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Level Review: ICARUS.WAD
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Overview

After Evilution was scheduled for a commercial release, TeamTNT created Icarus, a similar MegaWAD, but meant to be freely available as Evilution was originally intended. Like its predescessor, Icarus is a tightly themed set of levels, this time taking place aboard the starship of the title. There's no story in between levels, but most progress well among themselves. They end with one of three exits indicating the type of level you'll be facing next: planet, ship, simulation. Quality various from level to level, but remains above normal throughout most of them. All are relatively short and not very difficult. While Evilution is considerably better, this certainly isn't disappointing...


Shuttlecraft
Christopher Buteau
3:04
Easy
Excellent theme level has you entering a shuttle and clearing out the demons in preparation for your flight to the ship. Longer than the usual first level and more violent, too. The best section is the mutating chapel, but others, like the bridge, aren't bad either. Great introduction to the story... images/ic_01.jpg

Shuttle Bay
John Minadeo
3:12
Easy
You arrive on the ship, prepared for the long battle inward. This is when the repeatative Silver texture begins to appear in abundance. Gameplay isn't all that different from the last level. Lots of Former Humans taking shots at you. The layout can be rather disorienting... images/ic_02.jpg

Quarry
Ty Halderman
1:47
Easy
Short, dull level has you clearing out a small valley-based installation. Design is pretty basic. Not much skill required to beat it, either... images/ic_03.jpg

Engineering
Jim Lowell
1:51
Easy
Another insanely quick one. The design offers enough variety to keep it from looking plain. Gameplay is very easy. The demons seem to be more interested in the ship's upper decks... images/ic_04.jpg

Flipside
Kram Llens
3:14
Easy
Weird simulation has one of its missions in an upside-down world. Lots of Imps occupying an unusual array of Brick/Wood/Silver/Wolfenstein theming. It's different, but not something I'd care to run into all that often... images/ic_05.jpg

P.E.T. Rescue
Gary Gosson
1:28
Easy
Short Wood level with a mild ammo shortage at the beginning. The fact that it's so short keeps it from being difficult. Good layout with the exit and entrance being in view of each other... images/ic_06.jpg

Sickbay
Tom Grieve
2:44
Easy
When blood coats the floor of a ship's sickbay you know something's wrong. Aside from that area, there's nothing much inside this level. The whole thing uses Silver textures and there's almost no decoration... images/ic_07.jpg

Donnybrook
David Hill
2:59
Easy
One of my favorite Icarus levels. Enough monsters in a tight environment provide intense(if easy) gameplay. Beautiful, complex indoor/outdoor design and a really clever Yellow Key puzzle set this one high in the Icarus top ten... images/ic_08.jpg

The Moat
David Hill
2:56
Easy
Violent start is tough to survive, but after that it's back to normal. Design successfully creates a small Cityscape. The black interior of one of the two buildings isn't my favorite, but I've got no objections to the rest of the level. Good effort... images/ic_09.jpg

Bridge
Ty Halderman
1:59
Easy
Silver is used better here than in some other levels, but it still looks a little bland. The pool and ping-pong tables are a nice touch, but what would such items be doing so close to the bridge? It'd make more sense to locate the rec area closer to crew quarters. Anyway, this one's easy and makes for great speedrunning... images/ic_10.jpg

Feeding Frenzy
Gregg Anderson
7:46
Medium
You teleport to the surface for a quick bite to eat only to discover that your favorite restauraunt has been overrun by demons! Ah, but who among us does not have a similar story to tell? This large, complex, detailed level has just about everything. The dining area, complete with booths, each with a candle and glass of water, and bathrooms with flushable toilets(I didn't know Imps were female), is very good. The only thing that beats it is the kitchen. Barbecue pits, stoves, storage rooms, sinks, a dishwasher, and even a walk-in refridgerator. Ten secrets and over two hundred monsters promise lots of exploration and slaughter. This is, by far, the best level in the set. Dessert, anyone??? images/ic_11.jpg

