21/11/2005 @20:23:06 ^21:46:51

apparently this is the only bit some people read

"I read your site but I skip the reviews" "But the reviews are all I post" "Well I read those little bits you put at the start!"

(Hello to everyone I saw a couple of weekends ago)

Blofeld X

Blofeldx.wad is a six-map wad for Doom 2. As you might guess from the name, it's supposed to be Bond-themed, at least vaguely. Indeed there's some cute plot that goes on about how Blofeld has mutated himself into an imp and is going to build an army of such creatures to take over the world blah blah blah.

What you actually get are a load of tan brick / dark metal maps with not inconsiderable amounts of detail in them. There's a particular emphasis on machinery (with lots of noisy moving parts) and partial constructed Doomsday devices. It all works very well if you use your imagination. True to form there is indeed a level inside a volcano where the final objective is contained within a room that has steel blast doors on the windows, and right at the end of the wad, "Blofeld" tries to get away from you with a jetpack.

Gameplay suffers a little from Elixir syndrome of having too many zombies with hitscan weapons and possibly suffers more from the author not realising that not all ports have mouselook and proper thing height clipping. That is to say there's quite a few places where he hides monsters in invisible holes in the floor, only to have them pop up later; if you have proper clipping you'd just walk over them, but PrBoom doesn't so you get invisible obstacles. Indeed map 5, which is probably the best-looking one, has a trooper in an air duct that blocks your way and as far as I can see makes the map impossible to complete unless you have brought a rocket launcher along from a previous map so you can use the splash damage to clear out the way.

Also quite often the illusion of there being only one Blofeld imp is shattered, as you kill it before it teleports away (or you don't, and you end up not being able to get 100% kills on the map) But all my little niggles aside, this is a decent set of maps and you should look at them (especially, if I may drop a very large hint, if you're doing your own vaguely Bond-themed map)

Scientist 2

Scientist 2 is the recently released sequel to a 2002 release, Scientist. I remember the original coming out, but somehow never got round to playing it, so, bugger doing a comparison. All I'll say is that the new version has 20 maps, 10 deathmatch maps, and a load of new graphics and sounds - in particular weapon replacements - as opposed to the simple 12 maps of the original.

This one has a cutesy plot as well. The titular scientist is a man hellbent on discovering the secret of immortality, but God doesn't want this to happen as it would make man his equal or some goofy shit like that. So what does he do, well, he does what any bipolar psychotic maniac would do, he sends down a plague of monsters to destroy the world before the secret can be uncovered. Coming soon to a cinema near you!

Your job is to stop the scientist before God destroys the world, by the way. That's a twist, I would have expected you to be the scientist, especially since the author's nickname is "Scientist"... but never mind. The scientist appears at several points during the WAD but when you shoot at him he always teleports away before you can take him out, until the final climatic confrontation somewhere in the deep jungle.

I can't say I like the new weapons very much. First of all, they're off centre, which screws my aim to all hell. As was mentioned in the /newstuff review it's odd that in a wad made to work in vanilla doom 2 you'd have weapons that really require a source port that gives you a crosshair. Still there's plenty of ammo once you get going. Having said all that though I find it quite hard to believe that a crossbow that fires flaming arrows replaced the rocket launcher.

There are some really good graphics added though. The one that caught my attention the most was an incredibly clever use of animated wall textures to simulate a row of boxes moving along a conveyor. This isn't some crappy scrolling wall thing, the crates are in 3d. There's also somewhere along the line a huge picture of a red soulsphere on a wall that looks really creepy.

The levels progress through some tech labs through to more tech labs but surrounded in icy wastelands (I guess you're meant to be in Russia, from the wall textures) eventually ending up, as I said, in the jungle. They're pretty good, necessarily simple due to the limits of vanilla doom 2, but... I don't know, they're sort of dirty, I don't know how to explain this but there is a roughness that's not present on more polished wads. There's crampedness and weird secrets and dark bits, it can be a bit annoying. I guess basically it's good but it lacks replay value, I don't know.

Addendum Just to close this off I'd like to highlight a similarity between the two wads: both Blofeld X and Scientist 2 have a boss who appears at various points throughout the game until finally taken out at the end. Scientist 2 however implements this excellently; there are in fact two scientist monsters that use the same graphics, and the "teleporting away" effect is just the death frame of the first one. So you can always get 100% kills. Care is taken so that you never see more than one of them at once.