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The /newstuff Chronicles #358

  • Alando Deathmatch arena - Alando1 (Alan)
    Skulltag - Deathmatch - 20523651 bytes
    Reviewed by: Eligitine
    I am not posting screenshots because these failures of maps don't deserve any.

    After Alando1's previous wad I felt that the guy had made a turn for the better. I honestly believed that he had shaped up and was genuinely making semi-quality wads. When I first tried to review this wad two months ago, I wanted to puke. How does one person go from from a wad that helps you when you're lonely to this hulking monstrosity?

    First off, the one excellent point of the wad: the title screen. It has probably the single most awesome title screen ever in the history of existence. It features four Doomguys. Four Doomguys that have been beautifully crafted out of the best 3d on this side of the solar system. The title screen was so awesome, I feel ashamed at not being able to take a screen shot.

    This wad is the host of 42 maps. "Wow," I thought to myself, "This must be the culmination of all of Alando1's work! I can't believe it!" I bet you're guessing what comes next, a badmouth of all of Alando1's work. This is where you're right. But where you're wrong is where I will be going over the good maps in detail.

    Map01: Generic outside techbase with a few hitches. First, Alando has added a few Skulltag-only things, like bouncepads and runes. Second, he added a replacement of the rocket laucher. It's this kickass rapid-fire rocket with a triple launch altfire. The map is mainly square and has no real flaws besides the BFG9000-rage rune combo.

    Map04: This is easily the largest, most multi-themed deathmatch map I have ever seen. There is an ice area, a water area, an island area with a hilariously crappy skybox. There is an Egyptian area and a grassland area. Now this is the funny part: all of these maps are connected by corridors that will cramp even the least claustrophobic person. Overall 1.27/16.64.

    Map05: I have to give Alando credit on this one. I really don't believe that this type of level has ever been done before. The map is a giant whirlpool. Items come out of a chute and projectiles are hard to aim.

    Map06: Poor small cramped indoor map. The spawns suck.

    Map07: I couldn't think that the maps could get worse...yet they just did. This map is the smallest DM map I have ever seen. It is a box...that is it, it's just a box. Rating: I would have one, but black hole stole my waffles.

    Map08: Imagine a battle in a parking structure. Now imagine a battle in a parking structure that can hold 32 cars and is one story.

    Map12: Tiny but impressive (for Alando) map. Has a nicely put together blown-up computer.

    Map14: Small boat map. Water is poisonous. Typical Alando stuff.

    Map15: I found myself wondering how could Alando prove that he is OK at mapping. Well here you go, based on an impossibly high skyscraper above the earth. Custom weapons, low gravity, what couldn't you ask for. By far this is one of the best maps in this wad.

    Map16: A small starship with a warp speed skybox. Worth a look. Gives motion sickness.

    Map19: Remix of map 16. Noticeably better.

    Map35: A large suburb for you to frag each other. This is the first "open" map of the wad. "Impressive".

    Map36: Scratch Map04, THIS is the biggest deathmatch I have ever seen. This map is about the size of several football fields combined. This map is just MASSIVE.

    Map40: Another HUGE map. The lighting is decent. Check it out.

    That's all of the good maps folks. The rest are a piece of crap!

    All in all, this wad has potential, it just fails epically at performance. That's it, I'm going to bed, this wad took me all day to review.

  • Blindside2! (BLSIDE2.WAD from DM2BS2.ZIP) - Scott Harper (aka. MadMax)
    doom2.exe - Solo Play - 228455 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    Ah! /newstuff reviewing! It's been a while since I've done this, but when there are urgent tasks facing me in the real world, how can I resist escaping into a wad or two?

    This is another one of those wads from 1995 that only now is making its way onto the archives. It's an artifact of its era in every way - even the text file is brimming over with the restless excitement of those days. I don't mean that to sound at all negative; I only wish to communicate that this wad is, shall we say, classical. Now, the usual rundown:

    Architecture: Abstract, varied, and mostly interesting to look at.

