that I’d take a quick look at a WAD called “Quantum Strike (V2)“. However, at the time of writing, I’m about halfway through level three (of four). So, this article will be more than just a first impressions article, but less than a full review.

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port (version 2.7.9999.0) whilst playing this WAD. However, according to the text file that accompanies the WAD, it will also run with more modern versions of several other source ports such as GZDoom, Zandronum, PR/GLBoom+ and QZDoom.

So, let’s take a look at “Quantum Strike (V.2):

“Quantum Strike (V2)” is a four-level “slaughtermap” WAD that includes new textures, music, fully implemented difficulty settings (I used “Hurt Me Plenty”) and a new monster.

If you’ve never heard of “slaughtermap” levels before, they are challenging levels (like “XXXI Cybersky“, “VeryHard“, “Stardate 20X6” etc..) that contain a linear series of arena-like segments which are filled with more monsters than you can actually fight.

This shifts the emphasis of the gameplay towards survival, fast-paced puzzle solving, dogged determination, knowing when to fight (or when not to) and knowing how to use the “rules” of “Doom II” to your advantage. Personally, I really like this style of level, but it is something of an acquired taste.

Seriously, when it is done well – like in this part of level two- these types of level can be brilliant 🙂

However, whilst this WAD certainly contains some good slaughtermap segments, it isn’t a perfect example of something in this genre. The main problem is that many of the monster-filled areas can feel a little bit too claustrophobic. One of the most important parts of any “slaughtermap” is that the player has enough room to run, dodge and take cover. This can make the difference between a fun level and a frustrating one.

This is especially the case with the early parts of the first level, which mostly take place within narrow corridors where there’s very little room for dodging and relatively little ammo, health, weaponry or cover on offer. At it’s best, this makes the level suspenseful. But it can also make the difficulty feel somewhat cheap, especially when the level occasionally leaves you sandwiched between two groups of monsters within a relatively narrow corridor.

The most jarring example of cheap difficulty in the first level is when the WAD’s new monster, the Afrit, is introduced during a corridor segment. This is a flying baron-type monster who has a powerful attack that spews lots of mancubus/revenant projectiles across a wide area. Although it’s always cool to see new monsters, this is a type of monster that shouldn’t be used in areas where there’s relatively little cover or room for the player to dodge.

Pictured: Not a monster that you want to meet in a corridor!

Although the first level is a rather fun level, the claustrophobic design doesn’t do it any favours. Even the “arena” area later in the level is a medium-size room that feels slightly claustrophobic when compared to the number of monsters you have to fight. This is compounded by the fact that there’s relatively little cover in this area, which can mean that the player barely has time to think or to formulate any kind of strategy.

And, if you try to hide in one of the alcoves here, expect to get walled in by ferocious monsters very quickly!

The second level has some really good arena segments that are suitably sized for this style of gameplay. However, there’s still something of a slight emphasis on claustrophobic walkways in some parts of the level.

And I also forgot to mention that you need to move along the walkways quickly, since there’s a cyberdemon in the middle of this area.

But, although this level is probably my favourite, I couldn’t actually find a way to end it. Even after all of the monsters in the final arena had died, I still couldn’t find a way of ending the level. So, I had to resort to using the “level skip” cheat.

The final battle at the end of the level is pretty epic though (and, like another cool segment earlier in the level, there’s actually enough room too!)

The third level is much more like a classic-style “slaughtermap” level, with arena-like areas, some cool-looking design and lots of monsters.

The coolest part of level three (that I’ve seen so far) is probably this bit, where you can see the level from above.

Although I haven’t finished this level at the time of writing, it is a reasonably fun example of a slaughtermap level. However, one slight criticism I have of it is that some parts can feel a little bit claustrophobic and/or not have enough cover.

Such as this part when it starts filling up with monsters (including a three-layered wall of chaingun zombies on the other side of the room!)

This WAD also takes a very traditionalist attitude towards jumping, but the levels are designed with this limitation in mind. So, I didn’t even notice that I couldn’t jump until about half an hour after I’d started playing. However, the fact that the WAD seems to force you to play the second level (and presumably the third too) from a pistol start is slightly annoying though.

Seriously, why?!?!?

Visually speaking, this WAD has a rather cool sci-fi/horror theme to it, which is vaguely reminiscent of both the original “Quake” and some of Skillsaw’s excellent “Doom II” WADs (eg: “Ancient Aliens“, “Lunatic” etc..) whilst also being it’s own thing too. Seriously, I really love the look of this WAD 🙂

I also love how this WAD sometimes has different colour schemes for different areas.

Plus, I love the “Quake”-like textures on this inventively-designed crusher too.

Likewise, the new music here is really cool too, and it mostly consists of 1980s/90s style MIDI music which has a wonderfully retro-futuristic sound to it. This goes really well with the visual style of the WAD and really helps to add some atmosphere to the levels.

All in all, from what I’ve played, this WAD is a mixed bag. Yes, it looks (and sounds) really cool. Yes, there are some really fun moments to be found here (especially in the second level). However, the emphasis on claustrophobic settings and pistol starts really doesn’t do this WAD any favours.

If I had to give what I’ve played a rating out of five, it would get three and a half.