Doom turns 21 tomorrow.
That’s right — my baby is gonna be old enough to drink. Before it turns to a life of debauchery and sin, though, I thought we’d take a look back at the baby pictures. Or the toddler pictures, more like.
Doom, 2.5 yrs old (July 1996)
This is Memento Mori II, one of the earliest — and greatest 32-level megaWADs of all time. What can I say about it that hasn’t been said before?
I have to confess that I didn’t play the Memento Mori twins when they came out in ’96. I didn’t touch them until 2002 when I first got into PWADs. But even then, finding Memento Mori II was a revelation. Now it’s been twelve more years; replaying it in 2014, does it hold up?
Lainos won a Cacoward back in 2012 for his massive, atmospheric WAD, 5till L1 Complex. He’s back this year with a semi-sequel called Deneb Colony, a much smaller, more straightforward level that inherits almost nothing from its predecessor other than its visual style. That said, if you’re one of the many Doomers who loved 5till, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Deneb. If you didn’t, though, definitely don’t dismiss Lainos’ new work as more 5till. I was in the minority as someone who didn’t really care for 5till, but Deneb Colony had me enthralled from beginning to end.
Doom has few well-realized urban settings, but this is one of them. Deneb has you exploring what seems like it might be the upscale business district of the Deneb colony: a large office building, a factory of some sort, and pedestrian walkways dotted with trees and small gardens — all of it gorgeous.
Oh, Episode 3…
You poor dear. They shower Episode 1 with nostalgic reverence. They love the clashing themes and weirdness of E2. They praise E4’s difficulty; its polished, masterful design. But what about you? What about the colorful, the clever, the outlandish, the otherworldly E3? They just don’t understand you, Episode 3.
But I do — and so does Bedlam.
If you ever decide you want to send a little something for my birthday, I’ll say this: given the choice between a greeting card and some baked goods, unsurprisingly I’d choose the baked goods every day of the week. Those are what really take some time and dedication. And it’s personal; you do it with your own two hands. Who would pass that up for the cleverest greeting card in the world?
Anyway, James “Phobus” Cresswell’s Loathsome Cleft…
Enough of a mouthful for you?
Favillesco Alpha Episode: Apostasy on Amalthea, henceforth referred to (for your sanity and mine) as Amalthea, is the third release in the Favillesco series — though, as I understand it, something of a side, spinoff project and not part of the main series. In any case, I haven’t played the other entries in the series, or any of Nicolas Monti’s previous WADs, unfortunately.
That background information is interesting to know, because this… is an odd mapset. It’s obvious, even without playing his other stuff, that Amalthea is something of a departure from Monti’s norm: the weird concept album in a discography of traditional rock records.
Past few days, I’ve been working my way through the meaty innards of Flashback to Hell, a megaWAD by Stormwalker, a name I admit I’m not at all familiar with. There’s some Cacoward talk surrounding it already, so you can pretty safely assume it’s good, but all I knew going in was this: it’s a classic-styled WAD. 15 levels. And with a story — something that a lot of WAD-makers leave out but I really appreciate when it’s there.
I dove in with some definite expectations. I knew what I was getting into; I expected your standard oldschool WAD. All the enemies and weapons we know and love. Mostly standard resources. Nothing too groundbreaking or attention-grabbing, but something solid and well-crafted to wet my whistle. See, I haven’t just been away from blogging for the last half-year. I’ve been away from Doom too (oh, real life — why must you deny me all the things I love?), and I figured this would be a nice, safe, predictable WAD to return to. Sometimes what you crave more than anything is the classic, the simple, the tried-and-true.
And Flashback to Hell was that. For a while, anyway.
It was up in the air whether I would even write one of these thingies about High/Low 5. It’s no secret, I guess, that I wasn’t a huge fan of the later entries in Chris Hansen’s long-running WAD series. (Really, it’s been seven years since the first one!) And it just so happens that, despite my thinking High/Low 4 was the last of the bunch (I even said it was when I wrote about it), a fifth and for-real-this-time final offering came out just two months after I played the other four. That may have been the reason I didn’t play it immediately; I don’t want to take up your time or mine talking about things I don’t like. There’s enough negativity on the internet, and I’d much rather this be a place for the more saccharine end of the spectrum.
So — High/Low 5. Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about it hard.
There’s a little Doom WAD called STRAIN. It’s pretty great. If you’re like me, you might even call it The Greatest.
I’ve been pondering what I want to say about STRAIN for a long time. There’s a lot to be said. So I’ve been pondering a whole lot but not writing much of anything. Not much of substance, at any rate, and the deadline I’d set for myself was creeping closer and closer:
September 14 — you’re going to post that essay on STRAIN before then, you bum, and you can’t weasel your way out of it! Don’t think I can’t see right through you.
Slaughter maps aren’t really my cup of tea. I like more of a slow burn — a steady build to an epic climax. I like an even distribution of enemy types and a WAD that gives you reason to use the whole array of weapons at your disposal.
Slaughter maps, by their nature, tend to be the opposite of that. They consistently throw dozens, if not hundreds, of enemies at you — battles that necessitate the use of Doom‘s high-end weapons almost exclusively. Anything weaker than the super shotgun collects dust. It’s also hard to ramp up the tension and the stakes when the player starts off by wiping out roomfuls of monsters with the rocket launcher. I mean, where do you go from there?