Well it turns out another month passes and I have nothing to say. I've spent much of it replaying Epic 2 in the same way I did Plutonia a few months back, by choosing maps at random from a list and removing them from the list when beaten. This turned out in many cases to be easier than expected, maps I thought would be hard went in one go. A few were as nasty as I was expecting though, and I'm pretty sure there's a couple I'll never do without excessive use of savegames (27 and 29).
"You won tickets to some crappy comedy club."
This wad is a gimmick based around the layout of a fictitious comedy club, with some truly awful advertising banners. You begin in the audience where two imps are on stage attempting to entertain you (hence the title, but also, the intentional if inexplicable reference to Double Impact). You have to get up on stage, out the door to the car park, then back in through an air vent into the bathroom. Then you proceed into the rather large reception area where you can show your ticket (red key) to get back into the audience or use the staff key (blue) to get backstage. Backstage you have to find a microphone (yellow key) then get back on stage and use it to open the exit.
The wad is a single map copied 9 times to fill a Doom episode. The author, TimeOfDeath, intends it more as a single map that you choose to play with a given weapon, in the same way that you choose to play any map on a given skill level. So for example if you wanted to play the map with a rocket launcher you would warp to E1M5 and the enemies you face are adjusted accordingly. What you're not meant to do is play the whole lot one after the other, with or without carrying resources forward - playing it many times in a row is too repetitive, despite the variation of using a different weapon each time (and facing the different monster layouts). I don't know which weapon to recommend playing it with. The pistol is probably easiest but it's boring doing an entire level with the pistol...
The final level is perhaps the strangest of all - instead of monsters the place is full of voodoo dolls and there's no shooting to be done except for finding some very-well-hidden switches. This results in a single trooper teleporting into the audience area. I'm not sure what you're supposed to do next. I think you're supposed to lure him around and onto the stage, then kill him so his corpse slides into one of the pits in front of the microphone, which triggers a lift, lowering a teleporter that allows you to enter the other pit. This is based on the observation that each pit has exit damage slime in it. However, I never managed to get the trooper to die where I wanted him. I tried cheating my way into the teleporter, but then I just died as if standing in normal slime, so I must be doing something wrong.
One final note, the two imps on stage are not real imps but more like statues and if you do enough damage to them they explode like Icons of Sin. It's another way to end the map if you want. But they do take an absolutely enormous amount of damage. Probably the best level to try this on is the berserk fist level, where you can trap a stage imp in a corner, position yourself, put something heavy on the fire button, and go away and make a cup of tea until you hear the explosions.
Poor man's Community Chest with no quality control. Haha, I joke. But seriously it's a Doomworld community project that accepted any submission no matter what kind of map it was. It doesn't keep to the standard megawad limit - there are 40 maps - and it doesn't even keep to one engine. The first dozen or so maps are Doom or Doom+. The next lot are for Boom. When you reach map30 it becomes maps that require ZDoom.
Disjoint base map, doesn't really stick to one particular theme, the rooms are all different. Not excessively detailed, looks 1996ish? Throws a fair number of monsters at you without being a massive slaughter. Not as hard as it first seemed.
Seemed to be a lot of people's pick. A brown brick castle interior map with "modern" levels of detail. It uses a great deal of moving floors, constantly transforming itself, building complex staircases and other such structures as you progress. Well-balanced difficulty although a little top-heavy (isn't everything, though..?) - ammo can be in short supply at the start.
Doom2 base, not difficult but a bit too simple perhaps. Underdetailed.
Remake of E3M6, smaller and less interesting than the original. Makes you search for switches a bit.
Another small techbase, fairly detailed this time, has you running through various slime rivers. It's compact and avoids disjointness, but is heavy on the 90 degree angles.
Concept map where you run through a rope maze. Not actually ropes but I can't think of a better description. Barriers that don't block sight or shots basically. You get a megasphere but have no weapons and have to dodge the monsters. It's actually pretty fun albeit frustrating.
Small simplistic dark cave that could have come straight off a 1994/5 shovelware CD. That doesn't mean it's bad, I spent half this year playing shovelware CD maps, but I call it how I see it.
I think this one was broken, it at least seems to need mouselook to shoot some buttons. It's also tiny and set entirely in one overdetailed room. It's also extremely cramped and gives you no ammunition. I gave up on it, it wasn't fun.
A rather nicely interwoven watery base map that is clearly inspired by Doom2 MAP02. By the way you can still get the backpack if you don't time your red key run correctly, you can get to it from the other side but you have to aim your run-up carefully.
A lake of lava surrounded by a rocky path to the exit. Another that could have come off a shovelware CD. It's pretty fun though. You can kill all the monsters, or just run to the exit.
A small techbase reminiscent of Doom2 MAP01 at first. You go round the first half then teleport outside which lets in more monsters.
This is a small cramped techbase... until you pass through a portal and enter a distorted copy, which is all backwards and upside down and hellishly themed.Nice idea, reminded me of an Icarus map, was it map20?
A long trek through many disjoint areas, totalling over 600 monsters. It's not incredibly difficult but some fights can go wrong easily. Quite detailed. One of the monster teleporters is broken on lower skill levels.
This is a very nice "natural environment" style map. Grass, rock, caves, rivers, arguably another Mucus Flow descendent but at least wouldn't look out of place in Sunder or Speed Of Doom. In fact I think it's by the guy who made Combat Shock. So you can imagine how high its monster population is...
