Saturday, March 29, 2014

Into the Code (THECODE.WAD)

The last time I dealt with a computer virus related to Doom, I wound up in a mandrill's ass. Thankfully, Obsidian's Into the Code, a minisode for Doom II released in 2014, is far more reasonable. It's also fairly modest, fielding six levels with none of them clocking in over one hundred monsters. The plot feels right out of '94 / '95; there's a virus on your computer, and it's hiding in your favorite game (right?). You could just delete it, but in the interest of having fun, you boot up the ol' .EXE and get to clearing them out. I guess the logic of the code dictates that the virus oppose the player with the few tools at its disposal.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


by Kurt Kesler

Kurt Kesler made a boat load of levels during his short tenure as a Doom mapper, most of which were released as single maps. His vanilla works were all named according to their themes, but KBOOM denotes the fact that these levels were made to be played in the as of then brand spankin' new Boom engine. KBOOM_6, yet another MAP01 replacement released in 1998, shows Kesler looking at something slightly out of his KMETL fare - the castle theme, aka KBRICK. It's an interesting theme to return to, as Kesler himself admits that "its hard to do".

Monday, March 24, 2014

Eye of the Beholder II (EOB2S.WAD)

Jon Landis is somewhat notorious for his unforgiving, dickish gimmick maps for the original Doom, most of which appeared in his hard-to-find Eye of the Beholder. Eye of the Beholder II, released in 1995, is a set of seven maps constructed for Doom II, somewhat in the same vein, but Landis has tightened up his design to make this a very short series of brain-teasers, and somewhat defanged, to boot. You won't have anything approaching the level of !PIPE! in here, anyway. There are still some moments of frustration, but EOB2S is a different beast. There's still no story, and the DeHackEd lump wouldn't work for me in ZDoom, but from the description of MAP07, I assume it makes specterized Hell knights or something of the like.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


by Kurt Kesler

There are a lot of KBOOM levels, and I'm already despairing of writing intro paragraphs for them, because I'm committed to telling you the same basic information for every one of them. KBOOM_5 was released in 1998, it's a MAP01 replacement, and it was made for the Boom engine. Kurt Kesler would go on to make six more in 1998 and then top things off with KBOOM12 in 2000, which was a very long time ago. KBOOM_5 is more of what you might expect from Kesler as far as themes go. It's a fairly large base level with some castle elements. It's not the base parts that I'm currently remembering it for, though.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eye of the Beholder (EOB.WAD)

Jon Landis was one of '94's pioneering WAD authors, going on to contribute to STRAIN of all things. Eye of the Beholder, originally released in 1994 (with a small '95 update) has been lost to the sands of time as far as the archives are concerned, funny considering there is no draconian distribution clause. Some of these maps will look familiar to veterans - !POIS!, !PIPE!, and !WOW! can all be found here as E2M1, E2M2 and E2M8, respectively. The others, as far as I know, are all brand new additions to the Landis library of gameplay. So, EOB is an episode replacement for The Shores of Hell. There's no attached story, but Landis loves to talk about each of the levels in his .TXT, going so far as to give you hints, and you'll need them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Realm of Chaos (RLMCHAOS.WAD)

Realm of Chaos, released in 1996, is another one of those Doom II megaWADs from the golden age of modding. Its major claim to fame is that it was developed by a team of Macintosh users, hence their name. As Steve Duff offered in his retrospective, Realm of Chaos showcased the best that the Mac scene had to offer because it showcased virtually the ONLY authors the Mac scene had to offer. Clint Sago started the project but pretty quickly discovered that, despite his enthusiasm, his talents were lacking. Rob Berkowitz served as his "executive officer", filling out a large portion of the lineup as well as the role of direct leadership. Realm of Chaos is pretty comparable to its peers, in spite of the dodgy editor they had to work with, and took about as long to build as Memento Mori. It's not quite as crazy, or complex, but there are some gems to be had here.

Monday, March 10, 2014


by Angelo Jefferson

Angelo Jefferson released his Doom episode, #1KILL, in 1997, and published this little offering in the 1KILLXTR package right alongside it. It's a single map replacement for the original Doom, occupying the E3M1 slot. It shares a lot of similarities with #1KILL, though I think that the architecture, layout and thing placement are a shade better than what he did in his first glut of maps, and it isn't the same marble / wood theme. Instead, it's got the feel of a base stranded in Hell, with the main building of the map made of concrete and tech with the outer wall on the grounds composed of green marble.

Friday, March 7, 2014

#1Kill (#1KILL.WAD)

Some PWADs get "canonized" through the Top 100 WADs of All Time and Cacowards. Others avoid the oblivion of time by word of mouth. Angelo Jefferson survives in the public conscience through his Number One Kill The Next Generation, which usually comes up when people talk about lesser-known PWADs they think deserve some praise. Less recognized is the Original Series to #1KILLTNG, that being plain ol' #1Kill, an E2 replacement released in 1997. It's full, at nine levels, but I wouldn't say it's in the Deimos style. Rather, it's some kind of vague mixture of wood and green marble, kind of suggesting Thy Flesh Consumed, except Angelo is not there at all.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


by Kurt Kesler

KBOOM_4 is, understandably enough, the fourth level in Kurt Kesler's KBOOM series, a sequence of levels developed that stand distinct from his vanilla maps - designed to run in the original Doom II .EXE - and the limit-removing levels, which merely took advantage of the removal and raising of various hardcoded Doom limits. Then there's KZDOOM, which is an entirely different beast, but beyond the scope of this review. As always, Kesler cares little or naught for the prospect of framing stories when it comes to his levels. He just wants you to know that this MAP01 replacement, released in 1998, is in a different style, at least when compared to the techbase maps that dominate so much of his work.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

System Vices (SYSVICE1.WAD)

Bob Reganess was a somewhat experimental author from Doom's early period whose works would have been lost to the ravages of time with the death of Compuserve. Thankfully, Graham "Grazza" Burgess could archive his works due to a relatively open distribution clause. System Vices was probably his most ambitious project, a partial conversion featuring new textures, enemy / weapon graphics, and sounds. Released in '96, this eight-map episode probably had another installment coming - given that the filename is SYSVICE1.WAD - but it doesn't appear to have materialized. Too bad, because this is a pretty interesting outing on its own.