    Detail: Minimal. This was made in 1995, so the mapper was pushing the envelope as it is. The architecture is more or less left to fend for itself.

    Gameplay: A decent challenge, actually. You're probably going to die at the start of the level a couple of times. You'll fall into traps that would make you think "cheap!" if this level was linear - but, the layout is extremely non-linear, so the real challenge is to find, by trial and error, the route by which you can actually survive. It gets easier once you get your bearings.

    Traps: There are a lot of traps. The text even warns you that there are a lot of traps, but when I read that, I was like, "Ha, I'm from the year two-thousand and nine! I've SEEN traps," and then this level is like, "Noooo, you haven't." Pretty soon you'll be more surprised when the floor doesn't drop you into a death pit than when it does.

    Download it and play it if any of that sounds good to you.

  • Time Of Maps - Part 1 - TimeOfDeath (Chris Balch)
    ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 5901009 bytes -
    Reviewed by: orbot
    This wad has 20 maps, but they're all exactly the same and completely pointless. Each map is a very long and tall hallway with red walls, a blood floor and three platforms coming out of the blood. You start at one end of the hallway atop one of the platforms with a rocket launcher, but there are no monsters. If you run off the platform, you can fall down onto a lower platform surrounded by blood. You can see the third platform way out in the distance at the end of the hallway (where the exit is), but it's really tall and there's no way to get there. If you fall into the blood, you get teleported back to the starting platform. This jokewad isn't funny at all.

  • Clavicula Nox (Revised Version) - Aluqah
    Vavoom - Solo Play - 6597465 bytes -
    Reviewed by: ArmouredBlood
    Take an old-style western RPG, mix it with Heretic, add an ounce of modern port features, and you just about end up with Clavicus Nox. Apparently this is a revised version, so some guy has probably written a better review of it and I should only focus on the changes made, but from the changelog it sounds like it was pretty F-ing hard, especially considering I had trouble getting used to the gameplay on MAP01 on UV. So I'll review it in a fresh light, completely ignorant of the majesty of the previous reviewer, if applicable. So let's begin.

    Port: Vavoom 1.29 or higher. Jumping IS required. I think it COULD run in ZDoom, but since the author listed Vavoom I'll use Vavoom.

    Story: Evil wizards have used a mystical power to do evil and your goal is to seal them off from it. The maps are the journey and the player the bard who spins the tale. Go kick some butt!

    Weapon Set: very important to know these, as they're quite a departure from Doom weapons and share some similarity to Heretic/Hexen; in fact this might've been better as a Hexen mod. Anyway, you get:

    1. Sword: basic (and only) melee weapon, rather slow so you have to get into a pattern to kill things with it, and it's pretty useless on anything except the zombie knights, for which it's about the only safe weapon to use.

    2A. Throwing knives: you can carry a max of 5, and they're retrievable, making a great early game weapon when you don't have access to the mana weapons. Pretty damaging if you're lucky; they can take out disciples in one hit.

    2B. Summon: CHICKEN; not kidding. You pick up a chicken, you can fling it at something and it'll temporarily distract it. Temporary, as chickens are not very hardy beasts.

    3A. Crossbow (regular): high damage, single shot. You go through them pretty quickly, so relying on knives in the early game is best. Then they become basically sniper shots, taking down most enemies in 2-3 hits.

    3B. Crossbow (ethereal): basically the Heretic crossbow and analogous to the SSG. Good for taking out the dark priests and the versions that spawn the flying enemies.

    4. Blue mana staff: first of the mana weapons. Behaves similar to the chaingun, and because it uses mana it's much better to use it over the crossbow. Throwing knives are pretty much obsolete after you get this, but they can still be useful in reducing ammo consumption, as the mana pillars do run out.

    5. Hellstaff thing: the rocket launcher of the mana weapons. A little weak, and the blast area is pretty small, but it only takes 10 mana per shot, so you can let off a few more than needed and not be hurt too much.

