- Title: Damnation
- Author: Dzyan “Arclite” Kelsick
- Game: Doom2
- Engine: Zandronum
- Game Type: Singleplayer/Cooperative
- Total Maps: 32
- Release Date: 2013
Damnation is a full-fledged 32-level Zandronum megawad for Doom 2 (that also uses Skulltag resources). This version uses MP3 tracks, but a midi-only version of the megawad was released as well. I don’t usually play maps with Brutal Doom (in fact this was my first experience with it), but since Arclite designed and playtested the maps with the mod in mind, I decided to play it the way he intended. This means there are six wads and PK3s that need to be loaded together for Damnation to run correctly. It took some tinkering to figure out which order the resources needed to be loaded in, but the order that worked for me was: Damnation.wad, q2tex.wad, cc4-tex.wad, skulltag_actors.pk3, skulltag_data.pk3, and finally brutal19.pk3.
This time around our hero finds himself in trouble on the planet Kronos, where the UAC managed to let hell loose again (you can’t take those scientists anywhere), and he’s gotta close the gates back up. Though that essentially summarizes the situation, you can see the blood and sweat the author put into the mod just by reading the RTF document he packaged with it. It contains some commentary on the maps, a more detailed storyline, and a description for each individual level.
The long journey takes the player through a variety of familiar themes: overrun techbases, silver space stations, the planet’s canyons, and hell to seal the deal. These themes are accomplished using a combination of Quake 2 and Community Chest 4 textures. The visuals are decent and convey whichever location the map takes place in well enough. The looks probably won’t blow you away, but they are pleasing enough, and sometimes provide vista-like moments due to their sense of space. Ambient sounds are used in abundance throughout the megawad, and you will rarely find yourself in a spot where everything is completely silent. Personally, I think the ambient sounds were used well and gave the levels some more atmosphere. However, the sounds tend to drown out the music in maps that use quieter tracks. The levels occasionally go for a sense of realism (complete with uncomfortable desk chairs and such), but these aspects don’t get in the way of the gameplay, and the layouts lend well to monster-slaughtering. Speaking of which, I believe the megawad shines most in its spacier almost slaughter-like levels (the first example I can think of being map 6). I also appreciated the occasional inter-connectedness, which provided multiple ways to accomplish a task.
As for the meat and potatoes of the wad, I think the maps are well balanced to the Brutal Doom mod’s style of gameplay. This mod alters the original monsters’ behavior in ways that usually makes them more threatening, something the author seemed to take note of in their placement. When I blasted monsters without thinking too much of it (as I tend to in most wads), I ran short on ammo, so I found it useful to take advantage of head shots and the new melee attacks to conserve firepower. The placement of captured marines was a nice touch. They are very useful if released, but usually are in a spot where you need to rush to defend them before they are killed. Skulltag monsters and items are thrown into the mix, which adds a strange element to the wad. The new powerups are pretty useful, particularly the Skulltag runes which carry on with you even after you beat a map. Skulltag monsters are usually just harder recolored variants of the original monsters you face (except for the Belphegor, which now looks like a centaur-like monster with a faulty death animation). The catch is these monsters are immune to most of Brutal Doom’s effects, such as head-shots or take-downs. (I’m aware that there are extensions to the Brutal Doom mod that give effects to Skulltag monsters, but the author makes no mention of the Brutal Doom mutators, so I assumed he did not playtest the megawad with them in mind.) In any case, I am okay with this immunity since it provides an interesting dynamic of occasionally needing to return to Doom’s original style of gameplay to take the Skulltag monsters out. Difficulty ramps up violently in the hell maps, but once I got the Skulltag drain rune, I essentially was able to cheat through the rest of the episode by returning my health to max for each super shotgun blast.
My only remaining gripes are that it is possible to get stuck in small pits without dying in a few maps. This usually happens if you muck about in details in the corner of a room (getting stuck behind crates in map 16) or if you search in nooks and crannies of sloped rocky architecture (map 29), but there is one spot where its pretty obvious you can get stuck, and the author even makes mention of it in the RTF document, so I am not sure why he didn’t fix it (map 6). Other than this, I had fun playing through the megawad. How much of this is due to the mod and how much is due to the levels is hard to say, but I don’t think it really matters since they are meant to be played together. If you’re looking for a good megawad to play with Brutal Doom, try giving this one a shot.