Hydroponics
Gary Gosson
4:26
Easy
While it's primarily the same old Silver design, a few strokes of ingenuity liven it up. To start with, having the gardens brighten after you activate them is nice. Both my favorite, and least favorite, part of the level is the Red Key room. Placing an Arachnotron behind the star fields gives one the feeling that they're being shot at from outside the ship. Excellent idea! Unfortunately, Gary used the thirty second door(which can be disabled, thankfully) to trap you in there... images/ic_12.jpg

Asylum
Robert Taylor
4:18
Easy
Ugly, gray maze provides the atmosphere appropriate to an asylum. However, it does this so well that it's an absolute trial to play through. If you weren't already crazy when you were placed in here you certainly would be if you ever escaped... images/ic_13.jpg

Fortress Of Evil
Robin Patenall
6:06
Medium
Realistic Castle level, complete with a moat, dungeon, watch towers, and various booby traps. One such trap has you pinned in the castle's entryway for thirty seconds while four Arachnotrons blast away at you. Too bad it only takes fifteen seconds to kill them. The beginning of the level has a bit of an ammo problem so use that Chainsaw while you can. The rest of it isn't too tough, but you may have some trouble speeding through it... images/ic_14.jpg

Waste Disposal
Ken Simpson/Jim Kennedy
2:37
Easy
What could've been a good Metal level is marred by poor texture alignment and sparse population. The Silver section doesn't help much, either. The secret exit can be found by trial and error, but you'll most likely just stumble upon it... images/ic_15.jpg

Bootcamp
Mike Marcotte
4:58
Medium
Much better Metal design. Good layout, lighting, and texture alignment. The gameplay is fantastic with constant action throughout and a semi-tough Cyberdemon battle close to the end. A well placed Arch-Vile can cause problems if you don't kill him quickly... images/ic_16.jpg

Bloodbath
Mike Marcotte
4:23
Medium
Some cool features keep this Marble level from being mediocre. Great texture alignment and a successful blending of styles make it look good, while a few tough secrets and minor ammo problems keep the gameplay interesting. Not the best level, but worth a try... images/ic_17.jpg

Cargo Bay
Andrew Dowswell
4:12
Medium
Loads of fun in this simple, but great Silver level. Design offers nothing new or special, but provides a great environment for one awesome shootout. You have two routes to choose from: get the Blue Key, throw all the switches, then clean out the monsters(my personal favorite), or kill the initial crew and take them out one wave at a time. The first method is generally faster. With two Invulnerabilities the Cyberdemon in the last half of the level isn't a problem... images/ic_18.jpg

Blessed Are The Quick
Rand Phares
3:41
Easy
Somewhat repeatative, but no less attractive, mansion. The central room, containing two keys and their respective doors, is an interesting idea. It doesn't have great gameplay, but there are barely enough monsters to keep you occupied... images/ic_19.jpg

WarTemple
Rand Phares
6:14
Medium
Interesting design has two versions of the same structure, one of which is inverted. It sounds bizarre, but it actually works. I really hate that door/lift trick, though. There's also the excellent opening area and the ending isn't bad, either. Acceptable gameplay... images/ic_20.jpg

Engine Core
Dean Johnson
2:24
Easy
Quick, easy level with lots of lead flying around. A very helpful Megasphere near the beginning makes this a breeze. There's an incredibly annoying Pain Elemental towards the end. Design is Silver with touches of Metal... images/ic_21.jpg

Nightfall
Gary Gosson
3:33
Easy
This graveyard holds the bodies of every author involved in the development of Icarus. The start looks similar to Unholy Cathedral. Good lighting and a cohesive overall design make this a great tribute to the crew. Could've held a few more monsters, though. Maybe a few ghosts haunting that graveyard... images/ic_22.jpg

