Description of Reviews & Ratings

Each review in Doom Underground contains the following 4 sections:

Fact Sheet

This includes:


I judge the WAD by a series of categories, and give a rating out of 5 for each. The categories are:

Game-play (GP)
This is a measure of how interesting the level was to play; it includes the quality of the fights and traps, the level progression, and secrets. If there is a good plot or story line, it may boost this rating too (but bad story lines don't get a penalty ;P).
Architecture/Aesthetic (AR)
This rating reflects how good the atmosphere and architecture of the level is. Also takes into account any new sounds, graphics, music, and generally how well the level keeps to a theme.
An overall rate for the WAD, out of 5.
Coop (CP)
I often play levels in two player co-operative mode. Some levels are good for this type of play; others are bad or impossible, or do not support this type of play. If the level supports coop play, and I have played it at coop, then I give it a coop rate out of 5. It is based on the same criteria as the Game-play rate above.

I also give some other information here:

Play Length (LN)
An indication of the time to play the level or episode.
Skill Level (usually HMP or UV)
The skill level I played at is indicated on the top row of the table, and the difficulty (again out of 5) is indicated underneath it (note - this is highly subjective).

So, for a (highly contrived) example:


This means that I played at UV, found it fairly easy, and the level(s) were (on average) of medium size. The rates I gave were 3/5 for architecture, 4/5 for game-play, 2/5 for difficulty, and 4/5 overall; I also played at coop and gave it 4/5.

Also, to the left of this table, it says who wrote the review and gave these ratings. Usually that's me, or sometimes it's DrCrypt.

There are also some things that, while I will often mention them in the review itself, do not affect the ratings for a level:

I don't allow for age or historical significance. Just because a map was the best thing since sliced bread in March 1994, doesn't mean I'll give it a good rate.
Maybe a particular map invented a new concept, like NEWTECHN did for invisible sectors, but I don't boost rates because of that. Firstly, because it's often not easy to know whether a level was the first to use a new technique. Secondly, because in terms of the player's enjoyment it doesn't matter who made it first. That doesn't mean maps that use cool tricks that improve the level don't get credited, it just means that "concept maps" like NEWTECHN don't get good rates simply on the basis of inventing a cool idea.
Using a new source port doesn't automatically boost a level's rating. OTOH, just because a level uses (say) Boom which makes it easier to do a good level with deep water, doesn't mean a level is rated any less.
There are two sorts of bugs that don't affect ratings. Levels that have technical bugs (e.g. unclosed sectors) that aren't noticed during play aren't penalised, for the simple reason that I haven't done error checks on levels I review for ages. Secondly, I play with a Boom based port, and I no longer check levels for errors with the old doom2.exe. If a level has the save-game bug, vis-planes problems or whatever with the original, I do not care. Go get a source port so you won't care either.

The principle is: the ratings are designed to help players locate good levels to play quickly. All of the above things are interesting to me, but probably not interesting to someone just looking for a fun game of Doom.


The review itself. That means me describing the WAD, and giving my opinion about it. For good levels there will often be a screen shot too.

For WADs with more than one level, I often give level-by-level comments, of this form:

  1. Hangar - This level was etc., etc...

The number is the level number, and I usually give the level name in italics.


This section starts by providing a place to download the level, so you can play it yourself (which is the general idea!). This could be a direct link to the download, and/or a link to the homepage for the WAD or project if it has one.

I also provide a complete list of all the files included in the download, with file details. This helps show what you get in your download, and helps distinguish between different levels with the same filename. Also, under each WAD file shown, there is a table of all the maps in that WAD. This table has the following columns:

The map it replaces
Number of co-operative starts
Number of deathmatch starts
Flags indicating other properties of the level
Skill levels are implemented
There are no monsters
The REJECT table is not built (makes large levels run slower)
If the level was based on an already existing level, rather than written from scratch, then I give the original level's name here