Fact Sheet

Authors Richard Wiles
IWAD Ultimate Doom
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 1999/3
Levels 1

Review by DrCrypt

screenshot Whew. That was one intense level. I would never claim to be a DOOM god, since I still fumble my fingers across the keyboard, sort of like an awkward teenager who's afraid of graduating from the breast to the more sacred, honeyed regions (for those who don't understand this analogy: keyboard = "breast", mouse = "sacred, honeyed regions"). Still, I was rather surprised I was able to beat this level without starting the entire thing again from scratch. This may be too hard of a level for some, but to those who can finish it, they are in for a frantic, scurrying ride through hell, where your shotgun is always hot and you're reduced to your fists in more than one situation.

I really like the Episode 4 style of levels and this really seems to fit in well with the organic wood style of that episode. The map is small, but "plays bigger" because the map loops and feeds in on itself, requiring lots of backtracking and jumping over catwalks. It is also jam-packed with monsters. I don't really thing that there are too many monsters, or too little ammunition and health: rather, there's just enough, if you aim carefully and play it smart. I didn't play it smart, and many times, would accept a 30 or 40 percent health loss, under the idea that some health caches would be right around the corner. Nope, nothing there, and I'd get my ass reamed by a room full of cacodemons and lost souls for my troubles. Ammunition is another thing I'm usually very frivolous with. Spooky03 gives you just enough ammunition to feel nervous about: there was rarely a point in the game were my BOOM HUD wasn't blinking red for ammo. Trust me, you start getting nervous when you find yourself enclosed in a small room, with bars dropping behind you, and 5 or 6 imps and a Baron of Hell are let loose, and you are limited to 5 shotgun shells and about 30 bullets. There's always a way to escape from death, but this is a level I highly suggest the "let the enemies take each other out" mantra when playing.

Everything in this level is placed for a reason. Richard Wiles has spent a lot of time concentrating on where items are placed and when you'll need them. Sit down and think before you grab that berzerker kit... that's a 100 percent health boost, which you don't want to use when health is so scarce. Monster placement is excellent, as well. I was particularly impressed with the placement of the lost souls in this level. I hate the lost soul, but it can be used well, generally as back up for a legion of imps or cacos. Wiles uses them so they simply distract you from the main enemy laying down a can of whup ass on you. Texturing in spooky03 is uniformly excellent, all sticking well to that Episode 4 "organic" feel. I didn't notice any glitches or texture misalignments. The only real complaint I had with the level, and it isn't even very annoying, were the new pistol and shotgun sounds. I understand some people like this, but I really wish that when people include replacement sounds, they put them in aseperate wad. I don't like any sounds (well, except for the new teleporter sound) as much as the originals and would rather like the option of not loading them, if I don't have to. But these new sounds aren't imposing or really annoying, just not my bag, baby.

A word on strategy: ricrob claims in his review of the level that you really need to clear out one area before you move on. To an extent, this is true, but I, many times, found myself without the gunpower or the health to take down, for example, 3 cacos, a half dozen imps, and two barons of hell. Let monsters take each other out as much as possible. Don't be afraid to run: yes, you do need to go back to all the areas at least twice, but if you find yourself in an impossible battle, run through the teleporter and go back to the area later, when hopefully you'll have more ammo and the monsters will have thinned each other out a bit. Take advantage of architecture and use it strategically... when you are up against a bunch of lost souls and demons, corner yourself and whip out your fists. Whatever you do, watch the ammo! In the end, I finished the level having left alive about 20 enemies, having had to dash through the exit with a baron of hell trying to fry my ass from behind, while chaingunning my way through the hordes of lost souls between me and the exit. I finished the level with 9 percent health, 5 shells, and 35 bullets. Don't be afraid to be a pussy when odds are against you. :)

This level is great and challenging. It really evokes that old-time DOOM heart-pounding in the throat, jumping near out of your chair at 3 am when that demons teleports in behind you with a blood-curdling roar. Go get it.

Download spooky03.zip

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