Painful Discharge
Brian Kidby
4:29
Medium
Beautiful outdoor design, easily matching those found in the original levels. Kidby did a wonderful job connecting the areas, using numerous passages and teleporters. Very realistic, as well. Monsters will keep you on your toes most of the time and a few well placed surprises(the Pain Elementals) should keep you from getting bored. Great combination of design and gameplay... images/ic_23.jpg

The Haunting
Gary Gosson
4:53
Medium
From the look of things this takes place in the crew quarters section of the ship. You see the nice, comfortable beds and decide to take a well deserved break. Unfortunately, the dream your mind conjures up involves this deck being haunted. Realistic design and layout in this level. The appearance of a shooting range, theater, and mess hall serves to create a deffinate sense of place. Then, of course, we have the use of ghost monsters. If there were more of them and they were strategically placed this could become a very intense level. As it is, they only make brief appearances in small numbers. Once again Gary uses the Arachnotron to simulate incoming fire from an outboard source(it works even better here than in Hydroponics). Comes in right below Feeding Frenzy... images/ic_24.jpg

Another Fine Mess
Mike Bristol
7:43
Hard
Although I never cared much for dark outdoor levels, this one does alright. Made in the Rock/Wood styles it has a very odd feeling. The start, placing the Red Key right below the exit teleporter, is an interesting teaser. You can get the key and the teleporter seems accessible, but it's not. This leads us to the level's largest asset: progression. Significantly altering an area to allow access to the next has always been a favorite of mine and Mike does this with absolute perfection. As for the gameplay, this one has some ammo problems. A Chainsaw and Berserk are provided to speed things along, but you still have to ration your ammo, otherwise you'll find yourself trying to shake hands with a Cyberdemon... images/ic_25.jpg

Weapons Bay
Jim Dethlefsen
2:25
Easy
Short, simple level with tons of ammo and only 48 monsters. Common Silver theming seen throughout the set, but it's a bit more detailed this time. Nice battle at the end... images/ic_26.jpg

Starhenge
Ty Halderman
3:23
Easy
For the most part, this one takes place in a cave. Design in that area is acceptable, but above ground looks good. Gameplay stays on the easy side. The start can get annoying if you don't kill the flying monsters quickly... images/ic_27.jpg

Excavations
Steven Phares
6:28
Hard
Dark, claustrophobic mining level will have you wishing you'd stayed on the ship. However, the good design isn't what makes this such a memorable level. It's the most difficult level in Icarus, notorious for its ammo shortage. The ammo ratio is 2.1:1 from the start. To make things worse, there are a good number of Pain Elementals and no Berserk or Chainsaw. That doesn't mean it's impossible, though. In fact, it's quite fun. That is, until you reach thirty or fourty recording attempts, then it begins to get old... images/ic_28.jpg

Brutality
Mike Ruete
6:25
Medium
Great design, awesome gameplay. How much more could a marine ask for? Blends the Gray/Metal/Marble/Stone styles successfully. The best area would be the Blue Key arena. I don't know if Mike did it on purpose, but the color scheme is really incredible here. All those blue Potions and the green/brown Armors set against the Metal/Marble background with a blue Torch here and there. Add the flickering lights and you've got one unforgettable area. Lots of violence with strategic monster placement(good job with the Chaingunners in the final segment). Highly recommended... images/ic_29.jpg

Nucleus
Halderman/Kidby/Lowell
:31
Easy
Has no one an original idea for MAP30? Why not just make a normal level and put Romero's head at the end of it, ala Excalibur. It took three people to create this level??? images/ic_30.jpg

Great Balls Of Fire
Jim Lowell
2:22
Easy
Unusual combination of styles, none of which blend well, in this short level. It can be fun for speedrunning, but it's no challenge. Most will find it less than appealing... images/ic_31.jpg

Prestidigitation
Ty Halderman
1:47
Easy
Teleporting monsters provide most of the action in this excellently designed level. It contains a courtyard that transforms, not once, but twice. Not very difficult, but quite entertaining... images/ic_32.jpg