    6. Rosary: shoots blue magical ninja spikes and the most powerful mana weapon, useful in clearing rooms. Takes 3 mana a shot though, so try to make each stream count.

    7. Healing ring: heal using mana. Extremely useful and your main source of health regen after finding it in MAP02.

    General architecture: Quite good, nothing overly detailed but uses textures very well. Really sets a good atmosphere and the theme of each map matches the name well, which it should as it's styled after an RPG.

    Music: fitting in most maps, doesn't really detract from the others. A good mix of Heretic, Doom, and a few other pieces.

    Enemies: Most are at least equal to the player in power on UV and will kill you in 4-5 hits, but after the earlier maps' rather harsh usage you get a little leeway. Favorite would be the Manc replacement, which looks like a double-headed ROUS. Least are the baboons and the flying monsters; both attack similarly to the lost soul, and they usually pop up pretty close. The zombie knights can get close to this since they'll sometimes bounce projectiles back at you, but they can be beaten pretty easily with some quick dodging and good timing.

    There is a boss in MAP08 and kind of a mini-boss in MAP11, both powered up versions of wizards that are sprited well and attacks are decently hard. Surprisingly there were no bosses in the final map, but there are a few light elemental-like things.

    Also the blue wizard's death animation is very excessive, but cool anyway.

    A problem: in MAP08 I got the blue key but the door wouldn't open. I noclipped through and it works on the other side but I guess the author forgot to put it on the side that needs it.

    Without going into an extensive map-by-map review which would have probably already been covered by the original release reviewer, I'll say that many of the maps have good puzzle elements, a tiny bit of platforming and a bit more switch-hunting, but focus well on enjoyable gameplay. Play if you like a set of linear but fun RPG-inspired maps.

  • The Annihilator weapon - Klardy
    ZDoom Compatible - n/a - 9754 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    This wad contains one intentionally-overpowered weapon, and nothing else, so there isn't really much to say. Its sprites are a black BFG 9000 and purple BFG balls. It uses the BFG's sounds. It rapidly fires BFG balls that travel through monsters and bounce around and do huge damage, but it still uses 40 cells per shot so it's not much fun without infinite ammo on. I'd really like to use it to tear through nuts.wad but ZDoom doesn't handle that so well, unfortunately, which doesn't really leave me any other use for this.

    If you want to look at it, remember to "summon annihilator."

  • default dot wad - Walter "Daimon" Confalonieri
    Limit Removing - n/a - 959300 bytes
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    This is a music wad, which replaces the MIDI music in all common IWADs (the Doom IWADs, Hexen, Heretic and Strife) and should work on all ports as well, aside from a few MIDIs which don't work in vanilla ports, according to the text file. These are pulled from a variety of sources, which are listed and credited in music-list.txt... a file which Walter has apparently forgotten to include in this zip file. Ignoring the potential legality issues of this current distribution, how's the music? Well, there's nothing original here, and it's an eclectic mix. I hear some video game themes, some bizarrely cheerful tunes, and a lot of high-energy stuff with overdriven guitar. Download this wad if you'd rather hear that than the thematically coherent, atmospherically appropriate MIDIs that came with the games.

  • Bad Bethlehem - Chris Wright
    GZDoom - Solo Play - 180067 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    The first thing you'll have to do to enjoy this wad is rename it from "badbeth.wad.backup1".

    Oops.

    The second thing you'll have to do to enjoy this wad is figure out what engine it's supposed to be played in, because the text doesn't specify. It looks like it should only require limit-removing, but was only tested in GZDoom. As it turns out, attempting to use software rendering produces HOMs, and playing without freelook is about twice as hard.

    Thanks for letting us know.

