Written by  :  Gatekeeper (305)
Written on  :  Jun 21, 2014
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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"Come crawling faster, obey your master!"

The Good

Master Levels for DOOM II is a collection of 21 (20 regular + 1 secret) new custom levels, which serve as a sort of mission pack for DOOM II.

"There are tens of thousands of free custom levels out there, why would I want this?" some of you might be wondering. Well, the only thing that truly distinguishes these maps from the rest is their official status. They were made by six people (including Tim Willits) who were specifically chosen by id Software for this project.

The levels were tested and approved by id Software, and could thus be considered to be part of the DOOM canon. This is something that the hardcore fans of the series would surely appreciate.

Due to its nature, it is hard to evaluate the Master Levels as a complete product, therefore I will say a few words about each mapmaker's work.

Tim Willits, who later became a part of id Software as lead designer, made two maps - Attack and Canyon. Their style is fairly close to the look and feel of DOOM II - you could think they were "leftover" maps from the game's development. They are fairly good maps, equally well-suited for single and multiplay. "Attack," being the first wad file in the list (alphabetically) also plays perfectly as an introduction to the Master Levels, so I definitely recommend you play this level first.

Tom Mustaine made only one level (Paradox), yet it is a rock solid map. Again, it plays fairly well in single or multiplay.

John Anderson (a.k.a. Dr. Sleep) made five maps, drawing inspiration from Dante's Inferno. They are mostly non-linear, fairly challenging, and with a predominant Hellish theme.

Jim Flynn made two maps (Titan Manor and Escape from Titan), which seem to be part of one storyline. They focus on being challenging and having some more unusual architecture.

Christen Klie made six maps - they are close to DOOM II's original style, yet they also try to introduce some new and unusual architecture, perhaps even some eye candy.

Last but not least - Sverre Andre Kvernmo (Cranium). His five maps are my personal favorite. They are large, hard, and built with a lot of imagination. He really tried to use some of the DOOM engine's tricks and create some more unusual environments. The map "Mephisto" is the perfect conclusion to the Master Levels, and I recommend playing it last.

Overall, the Master Levels fit pretty well into the world and atmosphere of DOOM II and are thus an experience no hardcore Doomer should miss.

The Bad

The most annoying thing about the Master Levels is that they are so disjointed. The levels come in 20 separate files and there is no clear order or structure to the whole thing.

I really think the this would have been a more appealing product if the levels were combined into one whole custom episode - it could even have a storyline of some sort.

"Maximum Doom" is, basically, shovelware. The maps were just piled together, without even checking them for bugs or compatibility. It looks and feels sloppy.

The Bottom Line

With the overwhelming number of free high-quality levels online, the Master Levels are a territory reserved for the most dedicated DOOM fans - the people who don't want to miss even the slightest facet of the DOOM experience.

But even if you do not consider yourself a true DOOM maniac, the levels are still fun to play and offer a good opportunity to test and improve your combat skills - either in solo or multiplay.