Another semi-"natural" map, brick structures surrounded by caves and such. Much is optional, including the three keys, but you'll need them to get the BFG which you'll probably want for the end of the map. Unfortunately is unbeatable on -nomonsters because you need that baron at the start to trigger a linedef to let you out of the first room...
The map is an abandoned and partially demolished city map, it does the job. There is a maze at one point that is very annoying.
Someone else had exactly the same idea as I did! A circular arena with walls of blood and blood falls used as a sky texture transfer. Well it is kind of an obvious idea. This map just has a bunch of cyberdemons and others in it though, no crazy monster spawner shenanigans.
This map defies description. Architecturally, it's just like a base and some caves, but it seems to be trying to use every texture in Doom2 in combinations one would never thing possible. It was probably my favourite just because of how crazy the texturing is; I actually couldn't stop laughing while playing it. Somehow it manages to avoid looking terrible and plays rather well!
A small village or something by a lake. Massive crowds of monsters. You get two invulnerabilities, several hundred medikits, and several thousand rockets. It's a bit mad. Fortunately the ring of cyberdemons at the end tends to be weakened by infighting with the revenant horde so cleaning up with the rocket launcher isn't too tedious, but still. I couldn't do this one without hoover mode.
A good blood and red bricks map, this would fit quite nicely into an episode 3 style wad, although not the original as it's too obviously made with modern editing techniques. It's probably a little bit too easy, although watch your ammunition at first (or make more use of the chainsaw than I did).
This watery factory map is quite broken in Boom it would seem. It uses lots of conveyor scripts and teleporters and well you know what those are like. I remember one voodoo doll script, having to wait for hours for it. I thought it wasn't moving at all. It was, just very, very slowly...
Brown halls and corridors, cramped, some filigree detail.
Pick up the keys and watch the map transform itself before your very eyes! It's hard enough to find the keys in this very weird structure made up of thousands of tiny sectors, but when you do the whole thing sinks into lava. If you want 100% kills you have to be quick and know what you're doing.
I think was the first submission, apparently thrown together in 5 minutes, just a diamond-shaped box with a lowering wall round the edge and lots of monsters. It's tough.
A staple of the dark ages - "My House In Doom!" - gets a modern update. I liked this one a lot, it has a number of interesting quirks and manages to be harder than it first looks. You might find it hard to find your way around though. I won't spoil any of the surprises.
Bejiitas_Wrath makes another giant sparse techbase with hundreds of trees copypasted everywhere and no ammunition anywhere near where you want it.
Pcorf makes another small fortress map in the style of much of his previous work, Selfish, 2002ado, Death Tormention etc. One interesting thing to note is the horde of cacodemons which teleport into the start of the map have had their health reduced severely by close proximity to barrel explosions. I assume this is deliberate, but it is a little mystifying.
A deliberately nonsensical map containing both a futuristic techbase and a Wolfenstein castle area. Uses conveyor teleporters without proper safeguarding, somewhat fragile.
Mainly a long giant hallway in grey and silver. It gives you plenty of room to move, some side passages to use for crowd control, tons of ammo, and throws monsters at you in great quantity. It's like if you tried to make a vertically scrolling shoot-em-up in Doom, I guess. Anyway it's pretty fun until it inevitably overwhelms you (I made it all the way to the far end!)
A small and rather symmetrical map with a kind of abandoned/hell-subverted base theme and a high level of detail. Reminds me of Chris Hansen's work somehow. It's rather cramped and can kill you quickly.
This has a mixed theme, hellish mansion or something. The main part is a library. There's a lot of rather uneven disordered filigree linedefs especially in the area at the start, it's quite recognisable as the style of Walter "Daimon" C. (I won't even try to spell his last name).
the first ZDoom map only requires ZDoom because it mixes flats and wall textures. It's otherwise fine. Other than that it's a fairly generic monster slaughter arena that pits you against successive waves of monsters. It wouldn't be out of place in Slaughterfest 2011, say.
Not sure why this needs ZDoom. It's quite a nice little techbase. I never managed to finish it because of a severe shortage of ammunition.
Hexen format. I didn't look at it.
Hexen format again.
The only reason I can figure this one needs ZDoom is because of "linedef 975 (type 63) missing tag" and many others. Otherwise it's in the style of an old school Doom2 map of miscellaneous theme (you start in what looks like a base but it opens out onto a hot lava world, then you teleport off to some kind of old town of brick streets, then...)
Again I found this one to be a playable map in rboom, there were a lot of immediately visible visual glitches of the type I most associate with mappers used to hardware rendered Doom engines who don't know the quirks of software mode. The map itself starts you off exploring a cramped and oddly-shaped base which eventually leads into a hellish environment. Things like to pop up from out of the floor; makes the map kind of haunted.
Hexen format yet again.
Hexen format. However I knew this one was by TimeOfDeath which makes it worth looking at. It turned out to be one of his giant slaughter maps but with additional exposition, cutscenes and so forth, that portrays you as being in some kind of dream. I didn't play to the end to find out if there was a punchline because spending too long in ZDoom gets on my nerves.
Edit: 2013-10-02 This map is in TEXTMAP format (aka UDMF). It confused the heck out of Yadex, which told me MAP40 was MAP39 and MAP39 didn't exist.
In summary this is one of the most mixed-quality megawad releases since the original Hellcore. Some of the maps are very good and worth the download, and most are worth at least a look.