    The third thing you'll have to do to enjoy this wad is... just play it, because it's actually pretty fun. It's open and hectic, and forces you to keep running into fresh battles, because you'll still be looking for enough ammo to clean up the last one. The architecture is interesting; it's sort of an abstract city map, full of organic curves, painted with broad brush-strokes. You jump from rooftop to rooftop to grab sweet loot. It's also open enough to accommodate an 8-person DM quite nicely, by my reckoning.

    Good stuff.

  • Simple Hellgate - John Cartwright
    GZDoom - Solo Play - 127904 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    You can inescapably trap yourself in a non-damaging area simply by moving backwards as the level starts.

    That should set the tone.

    This is a large single map for GZDoom, which uses the resources of Scythe2.wad. The setting is dark and gothic, and has a mildly Eternal-Doomish feel. However, it manages to take the worst aspects of all of the above and mix them together with a fresh sprinkling of suck. From the "GZDoom mods" category, we have an over-reliance on dynamic lighting, ugly use of 3D floors, and stealth monsters. From Eternal Doom, we have large-scale, excessively polygonal architecture that is not particularly conducive to gameplay. By "dark and gothic" I mean "really dark and gothic" (the screenshots are deceptively bright - for some reason, GZDoom is rendering screenshots much, much brighter than my screen) and even though Scythe 2 is a very enjoyable megawad, it does have those marine enemies that we didn't really want to see again.

    What's been added to this winning formula is extreme unbalance. You are soon pitted against a horde of monsters that includes pain elementals, archviles and afrits, but without anything you could use to defend yourself. At first, it seems that the inclusion of ammo into this level is simply something that has been overlooked. Eventually, though, you discover that ammo in this level is concentrated into a few "treasure troves," and, in all fairness, there might actually be enough ammo in them to kill all monsters in this level. Health, on the other hand, is virtually non-existent, even on HNTR (which is almost identical to UV, despite the txt's claim that there are difficulty settings in this wad). I'm thinking hard about what sort of player could possibly enjoy gameplay like this enough to decide to create it, and only two groups come to mind:

    1. Speed runners. People who enjoy proving they can cling onto survival despite a tight health supply, and who also have no problem with leaving the majority of monsters alive, may get something out of this level. However, it can't possibly be the mapper's intention to make this for speed runners, as GZDoom is not exactly the demo recorder's port of choice.

    2. People who only ever play with god mode on.

    One more note: to play this wad you actually have to load scythe2.wad with it, and, because scythe2.wad has its own levels, of course, you have to be careful when loading these wads to make sure that the correct MAP01 ends up on top. Remember to order the two wads so that ahell.wad is loaded after scythe2.wad, or else you'll accidentally find yourself playing something good.

  • Planet Phobos - Ralf Wueltener
    Limit Removing - Solo Play - 447418 bytes -
    Reviewed by: ArmouredBlood
    An Episode 1 replacement for the Ultimate Doom in an overall pretty decent classic style. Only the author's second release, so I passed over the kinda cramped spaces and a few texture misalignments in the earlier levels as he has some good ideas and the later levels are quite good and turn nonlinear. Reviewed from pistol starts.

    E1M1: some interesting layout ideas here, but gameplay is a bit annoying as it's pistol only and there are a few pinkys mixed with the former humans and imps. After this I was treated to a snazzy intermission screen, I won't spoil it here but it's a pretty cool idea, although it's a little pixely.

    E1M2: A rather large number of secrets, so many I didn't bother looking for the rest after getting to the exit with 5 or so, plus the map is just off the yellow key corridor. Decent gameplay. although I'd rather have had the shotgun a bit earlier.

    E1M3: Kicks off to a rough start. Snagging myself a shotgun from a sergeant was rather painful, and throughout I was a bit low on health, but it was never unfair. The secrets here are good and the traps even better. Just be careful with the chainsaw secret, cause if you fall in you ain't getting out.

    E1M9: This map was where I thought the author was starting to get the hang of mapping. Another rough pistol start, it stays pretty good throughout. There's some odd texturing, but the author has some more cool ideas, one of which is flooding half the level with nukage about halfway through this rather extensive map. Not much of a problem since you only need to go through a little of it again but there is quite a bit of backtracking. Also what E1 replacement isn't complete without a crate maze or two? Not this one that's for sure. And there's still quite a few secrets, some I missed.

    E1M4: Another rough start, but this time there's a very easy to find secret chaingun before you're exposed to any monsters. Gameplay stayed pretty stable after that, although there were a few spots where hitscanners could mass and take me down pretty quick. Some more interesting layout ideas and secrets I didn't find.The sheer amount of monsters in this and the last map make me think the author played some HR after making the first two.

    E1M5: The layout is now a bunch of twisty 64-wide corridors and a lot of traps but the gameplay is still good. Again a few interesting tricks and secrets I didn't find. Not much more to say really.

    E1M6: Very good gameplay, with some pretty intricate layout and secrets, plus crushers! Who can't resist the charm of a slab of rock squishing you to death? They're used pretty well though, no monsters to distract you, although some monsters to be fellow crushees would've been nice. Not much more to say than job well done.

    E1M7: Darkness. The map revolves around the usage of it. Add in a virtually entire cast of sergeants and spectres and you've got some difficult gameplay. Some more interesting traps this time around, and a yellow key door I didn't go through that might contain the last 10 monsters, but wasn't high priority.

    E1M8: Very cool. So you have a pretty obvious baron fight going down in the near future, but what's with all this extra space you find when you pick up the map? Extras to get pistol starters through? Why thank you. But there are puzzles to get them, including the blue key one I didn't figure out and probably missed out on a plasma gun? Even more cool. The baron fight itself was a little tough, as there are quite a few barons versus you with maybe 50-60 rockets picked up from the keyed puzzles. Of course you could figure out the blue key puzzle and maybe get something better, but I didn't bother and made it through. Just make sure to pick up everything you can before the fight.

    E2M9: Heaps of action. E2 styled, this map hits you hard and doesn't give up, with several traps to catch you off guard and a 2 tap secret for the plasma gun and several hundred cells that are about the only things this map offers extra. Very enjoyable and works well with the music. Looking back at the first few maps, it's very evident the author has improved, so far that this secret map wouldn't look out of place in a more experienced mapper's episode.

    In closing, the final few maps are well worth going through some beginner mistakes in the early maps. There is definite improvement and I look forward to seeing what Mr. Rueltener releases next, and I hope he starts posting in WADs/Mods so I can playtest it ;)

  • WHISPERS OF STARTAN - anonymous
    doom2.exe - Solo Play - 15233 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Green Herring
    Take a good look at the screenshot. Take in all the details that you see. Are you finished? Good. I'll save you a lengthy review by telling you that the entire level consists of 37 copies of that room, one after another. Should you happen to use the automap cheat or look at the level in an editor, it turns out to be in the shape of a flag with the word "WEEWEE" written on it. Pass this one up.

  • Deimos Base #666 - Carl Paulson
    doom2.exe - Solo Play - 2259 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
    This map consists of a small rectangular room, which uses all four sky textures on the walls, and has random floor and ceiling heights. The only things in the map are the player start, a rocket launcher, plasma gun, ammo for them, three medikits, and a cyberdemon. There isn't really enough room to maneuver and fight the cyberdemon and, if you do manage to kill it, nothing happens. This is just a waste of time; don't bother downloading it.

  • Hell Entrance - Bejiitas_Wrath
    ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 121800 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    I'm pretty sure you're not going to like it.

    This is a cramped, cluttered map of a hellish theme, in which any misstep will kill you. Now, high pressure gameplay like that can be fun. The problem is that here, what's going to kill you is the damaging floors that make every area unmaneuverable, the extremely-high friction floors that make you easy prey, the stealth monsters, and the overpowered custom monsters that are thrown against you once and then abandoned so that your hard-won knowledge of their behavior will not again be useful.

    I should note, though, that these fights are not utterly unchoreographed. There's always some way to survive each encounter. I never quite lost my faith in the mapper, and played this wad through to the end (unlike ahell.wad, also reviewed by myself, which I basically threw down in disgust). You have to do some ludicrous things, like tediously lure a horde of barons (far more than you have ammo for) to a crushing ceiling, so that the death of the final baron can trigger the opening of a necessary door. But there's always a way.

    And then, suddenly, it ends.

    This is supposed to to be a hellish remake of "Entryway," by the way. I say "supposed to be" because I really can't recognize any of entryway in here. I guess you have to give the author kudos for not relying on cut 'n' paste.

  • Hell Ground - Alexander "Eternal" S. (aka Deadall)
    GLBoom-Plus 2.5.0.5 / GZDoom 1.3.13 Beta or higher - Solo Play - 49755972 bytes
    Reviewed by: avery1555
    Hell Ground is 7 map PWAD made by Deadall. It basically revolves around one theme, which is a dark and creepy hellish setting. The levels have amazing architecture and very dark lighting, which is cool because you never really realize how bright Doom is until you play Hell Ground. The puzzles are relatively complex and the levels will take you a fair bit of time to navigate too. In the first level, you manage to take a dive into water, scale a cliff, and infiltrate a mansion all in one sitting. It's all new and very interesting, and provides a decent amount of challenge. Monsters are distributed well throughout the WAD and you never really feel like you're up against too many or too little.

    Another cool thing about Hell Ground is how surprising it is even to a senior Doomer. You could go down a hall twice, and on the third visit you would find a group of monsters. The layout is really unpredictable, and this increases the challenge.

    The first thing you instantly notice is that almost all the weapons have different sounds, except the pistol, which is swapped with the shotgun's sound. This is nice because it reduces the bleeding from hearing the same sound effects over and over again, and is a nice change. However, this and the added textures do increase the file size quite a bit, no matter how interesting.

    All in all, Hell Ground is a dark, moody and fun WAD to play. It provides a fair amount of difficulty and is a good way to spend an afternoon. I congratulate Deadall on a nice contribution to the community.

  • Kill the Spider! - Gary Hader
    doom.exe - Solo Play - 2636 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Kirby
    There's really nothing to say here. It's a 3-room texture/HOM fuck that has a spider mastermind for you to kill. Possibility that this was the author opening up an editor for the first time? Very high.

  • Grime - Death-Destiny
    Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 281070 bytes -
    Reviewed by: [WH]-Wilou84
    Grime is a single level, requiring a Boom-compatible source port to run. Its theme, although being quite common now, is very well done: you'll battle through a hellish temple covered with vines, built alongside a mountain. With proper lighting, red and green mix together nicely. Detailing is effective without being overdone; there aren't not many over-the-top visual effects apart from a cool invisible stairway near the end of the map.

    The main point of interest of this map is its difficulty. Grime is very hard, like most of Death-Destiny's maps. There's a lot of traps, including monsters popping in front of you, Arch-Viles being spawned at nasty spots, and groups of enemies closing in on you. You'll have to come up with a good strategy (and skills) to survive most of the ambushes.

    This kind of gameplay will probably be too hard or frustrating for the casual player; that's why the Ultra-Violence skill level is only recommended to veterans. Fortunately, other skill levels are implemented, for those who need them. There's also a UV-Max ZDoom 2.2 demo included in the zip file, to show people how they can complete the level.

    Grime is an awesome map, very reminiscent of Alien Vendetta or Scythe II's later levels. If you like hard maps, download it now!

    (This level was made in 2008, yet it has never been uploaded to the archive until recently)

Does this /newstuff Chronicles suck? Does your wise ass think you can write better reviews than these jerkoffs? Then get over to the /newstuff Review Center and help out. I know you must have a Doomworld Forums account because you like griping about every edition in the comment thread, but if you don't, you need to get one to submit reviews.